Never Take Friendship Personal
Predictably, the first thing Lloyd did when he awoke in the Renegade's base was seek out Ada, who was slumped in the corner. Ada had explained to the group why she withheld information from both Lloyd and them. Fortunately, they all understood, though it did not bring back Colette's soul. Unfortunately Lloyd had been unconscious for that part so now a very angry teenager stood over her, quaking with fury.
"YOU KNEW!" Lloyd roared at Ada. "All of it. You knew about Colette, about Remiel, about, Cruxis…about…about…"
"Kratos," she said dully.
"Why didn't you tell us?!" Lloyd cried. "You just stood by and let it happen."
"If I had, the timeline would have changed." Ada said slowly. "If I had, it is likely you would have all been killed."
"I don't understand that at all!" Lloyd shouted. "How could you? How could Kratos?"
"Lloyd," Ada stood and put her hand on his shoulder. It wasn’t about her knowing or not knowing, she knew that. It was about Kratos’s betrayal. "Do you remember in the Tower when Kratos stood above you?" Lloyd nodded. "He was poised, ready to strike and kill you. But he didn't. That means something, don't you think?"
"Tell me Ada," Lloyd said. "Tell me the truth. Is Kratos our enemy?"
Ada sighed. "He is of Cruxis. Make of that what you will,"
"So he's our enemy," Sheena concluded.
"I had my suspicions," Raine sighed. "But I feel foolish I never realized…"
"We all do," Genis said. "All we can do now is figure out how to get Colette back to normal."
The door opened and a Renegade foot soldier walked in. "Good. You're awake. Our leader awaits you."
They filed out, following the soldier down the hall to the room Lloyd had been in before. Funny…I didn't say yes to Lloyd, yet they assumed by my words that Kratos is an enemy. I'm a genius sometimes! As the group entered the nice well furnished office, they immediately caught sight of the blue-haired, cape wearing man who had fled from Lloyd before.
Ada grinned. I do so love Yuan.
Yuan surveyed the group, Ada kept her head down to avoid more awkward recognition that she didn’t understand. "You're finally awake," he said simply.
Lloyd stepped forward. "Are you…the Renegades?"
"Correct," Yuan replied. "We're an underground resistance dedicated to fighting the Desians…or rather, Cruxis."
"So Cruxis and the Desians really are the same organization!" Lloyd said, punching his hand with his fist in frustration.
Ada zoned out, wishing she could push the "A" button through this conversation. They were wasting time. The sooner Lloyd and Yuan got to the point, the sooner they could save Colette. Speaking of which, the Chosen stood next to Ada, staring blankly ahead.
"Psstt…" Ada whispered. "Colette? Can you hear me?"
"Blink twice if you can hear me."
Colette didn't blink. Ada sighed in frustration and joined the conversation in an effort to push it along. Yuan was explaining the mana system to Lloyd but Ada was at the end of her patience. She cut across the half-half, summarizing. "Yggdrasill created this twisted world," Ada said grimacing," in which one land is always flourishing, the other always declining. The point of the Chosen is to give a seeming of purpose to this deranged system while they search for a vessel for Martel."
Yuan looked at Ada, who kept her head ducked. Furrowing his brow, he walked over to her. "Look at me."
Ada sighed and looked up. Yuan's face paled and his hand automatically went to his face slowly, almost dreamlike, and rubbed it unconsciously, like something there had hit him. Ada felt something stir in her mind.
"Kratos," Yuan said. "Do you have any idea what trouble this is going to cause? Over one female? Are you thinking with your brain or your sex drive? She is not worth the effort."
"I have a name you know, you overgrown butterfly!"
“A whore doesn’t need a name and even if she did, I would not concern myself with it."
Ada slammed her eyes shut, willing the voices and the images to go away. She was losing her mind.
"You!" he gasped. "How are you still alive?"
Ada glared. "That's really getting old! Check my mana signature, you dolt."
Yuan did and found that while it was similar, it bore enough difference to prove that it wasn't Anna. Ada sighed and muttered without meaning too, "You overgrown butterfly!"
Wait…Yuan thought. At those words, her signature shifted, becoming something much clearer and more familiar, but as a look of confusion crossed Ada's face, it shifted back again Interesting …what game is Origin playing?
"You're not her," Yuan said, walking back behind his desk.
"Wait," Lloyd said, deciding to ignore Ada and yuan’s confrontation. "If Yggdrasill was the one that created the two worlds himself, what can you possibly hope to do against someone like that?” Lloyd glared at Yuan as another thought occurred to him. “And that's not all. You tried to kill Colette and me. You're certainly not on our side. Yet for some reason, you saved us. Why?"
Yuan looked mildly impressed. "You're not as stupid as you seem."
"Excuse me?!" Lloyd asked angrily.
"Unfortunately, the Chosen completed the angel transformation," Yuan said. "The Chosen is now a lethal weapon whose only goal is self-preservation. We wouldn't dare lay a hand on her.”
Ada stiffened as the doors behind her slid open and Renegades poured into the room. The others immediately went for their weapons but it was no good, soon they were blocking the door.
“Now we have the key to stop Martel's resurrection,” Yuan said triumphantly. “We no longer need the Chosen!"
"What?!" Lloyd said looking around, noticing their opponents for the first time.
"What we need…" Yuan said.
"Is a swift kick in the-" Ada broke off as Raine whacked her with her staff.
"Is you, Lloyd Irving!"
"Me?!" Lloyd exclaimed. "What's so special about me?"
"That's none of your concern!" Yuan spat before looking at the soldiers. “Get them!” he ordered before taking another glance at Ada. “And get the girl too.”
"Oh for crying out loud!" Ada yelled, fed up with the tedium. Ada shoved Lloyd aside and kicked Yuan right in the stomach, right where Kratos had gotten him back in Hima. Down went the blue-haired Seraph, grunting in pain and holding his abdomen as blood oozed slowly into his clothing.
"Ugh, Kratos…" Yuan grunted in pain. "How many times must you get in my way?!"
"Kratos?" Lloyd asked, recognition dawning on his face. "Are you telling me the one who attacked Kratos was—?" The rest of the group took off and Ada dragged Lloyd's out by the arm. "Chat later, Lloyd. Get out of here!" She shoved Lloyd out the door before turning back to Yuan and blowing him a kiss mockingly.
"Ada!" Sheena called as she and Lloyd caught up to the others. "We're going to-"
"Tethe'alla, Rheairds, yeah yeah yeah," she said grumpily. "Let's go already!"
They raced down the corridor…right into a group of foot soldiers. In seconds they were surrounded.
"I'm tired of this," Ada sighed in a perfect imitation of Presea. There was a tug in the air as Raine, Genis, and Colette began to call forth their spells.I never understood why Colette would still use Holy Song if she doesn't remember anything…but then I guess she does technically know what is going on around her.
Ada drew her sword and followed Lloyd into a charge. "Demon Light Spear!" she cried cutting down the first two with a powerful attack. She felt a swift slice across her back and turned around just in time to take down another foot soldier. Reversing her cut, she neatly decapitated one Renegade, driving her second sword into another's belly. She backed up as more came racing down the hallway to surround them outnumbering them. She collided with an unfamiliar back and spun, finding herself face to face with Lloyd.
"There's too many!" Lloyd said in frustration, tuning back around, staying pressed up against Ada. The others backed up as well until the six warriors stood back to back, weapons pointed at their attackers.
"Wait," Ada said. "I have an idea." She dropped her voice. "They want Lloyd and me. We'll lead them off and catch up later. You get to the Rheairds. Lloyd, when I give the signal, hit the with a beast attack to give the others an opening."
"But—!" Raine protested.
"GO!" Ada ran forward, Lloyd at her side.
"BEAST!" she yelled.
"HUNTING BEAST!" Lloyd roared, much to Ada's surprise. As a large knot of Renegades were blasted out of the way and the others made a break for it, she noticed Lloyd's exsphere was glowing. Again, words formed in her throat that she could not stop from escaping her lips as Lloyd stood at her side, facing the opposite direction from her.
"Protect the ones you love, Lloyd," she said before they sprung forward into action. Ada ran the nearest Renegade through and spun away as one behind her swung a heavy spear at her. Ripping her blade free, she used the momentum from her spin to slice another renegade in half. Behind, Lloyd was launching attacks left, right and center, cutting down two or three at a time until- CLANG!
A Renegade wielding a heavy mace sent Lloyd's swords flying from his grip. They landed behind the wall of Renegades that Ada was trying to cut through.
"Damnit!" Lloyd swore, diving aside as the mace lodged in the ground where he had just been standing. Ada broke away from the soldiers and backed up.
"This better work!" she mumbled. She took off running as fast as she could, straight toward the renegades. One stepped forward, thrusting his sword forward, poised to run her through but-
Ada sheathed her swords and dove forward onto her hands. In a moment of strength, agility, and flexibility she didn't know she possessed, she was up, somersaulting through the air and over the Renegades, who stupidly watched in amazement. She landed lightly on her feet, seized Lloyd's Lloyd swords and threw them up in the gap left as they broke formation to attack her. "Catch Lloyd!"
Lloyd jumped away from a would-be fatal blow and threw his hand up as the remaining Renegades charged. Catching one by the handle, he spun around, cleaving the air in two and catching the mace wielder in the chest. Down went the big guy. Lloyd blindly caught his other sword and followed his momentum around to plunge his swords into two more Renegades.
“TIDAL WAVE!" Ada’s attack launched right for the remaining soldiers. A great wave of water crashed over the renegades, knocking those still alive unconscious.
Lloyd stared at the mess, panting heavily, his exsphere still glowing. This power, this strength he thought. Where is it coming from? He looked down at his exsphere which was glowing warmly almost…happily?...against his skin. Mom…he thought, somehow knowing his mother’s soul was behind this. Mom, thank you for helping me to protect my friend. I swear I will fix this stupid twisted world!
"Come on," Lloyd said to Ada, heading after the others, Ada nodded then followed, directing him down several pathways until they found the Reihards launch center.
"We've got to hurry!" Sheena said as the twin swordspeople dashed into the hangar. The Rheairds were charged and ready to go.
"Tethe'alla here we come!" Lloyd said, hopping onto a red one. Somehow, Colette was already on one, blank as ever but knowing what they had to do. She's not lost completely. Lloyd thought.
Everyone boarded a Rheaird, Ada squealing excitedly upon finding a bright blue one. "To Tethe'alla!" she shouted. There was a roar and a bright flash of light and they were gone.
A cute little dog was strolling the streets of Meltokio when he caught a new scent. It was the scent of a dog lover, he could tell. He looked around and saw a girl with wings wandering the streets, in need of cheering up. He trotted up hopeful for a pat on the head but-
He got a kick instead.
"Colette!" Lloyd cried as the dog yelped and ran away. "And she used to love dogs…"
"Now that's a violent young lady right there," sad a high, squeaky voice filled with evil humor. "Marvelous!" Rodyle brushed past them. Ada snickered. He really did look like a mad scientist, what with his purple hair, tiny red spectacles, and ridiculous outfit. No matter how bulky the clothes, you could still tell he was a short little man. Good thing he would meet his end soon enough, the vile beast.
Suddenly, a voice reached her ears that made her wince. "Oh do we really have to deal with him?" she muttered, dashing up the stairs after the others. Sure enough there he stood, a tumble of red curls with way too much product, the silly pink shirt robe thing, the white pants, and the annoying cheeky grin. The picture was completed by the group of over-makeuped floozies hanging on his every word. Zelos Wilder was just as annoying in person as he was in the game and as he smiled at Colette, his face filled with arrogance and perversion, Ada long to slap him in the face.
"Now, now, settle down," Zelos was saying to his groupies, who stared at Colette like she was a freak. He approached her with that insipid smile. "Are you upset, my little angel?" When Colette did not respond Zelos smiled even wider.
"Oh this is too good!" Ada squealed before walking nonchalantly over to a certain area of concrete where Zelos would soon be standing. While the others were occupied with the pervert, she surreptitiously pulled from her bag the digital camera that she had had in the pocket of her jeans when she wound up in Sylvarant. She set it to movie mode and waited.
"You know," Zelos continued, drawing even closer to Colette. "I bet you're as cute as a button when you smile."
Ada pushed the shutter. Colette reached forward and grabbed the foolish Chosen, throwing him through the air. As Ada knew he would, Zelos nimbly righted himself in midair and landed right in front of Ada, facing Colette.
"Whoa! Wow, that was surprise," Zelos exclaimed. "You sure are strong, my little angel. You certainly startled me!"
"Here's hoping I did too," Ada replied from behind. Before Zelos could turn around, Ada kicked him in the back of the knee, hitting the muscle there and sending Zelos to the ground to the sound of hearty guffaws from her friends.
"Priceless," Ada said walking off to rejoin the group.
"That was brilliant Ada!" Lloyd said.
"That's not even the best part!" Ada held up her camera and showed Lloyd and Genis the playback. Then…well…let’s just imagine what Raine would do if some unknown technology appeared in her vicinity. Needless to say, it was a bruised Ada and Raine and a battered camera that appeared at the castle later only to be turned away.
"Great," Lloyd grumbled as the guards watched them go. "I guess we're heading for the Church of Martel."
Ada led them to the Church and was not surprised to see another familiar face. A young girl, roughly twelve years old, stood at the door, lugging an enormous piece of woods. Her bright pink hair was pulled into two spiky pigtails and her pale pointed face. Ada looked at the red gem glittering at her neck and up into the emotionless eyes and almost inhuman face. Presea Combatir looked even more lifeless in reality and it made Ada’s heart hurt.
"Oh, Presea," said the priest behind them. "The prayers are to take place in the royal chambers. Please carry the sacred wood to the castle."
"Yes," Presea said monotonously and left.
"She's cute," Genis said, blushing as they left the Church, the priest having turned them away just like the royal guards.
Lloyd rolled his eyes at his friend. "That girl he called Presea has an exsphere, too. Is that a standard custom over here?"
"Yeah," Genis said, not even acknowledging Lloyd’s words. "She's really cute."
"You're not listening at all, are you?" Lloyd said, exasperatedly. "Well Ada?"
"It's uncommon, but not unheard of," Ada replied. Wait 'til you see the Tethe'alla Bridge. “We have a more urgent problem though: how are we getting into the King's chambers?
Lloyd thought for a moment. "AHA! Guys! I've figured out how we're going to see the King! Let's have that Presea help us. We'll carry the sacred wood inside and sneak in!"
"What?!” Genis said, snapping his around to look at Lloyd. “R…really?! I agree! That's a good plan! Let's do that!" Genis said excitedly.
Raine hesitated and met Ada’s eyes. She knew the half-elf had noticed Presea’s unresponsive state and Ada was grateful for Raine’s observance. Raine sighed. "Well, all right. Let's try talking to her, at least."
They approached the castle and found Vharley exiting the scene. Ada gripped her swords hard and willed herse;f not to slay the man where he stood. They had more important matters to attend to and, after a very strange conversation with Presea, she somewhat agreed to help them. Ada felt a twinge of sympathy for the twenty-eight-year-old child trapped between the ceaseless flowing of time.
That is until she saw Lloyd and Genis were trying to pick up the sacred wood to no avail. Ada whipped her camera back out and began to take pictures.
SNAP! Lloyd and Genis struggling. SNAP! Presea pulling the wood with one hand. SNAP! Lloyd's defeated face. SNAP! Genis blushing.
"I've lost all confidence as a man," Lloyd said mournfully.
"Me too…" Genis said, humiliated.
"I LOVE Meltokio!" Ada squealed hugging her camera.
Kratos stood atop a cliff, a naked sword in hand, his body cut and slashed. It was silent but for the pounding of his heart. Not a leaf rustled, not a breeze blew. Nothing.
"Kratos…" a small voice whispered.
He spun around to see Adalais coming towards him, her eyes blank, a horrible red like that of all the Chosens who had lost their souls. Kratos swallowed hard and clutched his sword. Why was she here? What had happened to her? What was going on?
"Kratos…" that voice came from behind him and it was one he would recognize until the day he died. Anna stood there in a tattered, shapeless brown dress, her eyes fading from brown to red, her skin tinged with green. "You must kill me…Kratos…"
"Daddy!" Noishe appeared at his side and the three-year-old Lloyd clung to his father's leg, sobbing. Kratos scooped his son up and looked back at Anna, but she was gone. Turning around, he looked to Ada again and found her even closer than before.
"Kratos!" she moaned. "You must free me! If you don't…"
Kratos looked at the Lloyd in his arms…only to find him gone. "What is going on?"
"Kratos!" Lloyd shouted. The older Lloyd stood before him now, his face twisted in rage. "What have you done?"
"Lloyd?" Kratos said confused. Suddenly, the smell of blood reached his nose. He looked down to find his sword smeared with blood, dripping onto the dried grass. He looked around wildly and froze. Behind him lay Anna's body, slashed and bloody, her lifeless brown eyes looking at him accusingly. "NO!" Kratos shouted spinning back around…only to see Ada's body, so like Anna's, in the same state. "NO!"
Lloyd glared at his father, drawing his swords… but his chest exploded in a shower of blood as a blade pierced him from behind.
"Lloyd!" Kratos raced forward towards his son as he fell. Just as he reached Lloyd, his body vanished. Kratos looked up…and was face to face with a mirror, his face reflected…stained with blood and grinning evilly.
"NO!" Kratos roared, sitting bolt upright, panting heavily.
It was a dream…only a dream…
Kratos rubbed his face and got out of bed. It was the first time he had slept in months. He didn't need to sleep, being an angel, but he could if he wanted to. Much of the time, he didn't. When you had a past like his, the realm of dreams was not a pleasant place.
There was a knock on his door. He walked across the tiny room he had chosen in Welgaia and wrenched open the door to give a death glare to…
"Well well, Lord Kratos," Pronyma purred, looking the seraph up and down. "Don't we look nice?"
Kratos slammed the door in her face, fully aware that he was wearing his form fitting Cruxis pants and nothing else, revealing his perfectly toned torso and long, muscular arms. He yanked his shirt out of the closet, pulled it on, tousling his already messy hair, and flung the door back open.
"Yes?" he said curtly, in no mood for politeness after his nightmare.
Pronyma smirked. "Lord Yggdrasill wishes you to fetch Lord Yuan to him. He is on Mount Fooji. According to Tethe'alla's Chosen, our vessel should be there soon. I'll be fetching her."
"Very well," Kratos said, closing the door on her again. He sighed and sat back on his bed, his face in his hands.
Lloyd…Anna…Ada…what does this dream mean? Free Ada from what? If I don't what? It's just like in Hima, when she said if I didn't betray my son, I'd never get him back. And in the tower when she said if I killed Lloyd, the worlds would die. Speaking of which…her mana signature changed when she yelled at Kvar and Yggdrasill. It became identical to Anna's. Something isn't right.
Kratos stood and put a finger to his lips, remembering their kiss. We will meet again, Adalais, but this time we meet…as enemies.