Chapter 21: Stone Lord
"DIE!!" Kuipter yelled, as he dropped a fist of light towards the duo.
Zachary and Revelian quickly dodged, floating up away from the fist. It pounded with a mighty sound on the ever-changing ground, though it missed its intended targets.
Zachary and Revelian then held their swords and flew close to one another, so as to slice at the wrist of the body of light. They had not cut deep, but still, the limb quickly jerked upward, as if in pain.
"GAH!" Kuipter let out a pained sound. He then held out his hand, and shot wildly into the area. Kuipter fired bolts of yellow energy that were much larger than what Zachary and Revelian had seen before. The bolts he fired now appeared to have a diameter equal, if not greater, to their entire height.
Zachary and Revelian skillfully dodged the bolts for some time, though Kuipter continued to fire blast after blast of them, until, eventually, a barrage of bolts hit their targets.
The impacts gave a sort of explosion effect, and created a cloud of dust around where they had hit. However, a moment later, Zachary and Revelian quickly flew out of the clouds, and began approaching ever closer to Kuipter.
Revelian and Zachary seemed to mirror one another's movements in attacking. While Zachary slashed at the beginning of one limb of light, Revelian slashed at the other, hitting the body with a double force.
"GAHHH!!" Kuipter once again let out a cry of pain, and then he quickly swiped at his attackers with the arms of light. In his erratic and frantic movements, he managed to swipe them both, hitting them back and further away from himself.
Kuipter's large eye of light then began to glow with an energy of many colors. He was charging up some power, and quicker than was anticipated. He fired a large beam of light from his enormous eye, which shot at the duo, which were having trouble standing up. They found themselves defenseless by this attack.
Kuipter stared on into the cloud of dust that had once again been left by the attack. There was no movement for some time, still.
"Starstorm!" Zachary suddenly yelled.
"Sonic slash!" Revelian suddenly yelled.
All of a sudden, there were a number of white star-shapes, made of some auric energy, that appeared around Kuipter's body of light. As well, a number of several auric swords made of some blue light then followed them in appearance. Kuipter could only gaze for a moment, as the auric attacks then quickly drew into his form at a high speed, crashing into his form.
"AAH!!" Kuipter let out gasps as the auric swords and auric stars sliced and exploded into his form. He held his arms over his form at an attempt at protecting himself.
Kuipter then quickly drew his arms away as the attacks, and the clouds of auric smoke along with them, began to dispel. However, he was caught by surprise, as two forms then leapt to his sides. All of a sudden, Revelian was near his head, and rushed the side of his chest, bringing a sword down into a diagonal line slashed across his form.
Kuipter cried out in pain once more, and then quickly tried to swipe at Revelian. In the moment that he was distracted, Zachary quickly mirrored the action of slashing against his chest, creating a perpendicular slice to Revelian's.
Kuipter's body of light cried out in pain, and looked upward. For a moment, it appeared motionless, until it raised its arms above. Then, it fired bolts of energy into the roof above.
All of a sudden, the energy returned in different places. From other areas of the spherical room, blasts of energy caught the duo by surprise, and pounded onto them, with barely any relief.
"Grrr..." Revelian growled, and then fired a beam of light at the chest of Kuipter's body of light. The body seemed to rear back from the attack, but quickly tried to regain its balance.
"Seraph Blade!" Zachary once again spoke a spell, and his blade was enchanted with a power of light. He sliced at Kuipter's chest, leaving another mark on it.
"RRGH!" Kuipter let out a sound of pain and anger. He swiped at Zachary, flinging him across the room again. Zachary rolled and tumbled about, before coming to a stop.
"ZACH!" Revelian cried out, turning to him. Revelian then quickly turned back to Kuipter, with a look of anger on his face. He flew full speed at the chest of Kuipter's body of light, and used his sword to pierce the wounds that had been inflicted to him before.
In a surprising motion, Revelian was then inside of Kuipter's body of light. A cyan aura emanated from Revelian, appearing as if it was trying to resist the system of Kuipter's body of light. Revelian slowly inched closer and closer to Kuipter's form inside of the body.
"Rrr... come on!" Revelian said as he struggled to move closer to Kuipter.
However, suddenly, Revelian's body shot out from Kuipter's own, forced out by his opposing energy. Quickly, Kuipter's hand of light grabbed Revelian's body.
"I've got you now! AHAHAHA!" Kuipter exclaimed, as he then began moving his hand of light to squeeze and try to crush Revelan's body.
"GAH!! Fuck!!" Revelian exclaimed, as he struggled against the force of Kuipter's power.
"NO!" Zachary exclaimed, as his blade began to glow with a brilliant light. "REVELIAN!"
Zachary quickly flew into the area of Kuipter's chest of light, as his sword, and his entire body, shone with a strong, light-cyan aura. With a surprising speed, Zachary sliced directly into the heart of Kuipter's body of light.
Once again, Zachary struggled in trying to reach Kuipter's form. Zachary edged closer and closer as he could, trying to get nearer to Kuipter. However, Kuipter's own light opposed Zachary's. Soon enough, his aura began to shrink. The white light began to fade from his form, and the cyan light was dimming, as well. Yet, still, Zachary struggled to the best of his ability.
"Rghh... too... strong..." Zachary muttered, while still trying to edge closer to Kuipter's form.
"Give up, you pathetic fool!" Kuipter commanded. "You cannot defeat me! I am far too powerful for the likes of you!"
"I... won't... give... up..." Zachary then began to glow with a feint indigo aura, as well as a feint red light.
"There's no way you can defeat me! Just accept your fate to lose and die!!"
"I..." Zachary managed, as the aura around him still began to dim. "I..."
"You cannot avoid your doom!"
"I CAN CHANGE MY FATE!" Zachary held his sword above his head. "SERAPH BLADE!"
Zachary and his blade shone with a brilliant white light. Kuipter gazed up at it, as Zachary then held the sword by his side, and sliced directly into Kuipter's chest. Even then, the light failed to dissipate.
"NOO!!" Kuipter exclaimed loudly for a moment. His entire form began to shake. Zachary then was forced out of Kuipter's body of light by its opposing energy. However, the act had been done.
Kuipter's body of light began to shake in agony, and dimmed severely in many places. Revelian then powered up with a great aura, and Kuipter's hand of light was destroyed, freeing him.
Kuipter's form of light then began sinking into the floor of the spherical room.
"GRAAAGH!! THIS CAN'T BE!! HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY DEFEAT ME?!!"
"You chose to stand by the side of evil, so heroes have risen up to stand against you as a result! And you chose to stand against a power greater than yourself, so you got exactly what was coming to you!"
"You'll never understand it... this is the power of Ludus! The power for us to fight for our lives against tyrants and murderers." Zachary then spoke. "We have the power to change our fates! The power to protect what we care for! Revelian and I... we have something to protect at home. Our planet."
Zachary looked over at Revelian, and smiled.
"And that's why we'll always win against you!"
Kuipter's body of light dissipated, and his form dropped to the ground. Revelian slowly floated over to him.
"So... what do you have to say for yourself?" Revelian asked.
Kuipter was silent for some time, letting out only pained groans.
"... b... b... b..."
Revelian looked at him curiously.
"... bro... ther... I..." Kuipter's body then seemed to go limp. Revelian stared at him for a moment longer.
The dark star then began to shake violently.
Chapter 22: Escape
"Woah!" Zachary exclaimed. "What's going on?!"
Revelian looked at Kuipter for a moment, before turning to Zachary.
"We've gotta go!" Revelian said, with a worried tone. "The Dark Star's unstable... it's going to blow up, and take us all to Hell with it!"
"Oh, shit!" Zachary inadvertently exclaimed.
"Come on!" Revelian grabbed Zachary by the hand, and then slowly flew upwards, out of the sphere. They come out at the ruins of the palace in the Rapture.
"How are we going to get back??" Zachary asked. "The rocket I came here on was destroyed! Wait-- can you teleport us back??"
"I... I can't!" Revelian replied. "I can teleport through matter, but not dark matter! And that's what the dark star is made of!"
Suddenly, an explosion shook the area, dropping some sort of rubble down.
"Crap... I don't think I'll be able to survive flying through space unprotected!" Zachary informed.
"It'll be a bigger problem for us and Ludus to escape the blast!" Revelian yelled. "It might be as powerful as a supernova!"
Another explosion shook the area.
"The... the throne room!" Zachary exclaimed.
"Go to the throne room!" Zachary proposed. "That's where Lord Zeronius is!!"
Revelian's eye seemed to widen. "She is?!"
"Yeah!" Zachary yelled.
"Perfect!" Revelian said, as he then began flying out of the Rapture. "She can get this thing far away from us once we're out! You're a genius, Zach!"
Revelian, grabbing Zachary, flew at a surprising speed, eventually coming to Lord Sauphara's chamber. She was still lying in the same spot that Zachary had left her in before, it seemed.
"Sh-she's hurt!" Revelian said. "She's in no condition to fly at high speeds! We-"
"Let me try something!" Zachary interrupted.
Zachary then held his hands over his heart, and then moved them over his head. He did this motion back and forth, until a white light began to glow over his fingertips. Zachary then touched the head of Lord Sauphara. The glow from his fingertips seemed to dissipate and be absorbed by her. With this, many of her wounds then became healed all of a sudden.
"Uhh... ughhh..." Sauphara moaned quietly, as she began to open her large red eye.
"It worked!" Revelian exclaimed. "Good job, Zach!"
Zachary smiled, and then fell over on his back.
"Zach!" Revelian came to his side.
"That's called Healing Gift... heals someone else, but takes away my health..." Zachary groaned. "... rgh... you need her up and walking more than you need me to, right now. Both of us do, actually..."
"... alright. Thank you... we'll get you out of here." Revelian assured.
Revelian then turned to his mother, who was slowly sitting up.
"Lord Sauphara Zeronius... are you well?"
"... I feel much better now, my son..." Sauphara spoke, as she then altered into a gridmaskian form.
She was about at Revelian's height, and had shoulder-length light hair with some red streaks. She also had a six-sided visor with a single red eye poking through it. She wore an outfit similar to Revelian's, only with a colour scheme of light greys and reds, and with green shoulder pads. The six geometrical shapes with red tips still appeared to be coming from her back in this form.
"... Yes, much better..." Sauphara seemed to smile, an illusion caused by the makeup of the greyish cloth covering her face under her visor.
Suddenly, a great rumbling shook the Dark Star once more.
"Oh!" Sauphara exclaimed.
"I-I'm sorry you have to awaken in these conditions, my Lord, but, it's an emergency!" Revelian told her. "The Dark Star is about to explode... we need you to get us out of here, and then we need the Dark Star to be as far away from our planet as possible!"
"My child..." Sauphara looked at them both, and then nodded. "Yes."
Sauphara then turned and grabbed both Revelian and Zachary. She hopped slightly off the ground, and, in an incomprehensible blur, they then appeared slightly outside of the dark star.
"Hold on!" Sauphara was glowing with a pink light, which both Zachary and Revelian knew to be her aura. Her aura then surrounded both Revelian and Zachary. "I'm sending it off!"
The entire Dark Star then began to fill with a pink light, identical to the colour of Sauphara's aura. Then, the Dark Star seemed to shrink, as it went further and further away from them.
The Dark Star could be seen flashing with a violet light. All of a sudden, it began to fill in completely white. The entirety of it was of white light, and the core of the spherical body shrunk slightly, as it then let out white lights that were more feint. The Dark Star exploded in a ball of light, and then shrunk down into itself.
"... It's... gone..." Revelian said, almost solemnly.
"... and its past is gone along with it." Sauphara said, with a tone of hopefulness.
Sauphara looked over at Ludus. "So... this is your planet now, then?"
Revelian felt unable to respond for a moment, having hesitated for enough time to be beaten to the punch of responding.
"Y... yeah..." Zachary answered. "That's Ludus... that's our home..."
Revelian then felt the confidence to speak again. "That's right. That's my home now..."
"... I see." Sauphara said. "It's a little small in terms of the average planet, and it does hold a bit of bad memories... but... I do hope that I can also one day call it my home, too."
"D... don't worry..." Zachary stated. "Y... you're always welcome... a friend of Revelian's is a friend of mine."
"... aheh..." Revelian managed.
"Where should I go?" Sauphara asked.
"... oh, you mean, where on the planet?" Revelian piped up. "Uh, well, Lord Sauphara, my house is in a place called Steckenburg. In between a lake and a sea, kind of close to the LDZX building, the big dark-grey one... you'll know it when you see it."
"Very well." Sauphara said.
Another moment passed, and they were quickly brought through the atmosphere, and into the sky close to Ludus. It was a blur to Zachary and Revelian, until the point at which they saw clearly Revelian's castle. They were floating a few meters above the ground and in front of the front door.
"This is your home?" Sauphara asked.
"Yeah..." Revelian answered. "Pretty nice, ain't it?"
"... Can it be my home, as well?" Sauphara asked.
"... o-of course, Lord Sauphara." Revelian said.
"Please, my child, you have no need to say Lord..." said Sauphara, "The days of my leading conquests are over... I have no dark star or dark matters of which to rule over anymore. You don't have to call me your Lord, now and forever..."
"... a-alright, Lo-- er, Sauphara..." Revelian said.
"Yes, you can call me that..." Sauphara said. "Or... mother..."
"... alright, mother..." Revelian looked away slightly.
"Aheheh..." Zachary laughed.
"Oh, be quiet!" Revelian commanded.
"I am, I am!" Zachary said, smiling weakly. "This just feels like a change of pace, is all..."
"... aheh... I guess so..." Revelian submissively said.
Zachary smiled again. All was silent for a moment. Sauphara slowly levitated downwards with the two, as the peaceful moonlights shone upon them.
Suddenly, Zachary's eyes widened. "Oh, wait!!"
"It's almost midnight!!" Zachary exclaimed. "Everyone who's trapped in stone is going to turn into a dark matter!!"
Chapter 23: I'm Sorry
"What?!" Sauphara exclaimed, dropping both Zachary and Revelian. They fell to the ground, which was little more than a foot away.
"Woah, just what exactly happened while I was captured??" Revelian asked.
"Kuipter was pretending to be you, and he made a Medusa Generator of his own. He told us that it turned things into stone, and that by midnight of today, everyone who was turned to stone would become a dark matter mutant!"
"Is this true?" Sauphara asked.
"He showed us-- er, Ludi, Lazro, Sam, and I-- the timer on his Medusa Generator device... and then he actually had us fight what he said was the "first result of the Kappa injection", or something." Zachary informed. "It was some sort of mutant version of Dr. Sand... it was pretty powerful and it could turn other things to stone, too!"
"Holy shit..." Revelian swore.
"It turned the others to stone, too..."
"Please watch your language, Revelian." Sauphara warned.
"... uh, sorry. You might have to get used to that, though."
"What are we going to do...?"
Revelian looked down. "... there... there has to be some sort of way we can stop this... wait! Can't the Medusa Generators also undo the effects of petrification?"
"Yeah, Dr. Sand said they could... so did Kuipter, when he was pretending to be you."
"Alright! Then we just need to get as many Medusa Generators as we can, and go all over Ludus fixing everything!"
"R-really?" Zachary looked surprised. "Are you sure that's going to work?"
"It's our only shot."
"I can help with going at high speeds all over the planet..." Sauphara added.
"That's right! All we need now it a Medusa Generator."
"But... how are we going to get that?" Zachary asked. "If Kuipter still had his on his wrist when the Dark Star blew up... well, I doubt we can salvage it."
"What about his labs? Maybe there's some remnant of them in there." Revelian suggested.
"He... he destroyed his labs, back in Universe City." Zachary said. "I'm not sure if there even was any Medusa Generators back there, but there aren't any now..."
"Damnit... what about Sand?" Revelian asked. "He had the original Medusas, so maybe we can just use his to stop the effects."
"Maybe... but where are we going to find any of those? All the ones we've seen so far were destroyed."
"Rrr... m... maybe Sand has a base of operations?" Revelian suggested. "If he does, maybe there's some Medusas back in there. I'm not sure how we're supposed to find it, but if we can... there might be a way, right?"
"He... he actually had a place where he made all of the stuff he used, I think." Zachary said. "It was in the Factory... that's where the others were turned to stone, and where Sand was killed."
"Great! You know where it is, then?"
"Yes, I do." Zachary stated.
"Then let's head off." Revelian said, looking at Sauphara.
"I'm not sure if we'll be able to find it in time, though..."
"We just have to hope for the best." Sauphara said.
"There!" Zachary said. "That's the factory!"
"Alright." Sauphara slowed her flight, and then brought the two to a slow levitation, descending in front of the factory.
As the three approached the snowy ground, they jumped off, and came to the front door.
"It's really close to midnight... guys, tear apart everything, find whatever you can! You have to, or else..." Zachary's voice trailed off, interrupted as he heard the sudden sounding of bells ringing.
The bell rung twelve times, before coming to a stop. Zachary dared not to make a sound. He didn't even breathe for some time.
"... it's midnight..." Zachary said, with a hopeless tone. "... we're... too late..."
"I... oh, god... I had no idea that it was so..."
"No... no way! That can't be it!" Revelian yelled. "We were so close to surviving! We were so close to turning things back to normal! How can it be over?!"
Zachary fell to his knees. "They're... gone..."
"... you said that your friends were turned to stone in this factory, didn't you?" Sauphara asked. "If so, then we seem to have an immediate problem to deal with..."
Zachary turned to Sauphara. "N... no way... they're..."
Revelian put a hand on Zachary's shoulder. "Zach..."
Zachary turned over to Revelian. Revelian seemed to have a solemn and serious air about him. Zachary almost felt hopeless just by being near to him.
"We... we should put them out of their misery, if we can..."
"They're our friends!" Revelian exclaimed. "I don't want them to suffer any more than they have to..."
Zachary frowned. "... I... me neither... you're right. L-let's go..."
The three slowly crept through the factory. Zachary led them to the door labeled office, to where their friends had been petrified in stone.
"... this is it."
"Zach, if you don't want to look... you don't have to." Revelian tightened his grip on his sword.
"I... I don't know..." Zachary said. He felt almost like a helpless child at the moment.
Revelian came close to the door. He looked over towards the others. He then quickly kicked open the office door, and held his sword up expectantly.
"... what...?" Revelian managed.
Revelian moved to the side, so as to reveal to Sauphara and Zachary the office room. Zachary looked inside, and saw that it was exactly the same as it had been left. The window was cracked, a light was on, a level pulled down, the desk was turned over, part of the tile was covered in sand, a rope was hanging from a broken ceiling light, and there were three cowering statue-like figures, still untainted and unmoved.
"... wh... what??" Zachary managed.
"Yeah... are you sure the time limit was supposed to be midnight, Zach?" Revelian asked.
"I... I'm positive. There was a clock in the office, so I know..." Zachary looked into the office and saw the clock again. "And... it's definitely past midnight..."
"Huh... so..." Revelian scratched the back of his head. "... what does this mean?"
"Perhaps Kuipter was just bluffing?" Sauphara suggested. "Some sort of strategic tactic to introduce a sense of urgency into you, thus making you more likely to fail?"
"I... I don't know... it... it doesn't really seem like something he'd do..." Zachary said.
"Maybe when he died, it stopped the injection things?" Revelian asked, turning to look around for a moment. "Who knows. Whatever the case is... they're definitely not dark matters now... Definitely not if they're petrified in stone, because the Medusa Generators don't work on dark matters."
"I... I don't know..." Zachary looked at Revelian. "It just..."
Zachary stared at Revelian, and then blinked. Revelian had a tube-like metallic object attached to his cape, just under his right shoulder pad.
"... Revelian... what's that on your back?" Zachary asked.
"Huh?" Revelian turned his head. "What the hell? When did that get there?"
Revelian grabbed the object. "... this thing is attached to me by some sort of... grappling hook-like thing..." Revelian pulled it off of his cape, and then examined it.
"... what is it?" Zachary asked.
"... holy shit..." Revelian spoke. "This... this is..."
"The Medusa Generator!" Zachary exclaimed. "The one that Kuipter had!"
"Revelian, that's perfect! You grabbed it and changed the timer on it, didn't you?!" Zachary said, smiling. "You saved them!"
"Uh, Zach," Revelian started, "I didn't do any of that... I don't even know how this got here..."
Zachary frowned. "But... then..."
"But, you're saying there was a timer on this thing?" Revelian asked. "Well, not anymore. If there was, it's definitely been reset."
"But... if it wasn't you, then who did it?"
"I... think I have an idea." Revelian said. "Considering what this thing says."
"Wh-what it... says?"
Revelian held up the Medusa Generator device for Zachary to see.
Kuipter managed to lift his head, and saw Revelian slowly rising up.
"... wait... brother..." Kuipter managed to speak, but his voice was barely above a whisper. Soon, he knew, Revelian would be gone, and he did not have the strength to go after him.
Kuipter grabbed an object from his wrist, and quickly fiddled with it, and then attached it to his other wrist. He mustered up all the strength he could manage in the matter of a split-second, and lifted his arm towards Revelian. He then shot the grappling mechanism, before his arm fell back to the ground.
Before fainting, Kuipter managed to mumble a few words, "... bro... ther... I... I'm..."
"I'm sorry." Zachary read aloud.
Kuipter's device had yellow text that flashed over it, reading "I'M SORRY".
"You... you don't think...?"
"... I honestly don't know what to think." Revelian said.
Revelian then pointed the Medusa Generator at Ludicrine's petrified form, and pressed a button. Before them, the layer of stone around him began to dissipate. Revelian pointed the Medusa Generator at Lazro and Samuel as well, and the same effect happened to them.
"Uh... ughhh..." Lazro moaned.
"Wh... what happened?" asked Samuel.
"We're... free...?" Ludicrine managed to groan.
"Looks like we've got a lot of explaining to do... and a lot of work to get everyone un-petrified..." Zachary sighed, but he couldn't hold back a smile.
Chapter 24: Anniversary
The LDZX Headquarters building was perhaps the most cheerful area of all of Ludus in the middle of the day, on the calendar date Lazarus 2nd.
This was not simply to say that it was the most unfazed part of Ludus that had been attacked by the now-dead dark matter forces. Truly, it very well may have been, considering the circumstances, as it remained to be the last, and least successful, target of attack during the invasion.
However, the scars left by the invasion were barely seen by all of Ludus at the time. Thanks to the help of Zachary, Ludicrine, Lazro, Samuel, Revelian, and Sauphara, all things and people that had been petrified in stone had been released from this effect within the day. And, after all the twists and turns of knowing what had gone on in the last few days, all was revealed to the authorities, and word of Revelian's innocence become known throughout the world once more.
There was, in fact, a grand reason for such a cheerful atmosphere: it was the highly revered anniversary of the corporation's creation.
As they always have been, celebrations within the company were full of grand, memorable, and joyous happenings. One could quote any recorded instance of celebrating Chanukwanzaa, Muerteween Eve, or any other famed holiday ritual to know what such an event was like.
Thus, the celebration's stage was set, and the act was undertaken.
While it had been expected that the co-CEOs of the company would come to host the event, rather, Samuel and Lazro, as an odd occurrence, hosted it instead.
"Happy two-year anniversary, everyone!" Samuel and Lazro exclaimed, opening the event.
The party itself was filled with many activities and snacks, and all sorts of things for the festive occurrence. The employees there could act as they wish instead of working, which was a benefit from the act. It was expected that Hankvi would be the exception to those not working, however, in a grand surprise, he made an entrance and joined in on the party, before eventually getting extremely intoxicated all through the hours and eventually passing out at approximately 6:23, which was a surprisingly long time of drinking without passing out. At least in his record, that is.
Many assorted partygoers joined in on the festivities. Masa, Delinius, Delbin, Ivan, Radiant, Amygea, Poisonshot, Jose, and many more, at least among the notable employees.
However, this does seem to beg the question of what the fate of the others was, exactly...
"You guys..." Revelian started. "... you... really didn't have to help me with this."
"No, it's alright." Ludicrine said with a smile. "It's our pleasure."
"Yeah... we didn't want you to spend the LDZX anniversary alone, anyway."
"... alright, I guess. Thanks again..." Revelian sighed, and then took out the Medusa Generator device. It still blinked with the message "I'M SORRY" in yellow text. He also pulled out the fraction of the grappling hook that it had originally been attached to.
Revelian gently placed the items in the middle of a simple coffin. He then closed the lid to the coffin.
Above the coffin was a picture of Kuipter. It wasn't a photograph, but rather an artist's rendering. It was a highly accurate one, at that, though he looked more serene than he usually did.
Beside this was another coffin, which contained only a broken visor. Above that coffin was a painted picture of Mura in the same style, looking similarly as serene, though slightly more happy, in a way.
"... goodbye, brother..." Revelian managed.
"Revelian..." Sauphara suddenly spoke. The others looked on, taking note of this. Sauphara hadn't spoken a single word since they had begun on the project of arranging the grave.
"..." Revelian was silent, expectant for Sauphara to continue.
"... let us go inside, please." Sauphara said. "I'm sure... if they could see us now, they would be content with the honoring that we have provided for them, and they would want us to go on to enjoy something later."
Revelian was silent for a moment, reflective on the last words he had remembered from Mura. "... you're probably right."
"So... do you wish to go inside?" Sauphara asked.
"S... sure. Yeah, let's go in..." Revelian looked to the others. "Hey, I'm sure you guys probably want to get back to the celebration now..." ("Nah, I'm good." Ludicrine raised a hand.) "... but, do you think you might want to come in with me and L--Sauphara, for a bit?"
"Sure..." Zachary said, while Ludicrine nodded.
"Alright... thanks again, guys..."
"Hey, don't thank us. Thank you, for being the good guy." Ludicrine said. "Especially when we needed to have one like you around, buddy."
"... Aheh, no problem..." Revelian rubbed the back of his head. "Uh... let's go inside now."
A few moments after they all had come inside, Sauphara then turned to Zachary, and spoke.
"Mister Isles..." Sauphara said, staring straight at him with her piercing red eye.
"Uh y-yeah...?" Zachary asked, a bit nervously.
"If I am correct... you are the son of the king Alexander Isles, who was slain during the Great Conquest's beginning on Ludus, centuries ago?" She asked.
"I... I am." Zachary said, a bit half-heartedly at first, before he spoke again, in a more confident tone. "Yes, I am the son of Alexander Isles."
"... I see." Sauphara said. "And... you must also be the one who my clan had forced into servitude, along with your brethren, for many years... yes?"
"Zachary Isles... I am sorry." Sauphara said, and then she bowed before Zachary. "I give you my deepest apologies for my actions in the past, against you and your people... I have yet to apologize or even atone to the slightest of those who I have wronged in my instinctive quest of conquering, but I know that this may be a start..."
Zachary merely looked at Sauphara, with his mouth agape.
"I put myself at your mercy... you may ask anything of me, and I shall do it. Even if you wish me to die for what I have done... I shall accept it."
"Mother!" Revelian interrupted.
"... I... no..." Zachary said. "... ahahaha... I-I'm sorry, miss Sauphara, but... I'm not going to kill you for this. I... I don't really want to. And it kind of goes against every fiber of my being..." Zachary looked over to Revelian.
"... even still, I shall put myself in your servitude." Sauphara said. "I do this in order to provide whatever repayment necessary to those who I have wronged."
"... no, I don't want that, either..." Zachary coughed shyly. "I... I don't feel like this is any way to atone for things... I already forgive you."
Zachary went down to Sauphara's level, and had her lift her head to face him.
"If you really want to make up for all the damage that's been done, you can live your life, and try to apologize to anyone else who's survived... I'm sure that they'll see how you are now, and forgive you... they'll know that you're a better person now. Just, do whatever, I guess... but I'm fine." Zachary smiled. "But... the conquests are over... that's what matters, right?"
"... r... r... right... right." Sauphara managed. "... the conquests are over... that's true..."
Sauphara slowly stood up.
"... the conquests are over..." Sauphara turned to Revelian. "We're free... it's true, we are free, my child..."
"Aheheh... yeah, we're free..." Revelian said. He looked over towards Zachary. "Thanks, man..."
"... I kind of admire you guys, you know... I feel like you all found a way to escape the destinies that dark matters typically turn out to have... you really represent the Ludusian way, heheh..."
"... In that case, I feel honored that this land has turned out to become my new home..."
"... Me, too." Revelian said.
"Aw, you guys..." Ludicrine added.
"... I'll set up a room for you in the castle, mother." Revelian said. "Oh, boy, the pets are going to have a grand old time with this new addition to the family..."
"Hey, Zach," Revelian started, approaching his dragonkin friend. "I wanted to talk to you about something..."
"Yeah?" Zachary looked at him curiously.
"Do you remember back when we were fighting Kuipter?" Revelian asked. "Not the first time, I mean, but when he gained that huge body of light."
"Yeah... what about it?"
"Well... It kind of made me realize something." Revelian said. "I mean... you know how Kuipter said that the Tranquil Rosetta thing kind of messed with my Kaiser ability?"
"Yes..." Zachary blinked. "But... you were still able to use it. We both had the power of Kaiser then..."
"Yeah... for a second I might've thought that he turned it off for some reason, but then I figured... maybe, just maybe... It was working because I knew exactly what I was doing. Kuipter said that it didn't effect Mindstone Fragments if the people using it were all into it, or whatever. Revelian rubbed his head. "So I'm pretty sure that it was me using it to the best of my ability... and... that's kind of something that I've never done before. Even when the Ryus were in full focus, it's... never been as great enough to make both me and someone else powerful enough to deal with the power of Dark Star Omega Kuipter.
"In fact, we were actually really lucky that we had Kaiser back then. I can't even really accurately compare fighting Kuipter for the first time to fighting him the second time... let me just tell you, he was way more powerful the second time around. Kaiser as usual might've been close to defeating him, but you were a great help with it, too..."
"Oh, it's no problem... I mean, we had to do it."
"No, I mean, I really have to thank you... because, you're the reason I realized what I needed to in order to totally be level with the power of Kaiser." Revelian explained.
"R-really?" Zachary blinked.
"It was like... what you did. It was... really big for me, just so you know." Revelian rubbed the back of his head. "All of it helped me a lot... first of all, you forgave me... I... I've never been forgiven for what I've done by a victim of my actions like you. I've always been trying to cover it up and not try to face it, pretend it never happened and that I never did anything that horrible. I really wish that I never did. I mean... sure, Loripathys and Thristel-Immo forgave me, and that helped me a lot, too... but, I've always felt like I've been lying to you specifically, and that I could never make up for the wrongs I did against Ludus during the conquests. I mean, most of your people were fighters who were killed and enslaved, and that's not all that I can say for the rest of those who forgave me. It made me realize that I'm different now... that I can redeem myself. What you did made it really stick with me, too. I've kind of been a bit dense about getting that message before, but that's something great."
"Aheh... no problem, man. It's good that this helped us out how it did..."
"But it's not just that. You also made me realize something... I'd been grasping for straws, in trying to find a way to bring Mura back somehow. And I never saw that the whole time, you've been thinking something totally different about your father. He was killed, and you've already accepted that he's dead... and you've gotten past the point of lusting for revenge above anything else."
Zachary rubbed the back of his head.
"I was the exact opposite. I started immediately wishing to get revenge on his killer, and after that faded, I started trying to have it feel like he was at least "alive" in any way that I could. And I never really could accept that he died... it really was his time, and he no longer can be alive. Even if it was a really shitty event about how it happened... and I didn't get that. He wanted me to keep living, even if he was dead. But, like I said, I was still grasping for straws... using the Will Fragment to try and communicate with him, even if he'd refuse to allow it and Kaiser's power was tainted by my actions. I couldn't will myself into letting go before... but you made me realize how to let go of my past. And when I did, it opened up a whole lot of doors for me."
Revelian was silent for a moment.
"So, uh... I've kind of been thinking... I shouldn't have the Will Fragment anymore."
"What??" Zachary demanded without realizing he was speaking. "... why?"
"Zach... you're the one with more will than me, it seems. I've kind of been abusing Kaiser for whatever use I wish, and I haven't been able to use it to the best of my ability most of the time..." Revelian sighed. "I mean... I'm not even sure if I should have the temptation of using it for what it can do. As long as we still have the power at our disposal whenever a new threat comes around, I'd be alright with you having it... you seem more worthy of it than me."
"Revelian..." Zachary started. "I..."
"Now, I'm not sure how we-"
"Revelian, I can't accept that..." Zachary interrupted.
"What? Why not?" Revelian questioned.
"Kaiser is your power, not mine. I wouldn't even begin to know how to go about having it "be mine" anyway." Zachary said. "And besides... you might think I'm better suited for it, but I'm really not. I know you... if anyone's "worthy" of Kaiser, it's you."
Revelian was silent for a moment. He merely continued to stare at Zachary for some time.
"... heheh... if you say so, Zach."
Some time had passed after Sauphara had settled within the Zeronius Manor. Soon enough, Lazro and Samuel had left the celebration in the LDZX building to come to Revelian's house.
"Well, dude, I have to say... I'm sorry I ever doubted you." Lazro said.
"Me, too... I don't really think I can say it enough, but seeing you... er, Kuipter, the last time had me really scared for my life back then... and I can't believe I thought it was you that was behind all this."
"It's alright... we worked it out in the end, I guess." Revelian replied.
"Yeah, it did, didn't it?" Samuel smiled. "To be honest... I don't think that any of us ever lost faith in you along the way... so it's really good that we were able to come back to it like this."
"Yeah... now we're all back to normal." Lazro added.
"Well... there's still the problem that a couple of Sand's airships are still missing." Zachary said. "They might turn up in the near future..."
"But, hey, we'll be ready by then." Ludicrine added. "We've taken him down before, and we can do it again. No problem! Not to mention, we now have another secret weapon to help us do it..."
Ludicrine motioned over to Sauphara. She lifted her head.
"Oh, yes... I would be happy to help you all if you were in need." Sauphara said.
"If you're healthy enough to help us out, you would be a great help."
"We'll see that in time, Revelian."
"But, wait, there's still something I'm kind of confused about..." Samuel piped up. "Do we really know what happened to Kuipter?"
The gang was silent for a moment.
"Well... we know that he had remorse for what he did... at least, I know he does..." Revelian said. "It's... enough to just know it."
"That's not what I mean, like..."
"What is it?"
"I mean... this whole time we've kind of been having mixed feelings and twists over who the whole "big baddie" behind all the mayhem that's been going on really is..." Samuel gulped. "So... do we really know if Kuipter was doing this all? I mean, especially if he was regretting his actions at the end, and helped us try to undo it..."
"Uh... well... I... I think that he was pretty involved with it... but... I also know that he's not "bad"." Revelian coughed. "Or whatever that's even supposed to mean. Like... Dr. Sand, I guess... he had good intentions, sort of, but he got manipulated and had them washed out into evil... but we still kind of know that he's not "bad" and that he "shouldn't be hated" or whatever."
"That's probably, like, a horribly simplified version of it, but... I guess, I know that he is, or maybe was, a mechanical-bullpig with huge insecurity issues and an ego the size of the moon, but he meant as well as he could for his family... at least as much as an insecure egotistical mechanical-bullpig can manage. And in the very end, he tried to right his wrongs, as hard as he could." Revelian sighed again. "Seriously, I can't even say that I can't forgive him. I mean, I'd be a huge hypocrite if I didn't, because I've gone through undeserved forgiveness time and time again. So, yeah, it would be kinda crappy for me not to be forgiving as well... in a way. But either way, I don't hold it against him."
Revelian sighed, and sat back in his chair.
"Hopefully, though, he'll get what he deserves-- whatever that is-- in the next life."
"... man, though... I can't believe that he's finally dead." Ludicrine yawned. "It feels like we've been dealing with him for, like, forever, and now he's finally gone..."
"Well... I think you're half-right, there..." Revelian spoke.
"He's gone, yeah, and I'm positive that we're never gonna see him again, at least in our natural lifetimes... but... I'm not exactly sure if he's dead..." Revelian said.
"What?" Zachary asked. "But... we defeated him... didn't he blow up when the dark star did?"
"I mean, thinking about it logically, we at least know he was conscious long enough to put the device on my back... I don't know if he was really able to get off it, but, there's a chance. Dark matters are damn resilient, you know." Revelian coughed. "But... I just have a weird feeling about saying that he's "dead". Or if "dead" even really is an achievable state, but... whatever. He's just... "gone". That's the word I'm using for it. Gone for good."
"... huh..." Zachary managed.
"... that kinda begs the question of what "gone" means." Ludicrine said.
"What do you mean? "Gone" means gone. He's no longer here and he's out of our hair. That's what it means." Revelian crossed his arms. "I don't want to go into details about whatever kind of shit happened to him, or if it even did. I may as well just be droning on about bullshit sensing of mysterious stuff. Do you think I'm really going to base it all on "the mysterious forces of familial bond"? No, that just sounds fucking stupid. He might be dead, might not be, but he's definitely gone. That's all I know about it for sure."
"Yes... he most assuredly is "gone", for now." Sauphara said.
"... alrighty, then. So long as we don't have to deal with any more invasions or terrorists, I'm all for vague all-including statements about ultimate fates." Ludicrine leaned back in his chair. "Just as long as we're back to smooth sailing... I might go ahead and take a vacation now. I'm gonna need it after these last few months. Really has been a bad start to the year, you know? Not the kind of stuff I like to deal with."
Zachary laughed shyly. "Aheh... you go ahead and do that, friend. More power to you."
And thus, all was well for the new life on Ludus.
Bonus Chapter: Miraculous Machinations
Kuipter slowly flew through the dark star, still having the appearance of Revelian. He was not aware of it, though, as he was far too focused on his intentions to focus on appearance.
He finally arrived to the throne room. Kuipter pushed open the doors, and faced the glowing red eye, that had dimmed over time.
"Sauphara!" Kuipter called out.
He quickly rushed over to her, and began tearing at the bonds that held her.
"I'm sorry!" Kuipter shouted. "I'll save you! Just wait a moment!"
A voice suddenly filled the room. Kuipter quickly turned around, and faced a white shape before him.
"Jozitolph..." Kuipter spoke his name.
"What are you doing, sir Kuipter?" Jozitolph asked, seeing through Kuipter's augmented appearance.
"I... I'm freeing my mother..." Kuipter spoke.
Jozitolph stared at Kuipter in silence for a moment. Kuipter was about to return to Sauphara, when Jozitolph then spoke again.
"Sir... do you remember something you said to me, a long time ago?" Jozitolph asked.
"It was something you told me long ago, when you first left this place... you said, that if you ever were to "go soft" like your brothers did, you wanted me to... force some sense into you..."
Kuipter stood perfectly still. A sense of fear washed over him upon hearing Jozitolph's words.
"... What are you on about?" Kuipter coldly asked, trying to mask a sense of uneasiness within him.
"It really did happen, sir... so, what I'm saying now, is... I suggest that you reconsider what it is that you're doing right now."
"H... how dare you..." Kuipter spoke without realizing, but then corrected himself. "I'm going to free my mother..."
"... I feared you would say this..."
Jozitolph raised a hand. Kuipter suddenly began glowing with a dark purple energy. He fell to his knees and grabbed his head, appearing to be writhing in agony. The energy surged through him and around him, as Jozitolph walked closer.
"I apologize, sir, but I have devoted myself to always follow the command of the Zeronius clan..." Jozitolph informed. "... I will invite thoughts of conquest and conquering of your previously known motives to your mind, and then you will do the rest of the work as you please. After... the first planet conquered, you shall be freed from this, and you can look back however you please. If you wish to continue, may I be graced because of my action. If not, then may I be at your mercy, sir."
Kuipter suddenly stood up again, the energy still flowing through him.
"Soon, your mother shall be dead... I suggest that you find some other method of controlling worker dark matters, sir. Let's gather what resources we can."
A small, black meteor rushed out from the dark star, before a brilliant explosion brought about its destruction.
"It's gone..." Jozitolph spoke with a bit of a solemn tone. "... and... it seems that Lord Sauphara, Lord Revelian, and the prince Isles have escaped..."
Jozitolph turned towards a glowing yellow core that sat on the meteor.
"Well, sir Kuipter... what should I do to act now?"
Jozitolph received no response.
"Shall I direct us to some location...?"
Jozitolph still received no response.
"... I see. You are damaged, and need time to repair... very well, sir. Until you are well again, I shall wait for your commands. Hopefully our state will change in the future..."
One who never changes the future cannot live within it. To wait for the future is to dwell in the past.