The rest of the night was fierce. The Defenders and Gladiators fought against each other until morning.

Things had looked bleak, but not for long. Orion had grabbed the crown, but Kook had "Splatbowed" it out of his hands. After he grabbed it himself, he ran through the castle and delivered it to Gildar, being careful to make sure that Orion didn't know that.

Now, Orion and Kook were battling it out on the moat. Kook had disposed of Orion's sword, so Orion had resorted to kicking, slapping, and punching the bird. Kook was valiantly splatting and hitting back. They were currently on the Beastly Battle Axes. Orion was on the first axe, and Kook was on the second. Though Kook was doing a great job with defending himself, Orion soon gained the upper hand. He delivered a powerful kick to Kook's stomach, knocking the bird onto the second Callous Column. He had turned on his stomach just as Orion jumped on top of him. Orion pinned him down and squeezed his strong hands around his neck.

Kook pulled on Orion's hands, but it seemed like the more he tried, the tighter Orion's grip became. Orion, intent on choking Kook to death, decided to sadistically tease him about Shaiden as he did so.

"You're little ninja saved you from my Firepult, huh?" he snarled. "She took the blow for you, didn't she? Did she die from it?"

Kook felt a bit of guilt swell up in his chest as the image of Shaiden's fallen body flashed through his mind.

"No," he choked out. "Not yet."

"That's too bad. Once I become king of this castle, I'll make sure that your little ninja never sees the light of day again. I'll personally make sure that she dies painfully and slowly. And there's nothing that you'll be able to do about it."

That was the stupidest thing Orion could of ever said. Kook felt a surge of anger shoot through his soul. He growled, then removed one hand from his neck and delivered a brutal punch to Orion's jaw. Orion yelped. Kook twisted and launched Orion off of his back, which resulted in Orion falling into the moat. Kook stumbled to his feet. He put one hand over his chest and took a deep breaths. Suddenly, the handsome viking's voice cracked the air.

"KOOK!"

Kook snapped his head to the front of the castle. Gildar and Skabb were busy fighting a group of gladiators. Skabb had his Basher Masher in hand, and Gildar was holding both the Tenderizer and the crown. After punching one guy in the face, the viking placed the crown in the Firepult's arm. Skabb yelled as he smacked another guy, then guarded Gildar as the viking pulled the arm down.

"CATCH!" Gildar shouted.

Kook quickly dashed across the Rope Bridge of Disaster. Orion leapt for him, then grabbed the heel of his boot and pulled him down. Kookaburra quickly whipped out his Sling Splatter and splat-balled his face. The sudden impact made Orion groan and loosen his grip just enough for Kook to yank his foot away. Kook then ran across the rest of the rope bridge, swung from the Perilous Pole Vault, and landed onto the Finishing Platform just as Gildar launched the crown into the air.

Orion ran across the Rope Bridge of Disaster, but he lost his balance. He tripped off the rope bridge and found himself hanging from it. Suddenly, he saw a reptile-thing eyeing him from the moat. It was Crocness.

"Go ahead, fall in," she growled. "My brother's hungry."

And the rest is history.

After that incident, Kook had flexibly and cleverly maneuvered his way around the remains of the Stockade. He jumped on its remaining railing then off of it into the courtyard. Kook hopped on top of a Titanic Teeter Totter, dashed up its base, then leapt off the mace at the top. The bird caught the crown in his hands, soared through the air, then plummeted into the waters below.

Meanwhile, Skabb, Gildar, Tinkor, Ballista, and Knightriss had managed to destroy the Firepult and take care of the last few gladiators. After they joyfully booted them out of the castle, watched the gladiators run for their lives.

"Yeah, that's right!" Ballista jeered. "Run!"

"And don't ever come back!" Skabb screamed.

He and Tinkor high-fived. Afterwards, the six Defenders ran for the secret passageway that led back to the courtyard.

In the courtyard, Kook emerged from the murky water. He gasped for air, then wiped his eyes. He blinked a few times to clear his clouded vision. He took a quick look around, then turned his face to the right edge of the pool to see the blue ninja, alive and well. Shaiden held out her hand, giving him a small smile as she did so. Kook happily returned the grin, then took the blue ninja's hand. Shaiden helped him up onto the concrete. After that, she placed her hands on her hips, then proudly smiled at the wet bird.

"That was pretty impressive."

Kook's smile widened, then, without warning, he hugged the ninja. Shaiden froze, immediately feeling uncomfortable. After a moment, Kook noticed that Skabb, Gildar, Knightriss, Tinkor, and Ballista had arrived and were watching the whole thing. He felt blood rush to his face, then quickly let go of the ninja. Almost immediately after, Kook was met with shouts of joy and a huge group hug, which nearly knocked him over.

"Skabb is so happy!" Skabb declared, tightening his grip.

A minute later, the five Defenders let go of Kook. Knightriss gripped his shoulder.

"It's good to see that you're alive, my dear," she said with a smile.

"Don't ever do that to us again!" Gildar ordered sternly.

After Kook promised that he would try not to, he handed the crown to Knightriss. She thanked him and ran towards the Water Wall. Just as she placed the crown back where it belonged, Thorne walked up to Kookaburra. He was carrying a pair of sopping brown and gold goggles.

"I believe that these belong to you," he said, holding them out to the Australian bird.

Kook grinned as he took his goggles into his hands. He happily slipped them back over his head.

"Thanks, Thorny," he said, adjusting his goggles' resting position.

When Kook had finished fixing his goggles, he turned back to the alcemist. Thorne was glaring at him. Kook suddenly realized why.

"Sorry; I mean Thorne."

Thorne nodded, then patted him on the back. "Good to have you back."

Kook grinned again. He examined his arms, then irritantly brushed himself off. "Ah, I wet me feathers again!" he groaned.

After Knightriss returned to the group, everyone turned around to the remains of the Stockade. No one said anything for a moment.

Ballista crossed her arms. "Guess we better get started on the repairs..."

"...After breakfast?" Kook said hopefully.

Thorne shrugged. "Why not?"

Everyone else agreed. They were all starving.

"Skabb will make everyone lattes!" the barbarian yelled.

"Sounds good, Skabb!" Crocness said.

As the Defenders marched off to the castle's dining hall, Gildar paused to look up at the crown sitting back on its rightful place on top of the Water Wall.

"Oy, Gildar, you comin' or what?" Thorne called.

The viking didn't seem to hear anything. He placed his hands on his hips and shook his head in a cocky manner. "Gildar, you gorgeous being, you've done it again."

Thorne stared at the self-absorbed Defender in disbelief. You have got to be kidding me.

Two weeks later, the castle had been re-built and re-painted, and everything went back to normal. The Defenders didn't have to worry any more about the Kingdom of Smashalot; the remaining gladiators had decided to turn to different jobs, such as advertising and testing things.

On this particular day, Shaiden was in the courtyard, practicing her martial arts. She was skillfully swinging her sword as she punched, kicked, and cartwheeled all over the pavement.

Just as she finished striking the air with her fist, she heard the sounds of boots lightly pounding the top of the pavement. She turned her head to see Kookaburra approaching her.

"Hey, Shaiden," he greeted, smiling.

"Hello, Kook," Shaiden replied before cartwheeling once more.

A pause.

"So, um...you doing alright?" the green-haired bird asked.

Shaiden nodded. "Mm-hm," she replied before delivering a flying side-kick to an invisible target.

Kook watched as the martial artist continued doing various ninja moves. He absent-mindedly rubbed the back of his head. He felt hecka nervous. After building up a little bit of courage, Kook took a deep breath.

"Shaiden, may I ask you something?"

The ninja somersaulted thrice, leapt up from the ground, swung and pierced the air with her Splatana, then stood in a finishing stance. Afterwards, she sheathed her Splatana and gave the kookaburra her undivided attention. "Yes?"

Kook rubbed his wrist and shifted his footing a little. "Uh, so...you know how you said a week or so again that what I did was pretty impressive?"

The ninja nodded. "Yes."

Kook tried looking Shaiden directly in the eyes, but found it too difficult to do so. He glanced at the ground. "Was it impressive enough to make you want to...you know..."

Shaiden shook her head. "No, I don't know. What?"

Kook shifted even more. His cheeks were burning and he could hardly stand up. He felt so uncomfortable at the moment, but he knew he couldn't back down. He was so close to getting to what he wanted to ask. And he might never get another chance to do so. That one night had taught him that. "Would you, um...y-you know, um..."

Shaiden stifled a devious smirk. "Yes?"

"Do you...would you like to..." Kook swallowed. "...Do you wanna go out?"

"Go out?"

Kook glanced to the side. "Yeah, you know...on a date..."

Shaiden lifted her head a bit. "Oh."

An awkward pause. Kook tried looking Shaiden in the eyes again, but found it just as difficult as before. He took another deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. "So um, how 'bout it?"

Shaiden rubbed her chin. "Mmm...I don't know..."

Kook shifted once more. "If you don't want to, I understand."

Shaiden took a moment to think. She knew that Kook had a crush on her ever since Ballista had tricked him into dancing for her. Shaiden didn't really feel the same way, however. She cared deeply about him, that was for sure. That was why she felt so bad for failing to rescue Kook the first time from Orion's Firepult. That didn't mean that she wanted to get involved in any romantic affairs, though.

But still...she didn't want to crush the poor bird. And he did manage to stop Orion from taking the crown. Maybe he deserved some type of compensation. More or less, anyway.

"Alright."

Kook blinked. "Huh?"

Shaiden held up her right index finger. "I'll give you one shot. One date."

Kook's blue eyes brightened. "Really?"

Shaiden nodded. Suddenly, Kook burst into a huge smile.

"YES!" Kook shouted, raising his arms above his head. "Yes!" Kook started spinning around the courtyard joyously. "YES! YES!"

Shaiden couldn't help but smile at the performance. "Alright, alright, don't make a scene," she said after watching Kook celebrate for a minute.

Kook stopped spinning, but couldn't keep still. "So, where should we go?" he asked excitedly. "What do you want to eat? Or would you rather do a movie?"

Shaiden hesitated. "Why not dinner and a movie?"

"Really?"

"Yes."

Kook's smile seemed to widen. "Okay, so...would Friday work?"

Shaiden nodded. "Yes, it would."

"Alright!"

A pause. Shaiden waited for Kook to say something. He never did; all he did was smile.

"I'll see you later," she said. "I need to continue training."

Kook nodded. "Okay."

The ninja unsheathed her Splatana, then flipped away. Once she was gone, Kook pumped his fist and started spinning around again.

"YES! Woo-hoo, yes!"

"Ah-hem."

Kook stumbled to a stop. He whipped his head around to see Thorne glaring at him.

"Oh, hey Thorne," Kook greeted quietly, suddenly feeling like a duck in the firing range of one's rifle.

Thorne marched forward. He didn't waste any time in getting right to the point. "You're taking my sister out on a date, huh?"

Kook took a step back. "Uh...yes..."

Thorne stepped forward again. "Then you listen to me. If I hear anything that implies that you mistreated my sister, you're gonna be speaking to me and my mace."

Kook stepped back, crashing into the castle's wall. "Y-You won't have to worry about that."

Thorne took another step forward. He was right in Kook's face, which was much too close for the bird's taste. Thorne firmly poked him in the chest. "You treat her with the utmost respect, you got that?"

Kookaburra quickly nodded. "Y-Yes, of course. I will."

"Say it louder!"

"I will! I promise!" Kook declared.

Thorne stared into Kook's eyes for a moment, as if he was searching for any traces of sarcasm. His stare was so intensifying that Kook dared not blink. After awhile, Thorne slowly pulled away.

"Alright."

Thorne and Kook stared at each other for another awkward moment. Then, Thorne hit Kook's arm in a friendly manner. He smiled.

"Congratulations."

Kook grinned, mostly with relief. "Thanks, Thorne." The bird paused. He glanced around the courtyard, then looked back at the alchemist. "So..."

"I suggest Italian food and an action-comedy."

...And that's the end. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this! Reviews and any constructive criticism are always appreciated!

Thanks for reading, you guys!