Author: Marluxia of Avalon PM
An assassin who is called a murderer, a murderer who is called a military genius. A girl with nothing but hatred for her father, a man just starting to understand his greatest mistakes. Just who is Sirris Balfour? And in the end, has the bloodshed been worth it? Part I of the Bloodline Trilogy. Complete. 'T' for violence and cursing.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Hurt/Comfort - Asch & Jade - Chapters: 22 - Words: 93,442 - Reviews: 42 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 01-20-13 - Published: 01-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7757821
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Tony: So… I'm a week late. I intend to update again next Monday, so you all have that to look forward to… And then… I really need to talk to Kairi, because I personally suck at battle scenes, whereas she is a master of them. (I'll be totally honest, I try to write one, and then I give it to her and she re-writes it for me…) So… I'm tired. I don't own Tales of the Abyss. Guest responses:
Leomitch- You're welcome. And honestly… You can ask Leon, I did kind of go insane when I wrote it. Kinda wish I'd have had an AK-47 though. Would have made things easier. And about that handkerchief… -hands two over- My friends have a strange sense of humor, so here, you can have part of my little 'collection'…
Tony: Okay… Go. Enjoy the chapter. Oh, and one last warning? There was a huge time skip between last chapter and this one. Don't wory, you'll figure it out pretty quickly.
Luke sighed as Asch and Anise got into yet another argument. He wasn't sure what exactly had sparked it this time, but he figured that it had to do with Ion going to Mt. Roneal. They still hadn't opened the Daathic Seal, so they did kind of need the green-haired boy, but the frozen, unforgiving mountain was not to be underestimated and Asch was uncomfortable about taking Ion there because he would be more of a hindrance than a help.
Then Luke's eyes found themselves locked on the sky as his memories returned to the last time he had been in Keterburg.
Jade walked into the hotel, obviously not in any condition to talk about what had happened. Luke was about to leave him to himself and his thoughts, but something caught his eye.
'That's… Sirris's dagger…' Luke realized. He sighed and walked over to Jade, pulling something out of his newly-organized (thanks to Tear pestering him about it) bag. "Jade… Here," he said simply, holding out a sheath. Jade looked at it in shock, but slipped the dagger in before giving Luke a questioning glance. "Sirris had multiple daggers, though she usually only carried one on her. She always told me to have an extra sheath though," he said in way of an explanation before walking off.
"Wait, Luke… Would you mind holding onto this for me?" Jade called after him a moment later. Luke looked back over his shoulder, an icy look in his eye that told Jade all he needed to know.
"You're her father. Rather than brushing her off, try actually accepting that responsibility for once," Luke said coldly. Jade nodded and slipped the sheathed dagger into his pocket, his hand closing around the black leather.
"You're right… I'm sorry," he said quietly.
The next morning after arriving in port, argument broke out between original and replica.
"I have to figure out what Van's up to! How the hell am I supposed to keep track of what these guys are doing if you're not with them!?" Asch yelled at Luke. The replica shot Asch a glare as he finished pulling his long hair through the elastic band Sirris had given him.
"If you think I'm not going to keep an eye and ear out for what Van's up to while I'm by myself, you're mistaken. But Sirris left me something to do and I'm going to do it," Luke informed Asch quietly. "I'm breaking off from the group at Grand Chokmah," he added. Asch scowled.
"Akzeriuth was Malkuth territory, and you were the one that destroyed it, dreck. So you're the one that needs to help with the evacuation of St. Binah, not me," he shot back. Luke thought for a moment, before pulling out a piece of paper and writing something down.
"If you can find a girl named Shuro, give that to her. It'll move the evacuation along much faster," he said. Asch glared at Luke, ignoring the paper altogether.
Guy and Natalia, on the other hand, were doing their best to stifle their laughter behind Jade and Tear, respectively. They were failing badly, and Asch finally rounded on them.
"Shut up!" he hissed. He glared back at Luke before sighing and snatching the paper. "Fine," he grumbled. "But the sooner you're done with whatever you're doing, the better. I have things to look into."
Luke let his eyes fall back to the argument that was currently going on. As of that moment, Asch was outnumbered three-to-one, as Ion, Anise, and, surprisingly, Tear were on the side against him. Luke sighed and walked over to Jade. It had been almost four months since Sirris had last been spotted… Sadly, that sighting had been as she ran through Keterburg after Jade had spoken with her. Even Jade's soldiers, who were skilled at tracking the redhead down, couldn't locate her, and Jade and Nephry were beginning to lose hope that she could be found.
Jade had been devastated after Sirris had left. No one was quite sure what the problem was, either. Sure, he kept up his normal, sarcastic façade, but whenever Luke met up with the group to give them a status report, he would retreat into his own thoughts.
Now was no different. With Asch injured after a particularly stupid encounter with Van, Luke had joined forces with the main group to help them get past the dangers of Mt. Roneal. And Jade was utterly silent.
"Hey…" Luke said quietly. Jade started slightly, showing Luke just how distracted he was. Then Luke noticed the blade in Jade's hands. "You know… I'm not sure which is easier…" he continued. "Destroying a whole town on a psychopath's orders and taking responsibility for it… or being told that your daughter is a monster by said daughter before she runs off after you've brushed off taking responsibility for her for so long."
"…" Jade slipped the dark blue blade back into its sheath and put it back into his pocket. "You followed us out…" he muttered. Luke shook his head though.
"No, Mieu did. I noticed he was gone after you left, and when he came back in I questioned him and made him promise not to tell anyone else," he replied. "I think you're in a worse position than I was in though… I'm actually kinda glad Sirris taught me the meaning of responsibility. I won't say that I was prepared to take the responsibility of Akzeriuth onto my shoulders, but since I didn't fight it, I caused a lot less pain."
"For yourself and for those around you," Jade whispered, as if quoting someone. Then he sighed and turned his eyes to the sky, just as Luke had done earlier. "Risa… Why must you always be right…?"
Luke decided to leave Jade alone with those thoughts and headed back over toward Ion, Tear, Anise, and Asch.
"He'll get himself killed if you take him up there!" Asch was still adamantly protesting. Luke rolled his eyes and was about to comment, but then an all-too-familiar voice spoke up, beating him to it.
"Oh jeez… I think now would be a wonderful time for me to step in here and break up this circuitous argument that is gradually boring me to death." Almost everyone's eyes turned to Ion, the exceptions being Jade, who was lost in thought, and Luke, who seemed to be staring at a plant.
"I didn't say anything," Ion stated, obviously just as baffled. Luke sighed playfully.
"Of course you didn't," he said, almost sarcastically. Then he jumped forward and started tickling the decorative bush…
"Um, I don't think bushes are supposed to squeal like that," Anise stated before Luke managed to tickle part of the bush off… "Wait a second…"
Everyone, Jade included now, stared in shock at Luke and the green-haired boy who was protecting his left side, likely from more tickling.
"Hello, Valon," Luke said casually.
A rather rude string of words came out of the boy's mouth, and Anise stared in shock at Ion before realizing that they weren't his words. "Wh-whoa… is he…?" she managed to ask.
Sure enough, Valon stood and turned around, revealing a face identical to Ion's in every way except for the nasty-looking scar running down his left cheek. As Valon's bangs fell back into place, however, the scar was covered up.
"Hey there, Seven," he greeted Ion. The Fon Master recovered from his shock and nodded with a smile.
"Hello… I'm afraid I'm not sure which one you are though," he replied. Valon smirked.
"I'd be Six," he informed his fellow Ion replica. Looking around, Valon gestured to Luke. "Did he tell them or did you?" he asked. Ion looked at Luke in slight shock.
"How long have you known?" he asked the redhead. Luke scratched his head.
"Remember that business I had back in Grand Chokmah?" he said.
Luke took a deep breath and pushed the door open, then sat down at the bar and waited.
"Can I get you something?" the bartender asked him. Luke nodded and leaned forward ever so slightly.
"Yes, please. Curry, and a little cabbage on the side," he told him. The bartender's expression became somber as he nodded. Luke fiddled with the edge of his coat, as if he was impatient to eat. In reality, he was still reciting Sirris's instructions in his head. Go to the bar, order curry with 'a little cabbage on the side', drop the time into the bowl inconspicuously, go upstairs and sit in the second chair from the end closest the stairs at the appointed time, and give the letter to Raven, who is supposed to do all the rest.
Luke stopped playing around with his jacket as the bartender brought his food with a napkin. Absolutely nothing looked out of the ordinary, but Luke knew better. Carefully and inconspicuously, he removed the rice paper from the napkin, memorized the date and time, and slipped it into his bowl, where it dissolved.
After checking on Guy, who had been taken over by a curse slot earlier in the day, and managing to get the group off his ass again, Luke checked into a room at the inn and stayed the night there.
Early the next morning, Luke was sitting in the second seat at the upstairs bar in Grand Chokmah, absentmindedly stirring a frozen coffee, much as Sirris had done before him. He was unsurprised when a man tapped his back and led him to a table in the back of the bar, where a man with black hair and strikingly violet eyes was sitting.
"I don't think I've ever seen you here before. Running errands for one of my guild members?" the man asked. Luke shrugged.
"Honestly, I wouldn't know. She keeps me out of the loop until she deems it necessary I know," he told the man, taking care not to mention Sirris's name, as she had instructed him not to. The man raised an eyebrow.
Luke handed over the letter Sirris had left for him to give to Raven, whom he assumed was this man. Raven took the envelope and opened it, reading it quickly and quietly. Luke found it difficult to read his emotions. At first, he had seemed bored, but as he read, the boredom dissipated into an icy shield that Luke couldn't see past.
Raven stood after reading the paper what had to have been at least twice. "Come on, Luke," he said simply. Luke followed him with absolutely no idea where they were going.
After wandering down more alleys and side streets than Luke thought Grand Chokmah had, Raven stopped in front of a door and let Luke in, closing it behind them. The hallway the duo found themselves in was very long, and Raven ignored all of the doors along it, instead heading straight for the large door at the end.
As they stepped in, Luke realized that they were in a training arena, and that they were no longer alone. Down below, a pink-haired girl with golden eyes and a green-haired boy were sparring. After only a moment of Raven and Luke watching, the boy was thrown onto his back as the girl tripped him.
"Ah! It's not fair if you keep tripping me like that, Toni!" the boy grumbled in a voice that seemed extremely familiar to Luke. The girl crossed her arms, but Raven was the one to respond.
"You should be able to avoid her attempts at tripping you, Valon. That's why I had you train with her this week. Her fighting style is radically different than mine or Bastion's," the dark-haired man explained. "Toni, take a break. Luke, why don't you spar with Valon for a bit? I'll have to go find that damn paperwork."
Luke shrugged and headed down into the arena, but froze as Valon turned around with his bangs brushed out of his face. "Ion?"
"Valon told me about the seven replicas of Ion, and that you were the seventh and Sync was the fifth. Apparently, the second and fourth replicas are still alive too," Luke finished explaining. Valon crossed his arms from where he was standing against the wall.
"Last I heard, Two is somewhere in Baticul, while Four is in Nam Cobanda," he added. Ion's expression was difficult to read.
"One's fonons separated, correct? But what happened to Three?" he asked. Valon sighed.
"Aside from you and Two, Three was the only other one who could read the Score. Mohs pushed him beyond his limits to learn the last of the sixth fonstone Score, and his fonons separated from the stress," he explained. Ion looked sad.
"Then there are only four of us left," he said. Valon raised an eyebrow.
"What happened to Sync?" he wondered. Guy explained their mission in the core quickly. "Ah… I really wish Van hadn't gotten a hold of him. That bastard's the reason Sync was like that. Ellie's cold-hearted, but even she's gotten over Mt. Zaleho."
"Wait… Now I'm confused," Asch butted in. "She?" Jade gave Valon a strange look, but chose to speak up for the first time since he had appeared.
"The reason why most replicas are weaker is that some of the replica data doesn't work correctly during that particular use. The same data that creates a physically weak replica with all of the abilities of its original could create a perfectly healthy replica with those same abilities, but with the second of those hypothetical replicas, it could either be missing a Y chromosome, or it could have an extra, resulting in its gender being flipped," he said. Valon and Luke exchanged a look, but while Valon rolled his eyes, Luke crossed his arms.
"In other words, the second Ion replica lost the Y chromosome and ended up female," the redhead deduced. Jade and Ion nodded.
"Yes. Actually, the hypothetical replica Jade was referring to was quite accurate. Mohs almost stopped creating replicas after Ellie was born because of how physically strong she was and how close her abilities were to the original, but when he found out that she was actually female, he started again," Ion added.
"Well, now that we're totally off-topic…" Asch muttered. Ion and Valon exchanged a look before Valon turned to Asch.
"Barring Luke tickling me anymore, it should be safer for me to go than Ion. I can open the Daathic Seals too… Actually, the only ability of the original's that I don't have is reading the Score," he explained. Asch looked over at Ion, who seemed to agree with his fellow replica.
"Alright. Try not to cause too much trouble," he said, walking over to the elevator. Ion sighed.
"Be careful," he said to Valon. The other green-haired boy rolled his eyes.
"Shouldn't I be telling you that? You're the magnet for trouble," he replied. "Besides, I can take care of myself. How'd you think I got here?" Luke chuckled at his enthusiasm.
"Alright. It looks like everyone's back. Are we all ready to go then?" he asked, looking around. Everyone nodded, and it seemed that Jade was able to collect himself once again.
The group set out for Mt. Roneal, with Valon in place of Ion and Luke in place of Asch. Their fighting force, however, was up one, as Valon was a skilled marksman. The first battle was much easier than they had expected, but Tear and Guy attributed that to Luke and Valon, who were both stronger than the rest of the party members.
After a couple of battles, they adopted a very handy formation that made taking out monsters even easier. Luke was up front with Guy right next to him. Valon and Jade brought up the rear, while Natalia, Tear, and Anise stayed in the middle, casting and, in Natalia's case, attacking from further away.
As they reached the mountain, Jade stopped for a moment, staring up at something.
"Hmm… Jade, is something wrong?" Valon asked, noticing that he had stopped. The rest of the group stopped and waited for the two stragglers. Jade sighed and shook his head.
"It's nothing… I just thought I saw…" he muttered. Luke's eyes followed relatively the same path Jade's had, and for a moment, the whole group was gazing up at what appeared to be a high mountain path.
"Come on. We've still got to get to the Sephiroth," Luke reminded them. Jade nodded, and the group started moving again. The sun was already falling in the sky, and they were running out of time.
"Luke, don't just run off like that!" Guy called after his friend. Luke stopped as he reached a patch of ice and looked up. Jade, too, had noticed what Luke had, and wasn't too far behind him.
"I knew I hadn't been seeing things," Jade muttered, though Luke had difficulty deciding just what emotions were lacing through his voice. One of them, the redhead was certain, was relief. But there also seemed to be a reluctance to admit that he was right, as if a part of him had been hoping that he was wrong.
"What on earth did you two see that you had to go chase after it so badly?" Natalia asked. Luke and Jade exchanged a look.
"Sirris is here," Jade informed them. "Somewhere above us… She, Luke, and Asch are the only ones with hair that shade of red."
"The passage ring should be up above. We can keep an eye out for her as we go," Valon suggested. Jade nodded, and the group left, though a few of them noticed a slight difference. Only Valon and Luke, however, were able to figure out what it was.
'Jade is… actually smiling again…' Luke thought, amazed. Then he rolled his eyes. 'Of course… He's trying to make up for what he's done to Sirris, but he can't do that if he can't find her. At least now he's got a little hope.'
"Is that… the wind?" Guy asked, stopping for a moment.
"It sounds like a woman crying," Tear added. Jade turned his head up and listened as well, before adjusting his glasses and smiling in a rather teasing way.
"There's an old story about a woman who died in these mountains. Would you like to hear it?" he asked. Guy and Tear gave him a strange look, as if noticing for the first time that the almost-playful light in his eye had returned.
Anise and Natalia, however, were oblivious to this. "Oh! I love those kinds of stories!" the princess cried happily. Anise nodded as well, but Tear's eyes had gotten big.
"We don't have time for this. Let's get going," she said, though not without the slightest hint of a stutter in her voice. Anise looked over at her.
"Hmm…? Tear, don't tell me you're afraid…?" Natalia voiced the Fon Master Guardian's thoughts. Tear stepped forward in an almost-angry manner.
"I'm not scared of anything! So let's go!" she grumbled back to them. Luke and Valon exchanged a look and rolled their eyes.
Almost an hour later, the group stopped again. "Is that the wind again?" Tear asked. Luke gestured for everyone to be quiet and looked to Valon, whose eyes were closed as he spoke quietly.
"They'll be headed for the passage ring… If they brought Ion up here… It's no matter. We can't let them stop Van… But Ion… We won't let the Fon Master get hurt, Arietta… We'll have to be careful though… That's right. My friends said that there's a bunch of snow above us that could collapse at any time… We'll have to make the battle short then… Don't worry. That's why I'm here, isn't it?... I thought you were going to wait up above… They're not too far down the mountain. I came down here to tell you to shut up. I'm heading up again now… Alright. Let's get out of sight ourselves…"
A few moments later, Valon's eyes opened. "Everything's silent again," he said. Luke crossed his arms.
"That was kind of hard to follow…" he muttered. Valon sighed.
"There were four voices, two male and two female. The second male didn't jump in until the end, and the first male barely spoke. It was mostly the elder of the two females," he explained. Tear's eyes hardened.
"Major Legretta…" she muttered. Guy nodded.
"She, Arietta, and Largo must be waiting for us. But who was the fourth person? It couldn't have been Van, could it?" he asked. Valon shook his head.
"No. I know Van's voice well, and that definitely wasn't it," he said. Jade sighed.
"Well, I suppose there's nothing else to do. We knew we'd have to fight them eventually… I just hope we don't bring the mountain down on ourselves," he said. The others nodded, and they got moving again.
As they finally got above the major cloud cover, where it wasn't snowing nearly as much, they found themselves on a large ledge. Luke froze when he spotted something in the snow.
"Guys, watch out. People have been here," he informed them. Valon crouched.
"Not just people… Monsters that aren't native to these—argh!" he jumped out of the way of a flying monster. "…What the fuck…?"
"Gloomietta!" Anise yelled, pointing at a pink-haired girl. Arietta clutched her doll tightly.
"Ion… Get out of the way!" she yelled. Valon sighed, genuine remorse crossing his countenance.
"Arietta… I'm sorry, but I'm not Ion," he told her, drawing his guns as Largo landed next to Arietta and Legretta joined them. "I won't hesitate to kill you either."
"Major Legretta!" Tear cried. Legretta looked over at Tear sadly.
"I won't give up on Van's vision," she told her. "We will stop you!"
Luke looked around quickly. "And how do you intend to do that? You're outnumbered and outmatched," he informed her. Her gaze was redirected to him.
"Perhaps, but if we can take out the weakest link in the chain, the rest will fall quickly," she replied. Then, an almost inaudible noise reached Luke's ears.
In less than a second, Luke reacted, recognizing it as the sound of a knife flying through the air even as he drew his own dagger and turned. He knew he was too late when he saw where the deadly blade already was in relation to the one still in his hand, but he had to try!
His efforts were meaningless, as his dagger flew past the one approaching Jade's unprotected back.
Then, with a quiet clang and a thump, the would-have-been-fatal knife fell to the ground, forced there by an eerily familiar though not dark blue-stained blade.
Standing a ways off was a man with black hair and neon green eyes, a scowl plastered on his face from the failed assassination attempt.
And standing defensively between Roran and Jade was a familiar redhead.
Tony: Okay, so… about the second flashback… you all might (or might not) remember back to the end of Chapter VI – Finding Patterns, where Sirris was talking to Raven. Next chapter, or maybe the chapter after it, a big argument breaks out over the paperwork Raven mentioned this chapter, so you all have that to look forward to… (And, as a reference to Kairi's 'A Spatial Tear' in honor of her surviving the first month of school, it does involve Asch getting hit over the head with a frying pan… Which is something else to look forward to, considering who ends up wielding the thing.)
Leon: Anyway… Why do I even pop in here if I'm not in any of your stories?
Tony: I don't know. It's not like I invite you. But would you like to make a guest appearance here?
Tony: Okay. That solves one more problem. So… Please leave a review on your way out.