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Spiritual Showdown: The June Bug's Last Chance - The Finale

Spiritual Showdown: The June Bug's Last Chance - The Finale

FlashyFerrari
Dec 21, 2017, 12:44 PM 50

 Note: This story is not for the faint-hearted ... blah blah blah ... old stuff ...

I'm guessing you know the drill. No disclaimer this time!

The first part is found here. The second part, if you missed it, is found here.

Visit blog, many stories to read!

 __________________________________________________________________________

Spiritual Showdown: The June Bug's Last Chance ©

 

Chapter One                                                                                                         Prologue: Flashback

     The age-old Salazar winced, dragging himself up the street and into the small doorway of a house. The door opened, and a young woman peered outside. Looking down, she gasped in disbelief at the wrinkled creature panting on her pavement.

     "Salazar! Come in! Is it your time yet?"

     "I must ... speak to ... you." The voice came out in moans, hardly audible to the woman. She gently scooped up the frail bug and rushed him to the kitchen counter, feeding him several sandwiches from the nearest bowl.

     "You must know ... an ancient ... secret." Salazar gasped, chewing on the bread. He suddenly opened his eyes, and stared. His eyebrow twitched, and he began gasping for air.

     "Peanut ... butter?"

     The woman watched, horrified, as his whole body shook and began convulsing. Suddenly, he lay flat on his shell, face still trembling from the anaphylactic shock. Salazar opened his mouth and began to recite, powerless to stop what was happening. 

     The woman listened, mesmerized as a captive of those gripping words. Finally, as the last line was emitted, Salazar shrank and visibly slacked away. He was no more.

     Still lost, the young woman did not notice her friend enter her house and walk into the kitchen. Spying the bug and the stunned woman, Molly - the friend - dropped her purse. Her jaw dropped.

     "Destiny, what are you doing?!"

 

Chapter Two                                                                                                                         Nightmare

     Destiny woke up in a cold sweat.

     Visions swarmed her head like flies buzzing around rotten meat. Indeed, she felt as if her brain was rotting, eaten alive by the colors and flashes of actions the june bugs were doing.

     She wondered why she was the only one. Didn't Molly witness it too? She saw Salazar recite his final words as he died. Why wasn't she affected?

     Destiny turned the words over and over in her head.

     "When the time be rightly spoken, turned towards the right degree...

       ...then shall Lord be rightly woken, born to set the scarabs free..."

 

     Outside the van, Nate was fixing a flat tire with the help of Lil'B and Isaac. Three days of driving had made the transportation suffer agonizingly, but they were almost there; another three hours and they would reach the newly-discovered pyramid. Bunny and Logan were discussing plans, and Jennifer was attempting to reach a cell signal a few yards out, perched in a dried-out skeleton of a tree.

     Nobody paid any attention to Destiny; Molly was sleeping, and they thought she was too.

     Taking advantage of the lack of security, Destiny slipped out of the van. In a blind reverie, she helplessly allowed the images that obscured her to lead the way. Off she went, walking slowly in the night, as the last of the sun's rays gave way to the dancing shadows of flashlights waving to alert the missing presence of the sick girl.

 

     Thirty miles away, Arjun glanced into a shimmering pool of water. Inside, she could see Destiny being blindly led, stumbling through the darkness and ever so often emitting confused gurgles. He smiled, then turned around to admire the scene.

     Behind him, clusters of june bugs were working tirelessly amid the soft glow of the lanterns. Ancient symbols surrounded them as they measured and poured; they were working inside the pyramid.

     Victoria came up behind him. "You called for me?"

     Arjun's smile did not waver. "Assemble the humans. We have some good news."

 

Chapter Three                                                                                                                             Pursuit

     In the dead of the night, the headlights cut through the river of darkness like a swordfish impaling its prey. It had been twenty minutes after Destiny's escape that Vader had opened the cargo hold of the van for some water and noticed the empty cot. Three minutes later, the van was up and bouncing over rough terrain, headlights swimming in the blackness to find a glimpse, any glimpse, of color in the barren wasteland of the desert.

     The crew had resolved to find the pyramids as soon as possible; that was the most logical place for Destiny to go to, either by force or by will. According to Nathan's phone, they had twelve miles to travel. With a fraction of a gallon of gas left, they knew that they were up for some walking.

     Suddenly, Nikki's head drooped and she began groaning. Horrified, Pup pulled the van to a stop as Logan and Lil'B carried the trembling girl towards the cot where Destiny had been just so recently.

     Foam began trickling out of her mouth, bubbles frothing. Nikki's eyes were glazed, and her fingers curled and uncurled. She managed out a few syllables, hair covering her sweat-streaked face.

     "It's ... happening ... visions ... Destiny ... help ..."

     Her eyes fluttered, and the whites of her eyes showed. Slowly, she sank down, laying on her back as the energy could be seen draining out from her.

     Nikki's spirit was being split into two.

     The only sound that could be heard was a slight rustling whisper, the remnants of a deceased spirit fluttering through the air and out towards the pyramids beyond.

     As the shocked team puzzled over Nikki's unconscious form, she suddenly bolted upright, knocking Isaac into Bunny and sending them into a heap onto the parched dirt. Her eyes weren't hers; they were firecer, wilder, more evil.

     She was being possessed.

     With a maniacal laugh, she grinned and hopped out of the van. Nathan managed to grab the flashlight in time to see her form disappearing into the distance, heading towards the temples.

     A cold dread washed over the humans. One by one, they looked at each other, faces revealing their thoughts. They had lost two people to a madness never before seen in their delicate features.

     What was the cause? Who was next?

 

Chapter Four                                                                                                                          Controller

     The temple the bugs were located was the smallest of the four pyramids. Still firmly wedged underground, it once sat a bit farther from the other three, as if intimidated by it's prescence. The first and largest one was being excavated by archaeologists; given the tremendous discovery, the three siblings might not be found for months, or more.

     Coincidentally, this was the place where Jack, also known as Khepri the jeweler, had been mummified. The scarabs were located in the fourth pyramid, waiting to be revived.

     This pyramid was the new attraction force that pulled Destiny in. She trudged on, visions leading her way as she located a small hole, just big enough for her to slide in. As she entered, the rough dirt gave way to a smooth slide, and she glided along for about a minute before being deposited into the heart of the temple.

     Surrounding her was Jayden and Mr. H. Grinning, they lifted the weak woman and placed her in a cell; she was imprisoned yet again.

     Inside, she stirred feebly, then drifted off into a troubling world of dreams.

 

     Arjun entered the small area, claws tingling with excitement. He noticed the sleeping Destiny, and his face transformed into a small grin. He turned to Kos, a petite june bug who was seated at a desk filled with different screens and buttons. From these devices, there were images of the view around the pyramids, along with scraps from Nikki's escape and Destiny's dreams.

     In short, it was a control room.

     Kos swiveled around and looked at Arjun. His face bloomed into a smile, and he told of how he had manipulated the visions as a homing device, attracting the brain drawing the helpless Destiny towards the lair of the dragon.

     Arjun patted him on the shell. "Good work. Now, focus on the next one - Nikki."

     He left, striding out of the small area and into the factory below.

 

     The humans saw nothing they could do.

     When the van finally sputtered and died, the team hopped out, weapons at the ready. In front of them, the giant pyramid, halfway being dug out, loomed. In the distance, Isaac spotted a shadowy figure, seemingly disappearing into the ground beneath its feet.

     Nikki and Destiny were here. They were in the right place.

 

Chapter Five                                                                                                                                Backup

     The team of five, sent by Stellan, head of FBI, looked quizically around. According to their last location, Logan and Jennifer had been standing right here, in the middle of a dirt path. At one in the morning, there were no sounds, and the only light came aritficially from the agent's flashlights.

     One of them - Carter - pointed. Using his flashlight, he scanned the area and noticed an overgrown path, barely visible due to -

     Tire tracks?

     Squinting, he followed the route closely with a hand-held flashlight, comrades close behind. In the distance, a small dirt building came into view. Joseph, his partner, gripped his gun and kicked open the door; the wood splintered and broke off quite easily. Brushing it away, Carter lunged in and panned the gun around the room. As two of the five - Will and Stud - lingered behind to investigate, Joseph, Carter and Jacob - the third agent - opened the side door and stared.

     Inside, Plexiglas was cracked and strewn everywhere. Chairs and lab instruments were upturned, and inside the safe room, blood could be seen splattered against the walls. Jars were upturned and scattered across the floor, as Nathan and Pup had kept the remaining pots and stored them safely in the van. In the corner, a june bug lay motionless; Lex had been use to the team and was left behind.

     Carter stared in horror. He was certain that Logan and Jennifer had been here, but what was the opposing party? Some sort of lead proven to be a trap?

     Mind whirling, he began discussing with Jacob when Stud came in. "I just attempted to trace the cell signal of Logan and Jennifer's phone. I got nothing on Logan's, but look at Jennifer's -"

     The agents gathered around the dim glow of the cell phone. The reception came in dots, some long and some short. Slowly, Joseph realized what was happening; his eyes widened.

     "It's morse code. She's saying - HELP."

 

     Indeed, Jennifer was in dire need of help at that moment, as the team had been spotted by Kos at the controls and was now being surrounded by enemies.

     Guns were withdrawn from duffel bags, locked and loaded. Suddenly, the june bug directing them - Pete - cried out and attacked, and the war began.

 

Chapter Six                                                                                                                             Possessed

     Nikki was met with a warm reaction as she slid down the chute and into the control area. Although fire and ice could be seen dancing in the pupils of her eyes, she visibly relaxed and stared straight into Jayden's face. He stared back, eyes steel bullets, equally unnerving.

     "I see you have brought me here."

     The sound that came out was harsher, and it had the metallic taste and raspy quality of a june bug's voice. Her face seemed harder, her fixtures more prominent than before.

     Salazar appeared behind her. "Now, now dear. We need you to come along right this way, and help us as we complete the final phase of our plan."

     Nikki glanced behind her shoulder towards the slumbering Destiny. "Is that ... it?"

     "Yes. We will use her for the same purpose. Now come along, and help us with the final step."

     Salazar and Nikki ascended the carved dirt steps, with Jayden following them close behind.

 

      Slowly and steadily, they were making progress.

     The humans had survived the first round of june bugs. After a few minutes of intense assaults from both sides, the first wave had already been repulsed. Now, the team stood panting, hoping to catch their breath before the second round began.

     As they glanced around, Lil'B noticed that there wasn't one bug on the ground. He thought back, hardly believing his eyes; he remembered that he'd shot the already wounded Skyler in the head, point-blank, as he was trying to escape. Where was he?

     A deep dread wound up inside him. Nate had already taken several bruises, and was now having a busted leg bandaged. The bugs had one large advantage: resurrection.

     He motioned to the others. "Let's get out to safety! I'll explain on the way!"

     The team followed, Vader supporting Nate as he limped behind.

 

     Kos turned the screen so that it faced Arjun. "They noticed our plan to revive and regroup; they're getting to safety right now."

     Arjun frowned. "Well, they figured that out. It's only a matter of time before they know we're making more of the liquid." He turned to Victoria and Mr. H. "How long left?"

     "About another half day" replied Mr. H. "Then we'll have enough, and we can move."

     Half a day left. Victory was imminent, so very close.

     But so very far away.

 

Chapter Seven                                                                                                                           The Trip

     "We're lost."

     "No we're not, Miha! The map says we have another mile before we reach!"

     "Screw the map, Bron! You said that an hour ago!"

     Miha and Russell (who liked to be called Russty) slowly stumbled across the plains of the dry, arid desert. The Sun loomed above them, exerting its power as the mighty king and making the desperate humans beg for shade.

     These daredevils had an idea firmly engrained in their heads: find the pyramids, sneak in, and steal some ancient artifact. Then, they would announce that they had found it while trekking the Sahara Desert, and they would become overnight millionaires.

     The one problem? Finding the pyramid.

     After a considerable amount of bickering, Miha finally gave in to Russty's plan. They would walk for another hour or so; regardless of whether they found the pyramid or not, they would camp out and wait for the right moment to strike.

     After some time, Miha spotted the familiar tip of the ancient temple, halfawy being dug out of its old foundation. Sighing, she released the heavy backpack from her aching shoulders and took a long stretch. Russty continued to walk in hopes of spying something, when suddenly he disappeared.

     "Helllppp -"

     The voice was abruptly cut off, as if a button had muted his voice.

     Heart pounding, Miha rushed over to where his companion had been. In his place, there was a small tunnel, just big enough for Russty, that fool, to step in and lose his grip.

     Without thinking, Miha hopped in. As her body entered the tunnel, he realized his mistake, and tried to claw his way back up, but it was too late. Large hands gripped his feet, and he felt himself being dragged down.

     Above, the only remains of this unfortunate pair was a green and brown backpack, laying innocuous on the parched ground.

 

     As the Sun released its grip on Mother Nature and began its descent down the horizon, Bunny tripped over something on the way to observe the june bugs. He began putting a string of curses together, rubbing his knee, when he saw the object he had fallen over.

     "Huh?"

     It was a backpack.

 

Chapter Eight                                                                                                                       Side Effects

     Though the Sun's rays of light had long since faded away, the dim glow of the fire pit etched scary shadows into the clusters of trees behind them. This shielded area was the new base of the nine members, hiding from the june bugs and waiting for a chance to slip inside, unseen from Kos at the controls. This was the place where a disheveled Bunny ran towards, to tell the news that some innocent civilians had been captured by the bugs at their home base.

     When the story was told, Pup stood up angrily. "The last time this happened, we almost died. Indeed, Ulfy had to sacrifice himself so he could save us all! Do you want any of us to die? Do you want to die?"

     Nathan was calmer. "It can't be a coincidence. The bugs know that our weakness is other humans. They could have planted the bag there, and hope we fall into the trap. Molly and Destiny were indeed inside, only because I saw them go inside. If you ask me, I say that this is a trap."

     Bunny was flustered. "People could die!"

     "Just as we could." Jennifer returned.

     By the end of ten minutes, the group, once firmly inseperable, had split. Bunny, Vader, Logan and Molly were supporting the investigation, whereas Nate, Pup, Lil'B and Jennifer were against it. Isaac didn't have an opinion, but agreed it was indeed suspicious. The june bugs were smart; it would take the whole team to stand a chance against them.

     "Ulfy died because of the civilians!" Nathan gestured wildly to Molly, face red. "We're not losing another one because of some false lead that you were foolish enough to believe!"

     Unconvinced, both teams eventually settled down to sleep, backs facing each other.

 

     What they could not have known was that, above all, Nathan's argument was wrong. Yes, Ulfy had died because of Taurus and the explosion.

     But he was alive.

     Because while Juny, Salazar and many other june bugs had been plotting madly inside their hidden base, Victoria and Jayden had taken three bugs - Pete, Inky and Taurus - to the Quantico Armed Forces Cemetery and, in the dead of night, revived Ulfy. Taurus, having been recently revived himself, was given the same warning as Ulfy:

     "You're being given a second chance. You mess up, you die. For good."

     Since Kos was still in Egypt, Victoria had to fly the helicopter back while Jayden and Inky helped restrain Ulfy. Since he was still weak and dazed, he was easy to hold, and was easier to control with the visions when they got back.

     As Bunny had been explaining the situation, he could not have known that Jayden, Victoria and the june bugs were not three hundred feet away from him, holding a weak Ulfy in their arms.

 

Chapter Nine                                                                                                                           Reminisce

     They were ready.

     The procedure, Arjun reflected, was way too easy. Brilliant, too. It had all started when he had found Salazar, dead in a Dumpster bin behind Molly's house. At first, he wasn't sure if any of his ideas would work, yet he'd managed to pull all of them off. Destiny's kidnapping, the escape from Nathan and his gang, and finally, the revival of Jack's crew.

     Of course, Khepri didn't know either. The poor fellow would soon cease to exist, driven mad by the accumulated force of the visions.

     Arjun smiled. He hadn't planned that, but the visions were a quirky little side effect. After experimenting hundreds of times, sometimes using june bug or human hair, he had found out that using the hair of someone who had caused a death proved to be the most successful.

     Sure, other attempts were good as well. Jayden's escape had been caused when he gave a particularly strong dose to an old june bug, who was now as young as day. The visions had helped them reunite; there was nothing wrong now, as Kos controlled all of them.

     As the wicked bug scanned his surroundings, lost in thought, his eyes fell on a sleeping creature.

     Ah, Destiny. Your hairs have proven to become an incredible asset, he thought. You don't even know what you're doing! Your mind is being manipulated, trained to control others through visions. Poor Nikki will never know you're the one behind all of it. And Ulfy? He, too, shall not live long.

     They're all pawns, smiled Arjun. Reusable, ready to be thrown away, sacrificed for a greater good.

 

     Destiny woke up, bald and blurry.

     As she struggled with her thoughts, she became dimly aware of two other people crouched in the corner of the bare cell. She also became aware of a stronger emotion. A feeling of calm, tranquility.

     What was missing?

     Suddenly, Destiny realized. Her visions - weren't hers. From the scattered images, she picked up the vibe of another young girl, walking around the june bugs and helping out with the mixtures.

     She was so familiar, just out of reach. And then Destiny sat up, eyes fearful.

     Nikki. She was controlling Nikki.

     She staggered back and ran her hand over her head, only to pull out some of her hair. Miha had informed her that she had been pulling on it, yanking and tugging on the strands for the whole night. She was vaguely aware of talking to Miha, but struggled to find anything, the torrent of visions flooding her mind and memory.

     What was she going to do? She was controlling Nikki against her will, against both of their wills.

     What was next?

 

Chapter Ten                                                                                                                                  Glitter

     Miha had been helplessly placed inside the jail cell with Russty when he fell into the chute. Taking into his surroundings, he had noticed the woman inside, fast asleep.

      Man, she was a beauty! Her soft curls arched up towards the sky, as if poised for flight toward the heavens. Her face was full of sunshine, eyes, nose and mouth all in perfect proportion with each other. Beautiful boots and matching coat, she simply looked wonderful.

     Miha blinked, coming back to his surroundings. Next to him, Russty leaned against the hard walls, fast asleep. It was night; the lanterns around the cells showed no bugs around. Kos had to fix a computer malfunction, and was busy working amid the tangle of wires and flashing lights.

     There would be no better chance than this.

     Softly, Miha scooted over and gently nudged her. It was cold, and the small shred of extra warmth was gratefully accepted. Slowly, Destiny found herself being drawn closer to the natural source of heat, resting her head delightedly on his shoulder.

     In semi-darkness, Miha felt himself blush. He stroked several stray hairs away from her sleeping face, peace and love hanging within the air. Destiny gradually woke up, her eyes as blue as as the blood of a queen, wrapped in cerulean gowns. Miha smiled, unable to contain himself.

     Destiny's eyes adjusted. A handsome man, brown eyes as deep and dark as the woodpecker's perch, lingered next to her. Naturally wavy hairline, immaculate white teeth.

     Love at first sight.

     All night long, the man and the woman exchanges pieces of conversation, their eyes never wavering from the light that shone deep within the newfound couple.

 

     It was during this night that Joseph and Jacob found themselves commanding a helicopter as it rushed at two hundred miles an hour over the sandy dunes and rugged rocks. Will was busy with a map, issuing directions to steer the new pilots in the right direction. Carter was busy making phone calls to Stellan back at FBI Headquarters, the Egyptian authorities, and the construction crew attempting to dig out the recently discovered temples. Reception was spotty, but bearable.

     Behind them, Lex laid on the ground near the exit door, groaning. Clear blood was squeezed out of  the shell as Stud formed a tourquinet around the splintered edges. Jagged points meant that red blood was being spilled as well, and soon enough, colors lay splattered on the mats, mixed shades of red and white dotting the area around bug and man.

     It was Lex who had told them that Jennifer and Logan were near the Egyptian pyramids.

     Inside the newly-discovered Egyptian pyramids.

 

Chapter Eleven                                                                                                                        Punished

     Bunny couldn't sleep.

     He tossed and turned, wrestling with the dilemma that threatened to tear him apart. Eyes clamped shut, he remembered an attack almost a decade ago, where terrorist forces had ambushed the team in a small city and lit the place on fire. He would encounter men falling left and right, families being slit apart, wives and children crying as they witnessed the father being blown to smithereens.

     He and the rest of his crew had survived. Against all odds, where so many innocents had died.

     In that split second, Bunny made his decision. Wet leaves were thrown on the fire, the hiss extinguishing the flames that illuminated his rugged features. As the last scraps of light were permanently smothered, one could see the determined look in his eye, the slack of his jaw.

     Bunny was going on a mission.

     As his footsteps faded away, the crack of a twig snapped Logan out of his sleep. Groping blindly, he felt Bunny's empty sleeping bag, flattened out without a trace. Alarmed, Logan sat up and stared into the darkness, heart pounding. Bunny was gone.

 

     Bunny ran, propelled by sheer adrenaline. His flashlight bounced up and down, and he had to swerve to avoid any hostile objects that could permanently disable him. He was heading for the bright nightlights that were set up near the pyramids; a little grenade and a quick ambush were all it would take for him to see if any people, besides Destiny and Nikki, were being held.

     The light appeared, getting brighter and brighter as Bunny ran. So blazing were the fluorescent bulbs that he stopped running, practically blinded. The zone was lit up like day, workers shuffling to and fro while scraping chunks of dirt away, a wheelbarrow at a time.

     Scanning the surroundings, Bunny spotted the small hole where he witnessed Nikki enter the base of the bugs. Having second thoughts, he was reaching for his radio to alert Nathan to come when he heard a voice.

     "So you're the perpetrator? The one who vandalized the pyramids?"

     Surprised, Bunny turned and immediately felt a blow to the face. Reeling, he staggered backwards, tasting blood and reaching for a gun. He caught sight of a large man before he saw a fist cover his line of vision.

     The pain shattered his nerve vessels. All went dark.

 

Chapter Twelve                                                                                                                             Troops

     Huffing, the construction manager walked over to the unconscious man and began dragging him. In all of his years, Mark had never thought anyone would attempt something so daring, especially right under his nose! Just because he was a doctor before didn't mean he couldn't pack a punch to whoever might deserve it. Now, thanks to the phone call made by some anonymous user, he could continue this operation in peace. He just had to wait for whoever it was to show up.

     Mark had not gone twenty feet when he was suddenly tripped. Stumbling, he fell backwards and lost grip of Bunny, who was saved by Jennifer. Behind her, Nathan and Pup stood, guns aimed at the perpetrator's chest.

     Molly, weak from sleep deprivation, came into view a few seconds later. She gasped.

     "Doctor Mark?!"

     The old practitioner stood. "Molly?"

     A brief reunion and explanation, and Bunny was woken up and standing. Mark had agreed to follow them, and help in any way possible. Currently, the night watch was under control; no one would notice.

     And so the team, with Mark, began inching towards the tunnel, grenades at the ready. They were attacking, and fast. If they didn't move soon, something bad was bound to happen.

     Logan stood behind, forming another plan. Smiling, he motioned Molly over, and they both took out their phones. Logan pulled a computer and headset from his duffel, and began hacking away.

     There were no words between hostile opinions. Either way, it would end here.

 

     The nine jars stood, side by side.

     The liquid held within could revive a thousand scarabs; these would now rule under the bugs.

     Jayden, Mr. H and Salazar watched in anticipation as Jack led them down stone steps into a small room. Once heavily guarded by Skyler and Inky, there was now a bustle of excitement as the ancient scarabs were laid in neat rows. A quick splash and each bug would soon be covered, and revived.

     They were almost ready. They needed the tenth jar.

     It would be too risky to revive them a jar at a time, as the humans could easily take advantage of this. Arjun ordered that the jars be spread evenly and immediately; ten thousand scarabs were enough to disorient the cleverest of humans.

     Nikki appeared behind Jack, motioning wildly. Faltering, Mr. H stepped back, eyes questioning.

     "What?"

     "We're being hacked. Now!"

 

Chapter Thirteen                                                                                                       The White Room

     Miha and Destiny, along with Russty, were taken into a small white room prior to the final phase. In the corner, there were several beds; Destiny recognized Ulfy, Khepri, Taurus and James. The three were ushered into a jail cell in the far right, a burly, muscular bug guarding them with an evil grin.

     Russty attempted to make a conversation with the bug, explicitly stating that he and Miha were simply travelers, not "some member of SEAL Team 6". Miha and Destiny couldn't care less, their attention focused solely on the band of spiritual energy that encircled the two.

     Strangely, Destiny had found that for the past few minutes, her visions had been ceasing. Before, she could barely see out of the fog of pictures. Now, everything was clear and concise, as the visions had been trimmed down to a minimum. She had never felt better.

     Nikki entered the room, walking briskly over to Jack and James. Destiny noticed her eyes nervously darting around, haunted, frequently changing expression. She began speaking to Jack, motioning wildly. "The humans hacked into the control system. Kos is fighting the spread, but they have wrecked our measuring systems and deleted the code, replacing it with irrevalant dat-"

     Suddenly, she turned around. Miha saw thather right eye twitched, her left finger curled up and down. Then it was all-out war; Nikki's body slumped as the two lost souls inside fought tooth and nail for possession of the human spirit. Soft features gave way to icy steel, which melted to fiery flames, which faded back to gentleness. Several tense moments ensued, both human and bug watching breathlessly at what was going to happen.

     Her eyes flashed, and Nikki sprinted for the cell. Victor moved to block and was shoved out of the way, bowling into the beds with James and Taurus. Nikki took no notice, eyes wild with hatred and fury. She grabbed the bars of the cage and pulled, a screeching sound emitting from both the wire and her throat. Her face was red, her jaw burning.

     "Destiny!? Did you really think I wouldn't know it was you who was controlling me?! You traitor, you pretended to be the innocent one when you're actually plotting against us! Ulfy died because of you, and now you're going to control me? You miserable bloodthirsty raptor! I should -"

     She stopped, faltering. Unable to believe herself, Destiny watched as hate drained out of her complexions and a last desperate plea of hope was quenched by the fire that resumed in her pupils. Victor and Taurus looked up, astonished; the whole ordeal had taken less than a minute, but it had scarred all of them.

     "Victor, get up. Please dispose of these three, they are no longer any use to us. End them outside, so we won't have to clean up." She ushered the stunned june bugs and Jack out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

     Victor adjusted a tube over the corner bed where Ulfy lay unconscious, then radioed for backup. He crawled over and picked up a gun, aiming it at the terrified Russty. "You first."

     Trembling, he took the key and unlocked the cell door. The cuffs were shackled from his wrist to a small baton which Victor held. Miha and Destiny did the same, the remnants of shackles clanking on the ground beneath them.

     Destiny's astonished face met Miha's. They were walking to their own executions.

 

Chapter Fourteen                                                                                                                  Doubled

     Logan smiled. On the screen, jumbled heaps of code and binary numbers were instantly annihilated in seconds. Molly used her phone to jam the signal the june bugs were using; it would take hours before transmittions could be seen and sent again. Lil'B stood, guarding them from the shade of a deceased tree, while Bunny uncorked the first grenade and sent it down. The small blast, just large enough to confuse those inside, was enough for the rest of the team, along with the cops and Isaac, Mark and Vader, to jump inside.

     The chute was now broken up, and bugs were scampering around. Jayden and Victoria gave orders to quarantine the control room, and Kos wheeled out his devices just in time. As Nathan and Pup got to their feet, rows of june bugs, led by Skyler, James and Pete, were waiting.

     And so the second war began. Logan and Mark managed to infiltrate the neat ranks of the june bugs as Vader covered them with a smoke grenade. Once out of the battle area, Logan pointed. "Hold them off. I'm going for the tech bug." Leaving Mark with his duffel bag, Logan snuck behind malfunctioning pumps and machines to find Kos, desperately activating a security firewall.

     "Gotcha." Logan raised his pistol, and shots were fired. Kos smiled.

     Logan lay in a heap on the ground. A pool of blood was forming around his head, the bullet having torn clear through the brain and out from his flesh.

     Ulfy stepped over the body, gun still smoking, eyes burning. "That was easier than I thought."

 

     Another june bug caught up to Victor and the chained prisoners. "You called for me?"

     "Yes, thank you Oscar, please dispose of them. Jayden and Victoria have asked me to help them."

     Handing the june bug the baton, Victor crawled out of the small tunnel and disappeared. Oscar looked at them threateningly, then pulled out a pistol.

     "You're first." The safety catch clicked, the trigger steady, pointing at Russty's tenple.

     The terrified people had no time to answer when there was an enormous thump above them. Dirt and rocks showered down; one hit Oscar's claw, and the gun dropped to the dirt. Seeing her chance, Destiny yanked her chain, sending the baton flying out of the unsuspecting bug, snaring the gun in the process. The three people, still chained, began running towards the exit as the dirt among them shook. Miha caught one last glance at a furious Oscar, struggling to get up, when the ceiling gave in.

     Rock and gravel stung their calves as both bug and human ran. Miha turned around and fired at Oscar, bullets ringing off his shell and slowing him down. At last, when the door loomed dead ahead, the last of the ceiling broke off and collided with Oscar's shell, sending him down.

     The three people covered themselves as a wave of dust and sound resounded. When it finally ceased, they were caked in dust and dirt, but unharmed.

     Ten feet away, they caught sight of Oscar's shell. He wasn't moving.

     Russty was the first to notice the key in the debris. He lunged for it, and within a minute all of them were released. It had been a close brush with tragedy.

     It was their luckiest escape. But fate always had the last laugh.

 

Chapter Fifteen                                                                                                                        Invasion

     The june bugs were stretched out. Most of them were at the battlefield, including Jayden and Salazar, where they had to hold off Nathan and the gang. Kos was desperately trying to prevent Molly from deleting mode code, and Nikki was assembling some bugs to investigate the cave-in and deal with the rogue Mark blasted away everything in sight. Victoria was summoning Ulfy, arousing him, controlling him from her own device; all hands were on deck.

     As Russty went to go fight in the front lines with Mark, Destiny and Miha stayed behind. they shared fleeting moments together, knowing that they would soon be seperated, or worse.

     Slowly, lips came together and touched. At that moment, nothing could stop the bliss.

 

     Mark reloaded again and again, almost enjoying himself. Thanks to the flanking method, june bugs were now falling left and right. Perched on the balcony, he took careful aim at a deserting bug and fired at its underside; clear blood splashed out.

     Suddenly, he noticed the bugs were retreating. Bunny's three-grenade tactic had worked, and the bugs were now scattering in various directions. After picking off several more, Mark stopped and Nathan came over, stepping over bugs left and right.

     "Let's find Destiny and Nikki."

 

     "Huh?"

     Russty had doubled back to the cave-in after encountering a run with Pete and Inky. He was about to use some of the rocks as another defense tool when he heard a faint cry. It sounded human, mornful and pitiful.

     "He - ll - lp"

     Grimacing, he began climbing over the rubble, eventually emerging to the bright sunlight above. He blinked, hardly believing himself.

     A grand helicopter was stationed outside, blades still rotating. Nearby, red and white was spattered and Russty noticed two humans and a bug laying awfully still. There was a girl, screaming for assistance as she and two others helped a wounded companion, sleeves and arms bloody.

     "The bug just - fell out of the copter, dragging Will and Carter with him! Please help!" Jacob's wails were grating, loud enough to attract every person - and bug - to investigate.

     Russty formed an idea. He rushed over to Jacob, mantaining an innocent face. "The bugs who planned this are inside there. Take your weapons and attack all the bugs you see!"

     His face transformed into sheer hatred. "They'll pay for this! Joseph, follow me. Stud, stay and help them. They won't live to hear about this."

     Russty smiled as the duffel bags vanished inside. He turned and examined the two comrades on the ground. "I think we can fix them. I'll just need to get something." As Destiny had managed to tell him little snippets of her story, he began running toward the van, and returned carrying two jars.

     "These should do the trick."

 

Chapter Sixteen                                                                                                                   Quarantine

     Arjun's face was a thundercloud. "Everybody inside the scarab room!"

     The humans had won the battle, but they would lose the war. Bugs were piling into the room, squeezing in as a large mound of equipment was being gathered, ready to roll.

     They were locking themselves in.

     Lil'B noticed, and the team ran over to try and prevent them. It was too late.

     As the final june bugs scampered inside, Miha emerged from a balcony above and dropped like a stone towards the ground. He lay there, unmoving, directly in the boulder's path.

     It had started to roll.

     Bunny watched in horror as it began careening toward Miha. There was no time to run over, no time for a grenade to be launched.

     "Nooo - "

     With a shriek, Destiny came up to the balcony and launched herself off. There was a sickening crunch as her face collided with cold, hard steel; the ball shuddered and stood still for a moment.

     Joseph, coming from the other side, saw his chance. Getting a shove by Jacob, he slid across and pulled Miha's body away just in time. Destiny's body fell, and for that one moment their eyes met.

     Miha and Destiny. The couple, fate intertwining their deaths.

     The man's face of shock and despair. The woman's face of sorrow and sadness.

     Their admittal of defeat.

     There was an audible crunch as the heavy boulder smashed every bone in Destiny's body. It altered its course, changing last second and smashing a hole through the room instead of trapping the bugs.

     Destiny let out one strangled sigh. The lights dimmed in her brain, her feelings faded away.

     The sound - the beautiful, quivering note - lingered in the air, slowly drfiting to the heavens and accompanying the soul that flew with it.

     It was over.

 

 Chapter Seventeen                                                                                                                         Fire

     Isaac and Vader ran over, throwing grenades that exploded on impact. Gray filled the air as panicking bugs rushed around, and the furious Arjun and Salazar began an escape for themselves. A spark ignited from exposed wire, and a flame was born.

     Chaos reigned. Flames licked the air as Mark and Nathan aimed at the bugs and picked them off one by one. Nikki and Ulfy, freed of their visionary bondage, immediately began attacking from inside, and soon all the bugs were either burnt by the flames or sniped by the SEALs.

     The fire was moving fast. Ulfy and Bunny ran over to Destiny's body and began dragging it away from the fire. There was still a sliver of hope.

     Miha came up to them, oddly detached. "Leave her."

     "What?"

     The man was devastated. "Destiny's last words to me were 'If you make an impact on someone else's life, if you affected somebody in a good way, you will never die. You will always be remembered in their hearts and souls.' She died to save me!" His voice choked. "We can't die for her cause, not when we have a clear shot at getting away. She did her sacrifice for me, and for that she will always be remembered."

     The team was solemn. The temple began groaning; the telltale signs of a cavein appeared.

     Miha's voice was barely a whisper now. "She died for me and my team. I can't lose any of you."

     Slowly, he led the grieving Ulfy away from the body. They watched as the fire's ravenous hunger consumed every inch of her body. Miha remembered the beautiful face, the perfect proportions.

     Burnt to ashes.

     They ran, propelled by grief more than anything else. Just as they got out of the tunnel, the pyramid caved in and flames roared and consumed the temple and the van. It would take days for that fire to be put out by Egyptian authorities, having such a dry climate.

     As Lil'B sat in the back of a police van, he noticed that, like all the rest of team and the comrades, he was beginning to cry.

     She had made her sacrifice. It was her choice, her everlasting fate.

     Her Destiny.

 

Chapter Eighteen                                                                                                       Epilogue: A Note

 

'Twas the night before Christmas

And all through the house

Not a creature was stirring

Not even a mouse

 

The stockings were hung on the chimney with care

With the hope that a letter would soon arive there

 

The morning then came, looking jolly and bright

Pup suddenly sat up, his whole face drawn tight

For the team had been waiting for what it would say

They had been waiting for Santa and sleigh

 

The rest of the team came, their hearts beating fast

They saw there Pup smiling, for the first time at last

As he pulled out a letter from his stocking that read

"To all SEAL Team 6", the envelope said.

 

Everyone was in a state of delight and joy

Destiny heard us! We didn't destroy

Her soul! She is still up there, watching us

Tremble and grin as we wait to discuss.

 

At last, it was time for the letter be scanned

Sent from the heavens, as the team fully planned

And the power and life that lay in these words

Would sting like a bee, and sing like the birds.

 

Dear SEAL Team 6,

Please share this letter with Isaac, Jennifer, Molly, Vader and Nikki. They were important to me as well, and they deserve to read this. If you feel the need to do so, you may share this with Carter, Joseph and the rest of the comrades that were appointed by Stellan.

Let me start by saying that I have no regrets. Miha was right. I will forever live in the hearts of him and you, and whoever you tell my story to. There is no path for immortality, but the mind itself has learned to appreciate the moments that will follow us forever. That sacrifice was one of them.

I will miss you all greatly. Up here in this world, I have already met Nikki, Logan and Ulfy. Their souls are up here, and their spirits will join soon. We have all forgiven each other. Their sacrifices will also live on in the hearts of the people. I want to make sure I tell you that I really do appreciate what you have done for me. Your courage and success helped outshadow my stupidity and morality at the beginning of this frightful journey.

You are the hearts and souls of the brave who will risk anything to do what is right. No words can reveal what you truly mean to me, and I think you understand that feeling. I watch over you all. I am your protector, and I owe you after everything you did for me.

Miha, if you're reading this, we had some great times together. I will never forget them.

Let me wrap up by saying one last thing:  Although Arjun and Salazar are still alive, they are no longer a threat. They, along with Victoria are the only survivors who managed to escape, but Victoria was arrested and convicted for arson just recently. She will be of no help, and the june bugs will die out.

Trust me. I have many more things to say, but I think it's time to conclude today.

 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Destiny 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, dear reader! Consider this as my holiday gift to you all for supporting me through my first completed short story!

Although this is a fictional story, the people in here do represent people on Chess.com:

@JunyJuneBug - Arjun                                                          @staminapoints23 - Nathan/Nate

@FortunaMajor - Salazar                                                      @Endapuppy - Pup

@unheathenedfat - Khepri/Jack                                          @LilBoat21 - Lil'B

@Destiny - Destiny                                                              @CuteBunny123 - Bunny

@MollyWood - Molly                                                          @bigboychessdaddy - Isaac

@ArgoNavis - Kos                                                                @superman0101 - Lex

@LHK_Nikki - Nikki                                                              @Ulfhednar1234 - Ulfy

@GMtheforce - Vader                                                          @Logan - Logan

@FM_Checkmate - Victoria                                                  @The_Helloer - Mr. H

@YaBoyJayden - Jayden                                                      @incorrectname - Inky

@Destroyer_Mark_1420 - Mark                                            @Starboystellan - Stellan

@MagnutsCarleson - Oscar                                                  @TheMouth888 - Victor

@Josephyossi - Joseph                                                        @2STONE2 - Jacob

@Carter_42 - Carter                                                            @EndgameStudy - Stud

@NintendoMaster853 - Will                                                @pt6 - Pete

@Taurusmale67 - Taurus                                                      @MSC157 - Miha

@RussellWestbr00k - Russty                                                @Fennifer - Jennifer

@chessguy1012 - Skyler

To everyone who wanted to be in this story, the character limit stopped me from expanding this and including you. You will be in the next short story. It will be released on New Year's Eve; stay tuned!

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