The Other Side of the Coin

Written by: Somnion

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean 3 and its characters. I do not know why everyone writes this on their fan fic, but what the hell, I'll write it anyway. Hee, hee.

Please review and give me some feedback. This is my first fan fic.

FYI: This is the first in a trilogy. Some of you may think the story stinks in the beginning but I promise it gets better as it progresses. Please read and review.

Chapter 1: The mission

Nel made her way through the mazy thicket of Duggus Forest, the memory of her new mission still playing at the back of her mind.

"Lady Nel, it appears that bandits have taken up residence at Duggus Forest once again."

"What would you have me do about it Your Majesty?"

"We would like you to do reconnaissance mission of the area surrounding Duggus Forest. Locate the bandit hideout and any other relevant information concerning this matter."

"I shall undertake this mission to the best of my ability, Your Majesty."

"One more thing Lady Nel," said Magistrate Lassele as Nel made her way out of the throne room. "This is strictly a reconnaissance mission, nothing more. Do not engage the enemy, unless it is completely necessary. We do not wish any open hostilities until the situation has been fully assessed."

"Understood, Magistrate Lassele," confirmed Nel.

"Very well then, you are dismissed. Take care of yourself."

That last statement by Lassele seemed more like sarcasm than concern, Nel thought to herself. She knew that Lassele was not very fond of her rather reckless attitude, and was probably more worried about Nel doing something extremely stupid than her safety.

"What does he know?' thought Nel, as she snapped back to the present, by the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.

"So far, so good. It would be a terrible inconvenience in my favor should I be discovered."

As she progressed through the forest, she couldn't help, but feel a strange sense of uneasiness settle in. "I can't get sidetracked with these negative thoughts," she said, as she stopped to collect her thoughts. "I must push on."

No sooner had she said that, she heard an arrow hiss hideously as it sped towards her. With skillful use of her blades, she parried the projectile, now realizing that her intuition was correct. As she turned around to face her opponent, she discovered that she had been completely surrounded by a group of bandits.

"What d'ya think yer doin' here wench, this here's our turf," yelled one of the bandits.

"Yeah, and we don'ts take to kindly to outsiders. Ya better leave if ya know what's good fer ya," yelled another.

Nel was now in a real dilemma. Now that she had been discovered, she had lost the element of surprise, and therefore she was at a disadvantage .Nel could have easily dispatched these thugs if she wanted to, but then she heard a little voice which came from her shoulder and yelled at her. "Didn't I say no open hostilities!" As she turned towards her shoulder she saw her little angel that strangely seem to bear a striking resemblance to Lassele looking angrily up to her. "Have you forgotten your mission? You were instructed not to kill anyone," he snappedSuddenly, Nel's tiny devil which sported a large beard and wore no shirt, so as to show off his impressive dragon tattoo on his back popped up and said "Don't listen to Lassele, he's just a lot of hot air. You know you want to fight them."

Weren't you suppose to be investigating islands of the Northern coast, Adray?"snapped Lassele as he turned to the shirtless devil.

"Shut up, Lassele," Adray cried, as he made a fist, and aimed it at Lassele. Lassele quickly stopped Adray's hand, before the blow landed. Nel watched them as they engaged in another one of their trademarked quarrels and sighed.

"I gotta lay of the booze," she thought.

Opting to go for a more peaceful solution, she said to the bandits, "Please gentlemen, I wish no trouble with you. Just let me be on my way and we'll pretend this little incident never happened."

"Who do ya think you are, wench?" yelled one of the bandits, rather infuriated. "Ya speak only when spoken to."

"I'd say we teach the little idiot some humility" suggested another.

"Don't underestimate this one lads, she looks like she's got some skills"

"What'cha worried about? We outnumber the wench six to one."

"Yeah, like he said. And maybe after our little "reeducation" we can have a little fun with the wench."

A perverted little grin was plastered on the bandit's face as he said those words.

Nel noticed the bandit's grin and as she pulled her blades out said," I don't know what perverted thought you've got running through your mind, but I'll soon put an end to it."

"Oh, ho, ho, the wench talks big."

However, the bandits soon learned that insulting Nel's dignity was the worst mistake they made. As quick as lightning, Nel dashed up to the one of the bandits, vaulted over him and while using her blades to form a pair of scissors, cleaved the bandit's head clean of his shoulders while still in mid-air.

"What the hell," yelled one of the bewildered bandits.

"Quickly men, surround her," ordered the leader.

"You die now, bitch!" screamed a third.

On that mark, all the bandits attacked Nel all at once. Skillfully parrying and dodging the attacks of her assailants, she proved to be a real handful for her captors. Nel then vaulted over one of the bandits, landing herself on his shoulders. Then she slit the throat of the bandit she was perched, before kicking-off the corpse, which lumbered a few steps before falling lifelessly to the ground.

The bandits, now awed by the skill displayed by Nel began to tremble. But despite their fear, they continued to press on the attack. As one of the bandits rushed towards her, Nel jumped backwards. As she landed, she twisted her right hand, thus causing her body to spin around as she used the dagger in her left hand to form a nightmarish dance of blades. The bandit which had charged at her had been disemboweled by the fury of Nel's swords.

"This guy's are so weak, I'm not even breaking a sweat," Nel thought confidently. However one of the bandits had managed to flank her and lifted his sword against Nel. Nel saw with the corner of her eye and brought her daggers forward to block off the blow. She succeeded in defending against the blow, but unfortunately, failed to notice the blood spilled on the ground. Loosing her balance she fell to ground.

Nel was now at the mercy of her enemies. As the bandit raised his sword to land the final blow, a dark figure dropped down from the trees above, slicing the bandit in half.

The figure then fought off the remaining bandits, who were completely awed and overwhelmed by the phantom's god-like speed and it's razor-sharp fighting ability, and were cut down like lambs to the slaughter.

"Thank you," said Nel.

"Your fighting skills are abysmal, fool," was the reply she received.

"That voice!" Nel turned to face her savior. Before her stood a lean warrior, clad in a black. His sword which he held in his right hand was still dripping with the blood of his fallen victims. His eyes were a burning fiery red which seemed to embody his burning and unquenchable lust for battle. His messy dark hair, tipped with streaks of blond which ended in a pair of long braids were unmistakable.

"Albel Nox!"

"These worms were pathetic, and yet you could not even dispose of them. You're slipping badly, Zelpher."

Nel was insulted by Albel's crude remarks, but chose instead to brush them off. "What are you doing her, Nox?" she asked.

"It seems your Queen and Lassele began to feel that sending out one agent was a little light. I was asked to follow you and ensure that you wouldn't do something stupid. I guess the Queen's worries were well founded. This was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission, you are supposed to gather information concerning the enemy, not slaughter them."

That last insult had pushed Nel's hot buttons. Completely forgetting the fact that she had been just rescued by him, she began to protest against Albel's crude insults.

"That was completely unintentional. I was ambushed. I had no inclination or intention to simply pick a fight with those bandits if possible, but what happened was completely unavoidable. Stop acting like one of my superiors by telling me my duties," she barked.

"I have no time for your pitiful excuses, worm. Just consider yourself lucky that we were able to dispose of those maggots so we still retain the element of surprise."

Nel at this point was too tired to continue arguing with Albel and she, so as to drop the pointless argument, asked his opinion of the current situation.

"So what is your opinion of this matter? What do you recommend we do?"

"First," answered Albel as he turned to face the red haired Crimson Blade, "we dispose of the bodies so as to avoid detection. Then we quicken our pace, reconnoiter the area and make our escape before they realize their men are missing, and send out a search party."

Nel was surprised at Albel's suggested course of action. She half expected him to say they should just storm the bandit's hideout and lay waste to every living soul, thus eliminating the bandit threat. This seemed to her, a more appropriate course of action for psychotic murderer like Albel. The course of action suggested by Albel seemed more like something Claire would suggest.

"He'd make a rather decent general, had it not been for that attitude," she thought.