All for Nothing
After successfully sneaking into the place with Presea’s help, being thrown into the crimson chamber, getting attacked, and having Colette kick some Papal Knight ass, Zelos Wilder volunteered to keep tabs on Lloyd's group to prevent them from returning to Sylvarant and "destroying Tethe'alla." Ada was not pleased, knowing damn well that Zelos was as treacherous as a snake, already working for the Renegades AND Cruxis. Even if he had good reasons they were invalidated by the fact that he was annoying as hell. Not to mention when the time came to choose between him and Kratos, she'd be damned if they'd pick Zelos, though the reality of such a choice was unsettling. But anyway, after determining that they would take Presea home on the way to the Imperial Research Academy, the group set off for—
"THE GRAND TETHE'ALLA BRIDGE!" Zelos crowed. "Listen and be amazed, bumpkins. This is the greatest drawbridge in the world. It connects the continents of Altamira and Fooji. Its control system incorporates 3,000 exspheres."
Everyone's face went dead white, even Ada's "Three thousand human lives…" Lloyd muttered.
"Wait what?" Zelos asked. Lloyd explained the expsheres' origins, but Zelos merely shrugged it off. They began the long trek to Sybak, a somber group.
"I'd like to take this moment to declare nicknames!" Zelos cried after a few minutes in silence. "Ok, so Colette will be 'my little angel.' Presea is 'rosebud.' Lloyd is 'hey you' and Genis is 'brat'. Raine will be-"
"The professor is the professor!" Lloyd growled. "Drop it."
"The Professor," Zelos considered. "The bewitching female teacher. I LOVE IT! And last but not least…"
"Zelos will be 'moron'!" Ada shouted, annoyed.
"Ooh," Zelos said, sidling up to her. "You, my bewitching, voluptuous hunny, will be 'Fiery Temptress.'"
Ada drew her swords and faced Zelos. "You'll be dog food if you call me that!"
"Woah, woah, woah!" Zelos held his hands up in surrender. "All right. I’ll just call you Ada then."
"Adalais," Ada snarled. "You need to earn the right to call me Ada."
"This is going to be quite a journey," Raine muttered.
They made it to Sybak and the research academy in good time and sat listening dutifully to the explanation of Cruxis Crystals and exspheres. Ada zoned out, again longing for the “A” button to skip through the boring parts.
"So all we need is a key crest?" Lloyd asked.
"In theory yes," the professor at the Imperial Research Academy said after his lengthy explanation of exspheres. "It should control the crystal."
"Excellent!" Lloyd cried. "Now we just need a key crest.”
“I’ve got this,” Ada said and she reached up and grabbed Zelos by the hair. “Come on, Chosen, time to put that attitude of yours to good use."
“Ow!” Zelos cried as she dragged him from the room. “My hair! Not my beautiful hair, come on Adalais—ouch!”
“She is so scary sometimes.” Genis said as they walked out.
Ada dragged Zelos over to the small bazaar bordering the Imperial Research Academy and sifted through the piles of junk while the vendor tried to sell her this dented cup or that broken plate. She ignored him. After ten minutes of searching, she cleared away a rusted set of spoons and found the gently glowing key crest nestled in a box of ugly rings.
“Got it!” she informed Zelos, who was poking through the dirty and worn collection like he was afraid of it. Probably afraid of getting his hands dirty like this.
“Ah yes,” said the vendor coming over to Ada. “Such a priceless treasure. For you my lady—10,000 gald.”
"If you think I'm paying 10,000 gald for this your nuts!" Ada barked.
The junk collector looked highly offended. "This is a business, after all," he sniffed.
Ada looked at Zelos. "Do something, please!"
Zelos winked and drew himself up. "Okay, call the one responsible for this bazaar right now. I'll make sure he can't do business anymore. You've got some guts to be ignorant of the great Zelos, the Chosen!"
"Chosen?!" the man gasped. He seized the key crest from Ada’s hand and presented it to Zelos, but Ada snatched it back, glaring furiously. "Please, take this junk…Uh, I mean, I humbly offer this up to you, so please forgive me!"
“That’s more like it,” Zelos said haughtily.
"Yeah, Yeah," Ada shrugged and stomped off with Zelos trailing behind her. "Good work Zelos!"
"Why thank you my gorgeous-" he broke off at the look in her eyes. "Um…Adalais. Now…Let's rescue Colette! Pretty girls should live long!"
As they waited outside for Lloyd to fix the key crest, Ada sat next to Colette. Zelos milled around Sybak, Raine got into a deep discussion with some students, and Genis tried to get words out of Presea. Colette just sat on the ground, her wings out, looking straight ahead.
"Colette?" Ada said, hoping for a response. Nothing. "I'm so sorry Colette," Ada said softly. "I knew this was going to happen to you and I just let it. I'm so worried about screwing up the time line that I ignored the fact that this is no longer a game. You're alive, you’re actually alive. You’re not just a character that I can laugh at. There is no reset, there are no save points. You deserve better. And well…I was too absorbed with Kratos to save you." A tear slipped down Ada's cheek. "But the worst part is that in spite of my regrets, I can't change the course of events. I'm doing it again. This key crest is going to cause you pain…but if we leave you like this, Cruxis can come for you at any time." Ada moved around to look straight into Colette's eyes. "Colette…Lloyd will save you. He loves you more than he knows. I hope it's enough to make up for what I've done."
Ada walked away from Colette her mind racing as she wandered the streets of Sybak. So absorbed was she that she didn't notice she wandered into a dark alleyway until she tripped. "Blast!" she yelled, catching herself on the wall. She looked up and noticed her surroundings. "Where am-" There was the sound of running feet from behind her. She whirled around as a silhouette raced down the alley at her, a sword glinting in the scarce light. She drew her own weapons and charged forward to meet the attacker head on.
"Rising Falcon!" she cried, jumping high and diving for her foe. At the last possible second, he slid under her as she landed. She spun around in time to catch his descending blade with hers. Sparks flew as he ripped the sword away and cut low, towards her leg. She stopped the cut with her boot and drove her points toward his throat. He ducked and caught one of her swords under the cross guard. A hard tug and the sword went flying. She backed away, but he was too quick for her. He kicked out, catching her in the stomach and sending her flying, her other sword clattering away as it slipped from her grasp.
"Augggh!" she cried as she landed on her back and slid, tearing the skin. Ada tried to sit up, but the press of cold steel at her chin stopped her.
She lay there, squinting up to see her foe, but it was too dark to identify them. In any case it was all over. He had her. One cut and it would all be over. Ada closed her eyes picturing her firneds, picturing Lloyd, picturing Kratos, waiting for the cut to come.
The sound of Raine calling her name snapped her eyes open. Her attacker stiffened as the voices of her comrades drew closer and before she could react, he was gone, turning on his heel and sprinting out of sight.
Ada scrambled to her feet and charge into the crowded streets after the man…but he was nowhere in sight.
“Who the hell was that?”
“Ada,” Raine said approaching her. “Lloyd’s done with the key crest. He wants you present when he puts it on Colette.” Ada grimaced and followed Raine back to the others.
Lloyd was standing in front of Colette in the foyer of the academy. The Chosen stared right through him like she didn’t even see him. Lloyd looked up at Ada’s approach and nodded once, absently. Gripping the necklace tightly in his hand, he approached Colette cautiously. He gulped, prepared for her to strike him…but surprisingly she did not. "I didn't think I'd be giving you your birthday present like this," he told her. "I've attached a Key Crest to your necklace. It's late, but it's my present for you…" He gently slipped the necklace around her neck and held his breath, waiting for a recation. "Colette? Can you hear me? Please say something."
Ada closed her eyes. "Please…"
Colette said nothing; she just continued to stare right past her dearest friend. Lloyd’s face darkened and he hung his head, defat in every line of his body. "It didn't work."
No one knew what to say to console Lloyd. He had done his best, worked his hardest, and in the end it still hadn't worked. Ada gritted her teeth. If it had worked right away she wouldn't have gotten the Chronic Angelus Crystallus Inofficium.
"We could try asking Dirk," Raine finally suggested into the silence.
"But Dirk's in Sylvarant," Genis pointed out. "And the Rheairds are out of fuel…"
"Maybe the people here at the Academy might know of a way to refuel them," Lloyd suggested, perking up at the mention of his dad.
"Hey, hey, hey!" Zelos exclaimed. "Wait just a moment! Aren't you forgetting something? I'm here to keep tabs on you! I can't let you go back to Sylvarant!"
"Well then, just come along with us, oh compassionate Chosen One," Lloyd and Ada said in unison.
"What?" Zelos demanded. "Are you serious?"
"You're kind to girls, right?" Raine pointed out, giving Zelos her most endearing smile.
"Yeah, it's to save Colette," Genis said with a grin, trying his best to be polite to the infuriating Chosen. "You'll keep quiet about it for us, right?"
Zelos looked guilty and a little charmed. "Great, how am I supposed to snitch after hearing that?"
"Okay, then all we need now is fuel." Lloyd did his 'Let's do it!' fist clenching gesture.
“Cue the papal knights!" Ada muttered, turning to face the clank of armor.
Sure enough, here they came. "Chosen. We heard what you said just now. We hereby declare you and your companions to be traitors attempting to destroy Tethe'alla."
Zelos stared at Ada. "How did you know they would come?" he demanded.
"I'll explain after we save Genis and the Professor," Ada said quickly and quietly to him.
"By the Pope's orders," continued the knight, "we are to watch you for suspicions of plotting against the throne."
Zelos grimaced. "Heh. Now that's amusing. I'm the one who's plotting against the throne?"
"Restrain them and take a sample," ordered the knight. "Don't touch the angel. If you approach her carelessly, she'll kill you."
"Ow! What are you doing?!" Lloyd demanded as they stabbed him with a syringe.
"Criminals undergo biological tests before they are arrested. It's because of the caste system here." Zelos shrugged, not fighting as two of the armored men poked his arm with a syringe.
Ada saw the knights heading for Genis and Raine and had to make a decision fast. "Wait!" She cried. The knights turned toward her. "I know who the half-elves are!"
"So there are half-elves!" a knight exclaimed. Behind them, Genis and Raine looked at Ada in horror. "Tell us who they are, girl and we’ll spare your life."
They are so dumb! Ada thought. So willing to find prejudice that they completely ignore protocol…even if the whole system is vile, they should not be so lazy. "I'm a half elf!" She said boldly.
"I knew it!" declared a knight. "Arrest her! This pathetic half-elf has engaged in shameless caste deception."
Lloyd looked confused and outraged. "What did you say?! Ada's a much better person than any of you! And she's not a—”
"Silence human!" Ada barked. "I accept my punishment as proof that this world is vile and twisted with prejudice!" Ada winced as a knight struck her. Handcuffs were placed on her wrists and she was dragged away. As she passed Genis and the Professor, she smiled.
"Half-elves guilty of crimes are all executed without exception," a knight informed Lloyd's group.
"That's insane!" Lloyd barked.
"Take her away!" the knight barked. As Ada was dragged from the scene, she heard the knight bark orders to escort the rest to the dungeon since they needed protection from her magic skills.
"ADA!" Lloyd shouted.
"We'll return to the bridge and call for reinforcements," said the remaining knight. "For now the Chosen and the others…just lock them in the basement or something."
Ada sighed in relief as the knights escorted her out of Sybak. Finally, she had made a good choice. Who cares about the timeline? As long as Sheena still appeared and Kate still knew they were friends with a half elf, there was nothing to worry about. And if not…well…the journey would continue anyway, since Ada wasn't needed in the first place.
"I must ask," Ada chirped as they entered the Tethe'alla Bridge. "If you're so dear to the pope, why doesn't he give you a more convenient way to transport criminals?"
"Silence half-elf!" The knight swung his staff at her, catching her in the head. Ada’s eyes rolled up in the back of her head and she plunged down into darkness yet again.
"What do you mean she's not a half elf?" Lloyd asked as they sprinted toward the Tethe'alla Bridge. They had met with Kate and proven their trust by exposing Raine and Genis as the true half elves, much to everyone’s surprise. Sheena had returned right on schedule and with Kate’s help, they were now on the bridge and in hot pursuit of Ada. Raine had just informed the group that Ada had lied, something she and Genis had withheld from Kate.
“She’s not a half elf,” Raine repeated. “She lied.”
"I don't understand," Lloyd said. “Why would she lie?”
“Probably to protect Genis and Raine,” Sheena suggested.
“I still can’t believe you two are half elves,” Zelos said incredulously.
"The Professor and Genis are good people! Who cares if they're half-elves?!" Lloyd yelled, glaring over his shoulder at Zelos.
"Now's not the time, we must rescue Adalais," Raine reminded them. They were halfway across the bridge now when they saw several people ahead of them. Two Knights had Ada's limp figure between them as they fiddled with something at the very end of the bridge. There was a loud grinding noise and the bridge beneath them began to move and shake.
"Damn!” Lloyd said as they all skidded to a halt, watching in horror as the bridge began to rise up before their eyes. “They're trying to cut us off!” he bit his lip thinking before nodding once determinedly. “Come on, we'll have to jump it!"
"What!" Zelos exclaimed. "Wait! Time-out! Are you nuts?! We'll die if we fall from here!"
"If we lose them, Ada will die!" Lloyd shouted and sprinted forward.
"Let us continue our pursuit," Presea said, following Raine and Sheena.
"Yeah, let's," Genis agreed.
"Man…" Zelos groaned trotting off after them.
They dashed up the ever rising incline, knowing that if they didn't make it, they were all dead. Lloyd reached the edge first and dove through the air, flinging himself across as hard as he could....
"No!" he shouted as he felt himself falling, hearing his friends cry out in terror too.
"Undine help!" Sheena shrieked, tossing a seal in the air.
There was the sound of rushing water and they were propelled into the air by a spout of sea water below them. The sea water lifted them up and arced, depositing them safely on the bridge where Colette was waiting for them. Lloyd sighed. If only Colette had been herself, she would have tried to save them, or at least she would have continued after Ada herself. We'll save you Colette! I swear it.
"They must have escaped," roared a papal knight in front of them. "Get them!"
"We're taking our friend back!" Lloyd shouted as he and the others charged. It was a quick fight, over in seconds with the papal knights not even having time to raise their staff before Lloyd and the other were on them. They knocked all of the knights out cold and shoved them off the main road. Lloyd dashed to Ada's unconscious form and shook her, panicked at her lack of movement. "Ada. Wake up!"
"Lloyd, calm down," Raine chided. "Recover!"
Ada groaned and opened her eyes unto Lloyd's, whose frantic gaze brightened considerably. Then her eyes widened in dismay. "Aw CRAP!" Ada shrieked, causing everyone to jump.
"Ada, what's wrong?" Raine asked.
"I didn’t get a picture of Colette flying over the gap while you guys fell!"
Ignoring everyone’s anime sweat drop-like reaction, Ada got to her feet, wincing at the soreness in the back of her head. "I can't believe they believed me!" she grumbled. "They didn't even check. Lazy!"
"Why did you do it?" Raine asked. "Why did you risk your life like that?"
Ada looked at them all, individually, in the eye before answering. "You know that I know what's meant to happen. At the Tower of Salvation, I knew exactly what was going on, but I have remained silent. I remained silent this whole time, but when they were about to punish you for your birth, something you should not be ashamed of, I couldn't keep silent. Better me, who doesn't belong here, than you two, who do."
"Why did you keep silent in the Tower?" Sheena asked.
Ada smiled grimly. "Honestly? I was afraid my interference would change the course of events, as I had said before. As for the second reason…" she trailed off. The only way would have been to reveal Kratos's true identity. To admit that he is Lloyd's father. "That's not for you to know yet. Sorry."
"Well, that was certainly a heart wrenching speech," Zelos said. "I'm not sure what your deal is, but you are wrong. You do belong here, just as much as Professor Raine and the brat!"
Everyone stared at Zelos. "Wow…" Ada gasped. "You actually…said something sentimental."
Zelos chuckled. "Hey, all the beautiful hunnies deserve to be in the presence of the Great Zelos!"
"I should have known!" Ada groaned. "Anyway…let's go, eh?"
"Of course!" Lloyd said. "Welcome back Ada…oh and Sheena too!"
They had finally reached the top of the wretched Fooji Mountains, upon which the dead Rheairds were perched. Zelos lead the group to them but—
"Stop!" Ada shrieked. They turned to look at her and she glared at Zelos, knowing full well the trap that lay in wait for them. "Zelos, why don't you go ahead and show us what you're going to do?"
"Umm…" Zelos looked confused and a little annoyed, which pleased Ada. "Ok. Follow me then-"
"No!" Ada snapped. "You show us and we'll watch and learn, first."
"Kay!" he chirped cheerfully, but not before Ada saw the flicker of frustration cross his face. Zelos went toward the Rheairds while she watched expectantly, waiting for the trap to spring up and capture the treacherous snake. Nothing happened.
"Ada?" Lloyd asked confused. "Is this another of those 'knowing the future' moments?"
"Yeah," she said biting her lips and frowning. She examined the ground between them and Zelos, trying to spot the trap Yuan had laid. "Wait here ok?" She walked forward carefully, looking for the apparatus and gingerly stepping down with each movement. Zelos stood in front of her, watching solemnly but Ada could tell that he was well aware of what she was doing. As she reached Zelos, Ada sighed heavily, having failed to find any trace of the trap.
"Hmm…I was sure…" She trailed off and turned back to the group. There was no help for it, they didn’t have time to waste. "It's ok. Maybe we're moving faster than I thought. Come on!" They followed Zelos at a run and…
"Gah!" Ada's foot caught on the object she had failed to see and she collided into Sheena, who fell and knocked over Raine, Presea, and Genis. There was a buzzing noise and an orange cage sprung up between them and Colette.
"Damn it!" Ada shouted, struggling to her feet. "What the hell, Yuan?" She growled as the blue headed seraph stepped into view. "You couldn't have just captured the pervert here? He’s a waste of space as it is."
Yuan smirked. "You're the one who walked into my trap, fool."
Ada grimaced. "Actually, it was Zelos who led us up here, so hah!"
Lloyd grinned. "Zelos! He just called you a fool!"
"Zelos…is clumsy…" Presea said.
Zelos rolled his eyes. "Aw, I'm so sad now!"
"This time, you're mine Lloyd!" Yuan approached the group, grinning maniacally. “You and Ada will be the key to his undoing.”
Lloyd started to ask to whose undoing Yuan referred to, but they were interrupted by a flash of gathering mana to their left. When it cleared it revealed Pronyma, in all her scantily clad glory…if you could call it glory.
"Lord Yuan," she crooned, attempting what Ada thought might have been a sexy voice but sounded more like she had a frog in her throat. "What brings you here?"
"SLUT!" Ada shrieked, pointing at Pronyma, who glared murderously at the girl. "SLUT! WHORE!" Raine smacked Ada for her foul language.
"I could ask you the same, Pronyma," Yuan said coldly.
"I've come for the Chosen," Pronyma said, turning away from Ada, who continued to glower at the woman.
"Fine." Yuan shrugged. "But in exchange, I'm taking Lloyd and Ada."
"I've received no instructions concerning them." Pronyma walked up to Colette and began to laugh. "What is this pitiful key crest on the Cruxis Crystal! I will remove it at once!" Pronyma reached for the handmade pendant.
"No!" Lloyd dove at the barrier but Ada grabbed him back before he could hurt himself. "Colette, don't go with her!" Pronyma laughed.
"A futile effort," Pronyma said coldly. "Your words cannot reach a Chosen who has lost her soul."
"Let me go, Ada!" Lloyd shouted.
"Watch," Ada whispered to the struggling boy.
As Pronyma's perfectly manicured fingers closed around the pendant, there was a shimmering light that rose from Colette. Her eyes moved to look up at Pronyma the red color bleeding away. Colette blinked, closing her eyes as if in prayer. Then her eyes flew open, their blue irises frantic as she looked at Pronyma.
"No!" Colette shrieked. "This is a birthday present Lloyd gave me!"
Pronyma snatched her hand away in shock. "Impossible! How could that pitiful key crest control the Cruxis Crystal!"
"Dwarven vow # 7!" Ada cried.
Colette grinned. "Because goodness and love will always win!" She withdrew her chakrams and swung at Pronyma, who leaped aside. "Now let me go—ah!"
Colette tripped over a device covered in dirt. Electricity sparked from it and the cage around the others vanished. "Oh no! I broke it!"
"Good job my little Colette!" Zelos said, grinning at the blonde girl with his perverted fervor in his eyes. "I think I'm falling in love."
"Now that's our Colette!" Genis said with a laugh.
Raine smiled. "Some things never change."
Sheena rubbed her head absently, recalling their first encounter. "That brought back some painful memories."
Lloyd ran up to Colette and hugged her tight. "Colette!"
"Look out!" Raine shouted. Lloyd looked up and dove aside, taking Colette with him as Pronyma attempted to blast them. Ada ran forward. "Beast!" Pronyma dodged.
"Leonazium!" The woman cried.
"Oy!" Zelos jumped in front of Ada and conjured up his shield. "I can't stand someone who tries to hurt a pretty girl! Light Spear!" The hit was dead on, cutting a deep gash in Pronyma's chest.
"Or a woman who tries to hurt our friends!" Sheena added. Pronyma lunged for the summoner, but Sheena nimbly avoided her, slapping a card on her and muttering something in Japanese. The card exploded in flames.
"Ow!" Pronyma cried. "You will pay for that!"
"I beg to differ," Ada said. "Ready Lloyd?"
"Always, Ada!" Lloyd darted forward, Ada mimicking him. Pronyma lashed out at Lloyd with her weapon, leaving her back unprotected. Ada drover her blade through the gaps in her weird armor and pierced her through the shoulder. She doubled over just as Lloyd sliced her across the belly.
"Ice tornado!" Genis shouted.
"Ray!" Raine shouted. Pronyma screamed as heavy chunks of ice buried her, only to be melted as beams of light bombarded her. She fell to her knees in defeat.
"That was easy," Ada said.
"Yuan!" Lloyd shouted, looking at the Renegade leader. "Let's end this, once and for all!" Lloyd dashed forward. "Demon Fang!"
Ada, about to back Lloyd up, froze in her tracks, her breath caught in her chest. Her heart skipped a beat. She closed her eyes as she heard footsteps. He's here…Kratos is here.
There was the sound of a sword being pulled from its sheathe, followed by a bright flash as the newcomer destroyed Lloyd's attack in one blow. Ada gulped and opened her eyes.
He stood with his sword of flame out, pointing at Lloyd. He looked different, dressed as a Cruxis angel in a white suit with straps in odd places and blue patches of armor over his torso. His sparkling blue wings flapped gently, contrasting to his cold, red-brown eyes.
"Kratos!" Lloyd gasped. "You…you…"
"What the hell are you doing here?" Yuan snapped at his former ally.
Kratos looked at Yuan, not taking lowering his sword from where it pointed at Lloyd. "Leave Yuan," he said. His voice, so long absent from their ears, sent chills down Ada's spine. "Lord Yggdrasill has summoned you."
Yuan sighed. The same shimmering light that had marked Kratos's departure from them engulfed Yuan and two pink angel wings erupted from his back, flapping angrily. Raine gasped and Lloyd looked stunned. "You'll be taken the Chosen I assume?"
Kratos shook his head. "Not now. It's the toxicosis."
"Fine." Yuan looked at Lloyd and Ada. "Lloyd, it looks like our battle will have to wait." He nodded curtly to Kratos before flying off. The Renegades who had come with him had vanished some time ago, before Kratos and Pronyma arrived, taking the Rheairds with them. Now they stood on the mountain top alone with Kratos
"Damnit, Yuan!" Lloyd shouted, recovering from his stupor and running pat Kratos. "Wait!"
Kratos looked at Lloyd, his face revealing nothing. "What are you doing?"
Lloyd turned from Yuan's vanishing form and looked at Kratos in confusion. "What?"
"Why have you come all the way here to Tethe'alla?" Kratos asked.
"I'm here to save Colette" Lloyd said, as though it were obvious.
Kratos crossed his arms over his chest and gave Lloyd a look that told the boy he was wasting his time. "What good will saving the Chosen do? The relation of the two worlds vying for each other's mana will not change. Their positions have merely been reversed by the regeneration ritual."
Lloyd opened his mouth to retort but was interrupted by a rustling from behind them. "You!" Pronyma screeched at the group, teetering upright and glaring through her various scrapes and bruises. "You inferior beings. I will destroy you! Leonazium!"
Ada, being closest to the woman, tried to block it but there wasn't nearly enough time. The last thing she saw before the mana tore into her was Pronyma disappearing and Kratos pulling Lloyd out of the line of fire. And then...she was falling. She screamed as for the second time in her life, the far away ground was approaching her face as an alarming rate. Oh God! Oh God, please don't let me die! KRATOS!
Kratos heard the scream, followed by shouts from the others. He turned in time to see Ada slip past the edge of the mountain. "No!" he gasped. His heart stopped, didn't skip, but stopped dead as he stared in horror at the spot where she had disappeared. No.No no no no no! ADA!
"Ada!" Lloyd screamed. "Damnit! They took the Rheairds! What do we do?!"
Kratos shook his head, ridding himself of the paralysis. He ran, using his enhanced speed like never before and dove off the cliff, using the momentum from his sprint to propel him towards the plummeting girl faster than she was falling. "Ada!" he shouted, reaching for her. Ada threw out her hand and he seized her wrist in a death grip. A sharp tug and she was in his arms. Kratos pulled out his wings, flapping hard to slow their descent, fighting gravity, their combined weight, and his own exhaustion from the huge burst of mana he had used in his running jump.
They slowed considerably but it wasn’t enough, they were still going to crash. In the final moment before impact, Kratos did the only thing he could do and flipped over, cradling Adalais against his chest and taking the brunt of the fall on his back as they crashed into the ground with a shower of dirt and rocks.
Ada struggled upright, coughing as the dust settled. Kratos was pinned beneath her, unconscious and badly bruised. The sight of him unmoving and battered sent a thrill of fear through her.
“Kratos,” she said frantically. “Kratos wake up, wake up!” she shook him but he didn’t move. “Oh God, no. This is all my fault!" Ada gripped her forehead in her hands. "My stupidity for not watching my enemy closely!" She buried her face in Kratos’s chest in despair.
Ada’s head shot up to see that Krattos’s eyes were open and he was looking down at her. She felt something rise in her chest, a warmth she could not explain. Something that she had been searching for her entire life, and had finally found. An all-encompassing joy seized her, but at the same time, an all-consuming sadness. Why was she sad, why did it feel like something was writhing beneath the surface of her body and soul?
Ada sat back, away from Kratos, pressing her hands to her heart as pain swept through her, a painful sort of joy and an aching sort of longing, a pain that did not feel like her own. So many of her emotions lately felt foreign, separate from her. If only she could free these emotions, perhaps then she would understand what was happening to her, why words burst from her uncontrollably, why hallucinations ran wild at the most random times, maybe even why she felt like such a stranger everywhere except in this world that shouldn’t actually exist.
“Adalais,” Kratos asked sitting up, a look of concern on his face. “Adalais what—?” He felt for her mana signature instinctively and found it at war. Each of the dueling halves that comprised her signature were fighting wildly for control, the half that was Anna and the half that was Adalais. Neither could get a grip, neither could stay in control.
Something must have shifted in his face and Adalais understood."Kratos," she whispered. “You know what's happening to me…don't you?" He nodded. "I can't explain it,” she continued. “I don't know why I feel so torn and why I feel like I am not in full control of myself. I don't know how I got here, what I am doing here, or why I feel like I belong here.” She looked up at Kratos, her brown eyes seeing right through him into the heart he wasn’t entirely sure he possessed except for those few times Anna and now Ada looked at him.
“The one thing I'm sure of,” Ada said, “that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt…is this." She lunged forward and kissed him hard, winding her fingers in his auburn hair.
Kratos wrapped his arms tightly around Adalais and returned her kiss just as vigorously and passionately, dragging her against him and kissing her like he thought he might lose her, which he might. He couldn’t explain why the kiss felt right, he couldn’t explain why his heart started to pound again everytime he saw her or spoke to her. He had a theory, one that was slowly being proven right but it wasn’t just about what he thought Adalais could be, it was about her, who she was in spite of whatever was trapped in her soul. He knew she wasn’t Anna and that did nothing to stop him from kissing her.
Kratos pulled back and the look in her Ada’s eye was one of bliss and happiness, but underneath he could see the shadows. The shadows of what Adalais had been through, and the memories that were awakening inside of her that she could not understand. Not yet. Kratos pulled her back into his arms, holding her close. "I know you are confused. I know you feel torn in half. But I promise you, I will find a way for you to understand."
"Thank you," she whispered. He pulled away, and seized her hand. Slowly, they floated upward. "Kratos?" she asked.
She took a deep breath. "Anna would forgive you for leaving Lloyd and doing what you did in the Tower. Lloyd will forgive you too. He loves you, even if he doesn't know it yet. You should work on forgiving yourself."
“What makes you say that?” Kratos asked, unsure why she was saying this now.
Ada smiled wryly. “I don’t know. The words…they don’t always come from me. But that doesn’t make them untrue.”
Kratos looked away, sinking into his memories. "The life I could have lead with him, with my family as Anna and I had dreamed, has long since died. Nothing can change that. Things will never be the same. He will not forgive me." He looked down at Adalais. “Anna would have. I know you have. But the both of you are by far more optimistic than practical.”
They landed on the cliff before Ada could protest. Lloyd, Colette, and Genis raced to Ada and dove on top of her in what they thought was a hug.
"I'm so glad you're okay!" Colette shrieked hugging Ada before Raine pulled the three teens off of her.
"Are you all right?' Raine asked. Something glinted in the half elf’s eyes as she looked Ada over, something like malice. Ada wasn’t sure why, but Raine suddenly was on edge and wary…about Adalais.
"I'm fine!" Ada said brightly, stuffing the whirlwind of emotions out of the way for a moment and trying not to react to Raine’s weird look.
"I take my leave of you then," Kratos said, looking the group over before resting his now soulless gaze on Ada. "Your clumsiness is foolish. You would do well to eliminate it."
"Hang on a second," Sheena said, as Kratos went to leave. "What you said before about the system and the worlds’ positions reversing—has Tethe'alla begun to decline?"
Inwardly, Kratos sighed in annoyance. For the only hope of the two worlds, they certainly had a lot of catching up to do. "The Tower of Salvation can still be seen from this world as well. As long as that exists here, it means that this world is still flourishing. Although, in the event that the Chosen becomes Martel's vessel, Tethe'alla will surely bid farewell to its era of prosperity."
There was a brief pause in which they all thought hard. It struck Ada as amusing that in light of this plight and the near death experience, they had forgotten that Kratos was working for their enemy.
Lloyd stamped his foot. "Damnit, isn't there anything that can be done?! Yggdrasill's the one that built this twisted world!"
Kratos would have laughed had he not been…well…Kratos. "Lord Yggdrasill does not consider it twisted. If you want to do something about it, use your own head. I thought you weren't going to make any more mistakes?"
Lloyd nodded, looking at Kratos in understanding, as though this was yet another discussion of sword techniques the two had so often had in the early days of their journey. "Yeah, I'll do it! This stupid system of two worlds stealing mana from each other… I swear I'll change it!"
Kratos looked reasonably satisfied. "Heh…well, do your best." He turned and unfurled his wings again.
"Wait," Lloyd said firmly. Kratos looked over his shoulder and Lloyd jerked his head in Ada’s direction. "You saved her, even though we're your enemy. Why?"
"I feel no need to explain myself," Kratos said coolly. "Don't make any more mistakes Lloyd. You don't need anyone else's blood on your hands."
"You…you bastard!" Lloyd shouted, angry at the unexpected admonishment. "You're one to talk! You've lead countless Chosen to their deaths, and for what?"
Kratos did not answer, but disappeared into the blue sky.