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Fallen Five

Whatever Frontline had been before falling to the Demon Army, it was now only ruins. There were echoes of great structures, baroque generators, fearsome towers, but now they were only more ash and corpses. Marshal wondered if that was somehow the answer to the questions that had driven him forth from the safety of Haven; that no matter what the stories said, it would all end in ruins. 

And yet Darius was still here, still alive. Wraith embraced him, the warm gesture sitting oddly on her lethal frame, somehow more honest and touching for it. She made the introductions and Darius led them below-ground, a bunker where he had hidden as the enemy had burned through the last line of hope. He spoke about conducting raids, stealthy strikes against the marching Demons, each kill one less creature that would reach Haven. Marshal couldn't see any weapons in the bunker, the tales were vague on how Darius fought. He made them tea, water boiled over a fire. Any gear sent by the Cups and Coins was gone, all of it poured into the last stand and washed away in defeat. Marshal gathered that Darius' grievous injuries were not recent; he moved deftly, prepping their drinks smoothly with one eye and one hand. He was smiling. There was a serenity in him, soft like a candle-flame. 

“I don't know,” he said, answering a question Marshal hadn't yet asked. “I guess once we all realized that we weren't going to shift anymore, that this version was our last one, I sorta made peace with things ending. I'm not saying that I gave up.” 

Wraith sipped her tea from a straw – the mask was never removed. “No you did not, my friend. You fought on.” 

“Maybe you could say,” he continued, “that I made peace with war. Some part of me always held out hope for the idea that we would all retire someday. Dex and Wraith would get married. Callan would buy the Diner. Twofeathers and I would get a cool studio apartment together, maybe make music. But the longer we were here, after everything that happened, I figured out that none of that would ever come true... But I also figured out that I didn't need it to. That the story of it was enough for me. How the idea of that version made me feel was enough to keep me fighting.” 

They were quiet for a time. Marshal said, “I don't follow what you mean by 'shift' and 'version'.”

Darius chuckled. “Speaking of stories, eh? This will be a long one, but I guess that's why you're here. And what better way to wait out the end of the world? Okay, let's start with-”