Mirror Image

Immortal

Lloyd slid off of his Rheaird and on to the ground, not bothering to get up as he clutched his dead comrade's swords in his hand. Colette walked over and put her arms around him, tears streaming down her face. Sheena was still standing, though struggling with her tears as Zelos inched over and put a hand on her shoulder. Regal stood, gazing off into the distance, as though willing the reversal of what had just happened. Genis and Presea sat stone still, staring in the same direction, completely at a loss. Mithos hung uncertainly in the back, looking sad, but internally happy that the bother was over. Raine was talking with Botta.

"Stupid,” Lloyd groaned. “That stupid jerk…sacrificing herself…"

"Lloyd," Colette muttered. "You would have done the same."

"I don't care!” Lloyd shouted. "Why did she have to do it? Why? I thought the whole point of our journey was to make it so no one would ever have to be a sacrifice ever again."

Raine turned from Botta. "Yuan says he'll meet us in Flanoir instead of Triet," she said softly. "Let's go rest in the snowy city for the night before we meet up with him."

Everyone stared, clueless, up at Raine, except Lloyd, who shot to his feet. "Professor Sage how can you say that! Ada is dead and all you can think of is--!"

"Is the goal she wanted us to complete," Raine interrupted. "She gave you her swords, Lloyd. She wants you to keep fighting."

"She's right Lloyd," Colette said, getting up. "We have to keep going for Ada."

"Yeah," Genis said. "We'll save the worlds for her and everyone else."

"We'll do our very best," Presea added.

"Ada died because of this twisted system," Sheena pointed out. "She died because of Cruxis and Yggdrasill and the Desians. They will all pay!"

"No one gets away with hurting one of my hunnies," Zelos snarled. "We'll kick their butts, I swear it."

"Yes," Regal said. "I vow to finish what we started."

Lloyd looked down at the ground struggling with himself. Finally he unclipped his old, nicked blades and stuck them into his pack before strapping Ada's swords to his belt.

Lloyd got to his feet and boarded the Rheairds again. “Let’s get going.”

Crossing the portal, they first dropped Mithos at Altessa’s and then flew to Flanoir. It was a heartbroken and weary group that entered the snowy city, except for Lloyd. Lloyd was burning with anger—anger at Yggdrasill for this twisted world, anger at Ada for choosing to die, anger at himself for being powerless to stop it. The swords now at his belt just served as a reminder of what he had failed to do. He had made so many mistakes since the very beginning of this journey, thinking he could go back and fix it.

If it’s something you are able to do over then feel free.

Kratos had been right to warn him not to make a mistake and that angered Lloyd even more.

And then, as if conjured by his thoughts, the man himself stepped through the city gates just as Lloyd and the other began to enter. Lloyd didn’t even hesitate, but unsheathed Ada’s swords and jumped at Kratos, ready to take his anger out on something.

"Must you always seek a fight with me," Kratos asked coolly. He drew his own blade, but stopped, looking closely at Lloyd's swords. "You carry Adalais's blade."

Lloyd lunged faster than Kratos expected and landed a scrape on the older man’s cheek. Kratos stepped aside as Lloyd whipped around, slicing for the Seraph's neck, which Kratos barely managed to block.

"How dare you speak her name!" Lloyd shouted. "After you and your boss caused her death!"

Kratos froze and Lloyd broke away, panting heavily in anger and sadness. Kratos stared at Lloyd, as though he wasn't quite sure who he was. "Her death…?"

"Ada drowned in the human ranch," Colette said. "She died to save us."

"Died?" Kratos asked. "Are you certain?"

Lloyd laughed. "Do you see her here? Her swords are in my hand, aren’t they? Need any more proof?"

Kratos felt his heart stop and ice flood his veins. The ground below him swayed alarmingly and the corners of his vision went dark. He stumbled, trying to remain upright as Lloyd stared in shock at the angel.

"What the—?" Lloyd backed away as Kratos fell to his knees, breathing even harder than Lloyd. "Kratos? What the hell is going on?"

"She's dead?" Kratos rasped. "She truly died because of Rodyle…"

Raine pulled Lloyd away from Kratos. "The rest of you head to the inn. I'll deal with this."

"But—!" Lloyd protested.

"Go Lloyd." Raine looked at her student. "I assure you, I've no intention of aiding him. I want some information and it would be best if you didn't watch."

Lloyd looked mutinous, but Colette drew him back from Kratos and Raine and he followed the others, unable to refuse Colette’s firm hand. Raine retained her glare at Kratos until they were out of sight. Kratos had his head in his hands and was curled in on himself on the ground. Raine crouched next to the man and put her hand on his shoulder. “In the moments before she died, her voice and demeanor were strong and unchanging. She was determined and decided. She was proud of her choice, believed in what she did. She left her swords to Lloyd and put her faith in him. She also left something for Yuan that Botta will not tell me about. It would be best to seek him out.” Raine straightened from her crouch. “Lloyd is hurting badly. He lost a second mentor figure after your abandonment. You would do well not to underestimate him any longer.”

Kratos waited until her footsteps had retreated before he staggered upward. Like a blind man he stumbled through the city, bumping into people and receiving alarmed looks from passerby. He needed to find somewhere to fall apart, somewhere he could be alone. After a few more collisions with faceless being, he found a cramped alley and fell into it, just as his blissfully blank mind erupted with a cruel montage of his twice gone love. The darkness in his mind's eye became complete as he pitched face first into the snow, drowning in his own despair.

Kratos didn't know how long he had stayed there. When he looked up, the streets were deserted and night had fallen. He got to his feet slowly, looking up at the sky. "Origin…you have much to answer for." He threw a hand out to catch himself on the cold bricks of the wall beside him unable to stand through the pain. He tried to will it all back, to pack it down into the icebox in his chest that he had formed fifteen years earlier, but it wouldn't go. Just as she had fourteen years ago, Anna had given him back his heart, and he knew if he locked it away again…he would be nothing but a danger to his son. He wrapped his arms around himself, trying to prevent the wind from scraping the raw edges of the most recent wound to his soul, but it was to no avail. "You came back to me. You came back…and I failed you again. I spent so long turning a blind eye to everything that I even did so to you. Anna…" At last he couldn’t take it and he punched the wall, satisfied at the sickening crunch his bones made against the brick.

"WHY DID I EVER MEET YOU!” he shouted to the sky. “Why did we cross paths? It only brought us sorrow! Why did you come back, only to rip through me and your son a second time?" Kratos hung his head. “I wish I had never met you. I wish you had never come back.”

"Come now," said an all too familiar voice. "Surely you don't mean that." There was a flash and a very sad looking bluenette appeared. Kratos took one look at Yuan and shot his hand out, clutching him by the throat and lifting him off his feet. Kratos quaked in anger, shaking Yuan like a dog as the fellow Seraph struggled.

"You," Kratos snarled. "You just stood by again and watched her die! You sent her into that death trap! You knew what Rodyle would do!" Kratos roared and threw Yuan into the building beside them with such strength that Yuan couldn't move for being stunned. Kratos drew his blade and pressed it to Yuan’s throat.

"I sent Botta to do it," Yuan said, choking the words out around Kratos’s strangle hold. "She wouldn't let them. She forced them to leave her there so she could complete the task. You of all people should have known she would do as much."

Kratos laughed bitterly. "A second time…I failed to protect her a second time. And a second time, you assisted in her death." Kratos raised his blade high above his head, ready to strike Yuan down, to do what should have been done four thousand years ago. Yet as he looked at Yuan, he couldn’t get Anna’s hopeful face out of his mind. She was proud of her choice, believed in what she did.

The sword clanged gently as Kratos threw it to the ground at Yuan’s feet. "It’s done then.” He said tonelessly. “You have your wish, Yuan. I will release Origin." Kratos turned away from his former friend and pulled out his wings. "When it’s all over, if Lloyd wants the truth…tell him."

"Damn you, Kratos!" Yuan shouted, forming a bolt of mana and firing it at his old friend. "If you do it now, Yggdrasill will win."

"It doesn't matter," Kratos replied hollowly.

"What about your son?" Yuan snapped. "You promised her you'd protect him. I can promise you, the first thing Yggdrasill will do once Origin is released is kill Lloyd, the only one who can oppose him."

“Lloyd is strong. He will defeat Mithos.” Kratos looked back at Yuan. “I hope he can forgive me when he learns the truth. But know that I will never forgive you, Yuan.” Kratos’s body began to shine as he prepared to empty his body of mana.

Yuan plunged his hand into his cloak and withdrew a long strip of black fabric. He ran at Kratos, slinging the black band around the angel's neck and yanking downward with all of his strength. Kratos tumbled backward, choking as the cloth strangled him. He drove his elbow backward, hitting Yuan in the stomach and knocking him away. Kratos lurched forward, coughing and falling to his knees as breath scraped its way down his throat and back into his lungs.

Yuan got to his feet. "Look at it Kratos!” he shouted. “Look at it, damn you!"

Coughing, Kratos opened his eyes and stared at the black stripe, stark against the white snow where it had fallen. He stared at it a moment, getting his breathing under control, trying to figure it out. He reached down gently, pressing fingers to it and feeling the smoothness of the silk. He knew what it was.

“Thank you! Thank you everyone.” She hugged everyone, even Kratos, her eyes shining with happiness.

Kratos’s heart hurt as he remembered that night, how happy she had looked when her friends had helped her, how excitedly she accepted the gifts, how shocked he was when she hugged him and he felt a barely suppressible urge to hold her close.

"If you die, you have to face her in the next life," Yuan said. "Can you do so, knowing you left Lloyd like that?" Yuan shook his head. "You are no help if you release Origin now. Lloyd cannot defeat Yggdrasill yet and you know it. Don’t let her die in vain.”

“Why do you care?” Kratos asked.

Yuan’s mouth twisted in a grimace. “I am not in the habit of owing people. I owe her for Botta’s life. It would be poor repayment to let you throw away so many decades of planning because of your inability to fight back. Your sentimentality will be the death of everyone and everything, Kratos." Yuan vanished.

Kratos pulled the left sleeve of his mercenary garb off. Carefully he wound Anna’s headband around his arm and tied it there, pulling his sleeve and glove back on to hide it. Reaching under his collar, he felt for the locket he had been wearing for fifteen years.


"Ada? Ada!"

Adalais Orion groaned as she came awake, her head pounding and her body aching in protest to her movements. Where am I…what's going on? She struggled to lift the darkness from her eyes, but it wasn't working. She lay there, trying to recall why she was partially conscious. There was the distant rumble of thunder, followed by a cool breeze. Why am I outside?

"Adalais!" shouted the voice. "Where are you?"

That's William…

Ada groaned again and opened her eyes unto a sky swirling with gray clouds. The grass around her was wet, as was she. Her sweatshirt was heavy and baggy, her jeans clinging to her like a second skin. She could see her cell phone was an inch from her hand and camera was resting in her sweatshirt pocket. Did I faint? How did I get here?

She sat up slowly, her wet clothes cumbersome, holding her pounding head. She looked up just as William burst into her line of sight. He rushed over to her, falling to his knees and clutching her in a hug. Ada went to return the hug, still trying to recall what had happened mere moments ago, when she let her arms fall. It didn't feel right. It wasn't William's arms that should be around her now, but then it never felt right, did it?

"I've been looking for you for an hour," William whispered. "I saw the lightning strike the woods and I was terrified when it started to pour." He held her at arm’s length and examined her closely. "Did you get hurt?"

"I…" Ada struggled to forms words, shifting through the stray thoughts in her head as her brain was fought to remember something. "I don't know." She shook her head. "William…what's my name?"

"Huh?" William asked. "Your name is Adalais Orion. Have you forgotten?"

"I've forgotten something," she muttered, getting to her feet. “But not that.”

"Ada," William gulped and took her hand in his. "I love you. Why won't you marry me?"

A memory, William on one knee, presenting her with a diamond ring, raced across her hazy mind. She shuddered.

"William…" she said gently, “William, I love you. I do. But not…not in the way you want me too. I love you as a friend of my heart. But I can no longer pretend that I feel anything more for you."

"So you lead me on?" William gasped.

Ada turned away. "It was not my intent."

William struggled for a moment and shook his head. "Ada, you’re hurt, tired and delirious. Let's go home and get you some rest. Then we will hash this out." He helped her to her feet, supporting her as they made their way through the woods. She gazed back at the trees. Yes…we will figure out what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

Ada was asleep as soon as she changed and cleaned up and when she woke in the morning, William had already gone to work at hospital. Ada reached for her phone and looked at the date, trying to reconcile her muddled thoughts. It was Sunday, early afternoon. She had slept awhile, but yesterday…why did she feel like she had been away? Away for weeks, maybe months.

Ugh, I must had really taken a blow to the head. She threw the covers back and focused her mind to get back on track. Sunday was the day before classes on Monday. She remembered finishing her homework the day before, before she had gone on a walk with William. The house was clean and she couldn’t think of anything else to do. She slipped into her bedroom slippers and went to the kitchen, looking for some food and grabbing a book as she shuffled into the kitchen. A day on the couch with a book sounded good.

"Hmm…" she said, surveying the fridge contents. “Ah! A tomato sandwich looks even better!" Ada pulled the tomato, Mayo, and bread out of the fridge and began to slice the tomato.

How can you possibly eat those things, dear?

How can you not like them, love?

Anna stopped cutting, confused by the thought…or was it a memory?. "But William likes tomatoes…" she shrugged and went back to work. Sandwich in hand she grabbed her book, and curled up on the sofa. She read for a few minutes before she found herself drifting in and out of the story. She shook herself and tried to focus, but it was no use.

"There's something I should be doing," she said aloud. "There is something I have forgotten. This…feels wrong."

This went on for the next week. She went through the motions: going to classes at the local college, lunching with her girlfriends, spending her evenings doing housework. She pretended things were normal between her and William, begging for time to consider his proposal, which he gave her. Curled up in bed at night, she was unconsciously aware of how wrong his body felt being on the other side of her bead and how she could possibly let him down gently.

None of it felt right. She felt as though she was trapped in a dream that would not let her go. She wasn't supposed to be here doing these…mundane things.

But I've always felt like that, Ada thought as she made her way to lunch with her friends one day. It's no different. Maybe I'm just shaken from William's incessant talk of marriage.

"Miss Orion," said a voice loudly next to her. She started, and turned around, coming face to face with her poetry professor, Dr. Irving.

"Good afternoon, Dr. Irving," she said politely.

"Good afternoon," he replied with a friendly smile. He was a very short man, with a scruffy beard, narrow eyes, and a thick Irish accent. "I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your last poem." Dr. Irving supervised the literary magazine for the college and was very pleased with Ada’s work. They often discussed her poems after publication.

"Thank you," she said smiling.

"The imagery of the man with sad eyes waiting for you was particularly meaningful," he continued. "May I ask what it meant, one poet to another?"

"I'm not entirely sure," Ada admitted. "Sometimes in my dreams, there is a sad man looking at me, as though waiting for me to recognize him."

"Interesting, interesting," replied Dr. Irving. "Perhaps he is symbolic of an unsatisfied wish?"

"Perhaps," Ada agreed. "Hopefully I'll know one day. I'll just keep searching."

“I wish you luck,” he said with a smile. “Now, I haven’t received your submission for the upcoming issue. Don’t forget, the deadline is tomorrow. Can you have it to me by five?”

"Oh no!” Ada gasped. “I’m so sorry Dr. Irving, I completely forgot. I don’t have a submission ready.”

Dr. Irving frowned. “That is not like you Miss Orion. Is everything well?”

Ada rubbed her forehead, plagued by yet another headache. “I think so. I just have felt very…off this week.’ She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I will try to get you something if I can.”

“You'll do your best I'm sure," he said encouragingly. "Remember: You can do anything if you try."

Ada frowned as her professor walked away. Something about that phrase seemed so familiar to her. She thought about it all the way to lunch, trying desperately to get her memory to work while her friends gossiped around her.

"Hey Ada," her friend asked as they made to head their separate ways. "Are you ever going to upload the pictures from our camping trip last month?"

Ada shook out of her reverie. "Oh…yeah!" Ada smiled. "I'll do it as soon as I get home."

Now I just have to remember where I put my camera…and come up with something for the magazine. Ugh.


Kratos's fingers flew at the keyboard, far away in Derris-Kharlan. Judging by Lloyd's progress, they would be reaching the final seal within hours. The core system was in overdrive, predicting what would happen, but Kratos already had a very accurate theory.

The mana links around the seed were weakening. He had so far managed to keep it from Yggdrasill, but if he didn’t stop Lloyd, it wouldn’t be long before disaster struck. He paused, waiting for the computer to make the predictions and gently touch Anna’s headband under his glove. Disaster has already struck.

It struck once more when the prediction popped up on the screen. Kratos needed only to read the first half before he was off, racing for the Tower of Mana.

This is what the Renegades have been up to all these years! If only I had foreseen Yuan's intent! But he was always blabbering on about Origin, most likely to distract me. He's being blinded by his desire save Martel. Kratos sighed as he felt the locket resting against his chest. No wonder we got along so well once.

Kratos dash through the portal in Welgaia and did not break stride as he emerged in the Tower of Salvation. I have to stop Lloyd. I have to stop him before he has to face so much blood on his hands.


Lloyd and the gang had been busy the past week, calling Aska forth, making the last of the pacts, and travelling to and from Tethe’alla. They were all exhausted and still rather heartsick in the absence of Ada’s journey. Now, as they climbed the Tower, they took comfort in the fact that they were almost done. They were so close.

"The doors and such have all been opened," Regal remarked as they climbed wearily up the stairs.

"We opened them all the last time we were here," Raine replied.

Lloyd huffed his way to the front and groaned. "But it's still a pain to walk all the way up again."

"What did you have in mind?" Raine snapped. "We can't fly to the roof with the Rheairds."

"But couldn't they at least give us a "Quick Jump" option?" Lloyd asked.

Raine looked confused. "Quick Jump?"

"What's that?" Regal inquired.

Lloyd had no idea actually. In fact, he wasn’t even sure why he had said those words. He rubbed the back of his head, blushing. "Ah, nothing..." he sighed. Ada would know…she probably would have said it in unison with me. We will reunite the worlds Ada. I promise!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Ada sat down at her computer at home that evening, exhausted from racking her brain for things she thought she forgot. She grabbed her camera out of her bag and plugged it into the computer. "This feels so wrong. What am I doing here in this life?"

Same old questions she had been asking herself for years.

The camera file popped up and she double clicked on the folder. Instantly, thumbnails of images appeared on the screen. She clicked one of the more recent pictures, drumming her fingers as it loaded slowly, thanks to the high definition feature on her camera. Finally, the picture appeared on the screen. Ada took one look at it and let out an ear-piercing scream.

It was Kratos, hovering before the smoky ruin where Colette had been held prisoner. His wings sparkled in the sunlight and he was smiling, love and tenderness in his eyes.

"I remember!" Ada copied the pictures into a folder and typed out a long note to William explaining everything. That done, she yanked her camera out of its plug and dashed to her room as memories of her time in Symphonia flooded her head. "I'm alive! Sweet Jesus! Or is it sweet Origin? WHATEVER! I LIVE!" She ran into her room and grabbed the clothes she had been wearing when she had entered Symphonia for the first time, thinking it would be best to recreate her entrance as much as possible. She threw her camera in her pocket, laced up her boots and raced out the front door.

"Woah!" William cried as Ada crashed into him on the front step. He caught her and looked at her, her cheeks flushed, a smile wide on her face. "Ada, what’s wrong?"

"William!" she cried. She hugged him hard and kissed his cheek. "William, you will always be in my heart, but I don't belong here! I finally found what I've always been looking for!" William made to protest, but she shook her head. "Check the file labeled ‘Explanation’ on my computer. It'll explain everything, even if you don't believe it. Thank you for helping me and for being my friend. Goodbye." Ada ran around him and down the stairs.

"Ada!" William cried. "Don't go. I need you!"

Ada looked up at him. “You need someone I can never be, William,” she said gently. “I am sorry. You are a good person. Find someone who can love you like you deserve.”

Ada took off, heading full speed for the forest and pelting through the trees. Finally, she burst into the clearing and stopped in front of her tree. "Now how to get back..." She thought hard. "Aha!"

She closed her eyes and concentrated with all of her might on Anna Adalais Aurion. In her mind's eye, she saw herself as a whole, ready to aid her husband and son. She focused her mind even harder on the others. Regal, Presea, Raine, Genis, Sheena, Colette, Yuan, Botta, Yggdrasill, everyone whose path she had crossed. She could feel a tingling her bones. She called Lloyd, her beloved son to her mind. "I'm going to protect you, Lloyd. I won't leave you alone!" Last but not least, Kratos's smile exploded in her mind and in her heart. "Come on Origin! You can't keep us apart! I'm going back to my family!"

There was a bright flash of white light and Ada felt herself falling through the air.


"Stop!" Kratos commanded as Lloyd and the others emerged at the top of the stairs. They had reached the teleporter that would take them to the seal and Kratos had barely managed to beat them here.

Lloyd glared "Kratos! Don't get in our way!"

Kratos held up his hands to show he intended them no harm. "Hear me out! The Derris-Kharlan core-system just finished calculating its answer. If you form the pact with the Summon Spirit, the protection around the Great Seed will be completely lost!"

"And that's exactly what we desire!" A mana bolt flew toward Kratos, who just managed to dodge as Yuan materialized seemingly out of thin air.

Kratos scowled at his former comrade. "Don't you understand?! What you're hoping for will not happen!"

Yuan looked at Kratos with nothing but hate in his eyes. "Silence! Do you think we'll pass up this opportunity?!" Yuan formed another mana bolt. "Lloyd! Leave him to me! Go, now! Form the pact with the Summon Spirit of Light!" But Lloyd hesitated. Ada had said the same thing Kratos did and Yuan had ignored her as well. Kratos looked at Lloyd, his face completely blank. Kratos, their friend, Kratos their enemy, Kratos the traitor. If only Ada was here.

You ignore my foresight when it suits you. Why should this be any different?

Lloyd clenched his fist. They hadn’t listened to her and it had been the death of her. She had warned them about this course of action and they hadn’t listened and yet…with her dying breath she told him that they would succeed. She believed in them. So what was the right choice? What should he do?

He looked at Kratos, their friend turned enemy. Was what he was saying right? Were the wings he wore a true indication of his character. Who should Lloyd believe?

Don’t make a mistake.

Lloyd had had enough. It was time to use his own head and judge what was right for himself and he had to do something. Yes Ada had warned them as Kratos was and yes Yuan was a jerk, but they were out of time to find another way. This was their best chance. Lloyd ran to the teleporter, dodging around Kratos, but never taking his eyes off of the angel. As he passed, he met the stoic gaze. “I’m sorry,” Lloyd said to him. He activated the teleporter and vanished, his friends with him.

When the others appeared, Lloyd approached the altar before them. "This is it. The protection around the Great Seed will finally fall after this pact."Hopefully this is the right course.

"We're counting on you, Sheena," Colette chirped.

"You got it!" Sheena grinned.

There was a flash and Luna appeared, regarding them with cool eyes.

"I am Sheena! I ask that thou annulst thy pact with Mithos and establish a new pact with me."

"Where is Aska?" Luna asked, her long golden hair fanning out behind her.

"He'll come," Sheena said. "He promised."

Luna nodded slowly and on cue, the giant red bird that was Aska descended next to Luna. "I see…Then all is well. I shall test thy worthiness to wieldth my power."


Anna Adalais Aurion got to her feet, checking herself for injuries. Everything was as it should be. She was unharmed and dressed in her normal Symphonia clothes, minus the swords and headband. She checked her backpack and it contained her camera, her spare clothes, and various items, exactly as she had left it. She sighed in relief. "Damn…what was the point in me even dying again if I was just going to come back?”

She looked around and saw she was in a familiar white void, the same one where she had reconciled the two halves of her soul. "Hello?" she called, unnerved by the loud echo of her voice. "Adalais? Somebody?"

"Why are you here?" boomed a familiar voice.

"I'm going back to my family!" she shouted, ignoring the way the mana in her shivered in response to the powerful presence around her.

"For what purpose?" Origin asked as the summon spirit himself appeared. His many arms were folded across his chest and his weirdly rainbowed legs hovered above the ground. He was very weird looking in person, truth be told. "You do not belong there! You have long since departed that world."

"You tell me," Anna growled. "Why did you split my soul, shove me in another body and ship me to Earth?"

Origin was silent and then said, in a slightly guilty voice, "Initially, it wasn't your time to die. Since you died from Yggdrasill's actions, actions I helped in, I made a deal with Maxwell, spirit of birth and of death. You could live, but you could never return to Symphonia."

Anna laughed. "That worked amazingly well! Did you really think you keep me away so long as the souls of my husband and son existed?"

"It should have been impossible," Origin remarked. "Of course there are small connections to all worlds hidden in plain sight. I suppose your world had a stronger connection to this one than most."

"That doesn't matter," Anna snapped. "As long as I had my soul, nothing could keep me from Kratos and Lloyd! Not even death!"

"Be that as it may, you are Anna no longer, Adalais," the summon spirit replied. "Go back to your home."

Anna clenched her fists. "You don't get it do you Origin? Nothing will keep me from them!"

"Adalais Orion-"

“My Name is Anna Adalais Aurion" Anna screamed. "And I will never be one or the other. I am both! "

There was silence. "I see." Origin sighed. "Very well. Then I grant you a final chance to live, but I will not help you face what is to come for you. I want nothing more to do with people or this twisted world."

Anna nearly fainted with relief. "Thank you Origin," she said. “You’re wrong about my world, I think. And its people. You will see that soon.”

"You realize you can never go back after this? If you die again, it is permanent. You can never return to Earth and you will never rise again in Symphonia.” Anna nodded. "As you wish." Origin said. "You will reunite with your son in the Tower of Mana. Be cautious as you approach. I will conceal your presence for several moments."

"Why?”

"Your presence upsets the natural order of time,” Origin explained. “If you disrupt this crucial moment and distract Kratos, he will die by Yuan’s sword. My seal would be released and Yggdrasill’s fury would rain down. That must not happen.”

“Wait, do you know what’s meant to happen?” Anna asked.

“I can see paths, some that will happen some that won’t I can only see the immediate choices before people. I cannot see what lies ahead with any certainty.” Anna growled in frustration, but nodded in understanding. "Be gone, Anna."

The mana in Anna’s body surged greatly and she felt herself falling again, but this time it wasn’t a literal fall. The void disappeared and the Tower of Mana erupted up around her and Anna found herself standing at the foot of the stairs leading to the teleporter that would take her to the altar. She dashed up the stairs, the clash of metal on metal resounding in her ears. She slung her pack around, pulling out her camera. As she crested the staircase, she snapped the picture of Kratos and Yuan, locked in a sword fight.

"Will you bloody idiots stop it!" she shrieked, running up to Yuan and slamming her shoulder into his side. He swore and fell sideways onto the stairs, rubbing his ribs. Anna wasted no time as Kratos looked around, but instead ran to the teleporter and activated it Kratos eyes fixed on the teleporter as it whirred to life around her, but he did not see her as the look of confusion never left his face.

Aska was already down when she arrived but Genis, Colette, and Sheena were collapsed in a heap. Presea was sitting on the floor, her ax limp in her hand, breathing heavily. Zelos and Regal were even more exhausted, desperately using their healing arts to try and revive their fallen fellows. Raine was dead white, attempting to call forth a spell and failing while Lloyd was at the front, jumping from side to side to dodge Luna's Ray attacks as he fought to end her.

"Rising Beast!" he cried desperately. He missed and Luna knocked him aside with her staff, sending his swords flying to clatter at Anna's feet.

"Anyone else think that was too coincidental?" she asked, picking up her swords as Raine cried out in pain, finally collapsing from mana exhaustion. Lloyd was clawing at his backpack, desperate to get his old blades, but Luna was advancing.

Not my son, you bitch! She ran forward, the blades gripped tightly in her palms. "Lay down and die already! HUNTING BEAST!" Luna was hit from behind and crumpled, glaring up at Anna. "Swordrain!" Anna shrieked. Luna cried out "No!" Each time she was hit.

"God, I forgot how annoying that was," Anna muttered. "And to finish it up, my personal favorite—RISING FALCON!" Anna rose in the air and shot downward, driving both blades into the summon spirit as hard as she could. Luna fell at last.

"Whew!" Anna said, wiping her brow as sweat trickled into her eyes. "Ugh, I really need to get my headband back!"

Zelos and Regal approached Raine and revived her somewhat, allowing Raine to gather enough mana to heal everyone completely. As everyone groaned and got to their feet, they looked towards the altar, expecting to see Aska, Luna, Lloyd, or at this point Martel herself. Anyone other than the person standing before them grinning cheekily.

Anna enjoyed the absolutely floored look on everyone’s face for a moment before pointing a sword at Sheena, "As much of a mistake this is, make your vow. You need their power regardless." Sheena jumped and then ran forward to do as she was bid, nearly tripping as she struggled to take her eyes off of Anna.

"Impossible," Regal whispered, walking up to Anna. "How can this be?"

"Probability of this occurring, less than 0.0000000001 percent," Presea said.

"I agree," Raine said. "This could be an illusion. Kratos is here, perhaps this is an attempt to distract us."

"Then why would the illusion defeat Luna for us?" Genis pointed out.

Anna sighed heavily. "I'm not a bloody illusion."

"Wait!" Zelos strode forward. "I know how to see if it really is her!"

"How?" Sheena asked, returning from making the pact. "I think she'd hit you, illusion or not!"

"Hey Ada?" Zelos said. "What did Regal say when the dragons attempted to eat us?"

"Where?" Ada asked. "The island in the sky, or Rodyle's ranch?"

"Well, that was specific. I'm convinced," Sheena muttered.

"I'm not," Raine said.

"The island in the sky," Zelos said.

Anna squealed and adopted a heroic pose. "I have no intention of becoming part of the food chain without a fight!"

"That's my fiery temptress!" Zelos said.

"OY!" Anna dropped a sword and punched Zelos hard in the face.

"That's Ada," everyone chorused.

Anna felt someone tap her shoulder. She turned to look into her son's eyes, wide with hope and disbelief at the same time. "I watched you die."

"Yes you did," Anna said, resting her hand on his shoulder and smiling. "But…I'm the thing that just won't die, apparently!"

Lloyd looked at her in horror. Then, ever so slowly, he broke into a grin. That was all the encouragement Genis and Colette needed. The three teenagers jumped on Anna, hugging her and laughing.

"Come on," Anna said, cuffing her son aside. "We need to go."

"You'll need these," Lloyd said, handing Anna her sheaths. Anna grinned and clipped them onto her belt. "All right everyone! Let's go!"

"Welcome back Ada!" Colette chirped.

"Ada, I'm glad you're alive," Sheena said, clapping her friend on the back.

"But how?" Raine demanded.

Anna turned and winked at the professor. "Maybe one day I will tell you. It's a very good story."


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