"I guess this is it, huh? This is the end."
Under normal circumstances, the scout construct might have thought the depressed finality in his partner's tone odd. Well… odder than Curly Brace's usual oddness, at least.
Now, though? Now, when the walls were closing in, when the remnants of malevolent magic intent on exacting vengeance threatened them from beyond the grave?
He could understand his teammate's existential crisis, seeing as he was in the middle of one as well.
Robots like them, they weren't supposed to believe in things like depression, or love, or any emotion, really. They were built to serve, and serve they did, all the while vehemently refusing to examine that part of them that told them that they were more than servants, that they had their own thoughts and emotions and opinions, and it scared him.
And yet, Quote had no answer to her unspoken question, had no last trick up his sleave, and the Scout had known for quite some time. He had known the answer ever since he had first activated alongside her. He had known it when they had downloaded their combat-formes together, when they had been outfitted together, when they had first departed from their creator(s?) home to finish what should have been done long ago. He had known it when they had first landed on this God-forsaken island that Quote had come to love enough to fight for, when the two of them had gone against the Doctor's predecessor, and had won at the price of their memories and ten years of their artificial lives.
(Were those lives truly artificial now, though?)
With another thoom, the walls drew closer.
Quote was not a construct of many words. He preferred to keep them close to his chest, to speak only when he truly, truly meant it.
Unless, of course, action warranted better use.
So Quote, locking eyes with his partner, brought his hand to hers and threaded his fingers through hers.
The Iron Bond thrummed.
Curly Brace smiled, then, and Quote saved in his mind under the file name of the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. Holstering his weapon (it's not like he would need it anymore, right?) he let himself sag down against a pillar, waiting for the inevitable end. After a moment, Curly sat down besides him, and her presence was acutely felt by him, synthetic skin simulating warmth, and Quote felt… happy?
No, not happy...
(So long as he ignored the sinking feeling in his gut, that is.)
The Island had stopped it's rapid descent to the surface, the curse of the Demon Crown had been undone with both the Doctor's and Ballos' death, the turned Ravils reverted back to their usual selves (hopefully), and the Sakamotos well out of harm's way (he hoped so, at least; the helicopter had disappeared after he rushed from the tower and he had seen Kazuma swoop down on a dragon and whisk Sue away after she jumped the Balcony).
The only people left in danger were them.
"Quote, do you think… my kids… are they okay, you think?"
Quote did his best to hold the sudden jolt and the query, though did nothing to quench the guilt that broiled in his chassis.
Curly's second question didn't surprise him in the slightest; in the ten years they had been separated, she had, at some point, adopted several Mimiga children, the Colons, as her own, and had loved them as her own.
The last time he had seen them was when they had turned to piles of dust atop the Balcony after he killed them.
He could not bring himself to lie to the only person he trusted, and he would not divulge what he knew to Curly at this moment; she didn't deserve to die knowing she had fought besides the person- the thing- that had killed her children.
Of course, Curly took his deafening silence as the answer she had asked for, and clenched her eyes shut for a moment. "You know, I always knew that they'd die here, on this Island, but…
...I wanted them to at least live long enough to see it all, first."
Quote didn't respond, and hated himself for it.
With that, there was no more talking, and the two robots sat in morose silence as doom encroached further.
They both ignored the pained echoes of the dead mage's victims that reverberated around the chamber.
The walls had been almost within arm's-length when Balrog came bursting through the ceiling with his signature "HUZZAH!," seemingly having tunneled from… somewhere.
Curly, for one, was ecstatic at the sudden rescue, and if Quote had been a more extroverted construct (did he count as a person? did he deserve to be counted as one?) or hadn't been wracked up with his guilt over killing the Colons, he would've have joined her cheering too.
As it was, Balrog wasted no time informing them on how he found them (Misery told him? Who would have thought he'd owe his life and Curly's to the witch that had been trying to kill him for so long?) before telling them to grab on to him and hold on tight-
And suddenly they were flying, higher and higher, away from the Bloodstained Sanctuary that had attempted to bury them within its own walls, through the tunnel that was most certainly not a tunnel, something Quote deduced as soon as Balrog dug through three-feet of stone and earth before they were suddenly in the sky, the Island hovering several-hundred feet above the treeline below them, which was now visible due to the atmospheric drop the floating landmass had just experienced.
Curly let out a (somewhat bitter) laugh, and the tension in Quote's shoulders lessened ever-so-slightly. It's over. We're alive. Safe.
"Jeez, I really thought we'd be scrap metal this time! Looks like we owe you again, Balrog," the female robot nodded, and Balrog shrugged, or at least did the armless version of one. "Don't mention it. I just did what Misery asked."
Curly hummed, then faltered, apparently realizing something. "Wait, as in the witch, Misery? Doesn't she hate us? Don't you hate us?" Something dark flashed in her eyes momentarily before disappearing, but Quote caught it all the same.
"Pssh, why would I hate you? You guys killed Ballos. Our curse was lifted, thanks to you two. Misery and I don't need to listen to anybody's orders now. We're free."
That was right, wasn't it? The Demon Crown was destroyed, the Island and all the remaining Mimiga saved, and their original purpose fulfilled. They were free to do whatever they wanted now.
But, what exactly was that?
Quote didn't know, and he wasn't sure he wanted to, truth be told.
Why do I get to live, when the Colons can't?
When Toroko can't?
"Huh," Curly mumbled. "I thought you were a bad guy, but it was just 'cause of the Demon Crown?"
"Yeah, but we asked for it…" Ballos reminisced morosely. "You have to remember, it was Misery who asked Ballos to make the crown."
"Eh? Really? I didn't know that."
The voice in Blood Stained Sanctuary told him.
"Yep!" Balrog acknowledged, and said nothing more on the subject. There was tranquil silence between the three of them as the hovered through the clouds just above the island, before Balrog broke it. "And now…"
Curly's eyebrow raised. "Now..?"
"What are you guys gonna do now? I can take you anywhere! It;s been a while since I've left the Island, since, y'know…"
Quote and Curly shared an apprehensive look. Anywhere they wanted, huh?
Where did they want to go?
Both the robots' heads quirked sideways simultaneously, their antenna-ears picking up a radio signal from nearby, and both were quick to realize the senders.
"The Sakamotos," Quote spoke at last, and Balrog nearly faltered mid-flight at the unexpected suggestion.
"So you CAN speak! I knew it! Er, what about the Saka-who-nows?" Balrog asked, but Curly understood.
They had no where to go, nowhere but either back to the nation that had sent them to the Island in the first place, with the Sakamotos who had been their allies during their journey to the top of the Island, or the Island itself.
She didn't like that last option.
Besides, she would be lying if she didn't admit she was curious about the state of the surface all ten years spent in a cave.
And it got her away from the mass-grave that masqueraded as an Island.
"Take us down, Balrog. Lets go talk to the Sakamotos."
And down they went, back to the surface.
"Well, good news, everyone! As it turns out, we're still roughly in the same place as before! The Island didn't drift all that much during our, er…" Professor Itoh, still a Mimiga, gave a feeble shrug. "...excursion. It's still roughly in the exclusion zone the Canadians set up."
The Sakamotos (as well as Kazuma's recently-acquired Sky Dragon) had been well away from the Island when it had suddenly stopped falling. It had been Sue who had been the first to suggest (quite adamantly, mind you) that the robot Saviour had done something to stop the Island's fall, and the other researchers were inclined to agree with the girl.
After making sure the Island wouldn't suddenly begin plummeting earthbound, the Sakamotos landed in a clear section of the forest that dotted the land beneath the flying landmass. Momorin and Itoh started messing with the radio to contact the local authorities, while Itoh began to run much-needed maintenance on the chopper itself, leaving the two siblings to converse amongst themselves.
By that, meaning Kazuma attempted to make conversation to his sister while Sue stared, unnerving silent, at the hovering Island, not at all responding to Kazuma's prompts- at least, not until her brother finally switched to more important topics (in her opinion, at least).
"Sue, you're… really worried for him? That robot?"
...Why did he make that sound like a bad thing?
"Of course I am, idiot," she scowled. "The stupid other-idiot didn't jump with me, so I don't know if he made it or not." The formerly-human Mimiga glared at the elder sibling. "Got a problem with that? I may be tiny, but I can still beat you a-"
"No, no, no problem at all," Kazuma yelped hastily, holding up his hands in supplication, before sighing. "It's just… You've been awfully quiet, which is unlike you. I'm worried for you, Sue."
The Mimiga dropped her glare, thankfully, and turned back to the Island in silence again. Somewhat perturbed, Kazuma continued nonetheless. "I mean, I know it's barely been an hour since we got off the Island, but I-" We, he meant, for, as he understood it, barely anyone that had stuck close to Sue during the duration of their stay on the Island were any of the people currently present. "-have no idea what you went through, or what even happened to you, or if you even okay-"
"You know, I made a friend, up there."
Sue's sudden interjection startled Kazuma, but he stayed silent to allow her to speak, and his sister did.
"...Her name was Toroko, and she was probably the only one in the village who liked me, despite being an outsider. She gave me a fish pendant. It was nice."
This… was a tad bit more in-depth than he had expected.
Not knowing what else to do, he tried for a smile to ease the tension. "I'm glad someone made something out of this mess of a trip. You're admittedly not that great at making friends down here, so I'm glad that you-"
"Then she was mistaken as me, kidnapped as me, then was force-fed a Red Flower and turned into a monster against her will. Then she died, because they thought she was me."
Only then did Kazuma's sister turn back to look at him, and the green-haired young man was horrified to find Sue crying silent tears.
In all the years he had known his sister, he hadn't seen her cry this much since when she had just been born.
"Every person I consider a friend," she ground out, seemingly ignoring the salty droplets running down her face, "is either dead because of me or currently stuck on that Kami-forsaken Island in the sky. I've been forcibly transformed in a species that's not human or familiar to me in any way, I nearly died half a dozen times in the last week alone, and now I'm most likely going to DISSECTED in some lab somewhere! NO, KAZUMA, I'M NOT OKAY!"
Just as quickly as Sue's rage washed over her face, it broke just as swiftly, replaced with grief, and Sue turned and ran towards the solitude of the trees.
Kazuma took only two steps in her direction before giving up the half-hearted pursuit, gritting his teeth nonetheless.
Even after all this…
...I'm still nothing but a coward.
"This is Colonel Brigget of the CAF. May I ask why you are on a secure military connection in the middle of an exclusion zone?"
When the voice had crackled over the intercom in the helicopter's transmitter, both Momorin and Itoh had been startled, unsurprisingly, but when the message had repeated, she had smiled a sigh of relief, before moving to reply in English. "Apologies, Colonel, but we have our reasons. This is Professor Momorin Sakamoto of the of Japanese International Research Team. We were given authorization to carry out a mission to the Island to take some tests and discover its condition due to the war."
There was silence on the other end for several moments, before the Colonel responded. "Professor Sakamoto, it seems like you were indeed allowed access to the island- and you were supposed to report in over three weeks ago. The higher-ups were quite worried. Does your sudden emergence have anything to do with the Island dropping in altitude?"
"Yes, actually," Momorin answered unworried- it wouldn't do well to lie to a government or military official, especially on foreign ground. "But I don't imagine that is something I should speak of over our communication."
"Agreed, face-to-face is warranted, I believe." There was the tell-tale shuffle of papers on the other end, before the Colonel spoke again. "Stay put, ma'am, I'll have a detail flown to your coordinates within the hour. They'll escort you to our encampment, you can speak to your superiors there."
Though the Canadian couldn't see it, Momorin nodded. "Thank you, Colonel."
With that, the line disconnected, and Itoh fiddled around with it some more before finally finding the location-transmitter and flicking it on. Having done that, the former human yawned, then shrugged. "If you don't mind, Momorin, I'm just going to…" he pointed in the direction of the small bed in the back of the chopper, and Momorin made a shooing gesture mockingly. "Don't let me stop you, Itoh. It's been a… tiring trip for all of us."
To put it mildly.
As Itoh all but hopped over to the bed desperate for some good shut-eye, the Sakamoto matriarch collapsed into a nearby chair and let her face fall into her hands. It's alright. It's over. Fuyuhiko is dead. Gone. Sue is safe, Kazuma is safe. We're fine.
Maybe if she repeated that to herself long enough, she could believe it.
Sue didn't run off very far- only to the edge of the clearing, still well within running distance of the helicopter, and out of sight of anyone looking for her.
She... really did not want to be found, right now.
Kinda like how Toroko was just before she was…
After getting thrown into the detainment cells in the Plantation alongside all the other Mimiga who resisted the Doctor's plans, she had spent her time rushing from one end of the cell to the other, looking for an escape, only eventually be defeated by the fact that there simply was none. There she had stayed for several days before being thrown in the cave cell alongside Jack, Mahin, and several others, moping around in darkness and hoping for the savior or family to come free her.
And then King arrived.
The witch that had turned her into a Mimiga in the first place had simply appeared one day day with the Number 1 Mimiga encased in a bubble, before dissipating it and letting King fall to the floor. Then she left, all the while speaking not a word.
The Number 2 was the first to jolt out of the stunned silence as he rushed towards his injured friend, and soon enough, King was surrounded by a number of Mimiga, Sue included. Luckily, one amongst them had been a healer during the war, and began to tend to the Mimiga's wounds with the limited supplies scattered around the room.
Even as his injuries were looked over, King did not wake, only mumbling in his pain-induced coma, most of which incoherent.
The only clear thing that emerged from his mouth had been a agonizing apology to Toroko.
Jack had frozen at that, before schooling his expression and returning to whatever task he had been doing. Sue, however, had not been so lucky to have something to distract herself with, and was left with the knowledge that her only friend on the Island was dead thanks to her.
It was only due to the fact that she refused to show weakness while under the Doctors grasp did she not cry.
The Doctor was dead now, his evil grasp gone.
She was free to do as she wished.
So, Sue cried.
She sat there for some time, back to a tree, tears running down her furred cheeks, and eyes gazing into nothingness. Sue sat there, content to let the earth claim her if it willed.
So numbed to the outside world the Mimiga was that she nearly didn't catch the faint wind of words from above.
Looking up from her position against the tree, Sue caught sight of the… toaster thing that had been serving the Doctor seemingly descending in the direction of the helicopter, and by proxy her family, and her blood went cold.
Then she stood up and took off towards them.