Two of a kind
Two of a kind
There he was, standing with the angel that had split the worlds kneeling and looking up at him with an unnaturally friendly expression. If recent happenings hadn't already fried his brain a bit, this particular one was the straw that broke the camels back. Silver stuttered while Yggdrasil waited for an answer to his question. "Wh-what?" he couldn't help but blurt out instead.
Yggdrasil had called him Genis, just like he'd called Pink "Presea". He rolled the name 'Genis' around in his head for a moment, still unsure of what to say to the angel. He kept on his guard, despite wishing he'd summoned a lighter and less awkward feeling weapon. The name Genis sounded good. A small part of him thought it sounded a bit like 'Genius' too though. His lip curled up at the thought of anyone being called Genius.
"I am not waiting for an answer, you know," Yggdrasil said, letting out an impatient sigh. "Get on my back. That rheaird is pretty much broken and if you stay here too long, Rodyle will start to stink."
Genis found himself proven wrong. Yggdrasil smiling at him as though they were friends was not the weirdest thing ever. That title went to the last mental image he'd been subjected to- aka: flying through the night sky on the back of their nemesis and the leader of Cruxis.
"No way. I'm not going anywhere with you," he answered in the strongest voice he could. "I heard what you said to.." he stopped before he said 'his brother'. "To K-Kraine. You said you wouldn't hurt me if I 'cooperated'."
Yggdrasil laughed. He actually laughed- like a normal person. Genis started to wonder if he was dreaming and if he'd wake up and find himself as a part of Gesea again. "You're right. I did say that," the seraph agreed. He watched over him and waited for him to say something. After a few more moments of nothing though, he let out a groan and stooped his shoulders. "Fine. I was going to wait until we were back at the sail boat, but I can see we are going to get nowhere if I don't do anything."
Genis shielded his eyes when Yggdrasil's body glowed. Golden feather-like bubbles flew from his person until standing there was none other than his friend Mithos- the captain of their sail boat. He stuttered. To his surprise, Mithos shuffled his feet and glanced away from him while clutching his hands together. "Yeah, it's me."
"Mithos?" Genis mouthed. "You're-"
"My name is Mithos Yggdrasil," Mithos introduced, holding out his hand to him with a hopeful expression in his eyes. Genis looked at the extended limb like it had another life form growing on it accidentally. Mithos withdrew his hand, looking disappointed. "I know it's weird, but you've got to believe me. Cruxis isn't what you think it is. This world isn't the way it is supposed to be. We are trying to fix it."
"It isn't?" Genis asked. "You are?"
Mithos shook his head. "Do you think we'd really want to destroy a world that we worked so hard to defend in the first place?"
Genis frowned. "We don't really know that much about Cruxis, to be quite honest." That was pretty much true. Most of what they knew had come from Martuan and what they'd pieced together after the confrontation with Yggdrasil and Kraine in the Tower of Salvation.
"If you are willing to listen, I am willing to explain things to you," Mithos replied. A shy sort of smile spread on his lips as he glanced off to one side. "You did say you didn't mind being my friend."
Genis found himself at a loss for words. The desperation in Mithos' voice as he said the word 'friend' sent him reeling back to the past and to feelings he'd buried in lieu of necessity. He'd never had friends growing up, or when he'd travelled with Kraine. Not really, anyway. A small shiver crept up his spine when he remembered the day that he'd finally decided to throw caution to the wind and tell Novariel's children that he was actually only a half-elf after hearing their stories about leaving their mothers willingly to travel with their mutual father who was a big believer in the W.S.P.
Incidentally, that had also been the day that he and Kraine had needed to discontinue their travels with them and also the day he came to realise just why his 'brother' had always maintained that telling anybody that they were half-elves was a very bad idea. For a while after they had left the travelling caravan behind, Kraine had seemed more on edge. He'd continuously had his hand on the pommel of his sword and they'd stopped travelling at night time.
When they'd finally gotten to Iselia and Kraine had established himself as a capable teacher at the small school there, he had warned him to never reveal his half-elf status to anyone. Whenever Colloyd had asked about elves (since elves were their cover), he'd always felt guilty for lying to him about his true origins. He remembered the day he'd finally gathered up the courage to ask Kraine whether he could tell the Chosen of Regeneration, with whom he had grown quite fond of and close to in what even he had to admit was a short time. Kraine had promptly responded that he would not be able to be friends with him if he told him. Out of fear of seeing the same distrust in his best friend's eyes as he had in the children of Novariel, he'd decided Kraine was right and kept it a secret.
So when another half-elf boy told him they wanted to be his friend, it was a big deal.
Yggdrasil or not, Genis owed it to himself to hear Mithos out. Still a bit wary, he de-summoned his kendaxe. Mithos looked relieved. Genis turned his back to him and paused for a second before heading over to the edge of the floating sky platform. "Just how is this thing staying up in the air anyway?"
Yuan twisted the golden ring on his finger while he waited on a suede couch in a small room Martuan had led him through to at the top of the Renegade Base near the hangar. What was both interesting and equally perplexing was the combination of tastes she showed in the decorations. On one (much more pleasant) hand, the room smelled like her. It carried the combination of herbs and flower scent he had not forgotten, even after all these years. On the other hand, she shared the same gaudy taste he had (and had repeatedly been berated by certain people for)- including his taste for hanging carpets and small trinkets that would gather dust overnight and have him endlessly waving a feather duster around.
The ring almost came flying off of his finger when the door whooshed open and she stepped in. She smiled at him curiously and sat down on the red couch opposite him. "I apologise. We may need to cut our meeting short very soon. It appears Kraine is heading to the Tower of Salvation with the girl in his arms."
"How do you know that?" Yuan asked, then blinked. "By 'the girl', you mean Gesea?"
"Yes, it appears that way," Martuan replied. "My operatives could not get a close look. He is keeping to the shadows and frequently disappearing from their sight."
Yuan snickered under his breath, very well aware at the other half-elf's adeptness under cover of shadow. He thanked the gods that his facial emotions hadn't learned to hide themselves quite as well- to him and select other few at least.
He trained his eyes on Martuan again when she offered him a cookie from a glass jar on the solid oak table that sat on the floor between the two of them. She smiled so casually as she unscrewed the silver lid and offered them that he almost dove straight in to take one despite his lack of appetite for sweet things or his knowledge that just one bite of them would probably have him telling her more than he wished. He could smell the familiar herb used in truth potions nestled within the deceptive chocolate chip cookies. More buried memories came flooding back. It was only the distinct but different chime of her laughter that stopped him from giving himself away to her. She closed the lid to the cookie jar and rested back. "You're good. Not that I would have expected any less. Enough is enough, Yuan. Tell me; what is my next move?"
Yuan thought his response through carefully. "How is the progress of the Mana Cannon?"
Martuan hid her surprise well, but Yuan still saw it in her eyes. She fluttered her lids closed and grimaced. "You know what we plan to do with it then?"
"I do," he said, hoping she wouldn't open her eyes to detect his lie. Well, in the very least, it wasn't a complete lie. "You want to destroy the Tower of Salvation while also using the power of the mana cannon to revive the Great Seed so that the limited amount of mana between the worlds becomes no more than a distant memory."
She wasn't the least bit surprised at that. "That is why you wanted the Angelus Project from Lloyd," he added.
"Correct. Only a Cruxis crystal from the new Angelus Project is able to power the Mana Cannon. It appears that I was looking in the wrong place, though." She looked a bit disappointed. "I might have vaguely under-estimated the cunning of Kratos as the half-elf he is now."
Now that was something Yuan found intriguing. Realising Martuan hadn't yet understood her slip up, he couldn't resist a little tease. "I think you may have had licked your fingers after offering me some of those 'cookies'." A vague memory of having done the same exact thing after trying to cheat his way into winning a hand of poker came to mind.
Before Martuan could say anything, the door to the room opened and Botta let himself in with a respectful bow at her. "Lady Martuan. We must intercept Kraine before he takes the girl to Derris Kharlan. I presume he intends to keep her safe in a place where he believes nobody would look."
Martuan nodded and stood from her spot. Yuan stood too and intercepted her before she left. "Martuan, this is not a good idea."
"There is something else you know?" she asked, glancing behind him to Botta for a second and then back to him. "Enlighten us, Mr Ka-fai." She gave him a conniving smile that made his heart constrict a bit in his chest. "Or perhaps Lord Yuan is more fitting?"
Yuan shifted uncomfortably at the titles and a sudden very daunting realisation. "You will only cause great destruction if you dare to fire the Mana Cannon at the Great Seed. Palmacosta in particular will suffer," he explained, backing away as casually as he could and resisting the urge to clear his throat. "The best course of action is to do as I already told you and allow the Chosen of Tethe'alla to obtain the summon spirits first."
"That is a temporary solution," Martuan snapped, agitation in her voice. "The world will be no better off than it was before the war. Sylvarant will die and Tethe'alla will follow eventually when the people exhaust its mana supply. We cannot allow Mithos a sacrifice in order to reverse the mana flow, either."
She attempted to push past him, but he held her at the arms almost as an automatic reflex. She venomously glared up at him and he could practically feel the electricity emanating from her. He darted to the side before a crackle of magic hit him. Realising what he'd done, she turned away to Botta, who had drawn his sword and nodded. They darted out of the door behind them both.
"No!" Yuan summoned his butterfly blade and darted through the door as well to find the two of them in the process of locking it from the outside.
Martuan summoned her battlestaff at the ready. "Shouldn't you be just taking a rheaird while my back is turned?" she asked. "That's what you usually do, isn't it?"
"Heh," Yuan chuckled. "You've figured that much out and yet you will not listen to reason?" He turned his blade up. "I don't particularly see a need for this to become a blood bath if you only would listen and understand my point."
"There is limited time," Martuan replied. "If I do not take ownership of the A012 Angelus Project, Yggdrasil might. Or even worse- Gabriel."
Yuan realised it wasn't exactly a great time for idle conversation, but he couldn't help himself. "You do not trust him?"
Martuan's gaze narrowed on him, trying to analyse his meaning. "No. I have never."
"Let me guess," Yuan continued, "you feel uneasy around him?"
"This conversation is irrelevant," Martuan said as she let out a frustrated cry and stabbed her battle staff at him. It stopped just centimetres before it hit. Yuan gulped and felt his adam's apple rub against its flat end. "Botta," Martuan called. Botta nodded, knowing where this was going. Yuan rolled his eyes. "I leave him to you," the blue haired bombshell completed just for the sake of it. She withdrew her staff from Yuan and stepped away. Botta quickly blocked Yuan's passage to follow her as she ran down the long hallway to the hangar, her boots clacking loudly.
"Old friend," Yuan addressed, matching strengths with the black haired half-elf. "I apologise, but I can't let this happen."
He quickly charged his weapon with magic and sent a thousand volts travelling from it to Botta's weapon. The sparks travelled to his hands and to the rest of his body. He fell to his knees with a pained grunt. "Lady Martuan!" he tried to call, but his voice was already almost lost in the pain. Yuan quickly raced after the Renegade leader, glancing back at Botta only once more before he lost sight of him through the large hangar door.
Martuan was waiting for the secret rheaird she'd kept hidden from the rest of them to appear through the floor after pressing a small button under the main control panel. Her long blue hair flew up and curled around her shoulder to her front as she whirled around to face him, shocked. "How did you overpower Botta so quickly?"
"I have had a lot of experience," he said casually, grinning for a second before pointing his blade at her. "Do not make this mistake. I will warn you once more."
For a short moment, Martuan's glare turned into something else; and for a moment Yuan thought he had finally gotten through to her. Her steely green gaze on him strengthened and her stance changed. She took a deep breath. Yuan steeled himself for what he knew was about to happen. He found her battle staff flying toward his face, Martuan attacking with a downward slam from above. He swiped upward with his blade and broke through the conjured weapon with ease. It glowed and disappeared. She fell straight into him, not having expected his retaliation it seemed since he had let her 'catch him off guard' in the hallway. He dropped his own weapon in the crash to the ground and immediately darted his hand to his backup sword. It would be very easy to inflict a fatal would at such close range, but..
He shivered and pushed her off of him so he could stand up before she could retaliate."You can't match me, even if you are extremely talented." He smiled softly and held his hands behind his back. "It is no wonder you led the Sylvaranti infiltration unit straight into the depths of Tethe'alla."
Just when her curiosity spiked at his obvious tease and she took a single step forward, he released the two daggers he'd conjured behind his back. What surprised him the most was a dagger that came flying straight for him from her as well. It struck his shoulder, sending his vision red for a second. The daze didn't last long. Enduring a painful blast of lightning as he did so, he yanked it out of his flesh, dropped it to the floor, and turned his attention on her again. His daggers had hit their marks and pinned her to the back wall of the hangar by her green battle skirt and cape.
"Do not try to struggle," he said as he pulled out the wing pack the Chosen's group had originally used for the elemental cargo and opened it while pointing it at the three remaining rheairds in the hangar that weren't charged. They responded quickly and sucked into the bag like it was a vacuum, making metal sounds as they did like gald being sucked up into one too. "The magic on them will wear off in a few hours.." he said to Martuan. He turned to the rheaird she had been about to make her getaway on and smirked. "Give or take."
He took a seat and pressed the button to make the flying magitechnology hum to life. It sounded a lot less sick than the one Martuan had borrowed to Kraine. He left her in the hangar and flew out into the night sky, his shoulder still stinging.
"Well," he thought, gritting his teeth, "now I have two reasons to find Kraine."
"So Cruxis was formed because you found out that a lot of people in the world are born with two or more souls?" Genis asked as they flew over the sea toward where the white glint of the sail boat's sails in the moonlight could be seen. "That sounds a little bit extreme."
"It is not extreme," Mithos defended adamantly. "It is the reason as to why half-elves must remain out of sight. It is the reason the vast majority shun the idea of the heart as well as the body belonging to another and is the reason why even Cruxis can not abolish the Worldwide Survival Project."
"And just how did you figure this out, anyway?" Genis asked next, trying to sound interested instead of apprehensive.
Mithos didn't answer right away. "Have you heard of Origin?" he resolved to ask eventually.
"Yeah, the one in the tale of Mithos the Hero, right?" Genis asked. "I thought that was all just a fairy tale though since we found out the true meaning behind the world regeneration." He couldn't help the spite in his voice. Once again, he found himself reflecting on why he apparently thought it was a good idea to trust Mithos. No. Maybe trust was the wrong word. He smiled, realising exactly what it was. For a long time, he had admired Colloyd's determination to believe there was good in even his enemies. A part of him seemed to have rubbed off on him.
"What if I were to tell you that I made a pact with Origin?" Mithos asked.
Genis' mouth hinged open and he had to close it again before the crisp air whistling past them both dried it out. "Don't tell me... You're Mithos the Hero?"
"'Hero' is debateable by some," Mithos replied, "but yes."
He allowed that revelation to sink into his silver haired friends brain until he touched down on the deck of the sail boat a short time later. There were no lights on. It appeared the remaining group had gone to sleep. Noishe, sleeping with one eye closed and guarding against intruders with the other, gave a squeaky yawn and padded up to him for a pat.
Mithos shifted Genis on his back to get him off so that his hands would be free but found he didn't respond. Cocking his head back slightly, he saw that the boy was sleeping soundly. It was no surprise. He had been through quite a lot.
Being all the more careful, he shifted the boy off of his back and dropped him on to Noishe's. The Arshis raised a metaphorical doggy eyebrow. "What?" he asked in response, changing back to his child form and withdrawing his wings. Darkness shrouded over them at that. "I can't walk in there looking like that, can I?"
Noishe whined. Mithos petted him on the head. "I promise I'll explain everything later okay? Let's just get him inside." He chuckled when Noishe made another noise that sounded like something in-between a whine and a howl. "Okay, okay. I'll get you some tomatoes too."
Wagging his tail gently as to not cause Genis to slip off, Noishe happily turned to the door of the cabin that led through the kitchen and into the lounge. Mithos pulled it open and stepped inside after Noishe, subconsciously holding his breath.