Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Insert Unconquerable Finality Here

"I think it's cute..."

"Really?"

"Of course, dear. You look very good."

Chrys blushed heavily and spun around to admire herself in the three tall mirrors, grinning a bit as her heels clacked on the floor and the tails of her coat flipping behind her. The hanyou was currently dressed in a tuxedo, with a red bowtie, fancy shirt and jacket and pants on. "Well, this is kinda cool..."

Phoenixia, who herself was dressed in a white floor-length dress that was split nearly down to her navel, still managing to hug her breasts without any danger of them spilling out if she moved and split up just short of her waist and high-heeled white boots, grinned just as wide Chrys and clapped her hands together. "Excellent! Now, just hold that pose while I go get the camera!"

"C-c-camera!" Chrys spluttered and her face instantly went from normal to bright red in no time flat and she squirmed, trying to get out of her tux, fluffy dog ears popping up on her head. "No no no no no no no no!"

"Awww! Please?" Phoenixia gave the young girl a pouting, sad, look, her lower lip quivering and her violet eyes glinting a bit. "It's so much fun and I know you stick them on your bulletin board!"

"Waugh!" Chrys' efforts to get herself out of the tux doubled. "Why do you have me dress up in these things anyway! You're worse than Aster when she wants a partner for AnimeCon!"

"Well, you're my friend and I just like having you put on the outfits I design..." Phoenixia grinned sheepishly.
"Weeeeellll...my next book is about this fashion model detective and I promised my fans I'd put up some photos of her on the website..." She plucked the camera from the nightstand and lifted it. "Don't worry, Chrys! I'll give you a cut of the proceeds- promise!"

"SKREAK!" Chrys' eyes bugged out."W-Website...!"

"Yeah, I've got one for all my books... but don't worry, I haven't put any photos up yet at all. I want all them at once, makes it so much easier..." Phoenixia waved the hanyou's stammering concerns away and sighed when she saw the camera's battery light was blinking. "Oh, for the love of..." Turning around, she pulled open the drawer and pulled out a pair of Double A batteries out. "You'd think I'd always remember to get these things..."

Turning back around, she grinned at Chrysu. "Just gimme a minute to swap batteries and we'll be..." Then the hologram blinked as the only thing occupying the space Chrys had been in was cloud of Chrys-shaped dust. "Wow... that girl can really move she wants to..."

TTTTTTTT

Drake strolled down the hallway, fishing chocolates from the bag he held in his hand and flipping them into his mouth. "Geeze, it's so boring around here... I wish something interesting would happen..."

Then he was knocked skywards, chocolates raining every where, as Chrys whipped around the corner and tore right through him, one long continuous 'Nooooooo!' Trailing in her wake

With a very athletic twist of his body, Drake righted himself and landed feet first on the ground. "Hey, piece of cake..."

Unfortunately for Drake, the chocolates he had been eating where hard chocolates and thus had the consistency of marbles and he had the misfortune to land right atop them, sending the Agent's legs failing back and forth as his arms fluttered about while he struggled to keep his balance.

Phoenixia materialized a few feet away, glancing this way and that before a pout appeared on her face. "Nuts... she's not here, either... I guess I have to keep looking..." Then she straightened and her eyes got a slightly distant look to them. "Wow... that's some signal the scanners are picking up.."

Meanwhile, Drake was losing his battle to keep his balance and finally lost, stumbling and rolling wildly forwards, pitching forwards... right towards Phoenixia and judging by the angle he was at, his face was going to plant itself right in her ample chest.

Time seemed to slow down a bit for Drake and as he hurtled towards the still distant Phoenixia, two thoughts flashed through his head:

This is going to be heaven.

She is so going to feed me to her plants

He flew closer and closer, arms outstretched and he could almost touch and grab them... maybe if he claimed he didn't have a choice, she would be merciful... closer and closer, his fingertips mere inches away...

Then he sailed right through empty space as Phoenixia vanished away and Drake's eyes widened as he crashed into the floor, skidding several feet along the floor and pushing up a pile of carpet in front of him.

"...ouch..."

TTTTTTTT

"What kind of Sue is that?" Michael asked, peering at the monitor screen before him. The image showed a top-view of what looked to be a city and a single glowing dot was in one of the buildings. "The computer says it 'Type not found'..."

"And it can't give us a power level reading, either..." Claire commented from another screen, holding a print-out up to her face with a frown. "It just says 'More information required."

Tash glanced at the main monitor and fold her arms. "But the computer says the corruption of the fandom isn't very high... either that Stu hasn't been there for very long or just isn't strong enough to do much."

"That might explain why we're getting such funky readings. If it's a Sue, it might be a Sue based off the powers of hidden talents and crap and so it can hide its energy signature. Or maybe Runoa or the PCMSP came up with some kind of device like that.

"Hmmm…" Tash studied the screen for a long moment and then snapped her fingers. "Okay, here's how we're gonna do it. Claire, grab Ossa, Miriku and Cristoph and go investigate. Also, take Chrys with you."

"Yes'm!" Claire saluted and blinked. "Why Chrys?"

"Because she has been a bit out of since Adrian's death and hasn't gotten any major screen time since her own first mission a few months back. So this will distract her and give her some character development, hopefully."

"Right!" Claire darted over to give Michael a quick kiss and then hustled out of the monitor room, pulling out her communicator. "Miri? It's me - get your stuff together, we got a mission…"

TTTTTTTT

About ten minutes later, a swirling rainbow Plothole portal opened up and the Agents stumbled out, Miri nearly tripping over her own feet as Ossa braced herself on the smaller girl to stop herself from falling. "Hey, I'm short, not a walking stick!"

"Sorry, sorry!" Ossa apologized and straightened, glancing around at the ruined, abandoned street and all the boarded up buildings. "Where are we…?"

Phoenixia's face popped up on Claire's communicator. "This fandom is an old fanfic story that was an original idea. A few other people picked up on it, but then it just died off and no one even remembers it's name anymore."

"That would explain how deserted this place looks…" Cristoph glanced around and tilted his head. "Where is Lady Chrys?"

TTTTTTTT

A few streets away, another Plothole portal opened above the street and the hanyou tumbled out, face-planting into the cement. "….owie…."

TTTTTTTT

"The signal is strongest in here…" Claire said, glancing at her communicator and then at the rusted-out, ruined warehouse in front of them.

"Ahhh…" Cristoph stepped forwards, studying the massive metal door that looked like it was rusted-shut and then after a moment, slammed his palm into a seemingly random spot. A second later, the door toppled inwards with a heavy metallic 'clang!'.

"Show-off… I could do that if I tried… didn't get ten years of experience in martial arts for nothing…" Ossa muttered as the ninja bowed the three ladies into the warehouse and Miriku snickered behind her hand.

"Well, if they didn't know we were here, they do now…" Claire sighed and pocketed her communicator and glanced around the darkened shadows of the warehouse. "So… why aren't they attacking us?"

"Perhaps they are waiting for us to make the first move." Cristoph pointed straight ahead of them, where a shadowed figured was vaguely visible. The ninja narrowed his eyes. "Are you going to show yourself or will we have to drag you out?"

The shadowed figure held up its' arm, revealing a glowing activated duel disk. Then they held up their free hand into the light, pointing at the four agents and then holding four fingers before pointing at themselves.

"He wants to duel...? All four of us?" Claire gave him a suspicious look, even as she and the others pulled out their Pocket Disks and slid them into place onto their wrists.

"Fine by me!" Miriku said as the Agent's disks all activate in unison. "It'll be a nice piece of revenge for what those Elementals did to me.

Ossa drew her opening hand, looking slightly disappointed they weren't going to actually physically fight. "Let's make this quick... Aimee says that she found a way to get copies of Chris Pine videos off the 'Net..."

"Be careful, everyone." Cristoph said calmly, already studying his five-card hand. "He must have his reasons for challenging all four of us at once and he may be more powerful than he's letting on."

'Yeah..." Claire murmured, a bit nervous now, but her voice rose with others as they all shouted the words.

"LET'S DUEL!"

TTTTTTTT

"This should be good - Miri's an expert duelist and Ossa, Claire and Cristoph are damn good ones, too." Tash commented as she studied the scene on the monitor. "That Stu is nuts to take all four of them on at once."

"Yep." Hati nodded in agreement and then tilted her head a bit. "Umm... didn't we send five Agents? Where's Chrys?"

"Chrys has a horrible sense of direction. She's probably gotten lost..." Aster said from above the two Leaders, where she was reclining on her back as she read the latest mange volume. "Don't worry, she'll show up... probably just in time to see the others hogtie the Stu or something..."

"I hope so." Michael sighed and folded his arms. "Sheesh, she hasn't been on a mission for a long while, she needs some more experience, but I think this kind of mission is out of her league... she doesn't know how to duel... least she looks cute in the miniskirts..."

"Well, I think that was more me than you, Michael..." Phoenixia chimed in over the speakers, her image appearing on one of the side monitors, smirking. "It went with the rest of the outfit I had at the time... when YOU tried to enforce that little decree, Claire had something to say about it..."

"That was because you materialized in my office where nothing BUT the miniskirt!" Michael spluttered, his face going red and Tash and Hati snickered at him. "Right as Claire walked in!"

"What?" Phoenixia gave him a very innocent look that would have been convincing save for the twinkle in her eyes. "You did say that the female agents had to wear nothing but miniskirts..."

As Michael grumbled under his breath and the Tash, Hati and Phoenixia all snickered at him, Aster spoke up. "Guys...why is the screen all fuzzy?"

"What! The three Leader's heads snapped towards the main monitor, which indeed was going static-y, jerking and jumping like a bad VCR cassette tape before it dissolved completely into hissing static and Tash was already reaching for the controls. "Phoenixia, what happened? Get the signal back!"

"I'm already working on it." Phoenixia replied and ten her face twisted in a small frown. "Tash... we're being jammed. Everything else still works, but I can't get any signals in or out of that fandom... no signals from the communicators or their life-signs."

"Damn!" Tash whirled and grabbed Nepythys from where it was leaning against the wall. "Hati! Get all highest ranked combat Agents up here now! Val and Aimee, too! I want them ready for emergency healing and first on the battlefield! Phoenixia-open us portal to that fandom now! Michael, Aster, you're with me!"

"Already done..." Even as Phoenixia spoke, a swirling rainbow-colored portal opened on the wall and two Leaders and the fae quickly dove through it.

TTTTTTTT

Chrys ran pell-mell down the sidewalk towards the abandoned building. Even for someone who was as easily lost and confused as her, it was impossible to miss the explosion of power that had come from it just a few minutes ago. (Ohgogohgogohgod... please be okay, please be okay, please be okay...!)

Skidding around a corner, the hanyou dashed down an alley and jumped atop a dumpster and used it as a platform to jump higher, throwing her arms in front of her face as she burst through the window, somersaulting to a stop amidst the broken glass and landing in a crouch, fangs bared and flexing her claws to look as intimidating as possible. "You better not have hurt my friends or I'll..."

Her voice trailed off she took in the sight in front of her. Ossa, Miriku, Claire and Cristoph were sprawled on the ground, their cards scattered around them and the warehouse floor was covered in scorches and bits of it were gouged up and many of the other windows in the building were shattered.

And standing in the midst of the four out-cold Agents was a figure with their back to Chrys, dressed in a violet trenchcoat with gold detailing along the edges and a sword was in their had, a crystalline violet blade and silver hilt while a pair of pointed silvery-white cat ears twitched atop their head and a tail swished back and forth lazily.

The hanyou's eyes widened and her hand twitched. "It.. it... fa.. fa'den... A-a-..."

The figure turned around and their own violet eyes widened slightly. "Chrys! I didn't know Tash sent you here, too!"

"A-Adrian..." Chrys stared at him, not believing her eyes and she took a few hesitant steps forward. "But... but... I... I... thought... you... you're..."

"Yeah, I died... but never underestimate a man who's had centuries of time to plan for little things like dying." Adrian gave her a warm smile. "It took me a while, but I got back. But there's time for that later... the Stu these guys were fighting knocked them out pretty hard and we need to get them back to the Library for treatment, not to mention we have to find the sucker and..."

Then he was cutoff as Chrys' form slammed into him, sending him staggering back a step or two as her arms latched around his waist and she buried her face in his chest, sobbing. "You came back! You came back! You came back!"

"Hehe..."Adrian's smile softened and he gave her a one-armed hug. "Of course I would come back, Chrys. Who else is going to bail you guys out when you wind up in trouble, huh? Or when Phoenixia hasn't gotten any in a while..."

Chrys gave a little sobbing/laugh noise and hugged him tighter. "I missed you... everyone missed you so much...!"

"I know, mity'dala, I know..." He returned her hug and smiled more. "But 'welcome homes' can wait... right now, I need your help..."

"Anything!"

He leaned over and whispered into her ear. "Die for me."

"Huh.." Chrys' eyes widened and she took a step back. "Wha..." Then she felt something sticky on her chest and she glanced down to see the violet blade of Hoshikuzu sticking out of her. "But... but..."

Adrian's warm smile never wavered as the hanyou lifted her head to stare at him, her own smile still on her face as she stared at him in total and utter confusion, a bloodied, trembling hand reaching for him."W...why...?

"Because I can." With that, he yanked his weapon from her body and then watched calmly as Chrys pitched forwards, her body still as a pool of blood spread out from underneath her. "That was rather easy..."

Then he whirled and threw up his sword in a block, the flat of the weapon catching the tip of blue/white spear and the contact point sparked as Adrian was shoved backward along the floor of the warehouse, heels digging furrows along the ground. "My, my...y ou must angry..."

Drake's only response to yell a battle cry and yanked his weapon up, whirling on a heel and slamming a kick into Adrian's midsection, the force of the blow sending him sailing upwards. "Storm Kick!"

Up on a catwalk, Kyle watched the form of Chrys' attacker hurtle up at him before he leapt off the catwalk and dove to meet them halfway, drawing back his fist as energy charged around it. "Deadly Impact!"

Then his fist collided with the oncoming target and a shockwave split the air as the two of them hung there for a moment before rocketing apart as if they were two positively charged magnets, a sphere of power gathering, it's colors blurring through everyone in the spectrum. "Aurora Grenade!" Then Kyle flung the charged sphere and it slammed into the target, exploding in a brilliant rainbow of color and enveloped the target in crackling energies as they crashed into and cratered the floor of the warehouse.

"Alright!" Drake grinned and twirled his spear, his armor making the appropriate noises as Kyle landed smoothly next to him. "We got him!"

"Heheheh... that you did..."

Both Agent's eyes widened as they saw the smoke around the crater clear away and the energy disperse, a figure standing up in it. "Impossible... you're..."

"What's wrong, boys?" The wounds Adrian has already received were zipping up, even the scuff marks on his face and even the rips his trenchcoat were sewing themselves shut. "You look like you've seen a ghost!"

His form blurred out of sight and reappeared in front of Drake, landing a one-two hit of a gut punch that lifted Drake off his feet and a heavy slash with Hoshikuzu that gouged a line in his chest plate and sent him flying backwards.

"Drake!" Kyle was already moving to attack, despite the fact his left arm was still useless from using the Aurora Grenade technique, but Adrian was already moving too, snatching Drake's spear out of the air as it fell from it's owner's grasp in his free hand and stabbed into Kyle's good shoulder, driving the entire blade through and Kyle cried out in pain.

"Heh." Adrian smirked and planted his sword into the ground, gripping the spear in both hands and using it to wing Kyle away, sending the weapon and him into and through a far wall amidst a rain of metal, glass and debris.

Then a "BOOM!" echoed as the head of a hammer slammed into his back and sent him hurtling forwards into a pile of girders, the heavy metal beams burying him.

Jared gripped his Boomhammer tightly and watched as the pile of girders shifted and then Adrian's form leapt clear, already darting towards the Agent. "Come on...I'd love to knock you around some more!"

"Oh, really?" Adrian leapt over Jared's second with of the Boomhammer, the ground beneath the weapon actually rippling like water and he landed a spin kick across the Agent's face, the hammer falling out of Jared's hands as he went bouncing across the ground. "Last I checked, your Boomhamer can't do a whole lot of damage to organic life, so that was merely nothing more than an annoyance."

"I know..." Jared managed to stand-up, a grin on his face. "That's why I used Plan A last."

Adrian's ears twitched as he heard the roar of a motor and he whirled just in time to see Chevila ramp through the far wall, country-western music blazing on the stereo and headed right for him, with no time to dodge out of the way.

As the truck roared closer, Adrian grabbed the Boomhammer from where it lay behind him and slammed it into the truck's hood, instantly negating it's momentum as the truck rippled like water, the hood and engine crumbling in like paper, bolts and nuts flying off the vehicle's length and the windows shattering as the truck flipped over Adrian's head and tumbled end over end, looking ready to punch a hole through the ceiling when it stopped, a swift cushioning current of air.

"Hmmmm..." Adrian smirked softly and turned his head to see Aster floating near one of the catwalks, in Form 2, wings and all. "Good save...but who's going to keep you safe while you guide them to the ground?"

His answer came in the form or several blue arrows lancing out of nowhere and he leapt clear as they stuck the ground where his feet had been moments earlier and he flicked his gaze over to the opposing catwalk, where Valerie was already unleashing another barrage of arrows. "Ahhh..."

Nimbly dancing and twisting to avoid the destructive bolts, he drew back the Boomhammer and hurled it like a boomerang, the weapon whirling like a discus as Val gasped and started to run, but the Boomhammer slammed into the catwalk headfirst, unleashing it's sonic powers into the metal and the weakened structure rattled and vibrated, twisting and curling on it's moorings as Val lost her balance and when toppling over the edge.

Then a streak of flame burst through the wall not two feet from where Chevila had done the same moments earlier and caught Val, flashing past Adrian before skidding to a halt a dozen yards away.

"Hello, love." Adrian smirked as he felt a slash wound open up on his cheek, but it instantly began to close up. "Come to give me a kiss hello?

Tash set Val down and glared at him, Nepythys in hand with little swirls of flame dancing around it and her wings settling against her back as Michael, Jess, Pete, Ben and Aimee all burst through the doors behind her. "You aren't Adrian!"

"I am not? Oh, your words cut me to the quick, love." Adrian put a hand to his chest in hurt, looking truly upset. "But I am Adrian. I look like me, I talk like me and I know everything that I'm supposed to. Like how you like being tied up in bed, all eagle-spread or how you to sit in my lap and fall asleep listening to my heartbeat..."

The British Leader flushed furiously, but lifted her weapon in both hands. "You aren't him! I know you're not!" She narrowed her eyes. "Adrian would never try to kill his friends! He loved us with all his heart! And!" Her burnt-orange sword chimed as she pointed it at him. "And I know for a fact that Hoshikuzu was destroyed by Willowe! You couldn't even pick the pieces up with a tweezers!"

Adrian blinked and them smirked, brushing some of his hair out of his bangs and resting his sword on his shoulder. "You caught me. I'm not the real Adrian. In fact, I'm actually-"

Then he was silenced as a blast of frigid air washed over and froze him solid instantly, his eyes not even time to register surprise. A split second later, a crackling bolt of lunar energy lanced down from above and struck him, shattering the frozen Adrian into hundreds of little pieces.

Everyone stared at the scattered pieces of frozen faux-Adrian on the ground and then lifted their heads to look at Aster, who had been standing behind him, a few feet away.

She blinked at them like they were all crazy. "What? He said he wasn't Adrian and he was trying to kill us. There was no reason not to take him out."

"Indeed." Aster's - and everyone else's - eyes widened as she felt his presence behind her. "But I'm not so easy to kill!" Then he grabbed her staff and swung her around by it, the fae's grip slipping as she sailed screaming into Michael, plowing him over even as the group of Agents rushed at him.

The faux-Adrian laughed as he twirled Aster's staff in his hands and deftly parried or deflect the rain of fiery blows Tash launched at him before sweeping her feet out from underneath her with the end of his weapon, drawing it back to slam it into her face, only to start flipping away as Pete , in his Lightdrake armor, poured a ceaseless barrage of blast from his pistols with Valerie and Ben backing him up with arrows and beams of energy from Bahamut.

Twirling the staff to deflect the flurry of shots that came his way, he twirled to the side, whipping it at the trio of Agents and forcing them to stop firing as they ducked out of the way and he dashed up a nearby support pillar and kicking off it to land on one of the remaining catwalks.

Drake landed behind him a split second, having recovered his spear and launched a series of rapid snap-thrusts that the faux-Adrian deftly twisted out of the way or knocked aside with his bare hands, despite the narrow spacing of the catwalk giving him nearly no room to move but backwards.

Then even that was cut off as Pete leapt up to the catwalk, flipping the buckle on his belt to the dark side and transforming into the dark-armored Dark/Hopper mode and yanked Guan Dao out of thin air, forcing the fake Adrian to duck or loss his head to the weapon's blade and Pete and Drake hammered at him with endless thrusts, the space between them nothing but the gleam of their weapons and the occasional sparks s they glanced off one another.

Blood droplets arced into the air as dozens of cuts opened up all over the faux-Adrian's body, but they healed nearly as fast they were made and then he thrust a palm down, a violet bolt of power exploding from his palm and it shredded the catwalk beneath the three of them to pieces.

As they started to fall, the silver-haired man grabbed of their weapons just beneath the blades and used them to slam their wielders together before breaking both spear and Guan Dao with a flex of his wrists and stabbing the blades into their owner's guts, charging them with power and exploding violently, the two Agents sent hurtling away screaming as chunks of their breast plates were gone, blood pouring out of the smoking wounds.

Landing, the faux-Adrian turned it into a somersault and came out of the tumble running, snatching Hoshikuzu up from where it was still embedded in the ground, already searching for his next target.

And ran right into a crouching Tash, who's sword was curved around her back. "Jurai-Ken Ougi - Seferaite!" Then she launched herself forwards and her blade came at him from three different directions, cleanly bisecting him horizontally at the waist and chest and cleaving him in two vertically.

Everyone stared at his body, seeing the three clean cuts and waited for him to fall apart...only for him to grin madly as the three lethal slashes healed themselves and he lashed out with Hoshsikuzu, sparks and fire flaring as Tash barely managed to block with Nepythys. "That was good... but you can't kill me!"

He ground their blades closer and leered in her face, a evil look that was made all the horrible by seeing it on Adrian's face. "You see, I am the Sovereign Death... and death is a unconquerable finality that no one can escape! God, demon, devil angel, hero, villain... I am greater than all of them because in the end, they all have to bow to my power!"

Then he rammed his fist into Tash's stomach, throwing her off her feet and leaving her open to be pummeled by the blasts of violent from his palm that sent her bouncing and skidding across the floor, her wild tumble halted by a pile of crates.

"Tash!" Death whirled just in time to casually block Micheal's beheading sword-strike with his own blade, the American leader glaring daggers at the man. "You monster! You hurt Claire and Miri and Tash! I'm going to-!"

"Oh, do spare me the theatrics, Michael..." Death shook his head mockingly. "And jut fight me... if you can..."

He rotated his blade to disengage their weapons and slammed the hilt of Hoshikuzu across Micheal's face, sending him reeling and spitting out blood. "You might be able to fight ordinary Sue like you are now, but I am not an ordinary Stu... I am a Sovereign... one of the ten Sues and Stus who Runoa blessed with Immaculation."

"Immaculation?" Michael whirled on his heel and lashed out with a roundhouse kick that Death easily dodged and being unleashing a flurry of sword strikes at him. "You mean that crazy bitch actually did it?"

"Oh, yes..." Death deftly avoided the strikes and lifted a palm, blasting Michael with a sphere of power that sent the Chief Agent screaming backwards in a spray of blood. "And I gained the power of Death as a result... and because death is unconquerable, unavoidable and so completely final... so am I. I cannot be killed."

"We'll just see about that!" The crates burying Tash vanished in a roar of flames as she rocketed out, spinning rapidly "Jurai-Ken - Abari!"

Death barely had time to react as Tash slammed into him, her momentum picking him up and driving him through the ceiling and higher and higher into the sky.

"Enough of this..." Despite the fact Tash's move as burning away at his clothes and skin and he had her sword stuck through his gut, Death managed to charge Hoshikuzu with energy and slash at Tash, digging into her shoulder and blowing her away, tumbling and smoking down out of the sky, his wounds and clothes already healing.

Then her form blurred and winked out of sight and the silver-haired man felt something flash past him six times and wounds opened up on his body as he saw six lines form with him at the center. "Shit."

"Jurai-Ken - Silinoa Ehardi!" Tash watched as the six lines collapsed in on themselves in bursts of flame, trapping Death in a roiling ball of flame. "Jess! Ben! Now!"

Standing atop the roof of the warehouse, the two Agents nodded and Ben pointed is hand into the sky. "Don't Mess With Nukes!" There was a whistling sound and then a nuclear missile screamed out of the sky and slammed into the fireball, exploding with such force that Tash had to shield her eyes and soar up higher to avoid the shockwave.

Jess glanced down at her hands and then thrust her palms out at the gigantic sphere of fire and energy in the sky and concentrated. For a moment, nothing happened...the gouts of white-hot fire erupted from her palms and into the sphere, adding more and more flames as the tattoo on her back began to glow red.

Tash flapped a bit higher so that she could over the top of the sphere and saw Aster floating opposite of her. The two women locked eyes and nodded before thrusting out their weapons in unison, their sword and staff glowing slightly.

The giant sphere of flame began to contract slowly as Tash worked as keep the flames from spiraling out of control while Aster contracted the air around the sphere of now pure-white hot fire and Jess kept pouring the heat on. Smaller and smaller it got, now barely the size of a small car and so hot that Aster had to keep pouring more air into her shield as the flames were eating up all the oxygen so fast that the air shimmered like a mirage.

With a earsplitting roar, the sphere exploded outwards, the shockwave throwing the two fliers into wild tumbles even as Ben blasted a hole in the roof with Bahamut and dove down it with Jess in tow as the heatwave scorched the rooftop with roiling waves of flame while Aster conjured a massive barrier of ice to hide behind, constantly strengthening it as fast as the heat melted it

Tash shielded her face from the shockwave and folded her wings around as she was buffeted around. While her mastery of Jurai-Ken had made her more or less immune to any heat-related attacks, they could still deal damage to her clothes.

She opened her wings a split second later, gripping her sword and glanced around as the last traces of flame faded away. "That should have burned him right down to molecules... I think.."

"I think you're wrong!" Tash's head snapped up and she instantly reacted but was already too slow as Death slashed into her with Hoshikuzu. For a moment, they hung in the air as his sword arm blurred... then a booming noise sounded and Tash screamed in agony she rocketed back down towards the warehouse like a bullet fired form a gun, trailing blood and flames like streamers.

Death smirked as he watched her fall. "This is fun…" Then he jerked as he felt numerous blade of ice and wind pierce through his body, leaving him momentarily looking like human Swiss-cheese before they began to close up again and he twisted in mid-air, blocking Aster's staff strike as he laughed in the fae's face. "Try all you want, it won't make a difference. Even the power of a goddess like Selene cannot defeat me!"

Aster's response was to narrow her eyes and she cracked her weapon across his head, sending him spinning away as six pentacles, three to either side of her, appeared and instantly began barraging him with blasts of ice and wind and various types of energy, knocking the Sovereign back through the air like he was a ragdoll, blood and flesh trailing from his form. Even as his new set of wounds began to heal, Aster rocketed forwards as the pentacles flowed back into her and she became nothing more than a blur of pure divine energy.

TTTTTTTT

"I said, 'No!'"

"I don't care!" Ossa, her left arm in a sling, strained against the person gripping her right wrist as she lurched back towards the warehouse. "That bastard is wearing Addy's face and beating the tar out of us and disgracing a good man! I won't have it, dammit!"

Michael yanked her back and with a deft move of his leg, swept her foot out from under her and Ossa staggered, the Chief Agent using that moment of un-balance to shove the Cherokee girl back on to the blanket that as serving as her bed. "I'm giving you an order, Ossa! Stay. Put! You aren't strong enough to fight that bastard and if you try, you'll only wind up dying! You think Adrian, or anyone else, for that matter, would want you to waste your life so stupidly?"

Ossa glared at Michael, but she loosened her grip on her katana and sat back, fuming.

Satisfied that the reckless girl would stay put for now, Michael straightened and glanced around the abandoned lot that was serving as the Society's First Aid station. Ossa, Cristoph, Claire and Miri were already taken care of and the two girls were sitting close together, Claire with a bandage on her cheek and Miri with an ice pack on her ankle. They were watching the sky above the warehouse a few blocks away, which was occasionally being light up with flashes of light. Cristoph, who was more or less unharmed, was being forced to stay where he was by Rhia, who had simply plopped herself in his lap and refused to move.

They had been the lucky ones- they had only been beaten in the duel and so hadn't suffered any real injuries, just becoming exhausted more than anything. Michael himself has gotten off fairly lucky, as Death hadn't really been trying and so he had been able to stagger back to the First Aid station by himself after Tash ordered him out of the field, something he had been reluctant to do, but understand that he wasn't going to be any help against the twisted parody of Adrian they were all fighting.

He glanced down at his bandaged chest and right arm and clenched his fist. He and Adrian had always sparred with one another, even before Michael got the Darkness and its various abilities and their fights had been more or less even. Or Michael had thought. Had the real Adrian been holding back all those times? Could he have really defeated Michael without even trying? Was he really that weak, as to not even be a threat to an enemy like Death?

A sudden squall of pain brought him out of his ruminations and he turned to see Mizuho pinning Chrys' arms down as Aimee, with a Nurse's cap on her head, attempted to bandage the wound the hanyou had gotten. However, the loss of blood and pain from the stab had caused Chrys to babble nonsensically and flail about. Michael hustled over to where the trio was and knelt, pinning down Chrys' legs as Aimee shot him an appreciative glance and quickly tapped a bandage over the wound, before pulling out a needle and plunging it into Chrys' upper arm and after a few seconds, her flailing stopped and her eyes drooped a bit.

"I gave her a mild sedative." Aimee explained as she and Michael stood and Chrys curled up, her head on Mizuho's lap and the other Peacekeeper folded her arms and fumed. "It won't knock her out, but it'll take the edge off the pain and keep her calm. We're having enough trouble as it is without her freaking out and screaming her head off."

Michael nodded in agreement and took in the girl's Nursing cap and the large First Aid box in her hand. "When did you become the Society's nurse?"

"After Adrian died… I just… didn't want to feel so helpless and useless anymore, but I don't like to fight, either. So Val and Phoenixia have been helping me learn how to treat injuries." The red-haired girl tucked a bit of hair behind her ear. "Every combat team needs a field medic and this way, I can help people without compromising my morals."

"Good thinking. If the fights are going to start being more like this one, a field medic is definitely going to-" The Chief Agent was cut off as the air suddenly rippled over them and to his surprise he found himself with one of Drake's arms over his shoulder while Aimee had propped Pete up against a wall and was pulling pieces of his own armor out of his arm so she could bandage it. "That was a Scene Transition…"

"Yeah… we were trying to see if that would take him down…" Drake coughed hard and reached up with other hand, yanking his half-destroyed helmet off and spitting some blood on the ground. "Instead, he just took our attacks, regenerated and started ripping at our armor with his bare hands…"

"Those damn regeneration abilities, he's worse than Cell or Buu!" Michael cursed under his breath. "We've got to get a Prohibitor on him if we're ever going to stand a chance of beating him!"

"Yeah… Kyle's going to give it shot." Drake nodded. "Out of the combat Agents, he's the least injured and his Heaven and Earth, Worldly Secret Art might give him an advantage."

As Michael helped Drake ease himself against a wall, he saw the air swirl out of the corner of his eye and turned to see Emily nearly topple out of a Plot Hole. "Emily! What are you doing here? Get back to the Library! This is no place for you! We're getting slaughtered!"

"I know, I know!" The ten-year-old scrambled over to Michael." Phoenixia and I have been watching the fight on the monitors and she says she has a way to beat this guy, but the others are too beat up to fight him or help her… so we need you to do it!"

"I'd love to, but without any kind of powers, I can't fight him!" Michael told her, his fist clenching again. "I'd be dead in a second…"

"That's why we got this…" Emily hefted the case the Chief Agent had only just noticed she was carrying and popped the lid open, turning it so Michael could see. Inside, was a rectangular device that had three buttons on it and had gold leaf, designed to look like a phoenix. It looked like strapped to one's wrist. "This is Adrian's. He never used it more than once or twice, as he thought it was unnecessary for the most part, being as strong as he was normally. But Phoenixia and I managed to jury-rig so that you can use it… but we don't what kind of effect it will have on you, since it's not directly keyed to you…"

Michael looked at the device and then grabbed it out of the box without a moment's hesitation, slapping it onto his wrist. "What do I have to do?"

TTTTTTTT

Death staggered as waves of power crashed over him, literally ripping chunks of his flesh and clothes away along with disintegrating bits of metal and cement. "Rrrahhh… you think that's going to stop meeeeee…?"

Ben's eyes widened as Death began to lurch towards him, even as the punishing power of Death Metal Bahamut hammered at the Stu, stripping parts of him away that instantly regenerated and Ben began to harder, faster, pouring more power into the attack.

Flesh and muscle and blood flaked off Death like a gruesome snowstorm, but it didn't slow him down as he took on lurching step after another towards Ben and he cackled, reaching for the Agent with a hand that had fingers of flesh and bone that kept regenerating only to get destroyed. Then a flare of violet energy blasted from his palm and slammed into the guitar, blowing Ben off his feet as the weapon went skidding away across the ground, only to have the Hoshikuzu stabbed through it as Death hurtled the sword like a javelin.

Ben managed to turn his wild tumble into a controlled roll and leapt to his feet, just in time to see Death, his body still regenerating from the attack, appear in font of him and drive a clawed hand into his gut, the Agent folding over the blow even as the Stu hoisted him in the air with only the hand in Ben's gut. "This is actually getting kind of sad… I can't believe the real Adrian ever thought of you as comrades if you're so laughably weak!" His other fist slammed into Ben's face, snapping the Agent's head back as the force threw him back against the wall, where he slumped to the ground with a moan.

"Now, then… who's next?" "Death glanced around at the sprawled and bloody Agents that were scattered around the warehouse and slowly picking themselves up, gripping their weapons tightly and glaring daggers at him.

Then a fountain of green light erupted from the floor beneath him, sending him hurtling skywards and as he reached the apex, Kyle appeared above him, his body sheathed in an aura of indescribable color and he delivered a punch to the Stu's midsection and Death went tumbling end-over-end away through air as Kyle powered up a sphere of energy in his hand and flung it at him. "Heaven and Earth, Worldly Secret Art…" The sphere split again and again into hundreds of thousands miniscule bits of light that all elongated to lances of pure energy, swarming around the airborne Death for all directions and angles. "IFINITE SYMPHONY!"

The air seemed to snap as the lances poured towards Death like, the first fifty or so impaling him through before he was hidden from view, trapped in a sphere of pure energy that continually got smaller more and more lances formed out of the air and rained towards it, the attack hammering away for nearly two minutes before the sphere dissolved away, revealing nothing at all inside it.

"What did you do to him?" Tash asked, picking herself out of the pile of debris she had been tossed into, ignoring the series of wounds she had gotten from the fight and her wings settled against her back while Kyle dropped to the ground and then to his knee, panting heavily.

"Using the power of the Art to… atomize him…" Kyle breathed, sucking down gulps of air. "Got rid of him… completely… soul and all… he can't even go to Heaven or Hell… because there's nothing to go…"

Tash nodded and gripped her sword a bit tighter. "That bastard deserved worse…toying with us and wearing Adrian's face like that…" She frowned slightly. "But… why Adrian…? It was pretty obvious right from the start that he wasn't Adrian and if he could have infiltrated the Library or something, I think he would have… wearing Adrian's face only made us angrier at him…"

"Well, it could be because Adrian was the most powerful Society member and the Librarian, meaning that he knew how to take each and every one of you down with instant lethality…" Kyle's and Tash's eyes widened at the sound of the voice and they both turned to see a horrifying sight walking towards them. Death's body was still regenerating and all of it at varying rates - they could see cords of muscle move when he took a step with his leg and his vertebrae clicked as he rolled his shoulders, organs and veins and arteries forming before their eyes and weaving together as he sneered, one of half of his face skinned-covered and normal while the other was nothing more than muscle tissue. His kitty ears twitched as he finished regenerating, the violet trenchcoat magically weaving itself together around him. "Or maybe I just like being a furry. What do you think?"

Kyle reacted first, the aura of Heaven and Earth, Worldly Secret Art flaring to life around and he charged at inhuman speeds, already powering up another attack when Death blurred and vanished, flash-stepping away. "That's useless!"

The Agent winked out of sight and reappeared behind Death as the Stu yanked Hoshikuzu free from the sparking Death Metal Bahamut and lashed out with a kick that sent a shockwave arcing forwards, Death ducking and rolling out of the way. "No matter how fast you are, the Worldly Secret Art makes me faster still! You speed up your reactions based on the opponent's movements, but I can read the moves and still make it in time!" Then he disappeared again, both fighters reappearing in mid-air, Kyle catching Death's sword strike without even looking.

"Don't you think Adrian knew that the Worldly Secret Art put all your senses to the maximum?" Death smirked and dragged his claws down the flat of his sword, the crystal letting out a noise that a thousand times worse than nails on a chalkboard and Kyle screamed in agony as the sound assaulted his maximized-hearing, clutching his head in pain even as Death calmly rammed the crystal sword into his gut and twisted it, a flare of violet energy shoving the Agent off the blade and sending him tumbling towards the ground trailing blood from his gut wound. "But they're a double-edged sword…"

He turned and immediately his sword was a blur as he blocked Aster's furious staff strikes even as she materialized blades of ice and wind and pure lunar energy that pummeled him from the back and front, punching holes in his body that were already healing before the projectile had fully exited. "And here we have the little fae… all the powers of a goddess… not a single ounce of brains." He deflated a blow from her staff and hooked his sword with it, yanking her closer to him. "You have all this power, but you're incredibly frail…" Death's face twisted in a look of mock sadness. "Just a poor little doll who doesn't even have a heart… all you can do is copy what you see around you, but you can't even do that right!"

Aster glared and wrenched her weapon free, but he caught as she swung it down at him and leaned over to whisper in her ear, ignoring the wind and ice shears shredding his body. "And you know it…deep down, you know you're nothing but a copy of the real thing and you are nothing…" He leered into her face, grinning darkly. "By the way, I can feel you trying to use your power over soul to destroy me, but it won't work… the moon goddess's domain does not extend over death. And by the way…" He held his energy-charged fist a few centimeters away from her face. "That thing you're about ot feel? That's 'pain'!" Then he punched her across the face, the fae screaming as the energy crackled across her, her small frame wracked with convulsions and then his sword blurred, the air around Aster becoming red as blood droplets sprayed out from the wounds and she dropped like a stone, smacking into the floor weakly and limply, like a ragdoll.

The air roared as a fireball slammed into him and sparks flew as Death blocked Tash's driving strike. "Ahhh, beloved Tashy, the one who makes Adrian complete and was so doubtful of herself… now all grown-up into a powerful warrior and Leader…" Arcs of light trailed their weapons as they fought. "But I wonder… do you still blame yourself for his death? Or in the quiet moments of the night, do wake up and feel for him, only to realize he's not there to comfort you? Do you cry yourself back to sleep and wish you had died with him? But you can't tell anyone that, can you? Because they need a leader and Adrian told you do to it, so you do, but deep down, you're not sure if you want to live or not….?"

"Shut up!" Tash's sword roared with flames around it and she slammed it towards him, the inferno crashing into the Sovereign and driving him to the ground with an earth-shaking explosion. Then the Leader's eyes widened as a slash of violet power tore up the pillar of flame and dispersed it into little embers and she darted to the side as it seared through the space she had just been in. "You…!"

"Me what?" Death re-appeared right behind her and hooked his legs around her waist, hands grabbing at her wing-joints. "Now, to take you down, Adrian would just have to outfight you, something he could easily do if he really tried… but just in case, he came up with a instant-kill method…" He grinned wickedly and hissed in her ear. "I rip these out, your shoulder blades and upper spine come with them…" Then the wings vanished in a flare of fire and Tash dropped from his grasp gracefully as a volley of arrows struck his form and threw him back against the wall, pinning his limbs in place. "I almost forgot about you…."

Valerie narrowed her eyes and drew back the string on Seiryu, another arrow forming there. "It's quite obvious I can't kill you, but I do know if there's something in way of your wounds, they can't regenerate…" Her voice gained a steely-edge. "Surrender or I'll fill you with arrows and you'll hang there in agony forever."

"Oh, please." Death rolled his eyes and planted his palms against the wall he was pinned against and with twin bursts of violet energy, he blew it apart, dropping to the ground and flexed hard, the arrows shattering apart. "Adrian didn't even have to think of plan to kill you… you're a weak fighter and what's more, all he had to do was stick you in the middle of a battle, and you're as helpless a kitten…" Already regenerated, he picked up his sword from where it lay on the ground and slung it over his shoulder, strolling casually towards her. "You and Adrian talked philosophy a lot… you believe in the 'all is one and one is all' theory… and that when a person hurts another, they are also hurting themselves and because life is a self-contained circle, everything that happens has already happened because one made a decision to have it happen to them, to sum up the basics…"

 He gestured with his sword at the wrecked Chevilia, the battered and bloody Kyle and Aster sprawled on the floor, the fae still twitching feebly and at Tash, who was kneeling and using her sword as a prop whiles she struggled to find the strength to stand as she glared daggers at him. "So tell me…did your friends choose to get injured fighting me? To get bloodied and ruined and placed in pain? And I know you can feel their lives ebbing and flowing… do you think they'll die? And if they do, that means they chose to die, here, at the hand of one of their comrades and leaders, away from their loved ones? Or, better yet…" Death gave her a look, his face barely a foot away from the tip of the arrow in Val's bow. "Did Adrian choose to die?"

The empathy glared at him hard for a long moment. "I should hate you… you're despicable, a monster who should have never seen the light of day…your very existence mocks the life of a good man who gave everything he had for what he believed in and those he loved… you've hurt and injured my friends and loved ones… for all that and more, I should hate you."

"But you don't…" Death said bemusedly.

"No... I can't hate… it's just not in my nature…" Valerie smirked and Death raised an eyebrow. "But I do know someone who can…"

Death opened his mouth to reply, but then a loud roar filled the warehouse and a massive blur slammed into the Sovereign and it took everyone a second to realize that it was a tiger. Death kicked the beast off him and rolled to his feet, drawing back his sword to attack the tiger, but then another roar and a screech sounded and Death was forced to shield his face as a giant eagle swooped down and raked it's claws his face while a grizzly bear slammed a paw the size of a dinner-plate across his face, gouging massive chunks of flesh from the Stu's face and sending him sprawling, where a foot-thick python slithered out of nowhere and wound itself around, squeezing tightly even as it sank it's fangs into his face.

"What the hell…" Tash watched as Death tried to slice himself free with his blade, but the python merely dissolved away and as he rolled to his feet, the tiger and bear bowled into him, raking their massive claws across his body like a scratching post and the eagle dropped down to join the fray from behind, transforming into a wolf that savagely leapt upon him and he disappeared under a pile of roaring animals that savagely and literally tore him apart. "I can't... I mean…" For the moment, her wounds were forgotten as surprise took it's place. "How the hell did we forget about Ari!"

Death snarled and his blade flashed, the three animals mauling him flying back and the wolf and bear dissolving away and flowing back into the tiger, who transformed into a massive, car-sized dragon in mid-air and breathed a wave of flames at the Stu, who just leapt right through them, his clothing and hair and portions of his flesh turning into ash instantly and volleyed off a half-dozen crescents of energy from sword. Ari deftly dodged or twisted around them, swopping down at him and they collided, the dragon blasting him point-blank with a jet of flame as her claws and slashed at him, but he leapt away, his upper body nothing more than crisp that was already regenerating.

Ari's tail whipped through the air and it's tip plunged into his torso and she whipped him around, slamming him repeatedly into the ground before yanking her tail free and snapping him up her jaws, shaking him like a chew-toy and flinging him up into the air and blasting with a jet of a blue-hot flames that caused the air to ripple like a mirage around it.

The cloud of flame exploded as Death tore out, trailing fire and ash and bits of flesh and bone. "You blasted familiar! Adrian may not have had a real plan to kill you, but it will be the same as all the others! I'll going to cut you limb from limb!" He charged, Hoshikuzu crackling and arcing with energy.

Ari charged to meet him, transforming into her queen fire lizard form and she vanished into between as the sword slashed through the air she had been, sending out a shockwave of energy and gouging the floor.

"You…!" Death glared and glanced around her for rapidly. "You can't stay there forever! And when you come out, I'll be wai-" He was cut off she reappeared right in front him, slithered her way around his neck and, with a deft move on her part, snapped a Prohibitor on him and vanished back into between as he grabbed for her.

"Ari did it! She got a Prohibitor on!" Tash yanked her sword free of the ground and with a beat of her flaming wings, tore towards him, Nepthys roaring to life flames. "Everyone! Kill the bastard!"

Death snarled and managed to block Tash's sword with his own, her charge shoving him back along the ground as his feet carved gouges in it. "You fools! Do you really think Prohibiting me will save you? I am the Librarian and I know how to take each and everyone of you down! I'll kill you all!" Then he was silenced as Ben, Kyle, Aster, Ari and the remaining Agents who were left in the warehouse and could still fight dog-piled onto him, raining blows and sword strikes and energy blasts at him.

"ENOUGH!" A sphere of violet energy erupted from the Stu, and all Agents were all hurtled away like bullets out of a gun, smashing into the piled girders or walls or each other and crashing down to the ground, sprawled out cold and moaning in pain, unable to even lift a finger. "You can't kill me! I'm Death!"

The Stu reached for the Prohibitor around his neck. "Do you think such a little trinket can restrain the power of a Sovereign?" The Prohibitor sparked and crackled with energy as he grabbed it and began to pull, the device sparking more violent and creaking and groaning until with a sharp snapping sound, he tore it free and tossed it aside, his shoulders heaving. "I am a Sovereign… I am Death made real! Such things are useless against me!"

After drawing in several more sharp breaths of air, he seemed to calm down and a wicked smile appeared on his face. "Do you know why I look Adrian, hmmm? Well, not only to do my powers as Death make me impossible to kill, I can mimic the shape, powers and memories of a person who had died… just Adrian did…and in case you haven't figured it out, I chose his form because he knew all of you personally and would know ways to take you all down, not mention the power his form gives is quite impressive…" He turned and started towards Tash, who was slumped against a support pillar, breathing harshly while Nepthys was lodged in the wall behind her, too far away to reach.

"Runoa told me to do whatever I like with the Society members who show up to stop me, but I never thought all of its most important fighters and members would show up… and it's opened a lot of new possibilities…" His smile got darker, more lustful. "I have nearly all of Adrian's memories about the Society… because I'm not the actual Librarian, I can't make use of most of the other ones, but the ones on the Society are all I need… because just like I know how to fight you, I know to kill you… I know all of your fears…"

He reached Tash and grabbed her by the throat, hoisting her into the air and pinning her to the support pillar, smirking at her. "So here's what I'm going to do… I'm going to keep Adrian's form forever… and I'm going to take you and all the other girls in the Society and I'll commit every other evil, vile and twisted act I can think of, acts so ruthless and cruel that no one will believe you that it's not the real Adrian… but I have special plans for you, Tash…" He leaned over and licked her cheek, causing her whimper and jerk her head away. "You… I'm going to rape you again and again… right here, in front of all your friends… I will degrade you in the darkest, cruelest ways I can think of… and by the time I'm done, as much as you love Adrian now… you will hate him, a thousand times more than you love him… every happy moment you've had with him will be a poison in your mind that you can never, ever get rid of…" He burst into laughter and the way it looked on Adrian's face and in Adrian's eyes caused Tash to scream in fear and agony. "Won't that be fun!"

"Let her go!" Michael barreled out of nowhere and his sword pierced through Death's head. Not skipping a beat, the Chief Agent yanked his weapon free and slashed off Death's arm at the elbow while at the same time slamming his elbow into the Stu's face.

"Ahh and there he is, the sad rival…" Death sneered as he straightened, the arm holding Tash dissolving away as he regenerated it, not even bothered by the see-through hole in his head that was only just closing up. "You know, most people considered you and Adrian rivals and brothers-in-arms, but without the Darkness, you're not even close to him. And even with it, he always holding back when you sparred… because he know how to beat it and you…"

"Sure he did - that's Adrian's job. And he always said that given some outside-the-box-thinking and preparation, you could beat anyone, no matter how big the power difference." Michael twirled his weapon and grinned at the Stu. "And if you have Adrian's memories, you know that he told me about some very special items that could be used to help even the playing field against him… just for situations like this."

Death rolled his eyes. "Please. Even if you do have them, it's no good against me, because I can't be killed!"

"We'll just see about that." Michael planted his sword in the ground next to him and took a couple of step forwards, a smile creeping onto his face. "Now, in the immortal words of one of the greatest teams of superheroes the world has ever seen… It's Morphin Time!" His arms moved through a pattern of motions and then he held up his left wrist and punched the top button.


There was an explosion of light and fire that hid Michael from view and when it cleared, it was obvious that he had definitely changed. He was dressed in a predominately silvery-blue outfit that had a white diamond on the chest and lines connected to it that went over his shoulders and around his waist to form another diamond on his back and the gloves and boots were also white while a belt was strapped to his waist and sheathed at his side was a long sword. The helmet shared the same coloring as the rest of the outfit and the black visor was stylized to resemble the open maw of a phoenix and was trimmed in gold and he struck a pose, a burst of blue/silver dust erupting behind him. "Phoenix Ranger Power!"

"Huh…I honestly didn't think of that…" Death admitted as all the Agents stared at Michael with looks of awe, surprise and 'what the hell?' on their faces. "But it's useless! You don't have the power to kill me!"

"Let's find out!" Michael leapt at the Stu with a jump-kick, which Death easily blocked with the flat of his sword and the Ranger flipped away, landing easily on his feet and lashing out with a barrage of kicks and punches and flips that forced his opponent to give ground, slowly but steadily as he desperately blocked.

(I knew Adrian had the Phoenix Zord, but I never thought he had the Morpher for it, too...) Tash leaned herself against the support pillar as she watched Michael and Death battle, their bodies mere blurs as they traded blows and flips and twisted, acrobatic dodges that no human could do without years and years of training. (And it looks like it's made them even in terms of combat powers… but I don't think even a Power Ranger can take this guy down…)

Death went skidding back as a sharp punch from Michael snapped his jaw to the side and he glared at the Agent, spitting out blood and teeth while raising Hoshikuzu and making a 'come-on' gesture. "Is that all you got?"

In response, Michael reached down and drew the sword at his waist. Unlike most swords, which had a hilt and a blade that were connected/separated by a guard, the Phoenix Ranger's sword flowed from hilt to blade and had no guard, but in it's place a circular section that slightly larger than the rest of it and what looked a slanted fan in it. "Excellion Blade, Accelerate!" The fan on the sword began to spin rapidly and the blade began to shine a blue/white color. "Take this!" Michael dashed forwards…and vanished.

Then he reappeared, slashing Death across the chest only to vanish again and reappear behind him, slashing him from the rear. Again and again, the Ranger vanished and reappeared to strike at Death from a different side and angle, moving so fast it looked there was several of him attacking at once and sparks flew as Death desperately tried to block them all and it was obvious he failed, as arcs of blood and power trailed into the air around him.

The Ranger vanished one last time and reappeared back where he had started, driving his weapon point-first into the ground and a pillar of fire erupted from underneath's Death feet, flinging the Stu high into the air and Michael drew back the sword along his side "Excellion Blade, Overdrive!" The fan began to spin even faster and the weapon roared to life with flaming energy that propelled him like a streak of light towards the still airborne Death. All the Stu saw was flaming light as the Ranger slashed him at him repeatedly…before time snapped back to normal and Michael continued his flight, landing easily as Death dropped to the ground behind him and then exploded in a ball of fire and energy as the Ranger slowly returned his weapon to it's sheath.

"You… damn you!" As the smoke from the attack cleared, the Ranger turned to see Death stagger to his feet, his body regenerating even as he lurched towards Michael, anger twisting his face. "That… really… hurt!" The Stu yanked Hoshikuzu free from where it was stuck in the ground, bits of the blade flying after it to reattach themselves. "But even if you are a Power Ranger, you still can't beat me! I can't be killed! So that effort was all for naught!"

"Nope!" The Ranger shook his head. "You're slowest when you're regenerating and we also needed an opening so we can finally kill you, you bastard."

"Were you not listening! I am Death! I can not be killed!" The Stu roared at him and then felt something metallic latch itself around his skull like a headband and he whirled, slashing at whoever was attacking him, only for the blade to pass right through them. "You!"

"Me." Phoenixia returned. She looked like normal, still dressed in the outfit she had been wearing when Chrys had been trying on clothes for her. But there was one thing that gave everyone in the warehouse pause, even Death and that was her eyes. Unlike their normal violet color, they were completely black and it was easy to see the lines of ones and zeroes raining down them. "And I'm going to annihilate you."

"You?" Death barked a laugh. "You're a hologram and no robot or computer system or weapon can kill me! All you did was slap this metal headband onto me!"

"That's a neural-interface headband, just like the kind used to control the Phoenix Zord…" She started to advance on him and for each step she took, Death took a step back. For some reason, he was suddenly very afraid of this woman. Whether it was her frightening eyes, the dark storm of anger on her face or something else, he didn't know. "You see, I've lived a very long time and Adrian and I know from experience that we are vulnerable to outside control or just going rogue… so we developed ways to take each other down if that happened…. permanently."

"You're lying… I have no memory of any such discussions between you and him or anything like that…"Death backed up further and flinched when Phoenixia grabbed his trenchcoat, halting his retreat. "You have to be lying…."

"The reason you don't remember is because Adrian had his mind wiped after we thought them up so he couldn't develop counters to them." She leaned over and whispered into his ear. "You see, the brain is nothing more than organic computer and if a person can control a computer with their mind, so too must the reverse be true… and I'm a sentient computer program… wanna guess what I'm about to do to you?

"You can't… and even you try, I'll just regenerate… I'm sure I'll regenerate!" Death reached for the headband to rip it off, but found his arm wasn't moving. In fact, none part of his body other than his mouth was responding to his commands. "What… what's going on?"

Phoenixia smirked at him and it was a smirk that promised no mercy. "The moment that headband was slapped on your head, I've been working my way into your brain and now everything about your body is under my control… you're nothing but my puppet now."

"So what!" Death tried to rally himself, but being unable to control his body left him feeling like he was completely and utterly trapped. "Even if you stop my lungs or something like that, I'll still live! I don't need air to breath! I'm Death, a Sovereign! You can't kill me!"

"I'm not going to kill you…" Phoenixia manipulated his body and he found himself staring into her digital eyes, unable to wrench his gaze away or close his eyes. "I'm going to download myself into your brain and erase you."

"You… You…" Death stammered out, fear filling his eyes. "That's impossible! You can't do something like that!"

"Wanna bet?" Phoenixia hissed at him darkly.

There was a long, awful silence.

"P-please… m-m-mercy…"

"Mercy?" Phoenixia spat out the word as if it were foreign to her and her form faded away, but despite this her voice was still audible to everyone. "You took the form of a man I love, who sacrificed everything he was time and time again to preserve the lives of people who didn't even care that he existed! You use his memory and shape to attack and try to kill his loved ones! You threaten to use to bring death and destruction to everything and everyone he tried to protect! You threatened to use his love for Tash, the very thing that kept him going, as a poison against her! You call yourself Death and bring it upon others, but it is you who deserves to die! I'm going to erase you-every memory, every thought, everything that makes you up is going to be utterly ripped away from you! DON'T YOU DARE EXPECT ANY MERCY FROM ME! NOW JUST FUCKING TAKE IT AND SCREAM!"

And Death screamed, a howling agonized cry of pure pain as he lurched wildly about, one hand clutching at his head as his launched wild crescents of energy from his sword, slashing it about the air as if he could physically attack what Phoenixia was doing to him. "STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOPPPP ITTTT!"

Hoshikuzu clattered to the ground and then shattered into dust Death's body convulsed and he clawed it himself violently, tearing gashing across his face and chest that didn't heal, but he just kept clawing and clawing, yanking out chunks of flesh and muscle. "OH GOD, IT HURTS, IT HURTS, IT HURTS, IT HURTS! ITHURTS!"

A horrible scream ripped free from his throat and he dropped to his knees, his whole body trembling. "NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! IT WASN"T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS! RUNOA! RUNOA! WHERE ARE YOU! YOU SAID IF I WENT WITH YOU, YOU'D MAKE THE PAIN STOP! BUT IT HURTS! IT HURRRRTSSS!"

His body stopped trembling as he apparently lost control of it or maybe he just forgot how. "I don't want to die! I don't want to die! I don't want to die! Mercy! Mercy! Mercy! No die! No die! No die! No die! No die!" Then he fell silent, his whole body going slack and everyone saw the light fade from his eyes and cracks spread across his body like it was glass, white light spilling from them and they grew wider and wider before he exploded silently in a blinding flash of light that forced everyone to shield their eyes.

As it faded, Tash lowered her arms and cautiously approached the small crater the explosion had carved out of the ground. "Did she do it…?" Then fire formed around her hand as she saw silhouette in the smoke. "Impossible!" She prepared to hurl the fireball at him, but if Death had really survived, then she didn't now of anyway to finally kill him… then she blinked in surprise. "Phoenixia?"

"Mmmm." The figure emerged from the smoke and indeed it was Phoenixia… a flesh-and-blood Phoenixia. She was covered in dirt and smudges and her ankle-length blue/white hair was a mess of snarls and tangles and she was also completely naked and had very tired look on her face. "It's over, he's dead."

"But… I mean…" The fireball in her hand snuffed out of existence as Tash forget to keep supplying it power. "How…"

"Later… we need to get out of here before any of his buddies show up. We're in no condition to fight… and yes, I apparently do have a body now…" The Phoenixia passed out and pitched forwards; Tash barely managed to catch her.

TTTTTTTT

On a tall building a few streets away, a tall man with aquamarine hair and a dark cloak watched the battered and bruised Society Agents limp out of the warehouse, carrying and helping each other through the portal someone had opened. "Are you sure you just want to let them go, mi'lady? One attack from either you or I would be enough to finish them in the state their in…."

"No…" Runoa brushed a bit of hair away from her cheek. "It would an efficient way to deal with the problem they represent, Order… but I still need them for my plans. If I can play my enemies against one another, they will take each other out and all I shall have to do is walk in and pick up the pieces."

"But we are strong enough to finish all of your enemies in a few strong strikes, mi'lady."

"I know, but my plans are more far-reaching than just defeating my enemies and for the moment, they are useful." Runoa turned and started walking away, Order falling into step behind her. "I never liked Death - he was always a one-trick horse, obnoxious and arrogant… but his surprisingly successful attack on the Society will encourage them to become stronger… and the stronger they get, the better my plans will go…" Then they both faded away like mirages and were gone.

TTTTTTTT

The Hospital Room was subdued for the number of people in it - nearly every single member of the Society was present in one form or another. Many of them were on the beds, wrapped in bandages and a few had IV drips of painkillers or fluids inserted in their arms. Valerie, Miriku, and Aimee, along with the few Agents who had not participated in the battle or who were not too badly injured and could still walk, were tending to them, changing bandages or checking monitors or even just giving them something to eat.

At the far end of the room, Michael was leaning against the wall next to one of the beds, his eyes studying the Morpher strapped to his wrist. "I forget that Adrian even told me about this thing way back when…"

"Well, it came in handy. "Tash said from the bed. Despite being one of the most badly wounded Agents in the fight, she was also proving the most resilient, not needing an IV drip. Currently, she was sitting up, leaning back against the headboard, her chest and arms swathed in bandages. "And now that you have it, you can take on the tougher Sues and Stus more safely." She poked him in the side. "Dueling aside, you're not invincible, Mr. Chief Agent. So keep that in mind next time so Claire and I don't have to drag your sorry ass back home for the umpteenth time."

"Okay, okay…" He swatted her hand away as she tried to poke him. "But morphing…" A happy smile spread across his face as remembered what it was like to be a Power Ranger. "The rush was amazing! It was like getting kisses from Claire while she feeds me chocolate and…" He blushed and cut himself off, realizing what he was saying.

"You only have four more morphs, so be careful." Both Tash and Michael to look at the third person in their little group. Phoenixia, who had cleaned up and straightened her hair was sitting on the edge of the bed in a simple robe, Valerie just having finished running a physical and magical check over her. "After that, I can't predict what will happen to you if you use it. Adrian modified that Morpher to key only to him so no one could use if it got stolen. Emily and I managed to jury-right our way around that, but it's not perfect. So if you're going to morph, make very sure you have to."

The Chief Agent nodded again. "I will. Only when I have to or giant monsters attack the Library or something…" He brightened. "Hey, because I'm the Phoenix Ranger, does that mean I can't get to control the Phoenix Zord."

"Uh, no."

"What, why not!"

"Because I said so." Phoenixia nodded sagely. "Power Ranger, you may be. But the Phoenix Zord is unique and special and you need to have practice with it before you even think about going near any sky-scraper sized monsters... And it's my first home and I don't want you wrecking it."

As Michael pouted, Tash nudged the other woman with her foot. "What about you? How are you doing? Do we know what happened to you?"

Phoenixia shrugged. "Just like I said I'd do. I downloaded myself into Death's brain. Same thing I do with a computer. And it was always a possible outcome that I get stuck in it. As for this…" She gestured to herself. "Death's body was magical in nature and I guess when I took over, it re-shaped itself to match me. After all, how one pictures themselves is the last thing people will change."

Tash nodded. "But… do you have his regenerating powers or anything?"

"Not really sure… I'm still getting used to having a flesh and blood body." The older woman replied with fain flush. "I mean, I've experienced the five senses before, but not like this…" She grinned and rubbed her hands together. "There are so many things I want to try and taste and feel and do… Oh, yeah! I just remembered - I've got limited shapeshifting capabilities!" Turning so that she was facing Tash, her smirk gained a saucy edge to it and her chest swelled a cup size, the robe parting to reveal more of her already generous cleavage. "See?"

Tash blushed and sighed, shaking her head amusedly. "I can see you're going to more of a handful than usual now…" The Librarian tilted her head. "What about your ability to connect to computers and stuff? Can you still do that?"

"I believe so…" Phoenixia replied slowly. "It's not as constant or 'there' as much as it was before, but I can still feel myself connected to the systems and I think with practice and concentration, I should be able to get the majority of my abilities back."

"Good. We're gonna need them- half of us don't know how to run the main computer and I don't even know what half of what I know does sometimes…" Tash muttered and crossed her arms in lap as Michael, seeing Claire waving at him from down the row, hustled over his fiancĂ©.

Then she felt the bed shift as Phoenixia sat down next to her and gently gave the British woman a hug, careful to avoid irritating her wounds. "It's okay, Tashy. Death may have looked like Adrian, but he definitely was not him in any way, shape or form. "

"I know that… but the things he said he'd do to me and others… seeing that look on Adrian's face…" One of Tash's hands rose to her heart. "Just thinking about it makes my heart hurt so much…" Tears began to trickle from her eyes. "I love him, Phoenixia… I love him so much that it hurts and ever since he died, I've felt like I'm only half-here… and then today, with what Death did, it hurts even worse… because he's right... I want to go be with Adrian so bad… but now I'm scared, too… scared that I love him so much… and now I can't get those thoughts of what Death said he do out of my head…" Her sobbing increased and her shoulders shook. "It hurts so much…"

"Shhh…" Phoenixia kissed Tash gently on the forehead and cuddled her, stroking her hair. "It's okay, dearling. It's okay to cry… you know Adrian would never, ever hurt you, even if it meant his life. And I know you'd do the same for him." She smiled and wiped away some of Tash's tears with her thumb. "Listen to me, Natasha. It's okay that you feel like you want to follow him. And it's okay that it hurts- that means your love is real. Just remember, that no matter what, he loved you. He loved you more than anything at all and he always wanted your happiness first."

"Yeah…" Tash managed a smile and wiped her eyes. "Now I feel silly, crying over something like this. I should be stronger. He loved and trusted me to give me this job…"

Phoenxia pressed a finger to Tash's lips and gently leaned over to kiss her cheek. "You're human, just like Adrian. And sometimes you have to be stronger to cry than not to cry, dearling…" She stood and gently massaged Tash's temples. "Now sleep… sleep…" Tash moaned and her eyes fluttered and Phoenixia smiled softly as the Leader relaxed into her bed, drifting off to dreamland. "I knew those massage downloads would come in handy…"

Pulling the blanket up over the sleeping agent, the buxom woman quietly made her way out of the Hospital Room, slipping around Aimee who was carrying a tray of snacks over to Ossa and Val, who was trying to coax Ben into relaxing so she could him a shot and quickly exited the room.

Making her way down the hall, Phoenixia let her mind wander back to the past, when she had Adrian had first met… the first time she held him when he cried… the first time they had made love… long nights spent trading jokes and cuddling and so many other things they had done together… how happy he'd been when Tash fell in love with him… how happy she had been when Adrian's smile returned more often and he laughed and relaxed more…

And then she remember the day's events and her fist clenched tightly.

She was decided then. No more would she sit on the side-lines and wait, no more would she wonder for long hours if everyone she loved was going to be alright.

"It's my turn to fight."

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