"So this is the one you found in the engine room?" Bolgan nodded mutely as the commander stepped down from his captain's chair. He walked gingerly, to avoid the debris and damage that had torn the bridge of the once magnificent air fortress to shreds. The engineer felt the man cold piercing eyes on him, the same eyes that had scarred so many young Dragoon's into obedience over the years. He couldn't help but cringe a bit at that accusing stare. "I know you..." Armand said as he looked down at the unconscious child before him. Bolgan had gently placed her down upon one of the few cleared out portions of the floor. She looked so peaceful there, asleep and unafraid of the world. Bolgan wondered if Cavanaugh had ever looked that innocent and serene. "Yes, this is the girl that is traveling with the Heretic. Mika Gilchrist." "I suppose so," Bolgan said. "So she destroyed the engine room then?" "What?" Bolgan snapped his head up and saw the dark thoughts in Armand's eyes. "No! She's just a child. It's my fault the... the power source overloaded." "Nonsense," Armand looked into Bolgan's eyes and the engineer felt his blood run cold. "This girl is a Chemist, skilled with explosives. On top of that she is a known Heretic and serves the Cult of the Manakyr in war against the Church. She saw that we were about to win the battle and got aboard to destroy the engine room and cripple us." "That's not true, sir!" "Isn't it?" Armand looked about the room. All the Dragoons at their stations, those that hadn't been removed to the medical tents outside because of injuries at least, looked back at him. Bolgan saw that none of them was going to protest this. None of them disagreed. And why should they. Armand was not only there commanding officer, but a priest of the Holy Church. The Church is Infallible. That was the first Law of the Three Gods as every child in all Tienne learned as soon as they could comprehend it. If Armand said it was true, it MUST be so. Bolgan felt something at that point he couldn't quite describe. It was relatively new, as emotions went for him. Then he understood. It was outrage. "But it is just a child, Armand!" "You will refer to me as Commander Cavanaugh, Chief Engineer." Armand leaned over and gently brushed some hair of the young child's face. "And since she is just a child I will be lenient. We will not take her back to Tienne and have her imprisoned in the Wall." Bolgan stepped back as the man looked up at him. "We will do the only merciful thing, and have her killed so that her soul may be at rest. After, of course, she undergoes a trial for heresy." "This is madness!" "I suggest you leave Chief Engineer..." Armand said with a cold tone. "Before I take your tone to mean you have sympathies for this heretic." "I..." Bolgan clenched his fists in impotent rage. "I will go, Commander." He turned and stalked towards the door. It wasn't fair, the girl was being punished for what he was rightly to blame for. If anyone deserved to be tried and executed for heresy it was him! What had he done? ================================================================ Final Fantasy Legacy Knights of the Round Chapter 32 - Justice and Honor By: Aaron Peori Creator: Brian Striklin Concept: Squaresoft ================================================================ "So how do we get past them?" "This one believes that prudence dictates another path." "There is no other path," Cheney said as he leaned against the tall rock the group was hiding behind. His old bones were complaining once again and he wished he had some nice hot tea right about now. "This is the only pass that leads to Tienne. The only other way out is by ship or a two week detour through the Empire of the Moon via Ramaz." "In other words," Jil sighed. "We either be gettin' past these bouys that be blocking the pass, or we nae be gettin' out of here anytime soon." "That's about the size of it." Cheney nodded towards the camp that had been set-up outside the downed airship. Hundreds of Dragoons moved about the wreckage and the campsite that had sprung up around it with the efficiency Dragoon's were famous for. More important were the mechanical beasts that stood among them. GoLEMs, resembling every creature from insect to lion to titanic man stood silent now. Cheney knew that they could be activated at a moment's notice however. "Maybe we could just walk through?" Reill said. "I am a Dragoon and Cheney is pretty well known, especially among the novices and recruits. We might be able to bluff Shizuka and Captain Fallensand through as well." "And what of Marcine and de others boyo?" Jil said. "We needs must be waitin' fer them to arrive 'fore we go'an do anything. I not be leavin' without... them." "This one believes Captain Fallensand has a point," Shizuka said in the same emotionless tone she had been using since they had escaped the doomed Manakyr vessel. "We must wait until the Legacy and her companions arrive before we can attempt any actions. Thus this one humbly suggests we not waste time on idle speculation until them." *** "Cure!" Kyle almost flinched as the green light from his sister's magic swirled into his wound. He may have understood why his sister did it but the practice of magic still unnerved him in a way he wasn't willing to examine. He stood up as soon as the burns faded and flexed his shoulder. With a grunt he realized the magic had even gotten rid of an old ache he'd had since breaking his arm three years ago. "Are you okay now?" Marcine smiled at him. He looked into her face and nodded. How could he have ever wanted to... to send her to the Wall? He could still see the young girl that had cried in his arms when their mother had passed on. He could still see the girl he had teased over her secret diary and the entries on the choir boys that could be found within. "I'm fine, Marcine," he said and almost believed it. "Tell Davin we can get moving again." "I'm right here," Davin said from a nearby tree. He swung down from the branch he had been using to survey the path further along and landed lightly on his feet. "We seem to have passed the worst of the fighting." "Good," Kyle nodded. "At least the Church seems to have driven the Manakyr out of La Verde. The squads we ran into had the look of stragglers and left behinds. All that's left is a mopping up action." Kyle didn't mention that the Dragoon patrols were likely to be as hostile as the few remaining mages. It didn't need to be said. "I wish it didn't have to be this way." Marcine looked at Kyle and Davin for a moment. "Why do they have to kill each other like this?" "Blood Marcine," Kyle told her evenly. "There is too much blood between them and the Church for there to ever be peace. We're raised to believe them all demons, and they are trained to despise everything we stand for. The only way this will end is when one... or both, are destroyed." "Cynic," Davin chided. Kyle merely shrugged. "Well, like I said the fighting around here seems to have stopped. So we should be able to find the Excelsior with no problem now." "Finding the Excelsior isn't the problem," Kyle stated. "What we do once we find it is." *** Mika woke up slowly. For a moment all she was aware of was that her head hurt and she was hungry. Then the memory of the last few minutes before unconsciousness came back. Of how the engine room had bloomed into a fireball and that stranger had shielded her body with his own. She also remembered saying things she hadn't meant to say. She had known things about the crystal, and about the man Bolgan that she had no business knowing. She remembered staring into the fiery crystal and feeling something staring back at her from within... "Where am I?" she muttered to herself. She looked around and noted that she was in a small room made of metal. She was lying on a cot pushed against the wall. That left very little room for standing, especially with the other person in the room taking up so much space. Other person? She looked over and saw him looming over her like a statue. His armor was dented and scratched but whole nonetheless. His face had the leathery look of one who has been worn, not aged, by time. And his eyes, his eyes held nothing but cold, unforgiving resolve. Still, she thought she recognized him. "I know you..." she said slowly. "Who are you?" "I am Commander Armand Cavanaugh of the Holy Dragoon's of Tienne. You are Mika Gilchrist are you not?" "Yes..." Mika's eyes widened. "You're Marcine's father!" "So you admit you know the Heretic Marcine Cavanaugh?" "Admit?" Mika stood up. The Dragoon still towered over her but not by as much. Besides Mika had stood alone against Diablos, this was nothing. At least, she kept telling herself that. "What's going on here?" "It is my duty to inform you that come noon you will be tried and executed for Heresy against the Laws of the Three Gods." "Ex-executed!" "You have this time to repent for your crimes and seek forgiveness in the eyes of the Gods." "Forgiveness? Forgiveness!! I'm not the one who tortured them in this infernal machine! I'm not the one who has tainted and twisted their message until it's lost all meaning! I'm not a heretic and neither is Marcine!" "It is sad to see you will not repent." Armand said with detached calm. "You have a half-hour to reconsider your answer. I will come for you then." He stepped to the door which opened without a touch to the sound of hissing steam. Once he was outside the door slammed shut once again. Mika starred at it for a long time and finally sat down on the cot once again. With grim futility she searched her pockets and found nothing to aid her escape. Not since starring up into the face of the black demon Diablos had she felt this helpless and alone. *** Armand stepped outside of the girl's cell and let the door hiss shut behind him. With an off-hand gesture he triggered the mechanism which would hold the door tighter than any lock. He wanted to go somewhere and be alone. Somewhere where the men could not see him. That tiny child, so young and so like Marcine in her own youth. But he couldn't afford to appear weak, not now. Not ever. A clank of metal on metal caught his attention and he turned his head. He saw a young armored Dragoon walking slowly away from him down the corridor. he had the look of one who was trying to be inconspicuous about him. More interesting was that Armand didn't recognize him. Armand had hand picked every Dragoon for this mission. "You there, halt." The young Dragoon stopped and turned swiftly on his heel before standing at attention. "What is your name private?" "Uh... Torrance, sir." "What are you doing here? I didn't select you for this mission?" "I didn't come with your team, sir. I was, on leave in my hometown... La Verde, when the Manakyr attacked. I was trying to do my best to sabotage them when you arrived. I reported for duty as soon as I could and was... uh... coming to see you. But I saw you were busy so..." "Were you listening at the door just now?" "NO!" Armand stared into the private's eyes for a long time. "Well... yes. I was only curious..." "You are young private so I will explain something to you." Armand stepped forward. "I am not a cruel man, I take no pleasure in doing this to the child. I wish the girl no specific harm, I just follow my duty. I know her though, and her companions. They will come to rescue her, and I shall be waiting for them." "Sir, what about Tienne?" "Tienne can wait," Armand said coldly. "They can hold their own against what few Manakyr airships remain. And then we shall pounce upon the weakened forces of the enemy from behind. I have larger game to catch then a few paltry heretics. Now go, report to Sergeant Grimm, he'll assign your duties." "Right away, sir." As the private left Armand turned and started towards the engine room. It was time to scare Bolgan into getting this contraption airborne again. *** The limp body of the Manakyr officer fell to the ground at his feet. The woman gasped and retched for breath as Seigvin stepped over her and towards his horse. He had promised her life in return for the information and he felt no pressing need to kill her, after all. He just hoped she wouldn't be as stupid as the last two he had interrogated and tried to attack him while his back was turned. It could turn out very badly if she did that, for her anyway. He mounted his horse with the easy grace of one long practiced. Now that he had heard the same story from three of them he had no choice but to believe it. If it was true... then Madonna would soon control Tienne and eliminate that nuisance Lambert. If Seigvin knew Madonna she world not stop there either. She would know where Gilgamesh was held and Infinity would be hers. That was something Seigvin could not allow to happen. He needed those heartstones, and a battle with Madonna to acquire them might weaken him too much. A battle with Madonna and -him- was beyond even his abilities to win. He didn't want to leave the girl, not when she was this close and this vulnerable. With a reluctant roar he spurred his horse towards Tienne. He had worked to long, spilled too much blood to be denied now. Especially not by Madonna. *** "Kyle!" Jil said with relief as Cheney led the Dragoon and the others into the gorge that Shizuka had picked as camp. "Thank the gods ye be alright." "Yes," Kyle nodded. "We are all fine." Davin looked around the gorge and then at Jil. "Where's Mika?" "I... Davin..." Jil stammered. Davin's eyes widened and he stepped over to her. "What happened? Where is she? She isn't hurt is she?" "We don't know," Cheney said. "She was, thrown out of one of the airships. Reill says Martin might have gone off to save here when she fell but we can't be sure if they made it." "No," Davin growled. "That's not acceptable! I promised her... I have to know where she is." "This one is sorry Davin," Shizuka bowed her head. "She could do nothing to save Mika from this uncertain fate." Davin spun and looked at Marcine. "I have to find her Marcine. I can't... I can't not know!" "I know Davin... we'll..." "We can't waste time looking." Kyle stepped in. "We have to get to Tienne. If we don't do something..." "Damn Tienne!" Davin roared at Kyle. "In case you aren't keeping score Kyle they're the enemy too. I won't abandon Mika to -try- and save those hypocrites!" "I have no love for Lambert either Davin," Kyle stepped up and starred Davin in the eyes. "But Tienne is the largest city in the world. Thousands and thousand of innocent men women and children live there. They aren't evil, just ignorant of the truth because the Church has made sure they remain that way. I won't abandon hope for all of them to save one little girl." "You..." Davin reached down and clasped his hand over the hilt of his sword. "Davin," Marcine laid a calming hand on his shoulder and he slowly released his grip. "Don't forget what Gaia told us. Gilgamesh is in Tienne, if the Manakyr find him before we do then... we have nowhere else to turn." "I won't leave her..." Davin said. "I promised I'd find her parents Marcine." He blinked, his eyes hurt and he wanted nothing more than to close them. "I promised her I'd protect her..." "We've all lost people important to us on this quest," Cheney said calmly. "Don't give up hope yet. Martin may be young but he loved flying more than any other Dragoon I've ever know. If anyone could have saved her from that fall, it was him." "Guys!" Reill called out from the rocks overhead. "Something big is happening over at the Excelsior!" "Define big," Kyle ordered. "I can't tell for sure... it looks like the entire legion is out there in front of the fortress. They've set up some kind of platform..." "Platform..." Kyle nodded. "That means..." "A trial!" Marcine shouted. "A trial for heresy! That's the only reason they'd have everyone in the same place at the same time!" "Who would they be trying now?" Cheney thought out loud. "And prisoners they may have taken would be bound for the Wall, and they can't convict them until they get back to Tienne." "I 'ave a bad feelin' bout this," Jil said. "Let's get closer," Kyle said. "To find out what's going on." *** "Children of the Gods, servants of the one and only Church." Armand's booming voice rolled out over the crowd, reaching the party hidden behind some convenient rocks nearby. "Those who are Wise in Mind, Brave in Heart and Pure in Soul I call you to witness this." "It's a trail all right," Kyle whispered. "All who serve our mother Church I have gathered here to witness. Forget not this day or the lessons that it shall impart. Carry this day forever in mind and heart and soul and let it shore up your resolve for the dark nights to come. This is the Justice of the Gods, this is what you fight for, this is the Truth that others would destroy." "Methinks he be likin' the sound o' his own voice too much." "Shush!" "Bring forth the accused, to stand trail for crimes of Heresy against the Law of the Three Gods." Armand gestured towards the open hangar of the Excelsior. Slowly two Dragoons stepped out, walking towards the platform upon which Armand stood. Davin tried to see what has between them but whatever it was fell below the shoulders of all those Dragoons out there. He looked at Marcine and saw that the blood had drained from her face. Was she picturing herself being dragged out to stand before her father's judgment perhaps? Then the Dragoons mounted the platform and between them was... "Mika Gilchrist, you stand accused of Heresy against the Laws of the Three Gods. Do you repent?" "Stuff it up your..." she cried out as one of the Dragoons jabbed her with the but of his lance, driving her to her knees. "MI..." Davin almost cried out but felt a hand over his mouth muffling the words. For a moment he couldn't tell who it was and couldn't care. He could only see red and only knew that they were holding him back from helping her. He elbowed them viciously in the ribs and turned to face his attacker. "Davin!" Marcine backed up, clutching her ribs. "Calm down Davin!" she hissed. Davin felt the anger drain away and with a shaking hand he reached out to touch her. "I'm sorry, Marcine." "It's okay." She smiled at him. Davin felt the eyes on him without needing to look. He looked anyway and stared Kyle back. The look said all that needed to be said. He knew this would not be forgotten by one at least. "But calm down, we can't rush into this." "We have to save her... they'll kill her." "That they will," Kyle said. "And if we run in there they'll kill all us too. In case you haven't noticed there are a thousand of them and, what, seven of us?" "We could do it, Marcine's magic and Shizuka's skills... my geomancy..." "Would take out, what, a few dozen at best?" "I can't sit here and do nothing!" "This one shall go." "Shizuka?" The young Ryukin girl straightened. She brushed her raven hair away from her smooth face and looked at Davin. "It is this ones duty to protect Mistress Gilchrist. She shall enter alone save the girl. Her skills will allow her to enter undetected." "And what about leaving?" Cheney said calmly. "I know of your clan and not even you can carry her out without danger. They'll spot you and strike you down." "This one shall buy time for... for Mika's escape. If that is the price of her life she will gladly pay it!" "You're too young to be throwing away your life like this." Cheney reached out and patted her arm. "Trust an old man when he tells you that life is the most precious, sacred gift of any God." "Nobody is going to get killed," Kyle barked. Everyone turned to look at him. He stepped back from them all. "I'm going to go in and get that girl out. I'm a Dragoon I can do it." "Kyle..." "I won't hear any objections!" He banged the but of his makeshift lance against the ground. "I can do this. I can save her." "I won't do nothing-" Davin began. "Davin," Kyle interrupted him. "Do you trust me?" "What?" "Do you trust me, even though we've only just met?" "I... I guess." He looked into Kyle's eyes. There was no deception, no malice in that gaze. There was only resolve. "I have to do this Davin," Kyle said softly. "If I don't I'll never be able to look at myself in the mirror again. You've protected my sisters, let me return the favor." "Okay," Davin said. He reached out his hand and felt Kyle clasp it. "I trust you, Kyle." Kyle nodded and stood up to leave. He paused as he noted Cheney also standing up to walk with him. For a brief moment Kyle considered ordering him to sit down but he knew the order would just be ignored. Then the two of them stepped out from behind the rocks into the narrow pass which housed the remains of the once mighty Excelsior. *** "Very well," Armand said as the ritual time passed. "If you will not repent you leave me no choice. By the power invested in my by the Holy Church I sentence you to death..." "STOP!" Armand knew that voice. His head snapped up and he looked down the ranks of his Dragoon's to find its source. With mute understanding each Dragoon stood aside, forming an aisle along their ranks between the platform and the source of the demand. The youth who marched down that aisle was not an impressive sight. His armor dented and scratched by combat, its shine having been muted by burns. His weapon was a makeshift lance, no more than a pole with a curved sword tied to it with tight twine. His face was covered with dirt and grime but Armand recognized it instantly. And despite that the Commander had never seen a more dignified Dragoon in all his years. He walked without limp or sign of injury. His eyes never wavered from Armand's and they were clear and resolute. He carried his jury-rigged naginata as if it were the finest weapon in creation and bore his armor with a pride that those scars or war had imparted. Armand Cavanaugh realized he had never been more proud of his son then he was at this moment. This was a Dragoon. "Captain Cavanaugh," Armand nodded. "So glad you could join us." Armand looked to Kyle's side and saw he was standing only with an old man. Cheney, the old drill sergeant turned tracker. "Where is the rest of your unit?" "Lost," Kyle said. "Or held from coming by forces beyond their control." "I see..." There was something in Kyle's voice. It was a sadness that hadn't been there before. Armand began to worry. "And what brings you to La Verde? Last I knew you had taken an unauthorized pursuit of the heretic Marcine Cavanaugh." Armand knew what must have brought him to this place. No doubt Marcine herself was in La Verde with the rest of her Manakyr demons. The dark lady that some of the captives had talked about? Would Marcine sink that low. "I am here to prevent a miscarriage of justice." "You are what?" Armand stepped back. He began to feel a nagging worry. The same nagging worry when he had heard of a young girl who aided a small child in a steam car accident. "Explain yourself, Dragoon!" "That girl does not deserve death." Kyle pointed his lance at the now silent Mika. "She is no heretic!" "Hold your tongue!" Armand roared. "She is charged with heresy by the Church! She has aided the escape of a heretic. She has assassinated a High Priest of the Church!" Armand cuffed the girl when she tried to protest. "This 'child' has destroyed countless pages of knowledge at the Great Russa Library. Finally, and most damning she downed the Excelsior when we were on the verge of victory. For these crimes she shall be punished!" "She has done none of these things. But she has fought mages and monsters," Kyle growled back. "She has battled madmen bent on destroying all we hold sacred and fought the Cult. This young girl is more a protector of the people then you will ever be!" A deep, foreboding silence fell over the crowd. Armand was rigid with fury. How dare this boy lecture him? How dare he question the Church? How dare he betray their families honor? Now, now there would be no one to salvage it. Now there was no hope for his family name. The proud line of Cavanaugh had come to and end. So be it. "Kyle Cavanaugh," Armand began, "I hereby strip you of the rank of Captain. I expunge you from the Holy Dragoons and revoke all rights that membership gives you. I order you to stand down your arms and surrender at once." "No." "DO NOT DEFY ME!" "I will not let you kill an innocent girl to protect the Church." Kyle stepped forward. "Father can't you see what's going on here? Don't you realize there is a war going on here. No a war between the church and the Manakyr. A war beneath the surface, a war fought by people brave enough to defy tradition against madmen and creatures older than time! You can not save the church by killing this girl. How can we claim to be better than that we fight against when we use methods like this? How can we blame those whose only sin is curiosity for hating us when we drive them from our homes, kill them on sight and seal them in stone for the rest of time! How can you defend the lies of the Church that have kept us down for nearly a millennia beneath their iron heel. Or are you willing to tell these people the real secret behind the Wall of Fools father? Are you willing to reveal that it is magic itself which is used to seal them away? Don't fight me over this... please father. I beg you." "You are not my son." "Father..." Kyle stepped back as if struck. "Please don't make me do this. Don't make me defy you." He held up his hand, as if pleading Armand to take it. "I make you do nothing," Armand responded without the slightest catch in his voice. "You have chosen your path. Seize him." Kyle's eyes narrowed and he swung his lance in a wide arc. The few Dragoons who had stepped forward to take him wisely stepped back. "You're wrong, father. I will be no more part of it. I'm taking the girl and we are leaving. Don't try to stop me. There has been too much bloodshed already." "I said seize him." "I have this one, sir!" A young Dragoon rose up on his Boost jets out of the crowd. Armand's eyes flickered to him. It was that same private he had met earlier. Torrance? Then the youth was rocketing forward, towards Kyle like a meteor. Then straight past Kyle the young man flew and Armand realized too late what his true intention was. With a cry the young man smashed into him full force. The blow sent Armand flying off the platform. For a moment he considered activating his own jets then remembered he wasn't wearing Boost Armor. He crashed to the ground and rolled slightly on impact. Shaking his head to clear the ringing he stood up. The camp was in chaos. Kyle's pretty speech and that private's dramatic action had lit a fuse Armand had not even been aware was there. A brawl had erupted among the ranks of the Dragoons, among HIS Dragoons. The last line of defense between the Holy Church and the endless lines of heretics trying to tear it down. No, this would not be. Armand reached into his pocket and took out the tiny device hidden there. All those who stood against him were heretics and they would be punished! *** "Kyle!" Mika said and leapt into the ex-Dragoons arms. "I never thought I'd be so glad to see you." "I wasn't about to let Davin down," Kyle said. "Now get off of me." "Oh, right." Mika landed lightly on the ground. "What now?" The sound of metal striking metal had steadily risen in volume since the battle began. Kyle had gambled right. He knew that the Dragoon's were not evil, not really. He had been among them, he had trained with many of them. Most of them had no heart for murder, he knew most of all that they were tired of being treated as disposable commodities. He had seen it in Atlantea, the Church's utter indifference to the souls lost freeing that town. He had seen the rumors spread like poison. He knew them, better then his father ever could. All they needed was a leader, someone willing to defy orders, someone to give them courage. Oh how he wished it hadn't been necessary. "We'd best get out of here, Captain," Martin said as he looked at the ring of steel clad Dragoons that had surrounded there small party. "This is only going to get uglier." "I'm not a Captain anymore Martin," Kyle said to him. "Call me Kyle. And thank you for your assistance back there." "Think nothing of it... Captain" "What's that sound?" Mika asked suddenly. "What? I can't hear anything above the battle." "By the Gods!" Cheney whispered. "Look!" Kyle looked, and his blood turned to ice. They towered above the battlefield like clockwork horrors. They moved among the ranks of the battling Dragoons, striking without warning and without mercy. They struck without compromise, both those for Kyle and those against found themselves the targets. Brutal metal claws and blasts of fire and lightning tore apart Dragoons were they stood. The GoLEMs had entered the fray. "Father," Kyle whispered to himself, "What have you done?" "Kyle!" Cheney shook him roughly. "We have to get out of here!" "No," Kyle pushed him back. "I did this. I lit the fuse. I'm responsible for all those people." "There's nothing you can do Captain," Martin said. "And those things are getting closer." "C'mon Kyle," Mika tugged at his leg. "We can go get davin and the others, they can help us." No they can't, Kyle thought. There must be six dozen of those mechanical monsters out there. Not even a Sleeper could destroy them all. At least, not without killing all the Dragoons fighting them as well. He had to stop this... "Kyle!" Cheney pushed him back and the young man nearly lost his balance. "Snap out of it. It's time to go." "It's too late," Martin eeped out. Kyle looked up and saw the giant, blocky form of a spider-type GoLEM looming above them. Its maw opened and Kyle saw lightning leaping between its teeth. Then Cheney shoved him aside and leapt at the beast. His foot connected with it in a resounding clang and the stream of lightning flew wide over the heads of the combatants. "Go Kyle," Cheney said. "I'll handle this." "Cheney?" Kyle tried to clear the cobwebs that seemed to have filled his head. "I'll save as many as I can but only if you get out of here." "Wait-" Kyle began but found himself cut off. Martin was dragging him backward. "Martin let me go." "No, sir." "I said let me go!" "No, sir." "I order you to let me go!" "I'm afraid I outrank you, sir." "Go Kyle," Cheney turned back to the beast. "End the bloodshed, Kyle. You and your sister, you're the only ones who can." For a moment there seemed to be a flicker of light around the old man. A gold flash of color. Then it was gone. Then the light returned, stronger and longer before dying again. It strobed like that for a few seconds, coming faster and faster and then with a final blinding flash it burst forth. "Take this you monster... FINAL HEAVEN!" Cheney moved faster than Kyle's eyes could follow. There was only a golden flash and the GoLEM seemed to stop. Kyle stared at the giant hole which had formed in the beasts mechanical chest for a moment before it exploded. He looked about and saw another flash speeding towards another GoLEM. Kyle wanted to help, he struggled in Martin's grip... then everything went black. *** Kyle woke up sometime later. He was lying on a rock, back in the gorge. The others were all looking down on him with looks of... pity on their faces. "What happened?" "Martin knocked you out," Mika answered. "It was for your own good." "I'm sorry, sir." Martin said. "We tried to get to you once the fighting broke out but it was too intense," Davin explained. "And I thought it best we didn't use any... special powers. That might have united the Dragoons against us. We only just managed to get the three of you out of there alive." "Three?" Kyle sat bolt upright. "Where's Cheney?" "This one is sorry Kyle Cavanaugh," Shizuka stepped forward. "The Art he used... it was the Final Heaven, the ultimate secret that can only be used once. It is too much for one man to bear..." "No..." Kyle said. "If it's any consolation," Davin said. "He took out most of the GoLEMs before... well, what happened. The Dragoons survived." "I see," Kyle nodded. He felt empty. He hadn't meant for this to happen. He'd only wanted to show his father the error, to show him that the Dragoons were people and that they couldn't be manipulated like pawns. To show him that murder solved nothing. Where had he gone wrong? "What about father?" "We don't know," Reill answered. "I saw a bunch of GoLEMs, all the surviving ones I think, head off toward Tienne. The Dragoon's are still mostly milling about the ship. I think they don't know who to trust." "Neither do I," said Kyle. He looked at Marcine. "I can't leave them like this. You have to go on to Tienne without me. I have to make sure they all survive." "We understand, Kyle." "I just hope what I did was right." ====================================================================== Author's Notes: It's late. E-mail me with comments or post them on the board.