COTA: Dark Empress Rising

Chaotic G: PEOPLE!  The long awaited AU COTA fic has arrived in all of its hopefully shining and anticipated glory!  Let's get things rolling shall we?

            The basic plot's been explained before BUT for those of you who missed it I'll explain it now.  This is a very Tala/Vega centric plotline and it's sort of a 'what if TS never happened?' thing.  Vega feels that she needs closure with Tala so she heads off to Russia to look for him.  BAD IDEA!  Because out there lurks an old foe who's seen Kaosu's power and longs to wield it… surprising?  No, but interesting nevertheless.

Side note: Yo guys, I might not update as fast as Exodia does.  Every week at best.  I'm juggling both a Trigun fic (which I was committed to long before this came up) and an original fic (which I was committed to even before I was committed to the Trigun fic).  So y'all are gonna have to sit tight and be patient while I do my best to balance them all.  The original fic is priority, however so if I don't update for a few weeks don't whine.

            In three years a lot of things had changed between the Amazons and Bladebreakers.

            Takara and Kai had broken up, realizing that they were better off friends, and very close friends they stayed.

            A similar story when for Charly and Rei.  The two had grown apart from one another and mutually agreed that they were best off just friends.  Neither had to speak it.

            The friendship/rivalry between Kai and Charly escalated.  They seemed to trust completely in one another but they were constantly at odds and ceaselessly had ego wars, which could rage for hours depending.

            But everyone knew that it was all in good nature and that the two, like it or not, would have to face the obvious someday.

            Things were relatively normal again.  It took a good six months after the world tournament for everything to go back to normal, or as close to normal as it'd get, but things still hung in the air.

            When Vega boarded the flight home from Germany with the others she wondered deep down inside if she was doing what was right by just leaving Tala.  She was mad at him, yes, but the anger was ebbing away to another emotion.

            And two years later when she sat on the patio of the Deamen manor she was sure that she had made a mistake.

            "Charly?"

            The brunette glanced over at her friend, who was sitting on the patio railing, from where she lay on her lounge chair.  "What, Vega?"

            "Would you think me insane if I said I wanted to book a flight to Moscow?"

            Charly raised an eyebrow as she sat up.  "Depends… why would you want to go there?"

            Vega tucked some platinum bangs behind her ear.  "I got to find him, Charly."

            The Amazon captain frowned at her friend, worry settling in.  "He's not worth it, Vega… you know he's not."

            "No I don't, Charly," Vega argued, shaking her head fiercely.  "He is worth it… he was a different person near the end of our partnership… humanity's already abandoned him… I can't do that too."

            Charly smiled at the ground.  "You're a more forgiving soul than me, Vega… just one question."

            "Hmm?"

            "You got to tell me honestly… what do you feel about him?"

            There was silence between them for some time as the girl tried to search for the right answer.  "I don't know, Charly… but I think I will when I see him again."

            The brunette nodded.  "I understand… so… you're going to go look for him… how do you plan on finding him?"

            Vega removed Kaosu from her pocket.  "Kaosu can lead me to him… I have a feeling that he wouldn't stray far from what he sees as his home."

            Packing was more of a chore than anything.  Vega had to dig out warmer clothes that she hadn't touched in a while from the bottom of her closet and then toss them from her closet to Charly, who was waiting to fold them on the bed.

            Lilly, Hikaru, and Takara were too busy playing with the mini basketball and hoop, which hung on her door.

            "So, how long do you plan to be gone?" Takara asked, as she threw the ball to Hikaru, who went to toss it in the hoop but it was caught by Lilly.

            "Maybe a month, tops, I'll call you guys every few days."

            "Cool, so you're gonna go after Tala?  Bold, sister, bold," Hikaru said, throwing her onto the bed.  "Kai's got his undies in a bunch over it, ya know."

            Vega shrugged a she yanked a leather coat down from a hanger.  It was lined with rabbit's fur, a gift a few birthdays back.  She threw it to Charly, who caught it quickly and placed it carefully in the large duffle bag.

            "If I cared what Kai thought I wouldn't be going, but I don't," the dark-haired girl replied.  She sighed and looked to her friends.  "Do you guys think I'm crazy?  For doing this, I mean?"

            "Look at it like this," Lilly said as she tossed the plastic basketball into the air and caught it.  "If we thought that this was dangerous for you in anyway we'd stop you in a second.  Whether you're crazy or not we understand that you have to do it and we're not going to interfere."

            Vega smiled.  "Thanks."

            Vega lay up in her bedroom beneath the sheer canopy of her bed, staring at the stark white ceiling and cuddling a wolf plushy and clutching a worn piece of paper in her hands.

            Across the room, pinned to the wall, was a single dried rose.

            I miss you, Tala, she thought, clutching the stuffed animal closer to her as she curled up more into a ball.  She blinked a few times to banish the forming tears and sighed quietly.  If I could just know where you were… and know that you were alright… I wouldn't have to do this… but I need to know… I need to make sure.

            "Vega?"

            The girl snapped out of her reverie and sat up to face the maid that stood in her doorway.

            "That boy… Chase, I think his name was, called… would you like to pick it up or should I tell him that you're not here."

            "No, it's alright, I'll take it."

            "Very well, miss."

            The maid vanished and Vega reached over for the phone on her bedside table and turned it on.

            Downstairs Charly picked up the phone to listen in and a frown appeared on her features as Vega apologized to the boy she and the others had set her up with a few days before.

            'I'm not up for another date, I'm sorry… I'm going to Russia and I can't see that this might be going anywhere.'

            The call ended quickly with Chase sounding a bit disappointed but not much and Charly sighed as she dropped the receiver back onto the cradle.

            "How'd that go?" Hikaru asked from the living room door.

            "Bad… another guy strikes out.  You'd think she was going for a record or something," Charly muttered back.

            "I told you it wouldn't work.  She's so… I don't know… attached to Tala, whether she admits that or not, we can't change her mind.  That's why she's going to Russia, you know."

            "I know but she can get so much better than him, Hikaru, I hate just watching her waste away like this.  When she goes out anymore with us it's just to dance.  She won't even talk to any guys.  It's not healthy," the Amazon leader replied, crossing her arms.  "She keeps saying that she can change him but people like that don't change."

            Hikaru smiled.  "What about Brian and the others?  They've domesticated rather well I must say."

            "They gave up loyalty to Boris a long time ago though… as soon as the Abbey was shut down they realized the truth… Tala's clung to it for too long.  Vega could be the angel of mercy and still couldn't give him what he needs."

            The dark-haired girl shook her head as she reached out and placed a hand on her friend's shoulder.  "Look… Vega knows what she's doing… and she's doing what she wants to… we should just be happy for her."

            Charly sighed.  "I guess… I just worry.  I've just got a bad feeling about her going there."

            He wondered if she thought about him, if he haunted her thoughts as much as she haunted his.

            Did she wonder where he was?  Did she care?

            Or did she forget him like a bad dream and move on?

            Tala sighed.  He'd been living a meaningless, monotone existence for the last three years since he fled Germany to get away from everything he'd done there.  He lived in Moscow in the loft of a house owned by an elderly woman who had hired him as something of an errand boy seeing how she could do very little on her own.  The woman treated him like a son, which made it possible for him to have a semi-decent life.  Even if his pride didn't allow him to completely leech off of her and he worked odd jobs, which normally consisted of some sort of manual, physical labor, to get by.

            "Tala?"

            He glanced at the door and sat up.  "Yeah?"

            A young woman stepped in and smiled at him.  "You received a phone call a few minutes ago.  The girl on the phone told me just to write down the message.  Here you go."

            He took the offered slip of paper and eyed her momentarily.  Her name was Ashlynn, the old woman's American niece.  She was snoopy, annoying, stupid, and most of all, irritatingly keen on him.  "You can go away now," he said gruffly.

            She smiled, turned and left.

            Tala glared as she went and then unfolded the note.

            Vega heading for St. Petersburg, will arrive early on 15th.

            A small smile broke on his features.

Flashback

            "Tala!"

            The Russian paused just as he was about to walk into the plane terminal and turned to find Cleo approaching him quickly, surprisingly not flanked by Brian, who usually shadowed the girl.

            "What do you want?" he growled, eyes narrowing coldly.

            "Easy!" she piped, holding her hands up defensively.  "I just wanted to talk to you."

            "My plane leave in five minutes… you have two."

            The girl rolled her eyes.  "Look, I know you're determined to go all 'lone-wolf' on us but I also know that you'll eventually get around to coming back… so until then why don't I keep track of things for you."

            "Like?"

            "I don't know… like tournament outcomes, activity, God knows there's never a slow day when any one of us is involved… Vega."

            The option was appealing.  But he couldn't trust it.  "You're saying you'd spy on her for me?  Why?"

            "I know you care about her, whether you admit that to yourself or anyone else and since you're determined to run away from all of this instead of facing it I'm willing to keep tabs on her for you," Cleo replied, prodding his chest with one finger as if trying to emphasize her point.  "Keep in touch with me through letters until you find somewhere semi-permanent to stay and then I'll call you.  I can wire you money too if you want."

            "No, I'll handle money on my own."

            "Are you sure?"

            "Yeah.  I have to go now."

            "Alright, see you, Tala."

            "No you won't," he mumbled to himself.  "At least not any time soon anyway."

Fin. Flashback

            Tala leaned back against the headboard of his 'bed', which was more like a lumpy sack on a squeaky, uncomfortable wood frame.

            What are you doing, Vega? He thought.  Are you coming to dig me out of my hole?  Finally?  God… I can't wait to see you again.

            He slipped small, silver locket from beneath the collar of his shirt and opened it.  The lock was flat and oval shaped and very small to be inconspicuous and inside there was a picture of Vega, smiling happily.  Cleo had sent the picture to him as a gift after he'd found his semi-permanent 'home' and the old woman who took care of him had given him the locket so he could always keep who he loved "close to his heart".

            The old woman had promised that Vega would come back to him someday.  She said that it was 'woman's intuition'.  He hoped to God that she was right.

Obsessions were supposed to be unhealthy.  But the only thing that kept him functioning was his obsession.

            Was it so wrong to love her?

            "See you soon you guys, I'll be back before you can miss me I swear," Vega said, laughing as she hugged her friends good-bye in front of the plane terminal.

            "Have fun and be safe," Lilly said, smiling.

            "Call me every other day or I'll have the army looking for you," Charly joked.

            Vega laughed.  "Alright," she replied, nodding as she hugged Max and Tyson.  "I'll talk to you soon, guys."

            "Yeah, alright," Tyson said and then he glanced toward Kai, who was standing off from the group a bit with his arms crossed.  "C'mon, sourpuss, aren't you going to say good-bye or are you just going to stand there all day and pout?"

            Kai gave him a freezing glare as Vega neared.  "Look, Kai, I know you think I don't know what I'm doing but I do… you and him aren't so different you know?"

            "Just be careful," he muttered.

            She nodded tentatively, reached out to sisterly squeeze his shoulder, and turned away from him again and headed for the terminal.

            Alright, Red, I've given you enough of a head start…no more games.