A breath of blue air
A breath of blue air
"I suppose you would know how to get out of here," Genis commented quietly under his breath as he looked up at Kraine walking beside him. Presea walked a couple of paces behind, deliberating her next move carefully. Should they force Kraine to come clean right away about what had happened to Annalicia? Or should they get as much other information they could out of him about what he might have suspected was happening with Lloyd first? Would Genis allow her to go all out on the man who had killed her-their sister?
She frowned and tilted her head in confusion at herself. Even when she imagined her sister, it was hard to imagine that Genis was also her brother and that the two of them were related. Doubly so since she had appeared to be a human now after their split. Genis was clearly still of half-elf blood as he could use magic. No matter how she had tried while she had been fighting the seraphinalia, no magic had come from her body to her weapon.
"I am a member of Cruxis," Kraine answered to Genis. "Welgaia, the angel city, has been a part of Derris Kharlan since its origins."
"I bet Lloyd would love this place if he had a chance to scout it out," Genis supposed. Presea smiled to herself at picturing how he would react. He'd been enamoured by the buildings in Meltokio as it was. She supposed having a dwarf for a foster dad had done that to him.
"Dirk is a good father," she said, knowing even without seeing Kraine's reaction that she had hit the spot where it hurt. "Colette and Lloyd are lucky to have him." Even if it did hurt Kraine's pride, she feared he was going to have a lot more than that hurting by the end of their inevitable conversation. She felt a pair of hot tears run down her cheeks and quickly looked down. Her head and her heart both hurt and wished for the inner turmoil to be over. She wanted.. no, she needed answers.
She realised she had stopped walking while in her thoughts and that Genis had approached with a concerned look on his slightly elven features. She did her best to smile, but he didn't look like he was buying it. It was still kind of strange to look at him and think that they had both been one person once. It seemed like so long ago now. So much had happened since then. What was stranger though, she thought, was how normal it felt to be herself.
"Are you okay Presea?" Genis asked, tilting his head and crouching his knees a little to try and get a look at her face. She kept her eyes downcast and closed them so he could not figure out she had been crying. "I am fine Genis. We shouldn't dawdle here."
Her silver haired companion agreed with a nod but still didn't move. She waited for him to explain what else was on his mind, meanwhile knowing Kraine was watching them from the next door like a hawk. "What do we do?" he whispered under his breath.
"Our first priority is Lloyd's safety," she explained as delicately as she could. "He was not a part of y- our deal with Mithos." She hoped Genis would see sense in her argument. To her relief he seemed to be happy with her point. Hearing a loud sigh from Kraine, she shared another glance with him before they went about moving to catch up to the seraph. He pressed a round red button at the side of the door, making it whoosh open and let in a waft of air that briefly smelled like Ozette. She puzzled over this for a few seconds while Kraine checked to make sure the coast was clear. Nodding to himself, he led them down the west path of the three readily available to them.
They only spent a short time in silence, listening to their feet clacking on the echoing floor until Kraine let out another sigh. It meant more than impatience this time though. "This is far too easy," he elaborated, seeing they had both cast questioning expressions at him. "Does Mithos truly wish for us to escape after he went to the trouble of bringing us here?" He scanned the area to the north where a teleporter sat. Presea knew that one well. That led to where Mithos had been. He knew exactly where Mithos was. For a second, she watched him hesitate in his actions to keep heading toward the exit, turning one foot to start toward the teleporter instead. Whether or not he sensed her fury at that, she wasn't sure, but he stopped his action and quickly kept going down the original path he had been leading them.
"I'm pretty sure he doesn't want us to escape," Genis voiced, walking in stride next to him. "He brought us all here for a reason. He said he-"
"Genis," Presea cut in, "we should not trust Kraine with any information we know." She traipsed up next to him as she instructed him so that she could gauge Kraine's reaction easier. She was a glutton for punishment. She wanted to see him keep up his hardened barrier around even them. "Do not forget that he is our enemy," she added. "He is using Ignorance is Knowledge on us, Genis."
To her surprise, Kraine smiled a little at that. "Quite the wise one," he said, sounding amused to much her annoyance. "Don't forget who it was that taught the two of you that creed in the first place however."
Genis made a face that looked as though he were trying hard not to smile as he looked down at his feet. They pressed forward in silence briefly, in which Presea gave herself the opportunity to wonder which half-elf she was being too hard on. The question she'd had for a while hung in her mind still. Just why was Genis acting so differently to her about it all? They had exactly the same memories of everything.
"Might I point out that there is nobody I could give whatever information you have acquired to that wouldn't already know?" Kraine asked. Presea rubbed her temples in silence. He had them there.
"That's what I thought," Genis agreed, perking back up and smiling cattily. His eyes darted back up to Kraine. "Besides, I don't think Kraine would hurt us."
As expected, he was far too trusting. Still, a smile suited him much better. Presea felt sad when he looked sad. They fell quiet again while she decided to walk in pace on the other side of Kraine. She noticed the troubled look he had in his eyes right away when she caught up. "I am humbled by your confidence in me still Genis," he thanked. "I suspect you both have many questions for me but there are more dire matters at hand."
She clenched her hand around her weapon until Kraine noticed and bowed his head to look directly at her this time. "That is not to say that the other matters are not as important." He switched sides and gazed at Genis. "You know far more than I expected about Mithos' plans."
Genis gave a short nod. "It's a long story."
"Perhaps the condensed version then," Kraine replied. "I will be more than happy to listen to the long story at a later point however."
Presea watched Genis poke his head to look past Kraine to her as though asking for permission. Still conflicted, she bobbed her head briefly. She doubted Genis would say anything about the deal he had made with Mithos, but she also suspected Kraine would be able to discover that fact on his own. Kraine's perception was intimidating at times, even to those who knew him well like her and Genis.
"You know what his plans are and about the current situation of the world, correct?" Kraine asked, determined to drive what he wanted out of them. When Genis bowed his head in uncomfortable acknowledgement, Kraine continued. "And Mithos made you a member of Cruxis?"
At those words, Presea couldn't just stay quiet. "Genis did not willingly agree to that." While it was true that Mithos was partly to blame, he wasn't the only one. She hardened her gaze and stood straight while she addressed Kraine. "Let us not forget who it was that forced the potential for seraph status on Genis." She glared angrily. "You allowed this to happen from the moment you gave him the Angelus Project, Kraine Bryant." Swallowing hard, she forced herself to finish the remainder of the words on the tip of her tongue out into the open. "Or perhaps you would prefer to be called by your alias, Regal Bryant?"
As she wondered what his reply would be, she found herself starting to feel a little bit guilty. Not that she really knew herself that well, but she had the feeling it wasn't very much like her to be so outspoken, especially in the face of so much danger.
"W-wait a minute," Genis spoke up before Kraine even opened his mouth to address the situation. "Presea, it's n-not like that." He seemed to be having some kind of issue with his speech when she looked directly at him. He'd been like that when they had spoken inside the Angelus Project and in Genis' dreams as well. She questioned her harshness once again until Kraine looked ready to talk.
"I offer no excuse," the seraph acknowledged, the hurt in his voice real despite his lack of facial reaction. While she was unsure on how to retort, Genis reacted according to his own emotions. He shook his head very suddenly and reached out a hand to grip Kraine's arm reassuringly. "I know you did everything you did because there was no other way. Presea is.." He looked in her direction. "I-I think she's just a bit confused because we don't have the full story yet."
Presea considered his input carefully while she kept her eyes peeled on the hallway ahead. She wasn't sure where the exit hailed, but it didn't take a genius to realise that if she did not keep her mouth shut and her head focused on the more important matters, there would be a scene at a rather inappropriate time. Confused, as Genis had put it, did not quite seem the word for her feelings.
Her thoughts abruptly stopped a moment later when a familiar figure appeared out of nowhere. With pink hair of the same colour as hers, there was no mistaking her. She let out an involuntary shriek and froze on the spot at the same time as Genis and Kraine. Before any of them could utter her name, she greeted them first. "I'm so glad the three of you are safe."
Just hearing her voice sent shivers down her spine. "Annalicia," she mouthed at the same time as Genis. She glanced to her equally as stunned half-elf friend and then to Kraine. He had a genuine stunned expression on his face which she would have found funny normally.
"Impossible," Kraine muttered under his breath. "It can't be." He looked away from her and bit his lower lip for a second as though he were having trouble believing his own words. Presea found his focus had shifted to her. "Do not believe what you see Presea. This appears to be another of Mithos' tricks."
Presea bobbed her head once but couldn't find the strength to look away. There was Annalicia, her very own sister, standing before her in flesh and blood. And she was how she remembered her- not as she had seen her that night she had sacrificed herself for her and Genis. She closed her eyes hard. "No! You can't be her. Annalicia was murdered!"
"..That is correct," Kraine agreed softly. "Even with certain circumstances being as they are, this is not the Annalicia we love."
The Annalicia standing before them gasped and put her hands to her mouth. Tears appeared to be ready to flow from her eyes at any moment. "I can't believe this. My very own sister and my husband do not believe of my existence."
"You are mistaken," Kraine responded. "I just happen to know beyond reasonable doubt that it is impossible for you to be appearing before us."
Annalicia frowned. "Then what am I?" She looked at Presea again. "Don't tell me you actually believe him after everything he has lied about in the past?" The angered look she'd worn faded and she spoke softly once again. "I am standing right here, living and breathing. I expected to be welcomed with open arms."
"That is quite enough." Kraine unsheathed his sword. "I will not have you toy with any more emotions Mithos. Be gone!" He took a few faster steps toward her suddenly. Before Presea even fully understood what she was doing, she found herself blocking his path.
When he stopped his advance and looked at her to explain, she forced herself to realise her thoughts. No matter how slim he seemed to believe the possibility of Annalicia standing before them was, there was still a small chance. "We don't know for sure that she is an illusion," she said, bringing the axe Genis had summoned for her before they had burst into the battle with the seraphinalia out in front of her. She had barely noticed herself carrying it this entire time. She had expected it to become quite tiresome since she could no longer collapse it into another universe, but it felt surprisingly natural and light in her fingers.
"You believe me after all Presea?" Annalicia asked her from behind, sounding joyous. Hearing such happiness in her sisters voice made her want to smile as well. She turned her head to examine her once again from a closer vantage point. If she were an illusion, she was immaculate in design. "Thank you!" Annalicia said when their eyes met, bowing her head and making her hair flop to the front of her head the way she remembered.
Presea looked at Genis. He looked pretty confused on which side he should be on. She felt she understood his inner conflict this time though. Kraine scowled and took a step closer again. "Don't believe her lies Presea. The real Annalicia would not stand by and pit us against one another like this."
"I'm going to have to side with Kraine on this one," Genis stammered, finally putting his thoughts on matters into words. "This all just seems really off."
"Of course you side with him," Annalicia scoffed. She sounded more angry than upset this time. "Your blood is closer to his than to Presea's after all."
Presea looked from her to Genis and then back to her. "What do you mean sister? Is there something else about this whole situation with dual souls that we have overlooked?" Her next question would have been to ask how she could have possibly known that but she didn't get an opportunity. Annalicia collapsed to her knees. She reached out and caught her before she fell even further and supported her while she looked at Kraine and Genis. "I can't believe the man I once loved would want to attack me again," Annalicia said in-between pained groans. "With a sword this time, no less."
Lloyd squinted his shut eyes when he heard a voice. His mind still a little fuzzy, he waited for voice to speak again to see if he recognised it now he was more-or-less awake.
"I said, wake up," the whispering voice instructed him again. "Unless it is your wish to remain an ignorant tag-along forever."
He wanted to ask what the disembodied voice meant but found that his mouth wouldn't open. A strange feeling came over him. It was as though he felt smaller than normal somehow. He noticed the usual black of his eyelids had changed into a light blue coloured hue, too. He opened his eyes to find that he was laying flat with blue surfaces surrounding him in all directions. Memory coming back to him, he shot up from his position and circled around. "What's going on? Where's Kraine and Genis and-" It felt as though an invisible force held his jaw closed and that no strength he had would open his mouth until the force left. He hated the feeling. It reminded him far too much of the trials to become an angel.
"Genis, are you really going to stand by and watch?" A soft and feminine voice asked from somewhere that felt like it was next to him. He knitted his eyebrows for a second before the recollection came to him. It was the voice of the girl who had come to his and Kraine's rescue when they had been fighting the seraphinalia.
"Presea!" He clicked his fingers when he remembered her name. For the first time since he had first heard Genis utter her name, he realised how similar it sounded to another name he had heard many more times. Instead of letting her name burden his thoughts, he steered them in a different and more appropriate direction for his current whereabouts. The last thing he could remember was the fight with the army of angels Mithos had summoned against him and Kraine.
"Presea, I will ask you again to stand down."
He heard a much more recognisable voice this time. It was the voice of Kraine.
"She is an illusion. I don't really understand the full circumstances as of yet, but I believe Mithos plans to make us fight against one another," Kraine continued to explain.
Lloyd wondered what was going on. He felt like he had missed more than half a conversation. More than that though, he couldn't help but wonder what Mithos wanted with them. More of his memories coming back, he recalled how he had explained that his mana signature (the thing half-elves could see on other magical beings apparently) was changing to resemble his own. He didn't know how that was even possible. As far as Gesea and Kraine and the others had told him, only those who could use magic had an actual mana signature- races like half-elves and elves in particular. So why did he have one; and why did it resemble Mithos'?
He looked around himself again and this time jumped at the sight of his pink haired saviour looking almost directly at him, her axe firm in her grip and pointing in his direction. Only she wasn't right in front of him. It was as though he were in a house on one side of a window and she was outside on the other side of it.
Presea quivered as she held the axe. Tears streamed down her face all of a sudden, making her eyes seem even more blue than normal. "You killed my sister Kraine. Even if Annalicia is a fake, I can't forgive you."
Lloyd wasn't sure what to be confused or stunned about first. The first thing was that Presea was claiming that Kraine had killed her sister, and had named her Annalicia. The second thing was that Gesea had been claiming Annalicia to be her sister. There was a whole shopping list of even more confusing circumstances regarding Annalicia as well- the fact that she had somehow been in Kraine's body and had acted like she had and possessed the voice of the woman he distinctly identified as his mother in his dreams.
Disregarding that mound of confusion for a second, he focused on the other thing Presea had said. She had looked at him and addressed him as Kraine. That didn't make much sense at all. Legs feeling somewhat difficult to move, like he was being weighed down by a heavy backpack, he managed to stride over to the 'window' of the blue room. As he approached and took in its size, he noted that it actually arched around in a spherical shape rather than like a normal window would sit- flush with its framework and the building.
"Not like I'm in a building though," he corrected himself. Craning his neck for a second before it hurt too much with the pain that he was more than used to by now, he managed to catch a glimpse of auburn hair. Only one person he knew had that kind of shade of hair. His hair was sort of close, but no real contest. Despite his neck ache, he took another quick glance upward to confirm his suspicions. This time he managed to observe the pensive stare of Kraine and- He gaped and faltered back. He would have let out a cry of pain from the sudden movement if his mouth were not paralysed.
He hadn't just seen Kraine when he had caught a glimpse before. He had also seen an arm clad in red latching around Kraine's neck. Following the arm, his eyes met the figure of himself as he had come to know it since the time he and Colette had split into their two different personalities.
Come to think of it, he had also noticed the perspective of Kraine had looked kind of skewed, like he was looking at him from much lower. He was a little shorter than Kraine, but not by that much.
"Don't tell me you don't understand yet! Gods, you really are the same Lloyd, aren't you."
The voice that had awoken him returned. This time it was much less of a whisper. Though he recognised it immediately, but he didn't believe it. He heard a sigh.
"Since you still have that confused look on your face, let me explain things a little."
A bright circular ball of light appeared in front of him and slowly formed the body of a person. He had white and blue attire and blond hair. The glow that had surrounded him faded and he opened his eyes to complete the picture.
"Mithos?" He had recognised his voice and been unable to believe, but seeing was a completely different kettle of fish. He made a sound as he tried to talk, but it was still no use. Mithos' mouth smiled, but his eyes didn't follow. The half-elf leader of Cruxis that had once been a friend of his cackled mockingly under his breath and turned to face away from him. Lloyd clenched his fist angrily. "What is going on Mithos! I demand to know!" His voice still didn't work.
"You're probably wondering where you are," the boy mouthed in a flat tone that made him sound like he was bored. "I'll just tell you since you're paralysed. Do you recognise the blue colour around you at all?"
Lloyd shrugged his shoulders and trained his eyes on him more seriously. Mithos continued, "You're in your exsphere Lloyd." Turning back to him and seeming to be enjoying the shocked look on his face, he added "And you'll probably be staying here a very long time Lloyd."
There were so many questions Lloyd had and none he could voice. Mithos chuckled and looked past him to the window. "Yuan did try to ensure you didn't feed your exsphere too much. He must have known from the moment he gave you it to you that it was a possibility. Thanks to his promise with Origin, he had no real choice though." He laughed even louder. It didn't sound like a happy laugh though. His voice was course and there was a note of bitterness in every word he had spoken to him so far. He seemed.. different... than Lloyd could remember. Mithos stopped laughing though and smiled once again. "Thank you Lloyd. It's finally happening! Martel will live and the world will be saved!"
"Tch," Yuan mouthed, stopping in the hallway and looking at the camera following his every move. That was going to have to change. Making sure he hid from the cameras sight temporarily, he cast a couple of throwing stars into his hands. Though nothing like his usual weapon of choice, they were the most practical for the situation. His eyes scanned the skirting on the walls above him until they locked onto the inconspicuous white cord running across the length to the camera itself. There was no need to attempt needless destruction on an unsuspecting camera if he could simply take out its power source. Besides, the power source went to more than one camera. He simply had to hope that Gabriel would keep Mithos distracted for long enough.
The human had thought himself so cunning, but Yuan himself had a secret weapon. Derris Kharlan was now a ball of mana practically again after all. His pact with Mana sure came in handy where that was concerned. It wasn't as though he could feel every living thing though, just the ones whom the Queen of Summon Spirits thought necessary to alert him of. Gabriel was apparently having a chat with Mithos. He would get Tabatha to recount it properly to him later when he inevitably returned to Altessa's house. Besides, now he knew that Martuan also had a connection to his thoughts or actions, he had to be careful. Until he could be sure just how much she received on her end, his discussions about things of vital importance with her were going to need to be brief. That thought was what brought him to be sneaking through Cruxis' base too.
He glanced at the Cruxis crystal embedded into the keycrest on his ungloved hand while he made his way around a corner and hid again. Surveying his surroundings and hearing the fizzling of the camera electricity shortage even from his location, he thought it safe to proceed into the next room. The doors to the room he was headed shifted open and shut to reveal a wider room this time, elevators going up and down. He would have to be careful. There were likely seraphinalia on the other side of the door. He took a deep breath and looked around. Tossing a throwing star at the cabling above once again, he shorted out the cameras closest to the doorway and continued on his way, summoning his wings as he did.
Just as he expected, the seraphinalia on the other side of the door poised to attack him with their weapons. That was, until they read his mana signature. He showed them his Cruxis crystal.
"Li rie' phisis," he ordered them, accentuating the words so that his frustration at having to stop was obvious.
They turned to each other, nodded and did as he asked- to let him pass. He waited for them to turn their backs to him before quickly throwing some more stars at the cameras. For a brief second as the lines fizzled, he wondered if he might catch their attention again in the wrong way and have to take adverse action. When things went on as normal and they continued scouting the premises, he slipped around the corner of the square white room he was in and stepped into one of the elevators as it lowered to his level and automatically opened its doors to greet him.
His ears blocked as the elevator grew higher. Having forgotten how taxing the atmosphere was on the body, he found himself a little taken aback. When the elevator stopped and let him out onto another platform, he quickly paced to the next one. His feet were already feeling a little lighter. This was why he hated Derris Kharlan. If confronted on why he had once set up the Renegades, he wouldn't have been telling a complete lie if he said that it was to get away from the base of Cruxis. He'd always been much more of a fan of keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground. His hair did weird things when gravity wasn't a constant, too.
The atmosphere was almost unbearable when the next elevator opened its clear doors. Still, matters as they were, he needed to press on. He needed assistance. Taking a deep breath before he took the next step, he allowed a niggle of hesitance to make itself known. Once this was done, there really was no going back. Shaking his head and growling at himself for being so wishy-washy when Mithos could become wise to the lack of cameras active on the mainframe, he rested his hand on a small groove in the wall. Electricity buzzed under his fingertips for a second before a screen hovered up from the groove and a keypad flapped out.
Typing quickly, he input the password.
ORIGIN'S CALL AWAKENS THE BLUE ANGEL.
After a few short beeps the door opened. He stepped inside.