The Attack Begins, and I Ascend
rating: +19+x

Far above them, the bright light shone for miles around. The sirens wailed and wailed, unable to stop as settlers ran from one place to another in panic.

It was the hour of the doom of Greattown, though they did not know it yet.

Far inside the town, near its center, was the now ruined house of Doctor Lana Trondeheim, turned into rubble by an unforeseen explosion.

No one stirred from the ruin- not a sign of life, or even a hint of motion.

Then, suddenly, one of the collapsed shingles moved.

A hand sprung out, wounded and bloody, covered in dirt.

“Help!” A muffled voice shouted. “Help!”

A small boy, eleven years old in age, who had just come from the now collapsed tent that had been their mess hall, rushed to the scene.

“Hello?!” Chancey shouted, reaching for the exposed hand. “Ma’am?”

“McMillan!” The voice said in surprised relief. “Please help me out of here!”

“Chancey!” A voice shouted from behind the boy, and he turned to look at where it came from.

The sight of a burly, tall man greeted him, six feet tall and an able soldier.

“Dad!” Chancey shouted. “Someone’s trapped under here! I think it’s Doctor Trondeheim!”

“Trondeheim?” McMillan exclaimed in surprise. He rushed to the side of his son, then patted his waist. “Hold on, I’ll need your help for this!”

Chancey urgently followed, placing his hands on his father’s waist.

McMillan put both his hands on Lana’s outstretched one, then shouted. “PULL!”

Chancey gave a focused grunt of effort as he did, trying to pull on his father’s waist. McMillan pulled with him, trying to take the trapped doctor from underneath the rubble.

Then, steadily, her arm elevated an inch. Then two. Then three.

“Pull, son!” McMillan shouted, his teeth gritted with concentration. “PULL!”

Suddenly, all at once, they fell back, as Lana Trondeheim fell unto the surface of the rubble, covered in dirt, sweat and blood. There was a large head wound on her forehead, bleeding profusely as she slowly came to her feet.

“Doctor?” McMillan said, his tone concerned. “Do you need help-“

Lana gently pushed it away, then put both her hands to her mouth as she shouted.

“BOTHILD!” Tears again began to flow down her cheeks. “BOTHILD, WHERE ARE YOU?!”

No answer came. She turned around to the other side of what was the house, and began to shout again. “BOTHILD?! WHERE ARE YOU?!”

“We’re here!” shouted someone to her right. Lana turned, and found Alina, holding the small baby Bothild in her arms. Both were dirty and worse for wear, with Bothild crying with all her might, but didn’t seem to be harmed.

Lana rushed to Alina, taking the child into her arms. She hugged her close, crying with relief as she held her.

“Oh, my sweet baby.” Lana said, whispering into the bundle in her arms. “Oh my sweet little baby, I thought I’d lost you. I thought I’d lost you.”

“Ma’am!” McMillan said from behind her, standing stiff and still. “I apologize if I speak out of turn, but what happened?”

Lana looked at him, then her face turned hard.

She gestured with her head to the shining light above them, turning grey and green in the space of seconds.

“A skip made its way into Greattown.” She shot a glare at Alina beside her. “Status report?”

“Uh-“ McMillan didn’t seem to know what to do, and so he saluted instead. “Ma’am! Multiple Cs and a great number of unidentified skips are gathering outside as we speak. We do not know how to contain them. All conscript squads are in disarray, though Squad Tavish is already preparing themselves within the armory.” He looked at her. “Orders, ma’am?”

“They’re not attacking yet?”

“Negative, ma’am.”

Lana looked over her shoulder, then back at Alina. “Take Bothild and put her in the daycare. Organize your fucking Squad Wojcik and handle the evacuation efforts of those who can’t fight. Children at eleven and above are to be drafted into their respective cadet squads. Do it on the double, Scout.”

Alina saluted back, and urgently took the child from her mother’s arms. “Ma’am, yes, ma’am!” Then she rushed off, running to execute the orders she was given.

Lana turned to McMillan. “Get me a microphone. I’ll be at the walls.”

McMillan nodded, saluted silently, then rushed off as well, his son trailing behind him.

Lana looked up above her, where the radiant form of Siggy shone silently.

She gritted her teeth. Her eyes teared up.

“I should have been more fucking gentle.”


Ahead of Lana’s position on the watchtower, the endless sea of their enemies seemed to stretch for forever- they numbered a thousand at least, composed of a variety of chickens and small teddy bears of various compositions.

“It’s 1048…” She was trembling, both with barely hidden rage and barely contained fear. “I had 1048 all along and all it wanted was fucking Siggy.”

Even as she watched, more and more bears were forming out of thin air all around the settlement, worsening their chances by the minute.

Of the bears, many were of the variants she was familiar with- As formed their frontline, covered in a multitude of ears in the shape of a bear. She knew what they were for. Bs seemed to be scattered amongst the As, their bellies full with infantile arms, hands and feet poking out from the fabric. Cs, the bears made purely out of rusted metal, seemed to form the bulk of their army, which did not bode well for their chances of survival.

The variants she didn’t know of seemed to compose nearly half the army, and were far more diverse. She saw giant bears made out of paper, skinless bears on all-fours that seemed to growl with barely held-in aggressiveness, bears that had large leathery wings that seemed to stretch far into the air, bears that seemed to be made purely out of teeth, and so many more- it was as if 1048 had gained the means to create an endless army of its twisted designs.

She bit her lip as she remembered the green and grey light shining all around her.

Many of the bears seemed to be riding on the hundred instances of 3199 flooding in, each holding a spear made out of a wide variety of materials- bone, rusted metal, ivory, teeth- which seemed eager to impale their victims with their newfound weapons. Unlike the bears, which stood silently still, the baying cries of the chickens seemed to fill the air, competing with the noise that the siren made as it alerted everyone to the danger that they had come to be faced with.

At that exact moment, Lana knew that they would most likely all die.

Her left hand, which held the microphone, shook with fear.

Behind her, the many squads of the town’s conscripts- site security, doctors, staff and children alike- already gathered in ranks behind her, disciplined and ready.

They were being trained for use at the Front, for the war that raged on Floor 0- but now what training they had would be vital for their victory.

400 ready conscripts- against a thousand, maybe thousands, of bears and chickens.

Their chances were slim.

Lana neared her mouth to the microphone.

And then she began.

“Ten minutes ago- ten, terrifying, blood-curdling minutes ago, everything was normal. Supper had ended, our peace was said, and I was about to talk to an old…” She breathed in. “friend.

She pointed up, at the small sun that now shone right above their heads. “In a short amount of time, that friend, that little girl that we have spent three years finding, began her assault, rising into the sky and beginning the attack that we have come to face right now.”

“Right now, at this moment, our town- no, our survival- is threatened by the legions of bears that she has summoned, forged at her skip hands to slaughter all of us!”


“MA’AM, NO, MA’AM!” The conscripts yelled, their voice rising above the din of screams and wails.



“We are the Foundation! We die in the dark so that we can live in the light! We fight against that which we cannot understand, so that we can live in a world that we can!” Her voice rung out again, echoing amongst the deserted buildings of Greattown. “I ask you now, soldiers, WILL WE FIGHT?”

Their response was louder than anything they shouted before, outcompeting in volume the noise of their enemies.


She raised her fist in the air. “THEN FIGHT WITH ME!”

Everyone else raised it as she did. “WE WILL FIGHT WITH YOU!”

Lana smiled tiredly. “Good.” She pointed to her south. “Squads McMillan! Tavish! Han! Kim! Patel! Secure the east wall! Climb unto the houses for better line of sight. Do not fire until I say so!”

The respective squads saluted. “MA’AM YES MA’AM!” They then immediately rushed to their prescribed positions, assault rifles held proudly in their hands.

“Same for Squads Sim, Pole, Sanchez, Vehbi! Deploy on the north. Secure the gate, man the watchtowers, make sure nothing passes!”

Again the selected squads saluted, then left.

Similar squads were deployed to the west and the south, with a double compliment on the north gate, until there was nothing left except the children.

“Cadet squads!” Lana shouted. The children in question ranged wildly in age- eleven to seventeen, girls and boys, all scared. She remembered Siggy, and a chill went up her spine at the thought. “Guard the center! You will be in charge of the secondary fallback positions. Make sure not one skip gets to the teleporters and the daycare!”

“Ma’am, yes, Ma’am!” The kids yelled. Many of their helmets were too big for their heads- most of them had a hard time even holding their assault rifles. Little Chancey McMillan, the boy who found her body in the rubble, was among them, wide-eyed and terrified. Still, they ran- deploying on makeshift barricades that guarded the entrance to the great concrete tower at the center.

Lana turned back, watching as even more bears formed out of thin air, swelling their ranks by what must have been five hundred more.

Again, that thought pushed itself to the forefront of her mind.

You will never survive this.

She shook it away. She didn’t want to think about that now.

“Trondeheim. Give me a status report.” A stern voice said behind her.

She turned and found the all-too-familiar form of Alto Clef, fresh from teleporting in from Floor 0. Dirt colored his sharp cheeks, blood flowed down his head, yet still, his cold blue eyes went forward, focused, angry.

Lana gritted her teeth.

“How is my daughter?” She asked.

“Bothild is safe in the daycare. Evacuations are already happening on half the teleporters. Now give me the fucking status report.”

“You didn’t even think to evacuate her first? You may not care for me, but she's the youngest here-“

A freezing, icy glare silenced her objections. “She will be evacuated in due time.” He leaned in. “Now give me that fucking status report, Trondeheim.”

Lana stepped back, breathed in, and made sure her voice was even before she spoke. “Half a thousand 1048-As, Bs, and Cs surround us, with another half thousand being of variants unseen before. Five hundred more instances of 3199 complement them, though they seem to be waiting as their forces get stronger.”

He went past her and leaned on the railing of the watchtower. “What’s adding to their forces?”

Lana pointed up at the light above them. “Her.”

Ten minutes from its original appearance, the light seemed to glow brighter than before, and switched from color to color with even greater frequency.

Clef raised an eyebrow. “Her?”

Lana looked at him. “Who else? 239. The girl you failed to get.”

He inhaled. “Siggy.”


He turned around on her, his voice stern and angry. “What the fuck happened?”

Lana stared him down. “Scout Wojcik brought her in, unaware of her status, accompanied by a man-“

“2006. Robo.”

Now it was Lana’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Robo?”

“He wouldn’t leave her side. Where is he?”

“Buried under rubble.”

“And why the hell is he buried under rubble?”

Lana looked down. “Because Siggy caused an explosion right before she rose.”

Clef gripped the handrailing. Hard. “And why did that happen?”

“Because she sought me out and visited me.” Lana bit her lip.

His eyes turned even harder. “You tried to push her away, didn’t you?”

She looked up again. “I went too far.”

“Yes. You did.” Clef said angrily.

Lana sighed, her eyes watering. She wiped it away. “What do you suggest we do?”

“Get through to her.” He pointed up at Siggy. “Get on the tower and convince her to back down.”

“Why?” Lana asked.

“Because 1048 can’t create all those bears on his own. If we have any chance of winning, it’s getting through to Siggy.” He looked at her. “Got that?”

Lana stepped closer. “And what if she doesn’t listen to me?”

“She will.” Clef stared even harder into her eyes. No kindness came through his expression. “Otherwise, we’d all be dead.”

He sighed. “While you’re doing that, send someone to find Robo under the rubble. 2006 is a valuable asset.” He turned to leave. “I will command in your stead. Focus on getting Siggy on our side. If you want Bothild to live, then you will make sure that happens.”

He went down the stairs, and then he was gone.

Lana closed her eyes. Her knees felt weak, her chest heavy.

“Oh God, what have I done?”

The void was empty, yet full.

She crafted each bear according to his design, creating monsters tailor-made to burn and kill. The clay was pliable in her hand, and as she added enough to it to make it satisfactory, it disappeared.

Good. The bear said. Another instrument of your revenge.

Siggy looked at him. Just this way?

Yes. The bear said, its tone comforting. With your creation and my design, our enemies shall fall. I promise you that.

Alright, Siggy responded, molding another piece of clay in the shape of a bear. The clay felt warm and soft in her hands, like flesh. She gave it teeth, eyes, claws- a large and terrifying figure that would put a chill into anyone that came to face it. Alright.

When she completed the figure, she let it go, letting it vanish into the void once again to join its brothers on the ground.

On the roof of the house facing the east wall, McMillan checked his magazine for the final time.

Around him, his squadmates all did the same, sitting around as they waited for the signal to begin.

He sighed. He wondered how his son was doing, so deep in the town. Was he scared? Was he being brave? He laughed at the thought. Of course he was scared.

Chancey was a kind boy. A good boy. But he was too soft- too soft for the world that thy now lived in. Every time he looked in those eyes, all he saw was fear, innocence, kindness.

McMillan sighed. He had always wished his son could live somewhere else, far away from this.

Someone touched his shoulder. He turned around. It was Varnali, one of his squad members.

She saluted. “Sir.”

McMillan saluted back. “As you were, soldier.”

“Permission to speak?”

He nodded. “Granted.”

“It’s been another ten minutes, Sir. Do you think they want to battle us, or wait us out?”

He looked to the outside, where many of them waited, silently. The chickens screamed and wailed, of course, though even they stayed back. None of them were appearing from thin air now, which eased his worries a bit. Still, he felt nervous.

“Whatever happens, Varnali, be on the ready.” He said, his voice trembling and unsure. “B-be on the ready.”

That should be enough. The bear said. One thousand, three hundred and sixty-two warriors, ready to tear everything asunder. He looked at her. Are you ready, child?

Siggy stared back. Her eyes were vacant, yet enough of her was there. Yes.

The bear’s eyes glowed. Let us begin.

Varnali looked straight ahead of her, and then worry creased her face. “Sir?”

He turned to her. “Yes, Varnali?”

Her lips quivered. “They’ve stopped making more.”

Realization dawned on McMillan’s face. He put a hand up. “SQUAD MCMILLAN! IN POSITION!”

The other squad members exchanged glances but immediately followed, crouching on top of the house’s roof, rifles in the air.

His second-in-command, O’ Brien, looked at him askance. “What are we looking for, Sir?”

He kept his hand still in the air. “Wait. Waaaaaait.”

It was at that point that they all realized that even the chickens had gone silent.

Then, suddenly, terrifyingly, the frontline of the enemy army, consisting of the terrifying ear-covered As and the bloated Bs, lurched forward.

McMillan’s eyes widened.


The rest of the squad froze for a few vital moments, staring into nothingness as the army began their attack.


They stayed there, unmoving, frozen.

“FUCK!” He put earplugs in his ears, then shouted again. COVER YOUR EARS!

That was when his squad finally leapt into action, digging into the pockets on their fatigues and retrieving the precious plugs.

McMillan looked in front of him.

The bears were gone.

Gone? McMillan thought. But they were there-

His eyes widened. He shouted again, though he couldn’t hear his shouting himself. USE YOUR HANDS! COVER YOUR EARS-

Then, suddenly, he could feel it in the air- the infernal screeching. He could hear his body vibrate with the sound, like the sonic boom of a jet, yet this was almost infinitely worse.

All around him, his squad members fell, their skin erupting and giving way to ears all over their faces and bodies, while others simply fell dead, their nose and eyes bleeding as they collapsed.

Surprise gave way to horror, and in that instant McMillan knew they were outmatched.

The ones who had fallen to the As had much of their face covered in growths- though he knew that the expressions on their faces could only express horror and agony.

The ones who had fallen to the Bs lay in bloody puddles in the ground, blood coming from every orifice now- their anuses, their mouths, their ears.

Fuck, McMillan could only think. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!

Then, suddenly, the bulk of the army moved, running towards them at top speed.

McMillan had no idea how many of his squad had survived, but at this moment, he didn’t care. All he wanted to do was to get back out with Chancey, safe, back in the world that he promised would be waiting for them.

FIRE AT WILL! He shouted to no one in particular, and in that moment he began to fire- the other survivors of the first attack firing with him.

As the rest of the bears converged on Greattown, all of the defenders agreed on one thing- the battle for their survival had begun.

Alina felt it first- the screeching in the air, the vibrations within the ground, the air echoing with the demonic screams of hundreds of bears. In that instant, she covered her ears with her hands, which was enough to stem the sound from reaching her ears, deep within the town as she was.

Eventually, the rumbling ended, yet even as she stood up, the sound of gunfire echoed throughout the air.

She bit her lip. It had begun.

All the teleporters within the tower had already roared to life, half dedicated to getting everyone incapable of fighting out of harm's way, the other half dedicated to getting as many veterans from the front in.

It was slow-going and disorganized, the product of too little drills for them to have practiced the evacuation properly. Still, however, she pushed on, ushering the children, the injured, and the elderly into the available teleporters.

“Go!” She shouted. “Go faster, go!”

More and more people filed past her, moving in an almost panic as they tried to cram themselves into multiple teleporters at a time.

At the same time, on the other side, more and more soldiers from the Front streamed out, directed by the other members of her squad out and into the frontline.

“Where do you need us?” One, wearing the fatigues of an officer, said, saluting her.

She recognized him from the graduation ceremony the year before, though his name escaped her. “Wait,” She said, as she retrieved the radio from her pack. “Hey,” She said into it. “Wojcik here. Who needs reinforcements?”

On the other side, she heard nothing but the sound of static and gunfire. Compared to earlier, it was much diminished- and that worried her. She waited for a few moments, but no one answered her.

“Ma’am, nothing?” The officer said.

Alina shook her head. “Pre-contact analysis has indicated an overwhelming amount of As and Bs- they're probably still all wearing earplugs. Do the same. Coordinate only with visual signals.”

At this, the officer turned around, signaling his subordinates (all thirty of them, they hadn’t had much time to teleport in) to wear their earplugs.

He then turned back to Alina. “Where should we be deployed, ma’am?”

Alina bit her lip. Worry creased her face. “Uh-“

She listened to the air, and the decreasing amount of gunfire. Which has the least? Which has the least?

She listened.

The comparative lack of gunfire was much stronger to her right.

“Reinforce the Scouts on the eastern sides.”

The officer saluted her again, put in his earplugs, then silently signaled for the squads under his command to follow.

They exited the teleporter room with haste, and it was then that Alina breathed a sigh of relief.

It isn’t that bad, yet. She thought. It isn’t that bad yet.

She felt a tugging at her fatigues.

She looked down.

A young, six-year-old girl looked up at her innocently.

“Miss Wojcik?” She said, her voice soft.

Alina hunched down. “Yes, little girl?”

The girl bit her lip. “I’m scared.”

She smiled tiredly. “I’m scared too, kid, but you gotta remember that we’re fighting for you, alright?” She gently nudged her away, back to the line where the other kids waited. “Be safe. The Front will keep you safe from the monsters.”

The girl meekly followed, proceeding back to the line of those awaiting evacuation.

She looked back at Alina.

She gave her a wave.

It was then that, half a minute from the time when she sent the soldiers out, did she hear the sound of gunfire- but so much closer.

The children outside belonging to the cadet corp were shouting too, and she heard them loud and clear.

“Contact! Contact!”

Alina’s heart sank. Contact?

Without thinking, she ran out of the teleporter room, and soon found a sight that thoroughly horrified her.

Where the eastern wall stood, the bears were already climbing over in great numbers. Many had already reached the ground, spreading out as they began to attack the fallback positions. The soldiers she had sent out were pinned down behind the same defensive fortifications that the cadets were hiding behind, firing into the masses of enemies indiscriminately. Following their example, most of the cadets were firing too, bullets striking metal as the 1084-Cs began running forward.

Most cadets- except for one.

“Dad!” She heard someone, a child, shout. “DAD!”

Frozen, Alina looked at the source of the voice.

It was little Chancey McMillan, gun on the floor, screaming with all his might over the gunfire that erupted beside him.

She followed his gaze to the direction that he was looking at, and found a small figure running away from the bears that were chasing him, firing into the enemy as he did so.

It was Scout McMillan, bleeding from a dozen wounds, trying to run desperately into the lines that his son defended. Behind him, dozens of bears were running forward, hungry for blood.

“Shit.” Alina said. “Make it, McMillan, make it, McMillan.”

“WOJCIK!” A voice said from behind her, frenzied and urgent.

Alina turned around to find the exhausted form of none other than Lana Trondeheim, exhausted from the fight, sweat beading her face and body.

“Doctor Trondeheim!” Alina said, eyes wide and shocked.

“We don’t have much time,” Trondeheim paused to catch her breath, hands on her knees. “Where’s 239’s companion? Did you see him emerge out of the rubble? Did you see him-“

Alina couldn’t hear her. Already her gaze began to trail back to McMillan, trying to run back with all the strength he could muster. Despite that, he was starting to lag significantly, the creatures gaining on him as they continued the chase.

Then, one behind him leaped, claws in the air-

And, in one stomach-dropping moment, it fell onto McMillan, its long claws tearing into his back with minimal resistance.

Blood spurted into the air. McMillan gave one last scream of pain- and fell down to the ground unmoving.

“DAD!” Chancey shouted. “NO, DAD!”

Alina made to help him. “Chancey-“

And then a hard fist fell upon her face, nearly sending her to the ground and rousing her back to reality.

“IF YOU WANNA FUCKING HELP THEM, THEN HELP ME!” Trondeheim shouted, screaming at Alina’s face. “WHERE THE HELL IS 2006?!”

Alina stuttered, blood coming from her nose. “I- I- didn’t see him come out-“

Trondeheim gave a frustrated sigh, balling her fists and biting her lip until she drew blood. “God fucking damn it!”

“Wh-why?” Alina said. “Why?”

“We need to talk Siggy down. She started this in the first place, and we can only hope that she can end it; and that takes someone to convince her.” She sighed. “I hope that can only be me, but it won't be enough. If you can find 2006-“

Alina was already on her feet. “I can do it. My squad can take over.”

Trondeheim smiled, though Alina could sense that it was fake- anger colored her face. “Making up for what you helped make happen, Wojcik?”

Alina’s heart dropped. “Ma’am, I-“

“Forget it. I'll be heading to the top of the tower. Once you find 2006, direct him there.” She paused to take a breath. “Now where’s my daughter?”

Alina gestured to the line with her head. “With Dr. Earhart. She wanted to be responsible for her.”

“Oh thank God,” Trondeheim exclaimed with relief. Her eyes scanned the line, and there she found her- a beautiful black-haired and blue-eyed baby girl, held in the arms of an elderly doctor.

She rushed to her. “Bothild!”

Bothild reached for her. “Mommy! Mommy!”

Trondeheim took her from the doctor’s arms, holding her.

A few moments passed.

“Oh dear God,” Trondeheim said, giving her back to the doctor. “Please keep her safe Earhart, alright?”

“Of course.” The doctor replied. “We’ll both be at the Front waiting for you.”

Trondeheim’s lips quivered. Tears streamed down her face yet again. Slowly, she walked back to Alina.

“I’m so-“

Trondeheim shut her up with a glare. “Save it, Wojcik. I know I won’t survive this. I just wanted to bid my baby girl goodbye.” She wiped her tears, then looked back at her. “Now fucking go. I’m heading up.”

Alina nodded, and looked to her second-in-command. “Jungherr!”

A burly soldier answered her call. “You called for me, ma’am?”

“I’ll be indisposed on a task. Supervise the evacuation and the reinforcements while I’m gone.”

Jungherr nodded. “Of course, ma’am.”

Alina turned around to talk to Trondeheim. “Now, doctor-“

She was already gone. She saw a distant figure running up the ramps.

She sighed.

“No time spared, as per usual.”

Siggy stayed still in the void, the battlefield stretching underneath her now, though much of it was stained with a translucence that would not be strange to see in glass.

Below her, the defense of the Greattowners was already growing more desperate. One wall had already been abandoned, giving way for dozens of her bears to attack the tower. The other three were barely holding, its soldiers having lost many of their number to the initial scream. The gate too was struggling to hold back the tide- hundreds of chickens were trying to beat it down, but were having markedly less success with full walls than barricades.

Among them all, she found a small figure, running to and fro as he supervised the defense himself. In his hand he held a familiar crimson blade aloft, ready to cut into the bodies of anything that faced him.

It was Clef.

Rage smoldered within her once again.

I sense a greater amount of anger towards him than to all the others, child. The bear said, speaking in her mind. What did he do to you?

Memories flashed through Siggy’s mind- Seth’s untimely murder. The taunting calls of the monsters. The feeling of being lifted up. Falling on a broken arm. Blood that was not hers soaking into her clothes.

Ah. The bear said. He has done much to you.

Yes, he has. Siggy replied. Her mind was singularly focused on revenge now, and nothing else distracted her from it.

He will fall soon enough, child. They all will.

Siggy stayed silent, watching the battlefield.

Oh. The bear said. What a surprise.

He mentally gestured to her left, and there she turned.

Far below her, running up a ramp, a woman with black hair rushed to the top of the tower, crossing rickety bridges of wood and pressed metal in order to get to her.

It was Lana.

At the sight, Siggy’s mind flared all at once with anger and betrayal, remembering her words as she spoke to her.

“Just by being here, you are putting my town and my baby at risk, and I will have fucking NONE OF IT!”

“Nothing but my job. Nothing but my damn job.”

“He built this town, you little bitch. Sooner or later, if you stay here any longer, he’ll come in from the teleporters and we’ll both be dead. Do you want that?”

At that, she screamed in her mind, the sound of her fury ringing throughout the void and into the press of reality. Far below her, the bears stopped all at once, frozen in time.

What are you doing, child? The bear said, urgently. You have postponed our attack! Already, my sons fall!

That shook Siggy back to reality. I’m sorry.

All at once, the bears spurred back to life again, hacking and screaming and charging forward.

Make sure that does not happen again. The bear said.

Now kill the woman.

At that, Siggy froze. What?

I said kill her. That was what you wanted, correct?

But I can’t kill her. Siggy said, a hint of the scared girl coming back. She… raised me.

And she abandoned you, did she not? Kill her and end it. This was why you wished to destroy this town.


Do it.

Bear, I-

Do it, I said.

She turned around, her eyes coming into contact with the bear in front of her.

She breathed in.


Lana was nearly at the top. She could just wait for her to head to the top of the tower, and-

“Happy birthday, Siggy.” She said, in a time long ago. “Happy sixth birthday, sweetpea.”


She felt herself being younger, smaller, far more innocent. She jumped in the air with delight. “Yaaaaay!” She shouted gleefully. “Thank you so much, Lana!”

Their green eyes met- and she remembered that the only thing that she greeted her with then was love. No bitterness, no hate, no barely restrained urgency. Only love.

She felt her forehead being kissed, then her warm smile. “Anything for you, sweetpea.”

She felt the bundle in her hands. She uncovered it, and saw the small beady eyes staring back at her.

A bear. She muttered, both in the past and in the present. Thank you, Lana.

At that moment, she saw its eyes looking back at her- and found that it seemed to have a hint of life inside it. Not enough to compel it to move, or to create, but from that moment on, she knew that she would always be safe with it in its arms, because it always saw.

What are you doing?! The Bear shouted. She is almost at the top of the tower. Stop dwelling on our first meeting and kill-

“SIGGY!” Lana shouted, coming up to the top of the tower. “STOP THE ATTACK!”

Kill her now! The Bear shouted. Do not listen to her. She lies!

“SIGGY!” Lana said, her hands cupped near her mouth as she shouted. “PEOPLE ARE DYING!”

Kill her, child! The Bear screamed in her mind. Do what you set out to do. Kill her!

Siggy stood there silently.

I won’t. Not yet.

She could hear the Bear screaming with frustration, nearly causing her ears to ring with the mental noise.

Fine. The Bear said. Hear her out! Gamble our victory away!

Siggy ignored him. Marshaling all her energies, she spoke, her voice booming across the entire floor.

“What do you want, Lana?”

Lana’s jaw dropped, her knees buckling under her as she exhaled with relief. She spoke. “Stop the attack, please!” She crawled on her knees towards her. “People are dying. People are already dead! If you’re angry…” She pointed to herself. “Kill me instead! I’m already here!”

“Why should I kill you?”

“You’re angry, I know. I was trying to push you away, I didn’t want to put my daughter’s life at risk, please understa-“

”I DON’T WANT TO UNDERSTAND!” She shouted, the sheer force of her voice causing Lana to retreat a few inches. ”I WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU DID IT!”

"You were a risk! Clef didn't want you here, you could have done anything you wanted to us if you just knew what you were capable of, and I was scared for Bothild and the town and… I shouldn't have done it, I know!"


“I did!” Lana screamed back. “I fucking did, alright?! I made a mistake, Siggy, and now I’m paying for it. I paid for it because I love my daughter more than I ever loved you! So please, stop this attack! Kill me instead! I deserve it, the rest of them don’t!”

Siggy paused. For a few moments, all that reigned was silence.

On the floor, the bears and the chickens stopped attacking for the second time. Their eyes were drawn up, to the light at the top of the tower. The surviving soldiers and conscripts wasted no time in shooting them down where they could.

On the west side, where the remains of Lana’s house lay, Alina was pulling with all her might on an outstretched hand, grateful for the cease in the fighting.

On the north, at the gate, Clef directed the fire of those under his command, making sure to take down the biggest targets first.

Siggy looked at Lana. A small, helpless voice spoke. “You love the people of this town, don’t you?”

Lana nodded, tears in her eyes, a smile on her face. “Yes, of course. Spare them, Siggy, please.”

Silence reigned for a moment.



The Bear spoke. Time is wasting, girl.

Siggy choked. "I-"

Make your decision.

"Please, Siggy." Lana pleaded.

Remember what she did to you.

For a moment, the girl behind her returned. "Lana…"


Remember it! Remember what she did to you. The rejection. The abandonment. Remember it!


Siggy screamed, her voice reaching all around. "AAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

With that, the bears surged forward with renewed speed and might, throwing themselves at the fortifications and all the defenders within them.

Suddenly, the gate gave way under the renewed attack, causing the chickens to finally flood in.

At that, Clef gave the order to run to the fallback position, devoting what remained of the defenders to the defense of the tower and everyone inside it.

At the tower’s zenith, Lana shook her head. “No,” She stood up. “No, no, no, no, no!” She beat on her chest angrily, her eyes staring up at Siggy. “Take me instead. TAKE ME INSTEAD!”


Suddenly, the tips of Lana’s fingers started to smolder with flame. The pain was unbearable as her flesh burnt away.

She fell to the ground, screaming with agony as she did.

Soon, the flames spread down her arms, searing away her bones and her muscles with ease.

Lana screamed even harder. “SIGGY, PLEASE! SIGGY, STOP IT! SIGGY, PLEASE!”


“AAAAAAAA!” Lana screamed again, the flames now eating away at what was left of her arms. “SIGGY, PLEASE!”

”I loved you, Lana. I loved you so so much!”


”Shut up. JUST SHUT UP!”

The flames had finished with her arms, and were already licking at the rest of her body.

As they did, she had already fallen unconscious, the pain causing her to black out.

”You… will-“

“Siggy, stop it!”

Siggy stopped. That voice… it wasn’t Lana’s.

It was someone else.

At once, the fires burning Lana’s body away stopped, dissipating into thin air.

Robo and Alina looked at the scene before them with horror.

Seeing Lana’s burnt and unconscious body, Alina rushed to her aid. Robo stepped closer.

He shouted again. “What do you think you’re doing?!”

”Robo, please-“

“Stop it, now! Even Lana doesn’t deserve this, kid! Much less the people below!”

”Robo. I’m doing this for the greater-“

“Keep telling yourself that! Keep killing, keep torturing, keep destroying!” He ran forward to her. “But know that whatever you do, this won’t change a thing. People will see you as a murderer. They will see you as the girl who killed their loved ones, who took away their lives."

He shouted again. "Do you want that, Siggy?!”


“Stop it, now!”

Doubt, a far stronger doubt than anything she had ever felt with Lana, clouded Siggy’s mind.

At that, the Bear sprung into action.

You want it, do you not? It said. You love the power. The revenge. The feeling of crushing everyone beneath your feet. You are far more powerful with me than you can ever be with him, Siggy.

”But, I-“

“He’s speaking to you, isn’t he?!” Robo screamed. “The Bear?!”

He’s lying, girl.

”Robo, please-“

“Don’t listen to him. What has he ever done for you?!”

I have given you power. I have given you revenge! I have shown you the world at your feet, and we can have so much more, girl!

“Do you think that Bear has ever saved your life? Do you think that he fed you and bathed you, protected you when no one else did, saved you when you were afraid?”

I have always kept watch on you. I have always kept away what scared you in the night. I have always made sure that you were alright. Think about it, girl. Think.

“I did that! I did all that! From the screaming monster, I led it away. From Clef, I put a sword through his back. From hunger, from the cold, I kept you fed. I kept you warm. I- I kept you safe! So please… stop. Come back to us, Siggy!”

He lies. When did he ever make sure that you could fight? When did he ever teach you the way to harness your power? When did he ever give you the rush you’re feeling now? He could have stopped all of that if he just told you how to use your powers. He could have stopped it all!





“You don’t have to do this!”

Do it, girl. Do it.

“We need-“

I want-

”STOP IT!” Siggy screamed, shocking everything in her mind to silence. ”I will stop it all. Every single one!”


“Attagirl, Sigg! Come on!”





On the ground below, as they attacked the fallback positions, the bears began to dissipate, returning to the air as nothing but specks of dust.


Outside, the chickens flooding in gave one last cry- before disappearing as well, turning into ash as if nothing was ever there.

The battle was over.

Below, Clef fell to his knees, relief washing over him.

Within the teleporter room, Bothild gave a loud cry as she begged for her Mommy.

Behind the barricades, Chancey McMillan staggered to the siren, pressing the button to make it stop.

“You’re okay, Trondeheim!” Alina shouted on top of the tower, doing her best to carry the incapacitated and burnt body of Lana down the ramp. “Stay with us!”

“Thank you, Siggy.” Robo said. “Thank you so much.”

You will regret this. The Bear said. You will.

All around them, the ball of light was already disappearing, as Siggy raised her arms.

“No,” Siggy said within the rapidly diminishing ball of light. “You will.”

A bright flash illuminated the town, and as Chancey pressed the button of the siren, he could see a small, singed teddy bear fall from above and unto the ground below.

He looked up, and found that the great green light was gone, never to return.

“Siggy!” Robo shouted. “Siggy!”

From the vanishing ball of light above them, the witch girl fell from the sky, and into Robo’s arms.

“Oh, you’re alright. You’re alright.”

Siggy’s eyes were half-open, and she moaned weakly.

“What… happened, Robo?”

He held her close. “Nothing, kiddo. Nothing at all.”

A few moments passed.

Then, they heard footsteps thundering up the wooden ramp up to the top of the tower, as none other than Alto Clef came to the top. Blood trailed down his mouth and covered his body, while dirt caked his face and his body. At his side glowed the red Scrantonum sword, still as sharp as the day he used it to kill Seth.

Robo looked over his shoulder. “Clef…”

“How will you pay for all this?” Clef said, his cold tone now replaced with that of grief and anger. “How will you pay for all this?!”

“It wasn’t her fault, please-“

“The life of one of my best people is on a knife’s blade. Countless numbers of my fucking people are dead. Much of my town is destroyed. I ask you again…” He breathed in.


“Robo…?” Siggy murmured. “What’s happening…?”

Robo turned to Siggy. “Nothing, kiddo. Nothing.” He looked up at Clef. “Clef, please, we have done a lot to deserve it, but-“

Clef winced, shaking his head. “A lot doesn’t cover it, Robo. It doesn’t even come close.” He stepped closer. “Is this some… revenge for last time? That time, only one man died, and he wanted it. Now…” He breathed in. “NOW NEARLY ALL OF MY PEOPLE ARE DEAD!

He stepped even closer. The red blade of the sword glinted with a sinister light. “I wanted to save you, so that you could help us break out of here. We wanted the same thing that you two did, so why couldn’t we fucking join hands?” He took another step. “Now… I… I have no idea what to do to you.”

Robo tried to shake Siggy awake. “Siggy, get us out of here. Get us out of here please.”

“Whether it’s to kill you, or to contain you, or to fucking…” He breathed in again. “I guess the choice is easy, isn’t it? Everyone else wants it, too.”

Robo tried to shake her awake again. “Please, Siggy, please.” He looked up at Clef. “Clef, don’t do anything you’re going to regret-“

He scoffed. “I’ll regret it, yes. She’s our only hope of breaking through the blockade. But when tempers cool and I see you again, I’ll forget how much grief I’ve felt today. I’ll forget every death.”

He began to lift the sword.

“Every orphan.”

He held it high.


He brought it down.

Robo moved to cover Siggy.

The whoosh of steel sounded out through the air.

Then, Siggy opened her eyes.

And just as the blade was about to touch them, they disappeared.

Siggy awoke again, but this time in a dark place.

She scratched her head with her good hand. “Robo? Are you there?”

She looked around in the darkness, but she couldn’t see a thing.

“Robo? Hey.”

She looked to her left.

She looked to her right.

Nothing responded.

“Lumina.” She murmured.

As the light grew, she saw Robo, standing silently in front of her and leaning against the wall, arms crossed sullenly.

He was back to his normal form, and his face was unreadable.

“What do you remember?” His voice was unkind. Cold.

She scratched her head again. “Robo, I-“

He raised his voice. “I said, what do you remember?

Her eyes widened. “N-nothing much. Just… just Lana hating me and then everything… exploding.” She went silent. “What happened after that?”

He looked up at her. He stared into her eyes.

A moment passed.

Inside his helmet, he bit his lip.

“Nothing. I carried you out. The Greattowners chased us out because you blew up her house.”

Siggy looked crestfallen. “Really?” She looked down. “Oh… dear.” She looked around. “Where are we now?”

“Now? I don’t know, either.” He scratched his helmet. His tone remained grave. “But from here on out, you have to promise me something.”

Siggy looked at him. “What?”

“No more magic… ever again.”

Siggy’s eyes widened even further. “But Robo-“

“Just-“ He raised an arm. “Just… promise me. Until we get out, no magic ever again.”

He looked at her. “Can you promise me that?”

She just stared at him.

“I said, can you promise me that?

Siggy bit her lip.

Then she extinguished the light in her hand, and nodded in the darkness.

“Good.” He turned to leave. “Now let’s get the hell out of here.”


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