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Radiant beams break through the bedroom blinds, allowing warmth to rest upon Robbie and Nora's skin. Thanks to Robbie's ability to replace Nora's nightmares with dreams and pleasant memories, she has been sleeping happily in his arms for the past two weeks without interruption.
As kids, they played together on a field that overlooked a creek during their childhood summers. As they lay in the grass, they would form shapes from the clouds while they waited quietly for the wild stallions to bathe and drink from the stream. Nora's smile never faded after waking from such pleasant dreams. So, naturally, Robbie frequently plays back her personal favorite dreams and memories for her.
Nora rolls over to find Robbie perched on one elbow, smiling down at her.
"Good morning, handsome."
"Good morning, my queen."
Robbie kisses her passionately before getting out of bed. Indulging in a face-in-the-pillow position, Nora snuggles up to the plush linens. After a few minutes, Robbie gives her a gentle pat on the shoulder. She turns around to see him kneeling by the bed.
"You ready to make our final change," he whispers.
"How do we do that?"
He slips under the covers next to her with a lust-filled expression. Her spine tingles as soon as he brushes her skin with his naked body. More terrified than she had ever been, she swallows firmly in an effort to get rid of her anxious fear. She even briefly loses consciousness of breathing while being cradled in his arms.
"Breathe," he whispered. "Are you ready?"
Her entire body shivers as his lips lightly touch her neck. Pulling his head close, their lips meet. With the first kiss, he numbs her body with passion. His overwhelming body heat causes flutters to fill her stomach. Her eyes drift to the back of her head as Robbie entered her. He leaves an impression in every kiss and his touch lingers long after his hands and lips have changed positions.
"Open your eyes."
Her earlobe is caressed as his warm kisses brush against it, and his whisper compels her to focus on the stunning clouds that surround them and leave their skin feeling softly misted.
"Shh. Do you trust me?"
His lips caress her breast before he hears her response. Nora succumbs to his tender touch. He could feel her delight with each stroke. Just as she was led by his body, so was he by hers. Without effort or thought, all desires are fulfilled.
"Best dream ever."
"You're not dreaming."
As Nora's soft whimpers of pleasurable cries grow increasingly, her head flies back. Their loud moans reverberate across the sky. They move in unison as if they danced to the perfect song in the clouds. All of their emotions course through their bodies like bullets as they explore each other's bodies. Their genitals begin to tingle as the tension rises. Their bodies are locked in a passionate embrace for the final time. After the last blissful explosion, Nora feels the bed's softness again against her back.
Opening their eyes was like opening them for the first time. They stared at each other for a few seconds, each in awe of the other's magnificent transformation. While still holding her in his arms, Robbie uses his free hand to brush her hair away from her face.
"The change is complete," he says, stroking her cheek. "Nora, you're so beautiful."
Without saying anything, Nora stares at him in silence.
"Robbie, your face. You look different."
Robbie's now-gold-rimmed blue eyes shine like the sun. A tiny mustache arcs across his slender, pink lips. His muscles are now more defined, and his hair darker.
"You look like a God, Robbie," Nora says. "The whole cloud thing was just in my head, right?"
"Nope, I can take you anywhere during our lovemaking," he says.
"Really? Will I ever learn that?"
When he shakes his head, she pokes out her bottom lip. While lying on his chest, she uses her finger to trace patterns on his skin. Eventually, she rises from her slumber.
"Should I make breakfast?" She asked.
As he displays the time that reads 11:00 a.m., Robbie smiles.
"What happened to the morning?"
"We did. Time flies when you're having fun, doesn't it?" He winks.
Back on his chest, he repositions Nora. She traces his lips with her finger before kissing them as she moves her hands across his face, still admiring his new appearance.
"Well, my Goddess, how long will you wait until you see yourself?"
"Being so wrapped up in your new look. I didn't even think about what the change could have done to me."
After a quick peck on Robbie's lips, she leaped out of bed. Before she has a chance to move too far, Robbie is startled by a horrible sensation and springs to his feet. He listens intently, his eyes wide.
"Robbie, what's wrong?"
Following his lead, Nora slips on her clothes and shoes.
"Nora, hold on to me. Our fathers need our help."
She feels a rush of adrenaline run through her as she is wrapped around his waist. In an instant, they are taken to a remote location, surrounded by trees. The silence of the well-lit woodland is heavy with the smell of damp leaves and decomposing wood. Their approach to a tunnel entrance is partially blocked by an ancient, decaying oak.
"In there," Robbie points.
Visions of brilliant, featureless beings rush before Nora's senses as she clenches her stomach. Her instincts had gone haywire from having so many sensations strike her at once. She smells fresh animal dung mixed in with the many earthy scents around her. She gets a whiff of freshly baked apple pie from a cottage miles away. She can hear every lingering animal in the area, but more importantly, she feels pain. Dad's hurt. Following her father's painful growls, she races deep into the cave.
"No!" Nora yells when she sees her father's body flying through the air and slamming into a concrete wall.
She delivers a hard kick at the Light that injured her father. Before she can complete her thought, she has her spike in her hand and has transformed the Light into silver slime that splatters the cave walls.
She is informed of the presence of additional enemies nearby by a rapid explosion of energy. She doesn't know which tunnel they're coming from because there are so many of them. They are both prepared for battle: Nora and her spike that glows fiercely in her grip. Her gaze shifts from one passageway to the next, shifting her concentration on the many life forces she feels. When the pressure almost brings her to her knees, she clutches her stomach. Even so, she maintains her position until the discomfort dissipates, which it does as Light approaches nearer; her heartbeat quickens.
A swift blow to the face sends Nora flying and flipping. She smacks into the wall head-on. She is restrained by two Lights that jump on her chest and abdomen.
She looks at her father's body through a fog of confusion. Her bloodied, battered face is smeared with tears. Nora leaps to her feet to escape the constraints of the Light, but Someone snatches a clump of her hair from the back of her head.
The female's condescending tone is familiar. Nora strains her eyes in the direction of the voice, but swelling impairs her vision.
"I will kill you."
The woman bursts into laughter at Nora's threat.
"I love your determination. Let's be realistic. You are the last of your group," the woman says.
"You lie!" Nora shouts.
"That's right. Everyone you love is dead. Including that dreamy boyfriend of yours."
Laughter fills the cave as the woman pushes Nora's head, causing her wobbling legs to collapse, making her fall to the ground and hit her head. Another Light slams onto her back.
"I'll kill you!" Blood flies from Nora's mouth, as she screams.
"You lay under my feet, still mumbling you will kill me? Don't you see, it's over? You will die here in this dirty cave."
The woman's heated breath is inches from Nora's face and feels like fire to her skin, making her cringe at every word she utters.
"Nora! Get out, fight! Don't give up!" Nora hears the pained voice of Robbie in and out of her head.
Hearing Robbie's voice gives her an extra burst of adrenaline. She leaps to her feet, bucking the Light off of her back. In the same motion, her spike is pushed into a human. She rapidly twists her spike and fires it through another Light. As she battles the rest of her attackers, Nora makes effective use of strength that comes from an unidentified source. She prepares herself for the upcoming assault with her spike aflame. If only I could see. Where are you? Fight you bastards. She thinks to herself.
Screaming, her body hurts, and her legs are hardly strong enough to keep her standing, yet she stands firm, repeating his name.
"Please tell me you're okay, Robbie!" She sways more and more as she waits for Robbie's response.
"Nora, you surprise me. I thought taking you out would be much harder. Thank you for making this so easy, a man says."
"Another human? No. What are you? Who are you?"
"We could have been friends. It's a shame I have to kill you. But that is why I am here," he says.
Nora lunges at him. A stinging blast of energy hammers her limbs. Along with the sound of her bones snapping, she hears two gunshots yet only feels the burn of one bullet pierce her chest. She keeps going, not stopping until she hears the cracking of a skull at the end of her spike. When the impaled body falls limp, so does hers. Robbie's howl ricochets off the concrete walls.
"No! Damn it!"
Till her voice is lost, Nora cries out for Robbie. She pleads for his response with her last breath. Blood drips from her words. Her face turns frigid, her body goes numb, and her head starts to sag to one side. Suffocating darkness forces a heavy sleep in her.
"No! Not yet, please! Don't do this, please send me back. Don't let her die like this."
Robbie falls to his knees in front of the three Gods. As they watch Boligon's holographic projection of the battle, he clenches his fists. Robbie is raised from his knees to his feet with a wave of Losrath's hand. He slumps over and looks up at them with red, teary eyes.
"Stand, young Robbie."
Robbie's eyes return to the vision of Nora's lifeless body and gasps for air. Pain lingers tightly in his chest where his crushing heart throbs. He sobs harder gripping his chest when he realizes she won't be getting up.
"Just as your father has done for you, Noah has done the same for your young wife," Losrath says.
Robbie raises his head and straightens his stance.
"What do you mean? Is she not dead? I'm not dead?" he asks.
"Not yet. There is something much bigger going on here. It is bigger than we all could have ever predicted. Robbie, look at your wife. Do you feel what we feel?" Tromtorrio says.
More tears start to form in Robbie's eyes. The feeling is unmistakably clear. He looks at Nora and nods.
"We commend your fathers for their bravery. Can you do this, young Robbie?" Desmond asks.
"What are you asking of me?"
"Our grace is still bestowed upon Dumont. If he continues to feed, he will be strong enough to wreak havoc on the planet. As you know, we cannot intervene as Gods, but if things continue as they have, Dumont will rule. Dumont must die if that world is to survive. We'll destroy that planet if he doesn't. Are you able to kill him? "Tromtorrio asked.
Robbie looks at Nora and nods.
"We can kill him," he says.
Losrath shakes his head.
"No. It takes more than true love to form that kind of bond. I'd like to believe in the possibility, but—I'm not sure. The bond between a Vilmo and their Szion fades after death. You two aren't going to be able to handle it. Nora may never stop loving you, but she will soon stop feeling you, "he says.
"No! You did not bound us. Nora will never stop feeling me. We will always be connected, even in death," Robbie's reply stern and certain.
"Dear Robbie. Everyone wants to believe that their love is the most genuine, but such love is not possible. I don't believe it. That world must be destroyed. We no longer want to be a part of its demise. It's far too painful," Despite Desmond's calm voice, Robbie was terrified by his words.
"No! Please don't do this. Our fathers just gave their lives so that we can try."
"I am sorry, but it is over," they say in one voice.
Robbie drops to his knees.
"You no longer want that world. Give Nora and me the power to rule it. Our bond is as strong as yours. Give it to me if you don't want it anymore. Everything I am exists in that world. Let me fight for it. You had to have some faith in me, or I wouldn't be standing here. Please don't do this. You asked if I could save that world, and I answer yes!"
Robbie's face tightens, and he stands.
"Why am I here?" Robbie glances over the projection of Nora. "You could have just let us die together if you had no intention of letting us fight. Why bring me here? She died alone!"
Tears fill his eyes while he stares at his wife.
"You want to be a God, young Robbie?"
"I will become whatever is necessary to save my family," he replies.
Silence lingers, and Losrath stands. "You will be strong enough with a little help. You are dedicated. Do you think she will pass the test?"
While wiping his tears, Robbie grins.
"Do you know the sacrifice you will have to make?"
Robbie's heart drags to a slow beat, and more tears form in his eyes.
"I do, but I believe there may be another way."
"Ah...the ruby. You will try to destroy them all," Losrath says.
Losrath nods and sits back down.
"Thanks to you, Nora is already stronger than even we could have made her, but she is weakened by her sister's anger, her doubt, and fear. It will be up to you to help her with that. Robbie, I am going to increase your powers. We will also give the two of you the power necessary to defeat Dumont. Together you will accomplish this if your wife is ready to believe in who she is. Our test will see if your bond is strong enough. If not—I'm sorry, but we will have no choice but to destroy that world. Have a seat, young Robbie. Let us see if your bond is as strong as you think it is."
Am I dead? I don't feel any pain. I must be dead. Should I open my eyes? No, if I am not dead yet, maybe I should act as if I am until they all leave. Are they still here? I don't hear them or feel them. Okay, here goes nothing, Nora thinks.
She jumps to her feet, ready for an attack. Hmm, nothing. Nothing alive anyway.
She shivers and searches frantically for a way out as she runs her hands over her arms. As the light from the torches in their sconces along the walls dims, she has a brief window of time to flee if she was to do it while the caves were still bright.
She moves each limb aggressively, starting with her arms and working her way down to the rest of her body. She smiles while touching her face.
"I'm healed! I read nothing about this in Dad's book. Dad! Daddy, where are you?"
As she adjusts her vision to the tunnel's dim light, she searches for the bodies of those she has lost. Centering her attention, the blood-splattered floor buckles her knees. Crawling toward the very spot she last saw her father's body, she replays their last conversation, resting her head near his blood pool. Memories keep her father close, even if for only a few more moments. Heavy with the weight of tears, she closes her tired eyes. Holding her father's images clear in her thoughts. Her silent weeping creates a small mud puddle that drenches her face, drawing her awareness enough to wipe her lips free from muck but not effective enough to bring her to her senses. Fading images of her father give way to vivid impressions of her husband. Her muted cries now echo as she curls herself into a ball.
"Nora. It's time to get up."
Robbie's whisper coaxed her to nearly an upright position. She leans against the rocky wall, one elbow at a time, dragging her body to a sitting position. Eventually, she pulls herself to her feet, legs weakened by heavy despair. She braces herse