This is it guys. The story is truly coming to an end. I want to thank everyone who reviewed this story at one point or another and supported me throughout (Dawnstarshine, I.K.A. Valian, Fenrir of the Shadows, Gijinka Renamon, Keeper of Balance, Mandrakefunnyjuice, Poet Bucky, Cloud-Strife-Wannabe). I couldn't have done it without your help, advice, and your undying support. You can't possibly know how much this means to me.

Likewise, 5 of these people will be making cameos in the story. I'm really grateful for all that you've done, so to reward you, you'll appear at Marshall's funeral. I.K.A. Valian is the bagpipe player, Mandrakefunnyjuice is the flag bearer, Poet Bucky is holding the triangular flag that was given to Marshall's family, Gijinka Renamon and an elf OC of Fenrir of the Shadows are the lead shooters in the honour guard. I hoped I got your appearances right, and I apologize for any discrepancies.

Namco owns Tales of Symphonia. Martin Scorsese owns The Departed. Felix Chong and Siu Fai Mak own Infernal Affairs.

Gil and Noishe hurtled down through space from Derris Kharlan, blasting back down to the planet with a ring from Kratos. They were close enough to hear Lloyd's voice, telling Origin that he had the Aionis Ore and Origin should have a ring form him to remake the Ring of the Pact. "It is true that I had a ring, and I can put the Ring of the Pact together again," Origin's voice boomed, "But with two of you, I require two rings, and none of you have an extra one that I deem acceptable for welding Aionis Ore."

Gil turned to Noishe with a quizzical expression. They had already reached the altitudes of the planet where clouds were clearing, meaning they had a clear view of the situation below, despite their height up. "You never said there were two rings," Gil questioned, "I understand two rings would be required for each wielder of the sword, but where did the other ring come from? How did Kratos get a replica in his hands and hid it for so long?"

Noishe smiled. "Kratos actually visited quite a few old friends during his first visit two hundred and fifty years ago. When he first found out about Lloyd being radicalized, he was among those most forceful in asking Lloyd to relinquish to Eternal Sword. Since the sword was in two, he had the original ring given to Origin. But he also asked Dirk, who was nearing his own end at the time, to do him one last favour and carve a perfect replicate of the original ring. This is so that only the presence of both rings could allow the new sword be used properly. It's a pretty shrewd move, considering that twin swordsmen were rare, even in ancient times."

They were near landing when they heard Colette plead their case with Origin to let them handle the swords with one ring, but to no avail. "It's part of my last pact with my last summoner, and even with a new pact and objective, I cannot just abandon that old promise, especially with the world at such a precarious state back then," he replied.

Just as that was said, the platform flashed brightly, allowing Gil and Noishe to rematerialize onto the planet. Gil tried to take a step off the platform, only to be greeted with pain and weakness, as his fractured leg finally gave way. Had it not been for Noishe, who was beside him and could break his fall, Gil would have tumbled onto the ground.

"Dad," Lloyd exclaimed, catching Gil's other side as him and Noishe eased him down from the platform. Gil had his captain and his son position himself before Origin, and pulled out a ring from his pocket. He handed it to Lloyd, who then showed it to the king of summon spirits. "Now are you satisfied?" he asked, determined.

Origin levitated both rings up to his face, examining each like a lab specimen. The group waited anxiously, hoping for a positive response as their world's mana threatened to tear their planet apart even more. The ticking seconds felt like centuries as the summon spirit observed the rings. Finally, he nodded in satisfaction, and would reform two Rings of the Pact for them. "Hand me the Aionis Ore, and I'll separate it in two," he ordered.

Lloyd lifted it in the air for Origin, who levitated it to his arms as well. Everyone watched in stunned silence as Origin manipulated the mana within the Aionis Ore. "The ore itself also holds a significant amount of mana," Noishe explained, "And when it was first made by Dirk, it took an entire day of hard work. Now, to see Origin use the mana within to reform the rings, it truly makes you appreciate the hard work put in earlier."

And, as if defying all laws of nature, the Aionis Ore was pulled into two and combined with the two rings to create two new Rings of the Pact. Origin then put them into the hands of Lloyd and Colette, who quickly slipped them on. "Now, use the Eternal Sword to break the seed for a new Mana Tree, one for the new world," he announced.

Lloyd and Colette gripped the two blades and stepped up to the seed, half-buried in the hole Frank and others had dug earlier. But instead of standing separately, Lloyd shifted the sword to his left hand and put his right hand around Colette's shoulder. He looked at her eagerly, urging her to do the same. Finally, Colette shifted herself around as she put her left arm around Lloyd, and whispered gently into his ear, "When you told me your feelings about me when I was still in monster form, I always imagined that us two will go far lengths and do great things with each other. I just can't believe it's saving the world, and we'll be here to cut the seed to the new tree together."

Lloyd beamed. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Colette," he replied, giving her a peck on the cheek. Returning to the task at hand, they swung their swords down in one smooth motion, slicing the seed at the same time. "Rise, Mana Tree!"

Instantly, branches and shoots burst from the ground, with the bright shine of mana illuminating the area. The loose, unstable mana from the world around slowly went back into the tree and into the ground again. The familiar rumbling of mana readjustment returned as the world's mana fought to regain its original formation. Even the Exspheres from the defeated Cruxis angel warriors were sucked into the tree as it sought to stabilize itself. "It requires more mana," Colette observed, "Is there enough to make it complete?"

Noishe beckoned two people to come forward to hold onto Gil. Mark and Frank moved up to balance Gil's arms on their shoulders as he stepped forward with his former owner's Exsphere in hand. "Well Lloyd, you've been through a lot in your life. You had your highest high in reunifying the world, and your lowest low when you were in battles against Emil and the church, and getting involved in the civil wars. And now, I'll finally give you your wish, and that is to truly be a part of a new world that can protect all races. Lloyd, this one's for you!" he called, and in one motion threw the Exsphere into the tree.

The absorption of the evolved Exsphere, one with the powers of ancient Lloyd, Mithos, Yuan, and others inside, gave the tree the final source of energy to complete it. One last blast of mana slammed into the ground as the branches were in full growth, reaching for the skies like welcoming a new day. The sights and colours were beyond describable words as the crowd was in silent admiration. Origin, who floated beside the tree the entire time, turned to Sheena and asked, "I assume you want us summon spirits to be the guardians of this new tree again, yes?"

Sheena nodded. Stepping forward, the Mizuho native released all eight summon spirits and gave them one final order. "I release you all from my pact, and allow you to return to your original homes. But I want you to take back the task you had before, and take good care of this tree. Don't let anyone or anything harm it again," she instructed.

The summon spirits nodded at Sheena, and floated into the air, surrounding the tree. They let in their own element of mana, as if in saluting the new tree, before they all disappeared into thin air, warping back to the places they came from. All that was left was Origin, who turned back to Lloyd and Colette. "Now, you must name this tree," he told the young couple, "Give it a name worthy of its significance."

This time, Lloyd and Colette knew exactly who to turn to. Waving at the two professors, they had Mark and Frank bring Gil forward. As he was put before Origin, he waved off Frank and Mark, opting to stand by himself. The two professors released their hold apprehensively, making sure he was balanced on his feet and before leaving. "I think there's only one person in mind in considering a name," he announced, "Many might guess who it may be, but he's no longer with us, and his name is not Anthony Marshall."

Lloyd, Colette, Noishe and others looked on eagerly as Gil continued his speech. "This person bore the burden of all the events that had happened, from four thousand years ago when the world was torn apart, throughout the Reunification, when he advised his son without him knowing of his identity, and even during the civil wars, when he was nothing more than a helpless spectator, sidelined by his presence on Derris Kharlan. True, I've only met him a few hours ago, but knowing the stories from Captain Noishe about his hardships, I've grown to appreciate all that he's done. I realized just how difficult life truly is, not just as a mole but a parent as well. If I'm even half the man he was in all that he's accomplished, I would consider myself successful."

Standing up as tall as his weakened leg would allow, he boldly stared Origin in the eye and uttered the line everyone had been waiting for. "In honour of the Seraphim of who ended the Kharlan War, the hero who aided the Reunification and the humanitarian who gave Derris Kharlan to the refugees, helping them survive even when some turned against him, I name this tree: Aurion, after Kratos Aurion!"

Origin nodded. "And so it shall be," he responded. He lifted all four arms into the air and let loose his own blast of mana before disappearing, promising the group that he would fulfill his role as a guardian as well. Everyone stood in admiration as their mission was done, and saw the mana beam from the platform flutter one last time as a rumbling sound echoed through the skies. From above, the shadows pulled away from the planet as Derris Kharlan departed, taking with it the hero whose name was enshrined by the tree.

On the comet, Kratos Aurion had a rare show of emotion as he smiled on the world below. No longer carrying an Exsphere, he took off the round object and used its mana to propel the comet away. "Make sure you keep your promise, Noishe," he said, "Protect the world the best you can, then I can be sure to go in peace."

Their efforts to save their world did not go unnoticed, as soon the governments of both countries were eager to recognize their work. A great ceremony was held, in which each person was awarded a Medal of Honour. As they met the press and other high-ranking officials from both countries, they discussed their reflections on the entire event. Lloyd was first and directly talked about the maturation process it took him through. "I admired my ancient counterpart, but I also realized there's more to the world than that met the eye. It's never easy to change, especially one's own ideas," he described.

Colette was next, and she reflected upon the care that she received from those around her; not just her parents, but from Lloyd, and even Lynn. "Even in a time when those around us did negative things, there's always a silver lining that shows the positive side of people," she stated, her eyes trained onto Lynn, who she knew echoed her thoughts.

Genis and Raine were next, and both touched on how their backgrounds and race did not matter in this battle, as all denizens of the planet had a responsibility to safeguard their home. "When our own world's in danger, we all must protect it," Raine explained, "I may be just a research assistant from a university, and my little brother is some preteen growing up in a suburb and is fascinated by mana battles, but when the call came, we knew we had to act." Beside her, Genis nodded and looked at Ricardo, who was in the crowd. The old elf was very proud of his young friend and all his deeds.

Zelos and Sheena were also honoured, but by a representative from Tethe'alla instead of Sylvarant. Sheena spoke of remembering history, and how old battles were still relevant in being applied to today's situation. "It may just be my own heritage, but being a Mizuho native, I've always been taught to cherish our history, whether they be positive or negative," she told the audience, "And clearly, after this incident, there's still a lot to be learned from our historical battles to make our future even safer."

Zelos, however, kept his speech shorter, choosing to honour Altessa for his courage to stand up to Cruxis, his sister for staying strong, and those around him for still believing in him. "The strengths of all those around people me, whether I like them or not, are all relevant. They all share this world, and for that I tip my hat off to you."

The honours returned to the Sylvarant side as Captain Noishe was honoured, and the former Protozoan had arguably the longest list of people to thank. Leading from the days after the Reunification, he reflected on all those that were involved in the efforts to make the world a better place. "I've said it before: everyone in the events from the actual Reunification, throughout the civil wars, and leading up to today, are connected in their attempts to better our world," he announced, "Whether they be ideals, education, new constitutions, and even law enforcement, they all performed their parts in improving our conditions. And to be there, to see our countries go from disparate and racist to nearly equal and tolerant, that alone is reward enough for me. And in the shoes of both a police captain and a citizen, I feel truly grateful. Thank you all for doing your part."

And the last person to receive an award was none other than Gilbert Irving, who clopped onto the stage on his crutches. After naming the new Mana Tree, Gil ended up being sent back into a medical centre again, and the damage he took on Derris Kharlan made it so that his lower leg did not improve at all. Forced to wear the same style of cast he did after Raine healed him, he had to return to using crutches to help him walk. But even with the cast, he had a surprisingly quick step and straight posture, as if he were marching in formation at a police parade.

As Gil stepped up, Lloyd pulled out a picture from his wallet. It was the same picture that Gil always had in his room, with Anna and a one-year-old Lloyd posing with Gil at his police academy graduation. Lloyd was too young to remember correctly, but he somehow had a picture in his mind when Gil's name was called at that ceremony:

Sixteen years ago…

Anna gently rocked an infant Lloyd in her arms, trying to keep the baby awake at the police academy graduation ceremony. Originally the cadets were in alphabetical order, but when the letter reached "I", Gil was nowhere to be found. Lloyd, not exactly a patient type, was nearly asleep, and it took everything Anna had to keep him awake. "Is Gil receiving a special award of some sort?" Anna wondered aloud.

Finally, when the last cadet was called, the academy commandant reached for the microphone again. "There is one cadet that we certainly have to honour greatly. He has shown every brilliant potential to serve our society well. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our cadet of the year, Officer Gilbert Irving!"

The crowd erupted into applause as the final graduate marched onto the stage. That got a reaction from Lloyd, who rested comfortably in a semi-asleep, and was not too appreciative of at the reception his father received. Nonetheless, Anna lifted the now-stirred Lloyd onto her shoulders. "Look at Daddy, Lloyd," she cooed. And indeed, there he was, in his sparkling uniform, his neatly combed hair, and clean-shaven face, Gil Irving was on stage. He snapped a neat salute before the commandant gave him the plaque.

After a quick handshake, the crowd simmered down, taking their seats again as Gil gave a quick speech. "There are so many people I want to thank in receiving this award," he began, "I've worked with some wonderful people, all of which made a great difference in my life, and I would certainly remember all that they've taught me, so that I can become a good police officer, and a good person…"

"…but there are two particular people that I truly appreciated, and I absolutely have to thank," Gil continued, snapping Lloyd's mind back into the present day. Lloyd got a good look at Gil, repeating the same procedure from sixteen years ago when he won his first award. Gil was wearing his police uniform for the first time in ten years. And, in a strange twist of fate, his father combed his hair the same way it was when he graduated from the academy, and shaved off his famous goatee as well.

Gil turned to Lloyd, finding his son in the crowd. "I want to thank my wife Anna, and my son Lloyd. I know while I was dealing with all these battles that I haven't been the family man you two have expected of me. That's why, once this is all over, I'll make amends. Believe me, Lloyd, I will make it happen. Thank you."

Cameras flashed and people cheered as Gil eased back from the podium. Holding his crutches, he hobbled his away off the stage. During the entire process in which he was helped down the steps, his eyes were focused on Lloyd, who smiled and nodded, all the while trying to hide his tears from his father. Gil waved to him as he came down from the stage, giving Lloyd yet another image that would last in his memories forever.

"Mom, it's been a while since I last came here, but now that everything's over and Dad got the job done, I thought we'd catch up," Lloyd softly spoke to the gravestone of his mother. Gil was here for Chief Marshall's funeral, which was just across the field from Anna, and had told Lloyd he could visit her while he attended to the chief. "Dad's been through a lot for us, a lot more than I originally gave him credit for…"

At Marshall's place, there was a full police escort with honour guards and other lavish activities. Both Noishe and Burton were there, commemorating the man that they worked with throughout not just the Cruxis case, but throughout their careers. The honour guard, led by a flag bearer, moved up to the coffin as it prepared to be put into the ground. Nearby, Gil was also present and dressed in his uniform, but did not join in the ceremony, opting to observe as a regular officer. "It's been a while since I've been considered regular, so please let me have this moment," he told Noishe, "Besides, I have better memories of Marshall as a friend rather than a superior."

The slow procession halted as the shooters surrounded the coffin from both sides. The flag bearer positioned herself between the coffin and the headstone, unleashing the flag of the Iselia police force. From his position, Gil saw the sombre face of the flag bearer: she was a young woman with short brown hair and brown deep-set eyes. She held the flag high and proud above Marshall's coffin, representing the way the chief served in the force. A bagpipe player made his way next to the flag bearer, standing to her right as the final part of the ceremony commenced. The bagpipe player had relatively tan skin and black curly hair that barely showed underneath the police cap.

"Present arms!" The shooters all prepared their rifles as the flag on the coffin was removed. It was folded into a triangle and put into the hands of a short officer with brown, somewhat spiky hair. "She's Genis' size, but her hair resembles Lloyd," Gil mumbled to himself as this short officer moved to the flag bearer's left. After another set of orders, the shooters aimed their guns straight into the air and faced towards the coffin.

Gil could see the faces of the two closest shooters at him. One was an elf, a rare situation in Iselia's police force. He had a tan but freckled face, blue eyes, red messy hair, and a slightly muscular build. The other was a human female officer with long brown hair and blue eyes. "Pretty ironic that this situation ends with a human and elf, since it's half-elves, a mix of the two races that killed the chief," Gil muttered.

The bagpipe player blew into his instrument, with the unmistakable sound of the tune Amazing Grace echoing through the area. The shooters fired their rifles in salute as the coffin slowly disappeared from view. Many officers around saluted as Marshall was given his eternal rest. Gil was among them, balancing his crutches on his sides while he lifted his hand. But while his right hand was at his temple, his left was placed near his heart. "Goodbye, my friend," he whispered, a tear forming.

The sad song rang through the air, ending just on cue as the coffin reached the bottom. As the honour guard, the flag bearer and the bagpipe player left, the holder of the triangular flag spotted Marshall's relatives in the crowd and presented the flag to them. Gil proceeded to the other side of the cemetery to pick up his son, finding Lloyd still in a heart-to-heart conversation with Anna. "I'll be strong, I'll work hard, and I'll turn my life around, starting with school," Lloyd promised his mother, his voice quivering, "I swear I'll be a man that you can be proud of, just like Dad." Father and son embraced on the spot, enjoying a moment that would last forever. It was the first time in ten years that the Irving family was this close to one another, and none of them wanted to forget this event.

That night at the Irving residence, all seemed to have returned to normal as Lloyd prepared to call it a day. Stepping out of the bathroom in only his boxer briefs, he passed by his father's room. "Goodnight, Dad," he called, but surprisingly, no response. Lloyd took a peek inside and saw Gil shuffling through boxes and boxes of files. "Dad, it's late, what are you up to?" he asked, stepping to the doorframe.

Gil looked up. "Hey, Lloyd. I was just going through some old files. I realized that with the case closing, it's only right that I hand the rest of the documents to Noishe. I've been wanting to tell you a bit about them, so if you don't want to sleep yet, I'll be happy to show you some of the stuff I've done," he offered, inviting Lloyd into his room, "None of this is classified, ever since the events of the invasion were broadcasted that publicly."

Lloyd stepped in, anxious to see his father's files for the first, and probably the last time. "I have a few minutes, I'll stick around," he replied, "I'm sure Captain Noishe won't mind having me know about it. I promise I won't tell anyone…"

As father and son spoke, a certain police captain was at the vault of the station, finally finished with the report on the Iselia invasion, his last in this case. Noishe stepped into the vault at the wee hours of the night, stuffing his report into a file and putting it in a cabinet. The drawer was pushed shut and the labelling card slipped into the right slot. In the dim light, Noishe scribbled onto it: Cruxis crimes, case status solved. The former Protozoan patted the drawer one last time, announcing his wish before leaving for home. "Rest in peace, Anna, Chief Marshall, and Kratos. Rest in peace."

And up on Derris Kharlan, Seraphim turned regular Exsphere-less human Kratos Aurion stared at the planet as the comet drifted away. Reflecting on his experience, he stated softly, "Stay safe, everyone, and enjoy your lives to the fullest. You all deserved it."

Where had all that time go? I started this story off without fans, support, or confidence. Deep down, I wondered how long I'll last with my limited ideas. But then one thing built on another and before long, I got this big story all finished. For that, Tales of the Departed is truly "the little story that could."

I'm probably taking a break from the Tales of Symphonia fandom, and returning to the fandom I used to write for. I have a sequel to a story I original wrote there that I want to start. You'll still see me around TOS, but I just won't be posting anything for a while. Hopefully by this summer I'll have something, because I already have some ideas what I want to do with Gil and friends after this ordeal. Until then, thanks for reading my story and see you around!