Lily ran as fast as she could to Esthar's elite hospital. Once she got the message from her Auntie Elle regarding her father, she ran as fast as she could. Allundia's words kept running through her head: You'd better go back home and check on daddy dearest.
Everybody else left already, she knew. Lily was the last person to know because she stupidly left her watch in her satchel which was in the car while she was out shopping for new gloves. Dammit, that's the LAST TIME I'm going to freakin' leave the damn watch in the car! Shit...
She entered in the hospital, not even bothering telling the receptionist anything. Turning a corner, Lily entered in the waiting room and stopped. Everyone was there, including all of the children who inhabited the Orphanage. Mustering all the courage she could without crying, Lily entered in the waiting room. An elder Ellone stood up and walked towards her.
"How is he?" Lily asked as normally as she could.
"Lily, you better sit down, first," Ellone said, her tired brown eyes concerned.
Lily shook her head furiously, fighting back tears. "I'm not going to sit down, Auntie. How is Dad?"
Ellone stood there with her for a moment, contemplating. Some of the children sniffed, the little girl Contesta dug her head further into Phoenix's shoulder to muffle the sobs.
Might as well tell her, Auntie, Phoenix said.
Ellone sighed. "Your father's in a coma." She heard Lily stifle a sob. "The doctors don't know if he's going to wake up or not."
"Don't-don't tell me that!" Lily looked away, brushing her bangs away from her eyes. Tears began to fall down her cheeks. This can't be happening, this isn't happening...
Ellone grabbed Lily's shoulders so that she could face her.
"Now, Lily, look at me," Ellone said, trying to look at the once strong, spunky tomboy who never followed the rules. All she saw now was the little girl wondering why life had to be so cruel to her. "Look at me, Lily."
She turned look. Her emerald eyes were filled with tears that were dangerously close to falling and staining her already tear stained face.
"Lily, listen," Ellone demanded softly, wiping some of her tears away. "Crying isn't like you. Now, your father wouldn't like seeing you like this, right?"
Lily nodded, wiping her eyes. Ellone smiled softly; she gestured to the door. "The doctors won't let anybody in except family members for now."
She led her through the hallways to her father's room. Lily didn't care at the moment what the others thought of her small outburst. Her father was her only family by blood. If anything had happened to either of them, one would be left alone. Her mother died when she was really little, so her father had to raise Lily on his own. Then Angel's Orphanage appeared and that's where lifelongs friends were made. No, they were more than friends, they were her other family.
They paused in front of a door. Ellone just stood there, waiting, and nodded. Lily stepped in, the door sliding electronically behind her as she stared at the lifeless body lying in bed. Tears began to well up in her eyes again as she came closer to the bed. Her father, Seifer Almasy, was being supported by an air respirator, his already scarred face badly burned and who knows where else. He slept peacefully, not even knowing that anybody was in the room. The tears finally slipped as Lily looked down at him, holding his hand. It was still warm.
"You...idiot," she murmured as the tears now flowed freely down her cheeks. "You shouldn't have gone against her, old man. Idiot."
Her knees gave way as she sunk in the chair and cried.
"Might as well leave them alone for a while," Ellone said as she reentered in the waiting room. "They need some family time alone."
"It's been a while," Phoenix said, gesturing to Contesta sleeping in Kenji's arms. "We should go home."
"But what about Lily?" Quistis asked.
"Let her be. It's been at least six years since she left the Orphanage," Ellone asnwered. "Hopefully, she'll be okay after a few days."
One by one, everyone left the room. Seifer was the last to go, looking back at the hallway as the image of the little girl at the grave reappeared in his mind. Why did Lily remind him of that girl so much?
He snapped back into reality at the call of his name. He turned to face Quistis who was looking at him strangely.
"Seifer, what's wrong?" she asked.
One look in her eyes and he couldn't bear to look away. So instead, he looked down at the ground, scratching the back of his head and walking away.
"Nah, it's nothing," he answered.
Quistis watched him go, frowning. These past few days, Seifer didn't act like the arrogant gunblade weilder of Balamb Garden. He was acting like a normal person for once. She wondered why.
"Alex! Alex! Let's play swords again!"
He froze on the spot. No, not again.
Rinoa secretly giggled to herself from behind the kitchen shutters. Ever since they arrived at Angel's Orphanage, Alex was the idol of the children there. He wasn't the oldest, but the most experienced in combat, and they all wanted him to show what he had learned while travelling with his sisters. They play fought most of the time with sticks, but sometimes Alex would teach them a basic survival technique or two. Like lighting a piece of wet wood. Although the children enjoyed it, Rinoa could tell that sometimes Alex wanted to be left alone.
"Um...I'm kinda...busy right now, guys," Alex said for an excuse.
Contesta cutely pouted. "Pwease???"
He gulped as he stared into Contesta's light brown eyes. It was hard to resist the little girl especially since she had an attachment to him from the start.
"Hey, you guys want some cookies?" Rinoa came out, holding a fresh batch.
The children soon forgot Alex as they ran to Rinoa. "Yeah!!!"
Alex breathed a sigh of relief, mouthing a "thank you" to her. She smiled at him in reply as the children devoured up the batch. He quickly and silently left the area like a cat.
Phoenix brushed back her hair, sighing, and read the next mission. Trabia, huh?
"How are we supposed to get the generator?" Luna asked behind her.
"I'm not really sure," Phoenix said. "It's coordinates are unknown."
"Trabia Garden's demolished...wait, I remember that there's an ore mining village by the mountains," Kenji replied, walking in. "Maybe if we ask the locals, they can lead us to the generator."
"IF they know of the generator's whereabouts," Luna pointed out. She took a picture of Trabia and looked at its blank landscape. "...How many people do we actually need?"
"You have to remember that we also need to keep an eye on the others," Phoenix reminded her sister. "So, we have to take them with us. One of us alone with them against the new shadow prototypes is not a very good idea."
"Oh...you mean the regenerating freaks," Luna remembered. A pause, then a sigh. "Man, I really hate this Time Compression. It's getting to my head."
Kenji leaned against the wall, putting his hands in his pockets. "Hah, you can say that again. But at least you two get to see your parents, right?"
The twins smiled simultaneously.
"Yeah, that's true," Luna agreed.
Phoenix added, "At least they're happy together and living the life that we used to have."
"...What about Lily?" Kenji asked.
"What about me?" Lily's voice came from the doorway.
The three in the room were a bit surprised.
"Lily, you're back!" Luna exclaimed.
Lily grinned. "Of course I'm back. You can't leave without me."
"But your dad---" Phoenix was about to say.
"No buts. He'll be fine," Lily cut her off. "Besides, I don't think my old man would like me staying behind with him. Would drive him crazy to see me pace around in circles."
She...seems okay, Phoenix thought.
Whaddya mean 'okay'? She's acting like she always does, Luna pointed out.
"He's awake?" Luna asked incredulously.
"Yeah, unfortunately," Lily replied a bit sarcastically.
She felt him stirring and slowly lifted her head that was resting on his arm.
"...Daddy?" Lily asked.
"Hah, that's a voice I haven't heard in years," Seifer muttered. He opened his eyes and turned his head. "Hey there ya Pyro."
That was a nickname she absolutely despised, but Lily didn't really notice.
"Hi there, you big Idiot," Lily replied, smiling. Then she frowned as she stared back into the eyes that she mirrored. "What the hell were ya thinking, going against that bitch?!? You could've died, ya know."
"And you think that you'd do any better?" Seifer retored. He took his daughter's silence as an answer. "I thought so. Don't worry about me, Lily." He noticed the dried streaks on her face and laughed despite of himself. "Hyne, I don't die that easily. Quit crying over me. You should know better."
"Dad..." Lily warned.
He let go of the limp hold she had on his arm, waving for her to go. "Go. Kick some ass for me."
This statement confused her. "Huh?"
"Don't 'huh' me. I know you two well. You're itchin' to go with the others, aren't ya? Just go."
"You're going to annoy me to death stayin' here, pacing around like a cat ready to pounce on a mouse and complainin'." He waved his hand again. "Just go."
<end of Flashback>
"So, let's kick some ass and get to Trabia, huh?" Lily shouted triumphantly.
They sat around the kitchen table, a large map spread on top of it. After much explaination, the orphanage gang weren't suspicious anymore. Actually, they understood what the others were going through. To be able to not experience a happy childhood with a normal family, to be able to know who their parents were, to be forced into a life of killing and war, they all knew that too well.
"Our next destination is Trabia," Phoenix began to explain about the mission. "We're to locate the generator complex hidden somewhere on the continent and destroy it. It's whereabouts are unknown, but there's an extremely high level of energy inside the mountains, so we'll check out there, first."
"Is there any increase of monster activity in Trabia?" Squall asked.
"No. It's the exact opposite," Luna answered for him. "All of the monsters have been totally oblitereated due to the generator's radiation waves. It's power is the exact opposite from the ones that we've seen already, so it must be a huge complex in one."
"There's a coal mining village nearby, the only known area where humans are actually inhabiting at the moment," Phoenix continued. "We'll dock off there and see if there's any clues regarding the generator."
"How many people do we actually need? I mean, there's so many of us...," Quistis inquired.
"Since we don't know exactly where the generator's at, everyone. Also, I don't think any of us can take on the newly upgraded shadows," Kenji answered.
"We'll split off into groups of three or four, to make searching much easier," Phoenix said. "Pick who you wanna go with."
Naturally, everyone went with who they wanted to be with or were forced to be with when they couldn't decide: (AN: Ha, ha, ha...don't be expecting alternate pairings! I'm kinda like a "forever" person ^_^...Ahem, anyhoo...) Squall, Rinoa, and Alex; Lily, Seifer, Quistis, and Fujin; Irvine, Selphie, and Gene; Zell, Fujin, and Sakura w/ K-chan; and Phoenix and Kenji. Luna was still contemplating the choices.
"Well, Sis?" Phoenix asked her twin.
Luna thought for a moment, her hands cupping her chin as she weighed the choices. Then finally, "Mm...I'll go with you, Phoe. Gotta keep an eye on you two in case if something happens to one of ya." She had a small smirk and a teasing glint in her eyes.
Phoenix and Kenji turned beet red for a moment, but Phoenix cleared her throat, looking away from her Knight. "Okay...it's settled, then. We'll leave tomorrow morning."
Allundia laughed softly to herself, sipping a glass of wine. Ultimecia was proud of her progress; to be able to take her orders seriously unlike the idiot Deling. She never liked the man. She thought that he was rather pathetic, begging to do anything for her mistress in exchange for returning his life. Men. She was disgusted with them. They never did anything precisely as told and would do everything their own way. Hah, and he had wanted to be her mistress's Knight. He wasn't even qualified for a duty of a dog, nevertheless a Sorceress's Knight.
She stroked the head of her beloved pet werewolf, smiling evilly as she watched her mistress's enemies land at the ore mining village.
"Now go, my pet Kaen," she whispered metallically in the werewolf's ear. "Kill those pathetic SeeD who dare to defy our mistress Ultimecia."
The werewolf growled and leaped away, disappearing into the blizzard.
Rinoa shivered once she stepped off the Ragnarok. Although everybody was wearing at least ten pairs of winter clothing, it was still at least fourty below and very, very, cold. Visibility was next to nothing, so they all had to depend on infrared goggles. Weapons couldn't be used whatsover, unless they were thermalized, so everyone had to hide their own with their own body heat with the exception of Luna who left her katana in the Ragnarok. She had said that it would be useless to use the wind when there was already wind around.
They drudged through the snow as the winds stung their partially exposed faces. It was the time of the year when weather in Trabia was at its worst. Rarely anybody inhabited the area except for those in search of striking it rich. So people from all over the world came to settle in small groups nearby. The only successful one was now a very prosperous village, welcoming any visitors that came by.
"It's cold," Sakura said as soon as they entered the village gates.
"Hah, you can say that again, Sakura," Zell agreed and sneezed.
Kereberos popped her head out of Zell's scarf. "Ahh, I can breathe!" She shook her head a bit and went back inside again to keep warm.
"Alright, this is where we split up," Phoenix announced.
"But how are we suppossed to contact each other if we find the generator's location?" Rinoa asked.
Luna elbowed Alex in the ribs. He grimaced in pain while shifting his backpack to take out whatever he put in there this morning. What he took out were five dynamite-like sticks.
"Oooh, firecrackers!" Selphie exclaimed.
"They're not firecrackers," Alex corrected. "They're signal flares." He gave one to each group while keeping one for himself. "Since we can't use any magic, we'll have to resort to these. If one of us finds the generator's location, just fire these and we'll be able to see it."
"Even in this weather?" Quistis asked incredulously.
"These things are really, REALLY bright," Luna answered. "They've been modified to be used in any weather condition."
As everyone split into different directions, Seifer eyed the signal flare in his hands suspiciously. It was the first time he actually ever saw a modified one despite his Garden training.
"Uh...question. How the hell do these things work?" he asked.
"You pull on the string, ya idiot," Lily said bluntly, walking past him. "C'mon, let's go."
Seifer growled at the fading figure before following. There was something about the girl that just plain annoyed him to death. But then there was something about the girl that she had meant something to him. Not love...at least not the romantic type. It was more fatherly. Ellone didn't tell him anything when he asked about Lily. Or, at least, she didn't want to tell him. Why is that? he asked himself.
"Whoa, what the hell is this thing?" Kenji asked, looking up at the large column. It had been a few hours of futile search until now.
"You got me..." Luna replied. The thing was so big to her; she felt tiny next to it.
Phoenix examined the writing engraved on the column. "It's ancient Trabia language, I think."
"Well, what's it for?" Kenji asked again. "This thing's been put up like it's a shrine or something."
Luna looked around for someone passing by. She stopped an elderly woman who looked like was on her way home from the mine because she was covered with black soot.
"Excuse me, but can you translate this for us?" Luna asked politely.
The woman gazed up at the column. "Oh, this? This pillar's a very sacred shrine regarding how the Ice Princess Shiva came down to this world. I'm not really sure about what it says since nobody but the well-educated have learned the ancient Trabian language, but it's supposed to locate the cave where Shiva was imprisoned before set free as a Guardian Force."
"Do you know of anyone who can read this?" Phoenix asked.
The woman shook her head. "Unfortunately, no. But maybe you can check the Cianta precinct. That's where the wealthy live."
The trio looked at one another. Then Phoenix smiled at the woman. "Okay, thank you."
The woman returned the smile and went on her way, leaving the trio alone in the street.
Luna sighed deeply. "Now what?"
"It's simple. We gotta go find someone who can read this," Phoenix answered. "This cave could be the place where the generator's at."
"Ya think so?"
"It could be," Kenji answered and began to walk away. "I'll go to the Cianta precinct. You guys stay here."
"But Kenji!" the twins protested.
"It's better going alone than together while asking. If we all go together, the villagers will get suspicious," Kenji explained, still walking until finally his form disappeared in the winds.
The twins found a bench nearby the column and sat down.
"Damn, he still treats us like we're little kids," Luna said angrily. She turned to her twin. "You know, you should at least tell him something."
"Is it my fault that he's already like this?" Phoenix asked back.
"He's your Knight for Hyne's sake."
"Then you should ask him why!"
"You already know that he's very protective. It can't be helped," Phoenix smiled slyly.
Luna held a look of annoyance. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
Luna sighed again as her twin giggled in amusement.
Lily's group entered in a bar called Selenity's Haven. Since nobody was paying much attention to their entrance, they found an empty booth pretty quickly. A drunken waitress came by, clumsily setting down four glasses of alcohol.
"Enjoy," she slurred, and sauntered off.
"What IS this place?" Quistis asked.
"This is where we start off," Lily answered and took a sip of her drink. "Basically, we just listen in on conversations and pick up whatever interesting information we can find relating to the Trabian generator."
"Boring," Seifer remarked, making a fake yawn.
"You may call it boring," Lily retorted, smiling cleverly, "but would you rather listen or hang out with Ultimecia's goons for a while?" She took his silence for an answer. "I thought so. Besides, practically everbody here is drunk. They'll blab out anything when their minds aren't exactly clear to focus normally."
"DRUNKEN IDIOTS," Fujin remarked.
They laughed at her hidden meaning, taking sips from their drinks. A man staggered towards them, carrying a large bottle of beer that was poured a bit too full and spilled to the ground with every step he took.
"Hey, baby," the man slurred, looking at Lily. She turned her head to face the man. He cupped her chin in his grimy hands. "Oh 'n youra pretty lookin' one, too. Wanna have a drink wit' me? I promise you'll have a great time."
WHAM! The man was sprawled on the floor, knocked out. Lily brushed off her hands as if she was just dusting off dust while her three comrades stared in amazement.
"Hah, I may be a woman, but I ain't that cheap," Lily told the drunk.
"Ya know....I just realized something," Seifer observed. "The majority of the drunks in here are men. No wonder why they're going after you."
One of the drunks from a table halfway across the room bellowed, "Hey, baby, come sit wit' us! You can bring your cute friends wit' ya, too! Just leave 'im. You'll hava better time wit' us!"
"To come to think of it..." Quistis began.
"MAJORITY WOMEN. BAD IDEA," Fujin finished.
Seifer leaned back, putting his arms over his head and smiling arrogantly. "Hah, so THAT'S why they're hitting you guys. Probably think I'm a pimp or somethin'. It's gonna be hard to get some info out of these idiots with you guys around."
"Well, excuse me for being born a girl," Lily replied, gazing around at the crowd.
Seifer mimicked her, making silly faces behind her back. Quistis had to stifle the itching feeling that came to her throat.
Lily took one swing of her drink and set the empy glass on the table.
"Hmm...if they won't leave us alone, then I'll try this instead," she said, grabbing her glass and throwing it across the bar, just barely missing someone's head.
"Hey, who the hell threw that?!?" shouted the young man who just barely missed getting his head knocked off.
"Oh, and I thought everyone was drunk here," Lily said lightly.
"Say that again?!?"
The young man stood up as well as the men at his table. By the looks of him, he seemed to be the leader of the gang. Lily just grinned, taking a couple of steps forward. The others could tell by the way she walked was that she was itching for a fight.
"And why do you wanna know?" she asked dangerously.~~~~~
"Do you think we should help her?" Quistis asked.
Seifer drank all of what was left in his glass in one gulp the exact same way Lily had done. "Nah, she'll be fine."
"WHY?" That came from Fujin.
"Lily's the type who can take care of herself, from what I've seen," Seifer answered knowingly. "She'd rather be killed than be helped."~~~~~
"Because I ain't the type to step down to a woman!" the man answered and gestured to the others to attack.
A mere five minutes later, all of his men were on the floor in a heap of unconsciousness. The young man's eyes pratically came out of its sockets at the sight as Lily stood on top of one of his own, grinning happily.
"Oh, that felt great!" Lily exclaimed and turned to the young man with a wicked gleam in her eyes. "Any more?"
Much of the customers, with the exception of Seifer, Quistis, and Fujin, barely noticed the pending fight. The young man growled and charged forward. Lily was about to roundhouse kick him when---
She stopped, her foot mere centimeters away from knocking her opponent out. She balanced herself on one leg, her catlike eyes gazing at the lone man in the table where the young man came from.
"My son lost. He's too arrogant to understand defeat, so just let it go," the old man said. "You won. Now, what do you want?"
"Hmm...you got a wise old man, small fry," Lily said and swung around backwards to land her other leg. "Wise old man indeed."
The werewolf named Kaen sat on his haunches while gazing down at the village before him. A keen sense of the five human senses as useful during weather conditions such as Trabia. Trabia. His hometown; the hometown he despised. Something stirred within him, and he howled up to the sky, releasing all of the anger he had for the people that inhabited there.
Rinoa stopped in her tracks as the howl echoed throughout the village. She looked up, the other two taking the same action. Although the blizzard was still strong, she could see patches of blue in the sky and that meant only one thing: the storm was almost over.
"What was that?" Rinoa asked, regarding the howl.
"Sounded like a wolf or something," Alex answered.
"Or both," Squall added.
They were heading to an inn to see if there was a man named Culzenberg staying there. After asking the locals, all of the information that they picked up led to the village's only inn.
"Both? How can a wolf be something else at the same time, Squall?" Rinoa asked him.
He shrugged. "Just a suggestion."
Suddenly, the storm stopped altogether. It began to snow lightly soon afterwards. Rinoa smiled as she held out her palm to catch a flake of snow. It was not the kind that she was used to. It looked clearer, and more crystalized than the ones that she had seen in the Trabia before.
"Wow, it's so pretty," she said.
They continued walking, but in silence. It was still hard to make a conversation with the two, although it was a bit easier with Alex. When it took at least an entire year to break into Squall's shell, it only took two days to break into Alex's mask. He reminded of Laguna's personality at times: easygoing and seeing the good things of life. But then, other times he was like Squall: cold and masked. Rina snapped back into reality when she heard Squall call out Phoenix and Luna's names.
The twins sat on a bench next to a large column that was beautifully decorated in jade. Luna was apparently bored, and when she saw them, she waved happily. Phoenix was looking somewhere else, but saw the others and politely waved as well.
"What're you guys doing here?" Luna asked.
"I was about to ask you two the same question," Rinoa answered. "We're about to go to the inn."
"What's the thing behind you?" Alex asked.
They continued walking towards the twins and conversing, unaware of the danger that lie above them.
Kaen watched closely before jumping off the shrine's roof. Knife-like claws ready and targets chosen, he was about to pounce on his prey.
"Squall, Rinoa, watch it!" Luna shouted.
Running as fast as she could, she shoved the two out of the way. She hissed in pain at the deep cut on her shoulder as they landed on the ground. The impact made her bounce on the ground, and rolled sideways to keep Squall and Rinoa from crushing her.
Kaen sat on his haunches, gazing coldly at the crowd that he had attracted.
"Luna!" Phoenix shouted and stopped as Kaen stared at her. W-what the hell is that?!?
"M-monster!!" one of the bystanders shouted.
Squall and Rinoa stood to stare at the creature. Alex had taken a defensive posture.
Luna lifted her head and got up on one knee, clutching her shoulder.
"It's one of Ultimecia's creatures," she muttered through gritted teeth.
Kaen stared back at the crowd as they instinctively stepped back. His eyes glowed red as he chased after them as they ran, grabbing one innocent bystander who was too slow to react and began eating him alive.
Squall felt sick to his stomach as he watched the creature eat the man. Kaen turned around, blood staining his hands, and a torn arm still in his mouth.
"Who the hell are you?" he demanded.
Kaen spit out the arm, wiping his already blood-stained mouth. "Old geezers are easy to catch, but taste awful. Hmm....I wonder what SeeD taste like."
"Well, you'll soon get to fight one!" Alex shouted, throwing a dagger that was hidden in his sleeve.
Kaen turned a second too soon and howled in pain as the dagger dug into his right eye. As he took out the dagger, he howled even more. Glomps of red fell to the snow, staining it dark red. Phoenix took out the flare in her pocket and fired it at the creature. He barely dodged it, the flames singing his flesh lightly as it passed by. Before anybody could do anything else, Kaen leaped away.
"Just what the hell was that thing?" Squall asked.
"It looked like a werewolf..." Phoenix answered.
Alex went over to pick up his dagger, wiping off the blood with a handkerchief. He examined the dagger carefully.
"Luna, are you okay?" Rinoa asked, concerned.
"Yeah, I'll be fine," she replied, standing up. She winced in pain as the gentle breeze bit through her exposed flesh.
"He got you pretty badly," Phoenix said, examining her sister's wound. She took out the ribbon in her hair and tied it around Luna's wound. The red streaks in her hair stood out even more with it down.
"Do you think that thing will come back?" Alex asked, hiding his dagger back in its original place.
"Probably," Phoenix answered and finished bandaging the wound.
"Its target is you two," Luna said to Squall and Rinoa. "Be careful where you're going."
"Are you two going to be okay? That thing might as well come after you, too," Squall said.
The twins smiled and nodded.
Kenji returned a few hours later. It had taken a while, but he was able to discover the generator's location. It was exactly the place where Shiva was once imprisoned. Mount Leika...
He turned around to find a large snowball flying straight at him. WHACK! All that Kenji could hear were footsteps and two women laughing. Everything else was white and cold.
"Oh? I didn't think you'd fall that easily," came Luna's teasing response.
Kenji growled in anger as he forced his way out of the snow. "Luna! Damn you..."
"My, my. Temper, temper," Luna replied.
Phoenix laughed some more. "We were tired of waiting, so we went to look for you. So, did you find out what the column meant?"
He brushed off the snow that was in his hair. "Yeah, Shiva's cave is the place. It's called Mount Leika now and isn't that far from here. Only a few kilometers northeast." He could tell that the two were hiding something from him. "So? Where's the signal flare?"
"Um...actually...." Luna began to explain what had happened.
"Say what?!?" Kenji exclaimed when she finished.
"Well, I didn't mean to use it," Phoenix said quietly. "It was just there. And besides, we can't use our magic because we're afraid that she might find us."
"That means we gotta look for the others," Kenji replied in understanding. "I'll go to the generator and you two go find the others."
"No, I'LL go to the generator and you and Phoenix find the others," Luna corrected. Then she grinned. "I'm itching to do something. And besides, you're her Knight for Hyne's sake. At least fufill that duty, Kenji."
"Sis..." Phoenix began.
"I'll be fine! Just fine!" Luna said as she walked away, waving back. "It's Mount Leika, right? I'll meet you guys there."
Kenji and Phoenix watched her go, alone.
"I wonder if she'll be okay," Phoenix murmured.
"It probably hurts still," Kenji added and then gestured her to follow him. "She'll be fine, Kajimi." He grinned. "I don't think that anybody would be able to withstand Luna's wrath for long."
Phoenix smiled and nodded, following. "Yeah, you're right."
Luna held her hair back while running through the snow. She was a blur in a normal human's eye, a streak of black and violet when she rested for a second. She wished she brought her katana with her, just in case if she needed to make a fire.
A knight has to fufill his duty, huh? Luna thought while climbing up the slope. The packed snow came up to her knees. Geez, I can say a whole bunch of stuff and yet not know what they really mean. She was glad that it was cold. For one thing, it numbed the pain that was on her shoulder. For another thing, it numbed the pain in her heart. I wonder if Shiguyou wanted to fufill his duty; he never said anything like that to me. Only once he said that he'd protect me from harm. She shook her head. No, you can't keep on bein depressed like this. He'll never like it if I'm always like this. I should be happy for Phoenix.
"So, this is the place, huh?" she said to nobody in particular.
The cave in Mount Leika was blocked off by a boulder made of pure ice.
"Talk about 'do not enter,'" she murmured as she walked towards the entrance. "Glad that I came."
One good thing about being a half sorceress was that if all elements combined with the other half, it would create a unique defense against one kind of element. Fire was her specialty. With her sister, both she and Phoenix could make a fire crystal which was made of both fire and ice. The only thing was that she hated the cold, and anytime her sister casted any water spell on her, she would get burned and vice versa. She began to concentrate on a spell when she felt a strange aura behind her. Turning around, Luna saw the werewolf that had attacked before, not far away.
"I'll kill you, SeeD!" Kaen growled.
Luna flipped back her hair. "Oh, really?" I'm not going to look back now. She stared coldy back at Kaen. "I won't let you get to them." Her bracelets shifted into the gauntlets.
"I'll NEVER let you mess with them! C'mon, bring it on!!"
Kaen charged forward with a quickness of a wolf. Luna was surprised by the creature's speed and narrowly escaped from getting her arm ripped off. He's fast, despite his size. Although he missed, Kaen was able to grab Luna's hand. He swung her around and tossed her against the cliff's wall. Some snow began to fall.
Luna's impact was hard, making an indent of her body on the solid rock. She grimaced in pain and slid slowly down to the snow. Clutching her side, she coughed up blood. She continued to stare coldly at the werewolf. Not only fast, but strong, too.
Kaen charged again in a raging fury, his fist ready to smash her head against the wall. Luna jumped out of the way as a tiny avalange fell on top of Kaen. He popped out of the snow, still in attack mode, howling like a possessed demon. Luna blocked every punch he gave her before landing on the ground again.
Damn, I can't even get a hit in! Not only that, he's not giving me any time to blast him. Luna thought as she faced Kaen again. And the freak doesn't look the least bit tired.
As always, Kaen charged first. Luna this time took off her trenchcoat and flung it at the charging werewolf. While blinded, she used his back as a spring and jumped over him, flying freely in the air.
The only thing she didn't notice was the look Kaen gave as he turned his head...
A shock ran through all of them, signaling that there was something wrong.
Lily's group had found Zell's and Irvine's, who, coincidentally, were all going to the same destination. They stopped in the middle of the wilderness.
"Just what the hell was that?" Lily asked.
Kereberos looked on at the horizon. "Something's happened."
The Leonharts stopped in their tracks. It was as if a part of them was fading away.
"Did you feel that?" Rinoa asked.
"...." That was Squall. He had felt that line of shock, frowning.
Alex had turned around to stare back at the mountains that they passed by. He hadn't given a reply. He couldn't. That wave of shock, that was like five years ago had been like. But that aura that leaked out, he knew whose it was. No. It's happening again. Not again.
"Alex, what's wrong?" Rinoa asked.
He didn't reply. He only reacted. Rinoa and Squall chased after him.
"Wait a minute, Alex!"
This shock was stronger than before. Much stronger. So strong that she shivered.
"Phoenix?" Kenji asked. He had felt that shock, but didn't really know what it was. But Phoenix...he knew that Phoenix knew. Although two different bodies, they shared one mind.
It was like half of her disappeared and she was only functional on one side. Phoenix turned to the mountains. Luna...
"Kenji, let's go," she said and began walking. "Let's go." Her pace quickened and then suddenly turned into a fastbreak as she felt the aura leak even faster. "Hurry!!"
Her midnight hair blew softly with the gentle breeze. Blood trickled down her chin as she looked at the blue sky above her. Then after moment, she felt blood rising in her throat. She spit it out, ridding of the metallic taste.
Kaen had dug his sharp claws right through her side, the tips showing on the other. He held her upright in midair, digging in her wound further at every second.
Luna gritted her teeth in anger as she flipped backwards and put a chokehold on Kaen. He struggled to be free, to have air. Luna struggled to keep her grip. A sudden rush of adrenaline filled her body, and she yelled out loud, her grip strong.
The sound of bones cracking and the fall of a corpse echoed in the still air.
Luna gasped heavily. "Don't...EVER....mess with me!"
She dragged herself to the edge of the cliff, away from the fallen body. Dark red stained the once pure snow with each step she took. Reaching the edge, Luna fell to her knees. She first looked at the sky then at her bloodied hand that had covered her wound.
"Sometimes I wish I had Phoenix's ability to heal in mere seconds," she murmured to herself. Looking back up at the sky, she laughed gently until it began to hurt. "I can't make fun of Alex anymore, can I?"
Despite the pain, Luna forced herself to turn around. Her pale face stood out under her dark strands. The boulder had remained where it was.
"I gotta melt that thing, don't I?" she asked herself. Slowly, she got up and dragged herself back to the generator's entrance. "Hah, I wish I brought some potions with me. It's been a while since I got hurt this bad." She let out a small chuckle. "Stupid me. I forget everything like Gramps does."
She concentrated hard as a faint aura began to surround her body. Blood flowed freely from her open wound. She started to feel dizzy from lack of blood. C'mon, I can't let them down like this, she thought to herself. Mom, Dad, help me...
The aura that surrounded her glowed a dark violet and she opened her eyes, shouting, "Heaven's Cry!!!" The boulder was incinerated in seconds as the white flames slowly began to engulf it.
But Luna really didn't care if she melted it or not. To her, all time had stopped. She stood there, staring at the bright sun.
Luna...a voice called her.
Her eyes began to water.
Commander Shiguyou, guys. How long have you been up there?
Luna, come back to us.
She turned her head instinctively. Now what?
She saw two figures running towards her, but couldn't make out who. Her legs felt weak, her eyes struggling to keep open. Maybe if she'd lie down for a moment....
"LU-------------------------NA!!!!" Kenji and Phoenix shouted as her body collapsed to the ground.
"Kenji, it's not working," Phoenix said desparately, her eyes close to fallen tears as she covered her sister's wound and her wrist. "She's not healing fast enough."
Kenji concentrated at the small pile of sticks. "Fire."
It went aflame, making a small stack of smoke as well.
"Okay, now that's set, I'll go look for the others," he said to himself.
Opening her eyes again, she saw her mirror reflection above her. "Sis..." Luna whispered.
Phoenix leaned in closer. "Luna? You're awake?"
Kenji kneeled down on the opposite side of Phoenix. "Luna, save your energy. Don't speak."
"Sis, I'll...I'll be fine," Luna continued, ignoring Kenji's request. "I'll be just...fine. So...don't worry." She coughed a bit and then looked up at her sister again, smiling. "I don't...fall that easily, 'member?"
The tears began to fall. "Luna..."
Luna looked away and stared into space, still with that enigmatic smile on her face. "Hyne, you're too...soft. Don't...don't worry about me. And besides...you got this hunk of weight on ya. YOU'LL be...fine. I'll be...fine. We'll...we'll both be fine." She looked at Kenji. "You...remember to take care good care of...her. Got it? Don't...don't leave her again. I don't...I don't want to see my sister crying again because of you...or else...or else I'll kick your ass."
Kenji couldn't help but smile at the comment. "I promise."
Luna smiled even more, turning back to her twin. "Sis...don't let her have...it." Her eyes began to flicker between catlike amber and her normal sapphire. "Tell...tell Alex to...protect the ring..."
Phoenix began to panic as soon as she saw her sister's eyes flicker. No... "Don't you DARE go to Griever! You're not supposed to go yet!! Don't you dare die on me, Sis!"
The catlike amber dominated her eyes as she still smiled, but tears were in those eyes. Luna slowly began to fade away. "Mommy...and Daddy...I miss them. They miss us. So...so...I havta go...just to see...."
Sparkles of life drifted to the sky, leaving in Phoenix's hands her sister's gauntlets. "Sis?? Sis?!? NOOOO!!!!"
Phoenix grabbed the gauntlets tightly in her hands as if trying to pull her sister back. She shook her head furiously as the tears quickly fell. "No! You're not supposed to go to them, yet!!! They told us that! LUNA!!!"
"Kajimi, calm down!" Kenji shouted at her, grabbing her shoulders.
"I can't! I won't! She wasn't supposed to go yet! She wasn't supposed to see Griever yet! She's...she's..." Phoenix tried to argue.
Kenji wrapped his arms around her as she began to break down. At first she resisted, pounding on his chest and mumuring incoherent words, but then she obliged and cried in his arms.
She lost a sister once. Now she has lost one again.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I'm going to get shot, aren't I? Aren't I? *bows down* I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I'll make it up, okay?? Okay???? *glares at the crowd, particularly her friend Celestial Senshi* You have been warned! Lots of angst and death coming up in the next couple of chapters!!! Hey, this chapter was really, REALLY hard to write, so don't blame me! I had to do it! It's like how I don't want to eat, but my body doesn't oblige to my head!!!
To you Fushigi Yuugi fans: Luna's death kinda reminds you of Nuriko, ne?? I know, I know, I know, but I just couldn't resist! It...just fits!! R&R!!
WHAT'S TO COME
Do I really need to do this? *thinks* Naaaaaaahhhhhh.......There's just going to be too many spoilers in the next chapters! Okay, how about this? I'll just give you the title of the next chapter:
Angels Chapter Eleven ~ To Fly Free...