Dragon Knights Fan Fiction ❯ Dragon Knights Sentai ❯ Season Finale ( Chapter 12 )
There is an epilogue, but this is where the story ends. Thanks to everyone who's read and especially everyone who's reviewed. I hope you enjoy it.
The pool of red seeped into the porous ground and stained the delicate silks of their clothing. Ruwalk rocked back and forth, cradling a lifeless body in his arms. Great, blubbery tears dripped down onto Kai-Stern's face, diluting the blood and revealing an ugly wound. A keening cry arose as the grieving man pressed his lips to the blemished skin. Mist descended. The light dimmed and a fuzzy, grey cylinder dipped into view.
Tetheus sighed and rubbed his temples with his fingers. "Cut and reset," he called.
"Let's hurry," said Ruwalk, dropping Kai-Stern to the ground. The corpse rubbed his backside with a weary grin while Ruwalk examined his shirt. "These stains are hard to get out when they dry."
"Why are we killing me off again?" asked Kai-Stern, pouting slightly. "I thought that I was a fan-favourite."
The crew hustled around the set, resetting the lighting levels and soaking up the bloody water. Ruwalk and Kai-Stern stripped and redressed in identical clothing handed to them by Salazar, although Ruwalk wouldn't hand over his trousers until she'd repeated the care instructions that he'd given her.
Moments later, Kai-Stern died all over again.
Face freshly scrubbed and scar free, the former corpse stepped outside and lit up. He blew solitary smoke into the cool air and mused on the quirks of life, at least until his weeping widow joined him.
"Brooding?" asked Ruwalk, leaning against the wall and trying to inhale some of the smoke second-hand.
"Hmm?" mumbled Kai-Stern, still lost in his day-dream.
"You were canned," pointed out the stylist.
"That's true," admitted Kai-Stern, taking another puff. "It was nice to act again, but working behind the scenes is less injurious to your ego." He realised that the cigarette had burned down to the filter and stubbed it out on the wall, before letting it drop. "As long as I'm not Alfeegi's monkey for the rest of the series."
The studio door clanged open as a hot-headed young man ran out, pursued by an earnest young lady. Kai-Stern coughed and spluttered. Ruwalk grinned. "My guess is that he's just finished reading his next scene."
"Shocking is it?" asked Kai-Stern, standing on the butt and grinding it in.
"For a boy of his age, it is," replied Ruwalk, watching the pair race through the grounds.
"Cesia'll turn him around," muttered Kai-Stern, turning away from the furious flight and huddling closer to the wall. "He's not so young any more."
"Are you sure?" asked Ruwalk, as Rath dodged in and out of buildings and Cesia gave chase across open ground.
"You'd be surprised. He's matured. Didn't you notice Gil wandering about on set?" asked Kai-Stern, shivering as a cold wind blew through his light clothing. He nodded at the couple; Cesia closing in. "I've watched over that boy for most of his life. I even grew up for him."
Ruwalk started, his head jerking from Kai-Stern to Rath and back again. "You grew up for him?"
Kai-Stern lit up another cigarette. "When I stood up for him in church, that was my first day sober in several years."
"You weren't drunk?" gasped Ruwalk, in mock surprise.
"Not noticeably so," admitted Kai-Stern. "It was easy then - drink less on those rare occasions where I might have to hold him. It grew harder as he got older and I had to put in a lot more effort."
Ruwalk stared out over the grounds. "I don't think that I could have managed him as well as you."
"It should have been you. Everyone knew it - you were Lykouleon's closest friend." He turned to Ruwalk to get a measure of his response.
Ruwalk remained as he was, looking out at nothing. "At the time, myself and our lord and master weren't talking. I'd done something that he profoundly disagreed with."
"Ah, well," said Kai-Stern, with another puff. "It didn't work out too badly for me. I'm not ashamed to say it, but if it wasn't for that boy, I don't know where I'd be today."
Ruwalk nodded and caught another whiff of smoke. "No-one expected you to take your responsibilities so seriously."
"Least of all me." Kai-Stern stubbed out the half-smoked cigarette. Meanwhile, Cesia infiltrated a dark corner. The two men pretended not to notice as Rath stuck his head out, then ducked back in. "Rath's done it again. Time to grow up a little more."
"What?" asked Ruwalk, casting a glance at the dark corner that held both fugitive and hound.
"Dump the twins. Going out with two women like them was fun, but the whole thing just seems a little childish."
He pretended not to notice the blush that spread across Ruwalk's face by pulling out his pack of cigarettes and counting those remaining. He put them away again. "Going back in?" Ruwalk nodded and he moved toward the door. He paused, with his hand on it. "I think that I might make an honest woman of Delte. I reckon that she has a fancy for me."
Ruwalk paused in turn. "Maybe you're right." His phone rang as soon as they stepped inside. He checked the number before answering. "Hey, Cernozura! Are we still on for tonight?"
Kai-Stern waited for him while they talked.
"You should be proud of her." Kai-Stern grinned when the conversation ended and Ruwalk rejoined him.
The stylist raised his eyebrows and gestured. "Go on."
"I heard back from my friend," he replied, mysteriously.
He smirked again. "A producer. He makes films and was looking for a new writer. They had a brief chat and he asked me for some of the tapes of this series. We watched them a few days ago at my place. He was pretty impressed and really wants to work with her!"
"Wow, films?" Ruwalk started laughing. "Wow. That's great... Wait." He turned to Kai-Stern and motioned him away from the set. "This producer friend of yours," he whispered. "Does he do yaoi films?"
"Yes," said Kai-Stern. Ruwalk blanched and he blurted out "but she can handle it. She got us to fall in love, didn't she?" Ruwalk nodded and the tension eased out of him. "Don't worry about her. All we have to worry about is getting roles in the production. I can introduce you to him, if you'd like."
"No thanks," demurred Ruwalk. "I have some dreams of my own to chase first."
Lykouleon sat in his large, empty office, cradling his head in his hands to stop it banging against the table. Scattered under him were a variety of financial reports, all showing that there was a big fat zero in the bank account of the production company.
"There's not even enough to cover wages for another week," he moaned, pushing himself back up and then scanning the reports again. He sighed and cast an eye to the window. The view was truly fantastic with the entire city ranged before him, all the way to the sea. He heaved himself to his feet and moved closer, butting the glass with his head, before stretching himself against it, the cold piercing into his skin at the wrists. "I've had a good life," he said, looking down now. His office was on the second-highest floor and he always got vertigo when he did that. Couldn't stop himself, though. "There's only one thing to do. I love making television and I can't imagine giving that up."
He spun around and marched back five steps. Turning once more to stare determinedly at the window, he grasped the phone from his desk and hit the direct line to his secretary. "Kitchel?" he said. "Ring my broker and tell him that I need one hundred thousand by the end of the week. Tell him to use his discretion and that he can cash in the blue chips if he wants." Call complete, he slammed down the phone and pulled the file-o-fax closer. He span it, enjoying the whir, before plucking out the business card that Raseleane had pressed on him a year ago at a party.
"It's for the show," he stated, taking a deep breath before calling the number printed on it.
"Hyper-mega Management, how may I direct your call?" Business-like and utterly professional, the receptionists at Hyper-mega Management often cowed their callers.
"This is Lykouleon from Dragoon Pictures calling personally. I want to speak to Barl."
He hummed along with the music-on-hold until it cut off and the receptionist spoke again, "I'm afraid that he's out of the office, sir. Can I take a message for him?"
"That's unacceptable. Place me through to his mobile, please."
He sang a trifle louder this time, until Barl's voice called out on a patchy line. "Lykouleon? What can I do for you?"
"The show's in trouble, Barl." Lykouleon sat on his desk and flipped the catch on his cigar box.
"So I've noticed. Dragon Knights hasn't been on recently. Are you having problems?" Barl's voice was completely neutral, as usual.
"Raseleane's having problems." He set his face and closed the lid again.
"She hasn't said anything to me about difficulties on set. I can talk to her."
"No, Barl. This is your problem to deal with."
"Raseleane's a big star, Lykouleon. If the show's not on the air, I don't think that she can go on making episodes with you. There are venues that want her to sing, TV producers with shows that are actually on air, begging to interview..."
"Yeah, you told me how big she was. 'An idol' - those were your words weren't they?"
"Raseleane's the greatest. Everyone loves her."
"Then why has her acting debut sunk?"
There was silence on the other side of the line.
"Stars like Raseleane can't afford flops, Barl. I brought her on-board because you assured me that she was a big-time draw. You loved the idea, you needed another string to her bow, you needed the show and you told me that with her in it, it could only be successful. I love the girl. She is wonderful and beautiful and talented, but her name isn't pulling the weight that it should. Raseleane's first show - if it is to be the first of many - must be a roaring success."
Lykouleon let him hang for a moment, before ploughing on.
"The show's cancelled. I haven't found another buyer yet, but the network's not tangling me up with red tape. I can take it somewhere else, if another station's willing to show it."
"And what do you want me to do?"
"Use some of the clout you promised me. Talk to the names in your address book - the lovely people who eat all your food at your launch parties. Find Raseleane's number one fan and sell the show. Sell Raseleane. Save the show and save her career from an embarrassing failure."
"What about you?"
"I'll plug away at the networks."
"Okay," he said, signing on. "I'll start ringing around and I'll call you when I get a feel for who we should be putting pressure on. I have some contacts at your current network, so I'll start there."
"You should know getting a show on the air requires more than simply making a good show. It requires politics."
"Sometimes threats of violence?" Barl mused.
"I already said politics, didn't I?"
Lykouleon worked on, into the night. Finally, he got a phone call with some useful titbits. It was from an old acquaintance, who cultivated other acquaintances with a lot of disgruntled people. It started "Arinas Titles is trying to keep this a secret, but the host of Barnstorming was arrested for lewd behaviour in a public place last week..."
All he needed then was an ending.
Her leg twitched as Cernozura mulled it over. She leaned back in the conference room chair, the faces of the others barely visible in the darkened room. The light from the projector illuminated Ruwalk as he paced back and forth, the film long since over. She looked across at Kai-Stern and Lykouleon. "The down-side to making things up as you go along is not being able to pull everything together at the end," she said. "Look at what we've done recently: one of our leads wandered off, there was a gay kiss..."
"I hate the fact that he edited that into the show," muttered Kai-Stern, casting pointed looks at Lykouleon who feigned ignorance.
Cernozura continued, "An important character died, with pathos. What can we do to end it?"
"Rocks fall, everyone dies?" suggested Kai-Stern, shrugging his shoulders and falling back under the scorn heaped on him.
"Lazy and unsatisfying," commented Lykouleon. "There needs to be a major threat, a big plot, something huge."
"We should really have planned this months ago," moaned Ruwalk, pausing in his pacing. "The ending should have been considered before we'd plotted the first episode."
"Too late to focus on that," said Lykouleon. He stretched out his neck and shoulder muscles. "We just need the hook to start. How can we build a finale? What concept is good enough to repay all of our fans?"
Cernozura rocked back and forth in the unyielding chair. "Who has been the greatest threat in the show?" she asked. "What has sparked dread and panic? Who is evil enough to end the series? Who do the fans want to know more about?"
"Kharl!" said Kai-Stern. "He's still the greatest mystery and a fantastic actor to boot. He'll take whatever concept we come up with and turn it to gold."
Lykouleon frowned. "Kharl," he muttered. "He's been a useful villain and we still don't know his motives: he may be pure evil, or he could be more cat-like, off doing whatever amuses him."
Cernozura nodded. "I don't think that the character, flighty as he is, can pull off the kind of ending we need. Maybe in a second series. He'd need more of a build-up to ultimate evil than we'd be able to give him in just one episode."
"The twins?" suggested Ruwalk.
"Nuh-uh," she shook her head and pulled her chair closer to the table. "We need a clincher." She squeezed herself even tighter. "We need Nadil."
"But he's just a head." Kai-Stern's mouth bobbed open, while Lykouleon cocked his head to the side and leaned forward.
"Even dead he's powerful. If we could... bring him back to life... or something."
"Nadil is the overwhelming and malevolent evil of the series," the producer muttered. "I'd kind of forgotten about him. The head would presumably be locked up in the castle's vaults. We can cut scenes of it glowing, or looming ominously into the episodes that haven't aired yet ."
Ruwalk pulled up a chair and joined the others. "So he's revived and he... attacks the palace? Kidnaps Raseleane? Steals a mcguffin?"
"Nadil is a golden idea, but there's something quite important that we're missing," interrupted Kai-Stern, with a sick look on his face. "We'll never be able to hire someone to play Nadil. No jobbing actor will risk annoying a producer, especially one with a temper like his."
"One of us would have to do it," agreed Ruwalk, "but I can't see anyone pulling off an evil villain."
"Tetheus," snapped Kai-Stern straight away. He looked at the rest of the group. "What? We're all thinking it."
"Do you want to be the one to ask him?" asked Ruwalk. The assistant production manager turned to Lykouleon who was stroking his chin.
"Hmm. Rath can do it."
"He was off-screen for a few episodes. If he's possessed or something, then it'd almost seem like we meant it."
"Possessed Rath, in a vicious battle with Rune and Thatz?" suggested Cernozura, feverishly scribbling away.
"Oh yeah. And he wants to kill Cesia. We have to stick the scene for everything that we can get. This is our closer, it has to be good. Fans will want Rath to live, but not at the apparent cost."
"Do we kill him off?" asked Ruwalk, quietly.
"Maybe we should."
All heads turned to Lykouleon.
Rath paused before the great, vaulted doors. A pair of running feet could be heard growing louder and he loosed his sword from its scabbard, before turning around to face the threat.
"Oh, it's you two." He smiled as he put his sword away. Rune and Thatz did not return the gesture, instead advancing on their friend.
"We were worried about you, Rath," said Thatz, taking slow steps toward one of his best friends. "You were acting so strangely and we walked on egg shells for weeks, thinking it was all down to the shock. You found out that Lykouleon was your dad and that he was still alive and then Kai-Stern died..."
"Then we found Alfeegi," added Rune, circling Rath, so that he would be caught between the other two knights.
"What happened to him?" The other knights didn't respond and he grew agitated. "Hey, you know that I don't like the guy, but I wouldn't do anything to hurt him."
"Rath wouldn't, Nadil!" hissed Thatz, jumping into the air and swinging his sword behind his head in preparation for a chop.
Rath blocked it easily and parried another assault from Rune. "Guys! What are you doing? It's me, Rath. Stop it!"
"We found Alfeegi's body and we realised that whoever killed Kai-Stern had struck again," Rune said, his voice choking up. "Cesia's prophecy suddenly became obvious. It was you. You killed Kai-Stern."
He laughed and the injured expression on his face twisted into a sneer. "First, I'm going to kill you two. Then I'm going to finish strangling the fortune-teller. I'll burst open these doors and take what's mine and if I have to kill my future wife's late husband first, so be it."
"You'll have to take us down first."
"Didn't you listen to step number one?"
Rath lunged at Thatz and the Earth Knight jumped back to avoid the attack. He landed awkwardly on a pile of rags, fell backward and rolled to his feet. He aimed a kick at the rags to get them out of his way. The bundle rolled over, revealing a face: it was Cesia, deathly pale and with ugly bruises on her neck. "Rune!" yelled Thatz. "Get over here and help Cesia!"
He leaped over her prone body and lashed into Rath, while his colleague fell back to the injured fortune-teller. He started chanting as soon as he saw her and laid his fingers lightly upon her throat.
Rath was pushed back by the ferocity of Thatz's attack. Although he was hard pressed to block each slash and chop, the smirk never faded from his face. When Thatz pressed him up to the wall of the chamber, he sneered at the valiant knight. "Getting tired yet?"
Thatz glanced back at Rune; Cesia was stirring, but still looked weak. Rune looked up and nodded. He gently laid Cesia on the ground and stepped over her, before circling around to attack Rath from his blind side. The evil murderer blasted Thatz with a burst of dark energy and began his own tricky footwork, weaving away from the anxious knights and ensuring that only one could attack him at any given time.
The warring knights danced in and out of the marble columns that held up the vaulted roof of the chamber. Neither side could gain an advantage until finally Rath found himself boxed into a corner.
"Rune," called the Earth Dragon Knight, steeling himself as he looked on his former ally. "Is this it?"
Rune nodded, still breathing heavily from the fight.
Thatz called again. "I don't think that I can do it," he said. "This is Rath! He's saved my life over and over."
"You can't think like that. It's Nadil. He's killed Kai-Stern and Alfeegi. He'll kill everyone if we let him get away."
"But what if Rath's still in there? What if he can hear us and feel what's going on? What if there's a chance that he'll come back?"
"Then we have to kill him. We risk too much if we don't. If Rath's inside that monster, then he's urging us to end it now."
Thatz turned aside, tears dripping onto the ground. Rune raced to his side, desperate to save him from Rath's impending attack, an attack that Thatz appeared oblivious to. Rath was closer and he kept his eyes and smirk firmly on Rune as he jumped, landed behind Thatz and thrust his sword directly at Thatz's heart. His grin faded when Thatz whirled out of the way. His face paled as Thatz knocked his sword aside and his eyes glazed over as Thatz slid his blade into Rath's stomach and jerked it upwards. Rune skidded to a halt. Rath crumpled onto Thatz's shoulder, as though being comforted, while red blobs dropped onto the floor between them.
A dark mist rose from his body. It grew more solid in the air, drawing darker energy out of the body, until the corpse collapsed onto the ground. The mist shrank, gaining solidity, and twisted until Nadil's profile could be clearly seen, grinning down at Rath. It warped again, into the form of a bird - dissolving at the edges - and flew out through a closed, glass window, leaving it whole.
"Now, Rune!" screamed Cesia, somehow back on her feet. She lifted up a heavy staff and an aching beam of light arced from it to the Water Dragon Knight. He sank to his feet, thrust his hand over Rath's wound and started to whisper.
Barnstorming was arrested for lewd behavious in a public place, so it's off the air and we're back on." The crew started cheering and Lykouleon nodded and lapped it up like the ringleader in a circus. "This is our shot," continued the producer. "We need to rack up the tension and force them to keep us on the air, right up to the very end." The crew cheered again, but Lykouleon quietened them with a frown. "It's important that we get this right. Let's really stick it to Nadil.">
Tonight sees the return of Dragon Knights to our screens. Because of the idiots over at the network, we've had the execrable Best of Barnstorming on our screens for the past few weeks. Thankfully, the campaign led by our loyal readers appears to have born fruit. Articles in an unofficial fanzine hint at a number of exciting and provocative storylines...
Nadil crumpled up the newspaper and threw it against the wall. With a roar, he over-turned his desk. The tremendous crash rumbled through the floor and drew an anxious Saabel inside. Nadil turned on him, eyes flaming.
For the final episode of the season, everyone that didn't have to hold a camera, boom or push a button, dressed in costume and piled onto set for the crowd scene. Tetheus lined up beside Alfeegi and Ruwalk, just behind Raseleane and Lykouleon. Gil lurked nearby, while Kai-Stern hid in the back, wearing a wig and with his hand discreetly stroking Delte's back.
Rath looked out over the backdrop, a beautifully painted scene of the Dragoon countryside. "Nadil is defeated, but not destroyed." He looked backwards at Rune and Thatz, who stood with him on the battlements, before nobly scouring the middle distance again. "The best we can say is that there is hope, for now."
Well that was long. I hope that the ending was worth the read. Thanks for sticking with it all the way. There is an epilogue to come and another writer has been given permission to base her own story on the happenings and ideas in this one. Good luck, Cairnsy. I look forward to reading it.
Dragon Knights Sentai is fanfiction based on the works of Mineko Okhami.
Thanks for reading. All feedback is appreciated, so please click on the review button. If you spot any typos, speak up.