Ricardo looked in Dave's room with concern. The younger man's car was in the garage but his gear was gone and so was he. What is this?
"Daddy, what is it?" Caroline asked.
"Dave's gone. Did you see him leave?"
She shook her head. "No, he went to bed as soon as we came back. What's going on?"
"I was hoping you could tell me," he said, looking for answers.
If only I understood the whole thing myself. "It was just as we told you. Dave had a rough trip, but I don't know where he is." Although I can imagine where he's going.
"I just hope he doesn't do anything stupid is all," her father declared.
"I think we're in agreement on that," Jeannie concurred, coming down the hall.
"What now?" Charles inquired.
"Dave's gone," his mother replied.
Charles shook his head. He's gone after Karen. "Can we have his car located or something?"
"It's in the garage but he's gone," Caroline noted. "I guess we wait for news."
And hope he doesn't get himself in more trouble. Ricardo shook his head, thinking about his daughter and the determined boarder. Something told him that this was going to be a day to remember-for all of the wrong reasons.
[Moscow-Party Hotel, Red Square]
Karen gazed out the window at the gathering dusk. For the most part, her captors had left her alone that day. They're busy planning their next move, I'd imagine. Focusing with her senses, she could feel Dave's aura in the distance, gradually becoming stronger. He's coming. Of course he is. Do you think he'd let you rot here? Then she heard a knock at the door and saw it open.
"Miss Alvarez, do you have a moment?" the blonde Super Soldier, Darkstar, wondered as she entered the room.
"It's not like I can say no," Karen retorted.
"I would hope you can help us avoid bloodshed," Darkstar stated.
"How? By convincing my family to come here? By telling my boyfriend to back off? Neither's going to happen. You shouldn't have kidnapped me in the first place," Karen retorted grimly.
"I don't like what they're doing to you, you know," the Soviet agent told her.
"Then do something! Help me to escape!" Karen requested. "Darkstar, right?" Seeing the other nod, she continued, "Why are you helping them to do this to my family?"
"I lived in America for a while and was happy. I know what you talk about, but there is something called duty. I do mine for the Party."
"No questions asked? No matter how wrong it is? Lady, this is slavery, all right?" Karen countered.
Darkstar's face turned red and she was lost for words.
"Be careful, Darkstar, they're listening, you know," the military-looking agent told her while entering the room.
"Ursa Major, I'm not doing anything out of line. Still, don't you ever wonder if we are doing the right thing?" Darkstar countered.
"We have a job to do," Ursus argued. "No more, no less. We need to get her family back here. Let Dubois come. He's no threat to us."
Karen rolled her eyes, as another dark wave crashed across her psyche. Yeah right. But what is going on with you, Dave? I know it's you but there's a different aura from you. It's so dark and angryü.
Suddenly, the alarms went off around the building.
"What?" Darkstar asked.
Then a loud crash echoed up from Red Square followed by a piercing scream.
Both hostage and agents looked out the window at a chilling sight. Two planes and several tanks lay ruined, twisted and contorted like used sardine cans. Worse still, in the midst of the carnage, a single figure bellowed his fury at them.
The Child had arrived. He was ready to take his friend back and damn the consequences.
Chapter 17 [Moscow city limits-Minutes earlier]
Dave reappeared from the portal just outside of Moscow. Not knowing what to expect, he surveyed the airspace around himself. For now, everything seemed normal. Still, he knew that wouldn't last. They'll be sending a reception committee any minute. Find Karen, Dummy, before they find you. He focused, extending his abilities in a sweep of the city before finally getting a fix on his girlfriend. Gotcha. "Come on, Streaker, left!"
The horse complied, eager to get the business at hand finished. He neighed loudly at something.
"What is it?" Dave asked before seeing for himself. Two MiG fighters approached on the late afternoon wind. You have to let them take the first shot.
A minute later, the two fighters fired their cruise missiles at him.
"You've got to be kidding!" the young man hissed, pulling up on the reins and sending his horse on a flight straight up, trying to draw the missiles away from the city below. As he climbed, he tried to form an energy shield to serve as a protective force field and to preserve their air supply.
The chase forced things past the point of no return. About 15,000 feet higher, the missiles continued to gain before finally imploding against the field. Streaker lost his balance momentarily before righting himself. Worse though, Dave took a piece of shrapnel in the arm. The hot metal scorched his left arm and cracked the bone. He ground his teeth, feeling the numbness claim him again.
Having borne him into battle previously, the horse knew better than he did what was happening and stayed the course.
"Now Ah'm pissed!" the Child announced. " 'Mon, lesgo!" With that, he flew straight down at his oppressors like an angry swarm of bees determined to teach an intruder a lesson. As the planes came into view, he released the reins and allowed his hands to glow. "Yer turn, buttwipes!" Firing twin pulses, he took out both fighters with one shot.
As the planes exploded, they sent a deadly hail down on the city. Fortunately, the civil defense sirens had already cleared the square of onlookers, so nobody was hurt.
"Down!" the Child commanded.
Streaker landed in the square right in sight of the gathering troops.
In front of them, a hundred soldiers and four tanks advanced on them.
"Git!" the Dark One told his friend, dismounting and slapping the other's side as gently as he could manage.
The horse snorted.
"Ah said git!" The Child glared at Streaker with renewed purpose. "Ah call ya!"
The horse snorted again and disappeared into the sky clearing the city before anyone could find him.
"'Mon," the Child challenged. "Ya'll wanna fight? Ah don't have all day!"
One of the Soviet commanders spoke into his megaphone. "Comrade Dubois, as much as we admire your dedication, you have fired on Soviet forces and are under arrest! Come along quietly!"
"Ah ain't Comrade! 'Sides, ya'll hit me first, scum ass!" the Child retorted. His eyes smoldered, letting the brown-clad wall of humanity in front of him see the anger there. "Move it or lose it!"
"Fire!" the commander ordered.
The troops fired their machine guns at the intruder as one.
The Child focused, allowing the hail to scatter without touching him. "Ya'll shouldn't have done that!" Allowing his left eye to glow, he emitted a powerful pulse, bowling the whole Soviet force over like so many pins. "Stay down!" Turning on the tanks, he picked them up one by one, flipping them over. Seeing the drivers scramble out, he roared another challenge. "NOW GIT! WHERE IS SHE? BRING 'ER OR AH'M REALLY GONNA GIT PISSED!!!"
The Premier shook his head. He thought that his small force would have dispensed with the American. Now the Super Soldiers will have to deal with him. Speaking into his desk speaker, he commanded, "Comrades, move to intercept the intruder."
Meantime, two floors above, a short man observed the developing scene and fighting a sense of deja-vu. The former scientist and spy had seen his share of action in the field, but now, preferred to do his strategizing behind the scenes. Scratching his enlarged grey head, the Gremlin observed the whole affair with disdain. Just when I tried to use Betty Ross against the Hulk. I warned the others that this would happen.
Turning, he saw a man strut into the room with loud clangs from his red armor. "Crimson Dynamo, what is it?"
"They have summoned us. Put on your armor and come with me," the Dynamo replied. "Why aren't you in it already?"
"I was watching this whole distasteful affair outside," the Gremlin spat as he walked over to the emerald Titanium Man armor and climbed into it. "I'd rather not fight him. It will only end badly for us."
"We are five! He is one! We shall win, Comrade Gremlin!" the Dynamo protested.
"So was the Hulk. This one is at least as powerful. He just dispensed with the city's troops in under five minutes," his teammate noted, powering up the armor. As the twin "eyes" lit up, the Titanium Man turned and asked, "Are the others ready?"
"We are to engage the enemy second. Darkstar and Vanguard are already moving into position. Ursa Major is staying with the prisoner," the Dynamo informed him. Seeing Darkstar flying overhead with her brother in tow, he added, "It's started."
The emerald one opened the window and streaked off in pursuit. May we stop this madness before anyone really gets hurt.
Darkstar let her companion drop to the ground as she took her first look at the enraged Child. "What is this?"
"He's more powerful than we thought," Vanguard admitted. "Still, we'll defeat him." He brandished his hammer and sickle. "Give up, Creature!"
The Child sniggered, "Take this!" He punctuated the response with an energy pulse.
Vanguard quickly crossed his hammer and sickle, focusing his own mutant abilities. As he took the impact, he reflected it right back at the intruder.
The Child flew backward, slamming hard into one of the ruined tanks. "What the Hell?"
"Give up, Comrade, please!" Darkstar requested.
"Nah, Sweets, Ah owe Tool-Boy over here a whuppin' fer that!" the Dark One snarled.
"If you can, Braggart!" Vanguard challenged, rushing him.
But this time, the Child was wise to his gambit. "Do that without yer toys, Bud." Using telekinesis, he ripped the other's weapons from his hands. Then he knocked the other out with another pulse. "Thought so! Stay down!"
"Vanguard!" Darkstar exclaimed with concern. A rush of anger coursed through her as she made her way to his side. Thankfully, he's still breathing. This ends now! "I don't want to do this, but you leave me with no choice!" She pointed at the Child, enveloping him in a bubble of her darkforce. "That should hold you!"
Within the bubble, the Child roared, feeling the cold and dark trap him. In his mind's eye, he was back in Rowenshire being abused by the witch once again. "Not 'gain!" he hissed. Feeling his resentment growing, he touched the side of the prison.
And then he felt a surge of strength from the darkness.
"What the Hell?" the Child wondered. After a few more touches, he realized that this darkness strengthened him just as the dark magic from his former home had created him. "Time to eat!" He relaxed, allowing the darkness to flow into him, strengthening him and flooding him with power.
Outside, the field began to dissipate.
"What?" Darkstar wondered, feeling the assault against her powers. "How can he be doing this?"
Her armored comrades landed at her side. "What is this?"
"He'süconsumingüthe darkforce," she gasped. "Somehow, he's feeding off of it."
At that moment, the bubble disappeared, allowing the trio to see the Child, now glowing with a dark red aura, standing there with a ghastly leer on his face. "Ahhüthat was good! Now, Sweets, try this!" He wheeled and fired a dark burst-not a pulse but dark fire of some kind-hitting her square and knocking her out.
"That's it!" Crimson Dynamo exclaimed, unleashing two repulsor blasts at the Child.
The Titanium Man did the same. Reluctance aside, he wasn't about to let this one hurt his teammates.
The Child sopped up the blasts without as much as a flinch. Then he returned fire with the two armored adversaries' energy, knocking them both out of commission. "Git!" Seeing no one else to oppose him, he stalked off, looking for his friend. Following his impressions, he quickly found the Party Hotel and entered it.
A dozen police officers waited for him in riot gear.
"Jackasses!" the Child growled, telekinetically brushing them aside. "WHERE IS SHE? GIVE 'ER TO ME!" Feeling her presence, he ran toward the stairwell and looked up. "There!" Concentrating, he lifted himself, levitating up through the space until he reached the desired floor.
"KARüEN, WHERE ARE YA?"
"Dave, stop," she called as she appeared with Ursa Major.
"Na Big Bro! Quit it!" he bellowed.
"Stop this or you both die," the bear-mutant commanded.
"Hidin' behind a girl an' makin' threats. Ya're cute," the Child snickered darkly. With a wave of his hand, he ripped Karen from the other's arms and set her down behind him.
"What? You can do that!" she realized.
"Yeah, su'pr'se!" the Child slurred slightly sarcastically. "Stay put!"
Ursa Major roared angrily.
"Ooh an' bear breath too!" the Child noted before blasting him as well down the length of the hall. "Shuddup!"
"Incredible," Ursa Major commented, climbing to his feet.
"Boy gits back up. Cool!" the Child cheered, eager to knock him down again. "Come on!"
Ursa Major shook his head. This one's father is the source of my damnation. Revenge, now! As he charged, he found himself floating several feet in the air. "How?"
"Stupid!" the Child growled, spinning his opponent like a sick top on steroids before releasing him.
The other mutant hit the ground with a loud thump. He slumped to the carpet and fell unconscious.
"Good!" the Dark One exclaimed. "Any other fools?" Seeing nobody else, he yelled, "Smart!" Making his way down the hall, he found Karen trembling where he had left her. "Ya'll okay?"
"Süstay away from me!" she snapped. "What are you?"
"Just yer ride home, Toots," he retorted. "'Lax. Ah ain't gonna hurt ya."
For several minutes, she sat there, curled up in a fetal position at the sight of him. Finally, she managed to collect herself enough to nod nervously, choosing to trust whatever he had changed into over the kidnappers. "Jüjust don't hurt me."
He felt a tear on his cheek. "What the? Hey, Ah would never hurt ya'll. Chill!" Walking over to the window, he whistled loudly into the night sky.
In response, Streaker reappeared over the rooftops, quickly making his way for the hotel and landing on the roof just above them.
"Since when can Streaker fly?" she wondered, her eyes bulging at the sight.
"Since now. 'Mon!" he told her, pulling her toward the stairs and up to the roof. There they found Streaker waiting for them.
She climbed up on the horse's back and looked at him. "We're really going to fly out of here?"
"Yeah," he replied tersely, getting on in front of her. "Ah hope the Russkies stay outta our way!" Then he saw a woman step into view. She had strawberry blonde hair, a thin yet sturdy build, and piercing blue eyes. "'Nother one?"
The woman replied curtly, "I am not one of those fools, Dubois. My name is Roxilana and you might say I'm important here. You accounted well for yourself."
"Yer one of Nickie-boy's friends, ain'tcha?" the Child asked.
"Indeed. And you must keep our secret as well," Roxilana continued, allowing her eyes to glow briefly at the two mortals. "Go now with my blessing, as well as the larger vampire community's. Soon, you and Dijon will meet and your business is your own."
"Keep 'im away if yer smart," he concluded. "Yah! Let's go!"
With that, Streaker took three strides and took off into the darkness over the ancient city.
Roxilana watched the duo fly away and concurred to herself. I agree. Dijon will cause the Community more harm by pursuing him. Now to assure Nicolas and LaCroix about this situation.
"How do we get home?" she asked.
"Watch," he told her.
Then the portal appeared in front of them.
A mist portal? This is the Empress' work! She gaped at the realization that the Elf Queen had involved herself in this matter. As they hit the mists, she felt strange for a minute almost as if she were out of place. A minute later, she saw the smoke clear to reveal the familiar Atlantic coastline beneath them. "How?"
The Child said nothing as they landed in her parents' backyard.
She slid off quickly. Taking a look at Dave in this state terrified her beyond words. Granted, she knew it wasn't his fault, but he was no longer the man she cared about. I can'tü. She ran into the house, seeking safety.
"Aw nuts!" the Child growled, feeling the tears on his face. Dismounting himself, he clapped Streaker's flank. "Thanks. Ah mean that."
Streaker whinnied and brushed his nose against his cheek.
"Thanks. At least, ya know. Go on an' git 'fore we catch any more b. s."
The horse turned and disappeared in the mists, waiting for their next adventure together.
"Screw this!" the Child spat, walking back in the house. "Hey, guys, ya'll here?"
"Dave?" Charles inquired from where he stood, embracing Karen.
"Charles, ummüI have to get something," she excused herself, rushing up the stairs.
The Child snarled, "She's scared of me. Figgers. Tell yer folks Ah'll be back fer our stuff."
" 'Our' stuff?"
The enraged student looked at his friend and yelled, "The stuff that's mine and Big Bro's. Awright? Geez! Ah know when Ah'm not wanted!"
"Dave, stop!" Caroline ordered, rushing down the stairs. "That's not true!"
"Yer all scared of me! That pisses me off, awright? Face it, Ah'm a thingüjust a thing!" he yelled before running into the garage and driving off in the Subaru.
"Where's he going? We have to go after him!" Charles stated.
Caroline shook her head. "Not until later. I think I know where he'll end up. Let's go talk with Karen, Mom, and Daddy first. Then we can go after him."
Her brother followed reluctantly, torn between his sisters and his friend. Dave, I'm coming after you. You shouldn't have to be alone, not after what you've been through.
Chapter 18 [Toronto-Raven: Late afternoon that day]
Despite the hour, Nick had remained at the Raven, waiting for news from the USSR. Thanks to the vampire community's connections and the efforts of Roxilana and Don Constantine, the media had been kept away from the battle while it raged on. "This will expose him and ultimately us," he worried.
"It could," LaCroix clarified. "However, our brethren have seen to it that there are no records of the incident. Somehow, the wreckage has disappeared as have the locals' memories. Amazing."
"That is what happened," Janette reported. "I just heard from Roxilana. Everything is set. Dubois has rescued the girl and vanished into thin air."
"More magic, Nicholas?" the Roman wondered.
"Anything's possible," the former Crusader supposed. Seeing that the sun had set, he made his way up the stairs. "I'll see you both soon." As he walked out, he looked toward the southeast. Somehow, I know we'll run into him again. David, may you have the strength you need to live with your curse. With that, he climbed into the Caddy and drove toward the Loft to change before his shift.
Chapter 19 [Amherst]
April McKenzie sat in her living room wondering about her friends. For most of that day, she had waited by the phone, waiting for word. First, Karen disappears. Then Dave and Garth vanish. What's going on? And why doesn't anyone have word from them? She paced about the area, her nerves wrenching her stomach into knots.
Then she heard a knock from the door.
"Yes?" she asked, looking through the peephole. "Garth!" She opened the door quickly and ushered him inside. "Come in! What's been going on?"
He took a deep breath. "It's over, April. Dave and Karen made it out of there."
"She's safe? Have you talked to her?" April demanded.
"No. Let's say I had a direct view of the whole thing," he replied. And I saw Dave go berserk in the process. Recalling the prophecy told during their trek to Lousain's fortress, he gulped. That little creep, Garogli, said as much about Dave.
"And what happened? What did Dave blow up this time?" she asked, worrying about the ramifications.
"Oh. He really didn't blow up anything, but those troops won't forget him," he reported.
She shrugged. Where Karen's concerned, nobody forgets him. The phone rang and she answered it. "Hello?"
"Hi, April, it's Karen," Karen replied.
"Karen! My word, it's good to hear from you! Are you all right?" April inquired enthusiastically.
"I'm okay. Jüjust a little scared is all. Dave brought me home. Speaking of Dave, is he there?" Karen reported.
"No. Why?" April wondered, staring at Garth. "Karen, where is he?"
"We don't know. He scared me with this one, April. Iület it show and he took off," Karen noted, breaking down at the end.
"Karen, it's okay. We'll keep an eye out for him if he shows up here. Do you want me to give him a message?" April tried to assure her.
"That's okay. I need to tell him something about our relationship. April, we can't date anymore. I can't deal with him like this," Karen admitted, fighting to get the words out between sobs.
"What did he do? Did he hurt you?"
"No, he didn't touch me. But IüI can't deal with this anymore. My parents and Caroline just left for Amherst. Sorry, but I can't talk about it. Have my parents call me when they get there. Thanks," Karen concluded, hanging up.
"What the heck? April, what's wrong?" he asked.
"Dave did something to spook her. She wants to break up with him. Now we know why he took off," she said, trying to wrap her head around the whole situation.
After everything, she's breaking up with him. "I'm going to check on something. Be back."
She watched him leave. Find him, Garth. Dave, don't do anything rash.
[Amherst Cemetery-Twenty minutes later]
The Child hissed in disgust as he looked around at the empty graveyard. Finally, he stopped in front of the combined Dubois/Alvaro stone and kneeled in front of it. "Hey. It's us. We got 'er back. But she doesn't like us anymore. Ah can't live there anymore. This really sucks! Ah didn't ask fer this!" he ranted.
Only a slight breeze answered him.
"Why? DAMN IT! Why? What did Ah do?" he yelled, the tears streaming down his face. He screamed his agony to the sky before breaking down completely.
"Dave?" Garth asked cautiously, not knowing what to expect.
"Not Big Bro!" he snapped. "Wha'cha want?"
He is different. Remember, Garth, don't harass him. "Are you okay?"
"Ah guess. Jus' wish she 'ppreciated us. Ah don't have 'er or a home," the Child retorted sadly.
"I don't know what the deal with her is, but her parents are heading up here right now," Garth argued. "Somehow, I think it's going to be okay. You're not alone. You're never alone."
"Ya think so?" the Child sighed.
"Come on," Garth agreed. "April's going to have coffee waiting for us."
[Two hours later]
Caroline and her parents finally arrived at April's house. The drive seemed longer than usual due to their nerves. Seeing the Subaru there, however, they felt relieved.
"Come on!" Caroline urged, hustling out of the car and up to the front door.
"Caroline, be careful! We don't know howü" her mother argued.
The younger woman turned, countering, "Mom! How can you say that? He would never hurt us!"
"Maybe not intentionally, but he's not exactly in the right frame of mind tonight," Ricardo noted.
"Well, he does need support and I aim to give it to him," Caroline asserted, knocking on the door.
April opened it. "Caroline! It's good to see you and your parents. Come in all of you!"
"How is he?" Jeannie wondered.
"He's sleeping on the couch. Hi, everyone," Garth greeted as they entered the living room.
The Alvarezes looked at Dave.
He tossed and turned, moaning and hissing.
"What is this?" Ricardo wondered.
"Good question," April responded. "I wish I knew why he was raving earlier tonight."
"The witch," Caroline asserted. When the others turned to her, she continued, "Last night, while we were in Rowenshire, he changed. According to that friend of his grandfather's, Dr. O' Connor, she cursed him."
"Can't we just call Father Richard, then?" April asked.
"No," Garth disagreed. "This is too far gone for that. He has to live with this condition now." I just hope you're right, Grimwilkin.
At that moment, Dave's eyes snapped open and he sat up abruptly. "So cold. So dark. IüI'm back."
"You are indeed, and you had us all worried sick," April admonished. "That's quite a wound on your arm."
He looked at the bandaged area. "Yeah. I guess it is. So what about Karen? Is she okay?"
They looked at him. "What do you mean? You brought her home and you don't remember?"
"The last thing I remember is that missile exploding and getting hit by the shrapnel in Moscow. After that, it's a blank," Dave admitted.
Garth shuddered, having watched the entire battle with Meroli and Grimwilkin. "You're kidding, right?"
"I don't remember anything. I just know that Karen's hurting over something right now. I should go talk to her," Dave realized.
"No, Dave," Caroline disagreed. "That's not a good idea."
"Why? What is it?" Dave asked, staring at her. "What did I do to her? Did I hurt her?"
"No, but you scared her somehow. She still won't talk about it," Caroline revealed.
"Great. Well I guess I should clear my things out and find another place," Dave presumed.
"You are going to do nothing of the kind," Ricardo admonished. "Dave, you may have problems, but you have earned your place in that house. I think it's best that you start on your Ph D. and move on with your life, but you'll always be a part of the family."
"Give Karen time, all right?" Jeannie requested. "She has to move on too. Meantime, your home is with us and don't forget that."
"Move on? Did we break up or something? Oh man, not this!" Dave protested.
"You said as much when I found you in the cemetery," Garth pointed out.
"This is for you," Caroline declared, handing Dave a folded note. "Karen wanted to tell you this, but couldn't do it in person. For what it's worth, I'm sorry."
Dave opened the note and read the words, feeling them cut his heart. They said:
I never thought I would have to write something like this message. They say that love is forever. I guess it is. I appreciate that you came after me today as you always do when I'm in trouble. That hero streak in you is endearing and it makes what I have to say all the harder for me.
We can't be together anymore.
Today, I saw the darkness rise in you. It was scary, wicked, and wild. It's like you were someone else. I can't deal with that, not knowing if it's really you I'm with or that thing. I know you're asking yourself what I mean. The thing I mean is that Voice I heard; the one that came to life in the hospital back in Smallville. I guess it's finally developed.
I've asked my parents to let you stay with them, as if I needed to do so. You need them, Dave, as well as Charles and Caroline. You need our friends both here and in Tucson. You need stability. And everyone needs you too. You're a source of strength for us. Now it's their turn to be there for you.
Please, please understand, I don't hate you. I could never do that. You're a part of me. I will always treasure our relationship. I will always care for you, but I can't deal with what you're becoming and for that I'm sorry.
Be safe, well, and happy always, My Love.
Best wishes always.
Dave bowed his head as he rode the wave of consternation. "What is this? Why is this happening now? Why?" He released his rage in one giant scream, startling everyone in the room.
Not again. "Dave, stop, it's okay." April tried to console him. "I'm sure Karen had her reasons for this."
"Ya'll think so?" the Child chortled, emerging again and staring at them all. "Look at us. We didn't ask fer this!"
April backed away, her face turning white. "Garth? What is this?"
"He don't know! Nobody knows! An' nobody cares 'bout us! Ya say ya do, but yer scared. Ah wouldn't hurt ya'll. Now quit it! If ya'll are gonna be pissy shit, Ah'll take care of Big Bro. Chicken shits!" the Dark One ranted, plopping back on the couch and drifting off to sleep.
"What did he mean 'us'?" the hostess asked curiously.
"There are now two in there," Caroline replied to everyone, caressing the sleeping man-child's brow and wiping his tears. "And he won't hurt us."
Her parents looked at each other. This new state of affairs was going to take some getting used to. However, for Dave's sake, they affirmed their decision to stay the course. He wouldn't have to go through this dark hell by himself, no matter the consequences for them all. They owed him that much.
Onto Part 4
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