Chapter 30: End of the Dream – Ryu Ranger

Ultimate Power Rangers The End
Chapter 30: End of the Dream

Chapter 30: End of the Dream

Faith sees best in the dark.​

–Søren Kierkegaard​

The Spoke

The Dark One’s energy, the True Power, seeped into the Spoke of the Wheel of Time. Darkness coated the Gears of Fate like thick grudge, and black mist choked the light. The True Power spread like cancer.

Angel Grove/Demon City

Mikhail stood on the rooftops of Angel Grove and watched the blinding light of the Omnizord destroy the Black Cross monster and Dino Chimera.

Pluto, the Heavenly Saint of Time, stood at his side.

“None of this will matter if the plan fails,” Pluto said.

“It won’t,” Mikhail said, his voice grim.

“Are you certain?” Pluto asked. “You have a soft spot for these humans. You will have to set that aside.”

“I will.” Mikhail said. “This can only end with darkness.”

The Bore

Billy rushed through the tunnel of the Bore after regrouping with the three groups of champions of the present.

Group one: Ken, Kamen Rider Blade; Zayden, Kamen Rider Chalice; Casey, Jungle Fury Red; RJ, Jungle Fury Violet; Connor, Dino Thunder Red; Kira, Dino Thunder Yellow; Trent, Dino Slayer; Daggeron, Mystic Gold; Maddie, Mystic Blue and Xander, Mystic Green.

Group two: Bradin, Samurai Green; Ryan Phillips, Samurai Blue; Kirsten, Samurai Yellow; Kou, Hurricane Green; Hunter, Crimson Thunder; Blake, Navy Thunder; Justin Stewart, Hurricane Yellow; Rachel, Hurricane Blue and Nick, Mystic Red.

Group three: Koda, Dino Charge Blue; Shelby, Dino Charge Pink; Ivan, Dino Charge Gold; Nat, DECA Red; Kruger, DECA Shadow; Austin, Kamen Rider Wizard and Leo, Kamen Rider Beast.

Nick moved alongside Billy.

“Do we have a plan?” Nick asked.

“Several dozen,” Billy said. “It’ll depend on the scenario we encounter.”

“That’s not very comforting,” Nick said.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” Billy said.

Nick sighed and shook his head. “I’m starting to understand why my dad wanted to punch you in the face all the time.”

Deeper in the Bore, Moridin faced Abbadon and the “Team Supernatural” group of champions: Samuel, Shirogane, Eiji, Zadie and Ryan.

The last of the Forsaken smiled with arrogance. He casually adjusted his collar. “All I have to do is…nothing. Absolutely nothing. You can fight me, or not. Defeat me, or not. In the end, my Master will win.”

He glanced at Tommy and Shadow Blade, frozen in time as Tommy’s leg brushed up against the black wall of shadow that was the Dark One in his broken prison.

“We have all been nothing but pawns in a game. But now, after all this time…the game will end. The Wheel of Time will break, and reality will be remade in my Dark Lord’s image.”

Samuel narrowed his eyes. “And you’re happy about that?”

“I merely accept it,” Moridon said. “It’s why I joined the Dark One before time itself. With my superior mind, I understood the inevitability of this moment.”

Abbadon glanced at his younger self from the past, still injured and unconscious. His thoughts drifted to his battle with young Simon.

“I will become a hero of justice!” young Simon had shouted. “And just as you can’t accept me, I’ll use every ounce of my strength to defeat the part of me that’s you!”

Abbadon closed his eyes as he remembered that fight.

Young Simon sat up on the ground. He breathed heavily, staring defiantly at his older self. “Yeah, I get it, you’re right. I understand…what you’ve been trying to say…for the many to live, the few have to die. For the many to be happy, the few have to give into sorrow. You can’t save everyone because you can’t save anyone without hurting someone. Mind blown. Got it. My wish really is fake. But…there’s something beautiful about it anyway. Putting others before myself is hypocritical. I understand that. Still. I couldn’t help but admire the idea. I thought how great it would be if I could live like that. Even if my life was a sham. There was still beauty in that wish, in doing whatever I could to make others happy.”

Simon climbed to his feet. He tightened his grip on his weapons. “I won’t let that wish go. Even if it is foolish, I won’t give it up. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care if I’m a fraud or a hypocrite. Because I know my dream isn’t a mistake!”

Abbadon gripped his black katana in one hand and his Kuroryuken in the other. Shadow flashed around him as he morphed into his dark, hawk-themed ninja armor.

He dashed at Moridin with an overhead chop. Moridin swept his hand and summoned a wave of black energy feathers to block the blow.

“I’m done letting people like you ramble on,” Abbadon said. “I won’t let this world turn into a place of even more suffering. More darkness. I won’t!”

“Moments ago you tried to shatter the Wheel of Time itself.”

“Shatter, not corrupt. Bring peace, not chaos.”

“You’re misguided.”

“I get that a lot.”

His swords flared with black energy that bashed Moridin and hurled him across the room.

Abbadon looked over his shoulder at his former teammates. “Let’s take him!”

They dashed to attack. Samuel transformed into Garo, Shirogane morphed into Gao Silver, Eiji morphed into Overdrive Silver, Zadie transformed into the Red Python, and Ryan transformed into Kamen Rider Faiz.

Red Python snapped her daggers at the Forsaken. Moridin swept his hand; feathers blocked the daggers.

Faiz leapt through the air with a flying jump-kick; feathers bashed him aside. Below, Gao Silver and Overdrive Silver lunged and swung their blades. Moridin tightened his fist. Invisible energy bashed the Silver Rangers with bursts of spark that knocked them backward, and they slammed against the cavern wall.

Garo ignited his sword with green flame and swung high. Abbadon ignited his swords with shadow and swung low. Their swords fired waves of energy that shot towards Moridin. But the Forsaken merely lifted his hand, and the blasts split harmlessly around him.

“I channel the True Power, the power of the Dark One himself,” Moridin said. “It has never been stronger.”

“Keep talking, you son-of-a-bitch,” Abbadon said as he tightened his grip on his swords.

Abbadon and Garo shot at Moridin to attack. But he blasted them aside, and they smashed against the cavern wall.

From the opposite side of the massive cavern, Billy and the champions rushed into the Bore. All but Billy morphed.

Moridin sighed. “That’s quite far enough.”

He lifted his hand. Ripples spread through the cavern floor. Creatures of black rock arose, took shape, and attacked the newcomers.

Billy fired a burst of Ki that blasted three rock soldiers to pieces. The Rangers and Riders spread out and fought.

Blade and Chalice launched flying kicks that bashed through two rock soldiers. Wizard and Beast moved alongside the Dino Charge Rangers, Samurai Rangers and DECA Shadow, their swords slashing. DECA Red and Mystic Gold opened fire with their blasters. The Dino Thunder and Jungle Fury Rangers pommeled grunts with punches and kicks. And the Hurricane Rangers and Mystic Rangers fought with kicks, punches and energy blasts.

Moridin lifted his hand; invisible energy bursts erupted through the cavern as Abbadon dashed along the walls, dodging the explosions.

Abbadon dashed and swung his sword through a streak of black energy that slashed towards Moridin.

Moridin vanished and reappeared behind Abbadon. Abbadon snapped around and swung his sword at the Forsaken, but the villain vanished again and reappeared below.

Abbadon cursed beneath his breath. “Is that your power? Whatever’s convenient at the time?”

“More or less,” Moridin said. He lifted his right hand. Shades and shadows swept through the ground, took form, and arose. The shadows flew through the Bore like ghosts and shot towards the gathered heroes.

Hurricane Yellow and Samurai Blue swung their swords at the attack wave. But their weapons passed harmlessly through the creatures, like cutting through mist. The shades wrapped around the two Rangers and forced them to their knees. They screamed– icy cold tendrils tore into their souls.

Mystic Gold stood in front of Mystic Blue.

“Maddie, stay back!” the Gold Ranger shouted.

The shades bashed the two Rangers like a tidal wave of darkness.

DECA Shadow shifted into a defensive stance, growling. “Energy attacks and blasters! Scatter them!”

Dino Thunder Red and DECA Red opened fire with their blasters, as did Dino Charge Blue, Dino Charge Pink, and Dino Thunder Yellow. But their blasters did nothing, and the shades washed through them, igniting nightmares that crippled the heroes with fear and panic.

Mystic Red ignited his staff with fiery power. He saw shades envelop the Thunder Rangers, Hurricane Green, and Hurricane Blue. The Red Mystic Ranger intensified his flame. But the shades flowed through the fire and plunged into the Red Ranger’s soul.

The impact knocked the Red Mystic Ranger to his knees. Fear gripped his throat. And the voice of his own darkness whispered. You are alone. And you have failed…

Gao Silver, Overdrive Silver, Kamen Rider Faiz, Red Python, Garo, and Abbadon regrouped.

“Move cautiously,” Gao Silver said. “If we attack carelessly, we die.”

Moridin waved his hand dismissively. “You’ll die anyway. In fact, some of you are already dead on the inside. Isn’t that right, Zadie?”

Red Python narrowed her eyes. She shot at Moridin like a bullet.

The Forsaken armed a whip of bladed feathers, lashed out, and slashed the Red Python’s torso, tearing through her armor. The armor shattered into fragments of red light, and Zadie crashed to the ground.

Moridin snapped his whip. Feathers cut through Zadie’s gut. Her back. Her side. She tumbled. Blood spilled from her wounds.

“Zadie!” Overdrive Silver shot at the Forsaken to attack.

Moridin snapped his whip; the weapon thrashed the Silver Ranger with a burst of spark that tossed him backward.

Abbadon somersaulted through the air and landed at Zadie’s side. He kneeled down and cradled her head.

“Zadie…get up, we’re not through yet.”

She scoffed, a smile on her face. “Don’t…” she gasped for breath with every word, struggling to speak. “Don’t be an idiot…blondie…” She reached up and touched his mask. “I’m…sorry. I shouldn’t have…” Her voice trailed off, and she shook her head. “Sorry…”

He took her hand. “No…I made my own decisions.” He looked down at her and felt a mix of emotions. She had betrayed him. She had manipulated him. But he had let her do it. And he had enjoyed it. Her affection. Her companionship. She was his first kiss. First everything. “Just…rest. Find peace.”

She rolled her eyes, a slight smile still on her face, as she breathed her last breath. Her life slipped from her body, and she died in Simon’s arms.

Abbadon looked up at Moridin.

Faiz, Garo, and Gao Silver swarmed around the Forsaken.

Moridin whipped his feathers; they tore the buckler from Faiz’s belt. Ryan’s armor shattered. Moridin swatted the Rider across the cavern.

Garo and Gao Silver slashed at the Forsaken.

Moridin lifted his hand. Invisible energy shattered Gao Silver’s Lunar Cue to pieces. The Forsaken swept his hand; invisible energy swatted the Silver Ranger across the Bore.

Garo ignited his sword with green energy. He swung an overhead slash. But Moridin caught the blade.

The Forsaken smiled.

Moridin poured his dark power through the sword and through the Golden Knight’s armor. Samuel’s armor shattered into pieces. He screamed with pain, as if his soul had just been flayed.

Samuel collapsed to his knees and fell onto his back. Steam rose from his body.

Moridin placed his foot on Samuel’s chest. “I will never understand you,” Moridin said. “You tire of the endless cycle of life, the same as your brother, and yet you fight to preserve it. To preserve the wheel of chaos. Why?”

Samuel narrowed his eyes. Fury poured through his veins. He grabbed Moridin by the ankle.

“Because I let myself feel it,” Samuel said. “Through all the pain, anger, and loneliness. Through all the killing, betrayal and destruction…mankind is still good. We can better ourselves. Every day. Every moment. The Wheel of Time repeats so we can do better next time. That’s what I fight for!

Samuel’s Ki ignited with golden power that bashed Moridin backward. Samuel climbed to his feet, and energy wrapped around him as he morphed into a Ranger form: The Golden Wolf Ranger.

Without a morpher, his armor took on a unique appearance, a bodysuit of black cloth covered in golden, Greco-Roman style armor. His golden headpiece, with a red visor, took the form of the head of a wolf.

He snapped into a fighting stance. He felt his spirit energy drink from The Power, a continuous stream.

“Golden Wolf Ranger!” he shouted. “Garo!”

Moridin snapped his whips of black feathers. Garo shot into the air, flipped over the whips, and aimed a flying kick at Moridin.

“Golden Fang!”

His kick ignited with a spear of golden energy that stabbed through Moridin and hurled the Forsaken backward.

Moridin skid through midair. He narrowed his eyes. Burst of black energy exploded throughout the Bore.

Abbadon dashed through the explosions. He joined his brother, and they shot at the Forsaken.

The three opponents clashed in midair, dashing back-and-forth. Garo swung punches and kicks that ebbed with golden energy. And Abbadon swung his swords, pulsing with black power and firing blades of black energy.

But Moridin managed to hold them back, wielding whips of black energy shaped like feathers, and summoning barriers of invisible power.

“How interesting,” the villain mused to himself as he fought, barely straining. “Two brothers. One who surrendered himself to darkness. And one who rose above it. Light and shadow.”

Abbadon cursed beneath his breath. “You must really hate subtext.”

He snapped his swords and fired a wave of energy. But Moridin sliced through the wave.

“Did you think you could overpower me?” Moridin asked as he floated in midair. “How foolish. No…we have different understandings of the word 'power’, it would seem. Let me show you the true meaning. Observe.”

He snapped whips of black feathers. The whips wrapped around Abbadon and Garo and tightened. Black energy darkened the Bore, and strands of black lightning thrashed the two brothers. They screamed as the attacks clawed into their Body, Mind and Soul.

“You wield your powers as children wield toys,” Moridin said. “This is over, little Rangers.”

Suddenly. The cavern trembled.

The wall of darkness rippled.

Through the Bore, they heard Tommy’s voice echo with a powerful shout: BRING ME MY DEATH, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH, Tommy growled. BECAUSE I BRING YOURS!

Tommy broke free from the darkness and entered the Pattern fully again. He found himself in the moment he left, locked in battle with Shadow Blade.

The villain narrowed his gaze as time resumed for them both. “Back already?”

Tommy placed his hand on Shadow Blade’s forehead. “You have no power over me.”

Shadow Blade screamed as his body unwound into strings of energy and light, the untangling of body and soul. The villain– the last dark mirror of Tommy Oliver– vaporized into dust.

Tommy looked ahead. He stood tall, confident. Powerful. He faced Moridin. And he saw the Forsaken. The strands of the Pattern wrapped around the villain and extended through the whole cavern, through the Bore, and into infinity. Every life, every movement, a thread.

Moridin, with his arrogant smile, extended his hand. Hundreds of black feathers fluttered and whipped at Tommy like daggers.

“No…” Tommy whispered.

The feathers exploded and vaporized into dust that rained down throughout the Bore.

Moridin stopped smiling.

Tommy summoned his sword, the Ryuuseiken, with a flash of light. And for the final time, energy wrapped around him as he morphed into the Dragon Ranger, Heaven Fire Star, Red.

Nearby, Abbadon climbed to his feet, and he moved to his former mentor’s side. He held his black katana in one hand and the Kuroryuken in the other.

Moridin stepped backward, slightly. “Well…it seems that-”

Dragon Ranger and Abbadon shot at Moridin like bullets. The Red Ranger slashed the villain’s midsection, and Abbadon slashed the Forsaken’s back. Their blades flashed with energy as they dashed back-and-forth, slashing through streaks of power.

The attacks knocked Moridin to the cavern ground with a thundering boom; the Bore shook.

Slowly, the Forsaken climbed to his feet. He extended his hand and formed a sphere of dark power. But before he could strike, flashes of yellow energy struck his chest, staggering him.

Moridin looked to see Billy Cranston, who had morphed into the Kirin Ranger.

“Really?” Moridin said with disbelief.

“Time Flares!” Kirin Ranger snapped blades of distortion energy that stabbed through Moridin with bursts of energy.

Abbadon swooped in from the side.

Getsuga Tenshou!” He swung his swords and fired a blade of black energy, tinted with wisps of green and jade.

Moridin leapt over the blast, which exploded through the cavern with bursts of flame and smoke. The villain extended his hands and surrounded himself with rings of black energy feathers.

Below, Kirin Ranger slapped his right fist against his left palm.

“Ki!” He reached out with his energy, the power of the Heaven Time Star, and grabbed hold of Moridin with a wave of time-space distortion.

Dragon Ranger shot upward and hovered over the villain. The Red Ranger’s sword ebbed with fiery power.

“Rage! Of! Inferno!” He swung his sword through a streak of flame, firing a blade of white-hot fire.

The energy glowed bright enough to light the entire cavern. The blade grew and thickened, shooting towards Moridin. The light splashed through the villain, tearing through his body and soul as he screamed.

The villain crashed and tumbled, smoke sizzling from his body.

Nearby, Moridin’s shades and rock soldiers exploded into ash.

Slowly, Kamen Rider Blade and Kamen Rider Wizard climbed to their feet. They looked towards the Forsaken, who started to stand.

Blade looked to Wizard. “Remind me…” he asked, knowing the answer. “What kills a Forsaken? A weapon created by another Forsaken?”

“Or another immortal,” Wizard said.

Blade nodded. “Let’s do it.”

Blade slid the Queen of Spades into the rouser on his wrist. “ABSORB QUEEN.” He swiped the King of Spades through the rouser. “EVOLUTION KING.”

Golden energy flashed around him as he powered-up into King Form.

Wizard shifted his Driver and placed his hand over his buckler. “INFINITY: AWAKEN”

Silver energy flashed around him as he powered-up into his Infinity Form.

The Riders shot at the Forsaken. Blade’s sword energized with golden power. Wizard’s sword energized with silver light. They slashed through Moridin, ripping the Forsaken’s body apart with bursts of shadow, flame, and light.

Abbadon dashed through the air, swung his swords, and sliced the head from the Forsaken.

The villain’s body collapsed. Moridin vaporized into dust and ash.

Tommy and Billy powered down their armor. Abbadon did the same, reverting back to his Shaded form, with chalk-white skin and hair, and black eyes with red irises.

The Bore trembled with anger; rubble started to rain from above, and cracks started to form across the ground.

The wall of shadow intensified into a wall of black flame, a surging inferno. The spiritual pressure nearly crushed the gathered heroes, except for Tommy, Abbadon and Billy.

They faced the wall of shadow fire.

“This is it…” Tommy said.

“No!” a voice shouted from behind.

They turned to see Mikhail appear within the Bore. The former Heavenly Saint, now in mortal form, managed to draw on enough power to resist the crushing spiritual pressure within the cavern.

“This isn’t going to end the way you think,” Mikhail said as he walked towards the three heroes. “You must break the seals that you repaired with the powers of the champions. And you must set the Dark One free.”

Tommy narrowed his eyes. “That’s the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do.”

“The Dark One can only be defeated here, in the Pattern, where there is time and space,” Mikhail said. “Here…you can destroy him. Kill him.”

“How?” Nick asked.

“The One Power and Power Cosmic are not enough,” Mikhail said. “Unless those energies are strengthened…by the True Power itself. Drink in the Dark One’s power. Accept it. And through that darkness, ignite with the power of creation and the power of magic.”

Tommy understood. “Simon…Nick…the three of us will have to bond.” Simon for the True Power. Nick for the Power Cosmic of his Heavenly Saint. “Billy…you’re the key. With your power of time and space, you can hold us together. Make sure we don’t rip apart.”

“My powers aren’t infinite,” Billy said. “I’ll only be able to shield one of you.”

“Nick,” Tommy said, without hesitation.

Simon nodded in agreement.

“What?! No!” Nick shouted. “If this is the end, we die together.”

“I lost Tyler,” Tommy whispered. “I lost Teddy. I…accept their sacrifice. You need to accept mine.”

The Bore trembled and started to rip to pieces. The Dark One’s essence coated the Wheel of Time, covering the Gears of Fate in black ink, almost completely. Corruption. Despair. Agony. Boils of cancerous evil.

“We’re out of time!” Mikhail shouted.

Simon extended his sword, the Kuroryuuken, to Tommy. Tommy looked his former student in the eyes– so much unsaid between them. He took the blade.

Tommy closed his eyes and reached out. Billy used his power to link Tommy with Simon and Nick. Tommy felt the raw power in both. Simon, like screaming pain so intense that it ripped the body apart. Nick, like the white-hot flames of a wildfire.

The One Power.

The Power Cosmic from Nick.

The True Power from Simon.

Tommy channeled all three. Ryuuseiken hummed in his right hand. Kuroryuuken hummed in his left. The first swords to turn against each other before time. A sword of life. A sword of death. Now united.

With the Powers, Tommy punched through the black and created a conduit of light and darkness, turning the Dark One’s own essence upon him.

Tommy felt the Dark One beyond. His immensity. Space, size, time…Tommy understood how these things could be irrelevant now.

With a bellow– three Powers coursing through him, blood streaming down his side– the Dragon raised a hand of power and seized the Dark One through the Bore, like a man reaching through water to grab the prize at the river’s bottom.

The Dark One tried to pull back, but Tommy’s claw was gloved by the True Power. The Dark One tried to withdraw the True Power from Simon, but the conduit flowed too freely, too powerful to shut off now, even for the Dark One himself

So it was that Tommy used the Dark One’s own essence, channeled in its full strength. He held the Dark One tightly, like a dove in the grip of a hawk.

And light exploded from him.

The Legendary Omnizord swept away the last of the Armada ships. Below, the last of the White Jokers scattered, defeated, along with a few groups of X-Borgs and Zergs.

Above, light filled the skies. Bright. Warm. The red tint of Demon City disappeared, and the black clouds cleared.

The Legendary Omnizord dropped to its knees, resting. Slowly, the massive zord, and the heroes of the past, dissolved into light and returned to the Time Shards from which they came.

Tyler regrouped with his teammates– Mat, Seth, Kira, Kym, and Orion– in the midst of the war-torn battleground of Angel Grove/Demon City. A strange sensation washed through them, as if they couldn’t tell the difference between the air in their breath and the air around them.

They knew instantly. Tommy still fought. But he had already won.

“This is it?” Kira asked. “Isn’t it?”

Tyler nodded. He smirked. And he sat on the ground.

Seth tilted his head. “Seriously?”

“Seriously,” Tyler said. He patted the ground, inviting the others to sit with him.

They couldn’t help it. They smiled. And they joined their leader. Their friend.

Orion sighed with relief and leaned back on his hands. “Well…” he said as he looked up into the sky. “I’ve gotta admit. This was fun!”

“Any final Ranger facts to share with us?” Mat asked.

“You hate my random Ranger facts.”

“I do,” Mat said with a grin. “I really do. One more…”

They talked and laughed, sharing stories of their adventures, as they felt their lives start to fade.

Kym looked at her hand. “Well…after all this time. We won. That means we never existed though? Doesn’t it?”

Tyler smiled. “Tell that to every single person alive today because of us.”

Light washed over the landscape. Bright. Warm. Comforting. Slowly, as the friends looked at each other, smiling, sharing in their companionship one last time, they vanished, leaving nothing behind but their legacy– the legacy that saved us all.

The seals crumbled.

The Dark One burst free.

Tommy held the Dark One tightly.

Filled with the Powers, standing in a column of light, Tommy pulled the Dark One into the Pattern. Only here was there time. Only here could the Darkness itself be killed.

The force in his hand, which was at once vast and yet tiny, trembled. Its screams were the sounds of planets grinding together.

A pitiful object. Suddenly, Tommy felt as if he were holding not one of the primal forces of existence, but a squirming thing from the slime of the sewers.

YOU REALLY ARE NOTHING, Tommy said, knowing the Dark One’s secrets completely. The Dark One trembled in his grip. YOU HORRIBLE, PITIFUL GNAT.

Tommy was dying. His lifeblood flowed from him, and beyond that, the amount of the Powers he held would soon burn him away.

He held the Dark One in his hand. He began to squeeze, then stopped.

He knew all secrets. He could see what the Dark One had done. And Tommy understood. Much of what the Dark One had shown him were lies.

But the vision Tommy himself had created– the one without the Dark One– was truth. If Tommy did as he wished, if he killed the Dark One, he would leave mankind no better off than if the Dark One had won. Without darkness, there could be no light. Without sorrow, there could be no joy.

I’ve been such a fool…

Tommy yelled, thrusting the Dark One back through the pit from where it had come. Tommy pushed his arms to the side, grabbing twin pillars of the One Power and Power Cosmic with his mind, coated with the True Power drawn through Simon, who knelt on the floor, eyes open, so much power coursing through him he couldn’t even move.

Tommy hurled the Powers forward with his mind and braided them together. The One Power and Power Cosmic at once, the True Power surrounding them.

He wove something majestic, a pattern of the One Power and Power Cosmic in their pure forms. Not the power sets of Ranger teams and Riders. Not Fire, not Air, not Water, not Earth. Purity. The greatest purity from the greatest darkness. This didn’t repair the Dark One’s prison, it didn’t patch, it forged anew.

With this new form of the three Powers, Tommy pulled together the rent that had been made throughout time by foolish men.

He understood, finally, that the Dark One was not the enemy.

He never had been.

Light washed through the skies above the Command Chamber.

Ashley closed her eyes. She felt the light, even within the Command Chamber, and it filled her with warmth. Love.

“Tommy…” she whispered.

“Ashley…” his voice whispered in her mind. “I’m sorry…”

Grief clenched her throat. They never got to marry. Never had children. Never had a family. No happily ever after. And yet…she understood. Completely.

“Don’t be sorry,” she whispered. “Just save the world.”

“I love you…” his voice whispered. “Always.”

“I love you too,” she whispered. “Always.”

The blackness in front of Tommy hung like a hole, sucking in everything. Slowly, bit by bit, that hole shrank away until it was just a pinprick.

It vanished.

…to be concluded

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