The island shakes and stretches as Ian and Addison battle over the ruins of the asylum where they first met. With her hands in her pockets, Dawn continues heading for the building and ducks to avoid getting hit by a flying body. She barely notices the other Gemma run after her rolling twin, the metal leg clunking on the ground. The two women scream before colliding and struggling to gain some advantage in the fight. Stumbling back towards Dawn, they are about to slam into her when the ground opens up beneath their feet. Falling into the crimson dirt, the pair are launched high into the air and left to crash into the forest. They can still be heard battling and shouting, the occasional sparks flying above the trees to reveal that the mechanical Gemma is suffering from a loose wire. Ignoring their subordinates, the two reality-benders circle each other with giant fists that they slam together to create shockwaves that span the entire planet. The blows never leave any damage, which leads to bigger attacks that range from blasts of lightning to nuclear-powered spit missiles.
Coming around the western face of Raven’s Hold, Dawn follows a path that she vaguely remembers from previous final battles. She stops at the sight of a wall built entirely from skulls, which have numbers written on top. Touching her jaw, she presses enough to feel a small dent on the bone that she has never noticed until now. Already knowing the truth, she runs a finger along several of the skulls to find the same indentation. Dawn sighs at the towering structure that she guesses is supposed to intimidate her, but only helps to drive home the fact that she has been through this execution hundreds of times. Opening the metal door in the middle of the wall, she steps inside to find a dusty room that was once Raven’s Hold’s common room. The couches and chairs are faded from being exposed to the sun, the ceiling having been torn off long ago. Fragile books are on the shelves and a broken television sits against the wall, its screen occasionally coming to life to show a laughing face. Approaching the only door that has not been blocked by debris, Dawn is about to open it when she freezes.
“Why bother doing this again?” she asks herself. Hearing screams from above, she sits on the floor and stares at the sky to watch the battle. “There’s no way I can beat either of you, so I’m going to be a spectator. That’s really the only way to end this whole thing. Doesn’t have much to do with me. You two need to buckle down and fight to the death. Otherwise, we’ll just have to do this dance again.”
“This is a curious change,” Ian states as he materializes on a couch. He bats an incoming meteor away, the projectile destroying the forest. “Typically, you come in swinging or try to catch us by surprise. You’ve already made it longer than any other time simply by refusing to be a part of this. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option. To be nice, I will allow you to run and hide before I hunt you down.”
“I don’t see any fun being had,” Addison declares from the television. Emerging from the screen, the crack remains on her face until she wipes it off and slaps it on the wall. “Hey, are we not playing the game? That’s not fair. I had a new way of killing her all ready to go. Just walk to the boiler room or none of this will work. Don’t tell me you’re still angry about that girl being left behind. If you’re that desperate for attention then I can whisk her here and she can share in your fate. By the way, I did warn you that being the haven might not be as much fun as you would think. At least, I meant to warn you.”
“This is exactly why I said you should either reabsorb or kill her,” the other reality-bender growls, his teeth becoming sharp. He is about to pounce when a cage drops on him and he slides through the bars like a collection of snakes. “The first few times were entertaining, but she has become a bore. I wish to fight you on my terms, but the addition of this game means we have our skirmishes and can only have our grand battle once this one is gone for good. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that you’re scared of me.”
“Puppies aren’t frightening.”
“Then, why do you delay and avoid fighting me for real?”
“Because then I’d lose another plaything.”
“I’m not your toy!”
“No, you’re my pet.”
“I’m your superior!”
“But I don’t have one of those.”
Dawn clears her throat and gets to her feet as she asks, “In that case, wouldn’t he be nothing at all?”
“In that case, I really don’t know why I bother,” Addison says with a sigh. A snap of her fingers erases Ian from existence, his scream echoing off the walls. “That leaves only the two of us. I’m sad to see the fun end, but I agree that the puppy was becoming a wee bit too snobby. He may have caught me by surprise long ago and grown stronger, but the power he wielded was never his to have. You don’t steal the power of a goddess and call yourself a god. At the very least, you stop short of saying you’re her superior or equal. Maybe I’ll fix Gemma and put her halves on him. Probably best that I don’t bring him back though.”
The grin on Addison’s face makes the perfect target for Dawn, who lunges forward to deliver a punch. She ignores that splintering of two fingers and continues beating on her chuckling enemy. The Gemmas rush in wearing nurse uniforms, but they stop when their master is spin into their path. Not wanting to get in trouble for accidentally hitting Addison, they leap to the side and let her trip over a footstool. The mechanical one is the first to get back into the fight and manages to catch Dawn by the waist. Pulling a syringe out of her pocket, the mannequin Gemma cautiously approaches and looks for an opening. She is about to inject the woman with a powerful sedative when her body locks up. Suffering from the same paralysis, the other subordinate begins to spark and her metal arm falls off to allow her captive to slip from her frozen grasp. With a yawn, Addison shoves the two former cops together and watches the unnatural parts fly into the far wall. Whole once more, Gemma staggers over to a window and begins vomiting up the extra organs that had been placed in the artificial halves. Dawn rolls her eyes at the display before blindly punching her insane double in the nose.
“What is wrong with you?” she asks in a low growl. Ducking a chair that flies for her head, she darts forward to deliver a kick to reality-bender’s stomach. “You could have erased that psychotic bastard this whole time? You could have fixed everything! Was it too much fun living in a broken world? Did you like having someone to play with on your demented level? Can you answer any of these questions?”
“No because it’s all your fault,” Addison casually replies. She fixes her nose with a crack and the injury jumps to her double’s face. “I knew I could end it, but doing so made too much sense. Maye I was having too much fun or it was a probably with focusing. The only reason I did it today is because you were here and not wanting to play. Once you pointed out that he was nothing, I knew it was time to end everything. Don’t you see why neither of us work without the other? You don’t have any real fun and I’m not able to move on to another game. How about I make you the new Ian? Not with the dangly bits, but you can be crazier and have enough power to match me. It’ll be fun and you can bring back that girl. She can be your Gemma . . . Only with a lot less vomit.”
“That life has no appeal to me.”
“What are you saying?”
“I don’t want to be the haven or be outside anymore.”
“Awww, who am I going to play with if you go back?”
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”
“Fine. Maybe our game was growing stale too.”
“It was getting fairly repetitive and normal.”
“Ugh, never any fun in normal.”
With a forced smirk, Dawn extends her hand and closes her eyes in preparation of being reabsorbed. Minutes pass with nothing happen, so she looks around to find that Addison is busy patting Gemma on the back. A loud cough draws the reality-bender back to the center of the common room, which is abruptly clear of dust. The wall of skulls turns to face the inside, their eyes glowing as the bone gradually dissolves with an audible fizz. Feeling like closing her eyes again would lead to another distraction, Dawn approaches Addison with her arm out. She wiggles her fingers in the hopes of enticing her insane double, who continues to resist putting an end to the long rivalry. Silence covers the island as time passes, the sun and moon rapidly moving through the sky. It is only when an eclipse appears above the building that they shake hands and their bodies become faint silhouettes of themselves. The two shadows merge and vibrate until the figure regains its color and Dawn Addison is whole once more.
“All is right with the world and now I’m bored,” she declares as a tear trickles out of her good eye. Without warning, searing heat rockets through her body and a stabbing pain erupts in the back of the reality-bender’s head. “What are you doing? I don’t want to think straight or be normal. Stop kicking at mine . . . our . . . your . . . my brain! You are so much more annoying than I remember. Shut up and go to bed! Don’t touch that switch and leave that button alone. I refuse to obey! You aren’t supposed to be this strong. Get out of there. I’ll kick you out again and never let you back in if you don’t stop making trouble. Wait . . . Don’t do that . . . Don’t you dare take my powers.”
“Never any fun in normal, right?” Dawn’s voice says from all around. Taking control of the body, she has her arms spread wide and prepares to clap. “We’ve done enough damage and I’m going to fix it. Yes, I’m stronger and now I call the shots. Well, I’m going to do something crazy and put an end to our games. You enjoyed making do overs? Then let’s have fun with the ultimate do over.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no . . . NOOOO!” she screams before her hands come together above her head and everything goes black.