Chapter Seventeen

Angel stumbled over the uneven sand dune, struggling under the weight of three atomic pulse cannons. The ground beneath her shifted with every step and she had already fallen several times. She could see the creatures floating in the air a few hundred metres in front of her, along with the occasional shot from the laser guns which happily signaled that Keen was still alive. Reaching the top of the large dune she glanced down in relief as Keen finally came into view. He was holding off a large pack of the creatures but would soon be running out of water containers, a fact which Angel knew meant certain death. He had been slowly moving towards the downed space cruiser with every water container he'd thrown and had managed to shuffle several metres closer to the ship than when she'd left him.

"Keen!" Angel shouted, sliding her way down the massive dune.

"You stupid little-." He hissed without bothering to turn around. "I told you to get the hell out of here- and where is the ship!?"

Angel was panting heavily by the time she reached his side. "It needs a while to power up…" She watched as he picked up one of the last remaining water bags and threw it into the air. The creatures scattered again as he aimed the laser gun atthe bagand it exploded instantly.

"Now move…" He snapped, spinning around and heading back towards the dune she'd just run down. Angel followed him, glancing over her shoulder, as the creatures seemed to be re-grouping to charge at them again. Keen smiled at her suddenly. "I see you brought me a present."

Angel almost laughed. "Ya. Don't say I never got you anything nice." She panted, throwing a pulse cannon at him. The twostrapped to her back still weighed her down significantly, but in the struggle for life or death she barely noticed.

"Well, let's see what these babies can do." He muttered, spinning around and dropping to one knee half way up the dune hill. He aimed quickly and watched hopefully as the cannon emitted a sonic sound wave that sped towards one of the encroaching creatures. He shouted in triumph as it tore a watermelon-sized hole in the monster. "Good girl!" He exclaimed, aiming at a few more of the creatures, hope renewed that they might actually make it off the god forsaken planet alive.

The monsters seemed to be growing ever more distressed. Their high-pitched shrieking had grown even louder and Angel resisted the urge to plug her ears and instead pulled one of the cannons off her shoulder and began aiming it. She'd never fired a pulse cannon before and hoped to god she wasn't about to blow her own arm off. They were very powerful, very illegal weapons. She pulled the trigger and felt herself being flung backwards against the dune. Sand stung in her eye and she began coughing loudly.

Keen's laughter wasn't making her feel any better either… "Shut up!" She hissed, noticing with relief however that she'd hit her target. "I don't usually shoot flying monsters with illegal pulse cannons so cut me some slack buddy!"

"Keep moving backwards!" Keen roared at her, reaching over to grab the other pulse cannon off of her back. It was obviously weighing her down.

Angel nodded and began the tricky task of moving up the unsteady dune.

"How much father?" He asked without pausing, still constantly pulling the trigger on the pulse cannon as he jogged upwards as fast as he could.

"Down this hill and over the next." She assured him, wishing she were strong enough to be able to move up the hill and fire her weapon at the same time.

"Kiernan alright?"

"Ya! He's gonna be fine!" She assured him, shouting over the noise of the sonic booms the guns were making with each shot.

"I thought I told you to stay in the cruiser!" He snapped, annoyed but not really surprised.

Angel laughed quickly. "And when the hell did I start listening to you?" She asked, pausing to aim and fire the gun again. She managed to stay on her feet this time and sent Keen a triumphant smile.

"Bravo." He muttered. "Only a few dozen left… we may actually make it out of this alive."

"Is that a promise?"

"I told you- I don't do promises." He informed her grimly. "Less talking, more shooting."

Angel did as she was ordered, and by the time they'd reached the top of the dune felt ready to collapse. She glanced down at her cannon and frowned. "My battery's almost out." She informed Keen miserably; noticing with despair that he'd already discarded one of the cannons himself. She doubted they could make it all the way up and over the next dune with only one pulse cannon.

Keen nodded slowly. "OK, don't shoot again unless you're sure you're gonna hit something. Stop here- we'll take'em all out and then run like hell, got it?"

Angel nodded and positioned herself as firmly as possible in the loose sand. She began firing and was pleased to note that all of her shots hit their targets. She pulled the trigger again before sighing unhappily at the empty clicking noise her gun made. "That's it!" She shouted. "I'm out!"

Keen nodded before shooting the last of the creatures with their one remaining weapon. "Let's go!" He urged, knocking the useless gun out of her hand and taking off at a break neck speed towards the next dune.

Angel stumbled down the hill after him and almost allowed herself to smile in triumph. The creatures were dead and the space cruiser was only a few hundred metres away. If they could just make it over the next hill they would be safe and sound. She glanced up suddenly and stopped dead in her tracks.

They were only small black specks at the moment but Angel knew instinctively what they were. All along the horizon, as far as she could see the creatures were moving towards them. A fresh wave of monsters was closing in on them, originating from the same direction as the space cruiser. She moaned quietly and almost fell to her knees in despair.

Keen had also stopped in his tracks, mesmerized by the sight of so many of the large, black creatures. He didn't need to look down at the battery level on the pulse cannon to know they were never going to make it through this new pack and he sighed in defeat. Angel stumbled towards him and then past him slightly, her eyes never wavering from the hideous sight in front of her.

"I didn't think it would end like this…" She choked out quietly. Tears pooling automatically in her eyes. "I'm sorry I ever said I wanted a little more excitement in my job." She laughed unsteadily, only it sounded a lot more like a sob. The creatures were moving slowly towards them and she knew they didn't have much time left. She turned around and smiled bravely at Keen. "Actually, it's not so bad. I can't say I regret any of this."

Keen tore his eyes away from the cloud of darkness heading towards them and looked down at her reluctantly. There were so many things he wanted to say. "I wish I'd met you ten years ago."

Angel had to laugh despite herself. "I would have been twelve." She muttered deadpan.

"I bet you still would have given me hell though."

"You know it!" She choked out on a sob.

"I don't regret any of this either Angel. For this first time in a long time… I actually felt something and… I tried to do what was right."

Angel nodded. "I know." She flung herself into his arms in despair, digging her fingers into his back painfully. "I don't mind so much… as long as I'm with you…" She felt his strength flowing through her and rested her head against his chest calmly. "Just promise not to let me go- no matter what…"

Keen wrapped his arms around her tightly. "I promise."

Angel almost laughed, she'd finally gotten him to promise her something…

Keen felt the cool splash of tears against his arms and held on to her tighter. "Don't cry. We're gonna be together until the end, I promise."

"I'm not crying." She assured him. "I'm not scared."

Keen suddenly pushed her away from him and stared at her intently. The creatures were only a few metres away but his eyes never left her face. She really wasn't crying. She looked almost serene and then Keen felt it again. A soft splash of water against his skin. "Angel…" He began slowly, almost afraid to say the words. The eyes staring back up at him suddenly became saucer wide.

Water splashed down onto her nose, her cheeks and her forehead.

"It's… raining…" She whispered reverently. Her eyes flew to the creatures in painful expectation. They seemed just as surprised as she was. Their skin had started to sizzle slightly and they were flying around hysterically as the light shower slowly became heavier. The creatures began flying into each other and shrieking loudly as water suddenly cascaded down in buckets on them.

Keen, standing beside her began shouting and Angel pushed herself out of his arms and stumbled forward slightly, before collapsing down onto her knees in shock.

The monsters were dying.

They were defenseless against the rain as it pounded at their bodies mercilessly. They shrieked shrilly and painfully before their bodies exploded in a cascade of black liquid that seemed to be swallowed by the heavy rain.

Angel's hair became plastered to her head while her clothes stuck to her clammily. But she didn't care; it was suddenly the greatest feeling in the world to be cold and wet in the middle of a desert.

Keen shouted once more loudly before throwing himself at her so that they both went flying down to the bottom of the dune. Angel started laughing as mud sloshed in her hair and caked itself to her bare skin.

"Officer Manning?" Keen asked, still holding her to him as they lay in the wet, muddy sand.

"Yes sir, Sergeant Keen?" Angel responded, in the same mock serious tone, gazing at him ecstatically.

"Have I ever told you, you look damn fine cover with dirt and sand?"

Angel couldn't help it, she started laughing instantly. "Yes actually, you have." She reminded him, wrapping her arms around him so thatshe could hold him just as tightly as he was holding her.

"Well, Officer Manning?" Keen demanded, smiling as the rain kept hammering into them.

"Yes sir, Sergeant Keen?"

He could hear in the background the sound of a space cruiser being lifted and smiled.

"Do you believe now would be the appropriate time for kissing?" He asked, still in his best army drill sergeant voice.

"Damn right I do!" She assured him quickly, before their lips met.



Author's note: Well, there it is! THE END! Exciting huh? I actually finished a story! WHU HUU! Yay me! I also wrote a tiny epilogue to this story but then felt it was a bit too cheesy to post- I was thinking of just deleting it but if anyone is interested let me know and I guess I can post it… But I don't really like it

I just want to say thank you to anyone who bothered to stick around this long. I have to admit I loved telling the story of smart assed Angel and bad assed Keen. They felt very comfortable to me and I'm going to miss them… sniffle

Thanx to: blessedchild, aureliasilver, kiki, didntcryonce, freakage, darkhime, esperenze, ozchild, regen, prayingpiper, sen, miz, crystaldusk and everyone else who reviewed (sorry if I didn't get everyone… but I still luv ya!)

I'm still working on "A Murder of 6" though and might one day get around to finishing "Destine" (hopefully)… So ya'll haven't heard the last of me!