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Summary: Blood Rose is defeated, for now. Exile is finally made ready for heading to the new world.

Warnings: People are going die in this chapter.

Disclaimer: I do not own Last Exile. If I did, certain people would have gotten much happier endings than they did.

"Bassianus...It can't be.." Alex thought to himself, his pain forgotten in the momentary shock. "How?...Marius, and Euris thought you had been killed after you betrayed them, and allowed her mother to be murdered!"

Whatever illusion of pleasantness the man carried immediately vanished. "I will not be spoken to in that manner! Not by the dog, of an insect queen! Certainly not about that traitor, and the half-breed beast he cared for more than his own queen!" Darius shouted, his face going red with anger.

Alex, and Sophia were both just as furious, though more for the comment about Euris, than what had been said about them.

Darius continued to rant, while his solders calmly awaited orders. "The Maestro was a goddess in mortal form, you lowly beasts had been graced with her presence! Yet you defied her at every turn! Taking for granted the gifts she bestowed upon you, Far more than you deserved! And you!" He growled, pointing at Sophia. "Dared to strike her down. Such a crime cannot go unpunished. Bring her to me!"

Two men stepped forward and grabbed Sophia pulling her away, as the other guards raised their weapons in preparation to fire, keeping Alex, Vincent, and Nestor from protecting her. She did manage to keep hold of the dagger, hiding it in the folds of her long skirt.

"We will begin our war on the betrayers soon." Darius said calmly having regained his composure. He pulled Sophia to him placing a dagger of his own at her throat. "Only those who have remained loyal to Maestro Delphine shall be permitted to live on the new world. Only they are worthy of such paradise. For now, we will settle for vengeance. We will begin with the beast who dared to slay a god."

"You have the wrong beast."

Darius glared at Alex. "Don't be absurd, dog, I saw everything that happened to the Maestro's ship!"

Alex smirked. "But you didn't see what happened inside. Rose vines don't make very good restraints." He raised his now handless arm. "I got loose, and strangled Delphine until her neck snapped. Your "goddess" was dead before the Silvana ever fired that shot."

Darius lost it again, snarling in rage, and allowing Sophia break away from him. When one of the solders tried to grab her, she used her dagger and managed to get a lucky strike at the man's neck. Vincent dived forward and grabbed the fallen man's gun, but earned a shot to the left shoulder for his efforts. Darius dived at Alex, who promptly put a bullet in his head. The other counselors, mostly guild, took advantage of the confusion and attacked the solders.

When it was over, several counselors were dead. Most were injured including Duke Aster who had taken a shot in thigh. He was very put out about this, and made sure everyone knew. He was mostly ignored. Darius' solders were all dead however and some of the guild council members had found a way to keep the rest of the rebels locked out of the store room Hesperia was using a device embedded in the wall to try and make contact with the rescuers. All they could do now was tend to the wounded, and wait for rescue.

"Ow..." Vincent winced as David, who had avoided getting shot, bandaged his shoulder.

"Stop whining you baby." Alex said calmly.

Vincent frowned. "Shut up! You don't know how much this hurts.." He turned glaring, only to see Alex glare right back. "Right....Sorry, I forgot who I was talking to... That was brilliant how you made that up, and got Darius to lose control like that." He grinned he was feeling rather lightheaded again, but Alex remained silent and looked down at his remaining hand resting over the cast.

Sophia, siting on his other side placed her hand over his. "You didn't make that up, did you." She asked her voice barley above a whisper. When Alex still refused to look up. Sophia placed her hands on the sides of his face and lifted his head so she could look him in the eyes, he didn't resist. "Why?"

"When, Actias was talking...The look on your face. I didn't want you to know, I didn't want you to think you had fired that shot for no reason... I'm sorry."

They were silent for a few moments, when Vincent no longer able to stand the tension carefully put a hand on Alex's shoulder. "That was very sweet of you."

Alex turned and glared at him. "No, it wasn't, if I hadn't been such a damn coward about it I would have been the target from the beginning like I should have been and Sophia might not even be in danger."

Silence reigned again for several minutes when Vincent carefully leaned toward David, and Nestor speaking in a loud whisper. "I don't care what he says, I still think it was sweet."

David sighed. "Perhaps you should lie down until help arrives, you are looking a bit pale Vincent."

Vincent smiled. "I can do that!" He said enthusiastically, as he moved to lay on the floor.

Alex looked at Sophia again. "Is that what I was like under the anesthesia?"

Sophia Smiled. "No. You were much worse."

Alex snorted, then winced at the pain, and sat back against the wall carefully. When Sophia reached over and laced her fingers with his a few moments later he didn't pull away.

Rescue came four hours later. All of them whether injured or not were taken immediately to the hospital, and kept there under guard over night. Vincent would ,fortunately, fully recover, As would many of the other survivors. Sophia was only now finding out what had gone on after the rescue.

"When the interrogations were over, and we found the location of the Disith base it looked like the place had been cleaned out for a while. Everything indicated someone had set Darius, and his followers up for a fall." Arthur Campbell stood probably far more relaxed than he should as he finished reporting to his empress, and former captain.

Sophia nodded, sitting once again in the hospital chair beside Alex's bed. "Thank you, Arthur. I'm glad to hear none of you were injured. I wish you luck on your current assignment."

Campbell saluted. "Thank you, Your Majesty...Sophia. We'll be leaving withing the hour. I'll try to pass the luck onto Reciuse. He'll need it with his new apprentice."

Alex snorted, laying in the bed. He'd had his eyes closed the entire time, Campbell had though he was asleep. "What is Dio doing now?" He still didn't open his eyes.

Campbell sighed. "He's decided the ship needs a cat... He's named it Aphid, and is trying to teach it to use the lavatory....So far is seems to prefer Godwin's boots."

Sophia couldn't stop herself from laughing. She was happy for Dio, who was finally getting his wish of being able to return to the Silvana. They had been surprised when the boy had excitedly told them of the guild council had not changed it's previous decision, especially after the indecent with Darius. Though when Sophia thought about it she didn't know what else they would do with the boy. The guild didn't want another Maestro, and even if they did, Dio had been very clear that it would not be him. She would miss him, as she would the rest of the crew, along with Claus, Lavie, and Alvis.

Campbell left soon after, to attend his duties as captain. Alex, and Sophia rested in a comfortable silence for a while. Sophia turned and watched Alex lay with his eyes closed for a few moments, sensing her stare he turned and looked at her. "What?"

She smiled. "How are you feeling?" The injuries from the incident the day before had turned out thankfully, not to be as severe as Alex had originally thought. Two ribs had minor fractures, but it was mostly bruising, knowing that didn't make it any less painful however.

"I'm getting really sick of this bed."

"I knew that. I'm asking if you are in any pain." Sophia stated smiling at him.

"I'm fine... You don't have to worry so much. How is Vince?" He asked to get the subject away from himself.

"Complaining. Dr. Actias says the wound hasn't caused any nerve damage. He should be discharged by tomorrow." She answered. "His parents, and Emma are here. They got into an argument because some battle he was in kept him from showing up at her wedding. She's convinced he did it on purpose."

Alex winced in a rare show of sympathy for his friend. "If you see her heading this way, tell her I'm dead."

Sophia couldn't stop herself from laughing at that. Afterwards she sat beside him quietly as he drifted off to sleep. Later she would go visit with Vincent before heading back into the fray. There was still so much work to be done, but for now she was going to enjoy the peace, and quiet as long as she could.

Time passes, and somehow even the most difficult of goals is reached. The preparations had finally been finished. Celebrations were over. Now it was time for those who were leaving, and those staying behind to part ways. Many families were giving tearful farewells to one another as many prepared to go off into the unknown.

Sophia shook Nester Messina's hand for what she desperately hoped would not be the last time. "I Don't know which of us has the more difficult path to travel. I wish you luck Commander Messina, and I hope to see you again."

Nestor smiled fondly at the Empress. "I wish you luck as well, Your Majesty."

Not far away the crew of the Silvana, along with Alex were saying their good byes to the crew members who had decided to go to Earth, as they had learned their destination was called from Exiles computers.

Ethan seemed increasingly reluctant to let go of Alister's hand. They were both blushing, and Tatiana smirked at them saying something quietly that made them both blush more. Dunya's little brother, and sister were hiding behind her staring at the former captain with an air of caution, as she and Mullin spoke to the mechanics. Sophia had learned, talking to Dunya that the children had decided Alex was scarier than Baba Yaga, She’d had to ask what a Baba Yaga was, never having heard of it before. but not nearly as scary as Dunya when she was angry.

Claus and Lavie were talking with Dio, who seemed determined to hang off of Claus for as long as he could. Vincent, and David walked over to Sophia, and Nestor followed by David's family and Alvis. Sophia knelt down so she could give Alvis a hug. "Good luck. I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too." Alvis replied beginning to tear up.

After everyone leaving had gone aboard and Exile, and the gate of the massive air lock sealed over the ship. Sophia stood for a while watching Exile drift away through the windows of the star ship's dock. It still seemed so strange that only months ago none of them had known this existed. They hadn't even been sure what Exile was. She placed her and on the window, silently praying for the safety of those on board.

She was so lost in though she didn't even notice Alex calling her name until he reached up and gently took her hand. "Sophia? Are you all right?"

She turned and smiled at him. "Sorry. I'm fine. I just.." She looked back out the window.

Alex followed her gaze. "I know. I'm worried too, but if anyone can succeed at this, they can."

She smiled and nodded, still watching the ship. Alex grabbed her hand again. "It's getting late... And, we still have a lot do, so we can be ready when they return."

"When." She thought. "Not if.." She turned and smiled at him. "When did you become such an optimist?"

He laughed a bit, resting his chin on the prosthetic hand he was still getting used too. She had to compliment whoever made it on their work. You couldn't tell it wasn't his real hand until he took his shirt off. "It's not me, it's the pills Actias has me taking. Anyway, I lost Vincent somewhere around the Silvana. We should probably find him before the crew does."

Sophia laughed reaching to turn the chair around, and push it. She had become used to doing so, though he had months ago finally stopped being stubborn, and learned the controls. They chatted lightly over plans for tomorrow, as they went off to search for their wayward friend.

Behind them, a lone ship traveled the stars. Its destination, a tiny blue world waiting for her children to come home.

Author's notes: Baba Yaga, like Vasilisa is from Russian fairy tales


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