The Witch Returns
rating: +17+x

“YOU SON OF A BITCH!” Alina shouted as she kneeled over Siggy, barely able to breathe on the ground. “SHE FUCKING DID AS YOU ASKED!”

Clef’s face returned to seriousness once again, cold and calculating- yet the insanity still remained his cold blue eyes, now resembling a calving glacier more than any other. “I planned it from the start.” He smiled. “Don’t be so… dramatic.”

“I…” Siggy tried to speak. “Please… let them live…” Despite her attempts at healing herself, the wound dealt by Clef’s crimson sword remained unable to knot itself together.

“My,” Clef said, swinging his sword at the air. “Now you resemble Lana. Poor… Lana. How ironic.”

Siggy gave a strangled squeak at the mention of Lana’s name, wheezing as she tried to cry.

“Stop it. Please help her, Clef.” Robo pleaded, taking Siggy into his arms. “Help her, I beg you!”

“And why would I do that?” Clef said. “I’m the killer of reality benders. The challenger of gods. The burner of witches.” He laughed again, maniacally. “Or so they tell me. I was just sent to clean up the skips that were too troublesome to FUCKING CONTAIN!”

At that Robo’s expression began to hold a tinge of fear. “Please,” His voice was pitiful, weak. “Help her. Kill me, but help her!”

“Didn’t you hear me the first time?” Clef said, kneeling down to equal Robo’s height. “There’s nothing outside. There never will be. My purpose for you is gone…” He breathed. “… and there is no more reason for me to let you live.”

He shot a look at Alina. “Same with you, traitor. To think I tolerated your fucking presence for the last three years.”

Alina gritted her teeth. “Why won’t you get it done and over with, Clef? You said your damn self that you ain’t gonna let us live.” She started to shout. “So be fucking done with it!”

Clef breathed, a smile on his face. “Villains pontificate, Alina. They monologue about their victories, they reveal their evil plans.” He chuckled again. “But fine, let me indulge your request. I didn’t say I was a barbarian, did I?” He shot a look at Chancey, who still stood frozen among the ranks of the soldiers. “Start the reality anchor again. I will not take chances.”

Chancey looked at Clef with a vacant look on his face. He didn’t reply- he only stared.

“Son of a bitch.” Alina said, gritting her teeth. “He has us right under his feet.”

Robo looked at her, hunched pitifully over Siggy. “What… what can we do?”

“I don’t know,” Alina admitted. Her face was angry, frustrated, stubborn. “But I’m not going to die without a fucking fight.”

She turned to stand up, but Siggy held her down. “Al… ina.” She wheezed. “Please.”

Alina looked at the girl fighting for her life beside her, and closed her eyes. “I…”

Ahead of them, Clef was shouting at Chancey. “I SAID GO!

Chancey looked at Clef, his eyes wide. “But… there’s no point. Can’t we just…”

At that, Clef seized Chancey by the collar, throwing him to the side and in the direction of the anchor room. Chancey staggered on unsteady feet. “But… Doctor Clef…”

”HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Clef laughed, maniacally crying out as his insanity forced itself to the fore once again. “Is the little McMillan scared?”

Chancey began to stutter. “I-I-“

“You’re the only other one here that can operate it, little Chancey!” Clef said, his voice high and frayed. “Go, now!”

Behind them, Alina’s face changed as she concentrated. “Here it is.” She said.

Robo looked at her with a desperate warning tone. “Alina, don’t-“

“GO!” Clef shouted, pushing Chancey in the direction of the anchor room. “Do as your bitch of a father trained you to. GO!”

At the mention of his father, Chancey’s eyes widened. He looked back in the direction of the anchor room, and began to slowly walk that way, tenuously putting one foot in front of the other.

”AHAHAHAHA!” Clef laughed again. “Go! FASTER!”

Chancey looked back at him with a mix of grief and fear, walking to the anchor room at a faster pace.

Alina watched as he continued-

And before Robo could react, she ran.

She covered two dozen feet in the space of several seconds, careening into Chancey and throwing him off-balance. Then, before Clef could react, she pinned Chancey in a chokehold, pointing her gun at Clef.

“NO ONE FUCKING MOVE!” Alina said, desperation creeping through her voice. “NO ONE MOVE!”

Ahead of her, the dozens of soldiers from the Front watched, unable to decide on what to do. Many of them watched in frozen silence, others murmured to themselves, while some drew their arms out in an attempt to dissuade Alina from doing something foolish.

No one raised their guns yet, however- and for Alina, that was a good sign.

“Stubborn, as fucking always.” Clef muttered under his breath. Then, he raised his voice to a bellow. “WHAT’S YOUR GOAL, WOJCIK?! KILL THE BOY YOU RAISED FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS?”

Alina grinded her teeth. She heard the sound of her teeth chipping under the pressure. In her arms, Chancey tried in vain to free himself. When his strength gave, he tried to speak a response. “Please… Ma’am Wojcik. S-Stop.”


Slowly, the futility of her resistance dawned on Alina. Her lips began to quiver. Her legs began to shake.

But she would not take this lying down.


In her hands, the gun she pointed at Clef began to shake, too. “THERE’S NO NEED FOR ANY OF THIS! LET US OUTSIDE! WE’LL TAKE OUR CHANCES!”

Clef watched in silence.

Then, the beginnings of another smile began to show on his face.

A moment passed.

”HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Clef laughed, ridiculing Alina’s desperate bargain. ”HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” He wiped the tears from his face, looking at her like he dared her to do what she threatened to do.

“I’m sorry Alina, I can’t do that!” He grinned again. “Go ahead. Shoot me!”

Alina looked at him, unsure. Her voice shook. “Don’t try to-“

“I SAID…” Clef began to bellow. “SHOOT ME!”

Alina looked at him, fear showing plainly on her face. She had nowhere else to go, and nothing else to do.

“Please… Ma’am…” Chancey spoke. “Stop this! He’ll… give you a second chance.”

“No way,” Alina muttered in Chancey’s ear. “No way.”


Alina stared at him.

Then, she closed her eyes.

Her finger closed around the trigger.

And she pulled it.

Click. The pistol said.

In that moment, Alina’s eyes widened.

Then, seizing the chance, Clef threw his sword back into the aether, turned to the discarded Insurgent gun at his feet, and aimed it at her.

Seeing the little chance she had of survival, Alina threw Chancey to the side.

Then, Clef fired.

The staccato rhythm of gunfire sounded out across the room. The Insurgency and Foundation soldiers alike could only watch as bullets ripped through Alina Wojcik’s body, causing her to stagger back.

A splitsecond after, the gunfire ended.

Alina stood upright, paralyzed. A dozen holes had been made across her body, and not enough time had even passed for them to bleed.

“I-“ Alina squeaked, attempting to say something even as her lungs collapsed. “I…”

Then blood began to fall from her mouth, and she fell to the ground, dead- unable to even rasp her last words.

Another moment of silence passed.

“A… Alina.” Robo muttered, unable to process the scene before him. “No.”

“Alina!” Siggy wailed with all the volume she could muster, crying even as she fought to breathe. “Alina!”

Beside Alina’s body, Chancey watched in stunned silence, looking in disbelief as his mentor bled out on the ground.

Then, he began to shout. “NOOOOO!” He screamed, his voice desperate and mourning.

Clef lowered the barrel of his gun. His smile was gone now, and only the focused expression of a killer remained.

“Huh.” He muttered coldly, with the detachment of a researcher. “I’d assumed she’d put up more of a fight.”

“You son of a bitch.” Robo murmured under his breath. “YOU SON OF A BITCH!”

Clef chuckled. “No matter. You'll be dead soon, anyways.”

Then, suddenly, from behind him sprung an angered Chancey, throwing a punch at Clef’s face.

With a trained motion, Clef immediately ducked, taking out Chancey’s legs from under him with a sweep of his feet.

Immediately, Chancey hit the ground with an audible thud, face-first.

“Ah,” Clef said. “So the little puppy does have teeth after all.”

With his foot, he turned Chancey over.

“F-fuck… you.” Chancey said, his nose broken and some of his teeth gone. “Fuck you.”

Clef smiled. “Shut up.”

With a stone-cold kick, he struck Chancey in the side of the head, knocking him out instantly.

“Ah,” Clef said, dusting his hands. “That was nice and quick.”

Robo gritted his teeth. He looked down at Siggy.

Despite her repeated attempts to heal, her efforts remained in vain- though her bleeding from the gash on her chest had ceased, she still had a difficult time breathing.

“Robo…” Siggy rasped. “Robo.”

Robo hewed his ear closer to Siggy’s mouth. “What is it?” He asked.

“Leave… me.” She tried to breathe in. “Please.”

In front of them, Clef sighed. “I’ve wasted enough time beating around the bush.” He dropped the gun in his hands, and again summoned his crimson blade.

He took a step in their direction.

“No.” Robo responded, looking down at Siggy. “I won’t leave you. No way in hell.”

Clef took another step. “Make your decision, SCP-2006.” He said the word with as much menace as could be possible.

“You won’t… survive.” Siggy said again. “Leave me behind… please. For your sake.”

Inside his helmet, Robo’s voice began to shake as tears flowed down his cheeks. “N-no! I won’t!”

Clef was rapidly closing in. “Looks like you’ve made your decision.” He began to raise his sword. He was only steps within striking distance.

He came to a stop. The sword was high above his head now, as Clef made ready to bring it down.

“Leave.” Siggy said. “LEAVE!”

Robo looked up, then down at Siggy.

Then, in that moment, he made a decision.

”RAAAGH!” Robo screamed, as he began to grow. In an instant, his skin began to turn red and slippery, his helmet morphing into a long eyeless maw. Long and mismatched teeth grew out of its jaw, as his hands began to grow into great and elongated claws.

As Clef brought the sword down, the claws of SCP-939 deflected it away, causing him to stagger back a few feet.

Drawing low, Robo the Monster roared, his breath clouding Clef’s mind as he breathed it in.

But Clef was trained- and as he stepped back, he shook the effects of the amnestic breath away.

“Alright, 2006.” Clef said. “Let’s play it that way.”

Robo roared again, and as he did, Clef charged, laughing as he did.

Clef made his first strike with a high scream- and as he swung, Robo swatted it away with his claw, forcing him back.

Robo made a counterstrike, roaring into the air as he swiped with his claws. Clef deftly dodged it, and made another strike against Robo’s back, landing on flesh as the sword made its mark.

Robo shrieked as the sword wounded him, yet even as Clef’s sword exited his flesh, his wounds began to knot together- though a bit slower than before.

”STttOOoooOPPPppp IIiiTTt!” Robo shouted as he turned. ”LEAAaaAVvE USSssS BBbBEeeeEEEE!”

Another burst of amnestic breath pummeled Clef, causing him to retreat as his mind began to fray. He made it seven feet before Robo swiped him off his feet, tearing large scratches in his legs as he fell to the ground.

Clef fell face-first into the concrete, yet as Robo began to run towards him, claws up in the air, he made a deft roll across the ground, striking against Robo’s abdomen.

“AAAAaaaAAAAaa!” Robo shouted, a distortion of his own voice.

Again, the flesh began to knot itself together as Clef’s sword left it, but as it did, he made another strike against Robo’s leg, causing his leg to audibly snap.

Robo made another clumsy swipe against Clef- another attack which the experienced assassin dodged with moments to spare. Raising the sword again, he chopped off Robo’s foot, causing him to scream into the air.

Robo made another swipe against him, clipping his shoulder, but Clef was already making his attack. Limping to the front of Robo’s present form, he made ready to strike against his neck-

But as he let the blade fall, Robo dodged, running in the opposite direction as Clef. As he did, he began morphing into something else entirely- a beast nine-feet tall and with beady eyes, its face a grotesque parody of a human’s. It was SCP-3199.

“COWARD!” Clef shouted as Robo ran, his chopped off leg already regenerating as he retreated.

Given a moment of respite, Clef wiped the sweat from his brow, readying to make another slash as Robo ran in a circle around him.

“FIGHT ME NOW, 2006!” Clef shouted. “I DARE YOU!”

In the distance, about a dozen feet away, Robo could only scream in response, the ear-piercing shriek causing the soldiers around him to shrink away as they watched.

Clef was nearly unfazed, yet as he staggered back to his wounded feet, Robo made a quick dash against him, his maw open as the multiple tiny and sharp teeth of Robo’s 3199 form showed themselves.

Too fucking slow. Clef thought as Robo attacked.

Resorting to the same tactic that he used six years ago, Clef exposed his left shoulder while jerking his sword-arm away, causing Robo’s jaws to close on his arm as he screamed in pain.

Sparing no time, Clef brought his blade down on Robo’s neck- tearing away another long gash in his flesh.

Robo staggered away, screaming into the air as he did so, but the blow was far from enough to kill him.

Clef made ready again as Robo retreated, the wound on his neck taking several seconds to heal- a marked decrease from the speed of his healing factor only half a minute before.

Staggering forward, Clef ignored the growing pain in his wounded legs and arm, shifting into a ready position yet again as Robo ran in circles around him.


His eyes followed Robo as he waited for his wounds to heal, shrieking in regular intervals as he did.

Then, without warning, Robo charged again, letting out an ear-piercing screech as he dashed towards Clef.

12 feet. Clef thought.

6 feet. Robo was closing in.

3 feet. He was nearly within striking distance.


As Robo snapped at him, Clef made another strike against his face, taking out one of Robo’s eyes as the blade continued in its path.

Robo gave another shriek, and before he could react, Clef made another strike against his neck.

The blade met flesh with a terrifying schlick, causing blood to splatter in the air as Robo continued running, then slowing down, then staggering as the full effects of the wound were made clear.

“GIVE UP, ROBO!” Clef said. He felt the pain in his limbs more now- but he was already so close to victory.

Robo shrieked in response, but it was weak- far from the loud sound that had emanated from him just seconds ago.

“I know you’re weak, you son of a bitch.” Clef muttered. “GIVE UP NOW, AND YOU MIGHT LIVE!”

“NNNNNNOT, YEEEEET!” Robo responded, his voice high and screeching. “NNNNNOOOOOT YEEEEET!”

Clef winced as he felt the burning pain coming from his wounds. He gritted his teeth- Just one more strike, he thought. Just one more strike and he’s gone.

Clef’s assessment was, in many ways, correct- as Robo stood two dozen feet in front of him, the new wound on his neck was taking more than ten seconds to fully heal over. He was panting as well, as if he was being sapped of the energy to fight.

“GIVE UP!” Clef called out. “GIVE UP NOW, ROBO!”


Clef found himself chuckling as he watched. “You're desperate. You're stubborn. You're weakening.” He muttered. “Give up.”

He wiped the blood off his sword with a flourish, ignoring the pain shooting up from his left shoulder as he did. The old wound from six years ago pained him just as much- another remembrance from Robo.

He looked up, and found Robo staring just across from him, his beady chicken eyes watching him as his wound began to close up.

From the pits of Robo’s throat, a low voice came.

“Youuuu. Firssssst.”

Suddenly, Clef felt the impulse to laugh.

”HAHAHAHAHAHA!” Clef cackled, watching as Robo shrieked in anger. He pointed in front of him, pain shooting up his body again as he did. “GIVE ME YOUR LAST FUCKING SHOT!”

Robo, panting with the effort of healing, obliged.

Unexpectedly, Robo began to shrink, going from his nine foot tall chicken form to one far smaller, taking three feet of his height in seconds. His grotesque head began to shift and shape itself, going from a horrifying maw to something all too familiar.

Icy blue eyes stared at Clef, but they contained nothing of his insanity, his focus, or his experience- if anything, they contained fear.

Twelve feet away, Robo had turned into a replica of Clef himself, and as his transformation completed, Clef saw a long crimson sword spring from his hand and harden.

”HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” Clef laughed again. “You were scared of me? All this time and you wanted nothing but to get away?”

Robo, in the form of Clef, bit his lip. Fear was obvious in his expression, and already Clef could tell that he was exhausted.

Robo started, his breaths labored. “Your… move.”

Clef twirled the sword in his hands. “So you do have a weakness after all, don’t you?”

“Your…” Robo’s voice had lowered to a growl. “MOVE!”

Clef smiled. “I exist…” He lowered himself as he prepared to sprint. “…to serve.”

Ignoring the pain in his limbs, Clef charged, sword in the air, screaming his battlecry. Though he already had numerous injuries, his experience, focus and insanity all together propelled him forward, determine to end his enemy once and for all.

Opposite him, Robo charged as well, sword placed in front of him in a way that would not be dissimilar to how one would use a pike. His exhaustion gave itself away with every step as he quickly advanced, though he knew that failure wasn’t an option.

”HAHAHAHAHAHA!” Clef cackled as he closed the distance, raising his sword above him with his right hand. ”HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

“AAAAAAAAAAAA!” Robo roared as he dashed forward, raising his sword above him as well.

A distance away, Siggy could only helplessly watch as her fate hung in the balance. Her breaths were less labored now, her wheezing less severe, but she could only stay still even as she willed herself to stand up.

Fifteen feet.

Ten feet.

Five feet.

Then, at the moment that would decide everything, Clef brought his sword first.

Robo raised his sword up to parry.

Clef broke through his guard almost immediately, and as he did, he brought the blade swinging down into Robo’s chest.

Just like before, the sword slashed through Robo’s torso, but unlike before, he did not heal. He was at his limit.

He fell to the ground, far more weakened than before, spitting blood on the ground as he struggled to breathe. As he did, his likeness of Clef receded, and soon only Robo was there- injured, wounded, raising his hand as Clef lifted his sword above his head again with finality.

“Clef,” Robo said, gasping. “Please.”

Clef smiled. He had tasted the thrill of the kill before.

“No!” Siggy gasped. “Please!”

Clef made no indication that he heard her. Instead, he spoke again, savoring the words as they passed through his lips a second time.

“Shut up,” Clef began. “You son of a bitch.”

Siggy’s eyes went wide. As Clef brought the sword down, it was as if life had gone into slow motion.

She saw Robo’s eyes, wide and terrified. She saw the blood making its way past his lips. She saw Clef’s triumphant smile of glee. The glint of crimson from the blade in his hands. The wounds on his legs and shoulders.

Robo was going to die.

And at that instant, Siggy was reminded of something that Lana said, nearly an eternity ago.

“That’s it,” Clef declared, rolling up the blueprint on the table. “Is everything clear?”

All around the tent, everyone nodded.

There was Alina, determined and focused. Alive.

There was Chancey, full of misgivings, his arms crossed against his chest. Unharmed.

There was Robo, nodding yet worried for the mission to come. Safe.

There was Bothild in Alina’s arms, curious at what the adults around her were doing. Innocent.

And finally, there was Lana, watching silently, her eyes losing their light. Dying.

Clef took the rolled-up blueprint off the table and put it at his side. “We begin the mission in half an hour.” He turned to Alina and Chancey. “Relay my orders to the reserves. Tell them to dress up, arm themselves, and make ready for the signal.”

Chancey nodded, and so did Alina, walking out of tent and out of sight.

Clef turned to Robo next. “Keep yourself strong. I don’t want you to freak while we’re on the mission.”

Robo scoffed, folding his arms. “I won’t. You can promise me that.”

Then, finally, Clef turned to Siggy. “Stick to Robo. And for God’s sake, stay away from McMillan.” A ghost of a smile colored his face. “You may be kids, but keep your fucking hands of each other.”

At that, he turned to go. Robo turned to follow, but then stopped.

“Hey,” Robo said, calling out to Siggy. “You coming?”

Siggy responded. “Yeah, wai-“

“She’s with me.” Lana interrupted. “I’ll talk with her awhile.”

Robo looked at her, surveying her expression in silence. Then, he turned to Siggy. “Make sure you come out soon, alright?”

Siggy nodded. “Of course.”

And with that, Robo turned to leave, making his way outside of the tent.

Siggy looked at Lana. “Why did you ask me to stay?” She said, her tone gentle.

Lana coughed. More blood came out of her mouth, which Siggy wiped off with her good hand.

She smiled. “Just some last reminders before you go.”

Siggy placed her hands in her pockets. “Why?”

Lana coughed again, and smiled weakly. She was getting paler by the minute.

“Listen to me, alright?” Lana said. “I know I don’t have much time. It might be too late when you get back.” She chuckled, but even that devolved into a coughing fit.

She breathed in again, wheezing as she did so, and continued. “Clef is… pragmatic. When you’re out there, once you’re done with what you do, don’t do anything to provoke him. No unnecessary magic, alright?”

Siggy nodded, though she already felt concerned.

Lana breathed in again. “Keep Bothild safe, please.” The look on her eyes was pitiful and pleading. “I don’t want her to be raised to seek revenge. I… I don’t want her to be a soldier like I became. I want her to be smart. Precocious. I want her to be kind. Do that for me, will you?”

Siggy nodded again. “Lana, I-“

“No.” Lana said, interrupting. “They’ll call you soon.” She coughed again. “When you go on the mission, always remember that even when you can think it, speak it. Are you listening to me?”

“Lana…” Siggy shook her head. “What does this mean?”

“I’m telling you what I know from when I raised you. Just remember it, please.” She coughed again. “Even when we were just reading, even when I told you stories… you loved to tell stories. Keep speaking, Siggy. That’s why we taught you your spells, so that you would remember. It’s for your own-“

Then, from outside, the heard the sound of a horn- low, mournful. Then, a voice. Alina’s. “A’ight! Rollcall! Everyone listen up!”

Siggy looked in that direction, then she turned to Lana. “I have to-“

“I know.” Lana’s tone had grown frustrated. “I know, but just remember, alright? Come back for me.” She coughed again, then chucked weakly. “I guess I’d… waited for you. For all this time. I’d waited for this moment to come.”

Siggy looked at her, and her expression softened. Her eyes already threatened tears.

With one motion, she hugged Lana, and it was then and there that she felt how weak she was- her body felt hard, thin and bony, not like the woman she’d embraced for all those years.

“I would also like to request the presence of ‘Sarah Wayne’!” Alina shouted outside. “Please come out of your tent, your father wishes to see you.”

With that, Siggy rushed to leave, then stopped.

She looked at Lana one final time. It was then that she realized the weight of Lana’s words.

“I’ll…” She was tearing up. “I’ll miss you, Lana.”

Lana smiled weakly. Siggy could tell she was holding back tears. “I’ll miss you too…”


The light in her eyes was already steadily retreating when Siggy left her. Ten minutes after, she would be gone forever.

”STOP IT NOW!” Siggy shouted with all her might, no matter how much it hurt, and for that one moment reality obeyed her will.

Clef’s blade slowed as it fell towards Robo’s head, then came to a stop.

The blood from Alina’s body stopped flowing.

Chancey lay frozen on the ground, his expression unmoving.

Robo looked up at Clef with fear on his face, watching his impending end.

“Speak it,” Siggy rasped. “Speak it, even when I can think it.”

Then her mind went back to Floor -24, and the words Seth taught her.

“Heqat to summon,” She recounted, breathing heavily. “A’max for fire. Khe-fa to punch.”

She gritted her teeth. She had no idea if what she had in mind was going to work.

But she had to try.

“Heqat…” She breathed in. “HEQAT, STRENGTH!”

At once, strength returned to her limbs and lungs, and she found herself breathing a little bit easier.

She put out her arm to help her stand up, but it gave from under her. Gritting her teeth again, she chanted another spell.


In that moment, her bones felt stronger than ever before, allowing her to use her bad arm to keep her up.

Then, unsteadily, she willed her knees to place themselves on the ground, putting her in the position to stand.

But she couldn’t. Her legs were still too weak to lift her, her lungs too labored to keep her up for long.

Ignoring the pain in her chest, she shouted once again.


With one unsteady push, she let her legs lift her to her feet, even as they trembled with weakness.

She willed herself to go one step.

Then another.

And then another.

“Heqat strength,” she chanted after each step. “Heqat strength.”

Soon, each step was easier than the last, allowing her to stagger in the direction of the frozen Clef and Robo even as the pain in her chest flared.

Then, she came to a stop a few feet to their side, and made ready to cast her final spells.

But then a hum buzzed through the air, and a voice rang out.

“You…” Clef said with much difficulty, fighting through the stop in time as his innate properties asserted themselves. “You actually… stopped… time?”

“Yes,” Siggy declared, breathing heavily. “But… how…?”

Clef chuckled. It was restrained, and made with much difficulty. “I… am resistant to reality bending, don't you know?” He tried to chuckle again. “I’m a god killer, remember?”

Then, suddenly, Siggy watched with wide-eyes as he moved his sword down at the fraction of an inch, towards Robo’s frozen face.

Clef let out a sound of gasping effort as he forced it down. “AAAAGH!”

“Stop it, please.” Siggy pleaded. “Stop it!”

Clef laughed more easily now, his insanity again pushing itself to the fore.

“No. No. Not while I still breathe. If it’s the last thing I do…”

He brought the sword ever more closer to Robo’s face, until nothing but an inch separated the blade from flesh.

“I will make sure this… fight… is… DONE!

Siggy felt herself trembling as she watched. “No. No. NO!”

Clef pushed against her powers ever further, bringing his blade closer, and closer, and closer.

Siggy shook with anger, with fear, with surprise.

"Enough." She growled, her eyes beginning to glow.

Then, she let it all burst.

“KHE-FA!” Siggy shouted as a blast of force struck Clef in the side, eliciting a long scream as he slowly began to be lifted off his feet.

“A’MAX!” Siggy screamed, which summoned a fire ball from her hands that hit Clef in the torso, burning past flesh and bone in slow motion.

“AAAAAAAAAGH!” Clef screamed as the pain slowly made its way to him. “AAAAAAAAAAAGH!”

But Siggy was not yet done. Her lips shook as she heard it, but she couldn't stop. She shouldn't.

“KHE-FA!” She shouted again, pummeling Clef and snapping bone.

“A’MAX!” She said, as another burst of fire scorched Clef’s face, searing away skin and cartilage.

“KHE-FA!” She screamed once more, causing his bones to snap in slow-motion, allowing him to experience every moment of agony.

“AAAAAAAAGH!” Clef roared in pain, no longer able to push the sword further down. “NO, STOP-“

Siggy ignored him. She didn’t plan to stop.

“A’MAX!” Clef’s ribs began to crackle and snap with the heat.

“KHE-FA!” His legs snapped, finishing what Robo had begun.

“A’MAX!” Not much remained of his face, scorched as it was.

And yet Clef still spoke.

”HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” He shouted, unable to do any more than laugh. ”HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

“DO YOUR WORST, SIGGY!” He said, taunting her. ”HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Siggy could only watch in horror as he continued to laugh, but then gritted her teeth as she fought past the pain to cast her final spell.

“KHE-FA!” Siggy shouted, investing all her pain and will into the last spell.

Then, with an audible snap! Clef’s neck broke from the rest of his spine, killing him instantly.

But still, he continued to laugh.

And laugh.

And laugh.

Siggy’s eyes widened, and then she spoke again.

“GO!” She shouted, and with her word, time resumed.

All at once, the spells she cast on Clef made their marks, casting his body to the floor, burning and scorching. Nothing recognizable remained, and the smell of burnt flesh and ashen bone was high in the air.

From the ruin of Clef’s scorched body, the crimson blade fell, clattering to the floor.

But Siggy didn’t care.

She rushed forward to Robo, kneeling in front of him.

Robo turned to her. Recognition and astonishment was obvious in his expression.

“Siggy…?” Robo rasped, smiling weakly. “But how-“

Bleeding from the wound in his torso, Robo fell forward into Siggy’s arms.

Siggy held him tight.

“I’m here, Robo.” Siggy said, wrapping both her arms around him. Tears flowed down from her eyes. “You know I’m here.”

“What… happened?” Robo murmured into his ear. “S… Siggy?”

“Shh.” Siggy said, hushing him. “I’m here.”

“Take me outside,” Robo said. “Please.” He breathed in. “I wanna see the outside before I die.”

“You’re not gonna die,” Siggy said, her voice trembling, but even she knew it was a lie. “Trust me, Robo.”

“Take me outside…” Robo said, slurring through his words. “Siggy. Please.”

Siggy bit her lip. “Robo, we might…”

“Please, Siggy.” He murmured. “I want you to see what I promised you… all those years ago.”

Siggy looked at him with pity, and with a concerted effort, wrapped Robo’s arms around her shoulder.

Then, with her good hand fastening his arm to her body, they took a tenuous step.

Then another.

And another.

All around them, both Insurgent and Foundation soldier alike could only watch in enraptured silence as Siggy and RoboMonkey made their final walk- to the edge of the hallway, and to the outside.

“Thank you…” Robo said as they slowly walked on towards the large door at the end of the corridor. “Thank you so much.”

Moments passed, and with each moment, they took another step.

For Siggy, nothing mattered but that.

They came to a stop at the edge of the door. On the wall beside it, there were only two buttons.

Siggy pressed one, and with a rumble that seemed to threaten the silence that had settled over the rest of Floor 0, the door moved up.

The outside world was within reach.

The first thing that Siggy noticed was the light.

It was great and blinding, and she put up her bad hand up to shelter herself from it.

Yet when she lowered it, she was greeted with a sight that she had never seen before in her life.

Mountains dominated the landscape that surrounded the entrance to the Site. The land around them seemed to stretch for miles and miles and past forever, to where no man could explore.

In the distance, Siggy could see trees- large trees that populated the land around them in copses. Small trees that stood all alone. Forests that seemed to encompass much of the land. Grass populated the ground beneath them, swaying with the breeze.

Far past all that, Siggy could discern the grey ruins of what must’ve been buildings- far greater than anything she’d ever seen in Greattown! Before it, rivers spanned across the width and breadth of the world, going into lakes that were larger than even the forests.

At the sight, Siggy could only smile.

“We’re here, Robo.” She said. “We’re outside.”

Beside her, Robo could only smile as well.

“We are.” He chuckled weakly. “We did it, Siggy. We did it. We’re outside!”

“Look, Robo.” Siggy said, awe in her voice, pointing at the distance. “Great forests. Beautiful lakes. Rivers that stretch across the horizon. We… we made-“

“STOP!" A familiar voice said from behind them. "Stop right there.”

Eyes wide, Siggy turned around.

As she did, she found the scared form of Chancey, a rifle pointed straight at them.

“Please,” Siggy said, raising her arms into the air. “Chancey. Let us go.”

“You think I’d just do that?” Chancey said, tears in his eyes. Behind him, she could hear a great many footsteps dashing in his direction. “Y-you killed everyone who was dear to me. There’s nothing in this world that will satisfy me more…”

He reloaded the gun in his hand. “Than killing you.

The footsteps were getting closer now. Soldiers? Insurgents?

She heard shouts of warning and alarm as well. Chancey didn't seem to hear them.

“Please, Chancey.” Siggy said, pleading for her life. “Please, let us go.”

“NO!” Chancey said, screaming at them. “I will never rest. I will never stop. I will never die before I make sure you’re dead, Siggy.” He was trembling with anger as he spoke. “So stop now. Make this easy. I will make this cleaner then Clef did.”

“But why?” Siggy pleaded. “Why?!”

“You killed Ma’am Wojcik.” Chancey said, his voice filled with grief. “You killed my friends. You killed my dad. HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN THEM?!”

“I’m sorry.” Siggy said. “Chancey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, with Alina, with-“

“CLEF KILLED HER BECAUSE OF YOU!” Chancey shouted, the vein in his head seeming to almost pop as he screamed. “I WON’T FORGIVE YOU. NOT NOW, NOT EVER!”

In one instant, Chancey looked into his sights, and moved to pull the trigger.

Then, from behind him, a group of soldiers appeared, placing their hands on Chancey and trying to wrest the gun from his grasp. They were both Foundation and Insurgent alike- all trying to stop Chancey from dealing his final blow.

"No," Chancey shouted as he struggled. "NO!"

Then, the staccato sound of gunfire rung out through the air as Chancey pulled the trigger.

As he did, Siggy shouted one final spell. “KHE-FA!”

She saw the gun in Chancey's grip.

The wave of force erupting from her bad hand.

Then she felt Robo falling back.

And in that frozen, godforsaken moment… she fell with him.

All at once, the tranquility of the world fell apart.

She felt blood on her face.

She heard the sound of falling rocks.

Robo fell from her grasp.

She fell with him.

Everything was reduced to frames- one picture a second.





Soon, the great plains of the world were reduced to nothing but glimpses as they rolled down the incline from the Site.

Siggy felt pain all over her body- thorns struck her skin and rocks battered her limbs as she rolled and rolled and rolled down the hill, unable to stop.

It took an eternity before she finally fell for the last time, leaving her dazed and bruised in addition to the large gash across her chest.

But she didn’t care about that now. All she cared about was Robo.

“Robo?” Siggy murmured, waking back up to reality. “ROBO?!”

She looked around, and no one answered. Above her, the entrance to the Site had been completely covered with collapsed rock. Chancey was nowhere to be seen.

She felt the grains of dirt on her face- the same dirt that she’d felt during that fateful day at Greattown.

But she didn’t care. She needed to find Robo.

Staggering weakly to her feet, her hand pressed against the staunched and slowly wound on her chest, Siggy staggered down the hill.

She tried to find him.


Her best friend.


“ROBO?!” Siggy screamed. “ROBO?!” She pressed her good hand to her face. “WHERE ARE YOU?!”

Then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught something. Black. Red. White.

She rushed to him immediately, running down the hill and ignoring the burning pain that threatened to sear away her chest. She didn’t want it. All she wanted was to see if Robo was alright.

She found him seconds later, on the grass, bleeding profusely from several gunshot wounds on his torso.

They weren’t healing.

Something was wrong.

“Robo?!” Siggy said, rushing to his side, trying to press her hand against the wounds on his body, even when she knew that she was doing it in vain. “Please, stay with me. Stay with me, please!”

Robo’s eyes were open. His breaths were shallow.

And from his mouth came his last words.

“Look at the sky, Siggy. Look at the sky, my baby girl.”

He breathed in, and at once more blood caked his fur.

“Shut up!” Siggy said, screaming at Robo. “SHUT UP!”

He smiled at her- a weak smile, the smile of a dying man.

“I… I can’t hold on any longer, Sigg.”

There were tears in Robo’s eyes as he said it. He knew what was coming.

“You can!” Siggy shouted. “YOU CAN, ROBO! JUST HANG ON, PLEASE!”

Robo shook his head weakly. He was already struggling to breathe.

“Siggy, when I’m gone… when I’m gone, take care of yourself, alright?” He was choking as he said the words. “Please. For me.”

Siggy shook her head, gritting her teeth. “No. No. You’re fucking lying, no!”

“Remember to always control your magic. Keep it by your side, but never…” He coughed from within his helmet. She could hear the sound of fluid hitting the inside. “…never give it up.”

“You’re lying!” Siggy shouted. “YOU’RE FUCKING LYING, ROBO! YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME!”

Robo could only smile within his helmet, looking up at Siggy.

He reached a hand out, cupping her face.

“When I first met you, you were eight years old.” He said, trying his best to smile even when Siggy couldn’t see it. “Now, you’re fourteen and…” He choked on his tears again. “And you’re so damn big now.

He bit his lip. “Where did the sweet little girl go? Where did this beautiful, intelligent woman come from?”

“NO!” Siggy shouted, beating on the ground with her bad right arm. “Stop it, please. I can’t lose so much in one day. I can’t. I can’t!”

“You’ll have to.” Robo said, struggling to breathe. “You’ll have to.”

His head fell back. “Take care of yourself, alright?” His voice was getting weaker and weaker. “You’re more than my best friend, Siggy. I love you so much more than I can ever say. You will always be… my little baby girl.”

Siggy was stunned to silence, tears running down her cheeks as Robo looked at her one last time.

“Look at the sky, kid. I’ll…” He breathed. “I’ll be waiting for you there.”

And then he made one last breath, and he was gone.

Siggy held the voice recorder tightly in her good hand, tears flowing down from her face.

In front of her, a crude and unmarked gravestone sat atop a mound of earth. It was a large grave, seven feet long and two feet wide- just enough to fit a large monkey with a helmet full of nothing.

She bit her lip again for the second time in five minutes, sitting down next to the grave as she began to speak.

She pressed the record button.

“Hey, stranger.” Siggy said, a sad smile on her face. “You’d think I wouldn’t visit you after months, huh?”

She paused, then chuckled at nothing in particular.

“Thanks for asking how I am. I’m doing fine, honestly. The world outside is so much larger than anything we could have seen inside the Site. There’s so many wonderful things, that…”

She sniffed.

“It’s… a shame to enjoy it all without you.”

She smiled, waiting for a response from the unmoving grave beside her. After a few moments, she spoke again.

“After you left me, a group of good people found me. You’d have loved them so much, Robo. They… they are the nicest people I’ve ever met. Out here, there’s orchards and fish and meat beyond everything you can imagine. It’s nothing like Ulman or any of the folks from the Library ever told us about, but it’s a… simple life. You’d’ve loved it so much, Robo.”

“There are kids out here, adults, people who thrive on helping each other. Sometimes, I find myself missing the towns of Site 118. Some of the people. Some of the creatures that I’ve met. Iris and Stella. The doctor. The people at the Library.”

She chuckled.

“It was a magical place, in all honesty, though much of that magic was never good. It was fraught with dangers, with unseen evils, with…” Her voice turned bitter. “…death.”

She bit her lip again.

“We never got to bury Alina, Robo. Not Lana, either. Before Chancey shot… you, I tried to fight back with a khe-fa spell and… missed. It struck the rock at the entrance, and that started a whole cave-in that the others say might have destroyed the entire Floor.”

“…God, imagine Floor 0. The Front. Alina. Lana. Bothild. Even Chancey and Clef. All dead, all gone, buried under tons and tons of rock.”

She shook her head. “I can’t think about it myself.”

“Sometimes, I wake up and have a nightmare that I’m a murderer again because… I am. I killed Clef. I killed Chancey. I killed Bothild and Alina and all the soldiers and the Insurgents that were on Floor 0. I killed them all.”

She balled her good fist tightly, strengthening her grip on the recorder in her hand.

“In the end… I still ended up breaking my promises to you, Robo. I killed people. I got out of control. I ended up killing you too.”

She sighed, mixed parts guilt and frustration making it out into her voice.

“In the end, I just don’t think about it. When I’m out here, I try to breathe in the azure skies, just like you told me to. Those were your last words, weren’t they? Look at the sky?”

At that, she stood up, and all at once the beauty of the world exposed itself to her once more- the myriad of tiny huts in her village in the distance, the smoldering firepits, the beautiful copses of trees in the distance, the spectre of the coming tide from the sea.

“Well, the sky is just as beautiful as all this.”

In the distance, she saw people fishing, farming, foraging, doing whatever people did- and in that instant, she felt peace.

“Nothing beats the simplicity of the outside world. The beauty. The happiness. The camaraderie. They say the great apocalypse happened six years ago, when the monsters rose from the ground, but you wouldn’t know it. Everything’s lush, beautiful, fertile.”

She smiled bitterly. “Robo, if you’re listening to me right now, I hope you can see it too.”

She breathed in the fresh air. “We made it, Robo. My best friend. Dad. We made it count.” She looked up. “The sky’s beautiful today. I wish you could’ve seen it with me. I’ll always be your little baby girl, after all.”

“So, from Sarah Wayne to Rob Wayne, from Siggy to RoboMonkey, goodbye.”


The crimson blade in her hand glinted in the light.

It was an old sword- decades old at the very least, wielded by the greatest warriors of what had been the Foundation.

“I know that you’ll make me proud with it,” Her dad said as he handed it to her, his deep black eyes watching her with pride. “No other person can claim to wield it with the same focus and prowess as you do.”

The girl could only smile as she felt the blade’s hilt, testing its weight and twirling it around her fingers like the expert that she was.

She’d been training for this day since the time when the rocks came down on Floor 0. She’d been waiting to wield this sword since they found it during the reclamation, amongst all the dead bodies of those who weren’t able to run out in time.

She looked at her dad in front of her, and the permanent injuries to his spine and legs, contorting and breaking them beyond all use.

She knew her dad wanted to wield the sword himself, but as she watched her icy blue eyes in her reflection on the blade, she couldn’t be prouder of her continuing his dream.

“Remember what to use it for.” Her dad said, grinning with fatherly pride. “What do you use it for?”

“To kill who oppose us.” She said, meeting her eyes with her father’s. Though ten years only separated them, her adoptive father’s face was infinitely older. Wiser. Angrier.

“And who’s that?” Her dad asked. “Who opposed us the most?”

“The Witch.” She answered.

“And what must happen to the Witch?”

At that, she began to smile widely. “The Witch. Must. Die.”

As she said it, her dad roared with splendid laughter, leaning back on his wheelchair.

“I’m proud of you, Bothild.” Chancey McMillan said, his black beard stark against his face. “Make sure that she does.”

Bothild Trondeheim, seventeen years old, smiled.

“Of course, I will, dad.”

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