Timeline Update: Tuesday September 4th

AN: I LIVE! I'm so sorry for taking this long everyone! And thank you for being so patient and not sending me any angry messages! I promise I have not been goofing off. In fact I have been busy working on my first original story! I started it during the month of November as part of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. I accomplished the goal of 50,000 words but my novel isn't quite done yet. I'm closing in on the end and I'd say I'm about 70% of the way through. It's called Reign of Ice by the way. So yes in my absence from this story I HAVE been working hard! This story is almost finished as well and I'm trying my best to make it an exciting one for you! But no promises. I've said before that I'm not all that good with fight scenes and I honestly have slogged through even this little bit for weeks trying to make it as good as possible. So in other words this is as good as it was going to get without me taking another month or two to try and churn out another page or two.

The next chapter after this is likely going to be the final one. I'm going to try to tie everything up in there but I may or may not succeed. It's starting to look like it may be two more chapters, but again I'm not sure. So while I'm going to try and make the next one the last chapter I may end up with another one after that, but either way this story is pretty much over. I can't thank you all enough for sticking with this story for so long!

So thank you again for your patience and let's get this party started!

Just like last chapter this is a list of all the Assassin's and which Epitaph's they are modeled after.

Death Reaper = Skeith

Noia = Innis

Servanus = Magus

Tenebris & Lucidus = Fidchell

Atlas & Titan = Gorre

Syrakis = Macha

Hikari = Tarvos

Chaos = Corbenik

Chapter 18: Final Fight

The network was falling apart faster than the Epitaphs could patch up the holes. Rhodesia and Niketas were busy shouting out orders to the other G.U. staff technicians while the Epitaphs worked as hard as they could to keep the most vital parts of the internet under some semblance of order.

Skeith and Ryou however were busy on another mission. Their goal: wait for the others to find Corbenik and once he was found-or showed up on their digital doorstep-they were to stop him by any means necessary. Their job was to put an end to his ravaging of the internet by whatever means possible. Ryou didn't want to take Corbenik out and wasn't even sure if he could, but at the same time the world was literally coming apart at the seams. Something had to be done. Even if Corbenik wasn't currently himself

Macha had already sent out a virus that forced all weapons facilities and nuclear plants in to offline modes. That way they could still operate safely without suffering severe malfunctions. The last thing they needed was missiles flying around randomly and nuclear reactors overheating and melting down. Still that was like putting a drop of water on a raging wildfire. Satellites had gone silent, the radio only played static, TV's couldn't get a signal, GPS systems had crashed leaving cities with miles and miles of gridlocked traffic since many cars today had autodrive functions that were tied directly to the vehicle's navigation system. Power plants had shut off leaving giant parts of entire countries in the dark. Water systems too had shut down once the electricity shut off leaving billions without water.

The world had been cut off not just from the network but from everyone else in the world as well. No one knew what was going on and those few that did have internet access were primarily hacker groups such as Anonymous who had taken to a few social media sites that were still running. They had also taken to the city streets enmasse to quickly spread the word telling everyone stay calm and most of all stay inside or go home if possible. Social media sites and smaller websites were still up since Corbenik had little interest in those. It was the data of much larger and far more vital entities that he was focusing his attacks on. Still those few websites that were remaining were swiftly going dark as well.

A world that was used to being constantly plugged in and connected now found itself cut off from everyone and everything. No one knew what was going on and surely there must be panic worldwide. Thankfully G.U. had private satellites that were now being used to keep track of Chigusa's machines. They had been planning for the possibility of this event ever since Chigusa and Innis first started creating their machines. Their factories around the world had been churning out robots and machines at a furious pace ever since they first went into operation. However, many of the finished machines had been placed in special locations around the world where they awaited orders from G.U. just like the quadrotors and Howler machines in London.

Most of them were concentrated in major cities but the A.I.'s under G.U.'s direction had been placed in other locations as well. Well before their meeting with the World Network Commission, Rhodesia had been in talks with plane companies around the world getting them to agree to incorporate A.I.'s into the systems of commercial planes. They would not only monitor the plane for damage, mechanical issues, or other problems but they would also be able to take full control of the plane if something happened to the pilot or they lost contact with ground control.

Since Rhodesia had done it before receiving their current level of authority from the WNC it was technically illegal, but now it was quite possibly saving millions of lives. Airports had gone dark and those staff inside air control towers could only watch helplessly as their entire operating system was literally chewed to pieces. So instead the A.I. systems that had been paired up with each large scale commercial planes had taken over and were either continuing on their course or heading for the nearest airport and landing in a slow orderly manner.

In other cities quadrotors, Howlers, and dozens of other types of machines were out on every block helping to keep or maintain order. A.I.'s and A-Life systems had already been trained and prepared for this exact scenario. They would stay in place for however long was necessary and would either work in harmony with the local police or keep them from interfering as the situation called for it. That left G.U. ready and able to focus on containing and stopping Corbenik.

"Do we know where Aihane is now?" Niketas called out and Magus face appeared in one corner of the giant screen at the front of the room.

"In a plane somewhere above the Pacific Ocean last I checked. We've been cut off now, but Raza the A.I. now in control of the plane confirms that Carlos has him in custody and Kuzma Lavrenti says that he will be coming straight here. Innis has already sent Noia, Terra, and the few humans who decided to stay with her to the airstrip they will be landing at. Covertly of course but they'll be there and they will keep Aihane from escaping anywhere while we deal with this mess and the network reboot," Magus answered before being shoved aside by Macha.

"We've lost contact with the other machines and only have limited contact with the Assassins. However, Innis says that they are already aware of what needs to be done. Magus and I will keep the G.U. Servers and computer mainframe up and running for as long as possible. Fidchell, Gorre, and Tarvos are safe with Ren and Kisho over in London and Skeith is on standby, ready to fight. Servanus has gone back to his patrols of the ocean and Hikari is flying at top speed. Current estimates are 20 minutes until she is in range and will be able to transfer Aura to the G.U. System," Macha paused for a moment and leaned closer to the screen, her oval cat eyes narrowing with suspicion.

"Are you sure that this is going to work? We already know that Aura is going to die. There's little she can do now to fix the network and we don't have time to figure out if she might possibly be saved when the world is coming apart at the seams even as we speak," Macha pointed out as Magus complained off-screen.

"We may not be able to save Aura and she may not be able to save the network directly, but she can save Corbenik and there is a chance that he is able to save the internet. We know about his rebirth ability already, but what we don't know is how that ability has been changed or enhanced by the incorporation of AIDA into his primary data," Niketas explained as he adjusted his sunglasses a bit. "This is a rather large shot in the dark, but this is the first, last, and only chance that we have. Our plan of action is to transfer Aura here after which she will be handed over to Skeith. He will absorb what is left of her and then use her data to fix Corbenik's corrupted data by force. I honestly don't know all the details. Skeith is the one that suggested this plan of action and assures us that it's possible," he added as Ryou opened one eye and glanced over at him before shutting it again so he could focus and talk to Skeith. He wasn't really listening and would probably need to have what was being said repeated to him later on.

Macha's eyes slid over to the long desk row of computers where Ryou and Chigusa were sitting together and she hummed to herself. Backing up a bit she let Magus back onscreen with her.

"Don't worry we got this!" Magus said giving them all a thumbs up. Macha rolled her eyes and turned away to her security duties.

"I sure hope so. Even if it does work and the network reboots we don't know how long it will take. The world could be sitting in an internet blackout for hours or days. This is a big operation and we only get one shot. Aihane has been captured and now Corbenik is operating on his own. We can't say for sure what he will or will not do. Be careful during that fight Ryou. We already know Corbenik's data is like acid to anything it touches, but we don't know how that will affect you as a human connected to an Epitaph," Niketas added and it took a moment but Ryou finally raised a hand in acknowledgement but didn't open his eyes.

"Chigusa?" Rhodesia asked looking down at the young woman. She and Ryou had taken chairs in the back and were sitting just to her right.

"All alloted machines are in place and all the Assassin's are at their assigned posts as well. This will be their first time being out of touch with Innis and possibly G.U. since we'll likely go down as well, but they've been preparing for this and they all know what to do. A.I.'s and A-Life systems both," Chigusa assured her as she rubbed one of her arms nervously. She was worried about her brother and sister. Ren and Kisho were still in London after all and while Tenebris, Lucidus, and Chaos were working hard to keep any bombs from falling on innocent victims there were still missile bearing planes flying over the major city. One of them could easily go astray or a jet could malfunction and go down right on top of a building. Ren and Kisho's lives were now in the hands of the very machines she had made.

"How are things going in London?" Niketas asked with a glance back over his shoulder at Chigusa who was now chewing on her fingernails with worry. She noticed what she was doing and quickly put her hand down.

"Another wave of jets and missiles came a short while ago but now with the internet being chewed up by Corbenik like this they're starting to malfunction and go down all around the city. All of them are trying their best but..." Chigusa stopped and swallowed hard, "...but there's a good chance there might be casualties. I've run through a lot of scenarios and technically speaking they should mop everything up just fine but... but things could always go differently in real life," she added rubbing her hands together in her lap. Ryou opened his eyes and leaned over so he could put his arm around her.

"Don't worry. They won't let you down. Ren and Kisho will be fine and they'll call you the first chance they get after all this is over," Ryou assured her and she nodded and put her head down on his shoulder.

They were interrupted when another window popped up in the corner of the larger screen. It was Tomonari from his apartment upstairs. A couple of hours before this mess with Corbenik first started he had fought and argued and pleaded with everyone from Rhodesia and Niketas to Reiko and Kaoru trying to get them to let him off his mandatory hospital rest and be directly involved in the effort. However, the G.U. leaders had outright refused, Reiko had made an excuse about having to go and contact her Avatar Tarvos and Kaoru had actually smirked and said that he was currently on business from Rhodesia and closed the video link before Tomonari could say anything else. Finally Magus locked the doors to his apartment and threatened to keep them that way for the entire length of Tomonari's recovery which was another week. So now Tomonari was forced to settle for a video link that tied him in to what everyone else was doing downstairs in the high security areas.

"Sorry to interrupt, but we're ready to go. Aura is here and she's heading downhill fast. If we don't get this done now there may not be enough left of her to do anything with," Reiko spoke up suddenly from her spot at a computer next to Kaoru.

Ryou straightened up and grabbed the latest style of headset that was sitting in front of him. Thanks to his close bond with Skeith he technically didn't need it to access the internet anymore, none of the Epitaph Users did, but it was still a force of habit.

"Okay. I'll do my best but I'm not making any definite promises," Ryou commented as he shifted in his seat to get more comfortable. Putting the headset on he took a deep breath and dove into the system.

When Ryou next opened his eyes he was fully connected to Skeith. It was a strange but awesome feeling to be in his Avatar's body like this. They were truly one being right now. Flexing their claws, Ryou looked up to see Macha coming over with Aura's limp form in her arms. In the middle of the area was a giant swirling shape of data representing everything on the G.U. servers and all around them was a light green wall representing the last computer firewall.

"She doesn't have much time left," Macha said looking down at her. Aura opened her eyes and managed a weak smile.

"Don't worry about me. Just stop Corbenik. You're the only one who can fix this, Skeith. He doesn't know what he's doing anymore. Corbenik is lost but I know you can bring him back. You can fix him," Aura whispered softly and they had to lean in to hear her.

"Are you sure you want to do this, Aura? If I absorb your data... there's little chance that we'll be able to bring you back, although we are going to try our best," Skeith warned her and Aura closed her eyes and nodded slowly as the edges of her white dress started to crumble away. After a moment, Aura opened her eyes again although it was clear she had little strength left.

"I have no problem with sacrificing myself. All I wanted, all I ever wanted was for The World to be a safe haven for A.I.'s. I wanted a place where we could live together peacefully with humans," Aura responded softly. "That's it. That's all I wanted, but the humans started to depend on me more and more. They didn't want some peaceful A.I. floating around minding her own business. They needed a better way to control the data flow of the network so they could ease the strain on it," she continued pausing for another moment this time longer. "I never wanted to be their Goddess or just some tool put in place to help make the internet run more smoothly," this time she looked over at Skeith and reached her hand out to him.

"I'm tired... I'm just so tired. I'm tired of running. I'm tired of humans trying to use me for their own ends. I'm just... so... tired," Aura whispered her eyes closing again.

"Don't worry, Aura. We'll find a way to bring you back and when we do G.U. will make sure that you are never taken advantage of again," Ryou promised her and Aura mouth twitched up slightly in a smile.

"I have heard humans make many promises before... let's... hope you can... keep yours," Aura replied weakly and now Skeith interrupted.

"Time's up we need to do this now," Skeith said as his hands and claws started to glow and streams of data curled around them. Seconds later Aura's body started to glow and peel apart as she was absorbed and assimilated into Skeith's body. While he was working as fast as possible there was still a huge amount of data left for him to take in. The Epitaphs may have grown more intelligent and more complicated but Aura was still the most complex artificial life form ever created.

"Running out of time here," Macha growled at him as the green firewall surrounding them flashed and red lines appeared across it. That meant it had picked up a threat. Corbenik still had over a dozen other firewalls to get through, but his data was so corrosive that there was no telling how quickly he might be able to push through.

"I'm working as fast as I can here. Besides isn't it your job to keep Corbenik out?" Skeith fired back as he continued absorbing Aura's data. He was getting close to halfway through now.

"I'm the last line of defense in case you fail and G.U. needs time to save what data they can before Corbenik eats it all and destroys it. It's your job to stop him before that happens so that Magus and I are unnecessary," Macha replied looking over at the firewall with a frown. Magus was on the far side of the G.U. data sphere behind them keeping an eye out for danger.

"Over halfway through now..." Skeith said in a more somber tone as he stared down at Aura's vanishing body in his claws. G.U. had already planned on trying to bring Aura back. It had never been tried before, but in theory if her data was still part of Skeith then there should be a way to pull it back out and restore it thus bringing Aura back good as new. Of course it hadn't been tested yet and they didn't fully understand all of Corbenik's abilities. If Skeith's data was permanently damaged in some way then it could destroy any chances they had of bringing Aura back.

Time seemed to drag on forever as Skeith finished and allowed a few more minutes so that his body could fully sort through and assimilate the massive amount of data. When the process was finally done the green firewall around them had added yellow and orange warning alerts to the red ones already there.

"You ready to do this?" Ryou asked and Skeith whipped out both his scythes and twirled them around.

"Let's go get Corbenik back," the Avatar responded and he shot forward and sliced through the fire wall ahead of them. It sealed up seamlessly behind them and they continued on through the other firewalls in the same way. When they came out from the last one they barely had time to react before Corbenik was on them.

Right away Skeith brought his scythes up as Corbenik lunged forward and grabbed them with his webbed hands.

"Sorry to disappoint, but you're rampage ends right here," Skeith snarled as two empty blue points of light stared out from inside the shark skull on Corbenik's head. The Avatar hissed and backed off. His body was covered in short uniform ridges like shark skin but now black AIDA dots bubbled up from them and also filled the empty shark skull like before. Before metal staples had laced his body, now they were popped open leaving gaping mouths filled with teeth all over his body all of them sucking in whatever data they could find.

"Data... need... more data," Corbenik's voice rasped and buzzed as he spoke. His hands twitched and his body trembled like an addict in need of a fix.

"Guess there's no point in trying to catch up on old times then?" Skeith asked as Corbenik pulled off the bony spine running down his back and brandished it as a weapon. The curved fins shifted and the end sharpened until it looked like a harpoon. Ready and waiting to skewer Skeith and Ryou. Just like before during their battle in the crumbling remains of The World, Corbenik attacked first. He pulled back and threw the harpoon forward a long chain made of bone forming behind it out of black dots.

Skeith used one of his scythes to knock it away and fired a round of energy shots at Corbenik who stumbled back from the impact and pulled back on the chain he was holding. He pulled the harpoon back to him and launched himself at Skeith only to have the Avatar slip away evasively. Hissing, Corbenik whipped his harpoon around again to try and impale Skeith. With a flick of his wrist Skeith used one scythe to grab and deflect the harpoon while the other sliced down and cut Corbenik from his shoulder and nearly went clean through his torso. Pulling back, he yanked the scythe back out of the corrupted Avatar's body just as it started to stitch itself back together with long black tendrils.

"This isn't going to be easy. Especially if he can just regenerate like that," Ryou pointed out and Skeith hummed in agreement as Corbenik twisted his body and spun around whirling the harpoon and chain around him as well. Long barbed spikes shot out in all directions. Rather then try to evade, Skeith used both scythes to knock them away. Glancing back quickly, Ryou saw some of the barbed spikes plant themselves in the G.U. firewall and start to dissolve and spread a black virus throughout it. Code flashed across the giant firewall as the G.U. Security systems engaged and visibly began to get rid of the virus.

Wait a minute. Get rid of it? Nothing they had tried so far had been able to so much as slow down the virus so how was it being stopped and erased now?

Immediately Ryou had Skeith open a direct voice line back to Macha.

"Macha! Talk to Rhodesia and find out who wrote that security and anti virus code in the G.U. Firewall and if it was updated recently. I need to know how it managed to stop Corbenik's virus. Every detail and a copy for Skeith to download if possible," he asked her and Macha repeated his request before cutting the line. Just in time for Corbenik to launch himself back at them and slam into them full force. This time he sent them flying backwards.

Corbenik's eyes glowed brighter as the stitches across his chest pulled apart and the toothy mouth there snapped at them. Both he and Skeith were locked hand to hand and Skeith could feel the corrupted data trying to slither and work its way into his body.

I guess this is what humans mean when they say that something made their skin crawl, Skeith thought and Ryou rolled his eyes and told him to pay attention. Pushing the other Avatar back he fired a quick round of energy shots into his chest and spun around with both scythes outstretched slashing Corbenik several times. As expected the wounds quickly stitched themselves back up. Rather then fall back Corbenik charged again brandishing his harpoon like a club or a sword. Skeith hooked one scythe around it and pulled it away before slicing the other straight through the middle of Corbenik's body. Once again his body quickly stitched itself back together.

We can't keep trading shots like this. Corbenik can do a lot more damage to us then we can to him. Trying to weaken him before using Aura's power to try and convert him back isn't going to work. It's all or nothing, Ryou told his Avatar and Skeith silently agreed.

"Data pack is ready and downloading!" Macha told them and after a few short seconds Skeith's antivirus parameters were updated. Now they shouldn't have to worry as much about being infected by Corbenik. Although they still needed to be careful not to take any unnecessary risks.

Not here though. We don't know what will happen if it works and I don't want to risk taking out all of the G.U. systems in the process, Skeith insisted as Corbenik yanked his harpoon back and shifted his eyes from the Avatar to the firewall behind them.

He's after data. The more the better. Show him that we have Aura's power, her data, and he'll follow us like a dog after a bone, Ryou commented as Corbenik shifted his body slightly, clearly aiming towards the firewall behind them. Skeith's chest glowed with a brilliant white light and a sphere of compressed data floated out. Immediately the corrupted Epitaph snapped his attention back and leaned forward stretching out one hand eagerly.

"Data... give me more data... give it to me!" Corbenik hissed launching himself forward with a wild and clearly uncoordinated swing of his harpoon, intending to impale Skeith and take the data sphere in front of him. Skeith took the data back into his body and easily dodged the clumsy attack.

"You want it?" Skeith asked as he swung his scythe and opened up a data tear.

"Well come and get it then!" he jumped in and glanced back to see Corbenik following right behind him. Skeith raced along the internet pathways and around website and server hubs, opening data tears and jumping around to different nearby locations. Each jump took them farther and farther away from the G.U. network. Corbenik launched his harpoon as well as black spikes at Skeith whenever he had the chance and it took all of their maneuvering to avoid them.

It didn't take long for Corbenik to grow tired of the chase and stopped following. Upon seeing this, Skeith stopped and turned around to see Corbenik's body expanding and shifting as black AIDA dots poured out from the shark skull on his head and covered his body.

"He's changing into his giant shark form. The same form that nearly ate Macha and completely consumed an entire data sphere leaving nothing but white space behind," Ryou pointed out as Corbenik grew to massive proportions. The open mouths on his body had grown larger and snapped hungrily. Corbenik started to inhale deeply, pulling all the data around them towards his primary mouth. Data also funneled towards the other mouths scattered across his body.

The vacuum started to pull Skeith in right away but instead of trying to pull away, Ryou came up with a different plan.

Go straight in.

Excuse me?

We have Aura's power now and if we run away then Corbenik could be gone by the time we manage to find our way back. At some point we have to actually use the power she gave to you. I say we try it out right now. Not only could she create A.I.'s but she could also completely reshape them. We can use that ability to destroy Corbenik's transformation and prevent him from doing it again, Ryou decided and Skeith twirled his scythe around and raced forward towards Corbenik.

All or nothing.

Skeith dove straight into Corbenik's mouth and deep into his body. It was a chaotic mess of broken data. There were open tears with nothing but static in them and others were just random jumbles of ruined information. The insides of his body started to narrow and Skeith stopped and let the data that was being inhaled flow around him. Closing his eyes, Skeith gathered Aura's power until his body glowed with a bright white light that focused itself in one of his scythes.

"Reformation!" Skeith called out as he slammed the scythe into Corbenik's side. Immediately the Avatar's surrounding body seized violently as the white light spread like wildfire across his insides before the entire body exploded and burst apart. Black AIDA dots floated around as Corbenik fell to his knees. Now his body was covered in white patches that glitched with static. All around them the data sphere and data streams showed similar damage on a far more massive scale as well, but that was from Corbenik's massive data drain attempt.

"Hurts... data hurts... pay for this!" Corbenik snarled summoning his harpoon and charging towards them. He was very unstable and crashed into Skeith more than attacked deliberately and a sharp slice of pain ripped through Skeith's side as the harpoon sliced into him. That was all Corbenik needed and the shark skull covering his head opened its jaws wide and ripped into Skeith's neck. The Avatar was trying to infect Skeith's body with the same virus that was chewing through his own data.

In the real world Ryou felt the pain like knives stabbing into his neck and shoulder but he bit down on his tongue and let out a muffled cry. Stay focused. He had to stay focused. Push through the pain. Corbenik's virus may be purged from Skeith's system thanks to the new update but that would take a little time and meanwhile his attacks were still going to hurt.

Corbenik pulled back and his shark jaws bit down again. This time even harder than before tearing a huge chunk of Skeith's shoulder away and leaving the raw data exposed. In the real world Ryou screamed and clutched his shoulder in pain as other G.U. staff ran to help him. Pulling his arm back Corbenik tightened his grip on his harpoon and plunged it straight through Skeith's chest spreading his virus like black poison.

"Now... now Skeith..." Ryou choked out at the pain lanced straight through his chest. Skeith grabbed the harpoon with one of his large clawed hands and raised the other one as it started to glow. He gathered all of Aura's power. She could do more than just data drain. She could create an entirely new A.I. or completely rewrite one. Skeith summoned that ability now. The power that would purge the corrupt virus from Corbenik's data and return him to the way he was supposed to be.


"Give me... give me data!" Corbenik gurgled as he twisted the harpoon and pushed it deeper.

"I'll give you data all right. Time for you to come to your senses, Corbenik!" Skeith slammed his palm into the other Epitaph's chest. For a second neither one moved then Corbenik shuddered and jerked back his body shaking violently. A white light burst from his chest where Skeith hit him and then another burst of light from his back. A burst of energy shot out from his side and then his shoulder. Seizing uncontrollably, Corbenik ripped the harpoon out of Skeith's body and stumbled backwards as the energy started to burn away his body.

Dropping to his knees, Skeith clutched as the gaping hole in his chest and shuddered as Corbenik's virus continued to spread throughout his systems trying to eat away at his body even as the antivirus system tried to get rid of it all. He looked up just in time to see Corbenik's body burst apart the energy washing over him and covering everything in a sea of white light.

The first thing Ryou recognized was Chigusa. He could feel her arms around him before he even opened his eyes.

"I'd ask if I'm dead but it hurts too much for that," Ryou said painfully as he peeled his eyes open and saw Chigusa's worried gaze staring down at him. Her eyes softened at his words and she shook her head.

"Now. Your body was badly bruised from whatever happened online so you'll be in quite a bit of pain for a while. You're badly injured so you need to be careful," Chigusa said and Ryou grimaced in pain as she helped him to sit up. Waves of pain shot through his chest and just as she said there was a giant purple black bruise on his side and across his chest when he lifted up his shirt to look. It was getting hard to breathe so Ryou let his shirt drop and leaned back against Chigusa until it was easier for him to breathe.

"Did we do it?" Ryou asked looking back at Chigusa who started chewing on her lower lip and got that 'should I tell him?' look on her face. It took a moment before he realized that all the lights were out and only the dim emergency lights in the aisleway were on. All the computer screens were dark as well.

"Skeith?" Ryou asked out loud but in his head there was nothing... nothing but silence.

"The power is down and we assume the internet has collapsed as well."

Ryou and Chigusa looked up to see Kaoru standing there watching them. He was in the computer aisle behind them and was leaning on the low wall behind one of the slim computers.

"I can't contact Macha either. I felt my connection to her cut off suddenly and the power went down milliseconds after I lost contact with her," Kaoru added and pointed a finger. They looked over to see Niketas and Rhodesia talking heatedly. "However, we did know that this would happen. Or at the very least we suspected it. The biggest question now is how long it will take for the internet to reboot and start back up," he added and both he and Chigusa exchanged a look. Of course Ryou noticed and called them out on it.

"Okay guys what's wrong?" he asked with a deep frown as Chigusa got up and put her hands under his armpits and helped him to his feet and back into the chair he had evidently fallen clean out of. Kaoru calmly twisted a strand of hair around his finger as he contemplated what he was going to say. After a moment he replied carefully.

"Due to your battle the internet overloaded and shut down. Corbenik's rebirth ability means that he automatically recovers and restarts no matter how badly he is injured and he can do this almost indefinitely. This effect should spread out to the rest of the network and bring the internet back up all over the world, but..." Kaoru hesitated for a moment and looked over at Chigusa.

"But we don't know if it will activate at all," she answered softly and Ryou felt a chill at that as she looked down at her hands. "Corbenik's data was awfully corrupt. We suspected his rebirth ability was altered so that he immediately recovers from any damage taken, but we've never given him a mortal wound so... we don't know what will happen. Aura's ability should purge the corrupt data from his system and reformat him so that he bonds with Xen's AIDA data the way the other Avatar's did with their AIDA counterparts but... we're just shooting in the dark here. It should work yes... but it could also spread Corbenik's virus throughout the entire internet once it reboots," Chigusa admitted and Ryou groaned and rubbed his forehead.

"So either we fixed everything or we made it ten times worse and the internet will come back up just to be chewed to pieces by Corbenik's virus a few minutes later?" he asked and Kaoru shrugged.

"I say everyone is worrying over nothing. I have faith in Macha and Aura. You should as well," he said straightening up and heading over to where Rhodesia was now standing alone with a deep scowl on her face.

"So what do we do now?" Ryou asked starting to fidget at the uncomfortable feeling of being disconnected from Skeith.

"Now? Now we just wait... and see what happens."

AN: Yeah probably two more chapters left or I'll just make the last one extra long instead of splitting it up. I won't really know until I actually start writing it and I'll try not to make you wait so long for it!

Thank you so much for reading and most of all for being so patient with me!