XIII

The Final Victory

Exploring the newly exposed cavern, the kids noticed this strange, pulsating bright white light emanating from one of the cave's sub-caverns.

"What could that be?" Anna asked, curiously approaching.

"Anna, wait!" Ken warned, only to be ignored, "Damn…"

"Guys! Get over here!" she commanded them, ushering the boys toward the cavern.

"What is it?" Lloyd asked, before he was rendered speechless at what he saw.

"Holy…" Ken began to say, as the site got to him. What Anna had discovered wasn't just another cavern, but a chamber housing various pods containing dormant adult human bodies, each floating in this… ooze - like something out of some highly elaborate sci-fi movie.

"This must be the entire adult population of Youngtown." Lloyd observed, as they looked around.

"Oh, no…" Anna said, recognizing one of the adults in one of the tubes. "Mommy!" Anna cried, Oh, Dear God, What've they done to you?" Tears were streaming down her face, she finally gave up her feverish scratching at the tubes, trying in vain to release her mother.

"Those bastards…" Ken said, still in shock, "This is going too far!"

"Oh, the darkness is so thick…" Anna's telepathy picking up on her mother's latent thoughts, "Can't see you very well…"

"Mommy…?"

"Could it be…?" she asked, "Is it my little girl?"

"Mommy!" Anna eagerly replied, excited that her mother was still alive.

"Anna…" her mother said, trying to comfort her as best she could, "Don't try to rescue us now. The Mother Ship must be destroyed, first.

Withdrawing, Anna looked at her mother with tear-blurred vision. Wiping them away, she and the boys knew what needed to be done. Exiting the cavern, they found another pathway, leading to a steep cliff…

There, the raging storm only got worse as the wind started to pick up to near hurricane levels. Finally, the dark cloud cover broke apart like the Red Sea as this weird-looking space craft emerged from the skies - resting, hovering, to where (what appeared to be) the main cockpit still remained exposed over the cliff-side.

"Look at the size of that thing!" Lloyd said, stunned.

"What is it?" Anna asked.

"Giygas…" Ken said, with an emotional mix of calm and fear in his voice that was inexplicable. On guard, Ken and Anna immediately placed a psychic shield around themselves and Lloyd as they prepared for the worst…

Moving as close as they could to the edge of the cliff, the spaceship's bubble-like cockpit popped open, and as a burst of steam fizzed through, it revealed a seven foot tall, bluish-white, catlike humanoid alien. It's body appeared to have been made of nothing but skin and bones to the point you could literally see through it. Its tail, which appeared to be the thickest portion of its body, curled around, circling its body several times over. Its face, or what was obviously its head was triangular in shape, with glowing red eye sockets and horn-like ears that extended about a foot, at fifteen degree angles, on both sides of its head. It's feet and legs - all four were needle-like, almost like (extremely thin) mantis scythes - it was a wonder this thing could walk upright.

"Ken!" Giygas telepathically bellowed, in a surprisingly low and menacing voice. "I am grateful to your family." it continued, immediately shooting off a psychic attack, which effects were inexplicable, putting the kids' shield to work, which was the only reason they were able to survive, but not without taking some serious damage. Anna, who took the most damage, was given a restorative boost as Ken used his Life-Up healing spell on her, while she used her powers to strengthen the broken shield.

"Your Great-Grandparents, George and Maria, raised me." Giygas continued, blasting off another devastating, inexplicable psychic attack, while (for now) all the kids could do was stay on the defensive. Again, Ken and Anna had to use their own variation of Life-Up spells to keep each other holding on, while Lloyd used some Life-Up Cream - a balm that had similar effects of Ken and Anna's spell's weakest variation - it was still enough to keep him alive.

"But," Giygas continued, "George stole vital information from our planet that could be used to betray my people…" Again, Giygas continued his psychic assault. Though the kids survived, Anna was forced to strengthen the psychic shield surrounding the trio.

"…and now, one of his descendants is obstructing our plans, and must be stopped!" Giygas bellowed with fervent rage, "Ken! I am talking about you!" This time, Giygas' psychic attack focused on Ken, though Anna and Lloyd also felt it. As the kids struggled to heal themselves as Giygas continued.

"Go home now!" Giygas warned, "Or perish with the rest of these ugly Earthling!" Again, Giygas' inexplicable psychic attack focused more on Ken, while the party continued self healing, still on the defensive.

"Foolish one." Giygas continued, almost laughing, "You cannot do a thing with your meager powers…" if the kids didn't know any better, they could've sworn that Giygas was smiling as it looked down on their bloody, breaking bodies. Though, with the way its face was built, you couldn't really tell whether it was or not. "Powers worthy of a lowly insect!" Giygas continued, letting loose another of its attacks of inexplicable psychic force. Still, the children managed to survive, healing themselves any way they could, either by psychic powers or a miracle balm.

"Ken! You alone, I may save." Giygas bellowed, trying to tempt the young hero, "I may save you, and you alone." Extending its outstretched needle-like hand, "Come… board our Mother Ship with me."

"Never!" Ken immediately replied, making his decision without a second thought. If he could, he would've spat in Giygas' face.

"Very well…" Giygas replied, enraged as it shot off another of its near-fatal psychic attacks, while Anna restored part of the entire team's fighting will with her own psychic powers. "…then, fall into a long sleep - to die along with your friends and these other ugly Earthlings!" Again, Giygas continued its most powerful onslaught of inexplicably powerful psychic attack. Still, the group continued to hang in there - healing yet again, always on the defensive.

"There has to be a way to stop him!" Anna said, almost ready to give up.

"Hang in there, guys!" Ken said.

"I don't know if I can…" Lloyd replied.

However, almost as if by divine intervention, or a dying hallucination, unaware to Giygas, a bright, shining light appeared before them like a vision of hope - Teddy, dressed in an all-white variation of his trademark outfit, appeared before his ailing friends.

"Guys, listen to me!" he said, in a voice that could only be heard by his three friends, "Remember what Maria said. He couldn't stand it when she sang him that lullaby." The non-verbal look on their faces said they understood. "Obviously, that song won't kill him, but it'll sure as Hell drive that son of a bitch insane!"

"It's worth a shot!" Ken said, barely audible, however Anna and Lloyd both clearly heard him.

"That's the sprit!" Teddy said, smiling, "Now, go get 'im, guys!" as he returned to the afterlife.

With that, Ken wearily staggered to his feet, much to Giygas' curiosity, Ken started singing…

~"Take A Melody"~…

If it could be discerned, the look on Giygas' face spoke volumes.

"Stop singing!" Giygas bellowed, firing off another of his psychic attacks - however, it was almost futile…

~"Simple As Can Be"~…

…Anna chimed in, making Giygas start to cringe.

"Stop Singing!" Giygas bellowed further, doing everything in its power to make these kids stop.

~"Give It Some Voice"~…

…Lloyd joined the small chorus, completing the trio in song.

"Stop!" Giygas bellowed, cringing, "Stop that singing!" Again, Giygas fired off another psychic blast, though they were starting to grow progressively weaker.

~"And Sweet Harmony"~…

With that, each one started in together…

"Stop It! Stop That Song!" Giygas yelled, starting to show that the song was taking effect.

"It's working, guys…" Anna said, taking a slight break into the song.

"Then keep going." Ken replied as he and his friends continued singing.

~"Raise Your Voices"~…

"You puny little Earth bugs!" Giygas swore, "Shut up, and Stop Singing!"

~"All Day Long, Now"~…

"That song…" Giygas said, starting to weaken further into insanity.

~"Love Grows Strong, Now"~…

"Stop It!" Giygas began pleading, but to no avail - even his psychic attacks were beginning to fade in strength.

~"Sing A Melody Of Love"~…

With that, Giygas started showing physical pain from the song's effects.

~"Take A Melody"~…

~"Simple As Can Be"~…

The trio starts to sing the song again, from the beginning, as Giygas was starting to become noticibly weaker and weaker by the verse.

"Stop…" Giygas pleaded, "…pleeease, stop!" Now, Giygas was almost in tears. However, the kids continued with their harmonious onslaught attack…

~"Give It Some Voice"~…

~"And Sweet Harmony"~…

Again, Giygas tried attacking, but by now, it was almost pointless…

Roaring in agony, the kids continued…

~"Raise Your Voices"~…

~"All Day Long, Now"~…

~"Love Grows Strong, Now"~…

~"Sing A Melody Of Love"~…

"… … … …" Giygas struggled to breath, before roaring, "How can I be defeated by a song like that?" Giygas weakly asked, "I will… return… one day… Ken. We shall meet again!" And with that, the cockpit closed as Giygas' ship blasted off to the stars. The battle was finally over - at least for the moment…

"…We did it…" Ken said, stunned at the sight of Giygas' escaping Mother Ship.

Suddenly, the trio burst out, whooping, hollering and celebrating their greatest victory with a renewed fever.

As the trio did their little 'victory dance,' Anna and Ken spontaneously grabbed hold of one another in an impromptu, and unconscious embrace. Discovering they were in this "situation" they (temporarily) stopped their celebrating, starring at each other in a stunned and embarrassingly shocking silence.

"Uh…" Ken stammers, suddenly avoiding her gaze to clear his throat, "We'll have to free those trapped adults…"

"Oh… that's right." Anna said, "Mommy's one of them…" rushing off, "Guys! Come on!"

After Lloyd looked at Ken, as if saying "You fool! You could've gotten lucky…" as he and Ken followed Anna back to the chamber.

Emerging from the caves of Mt. Itoi, Anna was finally reunited with her mother as the rest of the kidnapped Earthlings were freed as the entire adult population of Youngtown were finally reunited with their lonely children, who were more than overjoyed to have their parents back.

Back in Ellay, Teddy was given a hero's funeral. While the remaining members of the Black Blood Gang, without Teddy's leadership, shortly disbanded, only to be rounded up by the newly regrouped Ellay Police Force. The young heroes pleaded their late friend's case, on the grounds that since Teddy gave his life to save theirs, he should at least deserve some form of leniency for his crimes, while Ken and Anna sealed the deal with their unique form of 'mental persuasion' as Teddy was issued a full and unconditional pardon for his past crimes. With his name finally cleared, Teddy could truly rest in peace knowing that his and his parents' deaths have finally been properly avenged.

Meanwhile, back in Snowman, the gang finally starts to say their final goodbyes as they left Anna behind.

"I promise I won't forget you, so I won't say goodbye." Anna said, hugging Ken, "Just-" finally kissing him, "Until we meet again." She leaves him standing outside as she enters her chapel home, but not without stealing one last sorrowful glance at her two closest, and lifelong friends.

"Come on, Casanova." Lloyd said, dragging a catatonic Ken along, "The sooner we leave, the better."

"Yeah, I guess…" Ken replied, looking back.

As for Lloyd, he and his father returned to Merrysville to a hero's welcome. While at Twinkle Elementary School, Lloyd was no longer picked on and called degrading names by his classmates - he now, finally, had the respect he (along with everyone else) so rightfully deserves.

"Stay cool, Lloyd." Ken said, getting ready to teleport home, "And, please… promise me you'll stop hiding in trashcans!"

Laughing, Lloyd replied, "I promise, Ken." as he smiled and waved into the distance as Ken zoomed out of sight.

Returning home, alone, Ken was glad to see his mother and sisters eagerly waiting for him at the door to finally return. Machoness aside, Ken dropped what he was carrying and ran into their collective embrace.

"Ken," his mother said, "your sisters and I are so happy to see you back in one piece."

"You don't know the half of it, Mom." Ken said, almost in tears, grateful to finally be home.

"It's unbelievable that you're not hungry." she said, looking him over as all four of them (along with Mick the dog) went inside.

After dinner that evening, where he was treated to his mother's grilled steak, Ken, dressed in his most comfortable pair of pajamas, rests in his own bed for the first time in (what felt like) forever…

"Well," he tells himself, "Now that the Earth's crisis is over, I think I'll just lay down for a moment and *zzzzzz*" It didn't take a second to fall asleep after his head hit the pillow…

SNOWMAN

a week later…

At the Snowman Chateau, Mrs. Thompson (who has already returned to her role as a minister's wife) walks in with the daily mail, shifting through the envelops until she finds a letter addressed to their daughter.

"Anna, dear!" her mother calls up the stairs to their "penthouse parsonage." (the attic of the chateau chapel converted into a small two-bedroom apartment - blocked off by a lone door marked "Private" - which was often only closed at night and during the Sunday Services.)

"Yes, Mother?" she asked, heading downstairs.

"You have mail." she said, handing her a single letter. Noticing a huge smile on her face, she asks, "Well, don't leave me in suspense, Dear. Who's it from? Yoshie?"

"No! It's from Ken!" Anna said, beaming.

"Isn't he that boy…?" her mother asked.

"Yes!" Anna replied, swooning, "Oh, Mom, I miss him so much. I hope we can get together again." She runs upstairs to her bedroom in a half-dreamlike state of mind.

"Ah… young love." her mother said, before continuing with the church's housework.

AREA UNKNOWN

another week later…

A middle-aged man, hunched over a payphone to the point where, looking at him from behind, you could only see his dark brown trench coat, fedora, the leg cuffs of his dark trousers and his shined, buffed dress shoes, as he holds an overstuffed briefcase in his right hand and the payphone's receiver close to his ear with his left. Dismayed, all he hears over the phone was a seemingly endless ringing…

"I know that boy's home." the man said in a hushed tone, "Come on, Son and answer the phone!" he silently pleaded, "Something new has come up, and…"

THE (LIVING) END…?