Chapter 8 Judge and Jury

The two armies are now within a stones throw from each other and Halo is nowhere to be seen. Within a minute or so these two colossal forces will meet and the war will begin. Siren, leading her own army forward, begins to speed up and raises a small staff above her head as she advances. The army behind her does the same with swords and axes in hand. "It is time!" She yells, "Be strong my warriors!" She, Zero, Lara, Shiv, Aly, Perk, Joda, and Max all disappear and the warriors behind them finally collide. A swirl of green and red bodies covers the once calm plains.

"What happened?" Zero asks quietly as he looks around the room they appeared in. They are all in the giant white room where Halo had killed the phoenix. He spots Aly and Perk at the other end of the room and pulls out his sword. "We'll just continue here! It doesn't matter what happens to those peons out on the battlefield, all that matters now is who gets out of this room alive!" He begins to run at his enemies but a wall of fire erupts from the floor and sends him flying backward.

"That's enough!" comes an unknown voice. "I brought you all here to settle something on my terms." Three balls of fire shoot out of the wall and strike the black wristbands on Perk's, Aly's and Joda's hands. They all shatter and fall to the floor.

Joda, a tall blonde man with bright green eyes steps forward, "Who's doing this? Show yourself!"

But the voice doesn't answer, instead it says, "Sit and everything will be explained to you." And 8 chairs appear, one behind each person. Everyone in the room sits down without question except one person. Max walks over to the wall and states, "We are missing 2 people from this meeting. One, my father and two we are missing Halo. Shouldn't you get them here as well?

The voice takes a few seconds then says, "This meeting does not concern your father, and this meeting is to find a way to stop him. And Halo is dead, so please, take your seat." A few people around the room gasp at the last part of that sentence.

"Wadda you mean Halo's dead?" Siren yells at the firewall, still separating the two rival sides of the room.

"I mean what I said, Halo is dead. And it is nobodies fault but your own." The voice says calmly.

"My fault? How exactly are you blaming his death on me? I wasn't even with him!" Siren stands up and stomps her foot on the floor.

"Calm down. I'll explain that first. When you left him with the sword and the phoenix in this very room you forgot to take into account one thing. Phoenix are immortal, so when Halo struck it with the Soulreaver Blade, it caused a chain reaction that destroyed them both." It explains.

"I thought you said the Phoenix is immortal? How can it have been destroyed?" Lara asks quietly.

"Allow me to continue. When they were destroyed they turned to ash, along with your precious sword, and the phoenix's resurrection ability came into effect. From the ashes sat up a new being, not the phoenix, nor was It Halo, but a mix of the two, a hybrid if you will." The voice stopped abruptly.

"Then where is this being?" Shiv asked in amazement.

"You're looking at it." The wall of fire in the middle of the room began to change shape. It melted to the floor then reapportioned itself to the shape of a young human body. It went from glowing hot fire to solid clothes and a body. In the center of the room stood a boy, probably about 14, wearing a baggy cream-colored t-shirt and matching pants. Over top of them were many red silky sashes and a long red scarf. Over his right shoulder and across his back was a huge double-edged blade that almost touched the floor. On the top end of it a glowing red orb seemed to float just an inch away from the blades handle. The boy's hair was average length for a boy and looked a little messy. It was the same color as Halo's once was, white, but above his ears there were fluffy patches of bright red hair. His eyes where a radiant gold and seemed to be glowing slightly. "Now on to the real subject, Gryphon. Aly, do you remember anything that happened while you were under the control of that bracelet?"

"No, not really, the last thing I remember was rolling over to go to sleep and seeing Max standing there, everything after that is a blur." She explains. Several heads turn to look at Max, but he doesn't seem to notice.

"Well then I only have one more question." The boy walks over to max and stares at him with his glowing gold eyes. "Was your father making you do the things you did?"

Max takes a moment to answer but finally sighs and says, "If you mean did he use mind control to get me to do them, then no. But it's not like I had a whole lot of choice, it was either do what he said or he would never have anything to do with me again. I mean he's still my father."

"I see." Max's chair moves to the front of the room and everybody else's form two lines facing him. The boy walks over and puts his hand on the back of Max's chair, "Let the trial begin." A large seat forms behind the boy and he sits down. The floor around the room changes to marble and all of the chairs change to wood. After a few seconds the entire room transforms into a massive old roman looking courtroom.

"Trial? What do you mean trial?" Max tries to stand up but the chair wont let him. "And why can't I get up?"

"I have called you all here today for one reason. Gryphon is trying to take over our nation, and this boy has helped him along the way. Whether he is guilty or not is completely up to you, but once you give me your decision, it is final and there is no changing your mind." The boy looks around the room at the people he once knew as friends. "I know each and every one of you and how you think. So I am pretty sure I know your answer already."

Aly stands up and looks up at the boy, (he is now elevated above the rest of them) "How can you sit there and put one of your best friends on trial? What's happened to you Halo?"

"I am not Halo. I may have all of his memories but I don't feel any remorse for anything he has done throughout his lifetime. I know that he loved you, and he still does inside me. But that does not mean I love you. After all I just met you." He continues, his eyes stop glowing and return to there original blue, like Halo's were. "Don't be sad, Aly. I still love you. . ." The boy shakes his head and his eyes return to the glowing gold. "Now, is there anyone who has anything to say about this boy?"

"I say he's guilty!" Zero yells and Siren stands up and claps. But after a few seconds of that it stops, everyone else in the room seems to think the opposite because they are just glaring at them. Siren sits down and Zero blushes slightly as Lara stands up.

"I see no reason why we can't forgive him. His father manipulated him into doing these things for him, and I'm sure he wouldn't have hurt any of his friends." She states. Everyone in the crowd nods their heads in agreement except Siren.

"But look at him, he is the same person who kidnapped you and made you into slaves for his father! How can that be forgiven?" Siren stands up and blurts. "This can't go unpunished."

"But he made me! He said if I didn't do it he would have them killed, so it was either have them fight with me or have them dead!" Max yells. The phoenix boy just sits quietly tapping his finger on the arm of his chair and watches the arguments take place. Then he interrupts.

"I want to hear the point of view from the people he turned against. Do you three have anything to say?" He looks down at Aly, Perk and Joda.

Perk steps forward and clears his throat. "I didn't really know Max, but if what he says is true, then I don't see any reason to punish him. I owe my life to him if he is telling the truth." The other two agree by nodding their heads.

"Well it seems to me that you have spoken. Max is innocent in ALMOST everyone's eyes." He tells the crowd but looking mainly at Siren when he says it. "One last question for you Max. Are you willing to help us in an effort against Gryphon?"

Max doesn't look at the boy but instead at Aly, Perk and Joda, "Yes, I will be happy to aid you in your fight."

The room around them returns to its original white state and the courtroom disappears. All of them walk over and shake Max's hand except Siren, who stands stubbornly at the other end of the room. After the crowd clears from around Max he walks over to Siren and extends his hand in friendship. She looks at it for a minute but finally gives in and shakes it. She pulls him close to her and whispers in his ear, "I'm watching you kid, you had better stay in line."

"It's settled then, we start our resistance today! But it seems that we will need troops, all of ours were just destroyed. . ." The Phoenix boy says.

"How do you know that?" Max asks turning back around to avoid looking into Sirens eyes.

"See for yourself." The wall turns into a giant picture and depicts the field that the two armies were fighting in. The ground is covered in bodies, most of which are wearing red. What's left of the green army is seen retreating toward the mountains.

Siren walks up to the image and puts her hand on it, "Not necessarily, if you can get me to that field quick enough I can resurrect those soldiers. Can you teleport us back there?"

"I'm sorry, I can't use that ability again, and I'm not really all that sure how I did it in the first place. But I can get your there pretty quick." The boy tells her as he walks to the wall and pulls on it, a door appears and swings open. "Follow me!"

They all follow the boy in silence out through the castle and into the courtyard. When they get to the ledge of the floating yard he stops them. "Jump." He says as he sits down.

"You want us to jump while you just sit here? I don't think so!" Aly looks over the ledge and steps back. "That's like 5 miles down!"

"I know, jump. Don't worry, I will make sure you don't hit the ground." He looks at her and smiles, "Besides, why would I kill all of my new friends?"

They all walk to the edge and look nervously at each other. "Okay, on three." Shiv says

"One. . . Two. . ." Siren starts.

"THREE!" Lara interrupts and they all jump over the edge and plummet toward the giant planet below them.

"How do you think Halo is going to stop us?!" Aly yells to Perk.

"It's not Halo, Aly! Don't worry bout it though, I'm sure he has a plan." Perk says nervously. Just then a red streak flies down past them. It stops about 30 feet below them and spreads its wings.

"It's the Phoenix!" Lara yells and points at it.

"Yeah, but it's a lot bigger than it used to be." Zero notices as they fall closer to it. "And what are those white feathers on its wings?" They all land softly on the giant birds back as it flaps its gigantic wings and goes towards the battlefield.

Lara examines the streak of white feathers that borders the wings, "This must be the boy! He is part phoenix after all!"

"Do you think he can get us there quick enough, Siren?" Zero asks while whipping a small red feather off of his chest.

She looks to the direction they are headed, "Yes, it's not really all that far. And he's moving pretty fast." She comments. They are moving twice as fast as the original phoenix had flown even though he was carrying a lot more people. After about an hour of flying they found themselves slowing down over a bloodstained field. "Let me off right beside the battlefield." Siren yells to the bird.

Moments later Siren is standing next to the pile of bodies and the rest of them are flying overhead watching in awe. I bright blue light erupts out of the ground and covers the entire field within seconds. It becomes so bright that all of the others have to look away, but after about a minute the light vanishes and in it's place stands hundreds of thousands of warriors, most wearing red, but some wearing green.

"Why aren't Gryphon's warriors fighting back?" Aly asks squinting down at the ground below them.

"Anyone Siren resurrects becomes attached to her spiritually. They have no choice but to be loyal to her because if it weren't for her, they would be dead." Zero says grimly, "That's why I take all the shit from her that she can dish out. She forgets that even though I am in great debt to her, I should have the basics freedoms of life."

"She resurrected you?" Lara looks taken aback, "I never knew that."

Siren jumps up and floats above her new life, "Follow me my friends! I have an underground palace near here and you are all welcome there for a great feast!" She flies off toward the mountainside and all of her warriors run behind her cheering and yelling happily.