Outlaw Star Fan Fiction ❯ Outlaw Star; The Ryunoken Sword(revised, rededited, and better than ever) ❯ Sacrifice ( Chapter 22 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]



(Official disclaimer: This work is entirely a fan fic. I do not own the rights to Gene, Melfina, or any of the themes, concepts, alien races, planets, starships, or other characters that appear in the Outlaw Star, anime or manga. So Bandai, Sunrise, or whoever owns the rights to Outlaw Star, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, DON'T SUE ME!! I'm only doing this to honor your work and to show my respect and appreciation for what has become my favorite anime.)


"Gene!" Melfina whimpered. "Gene please help me!"

With his head feeling like he had just gone on an all night bender, Gene forced his eyes open. His vision was blurry, but he could hear the chime of clinking metal around him. Gene attempted to stand, and found that his arms had been manacled to what felt like a stone pillar.

"Gene," Jim groaned. As his eyes began to clear, Gene turned his head and saw his partner kneeling on the floor beside him; manacled to another stone pillar. "What happened? Where's Mel?"

"I'll give you two guesses," Gene said. Using the Sword to recharge his energy, Gene began to take stock of their surroundings. A few moments ago, he and Jim were with Mel in one of the fortress's corridors. Now, they were in what looked like some kind of massive reception hall. Judging by the chamber's pyramidal shape and immense size, Gene guessed that they were now at the top of Shidowkun's fortress. At one end, a set of large double doors were sealed by a large mechanical lock. On the other end, a stairway led to a raised platform topped with a black throne that was back lighted by a large octagonal window. The perimeter of the chamber was edged by three rows of stone columns; between some of which were paper screens inscribed with Taoist incantations. And in the center, chained ankle and wrist on top of a stone sarcophagus, lay Melfina.

"Welcome." All eyes in the chamber focused on the throne as it rotated towards them. "I have waited for this moment longer than any of you could possible realize." Rising off his throne, Shidowkun descended the stairs from his throne and glided across the floor towards Melfina. Never taking his eyes off of Gene, Shidowkun cupped Melfina's slender throat with one gauntlet while his other began stroking her stomach through the slit of her bodice. Melfina whimpered and attempted to squirm away, but the hand around her throat pressed one of its clawed fingers against her jugular and she froze. "I suppose you would understand wouldn't you Gene Starwind. After all, it was your desire for this little doll that brought you and the Sword here. I suppose I can't blame you. As I found out for myself, she is quite enjoyable."

"Stop it!" Jim screamed as he snapped out of his own haze. The young boy's eyes were blazing with rage but the manacles held him locked to the column. "If you don't stop touching Mel I'll..."

"Take it easy Jim," Gene said. "He's just playing more of his mind games. Besides," Gene added as he channeled the energy into his manacles and popped them open. "He couldn't do anything with Mel because she wouldn't let him." Seeing Gene free himself, Shidowkun took his hands off Melfina.

"I see that you've been practicing with controlling the Sword's power. Your abilities have improved greatly since our previous encounter." Rubbing the remaining stiffness from his arms, Gene kept his eyes locked on Shidowkun.

"You should have tried to take the Sword while I was still out of it. But you blew it because you like to screw with people's heads. But I don't. First I'll just take you out, and then I'm taking back Mel." Without bothering to reply, Shidokwun sank into the shadows of the chamber, only to reappear a moment later in front of Gene.

"I wouldn't be so confident if I were you. Do you see those screens? They've been arranged in a way to allow the maximum flow of negative ki throughout this chamber. In here, my power is at its maximum."

"You don't say," Gene replied. "So if I take out those screens your strength will go down. I'll keep that in mind."

"Perhaps you should," Shidowkun admitted. "To be honest though, I'm not certain that fighting you would be in either of our best interests. I am aware that you know of my true intentions for the Sword. Therefore, I am prepared to make you a deal."

"I'm listening."

"Forget about your meaningless outlaw pride, forget about your useless little friends, and forget about this worthless little doll. Give me the Sword and I will not only ensure your survival, I shall use its power to make you a God of your own personal universe to reign as you alone see fit." Shidowkun's eyes began to pulse and Gene felt him reach into the darkest recesses of his mind. "I have been watching you for many years Gene Starwind. I saw you fight to survive on the streets of Locus-cold, alone, starving, stealing food to survive, nobody caring whether you lived or died. I may have ordered your father's execution, but I wasn't the one who made you suffer. It was the same people that you now prevent me from erasing out of existence. The same people who never once offered help to a lonely orphan who only sought to survive. Even those who claim to be your friends have made you suffer. Jim hates you for your irresponsibility, Suzuka used you to seek revenge for the murder of her family, Aisha insults your pride to satisfy her own ego, Mazren despises you as a weakling, and Melfina rejected your feelings because she didn't trust you. All your life, all anyone has ever done for you is give you pain and yet you still fight to defend them. Even if you do manage to defeat me, it will be a meaningless victory because nothing will change. You'll still be nothing more than an insignificant man who spends his entire life seeking recognition from people who deem you as no better then garbage." Extending his hand, Shidowkun gestured for Gene to accept it. "Take control of your own destiny Gene Starwind. Reject the universe that has rejected you and you will finally receive everything that you deserve." Gene looked down to Shidowkun's outstretched hand; then back up to the Toku Emperor's eyes as his hand reached for his Caster blade.

"Are you done?" Gene asked as his grip tightened around the stock of his weapon. "Because this routine of yours got old a long time ago." From beneath his mask, Shidowkun hummed in disappointment as he retracted his hand.

"It would have been less painless for you to give in to my will," he said. "Then you wouldn't have had to see this." With a flash of his cape, Shidowkun leapt and flipped through the air, a dagger of Hellfire forming in his hand as he landed beside Melfina and plunged the dagger towards her throat. Melfina screamed in terror as Gene darted forward and grabbed Shidowkun's wrist, his other hand drawing the Caster blade and plunging it through Shidowkun's breastplate.

"Like hell!" Gene said as he charged the number 21 shell. With the blade buried inside Shidowun's chest, the energy surged through his insides as it lifted him off the blade and sent him crashing into his throne. "Jim!" Gene yelled as he pulled his gun and shattered Jim's restraints with a ki bullet. "Take Melfina and get out of here."

"Got it," Jim said as Gene drew his shotgun and ran to where Shidowkun landed. Rushing over to Melfina's side, Jim drew a small cutting torch from inside his jacket. "Mel are you okay?"

"I'm all right," Melfina answered as Jim began to cut through the manacle around her right wrist. "Jim hurry! We can't let Gene fight Shidowkun alone!"

"Don't worry about Gene," Jim assured her as he finally melted through the first restraint's lock. "He can take care of himself. I'm more worried about getting us out of here before Shidowkun sees what we're doing."

Channeling the power into his guns, Gene stepped around the base of the platform, nearly tripping over the dead body of what looked like a Toku official. After shooting the number 21 shell Kord had given him straight into Shidowkun's body, the Toku Emperor had landed somewhere behind the platform. But as he stepped around the edge, all he could find was the knocked over throne. A sudden movement in the nearby shadows caught Gene's attention and he fired, blasting out a chunk of one of the pillars. Pursuing the retreating shadow, Gene wandered amongst the columns and the paper screens, reaching out with his feelings so that Shidowkun wouldn't take him by surprise again. Where are you? he wondered. Where are you going to attack me from this time?

"I am going to make you suffer for that." Gene whirled around, but saw nothing. Still, it sounded like Shidowkun's voice lacked its usual level of timbre.

"Something wrong? You sound a little sick."

"Don't patronize me you piece of Outlaw filth," Shidowkun growled, a sharp hiss of pain following.

"It hurts doesn't it?" Gene gloated. "That shell I used was custom made just for you, courtesy of the Dragon Clan."

"But a wound is all it is," Shidowkun replied, his voice echoing off the stone pillars. "Whatever discomfort that it causes is trivial in the face of my total power."

"What power?" Gene asked, his guns covering every possible angle of attack. "I know all about you and you're nothing but a thief. Every move you use was stolen from someone else. But when you stole the Destroyer's power was when you made your big mistake. And now, you're nothing but a puppet for a monster that never should have been born in the first place." Backing against one of the paper screens, Gene almost missed the presence materializing on the other side. Gene spun and dodged out of the way as Shidowkun's halberd tore through the paper where his left shoulder had just been leaning against. The Toku Emperor burst through the screen and Gene fired his ki bullets, only to miss as Shidowkun darted behind another pillar. Attacking Gene from the left, Shidowkun swung downwards and knocked both of Gene's guns out of his hands.

"You understand nothing!" Shidowkun roared as he stabbed relentlessly at Gene. "The Destroyer doesn't control me because I AM the Destroyer! I am its voice and its will! And my will is to cast this universe into the depths of hell!" In the close confines of the pillars, the length of Shidowkun's weapon made it a heavy liability, but was still to fast to get close. Dodging around a pillar, Gene attempted to attack from the rear when Shidowkun jabbed backward with his elbow, knocking Gene through another screen and onto the floor. Gene reached for his Caster blade and activated his ki sword as Shidowkun snapped his halberd down onto him, barely blocking the ax blade from amputating his arm.

"You know," Gene said as he pushed against Shidowkun's halberd, "there's nothing more annoying than a cliché supervillain. Have you even bothered to think about why you're doing this? Why go to all the trouble of turning the Toku into the biggest pirate guild in the galaxy if you're just going to burn it down?"

"I owe no explanation to a worm like you," Shidowkun answered. "Whatever I do, I do because it pleases me."

"Then I guess we're more alike than I realized." Reaching out with the power, Gene called his knife up from his boot and into this hand, activating a second ki sword and slashing at Shidowkun's face. Shidowkun bent out of the way, but the sword still managed to slice through his mask and helmet, leaving a bleeding gash across his face. Leaping to his feet, Gene braced both his ki swords as Shidowkun stumbled back. Only then did Gene notice the singed hole in the Emperor's chest and how it wasn't healing like his facial wound.

"Round two," he announced as he charged into Shidowkun. Realizing that the surroundings left him at a disadvantage, the Toku Emperor turned and crashed through one of the screens, escaping into the open floor of the throne room. Gene chased after him and swung his blades towards the wound on Shidowkun's chest, the power flowing through and guiding him as the swords clashed against Shidowkun's halberd. When one was blocked, the second attacked through the breach in Shidowkun's defenses. Locking his blades against Shidowkun's, Gene swung his leg and kicked Shidowkun's flank, distracting him enough for Gene to focus the power and send Shidowkun skidding backwards into a pillar with a push of his swords. With Shidowkun stunned, Gene reversed his grip on his knife's sword and tossed it straight through the hole in Shidowkun's chest, pinning him to the pillar as the emperor coughed up a mouthful of blood. "Game over!" Gene yelled as he leapt with his other sword aimed at Shidowkun's head, only to miss when Shidowkun sank into the column's shadows and vanished. Now where did he go, Gene wondered. Gene got his answer when an arm stretched out from the floor and hit him across his chin. Before Gene could even recover, multiple fists began attacking from every shadow in the room, striking him all over his head and body before two grabbed his coat and tossed him across the room and headfirst into the sarcophagus where Jim had finally freed Melfina.

"Gene!" Melfina cried out. Through the swirling rainbow of his vision, Gene looked up to see her and Jim kneel beside him as Shidowkun leapt up from the shadows, firing a volley of Hellfire blasts towards them. Shoving himself forward, Gene raised his hands and generated a shield, barely deflecting Shidowkun's attack as the Toku Emperor rose towards the ceiling and disappeared. With his head still ringing from the impact, Gene lost his concentration and his control over the Sword lessened.

"Gene are you okay?" Jim asked.

"Get out!" Gene ordered. "Take Melfina and get out!"

"But Gene you're hurt!" Melfina protested.

"Damn it don't argue with me just…" but before Gene could finish, Shidowkun burst out of the shadows on the floor surrounding them. With a whirl of his cape, Shidowkun knocked Jim across the room as he grabbed Gene by the throat and slammed him onto the floor, casting out his free hand to wrap Melfina head to toe in strands of black string.

"Do you understand now?" Shidowkun asked as he raised Gene into the air. "No matter what tricks you hide up your sleeves, no matter how hard you fight me, even if you manage to inflict a wound that I can't immediately heal; I cannot be stopped. I was spawned from the hatred of the entire universe. And as long as hate exists, then so will I." Shidowkun clenched his fist and the shadowy wires he had bound around Melfina began to tighten. "Now you are going to pay the price of defying me by watching me tear your little doll to pieces." Fighting to remain conscious, Gene watched as the wires across Melfina's body began to squeeze across her skin, the ones around her throat preventing her from even screaming in pain when the throne room's double doors suddenly exploded with an impact from the other side. Shidowkun ceased his torture of Melfina and turned around as a tall and muscular figure appeared in the entrance.

"Get away from them!" Mazren snarled as something leapt over his head. In a flash, Suzuka cut through the wires binding Melfina. Gasping and gagging for air, Melfina fell to her knees as Suzuka charged for Shidowkun. Aiming her bokuto for his torso, Suzuka stopped as Shidowkun swung Gene into her path before heel kicking her aside.

"Pathetic," Shidowkun mocked as he noticed Mazren carrying Melfina away. Raising his hand, Shidowkun prepared to fire into Mazren's back when Slag leapt onto him, sinking his fangs into Shidowkun's forearm. With a snarl of rage, Shidowkun dropped Gene and flailed his arm, flinging Slag off and on to the floor. The eyes of the Toku Emperor blazed with fury as he advanced towards Slag when a shockwave knocked him off his feet and sent him flying through a paper screen. As Suzuka chased after him, Aisha darted past and snatched Gene off the floor; carrying him to the safety behind a nearby column. Looking up at the Ctarl who he frequently argued with and insulted, Gene forced himself to smile.

"Never thought I'd be glad to see your face," he remarked.

"Don't flatter yourself," Aisha told him. "I'm just making sure I get paid back what everything you still owe me." Reaching to her belt, Aisha pulled out what looked like a metal flask. "It looks like you're got a concussion so you'd better drink this."

"What is it?"

"Will you just do what I say!" Aisha yelled as she grabbed Gene's chin and forced the stuff down his throat. Gene coughed and gagged as he felt the searing liquid burn through his esophagus and set his entire body on fire. "Good," Aisha said as she stood up. "Now let the stuff do its work and get you ass back in the fight when you're healed up."

"Wait!" Gene called out.


"Aim for the wound on his chest. He can't heal it." Aisha frowned as though Gene giving her advice was an insult before shrugging her shoulders.

"Oh all right. Since you want to get out of here with Mel I'll do things the easy way." As Aisha left to help Suzuka fight Shidowkun, Gene looked to the side and saw Mazren and Slag taking Jim and Melfina out of the throne room. Well at least they're safe, Gene thought.

Expecting Shidowkun to still be stunned from her Thunderous Shockwave, Suzuka ran through the torn paper screen just in time to see Shidowkun sink into the floor shadows. Attempting to force him out like she did with the Yokai that had attacked her and Aisha, Suzuka spun her sword and generated a cyclone of air that rose from the floor to the ceiling. Something fell from the shadows above her and Suzuka leapt towards it. Her bokuto flashed in the air, but all she succeeded in was cutting a discarded cape. Sensing something appear behind her, Suzuka kicked at a nearby pillar and pushed herself out of the way as Shidowkun lunged at her, his clawed gauntlet carving out a large chunk from the stone pillar. From his back, several shadowy tentacles formed and lunged towards Suzuka. Catching the attack with the Buddha's Wheel, Suzuka attempted to throw Shidowkun off balance when the tentacles spun in the same direction as her technique, hurling Suzuka to the ground. Shidowkun dropped towards her and was about to plant his knee into her heart when Aisha intercepted him, grabbing his ankle and throwing him across the floor. Aisha jumped and prepared to drive her claws into Shidowkun's wound when the shadow tentacles writhing out of his back wrapped around her body and slammed her into a pillar. Cracking the stone column with her tough Ctarl body, Aisha dropped to the floor as Shidowkun rose to his feet; the tentacles weaving together into a new cape.

"You think that you can match me?" he asked. "I've absorbed the fighting styles and techniques from some of the deadliest fighters in the Galaxy. I can counter any attack you throw at me and create a new strategy before you could even blink." Rising to her feet, Aisha cracked her neck muscles as she readied herself for her second strike.

"I've said it before and I'll say it again," she growled. "I really can't stand arrogant bastards like you who think they can plan out every little thing!"

"Come at me then," Shidowkun challenged. Not one to disappoint, Aisha bulged her muscles and launched herself roaring into Shidowkun.

"Slag Come on!"

Mazren? Melfina wondered. When Shidowkun tried to crush her, Melfina had almost passed out when something cut her loose and she dropped to the floor. Melfina fought to suppress the soreness that seemed to scream though her entire body when someone grabbed her by the waist and lifted her off the ground. At first fearing the Shidowkun had grabbed her again, Melfina realized that whoever was carrying her wasn't wearing any armor. As the throne room erupted into the sounds of a chaotic battle, Melfina felt her carrier pick up something else before bounding out the door with her. Once her head had cleared, Melfina looked up to see her brother setting her and Jim down in a hallway outside Shidowkun's throne room.

"You two okay?" Mazren asked as Slag padded out from behind him.

"I'm still a little sore," Melfina answered. "But I'm okay."

"Same here," Jim answered. "I guess he decided I wasn't worth the effort."

"I'll make sure to get him back for you," Mazren said as he stood up. "Now Jim, you and Slag take Melfina back to the Outlaw Star and wait for us."

"Got it," Jim answered.

"Wait a minute," Melfina said. "Mazren I can fight too. I can weaken Shidowkun so you and the others can…"

"I'm sorry Melfina but no," Mazren said. "In this fight, you're a liability. Not an asset."


"Mazren's right Mel," Jim said. "If you die then Shidowkun wins. All he needs is one good shot to take you out and its over." Melfina looked to Shidowkun's throne room where the others were still fighting on before nodding in consent.

"Okay." Jim and Mazren were right. At the moment just being near Gene made her a threat to him. All she could do was hope and pray that he and the others would make it through all right.

"Melfina," Mazren said. She looked up to her brother as he gave her an assuring smile. "Don't worry. I promise I'll do whatever it takes to make sure Gene comes back to you." As Mazren turned and headed back into the throne room, Melfina shook her head to make sure she wasn't still delirious. Had Mazren just called Gene by his first name?

"Mel come on!" Jim yelled as he tugged on her hand. "We've got to get out of here before Shidowkun catches on to us."

"Yes of course," Melfina said as she followed Jim and Slag down the hall towards an open staircase.

With claws that could eviscerate a human with a single slash and fingers that could punch through oak, Aisha stabbed at the kinks in Shidowkun's armor; attempting to slash his exposed joints.

"Haven't you tried this before?" Shidowkun mocked as he easily swatted away her hands. "I didn't work then so why should it…" but Shidowkun received his answer as Aisha's claws ripped across his chest wound, tearing the burned hole even bigger. Aisha made another grab for the wound but Shidowkun grabbed her wrist, using her momentum to throw her up onto the platform. Bouncing off the impact, Aisha fell behind the podium and was in the process of getting back up when she noticed the two objects lying beside her. That idiot just gave me idea, she thought.

Clutching his chest, Shidowkun's concentration faltered as something landed on his head and wrapped around his shoulders. With his coat blinding and distracting the Toku Emperor, Gene pulled his backup revolver and fired; the ki bullets blasting through Shidowkun's armor and into his body.

"Suzuka now!" At Gene's signal, Suzuka focused her ki and charged for Shidowkun; her Flying Swallow technique ready to carve his head into pieces. She was within seconds of striking when Shidowkun sunk into the floor, leaving behind only Gene's coat. Realizing what was about to happen, Gene ran to Suzuka and raised his ki shield around them as multiple Hellfire blasts rained on them from above. Gene lowered his shield and Suzuka projected a shockwave towards the ceiling as Shidowkun leapt out of hiding, his re-splitting into multiple tentacles that stretched towards them. Gene and Suzuka ran out of the way as Shidowkun's attack struck everywhere at once, splitting the stone tiles and columns like fragile glass. Swerving left, Gene almost crashed into one of the pillars and broke to a halt, allowing one of the cape tentacles to grab onto his leg and hurl him into Suzuka. With them both down and stunned, Shidowkun's cape tendrils wrapped around their torsos and lifted them into the air.

"I have had enough of your friends meddling with my affairs Gene Starwind," Shidowkun announced as he pointed a glowing hand towards Suzuka. "So I'm going to put an end to it starting with her."

"Not while I'm around!" Turning to where Aisha's voice had come, Shidowkun watched as a figure hurled itself towards him from across the room. With a flick of his arm, Shidowkun turned his attention towards his attacker and fired, blasting the figure into a smoking pile of ash. Only afterwards did Shidowkun see the singed remains of a robe did he realize that what he though was Aisha Clan-Clan was in fact his former Majordomo. "Looking for me?" Shidowkun snapped his head around just in time to see Aisha swing his throne into him, slamming him all the way across the chamber. Shidowkun bounced off the wall and landed on the floor as Aisha leapt towards him and smashed his throne down onto him, hammering him into the floor and breaking his arm. With a roar, Aisha lifted the throne a second time as Shidowkun's body generated an energy field that bounced the impact back at her, knocking the throne out of her grip. With Aisha thrown off balance, Shidowkun lurched out of the depression and punched upwards, creating a cyclone that sucked Aisha inside and threw her into the air. Aisha had just reached the height of her ascent when Shidowkun leaped towards her. Planting his fist in the small of her back, Shidowkun flipped his body and kicked Aisha earthward where she landed in the same pit she had laid him out in. Okay that hurt, Aisha thought as she rolled over and saw Shidowkun drop towards her, a ball of dark energy forming in his hand. Shidowkun was in the midst of hurling the projectile towards her when something black intercepted him, slashing a metal blade at his face. Shidowkun saw the attack and rolled, using his hands to push himself through the air as Mazren took position beside Aisha. The Toku Emperor righted himself and threw the energy ball towards them as Mazren punched with his ThunderFist, deflecting the ball back towards Shidowkun. Shidowkun casually slapped the ball aside and flipped backwards as Mazren charged his sword and slashed upward, the Sky Reaving Lightning Blade missing Shidowkun by inches.

"Is that the best you can do?" Shidowkun smirked as he prepared another energy ball. "What exactly were you aiming at?"

"My target," Mazren answered as the chamber began to fill with the sound of creaking metal and crumbling stone. Shidowkun looked above him and his eyes widened as the top of a nearby pillar and the roof that it supported; weakened by both his and Mazren's attacks; collapsed and came crashing down on top of him. Knowing that their enemy wouldn't be killed so easily; the four outlaws took the moment as a chance to catch their breath before the next round.

"You all right?" Mazren asked as Aisha climbed to her feet.

"Don't worry about me!" Aisha boasted as she licked the blood from her bleeding lip. "That guy looks tough, but he hits even worse than Gene!" Ignoring her comment, Gene turned to Mazren.

"Hey, where's Mel?"

"Don't worry about her. Slag and Jim are taking her back to the ship through the secret stairway. They'll be fine so long as we keep Shidowkun here."

"Then let's finish this so we can go home," Gene said as he pulled his revolver and Caster blade. He and the others approached the rubble from all sides as red light began to seep through the pile's cracks,

"Get ready everyone," Suzuka warned. "From here on in we all have to fight him at once. And make sure he doesn't escape into the shadows again." No sooner had Suzuka finished than the wreckage erupted in a tower of flaming red energy, scattering debris throughout the chamber. In the geyser's center, a man shaped figure levitated into the air.

"You insolent filth!" Shidowkun roared. "You think I'm going to let you get away with humiliating me? I'm going to boil your blood and explode you from the inside out!" Channeling the sword's power, Gene felt the energy flow through his body as his Caster blade glowed and erupted with his ki sword.

"Bring it on!" he said.

As she followed Slag and Jim threw the winding stairway, Melfina occasionally glanced over her shoulder. Half of it was hoping to see Gene and the others suddenly appear behind them, the other half was the hesitation that slowly consumed her heart the further she got away from Shidowkun. I'm doing the right thing aren't I? she asked herself. Mazren and Jim told me to get away from Shidowkun, that I'd only cause Gene more problems if I stayed. She knew that there was some truth that. Even if she did somehow have the power to hurt Shidowkun, he had deliberately captured her to lead Gene into a trap. If she stayed, he might take her hostage again or even worse. If I stayed then I'd just be putting myself and everyone else in danger, she thought. That was the way it always was. Every time things got too dangerous, Gene or one of the others would tell her to hide someplace safe while they dealt with the threat themselves. Melfina always did as she was told in those situations no matter how much she wanted to help because she knew that there was nothing that she could really do. But it's different this time, Melfina thought. This time I can do something. But they told me to hide. If I don't I'll be putting Gene in danger. But if I don't then he and the others may not comeback. I'll lose them forever.

"Mel wait up," Jim ordered as he halted.

"What's wrong Jim?"

"I smell smoke. Wait here a moment." Jim released her hand as he and Slag peered around the corner. Melfina took another look behind her and realized that she would have to make her decision now, to flee or to fight. Either way, she risked losing everything that mattered to her. "Never mind," Jim said as he and Slag returned. "Whatever it was its over." Melfina followed Jim and Slag around the bend and found herself in the fallout of a war zone. The entire corridor had been singed black and part of the wall had been blasted out. In the center of the devastation, the singed remains of a human body lay on the steps beside a charred staff.

"Jim wait," Melfina said. "Please let's go around." Jim looked up to her then back to the damaged hallway before nodding.

"Yeah sure," he said. "That's probably a good idea. The stairs might be more damaged than they look." Heading back the way they came, Jim flicked a switch on the wall, opening a doorway that led them into the fortress's maze-like hallways. Pulling out his PA, Jim analyzed the floor plans for a way out. "By my guess, we're on the 15th floor. There's a stairway down the hall after the second turn that goes down to…"

"Jim," Melfina interrupted.

"Yeah what?" Jim turned around and Melfina kneeled down to embrace him as tightly as she could, a single tear passing from her cheek onto his. "Mel what's wrong?"

"I want you to know that no matter what happens," she told him, "I love you and the others very much."

"Mel wait a minute! You're not going to…" but before he could finish, Melfina grabbed his shoulders and shoved him into Slag. The two of them crashed to the floor and Melfina ran back into the emergency stairway. The door closed behind her, and Melfina grabbed a piece of loose stone from the floor, jamming it into the switch so that Jim couldn't follow her as a stinging pain struck her heart. She knew that Jim had suffered because she had chosen to surrender herself to Shidowkun, and now she was making him suffer even more by going back to fight. I'm sorry Jim, but I have to do this. It wasn't just for Gene and the others; it was for herself as well. If she didn't go back, if she didn't stand up to Shidowkun, Melfina knew that she'd never be able to stand up to anyone else. She'd always be hiding from danger and she'd always be dependant on others to take care of her. Believe in Gene, your feelings and most of all in yourself; that was what the voice had told her. In the throne room, when Shidowkun had her chained to the sarcophagus, Melfina had been too scared to remember that. It wasn't a mistake she was going to make a second time.

Wiping the tears from her eyes, Melfina steeled her resolve and began to climb the stairway back up to Shidowkun's throne room alone, ready to face whatever came her way.

"Mel!" Jim shouted as he pounded on the doorway. "Mel don't do it! Mel no!" Realizing that the door wasn't opening, Jim grabbed his PA and frantically searched for another path. On the next hall over, Jim found an elevator that looked like it went all the way up to Shidowkun's throne room. The fortress's system was still trashed by CrackerJack's virus, but maybe there was a way for Jim to jury rig an overpass. It was his only hope. "Move it!" he shouted to Slag. If they were going to stop Mel in time then they would have to hurry.

Unbeknownst to Melfina, she wasn't actually alone. Around the corner, a lone figure had silently watched the incident between her and Jim, his hand clutching his chest

"Is it really necessary to allow her to go back?" Karg asked. "Is this really the only way?"

I'm afraid it is, the voice told him. Gene still hasn't mastered the Sword to the level that he can kill Shidowkun. If something isn't done soon, then the results would be nothing short of catastrophic.

"Be that as it may I still think you're taking a big chance. Gene Starwind may be strong, but even he might not be able to pull himself through something like that. I certainly wasn't. And how do you know that you'll be able to reach him afterwards?"

Melfina has faith in him and so do I. Besides, if Melfina plays her role well it may not even come to that. There are still too many factors to determine what the exact outcome of her actions will be.

"In that case," Karg added, "then I suppose I'd better get up there to play my role shouldn't I?"

I think that would be preferable.

Forming a Hellfire Lash in both hands, Shidowkun leapt and spun through the air; knocking away Suzuka and Mazren as they charged him from both sides. He then turned his attention to Aisha; whipping and snapping the flaming tendrils at she leapt and bounded off the densely grouped pillars. With his enemy focused on the Ctarl, Gene ran around to Shidowkun's blindside and fired his ki bullets. Shidowkun saw the attack and twirled one whip in a spiral, deflecting Gene's attack away from him. Shidowkun was in the midst of cracking the lash towards Gene when Aisha struck from above. Swinging her leg, Aisha connected with a roundhouse to Shidowkun's head before twisting her body and heel kicking him in his chest. Coughing up a mouthful of blood, Shidowkun was powerless to stop Aisha from grabbing him by the throat and arm, lifting him off his feet and spinning him overhead before throwing him into the air.

"Maz!" Aisha yelled.

"Got it!" Mazren yelled back. Pulling three knives from his sleeves, Mazren charged them with the Lightning Blade Dart before throwing them into Shidowun's heart, throat, and stomach. The Toku Emperor seemed to be suspended in mid air as the electrified throwing knives discharged their energy into his body before falling back down to earth, only to be blasted into a wall when Gene fired a blazing energy wave from his Caster Blade.

"All yours!" he told Suzuka.

"With pleasure," the assassin said as she snapped her bokuto down, creating a tornado that howled across the floor and crashed into Shidowkun, blasting out a good section of the wall. As the smoke cleared, the four outlaws began to convene on where Shidowkun had last been spotted, only to find a hole in the wall and the shredded remains of his cape.

"Did we get him?" Aisha asked her shredded Ctarl uniform stained with both her and Shidowkun's blood.

"No way it could be that easy," Mazren commented, one eye swollen shut from when Shidowkun had slammed him face first into the ground.

"When was the easy part?" Gene gasped. His wounds weren't as bad as the others, but the strain of using the sword's power nonstop had made his muscles feel as though he had been pulled through a meat grinder.

"Maybe we have," Suzuka said, pulling off a strip of her torn kimono to tie back her now loose and disheveled hair. "I can't sense his presence anywhere in the room. But that doesn't mean we should let our guard down just yet."

"How right you are." Before any of them could react, something burst up from the ground, the force of its entrance blasting them onto their backs. Taking quick advantage of his opponent's confusion, Shidowkun launched himself first towards Aisha. Leaping back to her feet, Aisha readied her claws and met her attacker head on. They were less than six feet apart when Shidowkun waved his arms and suddenly grew four new ones. Dazzled by Shidowkun's surprise technique, Aisha attempted to block all six arms at once, only to pass through four of them as if they were thin air before Shidowkun struck across her face and stomach. Backed against a column and unable to determine which arms were real, Aisha found herself unable to defend as Shidowkun's punches seemed to come from every direction at once.

"Are you beginning to realize now?" Shidowkun asked as he grabbed her throat. "I can keep fighting forever but you and your friends will eventually tire out." Pulling back his hand, Shidowkun attempted to spear Aisha straight through the heart when a blur of white ran past him, slicing off both his arms in a single pass.

"Then we'll just keep fighting you until we die," Suzuka said. As the Toku Emperor called back and reattached his severed limbs, Suzuka realized that what Shidowkun said had a ring of truth to it. The first time they had fought him, they had been too exhausted to make any significant damage. This time, they had engaged him at their full strength but by now were nearly bled dry. Suzuka knew her limits and she was quickly approaching them. Regardless, she would keep fighting until either she or Shidowkun was dead. There was too much on the line personally and universally to do so otherwise.

Retreating back into the throne room's open floor, Suzuka drew Shidowkun to where she had the advantage. Creating another Hellfire lash in one hand, Shidowkun cracked the whip towards the floor, knocking free whatever tiles weren't smashed and sending them flying towards Suzuka. Gripping her bokuto in both hands, Suzuka swung and shattered the stone missiles one after the other but failed to gain any advancement against Shidowkun's attack. With a snap of his flaming tendril, Shidowkun kicked up several broken tiles, their razor sharp shards flying towards her. Realizing that deflecting the shards would send them into one of the others, Suzuka slashed downwards, creating a gust of wind that parted the cloud of stones and redirected their path when something burst through the remaining shards and sunk its teeth into her forearm. Crying out in pain, Suzuka dropped her bokuto as a second object appeared and bit into her thigh. While she was focused on the shards, Shidowkun had fired two of his Dragon Fangs, holding her trapped.

"Burn in hell!" Shidowkun growled. Opening his jaws, Suzuka watched as a third Dragon Fang burst from the Emperor's mouth and roared towards her stomach. The Dragon was just about to rip into her when a wave of lighting energy slammed into it, eradicating all three Dragon Fangs and knocking Shidowkun onto his back.

"Up here asshole!" Mazren yelled as he leapt up and onto a nearby pillar. Accelerating the ki flow in his arms, Mazren threw out his fist and fired the Thunder Fist Dragon. The blazing wave of energy was just about to strike its mark when Shidowkun waved his hands and created a barrier of dark energy that absorbed Mazren's technique and redirected it back at him. Flipping off the column, Mazren avoided the attack and threw his last two throwing knives towards Shidowkun. The Toku Emperor slapped them away as Mazren drew his sword and lunged, his Lighting Blade poised to cleave Shidowkun in two when Shidowkun flattened his hands and caught the electrified blade between them. Pulling down, Shidowkun threw Mazren off balance and spin kicked him in his arm. A sickening crack filled the throne room and Mazren's broken arm lost its grip on his sword. Regaining control, Shidowkun pushed on the blade and drove the pommel of the handle into Mazren's throat. Mazren's eyes bulged and he coughed up blood before falling to the floor where he wheezed in agony.

"I let you live because I thought that you might prove useful in my overall plans," Shidowkun stated as he prepared to cut Mazren down with his own sword. "But I'd say you've outlived your usefulness."

"Like hell!" Whirling around, Shidowkun blocked Gene's ki sword with Mazren's katana, the reinforced steel blade glowing with Shidowkun's Hellfire. Locking his sword against Shidowkun's, Gene pressed forward, pushing Shidowkun back until the Toku Emperor suddenly yielded. With a twist of his sword, Shidowkun turned Gene's momentum against him and flipped him onto his back, the Caster Blade flying from his hand to land amongst the remaining pillars. Attempting to roll out of the way, Gene reached for his revolver when something stabbed into his left shoulder, making him scream in agony

"Pathetic," Shidowkun snarled as he twisted the glowing and extended claw into Gene's flesh. Gene bit down against the pain and attempted to reach with his other arm, only to cry out again as the claw from Shidowkun's thumb extended into his right forearm. "You don't know the first thing about using the Sword's true power. You wouldn't even have it if I hadn't deemed you worthy of delivering it to me in the first place." From Shidowkun's pinky, a third claw extended down to stab Gene through his right hip. "And now, I'm going to teach you the error of your ignorance by holding you here as I rip out your friends'…"


Growling in shock and pain, Shidowkun pulled his claws out of Gene and stumbled back. Clutching his wounds, Gene gasped in exhaustion and pain before he realized what was going on. Oh no, he thought. Praying that he was wrong, Gene forced himself to look towards the entrance of the throne room, his blood running cold as he saw Melfina standing in the doorway.

"Well this is unexpected," Shidowkun smirked. "You saved me quite a bit of trouble girl. Now I don't have to hunt you down and drag you back here." Stepping away from Gene, Shidowkun spawned a dagger of Hellfire from his hand as he advanced towards Melfina. Around the throne room, the others began to peel themselves off the floor, their own faces growing the same look of horror as they saw who Shidowkun had now turned his attention to.

"Stop it!" Gene wheezed as he forced himself to stand. "Get away from her!"

"Like you could do anything to stop me," Shidowkun mocked, the distance between him and Melfina closing rapidly.

"I'm not going to run from you," she said.

"That suits me perfectly," Shidowkun growled. "I've wasted enough time as it is and…"

"I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU!" With Melfina's scream, Shidowkun cried out in pain as an invisible force pushed him back across the floor. "That's why you acted the way you did isn't it?" Melfina asked as she stepped through the doorway. "If you really wanted to trap Gene, you could have kept me locked away. But you didn't. You dressed me up like a doll, told me I belonged to you, tried to convince me that Gene wouldn't come for me; all to prove just how powerless I was against to you." Melfina began to cross the floor towards Shidowkun, and for a brief second; Gene saw something akin to fear in the Toku Emperor's eyes. "All this time, I was so afraid of what you would do to me or the others that I couldn't see the truth. You didn't bring me here just to trap Gene. You wanted to prove to yourself that I was no threat to you. It's because you're the one who's really afraid aren't you?" Shidowkun's eyes blazed red with fury as a ball of dark energy began to form in his hand.

"You honestly think that I'm afraid of a weakling like you!" Shidowkun snarled. "You're nothing but a cheap copy of someone who could only imprison me. You don't even have the power to access the Leyline anymore so don't think that…"

"I WON'T LET YOU WIN!" Melfina screamed, her eyes turning white. Again, Shidowkun was pushed back, the energy ball in his hands dissipating into the air as he slumped to the floor. Off to the side, Gene and the others watched in amazement as Melfina did more damage to Shidowkun in one minute than they had in their entire fight with him. "I WON'T RUN, I WON'T HIDE, AND I WON'T LET YOU HURT THE PEOPLE I LOVE ANYMORE!" Each time Melfina yelled, Shidowkun's body spasmed and he screamed in pain; the light of his eyes beginning to dull and fade as he doubled over. Suddenly, the light in Melfina's eyes began to dim as well before they returned to their usual warm brown. With a groan, Melfina's legs wobbled as she fell to her knees, her chest heaving in exhaustion. From where he kneeled, Shidowkun began to laugh in heaving gasps before he slowly rose to his feet.

"You may hold the power to harm me," he told her. "Especially with the Sword enhancing your ki as it did. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it enhanced your reserves as well. With them depleted your no threat to me now." Reaching down, Shidowkun cupped Melfina's chin and her eyes grew a mixture of realization and fear. "If I had known that sooner maybe then I could have taken the one thing my power couldn't grant me. But I suppose now I'll just have to snap your neck."

"Aren't you forgetting something though?" As Shidowkun looked over his shoulder, Aisha grabbed him in a Full Nelson, pulling him off of Mel before swinging him around her shoulders and driving him headfirst towards the floor. Shidowkun was just about to impact when he reached out with his hand and braced himself from impact, allowing him to wrap his legs around Aisha's neck and throw her to the floor as he twisted free of her grip. Spinning to his feet, Shidowkun was about to stomp his foot on Aisha's throat when Gene charged him from behind, plunging his spare knife into Shidowkun's spine. Shidowkun roared in pain and swung blindly, sending Gene flying into a pillar where he slumped to the floor. Shidowkun was in the midst of pulling the blade out when Mazren slammed into him, his strength focused into one last Thunder Fist that sent Shidowkun flying towards Suzuka. Suzuka slashed her bokuto in an attempt to cut off Shidowkun's head, but the Toku Emperor twisted his body and took the attack on his left arm instead. Lacking the energy to either regrow or reattach his limb, Shidowkun instead braced his foot onto the floor and spin-kicked Suzuka into Mazren just as he saw Melfina running towards where Gene lay.

"Hold it!" he snarled. Pulling Gene's knife from his back, Shidowkun took aim and threw it towards her. Melfina turned around and froze in fear before something threw itself in front of her.

"Oh no you don't!" Aisha yelled as she slapped the knife away, the blade ricocheting off her tough Ctarl skin. Surprised by the Aisha's sudden interference, Shidowkun raised an energy field that deflected back the knife at the last moment, realizing too late that it was now headed towards Gene. The glint of light caught Gene's eye and he looked up too see his own knife hurtling towards him when a small figure leapt between him and the knife; taking it for herself. Time seemed to halt as every person in the room looked in shock as Melfina staggered and fell backwards into Gene's arms, her blood staining her dress and alabaster skin. In the throne room's doorway, Jim and Slag suddenly appeared, and Jim's face paled at what he saw. He and the others slowly began to collect around Gene as he cradled Melfina in his arms, his body numb with shock and denial.

"Melfina," he said. "Why?" Melfina looked up to him and smiled weakly at him.

"You said that you wouldn't let anyone hurt me," she whispered. "Neither could I. But…I can smell your cologne Gene. I know you're with me…so I don't have to be afraid."

"Melfina no!" Gene yelled. "We'll get you back to the ship! We'll put you in your tank and you'll get better! Melfina please don't do this to me!" But he could already feel Melfina's pulse beginning to weaken in his arms.

"Gene," Melfina said as her eyes closed, "thank you…for everything."

And then, her body became still.

After rejoining the rest of the Clan fighters, Keibara led them higher into the fortress's levels. Her body was still sore from her fight with Aeslea but she felt great, as if a huge weight had been lifted off of her. Fighting at the head of the others, Keibara forged a path for their descent up to the fifteenth floor where they were forced to take shelter from an unexpected enemy.

"Keep your heads down!" Keibara ordered as the bolts of energy blazed around their heads. She and the others were in what looked like some kind of shrine. At one end, six men in robes pointed staffs in their direction. These weren't the blaster spears that the guards had used. These were more like ceremonial rods which fired streams of energy from their headpieces. What the hell are Tao Masters doing here? Keibara asked. I thought Skinny said these guys were martial artists. "Just remember what Master Jubei taught us about Tao magic. "Just wait them out and they'll tire themselves out soon." Suddenly, one of the robed sorcerers realized she was the leader and fired an energy wave from his staff in her direction. Barely leaping out of the way in time, Keibara flipped and rolled between the bolts of energy when her foot caught on a piece of broken tile and she lost her balance. Seeing her fall, several of the clan ninjas came out of hiding and rushed to rescue her. "No stay back!" she warned. But by then it was too late. Combining their energies, the Tao masters each fired an energy wave that wove together as it raced towards Keibara and the others. The wave was only seconds from impacting when something struck its head, splitting and turning it back towards the Tao Masters. As the Tao masters were incinerated by the power of their own attack, Keibara looked behind her and smiled in relief at the sight of Master Jubei.

"All you all alright?" the Wiseman asked.

"We've had a few close calls," Keibara answered as she and the others surrounded their leader. "But so far we haven't had any fatalities."

"Most of the fortress's defenses seem to be automated, resulting in only a minimal number of guards. And with Gene Starwind's virus disrupting everything else, it's not surprising that a small group like ours was able to penetrate so easily." Studying Keibara's face, Master Jubei smiled slightly. "It would seem as though you've regained yourself Keibara."

"Yeah you could say that. I took care of some unfinished business, but I'm all right now."

"As did I. Now then, let's continue. I can sense that Gene Starwind and his friends are still…" but as he spoke, Master Jubei's face changed into shock.

"Master Jubei?" Keibara asked.

"How could I have not sensed this before?" he asked aloud. "Gene Starwind is currently…"and then, Master Jubei's face paled as his eyes widened in fear. "All of you listen up!" he ordered. "Get back to our ship and get far away from this planet now!"

"Wait a minute!" Keibara said. "What's going on now?" But Master Jubei ignored her as he turned and ran down the same hall he had just come from.

"What's wrong with Master Jubei?" someone behind her asked. "He really can't expect us to just leave him here." Keibara didn't understand either. But this time felt different from when Jubei had first left their group. Something was wrong. Keibara could feel it in her heart that something bad had happened and the worse was yet to come.

"Don't question Master Jubei's command!" Keibara ordered. "Everyone, pick yourselves up and get back to the ship!"

Shidowkun couldn't believe it. In the span of an instant, he had gone from complete failure to absolute triumph. The android girl was dead, bleeding out in Gene Starwind's arms. Now it was only a matter of seconds before Gene Starwind performed his ultimate role. Despite being weakened from the android's ki and the wounds her friends had inflicted on him afterwards, Shidowkun began chuckling to himself.

"Well that was a bit more anti-climatic than I originally planned" he thought aloud. "But it seems to have worked out in the end." Around Gene Starwind, his friends turned towards Shidowkun, their eyes radiating with unbridled rage. Under normal circumstances, he would have gladly taken their souls for himself. But they weren't his target and he would need all his concentration to take both Gene Starwind and the Sword. In the meantime though, he could use the energy of their hatred to replenish his own. "I must admit that there is a certain irony to this. After all, she died by a weapon her own lover used to protect her with." Shidowkun felt their anger reach its peak and he waited for them to strike. Surprisingly, it was the boy who attacked first.

"MURDERER!" Leaping to his feet, the boy charged towards him, pulling a gun and firing at Shidowkun. Smirking in disdain, Shidowkun extended his arm and grabbed the boy by his throat, lifting him into the air.

"And what do you plan to do about it?" he asked as the android man lunged forward, grabbing Shidowkun around the ribs with his good arm. In his surprise, Shidowkun let go and dropped the boy to the floor where he lay unconscious.

"You filthy son of a bitch!" Mazren growled as he began to raise Shidowkun off his feet, his arm constricting around the Toku Emperor's chest. "I'm going to pop you like a zit and flush you down the drain!"

"Unlikely," Shidowkun replied as he planted both knees into the android man's stomach. Mazren coughed up a mouthful of blood and let go. As Mazren fell to his knees, Shidowkun prepared to drive his clawed gauntlet into the android man's throat when the Ctarl leapt onto his back, sinking her fangs into his neck. Growling in surprise, Shidowkun reached behind to pull her off when the wolf charged him, grabbing Shidowkun's wrist in his jaws and crushing both his armor and the bones underneath. With Shidowkun distracted, Suzuka dashed forward, swinging her bokuto up and down onto Shidowkun's skull and embedding the wooden blade in his brain. More amused than injured by their attacks, Shidowkun raised his aura and the energy field blasted all three of them off of him.

"When are you fools going to learn?" he taunted as he began to repair the damage they had dealt him. "You can't defeat me because I can't be defeated. Especially when your own rage is what replenishes me." Seeing that Aisha was still conscious Shidowkun began to stalk towards her. "If I were you I would stay down. You are all going to die soon so there's no need to rush it." As he expected, the Ctarl woman began to stagger to her feet. She has remarkable strength even for a Ctarl, he thought. It's a shame I never found a chance to recruit her for myself. She could have been even more useful than Aeslea. And in more ways than one.

"You bastard!" Aisha growled as her pupils began to narrow into vertical slits, her Ctarl uniform tearing as her body transformed. "I will never forgive you for WHAT YOU'VE DONE!" With a roar and a flurry of shredding clothes, the Ctarl's body morphed into that of tiger-striped beast and lunged for him. Whirling aside, Shidowkun dodged her attack as she turned around and came for a second pass. The dance repeated itself twice before Shidowkun grabbed his cape and flicked it towards her, wrapping the Ctarl in its folds before unwrapping and throwing her into a column. Before the beast had a chance to get up, Shidowkun fired a blast of dark lighting from his hand that danced across her body. The Ctarl roared and fought back briefly but ultimately collapsed onto the floor where she transformed back into her humanoid shape.

"An unwise idea," Shidowkun commented above the naked Ctarl's body. "You already used up too much energy by fighting me. Now it looks as though you're going to die of exhaustion. Though I suppose I could be merciful and put you out of you misery." Raising his hand, Shidowkun prepared to fire an energy blast onto her when he sensed someone behind him. Turning around, Shidowkun smirked at the sight of Suzuka and Mazren, both their swords drawn to face him.

"Get away from her you son of a bitch!" Mazren snarled, his unbroken arm pointing his katana at Shidowkun's throat.

"This fight is far from over," Suzuka warned. "Not while we're still alive."

"Actually," Shidowkun said as he pointed behind them. "I've already won." Suzuka and Mazren looked behind them and their faces paled in realization. Gene was standing up; Melfina's body lying at his feet as his shoulders began to shake in fury. Around him, the air shimmered with a red aura that quickly began to intensify. From underneath his bangs, Gene's eyes began to glow as red as Shidowkun's while tears of rage poured down his face.

"Gene stop!" Mazren warned.

"Come!" Shidowkun ordered. With a scream of rage and despair, the air around Gene exploded in a surge of wildly blazing energy before launching towards Shidowkun, blasting Mazren and Suzuka aside as he plunged his fist into Shidowkun's chest wound. A flash of light and a roar like a sonic boom filled the throne room, almost knocking Suzuka and Mazren out. As the light faded, the two of them watched as Gene's body was knocked backwards and landed beside Melfina's.

"No!" Suzuka screamed.

"YES!" Shidowkun laughed. "I FEEL IT. THE POWER, THE ENERGY OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE FLOWING INSIDE ME." Turning their attention towards Shidowkun, Suzuka and Mazren watched as his body began to pulse, the excess energy whirling around him like a hurricane. From the stub of his left arm, several fleshy tendrils extended and reformed into a new forearm as his damaged armor began to repair itself. On Shidowkun's back, his tattered cape reformed itself into two wing-like halves as the singed hole in his chest finally closed itself up.

"We've got to do something!" Mazren yelled. "If he escapes with the Sword than it's all over."

"How?" Suzuka asked.

"Anyway we can." He and Suzuka looked to each other and nodded. Pointing their blades, they both charged for Shidowkun who looked at them with a mixture of annoyance and amusement.

"Oh really?" Shidowkun intensified his aura, and the energy wave blasted Suzuka and Mazren off their feet. Landing in a heap, they attempted to pick themselves back up, but found that the last of their strength had been used up.

"I've got to admit," Mazren said as he looked up to where Suzuka lay on top of him. "I can think of worse ways to die."

"Men," Suzuka sighed. Feeling Shidowkun's power approach, they looked up to see him hovering above them.

"I tire of this game," he said. "Now die!" Raising his hand, Shidowkun's aura began to concentrate itself around his outstretched fingertip as he prepared to fire.

(Melfina is dead. Gene has given in to his rage and both he and the Sword have been absorbed by Shidowkun. With the Sword's unlimited power in his hands, the universe is now doomed to an eternity of living hell…or is it. Keep reading to find out. But first, leave a review for this chapter.)