Mirror Image


"Colette!" Lloyd shouted. "Colette! Colette!" Lloyd slumped to the ground in defeat as Rodyle disappeared.

Regal walked over to Lloyd. "Lloyd," Regal said gently. "Will you help Presea?"

Lloyd looked up at Regal, lost for a moment before coming back to his senses. "Yeah." Lloyd pulled the key crest out of his pocket. "I've carved the charm. With this, she should return to her real self." He reached forward, as he had done not so long ago with Colette and placed the key crest on Presea.

Presea looked the same for a moment. Then slowly, her eyes brightened to their natural color and she looked around confused.

Genis walked up to her. "Presea? Are you okay?"

"What?" Presea's voice sounded different with emotion in her tone. She looked wildly around, panicked. "What am I doing? Where's my daddy?" She raced off.

"Come on," Lloyd said. "We gotta stop her before she sees…"

They raced to Presea's house, reeking with death, but they were too late. Presea stood over her father's body, her eyes as blank as they had been just moments ago. "I…what have I been doing?" she asked backing away. She fell to all fours, opened her mouth and began to scream, screaming as though she wouldn't, and couldn't stop.

"Thank you for assisting me with my daddy's burial," Presea said, turning from her father's grave.

"Have you calmed down a little?" Raine asked concerned.

"I've…been a great burden on you all," she said softly.

"You remember?" Lloyd asked, astonished.

"Yes…mostly…" Presea replied.

"Why did you have an Exsphere like that on you?" Genis asked.

"I received it from a person named Vharley."

"I knew it…Vharley!" Regal hissed.

"I wanted to save my sick daddy," Presea continued. "I wanted to learn how to wield an ax, so I could work in my daddy's place. So Vharley introduced me to Rodyle, and I was taken to the Research Academy in Sybak."

"The experiments on you were carried out by order of the Pope, right?" Zelos asked.

"Which means that Desian is in league with the Pope!" Lloyd spat.

Regal walked up to the girl. "Presea. Do you have an older sister?"

Presea shook her head. “No. I have a younger sister. She left to go into service for a noble and that was the last I saw of her. And my mommy died when I was a child."

Zelos smirked. "When you were a child? Heh, you're still a child now." He looked her over. "You're still a potential gorgeous hunny!"

Everyone paused, as though waiting for something. Then Lloyd laughed. "Somehow, we were all waiting for Ada to smack him," Lloyd said sadly.

"I'll do it!" Sheena hit Zelos, but sighed. "Though fun, it's not the same."

"I'm so unloved," Zelos moaned.

Sheena turned back to Presea. "At any rate, we can't just leave you here in this village by yourself if you have no one to turn to."

Raine nodded. "Yes, the people of this village seem to avoid her."

Presea twisted her hands and looked up at Lloyd. "I…uh…I'd like to go with all of you if that would be all right."

Lloyd looked startled. "Huh? Why?"

Presea squared her shoulders, anger creeping into her voice as she thought of Rodyle's deception. "It's my fault that Colette was taken away. So please, let me help in her rescue."

"Please allow me to come along as well," Regal said. "It seems that my fate is linked to your enemy."

"So you've lost the Chosen…" said the infamous calm voice from behind them.

Lloyd was irate. It was one thing to have Colette beside him with no soul. It was quite another to have her gone completely, along with Ada. And then for the traitor who had hurt him so to show his face as though nothing had happened. It was too much for Lloyd.

"You again! What have you done with Colette?!" Lloyd roared, drawing his blades.

Kratos looked somewhat amused. "Rodyle is ignoring our orders and acting on his own. I know nothing of it."

Raine snorted. "Internal strife? How pathetic."

Kratos looked indifferent, but then again…he always did. Still, it made Lloyd even angrier. "Say what you will. Either way he will have no choice to abandon the Chosen."

"What do you mean?" Lloyd snarled.

"The Chosen is useless as she is now," Kratos said. "You can let her be." At least until you gather the materials to heal her. Then Yggdrasill will come for her.

Lloyd shook his head. "You got to be kidding me! We're going to rescue Colette no matter what! And if you get in our way…"

Lloyd drew his sword and lunged for Kratos. Kratos had his blade out in an instant, catching Lloyd's descending sword, but something changed. Rather than pull away in frustration, Lloyd pushed on the locked blades with all of his might. Kratos, not expecting this degree of strength from Lloyd, stumbled before pushing up sharply and disarming one of Lloyd's hands. He's…growing strong.

Kratos sheathed his sword. “Very well. Then I suggest you seek the Rheairds and head for the eastern skies. I'm sure the people of Mizuho have located the Rheairds by now." He started to turn away, but stopped. His eyes roamed around the group, as though searching for something and his brow furrowed. "Where is Adalais?

"Like you don’t know," Sheena snapped. "What’s it to you?"

"Mere curiosity," Kratos said. "And if I knew, would I ask?"

"Rodyle took her too!" Lloyd snapped.

Kratos paled visibly, catching Lloyd off guard. His wings burst forth and he took off, flying off into the fading daylight.

Lloyd growled and clenched his fist. "What's that guy trying to do?"

Zelos snorted. He knew, but wasn’t about to admit that. Still, Zelos remembered his conversation with Ada. Maybe there would be some value in being the good guy for once. It was worth a shot. "Ah, well, who cares? If he's useful, make use of him."

Sheena started for the woods after giving Zelos a surprised look. "I agree. Let's head back to Mizuho for now."

Genis grinned. "Okay, then, just to make it official, welcome to the group, Presea!"

Presea nodded. "Thank you."

Zelos could only take so much of being the good guy though. He pushed Genis aside, smirking at the irate boy. "My cute little Presea, I'll protect you, okay?"

Presea looked confused but slightly flattered. "Thank you, Zelos."

Genis struggled to speak. "Oh! Oh! I'll…I'll…"

Lloyd interrupted. "Come on, let's go!" Presea and the others followed after Sheena. Genis looked depressed as he stared after Presea's retreating back. "I'll protect you too…" he muttered. The young half elf slumped before grinding his teeth angrily. "Stupid, stupid Lloyd!"

Kratos sped through the air, his wings pumping hard as his heart raced in his throat. We found plans for a mana cannon and for a new angelus project in his quarters. Rodyle wants Colette for the canon but he has no use for Adalais. He’ll kill her, or worse use her for another attempt at the Aneglus project, if his notes are to be believed. I have to stop him. I can’t let her fall into Desian hands. Not again.

"I won't lose her!" he shouted to the heavens as he sped through the sky. "Not to you! Not to anyone! I’ll get her back! DO YOU HEAR ME?!"

He knew he spoke of Anna more than Adalais. But whether or not he spoke to Ada, Rodyle, Mithos, or Origin, he could not say,

"Ada wake up!" shouted a voice that sounded almost like hers.

Ada groaned and opened her eyes, but it wasn’t to the sight of Colette trapped in a cage in the sky. Instead, all around her was white light, a void without feature or description. She sat up gingerly, expecting to feel the pain of her most recent blackout, or expecting the pain that accompanies another Anna hallucination, but it didn’t come.

"Finally!" said a voice. Ada turned to see a woman, almost a mirror image of herself, standing there. She was dressed all in black with a cape fanned out around her. Her chestnut hair flowed down her back, stopping just above the belt that held two twin blade swords. The woman shifted on her feet, stretching her legs and flexing her hands, like she hadn’t been using her limbs for a long time. She looked up at Ada and grinned, a grin just like Ada’s own and suddenly it was clear who the woman was.

"Anna, I presume" Ada said, getting to her feet.

“In the flesh,” she said cheerfully. “Or close to it anyway. This is still better than being trapped in that head of yours, unable to move or think or feel for myself.”

“I’m sorry I inconvenienced you,” Ada said dryly.

"Now, now, now,” Anna replied, scolding in her voice. “Don’t be like that. I know it hasn’t been a picnic for you either, what with feeling so torn all your life. You never felt like you fit in anywhere and you always sensed there was something missing, am I right?”

Ada chose not to reply, mostly because Anna was far too correct.

“Your silence condemns you,” Anna said. “You forget, I know you so you don’t have to answer. You have felt more and more complete since you came to this world, especially the closer you have gotten to Kratos and Lloyd. Why do you think that is?”

Ada sighed heavily. “Your soul is trapped in mine, like Martel’s is in Colette’s. You’re waking up to because their souls are also linked to yours.”

“Yes and no,” Anna said. “Yes, my soul is responding to theirs, but no, my soul is not trapped with yours.”

Ada scoffed.

“My soul is yours.”

Ada stared at the older woman, confused. “My soul is my own. You’re just tagging along. Two people can’t have the same soul.”

“We are not two people,” Anna said. “We are one person. One person who died in this land and was sent to Earth to live out their afterlife.”

Ada thought for a moment. “Reincarnation?”

“Closet definition,” Anna said with a shrug. “You’re me, lacking the memories of your time here and I’m you, lacking the ability to move freely. We are both one person and now…now we have to make a choice.”

Ada closed her eyes in dread. “Let me guess, I have to choose whether or not I am going to let you wake up?”

“More or less.”

Ada looked at Anna, at herself. “It still isn’t fair. Why do you get to live and I do not!”

Anna looked solemnly back, but her eyes were tinged with some sadness. “You don’t get it: you are me. Yes, you will be slightly more me than you, but only slightly. You can be you, Adalais with only your memories and none of your past as me. If you chose that you'll return to Earth. You’ll no longer feel conflicted, but neither will you have any memory of this place, your friends, or Lloyd or Kratos.” Ada’s heart lurched at the thought of Kratos. “It will be just another video game.”

“I would lose him,” Ada said, horrified. “I would lose them all.”

“Or,” anna said firmly. “You can be me, Anna with all of my memories and all of Ada’s. You would remain here, you would still know what you know, still have the life you led on earth and remember everything you’ve done in both lives. Either way, you will always be Adalais Orion and Anna Aurion, you are merely choosing which one is in control. Do you understand?"

“I still lose myself,” Ada replied. “Either the Adalais half or the Anna half. That’s an impossible choice.”

Anna smiled wryly. “It’s choice nonetheless, which is more than I ever had and more than I have now.”

Ada thought about it for a moment. In a lot of ways it was an unfair deal: either choose to stay herself and lose everything she had found here. She wouldn’t remember it but did she want to forget? She remembered Sei. She remembered all the hardships she had overcome as Adalais. She thought of all the things she missed about Sei, about earth, about it all. There, she was free from this twisted world. She wouldn't have to fight each and every day to remain alive. It'd be so easy to go back. She had been Adalais for years…could she really be anyone else? It was the only way that let her be who she was, but was it worth the price.

Ada remembered how she felt on earth, how lost she felt there. She thought about what and who she’d be leaving behind. Regal and his quiet sincerity and his tortured past. Presea and her confused soul and kind heart. Zelos and his flirtatious grin and wit that kept them smiling. Sheena and her doubt in herself but her courage to protect her friends. Genis and his quiet sarcasm and cowardly bravery. Raine and the way her eyes lit up as she searched for ruins she desperately needed to find to settle her past. Colette, the sweet, selfless girl who would die for those she loved and the world who needed saving. Lloyd the bumbling, optimistic idealist, the man destined to save the worlds and bring equality and justice to all.

And Kratos…his tortured eyes, his guilt ridden soul…the man she loved as Ada and Anna.

"Ada?" Anna asked.

Ada shook her head, tears pricking her eyes. She knew what she had to do. "I can’t do it,” she choked out. “I can’t leave him. If the only way to keep him and the only way to keep even a fraction of myself is to accept you, then I have to do it. I can’t go back to how it was, even if I won’t remember any of this. I have to lose myself, or at least step to the sidelines and watch you do what I could not.”

“I’m sorry,” Anna said, sincerity in every word. “I know what a sacrifice this is. I promise you that I will hold on to you. I won’t let you fade away.”

“I won’t fade away,” Ada said firmly, smiling determinedly. “I’m both Adalais Orion and Anna Aurion. You offered me an impossible to choice to which I say no. I will not choose.

Anna read the intent in Ada’s voice and she smiled radiantly. “We never were much for following rules were we?”

“Never a bit,” Ada said with a grin. “So here is my choice: I am a woman who has lived two lives in two worlds, I am a woman who is both two and one. I will stay where I belong, here in Symphonia with Kratos and Lloyd."

Ada grinned at her reflection, her mirror image. “I am Anna Adalais Aurion and I am here to stay.”

Anna smiled and reached out her hand and Ada reached out to take it took is as the light brightened, blinding them both. The last thing Ada heard was Anna’s voice, her voice, with a final warning.

“Be prepared to fight Adalias…because this is going to hurt like hell.”

There palms connected and a savage pain ripped through them both. They sank to the ground in pure agony as their memories flooded in. To start again, they had to go back to the end, the last end both of them knew, the last memory they both shared: her death.

This really was going to hurt like hell.

Anna lay in Kratos’s arms, battered and bloody, her body and soul screaming out for relief from the pain. She had tried to attack her own child. It was only a matter of time before she lost herself to the exosphere again.

"Please Kratos," Anna begged. "You must kill me. If you don't...I'll hurt Lloyd again." She sighed and stroked his cheek. "You swore to protect us, remember? Protect me from myself, my love."

Kratos eyes held more pain than any one soul could possibly handle and it broke her heart to see it. Yet she knew he couldn't refuse her, even in the end. Instead he just nodded, tears burning in his eyes.

Anna reached over and seized the cursed exsphere. "It will be destroyed with me." She smiled. "Don't forget me. Tell Lloyd I will always be watching over him."

She pushed away and got to her feet, straightening against the pain. Kratos picked up his sword and faced her…and she smiled at him, studying his face, wanting his eyes that she loved so much to be the last thing she saw.

"I'm not gonna hold back this time," she said, as though this was just another sparring exercise between them.

Kratos smiled for her one last time. "I know. I won't either."

"It's funny," she said as her eyes began to change. "We met as foes…we part the same."

Kratos shook his head. "Never! You are my life, Anna. My life, my world, my soul, my love. Never my enemy."

"Protect Lloyd." Anna cringed in pain. "Don't let Yggdrasill win, my love.”

The last thing she remembered was a sword cutting deep and Kratos’s eye raining tears down onto her face. There was a long fall, a dwarf and her son. Then there was nothing but pain. Pain and then the void from which she knew she would never escape.

Somewhere, in the skies of Tethe'alla, Anna Adalais Aurion jolted awake, ripping free of her last memory as she heard Kratos's voice in her head. "I won't lose her again! Not to you! Not to anyone! DO YOU HEAR ME?!"

Memories raced across her mind's eyes: Luin, her original parents, learning the twin blade, her parent’s deaths, avenging her parents, being captured by the ranch, the exsphere implantation, escaping the ranch, meeting and marrying and loving Kratos, having Lloyd. Every bit of her past life mixed with the memories of her current life.

And boy did it give her one heck of a headache.

After a moment the pain subsided and she opened her eyes fully, taking in her surroundings. She flexed her hands experimentally, wiggling her fingers and stretching her legs straight out in front, noting that she was bound to the waist and her ankles and wrist were lashed together. Still, to have control, to be able to move, to feel the energy of mana and life flowing through her veins once more, it was glorious. And Ada was still there. She still felt like Anna, but Ada’s life was in her heart and she would not let it go.

"I'm back," Anna whispered. I'm back…I'm me...I'm both…I'm back! YES!

"Ada?" Colette’s voice came from behind her and it was full of fear. Anna returned to the task at hand and took better stock of her surroundings this time. They were on the island in the sky and she and Colette were tied back to back, trapped in a cage with Colette's wings pressing into Anna’s spine.

“I’m here,” Anna said. “Are you ok?”

“Yes,” Colette said, “but what did you mean by ‘I’m back?’”

Oh boy how to explain that? “Well I just combined my soul with that of Lloyd’s mom so I am now some Ada- Anna hybrid who still knows everything about your future but is now primarily Kratos’s dead wife and oh yeah Kratos is Lloyd’s dad.

“I just meant that I was finally awake,” Anna said lamely. You’ll just have to wait until this is over to reveal who you really are. It will alter the time line far too much and put Kratos and Lloyd in more danger because of you. "What's going on so far, Colette?" Anna asked, trying to reconcile Ada’s knowledge with everything else.

"Rodyle has us in a cage surrounded by dragons!" Colette said. "It's a trap for Lloyd and everyone!"

"Got it," Anna said, quickly finding the memories she needed. "Sadly…we have to wait for them."

"But if they come, they'll all…" Colette trailed off fearing the worst. Anna heard her sniff. "Rodyle said I was a sinful chosen," Colette said softly and Anan didn’t have to see the girl to know that she had tears running down her face. "He said I abandoned Sylvarant."

"Colette…" Anna said quietly. "It's not true! You're the best Chosen! You're searching for a way to save both worlds. Would you truly be a Chosen if you left Tethe'alla to ruin?"

"N…no…"Colette agreed, "but Rodyle couldn't even use my Cruxis Crystal for the mana cannon. I'm a failure!"

"Colette, it's not that!" Anna insisted. "Your body is rejecting the Cruxis Crystal. That's why you are hiding the crystallization under your clothing."

Colette gasped. "How did you know?"

"I'm smart remember?" Anna joked. "Don't worry. Lloyd and the others…they're coming for us. I wonder what they're doing at the moment?" Anna frowned. “They should be in the process of stealing the Reihards back from Yuan…which means…”

Back in Tethe'alla…

"So you've come, like moths to the flame!" Yuan said triumphantly.

Lloyd sighed as he drew his swords. He was already frustrated at their slow progress and the horrible maze they had fought through to make the pact with Volt. Every second Rodyle had Colette just added to his frustration. He did not have time for Yuan’s idiocy. "Do you ever say anything original?"

"You gotta admit," Zelos agreed from Lloyd’s side. "That line is seriously clichéd."

Yuan glared. "I see your attitudes haven't changed! But your impudence ends here! Prepare to die!" yuan drew his ridiculously large weapon and Botta did the same. There was a brief pause, a moment in which Lloyd wondered if Yuan would change his mind about fighting, but it passed. Yuan and Botta charged and Lloyd ran out to meet him.

I’ll save you Colette. I won’t let Yuan get in my way!

Back to the island in the sky…

"So anyway, after Yuan draws his weapon," Anna said, explaining to Colette what was happening with Lloyd and the gang, "Lloyd and the others attack and totally destroy him and Botta!"

Colette gasped. "They don't kill them do they?"

Anna shook her head. “No. They rough him up good though. Yuan deserves it. He may not be a bad guy, but he is such an ass. He deserves a beating or two.”

Back to the Base…

The fight went completely wrong for Yuan. When it was over, he slumped to the floor, his body torn and bloodied, even in his angelic form. Lloyd sheathed his weapons, refusing to hurt the half-elf further even though he lay completely at the boy’s mercy.

"Impossible!" Yuan gasped. "How could I lose?" He looked up at Lloyd, who stared back defiantly. "Lloyd, your Exsphere…to think that it's really evolving…"

"My Exsphere?" Lloyd asked in confusion. He made to say something else, but they were interrupted by a great rumbling noise as the ground began to shudder beneath their feet.

"What's this shaking?!" Yuan cried, looking around confused. Could it be? Yuan looked back at the summoner, the ninja from Mizuho, who was fleeing topwards the Reihards with the others while Lloyd dithere on his spot. She’s made a pact with Volt and undine. She has severed a mana link!

Regal grabbed Lloyd, or rather he hit him with his shackled hands. "Lloyd! Now's our chance! Let's take the Rheairds, now!"

Lloyd was hesitating, desperate for more info on his exosphere, but Regal was right. Colette took priority. Lloyd turned and ran for the Reihards leaving Yuan and the answers he wanted behind in favor of saving Colette and Ada.

Back to the Island…

"The ground below…it's shaking!" Colette cried as the heard the rumbling of the earth echoing into the sky. "Why?"

"Sheena,” Anna answered instantly. ‘Sheena made a pact with Volt, the summon spirt of electricity. Volt has what is called a mana link with the summon spirit Undine. The Summon Spirits and Seals serve as a link between the two worlds," Anna explained. “The opposing forces of Undine and Volt have been awakened, so a link was severed." Which is probably how my soul managed to break through finally since this undoubtedly effects Earth as well, being the realm of the Symphonian dead.

"So what will happen if all the links are broken?" Colette asked. "Will the worlds separate?"

"Well," Anna sighed, as an image of a gigantic crazed tree burned brightly in her mind. "Separate. Yeah…you could say that." And be horribly wrong. “I have good news though,” she said, looking up. "If I'm right, which I usually am, Lloyd should be dropping in…right…now!"

Sure enough, the buzzing sound of Reihards met their ears and on cue, Lloyd dropped from the sky, directly followed by the rest of their group.

"Colette!" Lloyd yelled, racing for her and Anna

"No, Lloyd, stay away!" Colette begged. "It's a trap!"

"Yeah it is," Anna said. "But you're gonna try anyway so…prepare for battle."

Lloyd stopped and looked at the pair, confused. "What do you mean?"

Anna opened her mouth to reply when something tugged at the back of her consciousness. Puzzled she craned her neck looking out beyond the island. Something was out there. Something she could feel in her soul. But then it could only be…

Kratos hovered near the Island where Colette and Ada were being held. It took everything he had not to blast Rodyle as he left, but he knew he couldn't without possibly hitting Ada and Colette, who were unconscious and unable to put up shields. He wanted to rip into Rodyle like he had Kvar, feeling his life drain from Rodyle's very veins. He was about to move in and snatch them from Rodyle's grasp when Ada’s head snapped up and he felt something deep inside of him lurch.

Her mana signature had changed. It was no steady, strong and unchanging. And it was familiar.

"Anna…" he breathed, hardly daring to believe it.

Kratos started to fly down, hell bent on getting his wife back into his arms before his son intruppted. The thought made Kratos stop dea. His son…if he interfered now, Lloyd may be distracted by anna’s sudden reappearance. They couldn’t afford that. Not to mention.., Kratos remembered their tussle in Ozette. Lloyd was growing stronger, he could defeat the dragons easy. But the trap after…no…Lloyd could defeat that too, Kratos was sure of it. As irate as he was…what if he let Lloyd come for them? It would keep Anna’s cover, should she choose to keep it. But if anything happens, if either of them fall to harm I will intervene and blood will flow I swear it. And so Kratos waited leaving fate in the hands of his son.

There was a buzzing noise and Rodyle appeared at the scene, teleporting in. Presea's reaction was instantaneous. She drew her ax and ran at the Desian. "You will pay for using me! Let Colette go!" With one swing of her ax, she cleaved the man in two…only to find that he wasn't a man as he disappeared and reappeared next to the prisoners.

"An illusion!" Raine said, disgusted that she had missed it.

Rodyle's projection laughed. "You can have that worthless Chosen! Now I understand why lord Yggdrasill left her alone.”

"Worthless!" Lloyd shouted. "How dare you call Colette worthless!"

"Absolutely," Rodyle replied, cackling. "A sinful Chosen like that is completely useless for my Mana Cannon. She can't save the world. She can't merge with Martel. She even puts her friends in danger. What a pathetic Chosen."

Presea glared at Rodyle as ferociously as Lloyd did. "Stop blaming Colette for things she did not do!"

"Indeed," Regal said, hatred pouring off of him like steam. "It is enough that I alone bear the weight of sin. You and I are the epitome of sin!” he assumed a fighting stance. “I'll drag you down to hell with me!"

Well spoken, thought the angel above them. That declaration sounds vaguely familiar…

Rodyle laughed again, which was thoroughly annoying Anna. "Take me to hell? You inferior beings and your silly jokes."

Anna couldn't resist. "Then why don't you feel the pain of those inferior beings as you burn in hell!" she snarled, almost as viciously as Kratos himself. That felt AWESOME! She squealed inwardly.

Kratos smiled. Ah…that would be why it sounds familiar. That's my Anna. He watched as Lloyd approached Colette and Anna. And my son...don't die Lloyd.

"Everyone, please, run!" Colette cried.

Rodyle waved his hand as two baby dragons and one gigantic mama dragon appeared on the island, shrieking at the scent of fresh prey. "Now, my darling pets! Feed on the flesh of these wretched beings!"

"Don't try to fight them! Run!" Colette cried as the dragon howled their fury.

“Where do you propose they run?" Anna said exasperatedly.

Presea looked up at the the dragons. "Winged dragon, a subspecies of dragon. Carnivorous. Excels at the pursuit and capture of prey. The probability of successful evasion on this small platform is one percent."

"Told you!" Anna said.

Zelos drew his sword. "Give me a break! I'll pass on dying, thanks!"

Lloyd unsheathed his weapons as well. "All we have to do is defeat them before they can kill us!"

"Indeed," Regal said. "I have no intention of becoming a part of the food chain without a fight." Anna let out a whoop. Regal and everyone smiled at the familiarity of her reactions before charging the dragons.

Lloyd dashed for the big guy, sliding left to avoid a powerful blow. He leaped in the air and slashed downward, landing a deep scratch in the dragon's hide. A hideous roar shook the platform and the dragon's claw raced for Lloyd, too fast for him to block.

Kratos gasped. "Guardian!" he said, pointing at Lloyd. A shield formed around the boy so he was knocked back, but not out.

Lloyd didn't take time to wonder about the shield, but continued hacking and slashing at the dragon. "Beast!" he shouted, launching the powerful attack. "Swordrain!" The dragon, which had been stunned by the beast attack, howled in agony as a series of sharp jabs pierced holes in its skull. It reared, its life fading as it prepared one more attack. "Watch this!" Lloyd cried triumphantly. "BEAST SWORDRAIN!" The dragon howled before collapsing in a pool of blood, just as the others defeated the baby dragons.

They did it…thought Kratos, amazed

They did it! Anna thought with pride.

"We did it!" Lloyd shouted, running up to Colette.

"No, it's too late!" Colette moaned. A circle of power appeared under Anna's feet. There was a strange sensation throughout her body. Ever so slowly, she began to feel weaker. She struggled, trying to get free even though she knew it was futile. "Um…guys…a little help," she called as an ominous orange light streaked with the blue that was Anna's manna stretched out from them. Speaking of ominous light…

"What is this ominous light that threatens to engulf us?" Regal gasped, ignoring the fact tha Anna quoted him at the same time.

"Arrgh…I can't move!" Sheena exclaimed, trying to lift one foot. It was like glue, holding them fast to the ground.

"It's Colette and Ada!" Genis said, squinting at the magic circle beneath the two women. "The mana from their bodies is flowing out towards us! It's caused by that magic circle beneath them!"

"Colette, Ada! Get out of there! Move!" Lloyd shouted.

"I can't…I'm chained to it," Colette replied sadly.

"We're a bit stuck," Anna said.

Colette shuddered. "I…I can't move," she said, tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm just a Chosen who couldn't even save her friends, much less the world. Maybe I'm just like Rodyle said, 'a pathetic Chosen…'"

Presea looked up at Colette with determination in her eyes. "No, Colette," she said firmly. "Don't delude yourself. You haven't done anything wrong. What's wrong is this system that demands the sacrifice of the Chosen!"

Presea leaned forward and pushed against the mana with all of her strength. Slowly, her feet began to move as she drew from the cursed power that gleamed at her throat. She managed to take just enough steps that she was in range of the trap. Her axe had never failed her before and Presea knew it wouldn’t know. She lifted the weapon and swung, striking the barrier solidly. There was a spark of electricity that ran down to the ax to the girl, knocking her unconscious. The barrier collapsed.

Colette and Ada’s bonds vanished immedaitel and they both fell to their knees as the mana from their bodies was reabsorbed. Colette didn’t stay down for long though. Struggling upright, she went to Presea, crouching next to the smaller girl. "Presea! Thank you…"

With the dragons dead and the trap broken, the ground beneath the group began to shake as great chunks of the island broke away. "Whoa, what's up with the ground?!" Zelos asked.

"It appears to be shaking," Anna said exasperatedly, mimicking Genis's headshake gesture.

"We have to get out of here!" Lloyd yelled racing for the Rheairds.

Colette hesitated. "Lloyd, I…"

Lloyd turned and grabbed her hands. "Colette! You have to live!"

Colette sighed. "I…I know."

Anna caught sight of her blue Rheaird and jumped on it, itching to take to the skies. "Yay! Up, up, and away!" The Rheairds hummed to life and they were off, disappearing from the crumbling island. Just before the island fell, Anna turned to take a picture of it. Instead of seeing the island through her camera, she saw an auburn haired angel before the crumbling piece, smiling at her. She pressed zoomed and snapped the picture.

"I found my way back to you," Anna whispered, but Kratos could hear her. "My angel."

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