"Kiss! Tell me! What have you done with Pewter!" Sepia deflected a thunder wave with his sword and followed it up with a set of Fury Swipes - ineffective, but enough to stagger Kiss for a brief moment.
"Oh, he made a wonderful toy..." She composed herself and cupped her hands together. "Shame he had to die... But he managed to get his boy off fast enough. That was a plus... It'll be much more fun to kill him in real life."
"You what?" Sepia said, worried. "You spiteful..."
"It is time this was ended. I tire if you all and my plan is in place." She raised her hands and they began to glow brightly. "Cleanser of beauty..."
"NO!" Sepia shouted. "I recognise that..."
"What?" Hari shouted. "What's she doing?"
"Destroyer of Faith." Kiss' intonations were heavy and measured.
"When I was climbing through Kanto about... oh, seventeen years from now, I received a book. Well, an eBook, but that's a concept that's a few years away for you yet. Point is, it was full of pictures with captions. One of them... was of this. A bit more cubist in style, mind you, and the composition had a Sixteenth Century DeLaOnixian feel, but..."
"What's it mean?" Polaris yelled.
"Its her final attack. Unless we can block this, its all over."
Hari's face dropped.
"WIPE THE SLATE."
"Its over!" Sepia yelled. "The hell?!"
"LUSTER PURGE!" Kiss screamed, and unleashed a bright ball of energy at the group. Sepia winced and waited for the blow.
It did not come.
He opened his eyes to see Kiss sprawled on the floor.
"What just happened?" Sepia said, worried.
"It was me." Hari said, a sense of self-satisfaction that Sepia had not heard before had entered his voice. "I used counter."
"Well I'll be." Sepia laughed, before turning to Krystal. "So, we don't have much time. I trust you took the necessary precautions?"
"What's going on?" Vermil was confused.
"I'm not here." Krystal smiled widely. "I'm actually playing from outside. Its more fun this way, I think. Plus, less chance I'd actually die. Well, enough banter, time to pull you all back out..."
"I feel weird..." Fuschia muttered, before the world went white and there was nothing left to say.
"What's the point of it all, Vermil?"
"I can't understand why the future is so important."
"You can't understand life?"
"I do not understand your grip on it."
"I do not understand your ambivalence to it."
"Whew... Glad that's over..." Sepia was panting a little. Their jaunt inside the Box system had taken its toll on all of them.
But there were more pressing matters. The teleporter had placed them safely on the roof, the only place large enough to handle the large-scale teleport.
"Alright, I see a small army of Krazy Krystal Klones outside." Roy was displeased. "And... Void? Kiss? Whatever she's called, she's leading them."
"I'll go." Hari suddenly piped up. "I defeated her inside the box. I should do it now."
Sepia looked anxiously at the boy. He was worried about that. For all intents and purposes, Hari had defeated her. How was anyone's guess, and why him was even more confusing. If he had taken advantage of his psychic powers, sure. But he was running purely on the Box world's magic. Unless it was intrinsically linked, there was no reason why it should have been so strong.
Hari walked to the edge.
"COME ON!" He shouted.
"Wait, Hari, don't!"
"Don't do wh-" Hari was cut off. A large beam of energy began to shoot out of him, connecting him and Kiss.
"Damn!" Sepia shouted, "DAMN IT! I should have known!" He ran to the edge and began shouting at her. "You sick THING! You threw that fight so you could get close enough! Close enough to use whatever messed up Rocket Tech you've got! Close enough to tap into the only psychic that the conduit is afraid of!"
Polaris, in the confusion, shot Max a look of 'How did he know that?'
Kiss simply smiled as the power entered her.
"Hah..." Kiss laughed a little as she began to fill with power. Her voice boomed, but remained calm and measured. "This is not our world, you know. The world of the Krystal Spectrum clones. This is the world of the dying of the light. The world of those unable to stop themselves from slowly dying."
Sepia grunted and looked away, beginning to walk over to Fuschia.
"I deny this."
Sepia turned and glared, before shouting back. "THEN FIGHT ROCKET, NOT US! THEY BROUGHT YOU INTO THIS WORLD!"
"Do not think for a moment that I have any feelings about you insects what so ever." Kiss laughed, shaking her head so that her strawberry hair scattered, the draining of power making it float ethereally. "I am far beyond all of you..." Her gaze fell to her army.
"What is she...?" Krystal was, for once, stunned.
"I deny these wretches, the fools bred for one purpose."
"NO!" Sepia shouted as Kiss waved her hand.
"I cast them out."
Every Krystal clone began to grasp their head in pain, in agony. It was as if a tide of unrelenting suffering had swept over them, and one by one they began to drop, dead.
Krystal was not immune. Fuschia quickly ran over to her and checked her pulse. She turned her gaze to the hero - To her hero. "Sepia, do something! We need you!"
"Well, I guess this is it." Sepia smiled and lit a cigarette. He normally didn't smoke, but he'd picked up the habit on a trip back in time. It was unfortunate, but it helped him calm down. He had to think about the past for a moment. It was the only way to get himself ready. Nothing had been normal - time travel, meeting Team Temporal, any of it. It was all so odd. He didn't even get a chance to look at his aspect. Sepalga? Dialia? He wasn't really fond of the naming system. It was very 1980's.
Towan seemed so far away.
"Wait, Sepia, what are you doing?" Fuschia was hesitant. She knew the look on his face. She barely knew the man, but she could tell already when he was planning something. He looked unhappy, he looked tired, and he was looking right at Kiss. She knew that he wasn't going to do his normal thing - pull out some fancy device, talk a bit of flim-flam and save the day with a technicality. This was desperate.
The bodies of the Daemon army lay between them, separating Kiss and the gang like a sea of unhelpful debris. Even Krystal had succumbed - not completely. She was still alive, but she had been rendered useless. The original could only take so much. The roof of the centre was cold beneath her bare feet, and it made her nervous. Everything was so cold, and Kiss was so frightening. It seemed very much like the end.
He had seen something like it, long ago. But it wasn't living things, it wasn't creatures that could think and feel and exist. He had seen a sea of robots destroyed, automatons lying spreadeagled on a factory floor, fried circuitry splayed everywhere. That was undoing work. This was undoing lives. This was inexcusable.
"There is a physical connection. It must be broken by something that can absorb the blow." Sepia was taking off his suit jacket now, revealing (for the first time, as far as Fuschia was concerned) a dark blue shirt. She'd seen it poking out from under his dark suit, but never bothered to wonder about it. It was torn and blood stained, and she imagined it was from everything he'd done before. Every battle he'd already fought.
It was a memento.
"My name is Indigo Sepia..." He began to speak, walking towards the edge. "I was born in Bacch City, Towen. I went to school in Aollo city, at the famous Military Trainer Academy. I fell in love exactly six times, and to be honest I've forgotten who three of them are. But here, here I have no family, no history, no past, no future. I am a traveller who simply goes about, saving the day. Righting wrongs."
Fuschia braced herself. She knew what he was going to do.
"The universe will go on without me." He began to run. He headed straight for the edge, directly into the beam of light connecting Hari and Kiss.
And then he stopped.
Vermil stopped him in his tracks, holding him back.
Sepia saw the look in his eyes, and saw a fear like no other.
"You have to go on."
"You are Indigo Sepia. And like everyone else here, you're fantastic. And I am a coward."
Vermil spoke softly before turning to face Sepia's target.
"I used to think this was my story. And it is, but I've realised something." Vermil adopted a crouching position. "We all have our stories, our chapters, but nobody can write forever." He leaned forward, put one foot back, and his hands forward. "Everything ends..."
He began to run.
"Vermil!" Max called out. Vermil ignored him.
Sepia turned to Max, staring at him with a look that Max understood completely.
"Vermil!" Max called out once more, "Give 'em hell!"
Vermil smiled as he leapt from the edge.
Vermil was smiling as his body was wracked with pain.
Vermil was smiling all through the explosion.
"Vermil, I'm sorry."
"I understand what our last meeting must have been like."
"You said I would die."
"Yes. The future is always the least appropriate thing for any occasion."
"You know, I used to think this was a place I could be happy. This was a world we could all get by in. I think somewhere along the way I realised that it really doesn't matter whose world it is."
CHAPTER THREE: DRAGONS: END.
"How does it go, then?"
"That poem that we translated. You never said."
"Gleeful old Deity,
Crushed its enemies,
And sealed at the end,
Where it belongs,
The eyes you use for seeing,
Surrender to the Seat of the Seaking."