At the End of the Tunnel [A GONE Fanfiction]

In the span of two days, the FAYZ went from a slowly darkening hell to a clear dome that showed the outside world, and the Gaiaphage went from being a writhing mass at the bottom of a mineshaft to inhabiting the body of Diana and Caine's baby. The endgame is coming. Fast. The stakes have been set higher than ever before, and every eye on the planet is trained on Perdido Beach as the final battle of the FAYZ plays out for all to see.

Light, as imagined by me.

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3. Three

Three
69 Hours 34 Minutes

Sam sat in the back seat of the truck, next to Toto, as Edilio carefully drove down the highway. The windows were shut, and the truck was crawling down the road, making the whole thing a very hot and uncomfortable experience.
"Edilio," he said, growing tired of sitting in the truck, "How much longer until we reach PB? I can't take much longer in this car."
"That is true," Toto said, "He cannot take much longer in the car."
"I don't know the exact time, man," Edilio said back to the two, "But judging from where we are, maybe another half-hour or so." Sam sighed, slumping his face into his hands, looking out of the window at the barren landscape. The horizon was dotted with several bright shapes; the real world, he supposed. But then again, there wasn't much of anything out here, so it had to be the rest of the planet. Watching the FAYZ. Captivated by a couple of hundred kids that were starving, traumatised, and fighting to survive every day. Unable to do anything but watch, distracting the kids from the horrors of the FAYZ. It was amazing what seeing your parents could do to you. His mother was down there, and Astrid's parents, probably. Who knew? Perhaps if the two of them went down to the barrier, together, then they could take comfort in knowing that their children were happy together.
"He doesn't believe that, Spidey," Toto murmured, fixated on one of the various cracks on the windows. Sam stared at him. Edilio slowed the truck down.
"Hold on. What are you on about?" Edilio questioned, looking at Toto through the mirror. The strange boy was staring blankly into space, a hand clenching his long hair.
"Sam," Toto responded, "Sam doesn't believe that his and Astrid's parents will take comfort in knowing about their relationship." Sam's blood turned to ice.
"But Sam didn't say anything," Edilio said, confused.
"His mouth didn't," Toto said, "But his mind did. Didn't it, Spidey?"

Sam and Edilio stared in a mixture of confusion, awe, and horror at Toto. This wasn't normal. Even for the continual abnormality of the FAYZ, something was terribly wrong.
"My mind?" Sam said aloud, "Toto, are you saying you can read thoughts now?"
"Yes," Toto replied, "Is that not right?"
"Listen, Toto," Sam said, "There's not right, and then there's this. Something's happened to you, Toto; I think your powers have grown." Toto's eyes widened as Sam continued, "And that can only mean that the Gaiaphage is somehow interfering with you."
"Y-You," Toto whimpered, his voice breaking, "You're not lying." Sobs came from the boy as he buried his face in his hands, shuddering. Even though Toto had spent the first eight months of the FAYZ in solitude, even he knew of the Gaiaphage, and what it was capable of. And the sheer fact that Toto had been affected meant that Gaia was growing stronger. Sam and Edilio locked eyes; a silent conversation of mutual agreement.
"Edilio, pick up the speed," Sam said, "We need to get to Perdido Beach. Right now."

--

Drake Merwin climbed the hills near the mineshaft, his one human arm holding a bag full of lettuces. It was enough to feed about twelve people, but it was only for Gaia's mouth; he didn't need to eat any more, and that bitch Diana could go starve for all he cared. In fact, that would actually be ideal; Caine's former pet, shrivelling away pitifully whilst the true ruler of the FAYZ grew in strength, ready to destroy all those who opposed it. The only thing he didn't like was that the Gaiaphage's human form was that of a girl. A stupid, pathetic, weak girl. A girl that Drake could snap like a twig if he so wished. But he wouldn't do so; girl or not, it was still the almighty Darkness, no questioning.

Reaching the top of the hill, Drake sauntered along the dirt floor, the sun beating fiercely on him, aware that he wouldn't burn in the sun, nor would he feel the heat. Instead, his whip-arm twitched in anticipation of things to come; when Gaia had recovered, the slaughter would come. He was sure of it; it was a divine vision of Gaia and her loyal subjects walking out of a bloodbath as the FAYZ wall came down, ready to take on the entire planet. It was going to be glorious, and very soon, everyone that stood in their way would be dead. Sam. Caine. Diana. Astrid. Brianna. All of them. Drake let a sadistic grin cross his features as he walked towards the dead fire where Gaia sat, staring at him, Diana staring off into space.

"Bring me the food," Gaia demanded. Drake complied, dropping the lettuces onto the floor. Gaia descended on the food like a savage beast, tearing and shredding the meal at unnatural speed, until nothing was left. "Is that it?"
"Yes," Drake said. Gaia's eyes flared with anger in response, and for the first time in forever, Drake felt true fear.
"Do you really expect me to thrive off mere scraps?!" Gaia screeched, "I wouldn't even feed something so pathetic to my slave!" She motioned to Diana, who stared hungrily at a shred of leaf blowing in the wind. But before Diana could grab the scrap, Gaia raised her palm, and a blinding light came from it. Sam's light.

Drake and Diana both backed off as Gaia continued to roast the shreds of leaf until all that remained was a tiny pile of ash. The light stopped.
"Whoa," Drake said, "Since when did you have Sammy's power?"
"I have always had the power," Gaia said, irritated, expecting Drake and Diana to already know this. They stared at her in confusion. This wasn't going anywhere. "Let me explain for your pathetic curiosity's sake: I created each power for the purpose of helping me, and as such, I have access to all the power."
"You do?" Diana said, not really asking, but with an implied curiosity there.
"Yes," Gaia rolled her eyes, "I have your powers, my body's father's powers, the killing light, gravity manipulation, speed, the ability to discern the truth, invisibility, and healing."
"What about Penny?" Diana asked, "You didn't mention hallucinations."
"That is because I can't access the power if the host body is dead, you moron." Gaia said harshly, before turning to Drake. "You. I still hunger. Bring me something with more sustenance." Drake nodded, and crept off, leaving Diana alone with the child.

Yesterday Gaia's body had been roughly equivalent to a five year old's. Today, she looked closer to nine. Gaia was growing rapidly. The time for her to begin her plan was coming up very soon. But she was still a human at the end of the day, and she was doubled over with stomach cramps; her body wasn't used to intense hunger.
Well, get used to it, Diana thought wryly. This is the FAYZ, kid. Part of her felt wrong for thinking that; she was, in effect, watching her own child starve. No, not her child, a vessel for the Gaiaphage. Diana looked over to Gaia, following Gaia's gaze to the figure of Drake, vanishing from sight.
"You know he won't come back with any more than a shrivelled rat," Diana told Gaia, "We're not exactly known for our nutrition."
"Then where can I find wholesome food?" Gaia demanded, clutching her stomach, not seeing the dark smile on Diana's face. She could have fun with this.
"Outside the barrier," she began, "Out there, it's a whole new world; endless food everywhere. Pizza, ice cream, chocolate..." Without realising it, Diana had started to drool. She wiped her face quickly in embarrassment.
"That sounds fitting," Gaia said in an unsteady voice, licking her lips.
"Too bad we can't have any of that; the FAYZ is all out of good food."

Gaia's mouth started to say words, but was stopped by a blinding flash of light. Her eyes dilated, and she turned to the FAYZ wall. Diana did the same, and stared in disbelief at the idiots near the barrier.

A group of teenagers were stood near the barrier, taking pictures of the mother and daughter, talking as they shared a large bag of tortilla chips. It was unreal, seeing them all like that. They were maybe a year older than Diana at the most, but looked like they were from another planet; perfectly styled hair, designer clothing, and all that food.
"Is that what you mean?" Gaia asked, gazing at them longingly.
"Exactly what I mean," Diana replied, not even attempting to hide the envy in her tone.

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