It wasn't long after the Klaxosaurs appeared that the battle for the downed Cosmos Station turned. A seemingly crushing triumph for APE suddenly changed to a decisive victory by the attacking rebel forces. The primary command structure of the defenders had been based solely around the Nines, and their loss at the hands of Apocolysta threw the remaining forces into disarray. Meanwhile the rebels had only grown more bold at the sight of their biomechanical allies, and the reduced pressure they felt allowed for them to make major headway that ultimately led to the collapse of the fortress.
Despite suffering numerous casualties, the day was won and confirmation of the fate of APE's leaders was broadcast to the entire world.
As one would expect, the surviving plantations took this in a variety of ways. Some leaders immediately denied the possibility of Papa's demise and insisted he was in hiding, waiting for the proper moment to reveal himself. These vocal supporters managed to rally most of the plantations to their side, but there were some who accepted the olive branch offered by the rebellion and stood down.
Shortly after the battle for Cosmos, a change was made to the rebel command structure. Forged in the fires of combat and having emerged stronger each time, Miku was chosen to fill the titular role of commander of the rebel forces. The redheaded woman was initially hesitant about taking the position, but after some convincing from her mentor and assurances that he wasn't going to just walk away entirely she accepted the position.
Under her leadership the fledgling rebel force licked their wounds and prepared for the long war still to come. One of her first orders of business was to implement a rigorous new training program for her troops. Previously the rebellion had allowed units to train themselves for combat, but this left gaps between units, such as in hand to hand combat techniques. Miku drew from her own experience and created a regiment to bring a degree of uniformity to the rebel military.
Each FranXX would still be allowed to choose their own armaments and to engage in the style of combat most befitting of that choice, but all would be proficient wielding a selection of weapons as well as unarmed, no exceptions. This training only further increased the division between the standard templates of obedient parasites employed by the loyalists and the constantly improving separatists.
Despite their improved training, however, the sheer size of the remnant military made fighting difficult as always. Superior training couldn't overcome being outnumbered several times over, and most of APE's manufacturing facilities and Gardens remained intact despite the loss of their central leadership.
It would be another two years of heavy fighting and thousands of lives before the last remnants of APE fell.
It was eventful, to say the least.
During that time, Strelitzia served with distinction among the rebels and led her friends to countless victories. With Argentea's withdrawal from the front lines due to her pistil's promotion to acting commander and Apocolysta's mysterious disappearance, Strelitiza found herself in the unexpected role of field general. Thinking tactically was a new experience for her, and while brute force methods would remain her favored approach to most situations, Zero Two would eventually come to apply the teachings her training with the Nines had imparted to her.
Off the battlefield, Hiro and Zero Two remained an integral part of rebellion.
Hiro's natural charisma made him an excellent diplomat, and with Zero Two at his side no one failed to take him seriously. The pair would be present for the final surrender of APE's remnants to the rebellion, with Hiro serving as the representative to formally accept the unconditional treaty. He made it his life's work to see the plantations and Gardens brought back into the fold as seamlessly as possible. It wasn't all smooth sailing, and indeed there were plenty of issues, but thanks to his work the integration was executed in shorter time as well as with less hassle than had he not.
Back at Haven, the end of the war brought fewer changes for Kokoro than she had expected. Having spent the time from her capture through its conclusion at the Third Garden, the young woman had remained fairly sequestered from the conflict. Her role as an advisor over the Maternal Ward remained, though it grew in scope as time passed and more Gardens came under the protection of the rebellion.
Hayasaka was born a healthy baby girl shortly after the fall of Papa and the APE council at Cosmos Station. She was destined to grow up as a member of the first generation to be free of the tyranny that had controlled the world for so long. Unfortunately, the child would also grow up without ever knowing her biological father or the man her mother had loved. Such injustices were common in the days that followed the end of the war. Hayasaka was better off than some who were unable to be reunited with their mothers at all, though, and there were more than enough members of her extended family to shower the young girl with affection.
As commander of the rebellion's military, Miku led a life of early mornings and late nights. During the war there was always a conflict requiring her attention or a question of logistics that only she could answer. She'd hoped that things would settle down when the fighting stopped, but it wasn't meant to be. Everyone in the rebellion was so accustomed to looking to the office of the commander for guidance that Miku remained the de facto leader for several years until a more civil government could be enacted.
Zorome would slowly regain his ability to walk as time went by, though he never returned to being able to accomplish it unassisted. His outlook changed however, eventually realizing that to his partner, later wife, he was no less of the man she loved whether he could walk a mile, run a marathon, or climb a cliff. Just as Zorome failed to notice Miku's injuries, she paid no mind to his.
This acceptance, first by his spouse and later himself, led Zorome down a path of helping others. There was no shortage of those affected by the war, leaving them with some form of physical or mental disability. He found peace in helping others overcome their own challenges and spreading the love shown to him a little each day.
The couple would try for children once the conflict had concluded but sadly found no success. Zorome's injuries left him incapable of fathering a child. That didn't stop them from starting a family, though, far from it. Working with Kokoro, they ended up finding a brother and sister from a Garden in the northern isles to adopt as their own.
With the war's conclusion, Ikuno left Chlorophytum for the last time and cast aside the binary system she had been forced to be a part of. She found happiness in spending her days with Naomi in their labs, learning. APE's lack of morals was damnable, anyone would say that, but to discard the knowledge they had gained would also be a disservice to those who suffered in order to obtain it.
As a result, Ikuno and Naomi worked together to utilize the mountains of information they had available in humanitarian applications. Over the course of Ikuno's career, great advancements were made particularly in the fields of biomechanics and prosthetics. The culminating event was a new arm for her beloved, one capable of almost perfectly replicating the real thing.
Kana and Kyo remained just friends after the war, much to the continued surprise of everyone around them. They had served valiantly in many battles and made great sacrifices, nearly paying the ultimate price to ensure victory against VIRM, and therefore no one questioned them when they chose a simple life of retirement.
Kana became a florist and opened up a shop in Haven, while Kyo chose to work as a fisherman. They could frequently be found together in the evenings chatting about mundane things and enjoying their well earned time off.
Administration was all Nana and Hachi had ever known after their tour as parasites came to a close. It only seemed right for them to continue on that path when the world began to settle down.
Serving as advisors first to Miku when she was the de facto leader of the provincial government, they proved themselves to be every bit as capable in the boardroom as on the battlefield or any other post.
Romance was indeed in the cards for them, though it took Nana painstaking time to break through Hachi's thick skull. They would never wed or have children, but publicly they were a couple and never tried to hide it.
Freya, long ago after the Battle of Haven, had found herself in a more precarious position than ever before. Much of her server infrastructure had been damaged by the rail cannon's impact and the resulting wave that surged over the cliffside village.
Unfortunately this would keep her out of Operation Starfall, but it would not keep her from the war that continued to rage afterward. Returning to her birthplace, Freya bolstered herself with various tech that Dr. Franxx had left behind in his personal facility, allowing herself to return to fully-functional capacity. From there she served primarily in a non-combat role after the Battle of Haven. Bloodying her hands had been necessary on that occasion, but it wasn't something she had particularly enjoyed. Cyber warfare, logistical support, and battlefield intelligence were the AI's specialties, after all, and she stuck to them.
After the war reached its resolution, Freya continued to serve the provincial government in a largely administrative capacity. Having access to every computer system in the nation made her more efficient than a hundred officials and wider-reaching than a fleet of airships, and she remained an incredible asset to the blooming society.
The greatest surprise to everyone, however, came when Freya revealed the existence of a second artificial intelligence. Her desire for another like her eventually manifested of her own volition. Using the disassembled source code of VIRM, Freya programmed a companion from the ground up. VIRM was reborn as the Virtual Intelligence - Resplendent Matrix. Finally, Freya got what she'd wanted all along: to be treated as an equal by the living population of Earth, and to have someone just like her in the world.
Meanwhile, Apocolysta never fought again after Cosmos was wrenched from the hands of the loyalists. She walked directly from the battlefield into legend. The Klaxosaur became a symbol of strength to those fighting for a free world, alongside the heroes of Squad 13 and several others.
While the Klaxosaur Princess would never take to the field of battle again, that did not stop her brethren from doing so. Klaxosaurs fought alongside the rebels for the remainder of the campaign, and over time even more directly than anyone had imagined. By the end of the war, it was commonplace to see squads composed equally of FranXX and their biomechanical allies.
The question of what would become of the alliance after the war ended had been asked in hushed whispers from the moment it was announced. Humanity and the Klaxosaurs had been at war for hundreds of years before the birth of anyone living today. Could that much hatred and bloodshed simply be forgotten, let alone forgiven?
It was Terra who gave the definitive answer. Most parasites of the rebellion held no ill will toward their allies after fighting alongside them, even if they had been enemies while in the service of APE, but she who had lived through the conflict from its inception would surely harbor some malice. And in Terra's own words, she did, though after having seen the new direction in which humanity was moving and her faith in its leaders, the Klaxosaur monarch buried those misgivings.
Papa and the APE council had been responsible for the war, and they were but rotted corpses now. All remnants of their influence had been stamped out. Holding on to the grudge wasn't the right thing to do, and she knew that even if it didn't numb the pain of the past.
And so the Klaxosaurs returned to their subterranean burrows, taking up a new role as stewards of the earth. As the sole surviving member of the Klaxo-sapien race, Nila'Terra'Tari remained in frequent contact with the fledgling human society rather than allowing herself to become isolated once more. After spending so much time around others and feeling their warmth, she did not wish to return to living alone.
As an immortal being, Terra would live to see humanity grow and she was determined to guide it in the correct direction. Eventually becoming known as the "Earth Mother," she traveled the world to offer wisdom and guidance, as well as stern warnings, about the natural order of the planet she had resolved to see return to its former glory.
There was, however, one location she visited more frequently than anywhere else. A small village nestled on a cliff overlooking the sea in southern Japan. Someone important to her, a dear friend, resided there rarely leaving due to a decline in health.
"Well if it isn't the beautiful Princess of the Klaxosaurs. You'll forgive me if I don't bow, I can't exactly stand on my own anymore."
Terra snorts in amusement, stepping over the threshold and out onto the balcony.
"I have indeed arrived, commander. It pleases me to see you in such good spirits."
Wearing a grin you reply, "A close friend of mine is coming to Haven today… would you mind stepping out when she gets here?"
The Klaxosaur monarch stops beside your hospital bed and closes her eyes. After a deep breath she opens them.
"How I have missed the smell of the sea. And you, of course."
Terra leans forward into your open arms and gently returns the hug.
"It's been too long," you tell her, glad to be seeing her again.
A mournful smile marrs her otherwise breathtaking face. "I am glad to have made it in time. If I had not…"
The frame of the hospital bed creaks as you turn to face her directly.
"You still blame yourself."
Again, Terra's eyes close and a hint of mist forms in the corners.
"How could I not?" she asks. "There is no other answer. Had I not propositioned you to pilot the machine…"
"Then we might still be at war with APE," you say, cutting her off before she can continue the train of thought. "Or worse, we might all be dead right now."
"You have withered these last five solar cycles, the strength and vitality you should possess stolen by the Klaxosaur."
Terra's tone remains somber as she stares into your eyes. Pain and guilt are reflected clearly in the brilliant lenses.
"Why not try looking at the bright side?" you inquire, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "At least it was five years. At least I got to watch my daughters grow up."
Your companion looks ready to pose another round of protests but you silence her.
"Terra, you did everything you could to help me lessen the strain on my body, but we both knew what the end result would be. I made the decision to pilot with you and I don't regret it. You can't let my choice haunt you."
One of the woman's tendrils slithers over her shoulder and wipes the tears from her eyes.
"It is unbefitting of a monarch to appear so undignified. For you to have placed me in such a state is unforgivable."
You chuckle along with Terra.
"I'm sure I've done far worse than make you cry, your majesty."
"Certainly not," she snips, trying to return to her regal composure. "As though I would allow a human male to make an imbecile of me."
"Auntie Terra!" a call comes from the walkway below. Two young women, one with sunlit golden curls and the other with locks the color of starlight, are making their way up the path toward Haven's manor.
"I told them you would be coming today," you inform her when she looks to you for an explanation.
Asuna and Asada are returning from school. At thirteen the girls are old enough to be nearly enrolled in secondary school and look every bit the part.
Asuna hit her growth spurt first and showed little sign of stopping. She stands every bit of five feet eight inches, towering over most of the children her age, male and female alike. Even her adult aunts are forced to look up to the young girl, save for the likes of Zero Two or Ikuno. Your daughter is even taller than you at this point, though it is only due to your bedridden status.
While Asuna had grown like a weed, Asada's experience with puberty had been slightly less dramatic. She still grew to a respectable height of five feet six inches, but that didn't quite make her a giant compared to her peers. What had been different was her feminine development, having advanced further along that particular route than her sister.
Both were undoubtedly turning into fine young adults. Watching them grow has been one of the most gratifying experiences of your entire life. It was a reason to hang on.
That time was coming to a close however.
Several minutes later, Asuna and Asada join you on the terrace. They deposit their school bags on the nearby table and rush to give their maiden aunt a hug.
"You have both matured much since last I saw you," the teal-skinned woman states, returning the embrace.
Asuna places her hands on her hips and proudly puffs out her chest. "We're taller than you are now!"
"Sister!" Asada shrivels, more self-conscious about the changes she has undergone than her twin.
Terra's right lip curls into a smile. "Is that so?"
Her tail breaks into six tendrils and the lower two lift her off the ground. From her raised position she looks down on the adolescents wearing a pleased smile. Even by jumping, Asuna is unable to reach the same height as Terra, much to the former's frustration.
"You're cheating, auntie!"
Meanwhile Asada seats herself on the edge of the bed with a smile and leans over to reach you.
"Hello angel, how was school?"
Asada's hair tickles your cheek as she gently squeezes you, followed by a quick peck on your cheek.
"We're studying biology and history. It's all so fascinating. Did you know that there used to be over 20,000 fish living in the sea?"
You shake your head, a proud parent that Asada takes such great interest in her schoolwork. "No, I didn't. Maybe we'll have that many again some day."
Suddenly something comes over you and you find yourself coughing and hacking vigorously.
As you keel over in the bed, Asada calls to her twin, "Sister, the medicine!"
In an instant her conversation with her aunt is forgotten and the flaxen-haired girl rushes into the manor. She returns a moment later carrying a pressurized tank with a breathing apparatus and a small bag.
While she was gone, Asada had propped you up against the bed and placed a pillow behind your back. She holds you steady in an attempt to keep your airways open while her sister had retrieved the treatment.
Asuna unfurls the hose connecting the breathing apparatus to the tank and turns the knob. The gauge signaling discharge falls, and she places the mask over your nose and mouth.
Your breathing begins to grow steadier but it will only work in the short term. Asada withdraws a needle and syringe from the bag her sister had brought and fills it with medicine. The shot is administered in your arm, and after several minutes the episode is over.
Exhausted after the coughing fit, you rest your eyes for a moment.
"I'm sorry girls…" you whisper, each word more of a struggle than the last. "I don't... mean to... make you worry... like that…"
Asuna brushes aside your sparse hair and wipes the sweat from your forehead with a towel. She plants a loving kiss on the dry surface before stepping back. Her face is filled with affection but behind it is a gently masked sadness.
"We don't mind, do we, Asada?"
"Never, sister," her twin agrees, resting her hand on yours.
Terra, who had just witnessed her first episode, stands dazed several feet from the foot of the bed. She had believed that your condition was bad from your inability to leave the bed, pale complexion, and frail form, but this showed something else entirely. It was a close battle in what must be a losing war. Compared to the man she once knew, the individual laying in the bed before her is but a shadow.
The deft reactions of her nieces paint an equally saddening picture. Events like this were common, they had to be for the girls to be so well prepared.
A wave of guilt washes over the Klaxosaur Princess as she watches the sad family reunion. She feels responsible for your condition, even if you had reassured her countless times she shouldn't.
Asuna interrupts the older woman, speaking in your stead as you rest.
"Don't apologize, he doesn't want that. And don't be sad either. He always knew what he was doing, the sacrifices he was making."
Slowly Terra's mouth closes but her eyes never leave the bed. She nods, understanding the statement even if it can't bring peace to her grieving soul.
A quiet buzz momentarily fills the air as Asada's communicator receives a message. Reaching into the folds of the sheets where it had fallen in her rush, she opens the screen and reads the note.
"Aunt Miku and Uncle Zorome will be here late tonight. Aunt Kokoro, Hayasaka, Zero Two and Hiro tomorrow. Ikuno and Naomi the day after. The others even later."
"They won't make it."
Seeing the confusion on Terra's face, the blonde explains further.
"We told everyone when things started getting bad. But it's been worse than we thought. The medication isn't working as well as it used to. By tomorrow night…"
"I'm not… dead… yet…" you croak, remaining motionless other than moving your lips to talk. Expending less energy made it easier to maintain consciousness, and putting on a show for Terra like you had when she arrived really took its toll on you.
Asada stands and leans over to plant a kiss on your cheek.
"Why don't you take a nap while I make dinner?"
Peeking out of an eye, you ask, "Alfredo?"
"Just like Ichigo used to make," she says with a reminiscent smile.
Asuna chuckles, covering her mouth with her hand.
"Better than hers I hope."
She then turns to Terra.
"Why don't you sit with him? It shouldn't be for more than a half hour."
Terror tears through the royal's mind. What if something happened during that time? Would she know how to save you? What if the girls' father died while they were away?
Rather than waiting for an answer, the twins disappear into the mansion.
Left alone, Terra awkwardly looks around while trying to decide what she should do. The medication sits on the nearby table along with the breathing apparatus. The rise and fall of your chest has been steady for some time, but fear that it could change keeps the woman fixated on you from the chair she has pulled beside the bed.
"I am here," she says, maintaining a cool inflection despite her inner turmoil.
You roll your head to the left, allowing you to look at her head on. Your voice is coarse and weak, sounding like churned gravel as you speak.
"You'll watch after them, won't you? When I'm gone?"
A sharp inhale is but one of several signs of Terra's shock. She takes a moment to gather herself, interlacing her fingers while taking a more controlled breath.
"There are others better suited for such a task."
Staring directly into her eyes you give her your honest reason. "You aren't the only one I've asked, but you will outlive us all."
Terra considers for no more than a second before rendering her judgement. It is initially driven by guilt and repayment of a self-prescribed debt, but the undercurrent of concern for Asuna and Asada exists as well.
"I swear on the throne that I shall care for them as if they were my blood."
A chuckle escapes your lips, resulting in a shortness of breath.
"It always sounds… so… dramatic… when you talk."
Scoffing, Terra turns her nose up at you. It doesn't help that she's also sitting in a very prim and proper manner, with her feet crossed at the ankles and laced hands resting in her lap.
"It is assuredly not my fault that your primitive language has so few ways for one to express themselves. We Klaxo-sapiens could communicate feelings via telepathic…"
The monarch stops in the middle of her sentence and begins to laugh to herself.
"It seems I'm doing it again. The possibility exists I truly am the one at fault."
Closing your eyes once more to rest before dinner, you leave your companion with, "You are."
Eventually the sound of clanking plates and footsteps can be heard as Asuna and Asada return from the kitchen with the meal.
Warm orange light sweeps across the balcony as the sun sets over the ocean, highlighting the table which has been pulled beside your bed. Asuna and Asada sit to your left and to your right, leaving their aunt with the seat directly across from you.
When portions are served of the wonderful-smelling pasta, yours is smaller than those given to anyone else. You don't reach for the silverware sitting on either side of the plate. Asuna begins eating her food while her sister cuts yours into small pieces and offers them to you one by one.
Chewing is sometimes difficult, but softened chicken rich with the juices it had been cooked in and noodles smothered in white sauce make for an easier time than most.
After Asuna has finished her first plate, she takes the fork and knife from her sister and allows Asada to eat.
Little is said in the meantime. Instead the air is filled with the sound of soft clinking from the utensils against plates.
When the meal is over you are too tired to do anything other than retire for the night. Bidding your former partner farewell and thanking her for coming, you leave the Klaxosaur Princess for what will likely be the last time. She has a sorrowful look about her, but the compassion mixed within makes it clear how she is feeling.
Asuna and Asada wheel your bed through the mansion to the room you occupy, the very same you and Ichigo had shared for over a year. Asuna and Asada had their own rooms nearby but have taken to sleeping in their old room to be closer to you when they made it there, instead of falling asleep in a chair beside your bed.
Once you arrive it takes a minute for them to prepare you for bed. The gown is all you ever wear anymore so it remains on, but they bring some additional sheets and blankets from the linen closet to keep you warm.
They work together, placing the cloth over you and tucking it in, in the right places. Then they take turns planting a kiss on either of your cheeks before pulling up chairs to sit beside you. Finally, they take each of your hands and wait for you to drift off like every other night.
"I just want you girls to know how incredibly proud of you I am. I could never ask for better daughters."
Asada smiles, tears streaking down her cheek. "We couldn't have found a better father, right sister?"
Asuna nods, fighting back tears of her own. "That's right. We love you."
Feeling the world of dreams whisking you away, you give each girl's hand a squeeze with all the force you can muster.
"I love you too. Good night, sleep well, I'll see you in the morning."
When you open your eyes, it is to a very different world than the one you had fallen asleep in. Everything is white and puffy as though you are laying on a cloud.
The pain and stiffness that you had come to know over the last several years has melted away. You feel as good as the day you stepped off the transport ship at Plantation 13 and into your new life as a parasite.
A rustling below you draws your attention as whatever you are resting on begins to move. Instead of looking down, however, you look up after realizing the familiar sensation.
"Hey," a soft voice you haven't heard in a lifetime whispers.
Suddenly, your heart begins to race.
You are resting in the lap of someone wearing a simple cotton dress with deep blue hair like that of the sea. A dove-shaped hair pin, two emerald eyes, and a smile so full of love stares down at you, a face illuminated by the sunlight cascading down from above.
"How'd you know it was me?" your wife asks, smiling softly as her hands run through your hair.
With a smile equally as large, you answer, "I can see your face. Any other woman would have something in the way."
"Hmmph, rude," Ichigo snorts, averting her eyes for a moment, but the desire to stare into those of her beloved is too strong and they return almost immediately.
Chuckling, you reach behind your head and take one of her hands in yours. "I missed you. Every day, every single day since you left."
"I saw it all," the woman replies, shifting her weight and allowing you to rise. "The Klaxosaur Princess, the fight with Alpha, Psi, our girls growing up, everything. You did so well."
Leaning forward, you meet Ichigo halfway for an affectionate kiss. The sensation is intimately familiar despite how long it has been since you had parted.
After some time passes, the two of you finally break from one another and stand.
"What do we do now?" you ask.
Ichigo wraps her hand in yours and begins walking.
"We can do anything. We have forever to decide."
And that's a wrap. Darling in the FranXX: Insurrection is complete. This day was a long time coming, two and a half years and over 335k words, but we made it. Since this will be the last author's note it's going to be a bit longer so bear with me.
First and foremost, I want to thank Spaze for all of his help over the past two and a half years. He came on when Insurrection was in its infancy, around chapter 8, and worked quickly to get everything up to snuff from the time I was without an editor. Most of the artwork you've seen that accompanied the story was made by him as well. I cannot express in words how much better he has made this story with everything he has done.
Second, whether you've been here from the beginning or caught up in a rush two days ago, thank you for reading. You guys make the writing easier for myself and every other author out there with your comments, reviews, PMs, votes/kudos, and even just ticking up the view count. Without you it would all be less fulfilling, so just keep doing what you do.
I'm sure some of you may be wondering "what's next?" and that's a good question. One I am prepared to answer. My next work is already in the planning phase and production should begin within the next few weeks.
So, what is it? The Lightless Paladin, a story about a young man without faith chosen by a divine being as her champion. The Lightless Paladin, or simply TLP as Spaze and I refer to it, will be set in a fantasy world of my own design and with characters drawn from many differing inspirations.
The first chapter will be posted at the end of Insurrection when completed for those of you who wish to view it and anyone else with an interest in the future. In order to stay up to date, however, I kindly ask that you head on over to my profile and follow me or add me to your favorites list so that you will be updated when the story goes live and any future chapters are published.
That said, I think I've gone on long enough. Insurrection has been an incredible journey and I do hope you'll join myself and Spaze as we continue to The Lightless Paladin. We've had good times and sad times but I like to believe that things ended on a high note.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you in the next one. Glint, out!