Mirror Image


Raine stood before the towering stones etched with ancient runes. The moonlight glinted off the stone, casting a ghostly pallor to the surrounding terrain. It was as though it were another planet. She smiled at that thought. It was another planet, technically. She felt a mixture of feelings: sadness, nostalgia, satisfaction, and pain. Mostly pain.

"Mother…" she muttered, running her hand over the smooth stones as she called her ever-fading parents' faces to her mind. “Did you hate us so that you left us here to die?"

"Professor!" Raine turned towards the distant shout overhead as her students, brother, and friends descended from the sky. They landed the Reihards and Genis was off his and running up to her in flash, his face creased with worry.

“Why are you all here?" Raine asked, puzzled. They should have been asleep, but then…how long had she stood there transfixed. She had some vague notion of time passing, but she couldn’t recall. Her desperate search had at last come to fruition, but whatever peace she had hoped to find still eluded her.

Genis glared at his older sister. "Why do you think we're here?” he demanded. “We were worried about you!"

Mithos nodded, stepping up to Genis’s side. "It's dangerous to come here alone. As a fellow half-elf, I can't just leave you here by yourself."

Anna bit back the fury that consumed her every time Mithos spoke. His continual efforts to win them over with his seemingly innocent face and generous demeanor made her sick, but there was nothing she could do. Instead, she met Raine’s eyes for a moment before looking sideways at Genis in the other’s.

"It's her destiny guys. We couldn’t a stop her coming here even if we tried. She needed to know.”

“I’ve always needed to know,” Raine admitted sadly.

Colette regarded her teacher with confusion. ‘What did you need to know, Professor? Why did you come to this place?"

Raine sighed and turned back to the ruin she had desperately searched for all of her life. "This is where Genis and I were abandoned."

A moment of stunned silence followed her announcement. "What are you talking about?" Lloyd asked, surprised. "You two are from Sylvarant."

"Ask Ada if you doubt me," Raine said. Everyone looked at Anna, who nodded sadly, knowing the story that was to come. Raine smiled but it was a pained smile, more grimace than smile. "I happened to catch sight of this place when we rescued Colette and it's been on my mind ever since. Then, when I heard the story during our travels about the two poles that connect the two worlds, I became certain.” Raine pressed a hand to her head, cradling her forehead gently and closing her eyes as though she was in pain, which she undoubtedly was. “The images in my memory…the ruin I've been searching for all this time...is this place."

"So what are you saying?" Sheena asked, trying to piece the information together. "The two of you were born in Tethe'alla?"

"It can't be!" Genis cried. "All my memories are of Iselia! I don't know this place at all."

"We were born and raised in the village of the elves," Raine said, "from which we were eventually ostracized. We were abandoned here because this place was said to be the path to the legendary Sylvarant."

"The village of the elves?" Mithos said in fake disbelief. "The secret village said to be off-limits to anyone except elvenkind?"

Or particularly to those who despise elvenkind…because of you! Anna gritted her teeth in frustration but kept silent.

"Yes," said Raine. "I don't know the details of what happened, but I'm positive that I was left here along with Genis when he was just a newborn. And we eventually ended up in Sylvarant."

Genis stared at Raine, thunderstruck and floored, as did most of the rest of their party, but they did not have time to dwell.

"Then this time, let me send you to hell instead!"

The group turned around towards the man’s shout that came from behind them. There was a puff of smoke identical to the one that took Vharley away and the ninja Kuchinawa appeared at the scene.

Sheena looked at her former comrade in surprise. "Kuchinawa! What are you talking about?"

Kuchinawa slid into his fighter stance, anger burning in his unveiled eyes. "My chance to avenge my parents' deaths has finally arrived." The clank of armor resounded across the tiny island as the Papal Knights surrounded them, appearing in more puffs of smoke.

"FINALLY!" Anna shouted in relief. She may not be able to do anything about Mithos, but she could reveal Kuchinawa for the snake he was named for. Anna darted over to Sheena and ripped the charm Kuchinawa had given the summoner off of her sash. She threw it to the traitorous ninja as hard as she could, hard enough that he could not catch it and it bounced off of his forehead. "You can have that back now, traitor!"

"Impudent wench!" Kuchinawa snarled.

"I get that a lot," Anna said sneering at him. She looked back at Sheena. “He has been spying on you using that charm and now he wants to kill you to avenge his parents.”

"Avenge his parents?" Sheena asked, his face going pale.

"Correct," barked Kuchinawa. "You will die for killing my parents along with countless others of our village when you failed to control Volt."

Sheena winced as he hit the old wound mercilessly.

"That was an accident!" Lloyd yelled, defending Sheena. "And it was years ago. Why are you doing this now?"

Kuchinawa stomped his foot childishly. "Accident? I could have accepted things if she just failed to make a pact with a Summon Spirit. But then, she failed to assassinate the Chosen of Sylvarant, thereby placing Mizuho in danger. Yet look at her now!” He spat at Sheena’s feet. “She's made pacts with Summon Spirits just like that."

"May I remind you she was but a child when Volt went crazy," Anna said. "I didn't see you accomplish great feats as a child. Or ever actually."

“What do you know?” Kuchinawa yelled. “She’s a murderer, plain and simple.”

"You have it all wrong!" Colette insisted.

"Do I?" he shouted. "I think she wasn't really trying during the first pact-making! Because of that, she killed my parents and our people."

Sheena was staring at the ground, trying not to reveal how savage a blow he had dealt her. "I did the best I could!” she said meekly. “I tried…"

Kuchinawa shook his head, out of his mind with grief and rage. "Enough excuses!"

Kuchinawa started forward at the same time as Lloyd and Anna, but Sheena shouted for them to wait. She walked past her friends and towards her accuser.

"Kuchinawa! Please! Don't drag them into this!” She was a few steps from the man and the Papal knights gripped their weapons, a careful eye on her and the group. “I'm the one you despise right?” Sheena looked up and met his eye. “Then I'm the only one you need to kill.”

"Sheena, stop talking like that!" Lloyd snapped.

Sheena smiled bravely at her friend. "It's okay,” she said before turning back to the ninja. “Kuchinawa…please!"

Kuchinawa thought for a moment. "Fine."

Meanwhile a very intense battle of brains, morals, and emotions was going in the mind of Zelos. From the moment Kuchinawa had appeared and hit Sheena with her painful past, strange emotions had over taken him. Something like compassion…and anger. He wasn't sure what to do, he wasn't sure why this hit him in such a way. He knew only one thing. He did NOT want to see Sheena die. He couldn’t understand why the thought filled him with such rage and such pain but as he started at the spot where sheena stood, her back straight and her dark indigo hair fluttering in the wind as she faced her fate, Zelos wanted to tear into Kuchinawa and not stop.

She can't do this! Zelos thought. Sheena can't die. Sheena the ultra-gorgeous beauty…Sheena the summoner…Sheena my friend is not going to die!

Kuchinawa was poised to strike, Sheena was poised to die, Zelos was poised to interfere, and the others were poised to fight. Bone of them got the chance. Just as Kuchinawa moved, they were all blinded by an unexpected flash as the moonlight broke over the stones, shining down at the heart of the Otherworldly Gate. The ground rumbled beneath them and a great circle of light appeared, lighting the way to their only hope of survival.

Zelos knew what he had to do. Sheena was trying to sacrifice herself and he just wasn't into that, not one bit. “You've got to be kidding me!” Zelos growled, racing for Sheena as Kuchinawa recovered from the flash and drew his weapon. "Enough of this, Sheena!" Zelos’s hand closed around Sheena’s arm and he jerked her into his grasp, lifting her up over his shoulder and running towards the gate, deaf to her protests. "Lloyd! Come on!"

As usual Lloyd did not hesitate when faced with the unknown, but plunged headfirst into it. He dove through the circle after Zelos, the rest of their friends not far behind.

Anna smiled mockingly back at Kuchinawa. “I wouldn’t mess with Sheena again, ninjago. You’ll have to get through us first. And you won’t like Zelos when he’s mad.” Anna laughed outright and jumped through the gate and into the white void.

"Ow!" Anna moaned opening her eyes. Her body ached all over and her head was disoriented as sunlight beat mercilessly down into her face. She could feel the hard ground beneath her and the bright sun above her as she sat up rubbing her head. The others were struggling upright, battered from their fall through the gate.

"Where are we?" Regal asked.

"Probably on the outskirts of Palmacosta," Raine replied, looking around, limping slightly as she rubbed her knee.

"Phew," Zelos panted, standing up gingerly and pulling Sheena to her feet. "Man, I never thought I'd wind up coming over to this side like that."

Sheena was having none of it and shoved Zelos away from her. "Why did you butt in?!" she shouted at the Chosen.

Zelos folded his arms, trying to fight down the insane protective urge that had overcome him. "Excuse me? Don't tell me you actually wanted to die back there." Sheena looked away, slightly ashamed but determined to hide it. "Besides, those guys would have come after us regardless of whether or not you died. Pope's orders and all.”

Sheena's head shot up and she glared again. "Are you saying Kuchinawa is working for the Pope?"

Zelos merely shrugged so Raine decided to point out the obvious. "It's likely. Those assassins he had with him were the Pope's men, weren't they?"

“They were,” Anna confirmed. “Kuchinawa was offered various rewards by the Pope in exchange for spying on you. It why he gave you that charm, he could track your movements. It’s also why they kept popping up everywhere we go.”

Sheena glared at Anna. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

Anna stared back, unruffled by her temper. “Would you have listened? You guys are quick to get angry with me about not revealing the future after bad things happen but you don’t want to hear my explanations when they offend what you all think you know.”

No one had anything to say to that one. She was right and they all knew it.

Colette walked up to Sheena, a surprisingly stern look on her normal kind face. "Sheena, please don't do something like that again. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Nothing good will come of you sacrificing your life!"

"Colette's absolutely right," Lloyd said, nodding his head at Zelos. "You should thank Zelos, Sheena."

Sheena turned and looked up at Zelos, who had masked himself again behind his cocky smile. She saw something there in his face for a moment, a kind of understanding. For a second, it seemed as if Zelos understood why she might try to sacrifice herself and why she might feel guilty enough to be driven to it, but for just a second. In an instant he was all swagger and bravado again and she had to wonder if she had imagined what she saw in those impossibly blue eyes.

"Th…thanks," Sheena stammered uncertainly.

Zelos grinned. "Come on now, would it hurt you to give me a kiss or two?"

"UGH! IDIOT!" Sheena said, smacking Zelos upside the head.

Lloyd and the gang decided to head for Palmacosta to drop Mithos off while the continued their journey to find the seals. As they walked, Anna dropped to the back of the group where Zelos was casually strolling along. At her approach, the Chosen looked at her suspiciously.

"I suppose you want to hit me too eh, Adalais?" Zelos asked cheerfully.

"Not today Zelos,” Anna said, smiling at him. “What you did was a noble and brave thing Zelos. I won’t forget it.”

“Well I figured if I just let her up and die, you’d kill me.” Zelos said with an indifferent shrug. “Is that about right, Adalais?”

“Ada," Anna said. "You saved Sheena. You earned the right to call me Ada."

Zelos winked. "Sure thing my fiery-" he broke off at a look from Anna. "Er…Ada."

They walked in companionable silence for a minute before Anna decided to drop the pretense. "You love her, Zelos" Anna said quietly.

Zelos stopped dead, floored for a moment before trying once more to hide behind his facade. "Babe! Come on. I'm the Great Zelos Wilder. I love ALL the ladies."

"But her in particular," Anna said, dismissing his protests. "That's why when she was in danger, your somewhat buried protective instincts kicked in and caused you to scoop her up in your arms and dash through a gate you knew perfectly well would take you to the uh… 'hellish land' of Sylvarant." Anna looked at Zelos sincerely. “You did not want her to die."

Zelos said nothing.

"Think about it, Zelos,” Anna said imploringly. “I know what you are, I know to whom you're reporting. But this is my telling you that…I do trust you. I do.,” And it was true. “Act now, Zelos and you won't lose Sheena or your friends because they really are your friends. They will help you and stand by you and none more than Sheena if you’d let her.” Zelos still did not respond so Anna left him with the last thing she had in her persuasive arsenal. “You don't have to die to free Seles. Yggdrasill needs to die. We can do that for you. Think about it." With that, Anna walked off to chat with Lloyd, leaving behind a very distracted pervert.

After dropping off ithos, Lloyd lead the other to the destroyed Palmacosta ranch to inspect Neil’s reports of Desian activity. The group wound through the wreckage carefully, prepared for anything.

Well almost anything.

"Renegades!" Lloyd snarled as a man stepped out of the trees. The supposed Desians turned out to be Botta and his soldiers.

"So that's it,” Raine said. “Neil and the others couldn't tell the difference between the Desians and the Renegades."

"That is the general idea behind their appearance," Anna remarked.

"Indeed," said Botta. "We've been waiting for you."

"Are you saying you were expecting us to come here?" Regal asked doubtfully.

Botta scoffed. "Does it really matter? We have more important things to discus, such as joining forces."

Raine shook her head. "Unbelievable. You actually expect us to trust you after all you've done to Lloyd and Colette?"

"They certainly have some nerve,” Anna remarked. “But we should do it anyway.”

“Are you insane?” Raine asked incredulously.

“Of course not,” Anna replied, offended. “Just listen to the blue-haired wonder.” She pointed behind them at Yuan who stepped out of the trees and glared at Anna.

“Look” he said, addressing Raine directly. “The circumstances have changed. Do you know of the Giant Kharlan Tree?"

"That’s the legendary Giant Tree said to have existed in the Holy Ground of Kharlan, right?" said Zelos, to everyone's astonishment. "It's the tree of life, which produces infinite mana."

"Isn't that just a fairy tale?" Colette said.

"Nope," Anna said. "It's merely been so long since the tree existed that facts have faded into legends and myths."

Yuan nodded, looking disgruntled but impressed with their knowledge. "The Giant Kharlan Tree indeed existed. But the Kharlan War exhausted its mana supply and the tree wilted away. Now all that remains is its seed left in the Holy Ground of Kharlan. It is known as the Great Seed."

"Are you talking about the Soul of Mithos?" Genis asked.

"Now that is a fairy tale," Botta said. "The Great Seed, the source of the world's mana, is the seed of the Giant Tree."

"The Great Seed is absolutely vital in order to reunite the two worlds," Yuan added.

"That would indeed be our logical goal," Raine said. "It's the only way of reforming this system while ensuring the supply of mana isn't exhausted."

"You’re suggesting we reunite the two worlds," Lloyd said. “Why?”

"I believe I told you before," Yuan said. "Yggdrasill is the creator of the two worlds. Originally, the world was one, but Yggdrasill ripped it asunder."

"How is it even possible for someone to split the world apart?" Lloyd asked.

"It was possible for Yggdrasill," replied Yuan impatiently. "The two worlds have managed to survive by vying for the small amount of mana seeping from the Great Seed."

"So that's why the cycle of flourishing and declining continues, and the Chosen goes on a journey of regeneration…" Colette trailed off, lost in thought.

"But if the Great Seed germinates, the Giant Tree will be restored and the cycle will come to an end," Yuan summarized. Anna turned her laugh into a cough.

"So how do we resurrect the Giant Tree?" Lloyd asked.

"The Great Seed is nearly dead," Yuan informed him. "We must expose it to a large amount of mana in order to save it."

"There's no supply of mana like that to be found anywhere in the world," Raine pointed out. “In either of the worlds.”

"You mean not in this world," Anna said.

"Are you suggesting we take mana from your world?" Sheena asked Anna.

"That would be impossible," Yuan said. "We still aren’t sure how Adalais;s world is even connected to ours. We must use something closer.”

“What do you suggest?” Raine asked. “To my knowledge, there is no adjacent plant that meets the requirements.

“You would be correct,” Yuan said, with a small smile. A smile? Yuan? What the heck? Anna frowned and studied the half elf. He was looking at Raine, Despite the fact the he was answering questions for the group at large. Holy crap…could it be that he find Raine attractive? Ew, ok, not thinking about that.

“Cruxis' base, Derris-Kharlan, is a comet made from a giant mass of mana,” Yuan explained, snapping Anna out of her reverie. “It lies suspended in the sky high above this land. All we have to do is use that."

"Oh is that all?" Anna said sarcastically.

"Wait, if that's true, why doesn't Yggdrasill revive the Giant Tree?" Lloyd asked.

"All of Derris-Kharlan's mana is being given to Martel for the sake of resurrecting her." Yuan said heavily, biting down the rage he had grown so accustom to. “By using the power of a Cruxis Crystal, Martel's soul lives on, existing as a part of the Great Seed."

"If Martel awakens," said Botta, "the Great Seed will be absorbed into her and disappear. The reverse also holds true. In order to prevent that from happening, Yggdrasill protects the Great Seed with the seals of the Summon Spirits."

"So that's why the Renegades are trying to stop Martel's revival," Raine concluded. “You are seeking to revive the tree.”

Yuan nodded at her. "We will make the Great Seed germinate. As a result, Martel will be absorbed by the seed."

"Then the Giant Kharlan Tree will be reborn." Lloyd punched a fist in the air. "Let's do it."

"If that happens, will the two worlds become one again?" Colette asked.

Yuan shrugged. "That I don't know. The only certainty is that the world will end if the seed is lost."

"So, you're gonna have Miss Martel be a good little girl and disappear," Zelos said.

"Martel is already dead," Yuan said bitterly. "If it weren't for Derris-Kharlan's mana, her soul would have disappeared a long time ago." And she wouldn't have to suffer like this.

"Why is Yggdrasill so obsessed with Martel?" Genis asked.

"That doesn't matter," snapped the seraph. "What's important is that we see to it that the Great Seed germinates. Up till now, the Great Seed has been protected by the Summon Spirits of the declining world. Now that the links have begun to unravel, the Great Seed's protection has weakened."

Lloyd rubbed his chin, thinking hard. Before we agree, answer me this Yuan,” Lloyd looked at Yuan hard and the half-elf tore his gaze from Raine to look back at the boy. “Are you with Cruxis or the Renegades?"

“Or with the butterflies?” Anna chimed in, mocking his pink wings.

Yuan rolled his eyes. "You haven't changed a bit, have you?" he sighed and looked at Lloyd. "I am with Cruxis, and I am also the leader of the Renegades."

"A double-agent," Regal said with disdain.

"In other words, a traitor," Zelos remarked.

"You mean an effective tool in opposing Yggdrasill, don't forget." Anna glared as most of them rolled their eyes. "Would he be the leader and founder of a group that opposed Yggdrasill if he meant to turn it all over to the twisted man?"

“Probably not,” Zelos conceded.

Yuan sighed, impatient again. "So, what's your decision?"

"Okay," Lloyd said. There was an instant objection from Raine, but Lloyd dismissed it. "He's revealed the fact that he is a traitor. He's putting himself on the line. That has to mean something."

Raine looked at Yuan who stared back at her again. Whatever she hoped to find in his face she must have found because she conceded without a word, though he eyes never left the man’s face. Is she returning the affection? Now she’s staring at him. Anna rubbed her head. I don’t need this distraction right now.

"You were headed towards Rodyle's ranch, correct?" Yuan asked.

"You sure know a lot about what we're doing,” Zelos remarked. “Do you have a spy watching us or something?"

"Yeah, no kidding," Lloyd said with a laugh.

Anna smacked her forehead in exasperation. I blame you for Lloyd’s slowness Kratos! If you hadn't dropped him those three times, he'd probably be a damn genius! She looked sideways at Zelos. "Could you be any more obvious?" she whispered to the Chosen, who ignored her.

"But either way, we have to stop that Mana Cannon thing before it's completed," Lloyd finished.

"We also have a debt to pay back to Rodyle," said Presea, her normally monotonous voice furious.

"The ranch and Mana Cannon systems should be interlinked," Yuan informed them. "Disabling the control room should be our first priority. We need to make preparations to fire mana at the Great Seed." Yuan started to leave, but turned back to face his second in command. "I'll leave the rest to you, Botta."

"Understood," Botta said.

Yuan made to leave again but Anna found she could not remain silent any longer. "This won't work, Yuan!"

Yuan looked at her. "What do you mean?"

"I mean that if we destroy the protection around the great seed, all that will happen is that the Tree will go out of control," Anna said. "What we're hoping for will not happen."

"But if we don't try," Lloyd said, “The worlds will stay in turmoil."

Anna shook her head. Again they doubt her foresight when it suits them. There was nothing to be done. "Do what you will." It'll be alright. After all, things work out in the end. If we don't do this, who knows if we'll ever be able to destroy the Iselia ranch and rescue Chocolat?

They set off again, Botta leading the way to the Remote Island Human Ranch. Outside he explained what the finer details of the plan. "We have work to do on the mana reactor in here. If you head straight, it should connect to the ranch." He looked at Raine and glared. "One more thing. It seems you've destroyed every ranch you've been to, but we need the mana reactor in order to sprout the Great Seed.” Bota leaned towards Raine and enunciated carefully. “Don't destroy this one."

"Hear that, Raine?" Sheena and Anna chorused gleefully.

"It's not like I destroy them for fun, you know," Raine snapped at Botta and the girls.

"Yet it is very strange just how much fun it can be," Anna said happily as they made their way inside.

"In order to disable the Mana Cannon, we need to go to the control room," Regal remarked.

"My intuition tells me it's probably the room farthest in," Lloyd said heavily. "So for this place, that would be the top floor." And with that, they proceed through the most annoying, time consuming, ugly, difficult ranch that ever existed. But that gave Anna plenty of time to think.

Even before she had been sent to the human ranch, Anna Aurion was not weak. She was known for being loyal and strong. But above all else, she was respected for putting others above herself. She had fought tooth and nail to save her parents lives, begging the foes that had broken into their home and killed them to take her instead. But they wouldn't. When she watched them die before her very eyes, she vowed never to put her life before even the most insignificant persons. It was because of this she begged Kratos to kill her…so he and Lloyd could be free to live.

Adalias Orion was the same. The guilt she had felt upon discovering her father's body had never faded away. She had spent the rest of her life working to prevent other such tragedies. She even pretended to love Sei so he would not have to suffer a broken heart. She could never be happy while others suffered, particularly when she could have done something.

So Anna Adalais Aurion had a decision to make. Botta was mere hours—no, minutes—from death. Could she really stand by and watch him and his men drown before their very eyes? There was Lloyd and Kratos to think of…and Colette, Genis, Raine, Sheena, Presea, Zelos, and Regal. Could she leave them to suffer by sacrificing herself for Botta of all people? Could she really leave her family a second time? But if she chose not to save Botta, could she live with that decision?

Rodyle's voice shook her out of her thoughts. They had arrived at the control center. "Well, I see the failed Chosen and her traveling band of fools are still alive. You're as stubborn as cockroaches."

"You and Vharley…deceived me," Presea hissed.

"Presea,” Rodyle sighed, tuting in admonishment. “I'd have treated you so much better had you made me a Cruxis Crystal in that little body of yours," the half-elf squeaked. Anna had never fully noticed that his voice was very nasal and squeaky and annoying.

"Die!" Presea shouted.

Rodyle laughed maniacally. "Now, now, settle down. Have a look at the projector. I've got a special underwater show for you."

Lloyd's group watched in horror as the prisoners appeared on the screen boxed off. With a horrible rushing noise, seawater began to fill the room. Anna watched the projector of the prisoners attempting to escape, but it was to no avail. They would drown there, they’d never get out and she couldn’t anything. But in that moment, she knew exactly what to do.

"How could you do that?" Genis gasped.

"They'll all be killed!" Colette shrieked.

"Damn you!" Regal started forward, his blood pumping fast as the man responsible for Alicia's death laughed insanely.

"You bastard!" Lloyd shouted. "Stop the water, now!"

"I know why you've come here," Rodyle sneered. "I'm sure you intend to shut down my Mana Cannon. But you won't succeed. I've filled the corridor leading to the Mana Cannon with sea water!"

"You're going to kill all those people at the ranch just to stop us?!" Colette demanded.

"Who cares about the lives of pathetic inferior beings?!" Rodyle laughed. "The Mana Cannon will be completed once I get the Cruxis Crystal. With Thor's Hammer in my possession, Yggdrasill and Cruxis will beg for my mercy! Even that eyesore of a tower will fall before my cannon."

"What do you hope to accomplish by destroying the Tower of Salvation?" Lloyd shouted, unsheathing his blades.

"That's nothing you lower life forms need to concern yourselves with. The Cruxis Crystal is finally mine!" Rodyle withdrew the orb and grinned. "Now, let's see. I think I'll test its power first by equipping it on myself."

Rodyle dug the Cruxis Crystal into his flesh. The effect was instantaneous. The skin of his body stretched and faded into green, his eyes turning a blood red crimson.

"Augh!" Anna cried, holding her head as memories of pain overtook her. She remembered the feel of her natural body fading away. The crunch of bones, the sharp, painful growth of muscles, the fire in her blood as her mana rebelled. She fell to her knees, whimpering as the other dove into battle. Regal and Presea were fueled by anger, hacking at Rodyle like a piece of meat. Colette's face was twisted in concentration as she chanted for holy light. Lloyd was a blur, shifting from attack to attack.

"Burn in the fiery depths of hell!" Regal roared, kicking Rodyle up into the air. As he crashed to the ground, Presea dug her axe into his heart.

"It's done Alicia," she said monotonously.

Rodyle crawled forward, blood pouring from all over his body. "Ugh…what's happening?” he moaned. “My body…my body is disintegrating!” He looked up at the sky. “Pronyma, you tricked me!" He crawled forward and hit the control panel. "But I won't die alone!" he shouted as his body began to disappear before their eyes. "I'm taking you all with me!"

"No!" Raine cried as Rodyle fell to pieces and became ash right in front of their eyes. She wasn’t concerned about him though, but rather what the monitor was telling her. "He's activated the self-destruct system!"

"Botta warned us not to destroy this place!" Colette cried.

"Dammit! We have to stop it!" Lloyd shouted.

Presea looked at the monitor. "Impossible. The only one among us who can handle this machinery is Raine…"

Zelos attempted to assist Raine, but to no avail. "Most Tethe'allans don't really study the details of magitechnology very much. I learned some but…" He typed at the controls a bit before shaking his head. “I’m sorry, this is beyond me.”

"Professor!" Lloyd cried in desperation.

"I know! But I can't do this by myself!" Raine said, frantically.

"Move!" Anna said, staggering to her feet and pushing the memories back. "All of you get through that door. I can stop it on my own."

"But…" Lloyd said.

"GO!" Anna shoved Lloyd hard toward the door and turned to the monitor. Her fingers flew as the group dashed out. She knew exactly what to do and how to do it. She was making the final entries when Botta and the Renegade soldiers arrived at the scene.

"We'll take over from here," Botta said. "Escape through the hatch over there."

"No!" Anna snarled. "I know what to do. If you go now, I can stop it and set it so we all escape with our lives!"

Botta shook his head. "The water is coming! If we don't seal it now-!"

"Botta go!" Anna shouted. "Yuan needs you. And I need you to give this to Lloyd." Anna ripped the blades from her belt and threw it at Botta. "And this to Yuan,” she said, tossing her headband at him as well. “Tell Yuan him to give it to Kratos. But don't tell Lloyd."


"You must live," she yelled. "Go! I'm sealing the hatch. Do you want to die having done nothing to stop this?!"

"…All right." Botta turned and signaled to the troops to head out. They had just made it through the door when it sealed and a layer of water pushed up through the floor.

Outside, Lloyd paled as water flooded the room where Anna worked frantically. "Oh, no! We've got to open that door!"

Lloyd and Genis dashed over to the hatch and attempted to pry it open.

"It's no use! It won't budge!" Genis cried.

"Move!" Regal ran forward and began to kick at the glass with all of his strength. But not even he could lay a scratch on it. "Adalais!"

Raine gasped. "Ada did this on purpose. She knew the water was coming and locked it from the inside."

"Yes," Botta said. "She did what we meant to do."

Colette threw her chakrams at the window, her wings glimmering in her desperation. "ADA! We have to save her!"

"If the door opens, this area will be flooded as well," Botta said. "And as you can see, the ceiling is covered by a dome. There's nowhere for the water to escape."

"She did it…to save us?" Presea hefted her ax and ran to help the others.

"Dammit! Isn't there anything we can do?!" Lloyd shouted.

Anna clicked the last bit into place and sighed happily. She turned on the intercom and faced her son, a smile on her face. "I've stopped the self-destruct system." Lloyd ran up to the window, beating on it with his swords but Anna just continued to smile at him. "Lloyd, stop. Do you really think I could live knowing people died in front of me?" she asked.

"Damn it!" Lloyd roared. "Don't do this Ada! Please don't sacrifice yourself. Open the door! If we destroy the dome overhead--"

"Our goal was to modify each ranch's mana reactor in order to fire mana at the Great Seed," Anna recited from memory. "Now that I've finished reprogramming this control room, the mission is complete." She sighed. "I need you to tell Yuan…and regenerate the world."

"We'll do it together!" Lloyd shouted, tears running down his face. "Open the door, now!"

Ada splashed her way to the gate as the water continued to rise. "You will regenerate the world, Lloyd," she said, tears in her eyes. "All of you will succeed. Not because I know the future, but because I know you all and you can do it." She smiled crookedly. “You don’t need me any more.”

"Yes we do!" Lloyd yelled. "We can't do it, not without you Ada. Open the door!"

Ada shook her head. "Lloyd…you will always have me. I will always be with you. With all of you." She looked at Lloyd. "You won't understand this now but…I love you like you were my son, Lloyd. I won't ever leave you alone again."

"Ada!" Lloyd cried, desperately hacking at the glass.

The iron curtain began to descend in front of the window. "Please see to it that Martel is finally allowed her eternal sleep," Ada said softly. "For Yuan's sake… and for Yggdrasill’s too." She hesitated and looked at Raine. Raine met her unspoken question and nodded in understanding.

"No!" Colette shouted. "Ada!"

Anna lifted her palm and pressed it against the glass. Lloyd mimicked her, tears pricking his eyes. “Stay strong Lloyd.” Lloyd let out a roar as the iron curtain clanged shut, obscuring her from view.

"Stop that’s it then,” she said aloud as they vanished from view behind the curtain. “I’m done for good this time. No more magical solutions. No reincarnation. No more.” She thought of Lloyd and her friends, she thought of Kratos and even Yuan. They would do what needed to be done and she didn’t have to watch anyone die. She didn’t have to leave Yuan defenseless and she didn’t have to live with blood on her hands. Fair trade.

She sighed as a memory flashed in her mind.

"You're just accepting it?" Kratos said softly. "You don't care if you…"

Anna rested her head on his shoulder and watched Lloyd sleeping in his crib. "I'll have done this much. I'll have loved two people with all my heart and soul. Death isn't important. It's not about leaving. It isn't when you die that's important, it's what you've done to be remembered…what you've done to live, Kratos. Thanks to you, my love…I've no regrets."

The water was to her shoulders and this time, there was no Kratos to save her. This was it. She would be leaving behind her family for the second time in her life. She closed her eyes as the water closed over her head and held her breath, delaying the inevitable.

Don't die Lloyd…my son.

Eventually, she breathed in involuntarily, feeling saltwater burn its way into her lungs. She choked, twisting violently as her lungs gasped for air, but there was none to be found. She felt her thrashing limbs start to slow, her racing heart cease to beat…until her mind faded into dark oblivion.

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