A/N: Happy Holidays! ::grin:: I was hit by a muse over my free time between finals. So here's the next chapter.

Pant Burner - ::pulls assassins away:: Okay, stop killing the reviewer!

Assassin A: But he was guessing too closely to the plot!

It's okay. It's beginning to be revealed away.

Assassin B: So we shouldn't have done that…

Assassin A: Yep, most definitely.

::growl:: Go find the reviewer and let him out of whatever cell you put him in. I like getting reviews. ::pout::

Assassin A/B: NOT THE POUT! ::runs off to find Pant and bring him back alive::

SunkissSMB – No… you've figured out my weakness! ::gasp::

Kratos: what? I didn't say anything.

-.-

Anyways, Yes and No. Maybe. ::evilgrin:: Basically, it should all be shaping together. So, if your making the right guesses and assumptions, on of those answers will be the answer you want. :p (and yes, Kratos can be cute!)

Kratos: ….

Tomato LZ – You'll be happy with the first part of the chapter. :p

Anyways, enjoy chapter eight! (and have a happy new year as well!)

Tales of Symphonia: Gaiden

Chapter Eight

The half-elf yawned, stifling annoyance as he walked down the hall of the base he called home. Grumbling about finding good help, he remembered that there was no one else here beside himself.

The loud bell rang again. After a few seconds, it rang again.

"I'm coming!" he grumbled loudly, cursing whoever it was that felt such an early hour was a good time to visit.

He manually entered the clearance code, blinking in the bright sunlight that now filtered in through the door.

"Good morning, Yuan," chirped a bright voice. Examining his appearance, she gasped. "Oh my, I didn't wake you, did I? I'm so sorry!"

"I was already up, Colette. Stop apologizing," Yuan mumbled, stepping to the side to allow the small angel in.

It was hard to tell that the man used to be the leader of the Renegades in his current state. His normally well-kept blue hair, which he prided himself so much on, was a tousled mess. He was shirtless, his well toned torso in view. Yawning again, he tried to rub the sleep from his blue eyes. Yuan tugged on the pair of light blue sweats he was currently wearing, leading Colette down the hall.

"Help yourself," he offered, continuing down the hall. Colette looked confused as he entered the door down the hall. The sound of running water followed soon after, causing Colette to blush lightly. She quickly darted into the directed room, which turned out to be a kitchen.

Deciding to be useful, she quickly set about to make some coffee. By the time she was finished and pouring it out into two mugs, Yuan reappeared – now fully dressed and hair nicely tied back.

"Thanks," he replied, accepting one of the mugs. It seemed the shower woke him up rather quickly. "So what brings you down to Triet? It wouldn't be for small chat."

"Sharp as usually," Colette answered, laughing lightly. Blue eyes stared at the mug in her hands, her thumbs tracing its edge as she thought about how to verbalize her thoughts. "Kratos came back…"

Yuan nearly choked on the coffee, clearly not expecting that answer. His calm composure gone for the moment, he looked at her clearly surprised. "Who's what? How?"

"Well, you see…" Colette lapsed into a rather long description of the last few days' events. Yuan nodded attentively during the retelling. At one point, he found a notepad and pencil and began to jot a few points down.

"That's some story," he said as Colette finished a good hour later. "So this girl Aya was with Kratos when he showed up?"

"Yeah. I'm assuming she got him from Derris-Kharlan before they came," Yuan replied, sipping coffee and thinking. After a moment, he looked over at Colette. "And you're positive that the mana she used to transport the group was from Origin?"

At this, Colette moaned in frustration, burying her face in her arms on the table. Blonde hair spilled over the table as she mumbled something unintelligible to Yuan, the table muffling her words.

Yuan blinked, an eyebrow raised in surprise and/or confusion. "Uh, Colette?"

"Why does no one believe me?" she demanded, blue eyes blazing as she quickly snapped her head up to look at him. "I mean, I'm an angel. I can sense these things, unlike Presea or Regal. But they don't believe me at all. And if one of them takes one side, the other has to agree. And…"

Yuan laughed uneasily as the small blonde continued to rant, a small sweatdrop rolling down the side of his face. "Take it easy. I'm not criticizing you at all."

"-they are always together and… Oh," Colette stated, stopping in mid-rant. "Hehe… sorry?"

Yuan tapped his chin with the pencil's eraser. "Where did she say she was from?"

"A world called Cadence," Colette replied.

"Hmm…"

Yuan took a swing of coffee before getting to his feet and beginning to pace back and forth mumbling to himself. "Origin… transportation….hmm… but Lloyd…. before that Kratos…before that maybe….or could it be later?"

"Yuan, you're mumbling to yourself again," Colette offered, as the former seraphim continued to pace, thinking aloud. He stroked his chin with one hand, stopping at one point before shaking his head and returning to his pacing.

Giving up, Colette reached for her mug of now ice cold coffee. She had felt that Yuan was a good of person as ever to talk with this about. She knew he read more and knew more about… well, everything, then she could possibly know. And if Yuan couldn't figure out what happened, she didn't know what she'd do.

"Yes… that may be it," Yuan surmised, stopping and smiling at his own cleverness. He turned towards Colette, a large smile on his face. "I don't think you're going to believe this one…"

-------------------------------------------------------

"We sure were lucky that fisherman was able to give us a lift," Genis mused as the group continued crossing the barren plain that separated the coastline from what remained of a mighty tower.

"It was a little too easy," Kratos replied, looking accusingly in Aya's direction. She laughed uneasily.

"The boss… has connections…?" she offered in appeasement, smiling sweetly. Kratos sighed in annoyance. Kratos turned away from Aya, concentrating on the march ahead. Aya's smile wiped clean off her face as she scowled, recalling what Hiro had told her before she left.

"Aya," Hiro whispered, grabbing her arm as she left the base. She looked at him in confusion as he pulled her close, whispering in her ear as he glanced at the group from Symphonia. "Keep close to Kratos. He's too smart for his own good. Keep him distracted."

"Distracted?" Hiro nodded slightly.

"Yes. By any means necessary…"

"Aw man, some entranceway," groaned Zelos as they approached a mound of rumble.

"What did you expect?" Aya replied nonchalantly. "The main entranceway was destroyed in the rain of Holy Light."

"Why do you keep calling it that?" Lloyd wondered aloud. "It's not like they're good or holy or anything."

"It was the light of the angels. That's holy enough for the historians," Aya shrugged, jumping atop a large stab of stone. She grasped one of the edges and pulled with all her might until gravity took over. The stone flipped, sliding to the ground.

She looked down, smirking. "Looks like the entrance is still here," Aya called out before jumping down inside the rubble.

"This doesn't look very safe," Sheena commented, concerned as several small stones skipped down behind her as she climbed up after Aya.

"I'm more concerned with why the so called bad guys have an entrance to their so called secret base that the humans or rebels can find so easy," Zelos grumbled lightly.

"This is most likely not the first rescue the rebels have tried," Genis answered.

"Yes, it was in the files Hiro sent me. Though some names were omitted; oddly enough of who they were trying to rescue."

"Does it matter?" Lloyd asked, perched above the whole and helping everyone inside. "We have a way in that the Order doesn't know about. Seems fine to me."

"Don't let your guard down, Lloyd," Kratos advised softly, looking into his son's eyes before jumping in after Raine.

"What's bugging him?" Lloyd asked no one, looking confused, before following the others inside.

Once he landed on the ground inside, Lloyd noticed they were standing inside of a small tunnel. Two broken and rusty machines were crunched up in one corner and faded and torn carpet covered rising stairs.

"Everyone, this way!" Aya called from above them. She had already climbed up several stairs, agitated that they were taking so long.

The group looked at one another, all of them having a massive sense of deja-vo from the tunnel.

"Am I the only one who feels like we've been here before?" Genis asked, looking around.

"No," everyone replied as they climbed the stairs.

Aya waited in agitation on a small floating platform. Everyone groaned, noticing the stairs leading up to the platform, which was not a short height off the ground, had collapsed long ago.

"How the hell do you get up there?" Zelos gasped, staring.

"Jumped. Lucky I made it, huh?" she replied carelessly, waving him off. "There's a working warp just up here," she called out.

"Don't bother," Kratos stated as Genis prepared to jump up, thinking if Aya could do it so could he. Instead, Kratos' wings unfolded from his back, shimmering in the little light available. He offered his arm to Raine, who took it, and flew up to the platform. Lloyd and Zelos shrugged and followed suit, unfurling wings of their own. Lloyd grabbed Genis and Zelos took Sheena and they followed Kratos up.

If Aya had been surprised by the sudden appearance of two additional people with angel wings, she didn't show it. Instead, she placed her hand on the small stone pillar in front of the warp, which started to glow.

"Let's go guys," Lloyd stated, walking towards the warp. In seconds, everyone had stepped through, sans Aya.

"Be alive, Rin. I'm coming." Without a look back, she too stepped onto the warp, disappearing from the tunnel.

When she reappeared, it took a great deal of metal willpower to stop herself mid-motion and not crash into Zelos who, along with everyone else, had not moved.

"What's the hold up?" Aya asked, regaining her footing.

"That," Zelos explained as he stepped to the side. Aya audible groaned, now faced with three hallways, each identical in appearance.

"Now what?" Sheena asked, crossing her arms in concern.

"What do we always do? We split up," Lloyd explained.

"Yes, but at those points we knew what we were facing," Raine injected. "Since we don't know much about the enemy, we should divide the seven of us up carefully.

"Well, Raine, Kratos, and Zelos know healing arts," Genis offered. "They should all go in different directions."

"Good idea," Kratos replied, stepping to the right-most tunnel. "I'll go this way."

"I'll take the middle," Raine shrugged.

"Which leaves me with the left," Zelos grinned before turning around. "Now what lucky person gets to come with me?"

"Oh god…" Lloyd groaned. He almost wanted to offer Aya to go with Raine to save her from embarrassment when Zelos spoke.

"My voluptuous hunny, of course!" he cheered, a carefree grin on his face. Ignoring the death glare from Sheena, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her close.

"Z-Zelos!" Sheena stuttered, startled by the sudden movement and blushing furiously.

"Genis, you come with me," Raine stated and Genis nodded in compliance and stepping close to his sister.

Aya looked over at Lloyd and the two locked eyes.

Here's where the problems start, Aya thought miserably. She knew she'd have to go with Kratos – Hiro's orders – but Lloyd would want to also.

Damn it, Lloyd thought angrily. I want to go with Dad but I can't leave Genis and Raine by themselves. They're vulnerable without a melee fighter with them. Lloyd glanced over at Aya's sword, thinking to himself. He didn't know much, if anything about her style of fighting, only that she was proficient in thunder magic.

"I'll go with the Professor," Lloyd stated, coming to his conclusion. Kratos looked over at him, surprised. "It's no biggie, Dad. I know their fighting style best and you can't leave two mages alone without a melee fighter right? You're the one telling me to think strategically all the time."

"Lloyd…" Kratos started before his son smiled brightly.

"Don't worry, I'll be fine."

"Right," Raine started, looking from one group to the other. "We'll meet up back in the tunnel."

"We should set a time limit," Kratos added, thinking aloud. "Perhaps five hours from now. If a group isn't back by then…" He left his sentence unfinished. Everyone got the point and looked at the ground.

"Well, now that we have that settle, let's motor!" Zelos cheered, grabbing the now free Sheena's wrist and practically dragging her down the hall as he dash away.

"Z-Zelos! Let go! Hey!" she cried out, her voice getting softer as they moved father away.

Raine nodded goodbye to both Aya and Kratos as her group made their trek down the hallway, disappearing from sight as they turned a corner.

Aya turned to look at the swordsman beside her and laughed uneasily under the glare she was receiving.

"Look's like we're stuck together then," she offered, smiling up at him.

"So it would seem," Kratos responded coldly. Aya winced at the tone of his voice – the sound of lack of trust. Looking downcast, she didn't reply and decided to start down the hall.

Kratos tilted his head, looking at the retreating figure in thought. He took a deep breath before easily catching up to her.

"I'm sorry," he stated, softening his tone.

"What for?" Aya sighed, not meeting his gaze. "You have every right not to trust us."

"Perhaps," Kratos replied before he stopped walking. Aya continued for a few more steps before stopping to look back at the seraphim that remained immobile. She noticed a smile, force or not, appeared on his face. "However, you yourself haven't done anything to make one mistrust you."

Aya looked at him in confusion as he continued to walk past her, a smug look on his face. "Why do you look so happy?" she asked, turning and following him again.

"I've looked into your eyes and I've seen your fighting spirit," Kratos replied, looking ahead. He decided to test a theory that had been formulating in his mind since the night before they left Sheena's village. "It's vivacious, much like your mother's."

Kratos stopped as the footsteps echoing his ceased. He looked over his shoulder and back at Aya, who looked pale with shock.

I thought as much, Kratos thought, feeling slightly victorious. All the pieces were starting to fall into place.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Genis and Lloyd exchanged worried glances as they followed Raine down the twisting halls. Her eyes were wide with excitement as she ran her hands over the smooth white surface of the walls. She mumbled breathlessly to herself.

"How do you put up with this?" Lloyd asked, stretching his arms and placing both his hands behind his head as he walked.

"I tune it out," Genis replied, looking downcast.

"Yo, Genis… what's wrong? You've seemed out of it since we left Mizuho," Lloyd asked, looking at his best friend with concern. Genis scowled, and looked away.

"Presea… loves Regal," he replied. "She doesn't love me."

"Oh, is that all?" Lloyd sighed. "For a minute there, I thought you were becoming an angsty bishie!"

"Lloyd!" Genis growled, rolling his eyes at his friend for not understanding. Then again, how could he? He has Colette hanging all over him…

"Gee, sorry," Lloyd apologized, taking one step away from the angry mage. "It's just that time, I guess."

Genis fumed, glaring at Lloyd. "You're only four years older than me! Don't act like you know everything!"

"Hehehe…"

"Boys!" Raine snapped, startling them both into quietness. She was peering around a corner, her face dead serious.

Immediately forgetting their feud, the two friends joined Raine and glanced around down the hall.

Four angels floated around the large room which housed one jail cell. Inside the cell was a body with blue hair.

"Bingo," Genis smiled. Guess they had guessed the right tunnel after all.

"Wow. She must be important. That's two dark swords and two dark commanders," Lloyd explained, remembering the trouble they had with them back in Derris-Kharlan.

"What?" Raine paused, looking back at Lloyd.

"I said-"

"What the hell?"

"No, I didn't say that, Genis," Lloyd chided.

"I didn't say anything," Genis replied before both boys turned around only to find themselves staring down an angel in full armor carrying a spear.

"Uh-oh…"

"INTRUDERS!" the spearman shouted, alerting the guardsmen.

"Guess we'll have to fight them all," Lloyd shouted, jumping back and drawling his two swords. Light gleamed along its blades – the Kusanagi Blade.

"Lloyd, be careful. We don't know what their true strength is," Raine replied, backing up behind Lloyd, gripping the Crystal Rod tightly in her hands. She already began accumulating mana for her first spell.

"Finally. I have some frustration and this seems like a perfect opportunity to kick some ass," Genis grumbled, grabbing his Final Player kendama with one hand. Musing quickly and remembering angels had a weakness to light, he also began to gather mana beneath him, a white circle forming.

"Dammit, there's so many of them," Lloyd grumbled, debating if he should take care of the dark commanders first as they could use magic or the melee fighters first. "Ah, to hell with it. I'll attack whoever gets in my way!"

"Field Barrier!" Raine shouted, translucent prisms surrounding the three of them. Lloyd blinked, feeling his defenses rising. He grinned back at Raine, but she was already concentrating on her next spell.

"Let's go guys!" Lloyd grinned, charging the first angel in his way.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Sheena silently followed the red-haired former Chosen down the hallways. She had no idea how many lefts or rights they had taken so far. She was more concerned with how Zelos had still not released her hand since they departed the others.

"Zelos, you're acting quieter than usual," she remarked, surprised.

"Figure we have to keep the element of surprise on our side as long as possible," he replied, looking down each hallway as they came to another fork.

Sheena tilted her head, confused. Did she hear a hint of fear in his voice? She didn't have time to contemplate as she was pulled to the right.

"You know," she mused aloud, the silence between them bothering her, "I'm surprised you didn't decide to take Aya with you." She smirked as he flinched visibly; she had hit a nerve. A smug look on her face, she continued. "After all, I thought the only reason you came on this trip was to make your move on the 'hot chick.'"

Zelos stopped moving forward and looked back over his shoulder at Sheena, a large grin on his face.

"You think I trust anyone else to look over my voluptuous hunny?" he joked lightly before turning around yet again. Sheena looked startled, surprised by his answer.

"Zelos… you're not acting like yourself," she stated, concerned. Zelos sighed.

"I'm sorry."

"What?" Sheena was surprised to say the least; that was not the answer she was expecting.

"You never let me apologize for making you upset on Lloyd's birthday," he replied, his voice dead serious.

"I… you… I wasn't upset," Sheena denied, blushing deeply. Zelos nodded in reply, looking a bit disappointed and dropping her hand.

Sheena looked at her now free hand, most definitely confused.

"You can't feel it, can you?" Zelos asked, sticking both his hands in his pockets and leaning against the wall. "This place… it scares me."

"The great Zelos Wilder? Afraid?" Sheena jeered, chuckling.

Zelos closed his eyes, crossing his arms and looking incredibly serious. "Yep. So I think I'll need a kiss in order to restore my nerves."

Sheena's mouth hung open. She knew it! That man could never be serious. She could feel her anger rising, her hand flexing in and out of a fist.

Zelos smiled, ignoring her anger and smiling brightly in her direction. "And wouldn't you know, you're the only girl here. So pucker up and-"

SMACK.

"You're impossible," Sheena grumbled, turning away and crossing her arms. Zelos rubbed the bright red spot on his cheek, chuckling at himself.

"Well, wouldn't you know! The fear's been smacked right outta me! I don't think the demons of the Underworld have anything on you, hun."

"What did you say?" Sheena grumbled, but Zelos only laughed as he jumped to his feet to race down the hall away from her.

"Yep, definitely Violent Banshee material," he teased back.

"Just you wait till I catch you, Zelos!" Sheena growled, chasing after him.

Zelos kept running even though his eyes drifted down to his feet. He laughed sadly at himself. Guess he still had a long way to go before anyone would take him seriously.

Lost in thought, he didn't see another figure turn the corner in front of him. They collided, sending Zelos back a few paces.

"Ouch. Man, not the face," he grumbled, looking up to see what or who he hit. He looked at the man, who was nearly identical in appearance. For a second, Zelos thought he banged into a mirror, but the 'reflection' was wearing different clothes.

Both red-heads looked confusingly at the other. At the same time, they glared angrily, stomping their feet and pointing madly at the other.

"JUST WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?"

Sheena round the corner, shocked out of anger by the sight of two Zelos glaring death glares at one another. She could feel one eye twitch at the sight.

"What the hell is going on here?"

--Silverwings

Well, now the action will be picking up. Everyone starts to get ideas of where they are. Fights abound! And… Colette visits Dirk? ::grin:: All this and more, next time on ToS: Gaiden.

Remember to leave reviews, criticism, critique, opinions, etc, as you leave. It keeps the bishies happy!

Yuan/Kratos/Lloyd/Zelos: WE ARE NOT BISHIES!

::sweatdrop:: Yeah.. Just read and review and cya all in the New Year!