Dance With the Devil
"I can't believe exspheres are made from human lives." Sheena was saying.
"This is Marble's life…" That was Genis's voice.
"Arrgh! This…thing!" Lloyd cried. Ada groaned, but no sound came out, she was still trying to peel the darkness away from her eyes.
"Lloyd, wait. What will you accomplish by taking that off? It's not just an exsphere, it's also your mother's life, remember?" Colette. Even half-conscious, Ada could imagine the concern and tenderness in Colette's face. She really did care about Lloyd.
"But these things make a mockery of human life," Lloyd replied.
"But we would have lost long ago had we not had them," Kratos said. Ada's eyes flew open at his voice. Her fellows were grouped around the fire, staring at their exspheres, sadness and disgust in their eyes.
"Don't you think I know that?!" Lloyd snapped
"Do you really?" Kratos retorted. "If you throw away that exsphere now, do you think you can finish this journey?"
Lloyd looked at his exsphere. "Yeah. I know. Without these things, we're just a bunch of weak humans. We can fight because we have these. I know that. But exspheres exist as a result of taking someone's life!
"And?" Kratos voice was thin, as though he was challenging Lloyd. Ada could guess what, or who was on his mind. "Those people didn't become victims because they wanted to, but I doubt they would want to be thrown away after being turned into exspheres."
"My opinion may not matter much because I don't use an exsphere," Colette interjected. Oh really? Ada though in grim amusement. "But I believe the Desians will defeat us if we throw away our exspheres now. And if that happens, more people will lose their lives to these stones. I don't want that to happen. I don't want this journey to be meaningless."
"Colette's right. We can throw away the exspheres at any time." Kratos turned away from Lloyd and fixed his eyes on Ada, who looked startled. "But right now, we must carry the weight of the hopes and dreams of those victims and fight for their sake, as well as ours." He turned back to Lloyd. "Didn't you say you weren't going to hesitate anymore?"
"I just can't!" Lloyd shouted. "I know you're right, but right now… let me think by myself for a while, okay?" He walked off. Colette made to follow him.
"Let him go," Ada groaned sitting up. She took a quick inventory and found herself completely healed though very stiff. "He needs time, that's all."
"I'm so glad you're ok!" Colette said as Ada got to her feet.
"Nothing our Raine can't fix," Ada said with a crooked smile.
"Yes, well," Raine said. "You proved useful. And your behavior and Sheena's quick thinking distracted Kvar and his men."
"Reckless," Kratos sniffed.
Ada scowled. "He was upsetting Lloyd. He was spitting in the face of all life. I wasn't going to stand there and let him!"
"Better that than getting us all killed," Kratos replied before going after Lloyd. Ada stomped her foot in frustration.
"He talks like he knows everything!" Ada snapped. Genis laughed, earning him a death glare.
"Sorry, but that's what Lloyd is always saying," Genis said.
"The question is…now what?" Raine said.
Kratos returned to the group a few moments later, his eyes clouded over. "We have to think of a way back into the ranch, but not now. For now, we should rest."
"Tomorrow…we must go after Kvar," Genis said. "For Marble's sake as well as for the sake of other lives lost to these exspheres."
"I'll take watch," Kratos volunteered. "Get some rest."
As the others turned in, Ada stoked the fire a bit, gathering her thoughts before she confronted Kratos. She checked that the others were asleep, and was relieved to find they were…except Colette. Colette was far away from the fire, next to the sleeping Lloyd. The blonde cautiously leaned over and brushed the hair away from his face before settling to watch the stars through the night. Ada waited until the girl had settled before walking over to the Seraph, a glare fixed on her face.
"That was very foolish Adalais," Kratos said before she could utter a word.
"Stop calling me Adalais!" she snapped in reaction, forgetting what she originally wanted to say. "Only my mother called me that and she's dead. So stop it!"
Kratos looked up at her, pity in his eyes. "I'm sorry. When did she die?"
Ada looked at the ground, clenching her fists. "When I was a child. She died of cancer, an illness in my world."
"And your father? If you don't mind my asking."
Ada fixed Kratos with a steely look. "He couldn't bear living without her…he killed himself a year later. I found his body. I was 6."
"I'm sorry," Kratos said.
"It's in the past," Ada said. "You can't change it. I've spent the 12 years going from guardian to guardian, but no one wants a child who has seen too much of life at age six." She spat the words as though they tasted foul in her mouth, as foul as the feelings were behind those words.
"Where do you live now?" Kratos asked and immediately kicked himself. Do not get attached to this girl. You'll just be hurting another heart in the end.
"I don't know," she said softly. "I lived with my boyfriend…but…he proposed. He's in love with me and I don't love him. That's kinda how I got here. I ran away and wished to be somewhere else. The next thing I knew I had fallen right into your arms," she muttered, blushing.
Kratos turned away, feeling color rise in his cheeks, for some unknown reason. "Perhaps we can decipher what brought you here. I'd be most interested to know."
"As would I," Ada said. She looked up at the stars and sighed. "Kratos?"
"At the ranch…you didn't want Kvar to see my face."
Kratos looked at her. "It is as I said. You look like Anna," he kept his voice low, barely audible, so Colette's angelic hearing wouldn't allow her to overhear. "I didn't want him to think you were her."
Ada sat down in front of Kratos so he had no choice but to face her, also barely whispering so Colette would not hear. "If he didn't recognize you…" she paused and mouthed "one of the four seraphim," before whispering, "how on earth could he recognize my supposed resemblance to Anna? Particularly if he thinks she's dead?"
"It was too great a risk," Kratos said. "I'm sure if he saw your face and mine together, he would recognize us both."
"But he didn't recognize you, even with Lloyd there." She tilted her head to one side and smiled. "He looks just like you."
Kratos gulped, convinced for a moment that Anna sat before him with that smile, but it wasn’t Anna. It was Adalais. He had to remember that.
“I think it’s more than that. You’re not as indifferent as you seem so what was it.” Kratos remained silent. "I'm waiting Kratos," Ada teased.
"It is as I said," Kratos said. "Nothing more."
"You want to know what I think?" When he made no reply again, she continued. "I think you wanted to protect me…and Lloyd and Raine and Genis and Colette. You don't want anything to happen to any of us."
"I am paid to protect the Chosen after all," he said. "I cannot withhold my services to her companions."
Ada shook her head. "You can fool them, but not me. I know what's going to happen." Ada stood and walked away.
"Adalais,” Kratos called after her, getting to his feet as well. Ada turned back to him as he approached her, lowering his voice to ensure that Colette couldn’t hear. “I am unsure how it is you came to be here. I don't know why you were brought here. I don't know why I feel like we've met before. All I know is that tomorrow I will avenge my wife's death, side by side with my son, before we continue on our journey. And when this journey reaches it’s conclusion, it will be up to you and Noishe and the others to protect Lloyd in the end. Do you understand?"
"I understand," she said turning and returning to her blanket.
"Good night, Ada."
She spun around and smiled at him. "Good night, Kratos."
Ada curled up in her blanket, drifting into sleep as she gazed at Kratos profile against the starry skies. You must do the task Yggdrasill has charged you with. And I must figure out why I am here and why the void I've held my entire life has faded away since the moment I fell into your arms. It wasn’t until he drifted off to sleep that she realized she had forgotten to scold him for scolding her. Oh well.
When Ada had fallen asleep, Kratos chanced a glance at her. She slept peacefully her chestnut hair loose now and covering her heart shaped face. Kratos leaned over and brushed the brown locks away.
"I can't believe I couldn't move that boulder, I'm nowhere near strong enough to protect Colette!" Lloyd moaned as they entered the secret passage outside of the ranch. They had risen early and followed Ada’s instructions to locate the secret passage into the ranch. Ada had been delighted to witness Lloyd epic struggle with the boulder and actually had gotten a few pictures of it.
"That's not true!" Colette said earnestly. "You are plenty strong Lloyd."
"You've definitely improved since the first time I fought you," Sheena said. "You'll keep improving."
"Hush!" Ada said. "We're near the end."
Sure enough, they spilled out into a corridor. Thanks to Ada's extensive knowledge, since she had no life and had played Tales of Symphonia seven times through, they were able to return to the control room.
"All right…" Raine said. "The prisoners are here…and Kvar…is here. In order to get there, we have to deactivate the guard system. The switches are…here!" she pointed at two sections on the map.
"So there are people who can operate machines over here too," Sheena muttered.
"What did you say, Sheena?" Colette asked.
"Nothing," she said hurriedly. "Just talking to myself." Ada stifled a knowing laugh.
BEEP BEEP BEEP! A loud noise accompanied, by flashing red lights, reverberated around the room.
"They've detected my access of the main computer!" Raine chewed her lip. "No good! We'll have to split up."
"I'm going after Kvar!" Lloyd said.
"I'll handle the machines," Raine said. "Lloyd, choose who will accompany you."
"Lloyd," Kratos said. "Please allow me to fight alongside you."
Lloyd considered for a moment and nodded. "All right. Kratos you're with me. Genis, go with Raine, she may need your magic." Lloyd looked from Sheena, to Colette to Ada. "Sheena, you're with Raine too. You wanted to free the prisoners anyway."
"Roger!" Sheena said, saluting.
"Colette…with me." Lloyd said. "Ada…wow…I don't know. You can help both parties"
"If she comes with us, we may be able to decipher the machines faster," Raine said. "But you're headed closer to the enemy."
"Decide, now!" Sheena snapped "They're coming!"
"Lloyd, we need every sword we can get if we are to face Kvar," Kratos said.
"Right," Lloyd said. "Ada with us. Move!"
"Yes!" she exclaimed before following the others. The raced out the doors and down a corridor. "This way!" Ada easily navigated the halls and they found themselves in the hallway that would lead them to the bastard himself.
"Hey, you!" They turned to see four guards at the end of the hall.
"Do we fight or head to Kvar?" Colette asked.
At that moment there was even more beeping followed by a whirring noise Ada recognized all too well. "That's the guard system!" Ada said. "Kvar's room is open. I say run for it."
"Gotta know when to go!" Lloyd shouted before racing off, Colette behind him, and Kratos and Ada behind her.
"I love it when they say things like that!" Ada said to herself. Kratos looked at her questioningly. "Never mind. Incidentally, you don't need an extra fighter."
"Call it intuition."
"Wha-AHHHH!" Because of her inability to both talk and run at the same time, Ada tripped and fell yet again, but this time she took Colette down with her. Kratos took a wild leap over the tumbling girls to avoid tripping and kept going after Lloyd as Colette and Ada crashed into a wall…right into the door switch. There was a buzzing noise and a door began to descend, cutting Colette and Ada off from Lloyd and Kratos.
"Damn," Ada swore, lurching to her feet. She reached down, yanked Colette up and pulled her down the corridor, running for all she was worth. She knew they weren’t going to make it so she did the only thing she could think of. Ada shoved Colette hard and Colette went sprawling, sliding on her stomach the remaining foot of the corridor and under the wall as Ada dashed after her. Of course it worked, Colette was always luckily clumsy.
"Ada hurry!" Lloyd shouted.
Ada wasn’t going to make it. She dove forward like Colette and slid on her stomach as the door dropped lower and lower. She wasn't going to make it! Her arms got under, but she had stopped sliding and she could feel the door brush the top of her head. Then a pair of strong hands gripped her wrists and practically ripped her through the gap, seconds before the door would have crushed her.
"Of all the Origin-cursed times for clumsiness," Kratos snarled.
"Well sorry!" Ada huffed as he pulled her to her feet.
"The portal's open," Colette pointed out.
"Here we come, Kvar!" Lloyd said, leaping onto the disc. The others followed him into the portal which shimmered briefly around the four as they disappeared.
The emerged into Kvar’s office and sat through a boring speech from Kvar and few snide comments from Pronyma on the projector. Kvar was finally coming to the end of his pathetic speech before the battle commenced. Lloyd was almost at the breaking point of his patience and Ada prayed that Kvar would engage them soon so he could reap the field of hurt he had sown.
"Once I succeed in retrieving that exsphere, any suspicions I might have been under will be but a distant memory." Kvar drew his weapon and called forth three energy stones.
"Get ready!" Kratos said.
"You're not gonna take this away from me!" Lloyd shouted, charging, Kratos right behind him.
Ada raced for the energy stones. As much as she wanted to mutilate Kvar, this was Lloyd and Kratos's fight. "Colette, cast Holy Song, then take out the energy stones. Leave Kvar to them!"
"Right!" Colette began to chant.
A lightning bolt shattered the ground in front of Ada's feet. She grinned and charged the wretched metallic thing and shattered it with one blast of Sword Rain. "Hah! Rest in pieces shrimp!"
Ada earned the title of LAME! Ada shook the thought of her head and headed for the other stone, just as Kvar shouted "THUNDER BLADE!" Ada whipped around in time to see a sword of pure electricity descend from the sky right on top of Kratos and Lloyd.
"NO!" Ada shrieked as the ground shook under the explosion. She saw Lloyd crash to the ground and Kratos fall to his knees, struggling to call up his healing arts. Anna leaped over Lloyd, much higher than she should have been able too. What the…! She hit the ground barely a foot from Kvar as he began to chant again, his eyes fixed on Lloyd, who was struggling to his feet.
"I don't bloody think so!" Ada yelled and promptly swung one sword up to his neck, cold fury in her eyes. Her blade clashed in a shower of sparks with his weapon, her arm trembling under the weight.
Kvar's eyes widened. "You. You're supposed to be dead, you inferior being!"
"I’m not Anna! Do I look dead to you?" Ada shouted. She shoved with all her strength against the crossed weapons and threw Kvar off of her. He lunged in, poised to kill her. Faster than anyone would have thought possible, Ada jumped aside, swinging her sword up and slamming the hilt down onto the back of the monster's skull. Not expecting her speed, Kvar took the hit dead on and crashed face first to the ground.
"First Aid!" Kratos had finally called forth the spell just as Colette finished off the last of the energy stones. Lloyd immediately dashed over to Kvar to examine him. Kratos followed. "I leave his death to you," Ada muttered before heading to see if Colette was holding up.
Ada didn't stop to think. With ability unknown to her she jumped up in the air, her body arching backward as she rotated halfway around. She landed on one hand and shoved off, following her momentum the rest of the way around and landing on her feet. How in the HELL did I just do that? she wondered, staring in horror at the crater where she had stood seconds before.
"You bastard!" she shrieked, wiping the confusion away and turning around just as a sword erupted from Kvar's chest. Blood exploded from his mouth and he slumped forward, sliding off of Lloyd's blood stained blade.
"I did it mom…you've been avenged." Lloyd muttered, holding his exsphere. Kratos stared at Kvar's body, cold triumph radiating in his eyes mixed with pride as he looked at his son. Ada felt her eyes tear up as the others ran into the room.
"We've found where they've taken Chocolat!" Raine announced. "We need to hurry up and get out of here."
"Really?" Lloyd said excitedly. Ada sighed in relief…but…oh no. How could she forget!
"Lloyd!" Colette and Ada shouted in unison, "look out!"
Colette was a blur as she raced passed Ada. Kratos dashed forward as well as Kvar swung his weapon at the boy with the last vestiges of his strength.
"Lloyd-AHH!" Colette crumpled from the blow and Lloyd threw his arms out to catch her.
"Colette!" he cried.
"I'm okay," she assured him. It doesn't hurt for some reason."
Kvar made a dash for the door, Kratos on his heels.
"Stop!" Ada threw one of her swords like a javelin at the fleeing man, catching him in the leg and sending him to his knees. Lloyd drew his sword and ran at Kvar, plunging it through the hole he had made seconds before and giving the blade a sharp twist. "You bastard!"
Suddenly, Kratos was beside Lloyd. He raised his sword and ran his blade directly into Kvar's heart.
"Kratos…you pathetic inferior being!" Kvar moaned, his eyes on Ada's face. "All for that wench…"
"Feel the pain," Kratos snarled. He wrenched the blade free in an explosion of blood and flesh before slashing a gash so deep in Kvar's stomach that his organs were visible and pieces of his torso fell to the floor with a sickening splattering noise. "Of those inferior beings!" Lloyd twisted his blade again before pulling it away. Kratos glared at Kvar with all the pain and rage he possessed as the Grand Cardinal fell backwards, his breath fading.
But Kratos wasn't done. The Seraph raised his sword, gripping the hilt with both hands, and plunged it down through Kvar's throat. "As you burn in hell." And with that, Kvar lay still never to rise again.
Ada barely listened to the events that followed. She walked over to Kvar's mangled body, ignoring Lloyd's explanation of what was happening to Colette. She was shaking with anger, fear, and disbelief. And she had no idea why the hate had burned so powerfully inside her and why it still would not fade away.
"Ada!" Lloyd shouted. "Come on, let's go!"
Ada didn't move.
Ada looked at Kratos with haunted eyes. She could see pain reflected in his brooding gaze, but as he looked at her, there was a touch of gentleness, almost as if he understood the war she was fighting inside her mind. In the end, it was his calm controlled voice that grounded her when she didn’t think she could be grounded. "Let's go, now Ada."
Ada nodded hollowly and started to follow them out. Before leaving, she turned back one last time to view the bloody mess that had been Kvar. It took a moment to call moisture to her lips but she managed it. Ada spat bitterly on Kvar’s body before following Kratos out.