The Loveless

Lt. Commander Richie

Disclaimer: No animals, monsters, Sweepers, Mandragoras, Tsviets or one-winged thingamabobbers were harmed in the making of this fiction. Too bad. Also, to answer the questions of one particular reviewer, no. There will not be a sequel. If you signed in I could reply directly to your reviews instead of calling you out in my Disclaimer/Author's Note. There will be no sequel because quite frankly it would get confusing as hell for me, as I can't even remember what I had for breakfast off the top of my head let alone what I wrote in a piece of fanfiction nearly a year ago. There is no underlying message in this piece of fiction. It's taken me too long to write for there to be one.

Chapter 23


"Chyrin, that sounds like a very distinctly bad plan." Eil was the first to speak up, pushing his way past a few people in the group to stand by Cloud just short of the silver-haired girl. She made a face, just a little more determined-looking than the one she already was, and reaffirmed the grip she had on the handle of her sword.

"I don't care. He took my mother and he's going to pay. Vincent gets his revenge, the rest of AVALANCHE gets to vanquish a real God for once and I get to carve a feathered sonuvvahbitch into a holiday dinner. Everyone's happy." Chyrin turned to look back out over the Lifestream pit, searching out the entrance to the old tunnels she remembered from playing Crisis Core so long ago.

"I'm not." From the back of the group the level voice of Richard Kreshent broke through, followed quickly by the man himself. His large war hammer was slung over his shoulder nonchalantly, almost as though he was taking a stroll instead of readying for a battle that may very well save the planet. "Genesis took Lindsey, and I'm going to get her back. You and me, we'll beat him down together."

"And I'm going with you!" Eil added, a hand coming forward as though he wanted to grasp at Chyrin's before he thought a little better of it and retracted the appendage. The silver-haired girl's expression faltered for just a moment, breaking its mask of horrible anger just long enough for a little confusion to show through. Almost as soon as it appeared it was gone, though the anger that resurfaced seemed as though it was tinged with a little hurt.

"We can't let you do this, just the three of you. You don't know what you're up against!" Tifa stepped forward, her fists clenched and an arm thrown out to the side for emphasis. "Chyrin, you've never fought someone like Genesis before. We have! If you're going to fight him then you can fight him, but you should at least know when to ask for help!" The white-knuckled grip Chyrin had on her sword's handle slacked just barely, her guard lowering as she mulled over the bartender's words. Her expression softened just a little, and this time it didn't harden into rage again.


"Move!" Vincent cut the silver-haired girl off, knocking people aside as he tackled Tifa to the ground in time for a blue shot to sail through the space where her head had been. In a split second every last person in the group had drawn weapons, turning nearly in unison to face the vegetation behind them. Amidst the green leaves and the glow of the Lifestream as it seeped through the bomb-cratered ground, shadows flickered. The dying light shining through the eye of the storm above made each shadow deeper, giving each unknown assailant even more cover in which to hide. Vincent fired a warning shot just next to what appeared to be the head of one of the attackers, and as a group every shadow flickering seemed to freeze.

An ominous buzzing hum seemed to penetrate everything down to the bone as every shadow erupted with blue lines that criss-crossed in every direction and outlined more figures than those assembled would have thought possible. Snarling monsters with blades grafted to their skin snapped and growled at the small group at the edge of the cliff, some of the larger ones straining against leashes made of thick and heavy cable. A motley assortment of guns of every size, caliber and attachment bristled from every glowing grip, the cold metallic sounds of hammers being drawn back and pumps being yanked back making the hum of the blue electric lines seem even more ominous.

"Deepground." Chyrin and Vincent seemed to breathe the word at the same time, eyes searching through the flickering lights to seek out the small sigils on the breastplates of each visible grunt. But on every grunt there was only a deep scratch, sometimes more and sometimes less, where the small design used to be. The girl flinched as Eil threw his sword up in front of her face, a blue bolt from one of the grunts ricocheting off of the solid surface and into the sky.

"You wanna take us on? Take us on! Don't just stand there like a bunch'a wusses and take potshots at us from the shadows!" Yuffie made a gesture at the front lines of grunts that probably wasn't acceptable in polite company, making a face at them in the process. But despite the unprofessionalism she never left a battle-ready stance, her Conformer clutched tightly in one hand. "Or are you just too Chocobo to take on AVALA-" the rest of the ninja's sentence was drowned out by a horrendous screech that rent the air like a knife through flesh. It sounded like it could tear souls apart and break glass, the kind of tortured scream that you only heard from the wild monsters of the Northern Continent. One of the grunts lost his grip on the thick cable leash he was holding and it whipped around, several more of the masked men being taken out as it continued its wild and free dance. The monster it was attached to, however, was not content with simply standing still. Another scream slashed through the minds of everyone present before it charged out into the open in a flurry of black criss-crossed with glowing blue.

A jagged beak was the first thing to descend, blocked just barely in time as Cid threw his Venus Gospel up and held it steady. The creature's mouth was wedged open by the spear stuck in its open beak, and rancid breath and chunks of an unidentifiable red substance were blown everywhere as the creature screamed angrily again. It reeled back and nearly took the pilot with it, but then pivoted and lashed out with a single clawed foot. One claw caught Cait Sith and threw the doll from Nanaki's back as he made a lunge for the monster's steady foot, nearly managing to sink his teeth into the hard and brittle skin before he had to jump away once again.

The assembled members of Deepground's infantry weren't about to let a good chance go to waste, and the rest of the larger monsters were quickly released and shots were fired into the fray. Eil's massive heavy sword was flung this way and that, bullets and energy ricocheting back into the assailants and felling a few. The harshness of the battle quickly escalated, horrible screams and screeches filling the air as shots went wild and managed to hit the larger flailing monsters. Chyrin flung herself into the fight with grim determination that she wasn't so sure she actually possessed, her grip on her sword white-knuckled and tight as she hacked and slashed her way through the faceless and nameless glowing blue and silver figures.

It wasn't too long before she found herself surrounded, guns and knives aimed directly at her from every angle as she slashed out angrily at her attackers. Slides cocked back in what seemed like slow motion, and as a knee-jerk reaction Chyrin threw a hand in the air and called on the power of the Mastered Ultima she had equipped in one of her Gold Armlets. The air around her arm seemed to glow before expanding into a twisting and beautiful display of runes and sigils, each confined to a series of spinning concentric circles that lit up in a brilliant and sparkling green that rocketed into the sky. Everything seemed to be suspended for a moment, and the silver-haired girl even began to wonder if it had worked as she hesitantly looked around at the stillness. Then, without warning, every sigil and every rune, every concentric circle and connecting line, exploded in a massive plume of bright and sparkling green magic.

Armor peeled from flesh and flesh from bone of every tortured creature, wild monster and infantryman in her radius of attack, the electric blue lines on their suits cracking and melting into tangled messes that grafted themselves to the empty skeletons. In an instant Chyrin was running for more opponents, anything to use as an outlet for her rage towards Genesis. She silently thanked one of the first rules of Materia, that Mastered Materia took no MP to cast, and hacked and slashed her way into the creatures that filled the underbrush. Screeches and screams were cut off abruptly as her sword cast Silence on everything she hit, horribly-disfigured monsters gaping and gasping as they tried to scream out and failed in confusion.

"Chryin, get out of there!" Someone screamed her name, but the teen refused to listen. She shouted wordlessly as she faced down a creature that might have at one point been human, but the four-legged posture and knives grafted to its forearms as well as the misplaced ligaments and jagged scars on visible skin made her wonder otherwise. Her sword was held in a guarding position as she circled with the monstrosity in one direction and then another. Without warning the creature leaped at her and connected with her stomach in a tackle, the double-bladed katana trapped between the two of them and biting into mottled monster flesh from the forward momentum. The two combatants tumbled backwards in a roll, crushing a burnt skeleton as they flew from the underbrush and back into the main fight. Somehow Chyrin managed to get a booted foot underneath the monster that was leaving scrapes and cuts all up her unprotected arms and snapping at her stomach with its jagged teeth, and she kicked up and over her head as she completed a backwards roll and scrambled to her feet. The monster lunged again and this time she slashed as hard as she could, two clean lines hemorrhaging bright blue Mako-infused blood as the creature stumbled back. Again it came at her, blue flecks of blood spattering Chyrin's arms and legs and mixing with her own blood that flowed from the cuts on her arms and torso.

A final slash dispatched the creature, and it collapsed at her feet with a final cry of indignation. In the dying light the teen girl flicked the blood from her sword and looked around, surveying the rapidly-dwindling amount of enemies left for her to take her anger out on. The orange light of the setting sun was suddenly blocked out over her head, and Chyrin spun around just in time to see one of the larger Deepground monsters headbutt her in the chest. With a cry she flew backwards, landing hard on her right shoulder and letting go of her sword. The Silence charm rattled on the rocky ground as it skittered away, kicked further and further from the silver-haired girl's grasping hands by the surrounding battle. The new monster screeched and flapped its wings before making a beeline for the fallen teen, fully intent on flattening her and probably dismembering what was left. Chyrin threw an arm up with full intent to cast Ultima again, but the creature didn't get more than three steps before a very calm and collected Vincent Valentine stepped between it and the fallen teen and fired once directly into its face. Bits and pieces blasted out of the back of the monster's skull along with quite a bit of bright blue Mako blood as the creature collapsed, sliding a few feet on the ground before coming to a stop.

"Find your sword, Chyrin." Vincent said, and Chyrin couldn't help but want to comply very badly because his tone of voice was not one to be contested. She scrambled to her feet and ran into the fray in the direction that her sword had gone, hissing angrily at the cuts she had received on her arms and torso. Just as she caught up to the weapon it was kicked away again, the one that did it standing his ground and leveling a gun at her with professional accuracy. With an angry scream Chyrin jumped forward, snapping her foot up at the last second and surprising the Deepground grunt as she kicked the gun from his hands and then planted her boot in the middle of his chest and sent him stumbling backwards. Without inflicting any more damage the teen ran past the grunt and towards the edge of the cliff overlooking the Lifestream pit that Banora had once been. What had once been sadness she shouldn't have felt at the sight was compounded into her anger, and her fingers closed tightly around her sword's hilt as she picked it up from the ground and spun around to face the fight.

Her righteous anger was interrupted, coldly and swiftly, by the butt end of a gun being slammed into her forehead by the grunt she had disarmed. Dazed and at a pause, the silver-haired girl took a step backwards to steady herself and planted a foot right into empty air. Chyrin didn't even scream until what felt like minutes later, as she watched the world slowly tilt backwards and turn from a battle into treetops and then into clouds painted the colors of sunset. Finally her eyes met the eye of the storm above and saw the stars beginning to emerge in the darkening sky, and she screamed. Gravity decided that she had had enough time to experience weightlessness and pulled with a vengeance and Chyrin promptly fell like a stone towards the unforgiving-looking ground below.



To his credit, Eil Allern did not scream when he saw Chyrin take the butt of a rifle to the forehead and then take a header off the cliff. He didn't scream when she did, though hers was certainly a fearful sound that nobody should ever have to hear. His heart was too busy skipping three beats and his mind was too busy trying to dissuade him from the urge to jump after her. The massive heavy sword he held in both hands seemed to gain a few pounds as he swung it, the blade nearly lopping the head clean off of a large feathered monstrosity that dared to get too close. Another creature came up behind it too quickly for Eil to swing his sword back around and he held up the hand he had put his Light Curtain ring on. The thing rebounded off of a Barrier spell, dazed, and inadvertently moved itself into the path of Richard Kreshent's madly-swinging hammer. The crunch of bones and blue electrical lines were heard as the war hammer made contact, throwing the monster into a group of its compatriots that were all subsequently fired upon by Barrett.

"What are you waiting for?!" Dr. Kreshent looked livid, ready to hit Eil with his hammer if he thought it might be necessary. "You've got an automatic Barrier item, go after her!" The redhead couldn't even finish his statement before Eil threw his sword onto his back in a surprisingly swift movement. In a few steps he had made it to the edge of the cliff and then kicked off after Chyrin, his momentum from the kick sending him hurtling towards the ground at an even faster rate than she was. A split second of falling was all he needed before he was reaching for the silver-haired girl's hand, fingers grasping as the lush green ground rushed up to meet them with a very forceful hello. Her fingers stretched out and just barely brushed his before he managed to take hold of her hand and pull her to him in a tight embrace.

They say that flying is simply the art of throwing yourself at the ground and missing. Flying clubs consist entirely of people that throw themselves at a grassy lawn while people they've paid to do so jump out of bushes in an attempt to distract them so that they miss the ground completely. However, when the ground is coming at you and all you can see besides a bright green glow is the leafy green death headed right for you, there isn't much that can distract you. Your mind becomes decidedly one-track, and that track is headed right for a broken bridge. But in the last second Eil clutched Chyrin tighter and twisted as best he could so that he was the one hitting the ground first. Not a moment too soon, the two of them hit the ground with a deafening bang and an audible crunch. Dirt flew everywhere as they were driven several feet into the ground from the force of the fall, sparkles of misted Lifestream and particles of plant matter dusting the air. As the two teens slowly relaxed out of their tense state of falling a few small avalanches of dirt fell from the walls of their small crater and dusted them with grime. From the soft brown earth an electric smell seemed to come, followed by small rivulets of the bright green liquid known as the Lifestream.

As a whole, the entire experience had taken no more than ten seconds.

"What the hell was that?" Chyrin seemed to find her voice rather quickly, using her free hand to make a fist and swing at Eil's head. He laughed and moved his head out of the way, letting her hit the soft dirt underneath him. "You could have died, you fucking dumbass! I ought'a kill you myself!" But in a moment tears were welling up in her eyes, and she buried her face into his chest and let go of her sword in order to wrap her arms around him as best she could. The small rivulets of Lifestream that flowed from the ground around them hissed as they came in contact with the blood on her arms, much like hydrogen peroxide when contacting blood on an open wound. Some of the larger cuts knitted themselves back together and formed knobby scars, giving the impression of self-mutilation all up and down her arms.

"We should get back up there." Eil commented after a moment, his blue gaze set on the edge of the cliff far above. As if on cue a man in a Deepground suit was thrown bodily over the edge as something very angry roared very loudly. He screamed as he plummeted, falling finally with a splash into the pit of Lifestream that had once been the small town of Banora. All that was left of him in a split second was a rush of sparkles into the air, ghostly green trails twisting and flying around each other as the bright liquid splashed upwards. Three more followed him, making identical noises and peppering the air with sparkling particles.

"I didn't hear a Summon command," Chyrin began, rolling over into the dirt next to Eil to look up at the rapidly darkening sky through the eye of the storm and the edge of the cliff far above. "So Vincent is probably going apeshit on what's left of the Deepground guys." Another angry roar, though it certainly wasn't very bestial, cut through the air. Lightning arced out from the cliff top and more grunts were thrown into open air to see if they could miss the ground. None of them did. It was an odd moment between the two of them, Chyrin absently rubbing at the red mark smack-dab in the middle of her forehead and Eil running his fingers through his bangs. After a minute the grunts simply stopped coming, the sparkles that were saturating the air finally given a chance to settle down and form glowing droplets on everything.

A final figure jumped off the cliff, though this time it seemed to be a controlled fall. The hammer held out to the side in one hand revealed that it was Dr. Kreshent, and at the last moment the man cast Barrier and landed in a crouch that sent shocks through the ground. Very carefully, the redhead stood up and looked down at the two teens that had yet to move from their own crater.

"You said something about finding Genesis Rhapsodos, Chyrin?" He asked, a grim yet pleasant smile gracing his admittedly rather good-looking features. The silver-haired girl made to get up, but stopped short as the ground shuddered around the three of them. Without warning the earth suddenly caved in, sparkles of Lifestream flying everywhere as the three fell into a dark pit. A few seconds of screaming and falling were all it took to get to the end of the gravity-induced excursion, and they were met not with hard rocks or stalagmites but with knee-deep water.

"What the hell was that?" Eil asked, pushing himself up and holding on to a rock formation in order to keep his legs beneath him. Dr. Kreshent looked about ready to echo the same sentiment, wringing water out of his hair with a sour expression. Chyrin sat in the water where she had fallen, the dirt that had been trapped beneath her now turned into mud that was seeping into her clothes. Her sword glistened just barely in the small amount of light present, and her brown eyes were wide as she took in the cavern around them.

"I know this place." She whispered, finally pushing to her feet and pulling her sword from the rocky ground. It was sheathed with a very audible click as she spun slowly around, peering carefully through the gloom at her surroundings. In a louder voice she spoke resolutely and in a clipped tone, her eyes tearing from the surroundings to fix on her two companions. "Genesis is down here. I know he is. You two are going to help me find him."


WOAH, AN UPDATE. WHAT IS LCR THINKING? To be quite honest with you I'm not. It's 12:30 in the morning, I have a convention in roughly forty days and I'm becoming increasingly distracted by Bleach of all things. That and Blackest Night in the DCU, but whatevs.

SO YEAH! You guys remember that thing called regular updates? Good, neither do I. But anyway, you probably won't get an update until after Sakuracon in the first weekend of April, unless I suddenly sit down and write another six-or-so page chapter picking up from this one because quite frankly I have ideas for Chyrin and Eil and Dr. Kreshent but I kinda wanna focus on AVALANCHE as well because lolVincentYuffie and I'm gonna have to kill Minerva and Weiss eventually.

Trust me on this one, with Eil you will not see it coming what so ever I swear it. With Genesis, I will do my best to write a bugfuck crazy mofo, but there are no guarantees. : I wanna write more Vincent/Chyrin interaction because it's really fun but I don't wanna seem like a total creeper so yeah.

If I spelled something wrong or someshit, don't tell me. I'll come across it eventually, swear myself blue a few times and then fix it faster than you can say 'antidisestablishmentarianism' twelve times fast.

Oh, and if you're in the Seattle area, go to Sakuracon. Try to find me. If you do... Well I dunno what I'll do but it'll probably involve running away because you tracked me down and I didn't tell you what costumes I would be wearing. Maybe not, though! You catch me in a particular costume and you might get candy.

LCR out before I embarrass myself further by continuing to type.