Axer Darcy nods in grief.  “The nightmares stopped, the lights returned to normal, and as we approached UM2, we saw that it was heavily damaged and trying to recover.  The pilot’s compartment was completely destroyed by the self-destruction of the strongest person on New Ruyngard.  And with him gone, the sword was ready for the next in line.  The Crimson Prince radiated in my grasp, acknowledging me as the strongest living person on the planet.  From then on, it was me and the sword versus the metal giant.  As if reliving the legendary struggle from Ruyngard of Old, the Astro Bomber was tricked into joining the Ultimate Machine, with the Crimson Prince being the one to save the day.  I vanquished the second Ultimax and saved the world, while my colleague sacrificed himself to save us.  Would he have been able to control the thing if he had taken the sword with him?  Did his noble gesture cause a malfunction, or did he avoid a worse outcome?  I can only hold up his decision with the greatest respect.”

    “So, there you have it, kiddos,” declares Roxy.  “I married Axer.  Mandy didn’t stand a chance.  She did have a good, fulfilling life as herself and not as the shadow of someone else.  Raptor and Coyote were cute as they took forever to hook up.  Haley married Jason, Bailey married Marna’s brother, and Marna ended up marrying Justice.  We grew up, we grew old, and we got ‘kidnapped’ by the chumps that started all of this in the first place, the System Guards.  We happily served with them for a while before returning to Ruyngard and living out the rest of our wonderful days, and now, we’re stuck doing history lessons as the only excuse to get off Juniper.”

    “So, you’re totally going to let the kids come visit us, right Cat?” Kim says as she starts to give several zealous raised eyebrows.

    “Who’d you marry?” Faye asks Kim.

    “Eh…heh…a guy,” is the awkward answer.

    “Good,” says Grace.  “And you weren’t closely related to him and he wasn’t already married to someone else, right?  No funny, honey?”

    “You kids are so quick to judge,” Kimberly notices.  “I was happily married to the most wonderful dude on Ruyngard, but then, just like Remji, he had to be a loser and die on me.  So, I decided to stay single.  Yeah, good answer, Kim.”

    “I’m so sorry,” Faye regretfully apologizes, “I didn’t mean to have us accuse you of something bad when you’ve apparently suffered a lot of loss in your day.  I’m glad that you were still able to find happiness among the sad times.”

    Kim slowly dances over to Faye and kneels in front of her.  “Losing people stinks, doesn’t it?”

    “Yes, yes it does.”

    Kim takes her hand and shakes it lovingly.  “But then you gain new people, and it helps clear the air.  You can smell the sweet aromas of this wonderful life again.  I like gaining new people.  New friends are the coolest.”

    Faye, of course, goes in for a hug.  With a light giggle, she says, “I love the smell of bubblegum.  It’s my favorite.”

    “Well then, Bubbly,” Kim says with a good hop, “will you catch up with me later?  I happen to know we’ll be seeing each other again very soon on your trip.”

    “Sure!” Faye starts bobbing to Kim’s rhythm.  “I can’t wait.”

    “Eh,” says Cat, “I imagine that since you know where you’re going, you can probably talk the System Director into just waiting there with the current SGs who have planned to meet us.  No sense in going back to the Drawing Board for only a few minutes, yah?”

    And with this, the deaders get a little more time outside of the Drawing Board as they head to the next era of the trip.  Then again, I should say it’s the next era in Ruyngardian history, because that is all it is.  The class is going to skip ahead to the current age, as in right now, and see what Ruyngard looks like NOW.  After that, they can go back to the era I’m skipping since that’s where their final exam awaits.

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