She fought. She fought. And she fought. She dug down to the last scraps of psychic will within her body, and she used them against the King. Nothing seemed to matter. It just didn’t count in the end.
She was starting to die. She didn’t want to admit that. She had to. Her body was degrading. She was going to turn into Jerry. There would come a point of no return.
None of it was fair. She’d accessed the Coalition’s crystal. Jerry had told her it would be the most important part of this fight, but no matter how hard she tried to wield it, it simply didn’t count.
Sally was beyond crying. Tears meant nothing in the phase realm.
Regret, however, did.
As the regrets filled her up, she started to see shapes all around her. They burst through the phase realm, blinking in and out of existence like darting shadows of the mind.
At first they were phase monsters. Then there were more of them. The deluge was unstoppable. More creatures joined them, and they just kept coming. They were all full of so much regret. She finally encountered the 200,000 lost souls from Faxon A. They were in phase space. They’d been pulled here when the Observers had attacked before Sally had returned home.
Their regret filled everything up. They’d had nothing to do with this fight – nothing directly. Yet they’d paid the ultimate price. Everyone around her who appeared, including an image of Jerry, had all paid the ultimate price to give her this opportunity now. But here she was, letting it slip through her fingers.
Again she tried to cry, but again the tears simply wouldn’t come.
As horror filled her up, finding every single crack in her soul to push into, she waited for her last moments to come.
They did not.
She held on. But could you tell her what the point of holding on was when, bit by bit, your capacity to resist was eroded right in front of your nose?
She might’ve told herself she had a strong psyche, and in that strength she had the power to fight the King. But strength that cannot be wielded correctly is nothing more than a different form of weakness.
The King sensed something and roared toward her once more. His force encapsulated her. She was lifted up off her feet. As the King charged around her further, getting closer and pushing in harder, she waited for her final moments to come.
Her grip on the Coalition crystal started to slip. Everything did.
She was dragged backward through her past. Sally had come so damn far. But now every single achievement was taken from her in reverse. Was this what it felt like to die? All the memories that mattered, the ones that truly defined you and taught you what you could achieve were whipped away, never to return.
She crumpled further under the King’s pressure. She felt its greed.
All the while, she’d been keeping the Queen safe. Sally couldn’t clutch hold of anything anymore. The King started to push into her mind. Layra screamed once. Her sadness filled everything up.
Her resignation, too.
She reached out to Sally, telling her it was enough. The fight was over. They’d lost. There was no point resisting anymore.
No point in….
Just as Sally was dragged right back and her body almost gave up the fight, a memory reached her.
There she stood on the roof of the accommodation block, staring out at the Academy. She could feel the wind in her hair, the sun on her cheeks, and a hand on her shoulder.
She wasn’t sure if this was a memory, or a recreation of a feeling. But she was certain of one thing – it was a pure moment of solidarity. A moment that had signified a different path opening up for the Queen.
And that moment remained in Sally, even as everything else was driven back.
She… had forgotten something.
Here she was in the fight for everything, fighting alone.
Here she was wielding the Coalition crystal without accepting the fundamental rules of that civilization.
Nobody fights on their own.
No matter how alone you feel, there are others out there willing to stand by your side. You just have to call to them.