A/N: This follows the Light Novel Volume 2 more closely than the anime.

Judgement Blow

The explosion is all you need to hear. Far away, at Sunshine City's Leave Point, you see it; black and white lightning, racing down its edge. They're going so fast, it's like a speeding comet. Complete with flames setting their path on fire. It's eerily beautiful, like the shooting stars you saw together with him.

It's impossible for anyone to survive that, but for one moment, you just want him - him to survive that crash, for that armour, no matter how cursed and bloody it is, to protect him at the moment you can't.

They'll hit the ground in five seconds. You're still too far away.

So you scrunch up your eyes and concentrate - willing for flames to consume you, to give you the speed you want, all for the strength to be by his side, and whoosh-

You're nearly teleporting now. In short bursts of ten, twenty metres. Flames lick your legs and set the terrain on fire, exposing your use of the forbidden techniques, but you just don't care!

You're a hundred metres away now when you feel it; as though the earth is shaking, as though a meteor itself was summoned from the heavens to appear on the land, the ground quakes angrily. They've made touchdown. Two towers next to Sunshine City collapse, and you go "Oh no-!"

Another burst, more strength, more speed. You want to reach him before he kills that flying crow, before he takes someone else's life-

And you arrive. There's no need to think about cutting back on the willpower, because it's all leaving you as surely as your breath is; the crater is impossibly wide, large enough for a small house. Smoke is steaming everywhere, how hot was that?

The tall, thin outline rose and staggered. You're taking small, quiet steps now, you're almost there. You're nearly by his side again, as you had been all this time in the past.

He's kneeling, whether from exhaustion or from pain, you can't tell and you don't care now. You raise a fist and rap his head, uttering words you never thought you'd say:

"...you did it, Silver Crow. The rest...leave it to me."

You're trembling inside even as you say that, you know it. That silvery skinny guy, what did he do again? He just dragged Cherry, dragged him and dived down all the way from the top, making this crater. You fully knew what you were asking for, but why do all this?

Can evil be reciprocated with evil guiltlessly? Doesn't that guy deserve a shot or two in the head for taking Cherry down?

But no, you're brushing these aside, you're hardening your heart again. You step down into the crater and look at that, that sight-

It's so brown and crusty it looks like the toasted bread you eat together in the mornings, the slice he always gives you for breakfast because he wanted you to grow-

"Ni..Niko..."

He's alive! Sinking to your knees, a finger is on his lips before you know it, and you're hushing him as though wanting him to conserve energy. As if he's just tired after a long day of hunting, not as if he's about to die-

"Everything's okay, everything's going to be f-f-fine..."

As if you believe that too. Unforgivable, lying to your first friend in this lonely world?

Your left arm is missing from the elbow down, and as you move it behind the charred body's back, it's sparking in protest and the pain is so real. But you don't care, you're staggering forward on this one-way journey like a scarlet masochist.

The pistol is drawn and thunks against his chest lightly. You've chosen a spot right over his heart, how ironic right? The one place you always wanted to stay in, so that he wouldn't have put on that cursed armour, you're about to shoot it out - out of this world of unreal bonds, out of this world of strife and suffering, out of this world filled with nothing but pain.

He's stirring slightly, as though he suddenly realises what's going to happen. He's Level 7 only, but you're Level 9, a King and Legion Master at the same time. There's only one thing that could happen to him now.

"I'm..I'm...s-s-so-sorryyy," He's stuttering again. "I di-di-didn't wan-want to ki-ki-kill so manyy-"

You can't take it, there has to be some reconciliation, you take the gun off and wrap him in your first and last hug, feeling him all over and inside. The burnt armour is warm, cruelly warm, it's being carved into your memory even as you're thinking this.

Someone touches your arm - is it that guy? Turning, you realise it's not, it's Cherry's withered right hand on your arm, pushing you back. He knew, after all, even he doesn't deserve this mercy from you, not any more.

Your avatar can't cry, Scarlet Rain. Don't curse yourself for it. You place the gun on his chest again, dead centre so that you believe you can spare his heart-

"I..I won't..f-f-forget you.."

They're his last words before your finger trembles just a bit too much, and-

He's gone, disappearing before your eyes, there's nothing more you can do about it. Koudzuki Yuniko - no, Scarlet Rain, the Red King, you will be remembered as the King who executed your own parent and friend.

You look up just as the last few strands of orange light disappear into the night sky, the starry night sky you once watched together with him in the real world. You're crying again, tears are falling down your face, tears that no one else knew are there but him, and him alone.

fin.