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"A Death in the Family"
Space Century 361.98
by M.R.

His slumber was not at all peaceful. As he slept, he shook and grumbled and fought against the confines of the tiny, tiny space that was his prison. His body was a single, aching mass of pure, exquisite pain, not only because of the fact that he had been cramped up for 991 years, but also due to the fact that he could still feel the wounds of the battle that had put him in his predicament.

In his dreams, he relived each wound, and as he did, his mind reflected back on the attacker who had inflicted it. Pure hatred rose up inside the mind of the demon as he recalled each person responsible for his defeat: Terrick... Rolf... Laya... Orakio...

Orakio! He was the worst of them. Terrick had betrayed him, just as he had finally, after waiting so long, started the Great Merge. (Not that Terrick and the other Earthmen would have been spared, once the seal had been opened.) Rolf was the one who freed him from the Earthmen's prison, and then the one who ultimately sent him into space, allowing him access to the escaping fleet of colony ships. With great joy, he destroyed them one by one. Sometimes he would terrorize the citizens by appearing to them and crushing their cities with his claws. Other times, he would stay out in space, and simply rip the ships apart from the outside.

But when he reached Alisa III, he took a far more subtle approach. He decided to make the Palmans eliminate each other, and then feed off of the evil they created. It worked for a while, but then something went horribly wrong, and he started hearing of "Laya's Law" and "Orakio's Law" and soon the two twits were there and then...

Then, as Laya pulverized him with arrows from her bow, Orakio drove his black sword straight through his heart... and he was defeated.

After that, there had been nothing but sleep. Nine hundred ninety-one years and counting, so far -- almost a millennium. If he was still in the other dimension, this would be a time of celebration, for the seal would soon be weakened, and the Desans would soon be challenged. In recent times, the celebrations had been even more joyous, for without the Great Light's miserable Desans, Algo's destruction was very close now, ind--

Suddenly, the demon awoke. But the cessation of his not-so peaceful sleep did not result in a pleasant morning. Instead, he woke to his worst nightmare ever.

He awoke to an "alarm clock" that was across not only the galaxy but the great dimensional rift, as well. With a scream of mental agony and emotional torture, he pounded on the stone of the altar he was encased in, lashing out with all his might. However, Orakio's sword still resided within his heart, and so each time he moved so much as an inch, his body was taught a new meaning of the word pain. But the demon did not care, for the shock and panic caused by what just happened light years away far outweighed any physical pain that could ever be inflicted upon him.

"Let me out!" he cried, beating his claws against the prison walls around him. "I must return! Let me out!"

After several long moments and a few deep breaths, the demon finally calmed down and ceased his struggle. It was no use. He was trapped, just as he had been for the last 991 years. There was no way he could get back to Algo now. All he could do was grieve.

Before this moment, the only times the words "grief" and "Dark Force" could be linked in any way was in reference to the grief the demon caused the people of Algo. But that was before... the unthinkable happened.

That was before the Profound Darkness had been destroyed.

Thinking the words caused Dark Force to scream once again. How could it have happened? With Palma gone, Algo's destruction was supposed to be in the bag this time. The galaxy was doomed. The Great Light was about to lose. But now...

Slowly, as he sat trapped inside a stone altar in a Sunken Palace deep in the ocean of Landen on Alisa III, Dark Force -- the same Dark Force who had aided (and had then been betrayed by) the Earthmen; the same Dark Force who fought Rolf on the space ship Noah; the same Dark Force who had destroyed the fleet of Palman vessels; the same Dark Force who was ultimately defeated by Orakio and Laya -- came to a realization. The Profound Darkness was dead, yes. But what was he? Was he not but a portion -- an extension, if you will -- of the Profound Darkness? Was he not the most vile and evil aspect of the Profound Darkness's personality personified?

Dark Force's face twisted into an evil grin. For thousands and thousands of years, he and his kind had attempted to destroy Algo so that the Profound Darkness could return to this dimension and destroy the entire galaxy. Someday, some nitwit would stumble upon the ruins of the Sunken Palace. Perhaps it would be an archeologist, or a treasure hunter. It didn't matter. Someday, someone would come along and pull Orakio's sword from the altar, claiming it for his own.

Shortly after that, the demon would awake once again. At that time, he would claim the galaxy for his own. And when the entire galaxy had been destroyed, then he would return to Algo, and once he arrived, he would reintroduce the Motavians and the Dezorians and the remaining Palmans to the Black Energy Wave. In their death throes, they would then learn the true nature of the words... Dark Force!

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