A/N: I'm so bad with updating and posting! I was hoping I'd have this finished and up a lot sooner than it is. Gomen nasai Sai-kun!! Anyways, this story is dedicated to one of my dearest friends, Yosai, also known in these parts as Insaneiac the Maniac, or as Morgan.
Disclaimer: I do not own Yuan or Raine or any characters and other things affiliated with the Tales of Symphonia series. These rights are reserved solely for Namco. I can dream though, can't I?
By: Hoshiko Shinomori
Without even noticing it, his feet were already headed in that direction. In her direction. His gloved hand casually brushed against a sturdy rock as his exsphere shined in the sunlight. His long blue hair was tied into a low ponytail at his nape as usual, and the wind gently blew through the few bangs he kept neatly to one side. Now his heavy footsteps landed determinedly as his cape barely skimmed the ground keeping pace with his body. Soon the path opened up before his, and he could see it, the object of his destination.
The Great Kharlan Tree.
At first he was surprised to see someone in his sacred haven. Her short silver hair swayed as she turned and glanced his way. Her deep blue eyes raked over him, the only indication that she acknowledged his presence. Then, without a word, she turned back to her task. As to what that was, Yuan couldn't be sure. Whatever it was, both Yuan and Raine knew that it didn't affect him, and was therefore none of his concern. Without a secondary thought, Yuan walked to the other side of the tree and placed his hand upon the sturdy trunk, his thoughts drifting to another time and place.
Somehow, it was at this place that he could feel her presence more so than anywhere else. It was the only place that true peace washed over his countenance. And so, to have an unwelcome intrusion into his sanctuary was aggravating to him. However, this place didn't belong to him and so she had every right to be there as he did. Therefore, Yuan didn't speak a word, instead letting his thoughts speak volumes.
This silence lasted for hours. Not even the sounds of small birds chirping interrupted the quiet reverie. The illusion of stillness was only broken when Raine, finally done with whatever business she had, turned to leave. Yuan was left to watch her until she was too far off to be visible anymore. Then, deciding that he had seen enough of the tree, he too turned to leave.
This pattern repeated itself for the next three days; neither saying a word as each of them stared at the tree, keeping their thoughts to themselves. When on the third day, Yuan finally broke the customary silence.
"Why is it that you come to this tree every day?" he asked. He was puzzled about her behavior and even more aggravated that he couldn't figure out her motives.
Raine's reply was a simple sad smile before saying, "I could ask you the same thing." It was after this that she turned and left, not allowing Yuan the chance to respond.
Yuan was even more puzzled than before, but somehow her response irritated him. She had successfully avoided answering the question and had somehow turned the scrutiny back on himself all with one simple phrase. She was certainly an intelligent being and so Yuan had to be content with her answer. If there was something she wanted to keep secret, then he had no choice but to accept her wishes.
After that day, Raine no longer returned to the Great Kharlan Tree. Yuan supposed that she had other matters to attend to and so didn't question it. After a while Yuan stopped showing up himself. Peace was nice, but now it was time for him to act. And so, life went on.
Everyone had split up to follow their own path.
Slowly a year had passed. Yuan barely noticed when the first buds of May began to reappear. After all, time had long ago lost all meaning to him.
After Kratos' departure and Mithos' demise, there was no longer a point to uphold the Renegades, and so Yuan had long since disbanded the group. Besides, he'd never admit this out loud, but without his right hand man, Botta, things just weren't the same. His other subordinates were all so incompetent.
As such, Yuan lived alone in his huge base within the Triet Desert living a life of solitude. Despite his isolated nature, a few pieces of information concerning Lloyd's traveling party occasionally reached him.
The world had changed significantly since the rejoining of the two worlds.
Colette and Zelos had naturally become ambassadors for their own side of the world respectively. Heavy talks were being bounced back and forth in order to keep the peace between the residents of Symphonia who now had to learn to share the world. Despite these constant conversations, for the most part Colette spent her days simply living within her adoptive father's house in Iselia. Zelos, on the other hand, was busier than ever. After his return to Meltokio he became the new leader of the church, helping the citizens cope with the disappearance of Cruxis. Despite his usual easy-going attitude, he took this duty seriously, though he was still quite the lady-killer. However, despite the dedication of these two ambassadors, there still remained much tension between the two sides. Animosity was at an all time high as the gap between technology and the people was too different for the two to see eye-to-eye.
Lloyd had not surprisingly made good on his word to travel the world and gather up the remaining exspheres. That update, however, was over three months ago. As it stood nowadays, Lloyd's whereabouts were now unknown and his presence was equally sought after by both the Sylvarant and Tethe'alla groups. Many still hailed him as a great hero, though now there was a small group claiming that Lloyd was in fact the opposite. Though the rumors had no solid foundation, still a few people couldn't help but wonder whether they had been wrong, while the others held firm in their strong belief in Lloyd. In either case, everyone in Lloyd's original party had long since discarded their exspheres. Afterall, in a tentative time of peace, those were no longer necessary.
Regal was similarly doing the same thing as Lloyd in his own way. Resuming control of his company, Regal now used it to shut down the remaining hidden human ranches. He had obtained the locations for these ranches from none other than Yuan himself. In addition, Regal's company was also working closely with scientists in Sybak to discover an alternate power source that was more humane than exspheres. All of this was of course a means of personal atonement for what he believed he let happen to Alicia. However, the handcuffs, his personal symbol for the need of atonement were no longer anywhere to be found. When the two had last met, Yuan took note of this subtle change, but having no real interest in others' affairs, he had chosen not to comment about the disappearance.
Presea had lent her strength to aid in the rebuilding of Ozette. However, the townspeople were unable to suppress their horror at the fact that she had not aged at all in several years. She could even feel the fakeness from those that acted warmly towards her. Well aware of the animosity aimed towards her, Presea left immediately after the rebuilding was finished. She was now living with as well as working alongside Regal.
In the village of Mizuho, Sheena had taken over the position of Chief. Under the approval of Meltokio, namely Zelos who now held as much power as the King, the Mizuho ninjas were dedicated to helping rebuild towns as well as responsible for assorted intelligence gathering. Sheena was working diligently to try to figure out the whereabouts of various uprising rebel groups. Under her kind leadership, Symphonia was able to keep the tentative peace just a little longer.
Raine and Genis had made good on their vow to stop half-elf discrimination. Though the two were mainly nomadic, traveling from town to town lending aid wherever they could, they had managed to set up groups dedicated towards their goal in Luin and Asgard. Because Raine was often seen soothing the wounds of the poor and injured, and Genis often used his magical ability to aid in rebuilding, slowly the hearts of the townspeople began to warm up to the half-elven pair one by one. People began to learn of their own blindness and folly when it came to this race.
As for Kratos, nothing had been heard from him since he took off with Welgaia.
Yuan just smiled wryly. How exactly like his old friend. As usual, he did whatever the hell he wanted.
So, for the time being peace reigned within Symphonia, no matter how fragile it was.
But peace can only last for so long.
At first Yuan thought he had been hallucinating. Surely the summer heat reflecting off the desert sand was playing tricks on his mind. There was no way that two figures would be walking around aimlessly in this extreme heat.
But as the light reflected off the silvery hair, he realized his vision wasn't mistaken. He had guests.
Suddenly, the shorter of the two collapsed, his face falling into the yellowed sand. Yuan was next to him in an instant, hardly aware of when he had pulled out his wings and flew to the kid's aid.
"He's extremely dehydrated and it's very likely that he has heatstroke as well. We have to take him into the shade quickly and get him a drink before his parched body deteriorates any further."
Yuan glanced into the exhausted face of the adult female as he listened to her precise description.
"You don't look so good either. We better get both of you to the base as soon as possible. It'll be quicker if we fly." Yuan could only chuckle at the horror stricken expression on the half-elven face. "I meant with this," he said as he pulled out a wing pack and a beautiful Rheiard appeared. "You didn't think I meant with my own wings? Surely you're smart enough to know that I can't possible carry both of you in my arms, unless…" he said as a devious smirk spread across his face, "you mistakenly thought that maybe I'd let you ride piggy-back?"
Raine just huffed indignantly.
"I'd rather walk and die out here in the desert than be humiliated by the likes of you!" she rasped out harshly, almost stumbling as she exerted more strength than intended.
"We're. Leaving. Now," Yuan stated forcefully as his demeanor instantly became more business-like.
Guiding her carefully by the wrist, Yuan helped Raine step onto the platform before handing her Genis whom she cradled closely to her body like one would a baby. Before the additional weight of the boy and her hazy mind made her unsteady, Yuan stepped onto the platform behind her as he grabbed the handlebars of the machine, effectively pinning her into place. Even though the two were close enough that Yuan could feel Raine's back against his chest, Raine didn't react self-consciously at all. Instead, her sole attention was on her brother's condition, and that was something that Yuan could admire.
The flight back to the base was a short one. Had the pair kept on walking, they would have been lucky to arrive within two hours given their bodies' conditions. As it was, flying cut that time down to merely ten minutes.
Yuan immediately placed Genis in a bed, his sister aiding in changing him out of his sweat-soaked clothing. Though none of Yuan's clothes fit Genis' shorter frame, he was able to procure a black T-shirt that would have to do. Afterwards, Yuan placed a cooling cloth on Genis' forehead while Raine helped Genis slowly drink some water.
"Here," Yuan said as he handed Raine a cup of water. Even now she was still sitting in a chair next to Genis' bed attending to him. "Genis will be fine; he's just resting right now. You should get some sleep yourself," he said as he looked into Raine's haggard face.
"Yes, I suppose you're right," Raine agreed reluctantly.
"Well then, good-night. There's a room next door that I've prepared for your use. If you need anything else, just let me know."
Yuan ducked out of the room and headed down the corridor towards his study. He had a million things to ask Raine, but he knew all those questions would have to wait till morning.
As dawn finally broke, Raine entered the small room which could only have been a kitchen. Yuan was already there sitting at a table looking like the entire world belonged to him. He indicated with a simple flick of his wrist a cup placed at a seat adjacent himself and ordered her to drink. Raine picked up the cup full of water and slowly began to drink, eying Yuan suspiciously the entire time. With another motion of the hand, he silently asked her to sit and so she complied.
"Do you want to tell me what you and your brother were doing walking into the middle of the desert without any signs of previous preparation? Certainly you weren't trying to kill yourselves, now were you?"
"That's a long story."
"So…I have the time," he said, opening his arms wide indicating the wide expanse of his base which was currently unoccupied save for the three half-elves.
"I don't have any previous engagements, so why don't you entertain me for a bit."
Biting her lips, Raine begrudgingly told Yuan the story of being run out of both Luin and Asgard and the circumstances leading up to this point.
"The two of us by ourselves can't really stop half-elf discrimination, can we?"
"No. It's difficult to change what's in the hearts of people, but through our actions we can slowly show them they were wrong to judge a race by the bad actions of a few. I promise."
That was spoken over half a year ago. Raine looked at her sleeping brother's face, moving a hair that had fallen out of place. The both of them had come so far already. They were allowed to set up bases within both Asgard and Luin as centers to help those in need during the reconstruction while inadvertently improving the people's opinions of half-elves.
Raine left the room as she made her way towards the temporary relief station as part of her usual nightly routine. Through the corridor windows she glanced up at the moon not liking the orange glow of the harvest moon. The relief station was filled with rows upon rows of beds and more than a few of them were occupied by people either hurt during the reconstruction or sick. Raine automatically went to the bedsides of those more badly injured, checking the stability of their condition as well as replacing bandages. She then moved on and did likewise for the rest of the group. Then as her last act, she moved to the center of the room. Raising her staff in front of her, she began a slow chant and waited as the mana energy flowed into her body. Once she had gathered enough, she released it and watched as the healing energy flowed into each of the occupants of the room.
"Revitalize" she said softly.
Many of the occupants who were uneasy in sleep earlier stopped tossing around and fell into an immediate restful slumber.
She once more returned to the room that Genis and she had been sharing. As she passed through the doorway she was more than surprised to see Linar.
"Is there something wrong? How come you're here so late?"
"They want you to leave," he mumbled looking downcast.
Something was obviously off.
"Who? Who wants us to leave?"
"They threatened the village…They took Aisha away!"
"Who?! Who took Aisha, Linar?"
"This was the only way I could get her back…"
Raine mentally kicked herself as someone else appeared in the room, previously obscured by the shadows. How could she be so stupid as to not notice his presence?
"I'm sorry Raine. It was the only way. I'm sorry…s-sorry…"
Everything happened at once. As Raine fumbled around trying to fight back in such close quarters, suddenly her staff was ripped out of her hands and large arms engulfed her body and held her back. Briefly she registered Genis being nabbed by a wiry person, his limbs tied up as he was hefted over one of the attackers' shoulders. Her own consciousness began fading. Despite the dark, she could make out Linar's crying form, his hands clenched tightly into fists hanging uselessly at his sides while his teeth bit his lip so hard that it almost drew blood. Then, everything else faded into total darkness.
She awoke to the sounds of shouting. It appeared as though there was some sort of argument going on between a few of their assailants. As her eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness she began to look around her surroundings.
They appeared to be in a basement of sorts that was bare of any sort of identifying information. Spread around were several thick pillars that must have served as foundational support for the rest of the building. There were no windows anywhere and only one door with which to enter or exit. The floor felt hard and cold and the walls likewise had this white-washed clinical feeling to it. From her best guess, the material of the building was much sturdier than regular wood or stone. She had to hand it to her attackers. Despite her obvious dislike for what they were doing to her, she had to give them some credit. The group was very thorough.
That meant trouble. Tons of trouble.
A group this thorough meant that they had a plan. Not only that, but they were an organized group.
Escape wasn't going to be easy.
Softly from somewhere behind her, Raine heard a pained groan. As she strained against her bondage to look around, she noticed from her peripheral several forms.
Half-elves. Just like her.
She didn't know how many there were, but it was obvious that this group was gathering a large amount of half-elves towards some purpose. Most likely it was just to send them towards their deaths.
As Raine tried to look more closely into the faces of the others, she gasped as recognition hit.
"Kate!" she exclaimed, only causing the aforementioned female to move her finger to her mouth in a shushing motion.
With a resounding bang the heavy metal door opened, echoing off the basement walls. One of the men, the one she recognized as being the one who carried Genis here entered the room. He immediately went to where Aisha was and instantly undid her bindings.
"Sorry for all the trouble Miss, but you're finally free to go. Your brother kept his part of the deal when he led us to these half-elf scum and now it's our turn to keep ours. My half-wit companion thought it best we keep you to try to capture more of these vermin, but I'd like to think we're better than some petty kidnappers. We have no business keeping a human prisoner."
The assailant watched carefully as Aisha rubbed her ankles and wrists slowly, willing the circulation to begin flowing once more. He even went as far as to offer her a hand to help her get up, though she refused it. Right before she passed through the doorway, she shot Raine and the others an apologetic look tinged with a bit of bitterness.
"Hey scum, if you think we're going to let you get away as easily as we did this girl, then you're sadly mistaken. Consider this your first warning," stated the wiry man before he disappeared through the doorway.
That door never opened again except for the times the bigger guy came in with stale bread and water for them to eat. It appeared as though the kidnappers wanted them alive, but for what purpose Raine didn't know.
The days passed while Raine tried unsuccessfully to either find or create an opportunity for escape. A guard was placed at the only entrance or exit to the basement 24/7 with no lapses in between shifts. They were checked up on constantly at differing times. She could only guess at where they had decided to store her staff and other equipment assuming they hadn't already sold or otherwise disposed of them. Their attackers were organized. Escape was extremely difficult.
The group was moved around constantly after Raine had supposed that they had picked up all the half-elves they could within a hundred mile radius of the basement. She knew the names of several places they were taken, though the last destination had surprised her the most.
Escape was no longer just an option anymore. Now it was a necessity.
Finally, one night came when Raine and the others agreed might be their only chance.
As the main members of the group were heavily discussing some important topic around a large campfire, one of the newer members was left in charge of guarding her group.
That was the first mistake.
As the man came back, barely even out of his twenties, carrying food in both his arms Raine and the others fought him back using only their legs, which the group hadn't deemed necessary to bind.
That was the second mistake.
Successfully knocking the man unconscious, the half-elves were able to free themselves from captivity. This was the tricky part.
As the group began to flee, no real plan thought out past the get free stage, they began to run in several different directions. The resulting noise from such confusion alerted their captors who instantly ran in pursuit.
Raine had somehow lost sight of Genis in all the chaos when suddenly Kate appeared out of one of the bushes, with Genis in tow.
Suddenly, the bigger of the two assailants appeared, catching hold of Kate's wrists. She shook her head vehemently when Raine surged forward. Instead Kate pushed Genis forward until he stumbled into Raine's arms. With one last concentrated look she indicated voicelessly for their escape.
Raine only hoped that her eyes could properly communicate her thanks to Kate before Genis and she took off, never once looking back. From the muffled shriek coming behind them, she could already tell that they had yanked Kate out of the bush.
"I'll save you. I'll come and rescue all of you. I promise," she vowed silently as her feet took her and Genis as physically far from that place as possible.
But in order to do that, she needed some help, and she knew just the person for the job.
Yuan leaned back in his chair as he carefully mulled over Raine's words.
"Let me get this straight. You thought that you could just run in here half-dead, disrupt my peace, and then demand I use my resources to aid you in your self-righteous task of saving the other half-elven captives?"
"That would be correct, though I wouldn't have phrased it in quite the same manner of words." Raine really hated the arrogance of this man, but she knew enough to be at least somewhat civil if she had any hopes of him cooperating.
"Why didn't you just go to Exire, that hidden half-elven village floating in the sky?"
"Please, you know as well as I do that if there was any possibility of them helping I would have been there instead of here right now. That group is too isolated from the rest of the world to care about our affairs and too afraid to do anything that might break their illusion of a peaceful world."
"Hmm…that is quite correct. As far as half-elves go that group is pretty worthless."
"I wouldn't say worthless. Every life holds value."
"Ah…my mistake. No doubt that is a phrase you picked up from that moronic youth your bunch followed around a year prior."
"That's correct! I did pick up that little piece of wisdom from one of my pupils, Lloyd."
"Ah…Lloyd…that's right. So tell me again at least one good reason why I should help you?"
"This is why!" Raine quickly unfastened and threw off her orange over cloak and began to undo the top part of her white undershirt. There, resting in the dip between her collarbones was a small oval-shaped stone that was bluish in hue. Her skin grew over it in thin vines, the blue of her veins highly visible in the area surrounding the stone. As the stone glowed faintly, it seemed almost as if it were feeding off of her life force.
This caught Yuan's attention immediately.
"Come with me," he said quickly as he got up and took off down the corridor.
Raine followed just as quickly as Yuan led them down a few stairs into what looked like a work room. Quickly glancing over a few shelves, he found what he was looking for on the top of a shelf that was tucked into a back corner.
"You're lucky I still have a few of these around from back when Yggdrasil was just beginning his experiments of making lifeless beings. Turn around and face me."
Raine immediately did as she was told and Yuan carefully fixed the key crest into place.
"Does Genis have one of those as well," he asked, tapping a finger against the object in question.
"No. Our captors thought it best to wait till he had fully matured before placing one on him. That way they could maximize the amount of energy they could extract from him."
"I see. That's very fortunate. Now do you mind telling me the part of the story you had left out before. Why exactly were you wearing an exsphere without a key crest?"
So Raine told him the story.
She could remember how the few who were taken out of the room looked upon their return. No one spoke a word, but she could tell from their eyes that something horrible was happening. Each of the half-elves came back looking hollow, almost lifeless. And each time, they looked at Genis and the few other children before turning away, as if somehow their silence was saving the young.
It wasn't an uncommon thing when the captors, whom she had learned were named Adan and Corbeau, appeared one evening, taking a victim along with them. The person, once selected, would remain gone for several days before eventually being led back to the empty spacious room.
Though Raine burned inside to ask them what happened, she knew it was something each was unwilling to talk about.
However, one day came when Raine was selected from among the group. Genis cried out and tried to keep a hold of the bottom of her orange overcoat as the men pulled her away. Though he was still young, just now entering his teens, the stares of the adults weren't lost on Genis. Though both of them didn't know exactly what went on when the men took them away, it was enough to know that it was bad enough that no one even wanted to talk about it.
Raine just smiled at Genis as best she could, though both of them knew that that smile was tinged with sadness. As best as she could despite her bindings, Raine patted Genis on the head before walking out the door with as much poise as possible.
Raine was strong, or at least she would continue to try to look so in front of her younger brother. If nothing else, she wanted to make sure he kept hope.
As she was led away, she was brought into a smaller room, though it contained the same clinical impersonal feeling. The men sat her down on a hard cushion and she was placed through a large manner of experiments. Most of the tests she recognized as preliminary exams to examine one's physical health.
Once the men were finished with their tests, which lasted several days, one of them walked in carrying a blob of shining matter carefully in their gloved hands.
Raine gasped as she immediately recognized the composition.
It was an exsphere! One that was still in its raw stages!
She tried to fight back then, but the men held her back steadily. As Adan, the bigger man, held her arms down, and a second man whom she didn't know the name of held her feet down, a third man forced this vile liquid down her throat. As it burned a hot trail down her esophagus, Raine couldn't help coughing violently as her body tried to reject the liquid.
Suddenly, her eyes couldn't focus anywhere except the glowing mass within Corbeau's hands. It was torturous to watch as he slowly crept forward, so much that she almost wished he would just attach it already and be done with this agony.
Finally, the man stepped forward, holding the object close to her skin at the base of her collarbone. She could feel as the remnants of the exsphere began to take shape under her skin, a bubble rising up and splitting apart sections of her skin. Oddly enough she could feel the liquid within her acting, the nutrients rising up to the site of the raw exsphere, aiding it in forming an oval-like shape.
It was only then that Raine realized she must have passed out. As she awoke, only one man was still in the room. He hardly gave her a glance through the corners of his eyes before exiting the door and talking to someone who must have been standing outside. Now there was only Adan and Corbeau around who escorted her back to the basement room where they were keeping the rest of the hostages.
Raine only had one dominating thought at that time. She was glad that the exsphere was hidden underneath her clothing so that Genis would never have to be burdened with this knowledge.
"After that incident I finally understood what was going on. The large room I was kept in with the others which I assumed was just a basement was in fact the lower level of an abandoned human ranch."
Yuan was silent for a long moment as he absorbed the mass of information. After a few minutes of silence, he finally asked one simple question.
"Do you have any idea why these humans were placing exsperes on all of you?"
"Yes, though it was a few days after that incident before I learned the truth. The humans were planning on reviving the ranch as a means of creating exspheres for energy, only they believed it better to replace human sacrifices with us half-elves."
Yuan was silent once more.
"So what do you want me to do about it?"
"Half-elves' lives are in danger! People like you and me! Are you telling me you won't do anything to help?!"
"That is exactly what I'm telling you. I'm sorry, but I can't help you. It's not my business to get involved in things that don't concern me. Now if you will, I have to go. I have many things to think about."
With that Yuan left the kitchen area, walking down the corridor and disappearing behind a bend. Raine didn't see him for a few days, but that mattered little to her. She would go and rescue the remaining half-elves if it was the last thing she ever did, even if that meant she would be doing it on her own. In the meantime though, she needed to recover her strength.
Almost every moment of every day, Raine was at Genis' bed side, watching over his sleeping form and helping him eat and sleep when he needed it. Though he was still not at his full strength, each day made him stronger.
Finally, one day came when Yuan walked into Genis' room. He made just one movement with his wrist indicating that Raine should follow him, before leaving again.
Raine looked one last time at Genis' sleeping form, brushing aside a stray hair and gently kissing him on the forehead, before she stood up and followed Yuan out the door.
"You're going on that mission no matter what I do?"
"Yes," Raine replied determinedly.
"…In that case, take this."
Yuan entered a room at the end of the hallway and rummaged through a few drawers before procuring a bag and a few essential items. Handing the bag over to Raine, he shut the drawers.
"This is the best I can do for you at the moment. As you should well know, the Renegades have long been disbanded so much of my technology is out of use and able-bodied people are out of stock. You'll have to do this little rescue mission on your own. I will not be accompanying you because it is not my business to meddle in the affairs of others, no matter who they are. This is something I don't feel like getting caught up in. However, you are free to use any of my things as you see fit. Rheiards are kept in the wing room in the east building."
Raine knew this was the most she could expect from this man and so she thanked him for what little he had done to help. Thinking it best to leave while Genis was still asleep in order to keep him out of harm's way, she left immediately. Because he was still a kid, he had no knowledge of what had gone on or even that exsperes were being used. Raine sought to keep it that way.
The next day, Yuan walked into Genis' room to check in on his condition only to find him missing from his bed.
"Hn…" he merely stared for a few more seconds before walking out of the room and going about his daily tasks.
Raine looked around the corner cautiously before leaving the safety of her hidey-hole and silently running down the corridor. Somehow she had finally managed to sneak inside the ranch via a hidden passageway she found under a tree's false roots. As quickly as she could, she made her way towards the control room and began hacking into the mainframe's control center. As the correct folder popped up, a door to her right slid open and out poured five armored humans with weapons in tow. The two in front immediately ran to opposite sides of Raine. She kicked one as hard as she could to the head, while following with a club to the head for the other. The two went down effortlessly. The last three tried to rush her all at once, but Raine ducked and parried until she found an opening. She fought them off gracefully until every last one was unconscious. Then without a second thought she returned to the computer and began typing furiously.
The password was unlocked.
Next was to activate the switch for the holding cell locks.
Suddenly another door opened, this time from her left. It seemed as though this was the captors' line of defense against hackers. Raine could only half-heartedly smile at this thought. She was already panting heavily from the last fight, not to mention that as a healer, her body wasn't built for these continuous fights. This time around ten men entered. Raine fought them off as best as she could, but her exhausted body didn't contain enough power to defeat them. The best she could do was down two of them. The rest just kept coming back. As she struggled to hold off a third man with her staff, a fourth came at her from behind.
There was no time to react.
"This is the end," she thought.
Suddenly the pressure behind her vanished as she could barely make out the small voice exclaiming, "Fireball," from across the room.
From her peripheral vision she caught a glimpse of silver hair among the throngs of armor. She made a mental note to admonish Genis later, but for now she was glad for his presence.
Somehow the two managed to dispatch all of the remaining guards.
Raine continued the efforts on her computer, finally succeeding in opening the locks on the half-elves' cells. Wordlessly they set up a plan that Genis would lead the captives out of the ranch while she would go and set up the self-destruct mechanism.
Raine smiled triumphantly as the last invisible lock fell open. Finally, the countdown began. Only ten minutes left.
As she ran out of the room seeking an exit, she somehow found herself at one end of a four-way intersection. As she neared it, she could begin to see the crowds of humans gathering in each direction. Backing up slowly, she ran into a group of humans behind her. One of them grabbed her arm. She pushed back hard freeing herself from his grasp, but she was being led closer and closer into the middle.
They had set up a trap. There was no escape.
Suddenly, the floor crashed above her, fragments of plaster and metal raining down on the enemy, littering the ground with debris and taking out half of her would be assailants. From the dust emerged Yuan, lightning blade in hand, poised for a fight.
"Tch, despite reuniting the worlds, nothing's changed. Humans and Elves alike, both are quick to persecute those of us in between, just to reassure themselves of their superiority. How pathetic."
Enraged by his words, the humans attacked head-on, an all out brawl breaking out. Yuan and Raine fought perfectly in sync, each of their movements both attacking as well as defending each other seamlessly. As they circled around each other keeping the gap between them and the enemy constant, neither had to think hard about what to do, they were already on the same wavelength. With this amount of synchronization, the battle went smoothly. It was over before either of them realized it.
"Why'd you come along to help me? I thought you didn't like meddling in other's affairs?" she questioned.
"I wasn't about to allow the same thing that happened to Martel happen to someone else. That's all. Stop dawdling and let's go."
"Wait, there's one more thing I have to do," she said as she began to pull a guy slowly, her arm supporting his back as she dragged him towards the exit.
"I know, you think I'm a fool right now for trying to save these men that just tried to kill me. Chances are that once they revive, they'll attempt to kill me once more. In all honesty, the old me would have left them here to die without a second thought, but if I've learned anything at all from my journey with Lloyd, it's that everyone deserves a second chance at life."
Yuan just grunted in agreement.
"You're very kind," he stated simply.
"In actuality, aren't you the kind one?" she threw back at him, motioning with her arms the man that he had already picked up and held securely under his arm.
But more than that, Raine knew that Yuan didn't have to grant her access to all his resources for this mission, nevertheless make a personal appearance and save her life. If she had learned one thing about Yuan, it was that under his usual sarcastic demeanor held a kind man who was just hiding from the pain.
At least in one regard, both of them were similar.
Yuan just glanced away, not willing to look Raine in the eyes with an unreadable expression, before taking off in flight up and out of the building. As Raine slowly crept forward with the weight of the one man Yuan flew back and forth, transporting the numerous others to safety.
Finally the duo had managed to get everyone out safely, and under ten minutes. As the building blew up in an amazing showing of flame, the humans slowly came to. Immediately they began to question why Raine would save them. Some of them even grumbled something about revenge and rather dying than enduring any more half-elven cruelty.
Raine merely smiled back sadly as she began to explain.
"The reason I saved you all is because I am not the same as those Desians who have wronged all of us severely. I saved you because despite what you may think, I do contain some of that quality you refer to as humanity. You're absolutely right. I could have just left you in that building to explode. I could have let you suffer like you have made me and my peers do recently in the past. However, where would that leave me? I would be no better than those monsters you accuse us of being. And what about your families? Would I inflict the same pain upon them as I might will on you? No. I absolutely would not bring myself down to such a level. That is the sole reason why I saved you. Don't mistakenly think that I was only doing you a favor. I want each of you to go back to your homes and tell of what happened here. I want everyone to know that their views on half-elves were wrong. Let them know and then I never want to see any of you in my presence again."
The humans quickly fled from the strength in Raine's voice. She felt a little smug, though she wondered if in the end any good would still come from it. The remaining half-elves each left on their own, heading towards their respective homes. For those that claimed no place to live, Raine directed them towards the floating half-elf village and they thanked her in return. One half-elven woman, pregnant from the looks of it, even went as far as saying that she would name her unborn child after Raine. Each of the elves agreed to try to tough out the discrimination, each determined to show the good side of elves like Raine had done.
Finally, the last of the elves were gone until all that was left was Raine, Genis, and Yuan.
"What do you plan to do from now on?" Yuan asked Raine.
"If possible, could Genis and I remain at the base for a little longer?"
"I…suppose. I don't see any major issue with that proposition, but why would you want to stay longer? Don't you have other things to do?"
Raine just smiled softly.
"In case you've forgotten, I no longer have a place to return to, and furthermore, you previously granted me full usage of your things. I believe that your base will prove an invaluable asset to my current research endeavors. Besides," she threw over her shoulder, "Genis and I have become quite attached to the place."
Yuan just stared at Raine's strong back as he puzzled over her response. It seems he still couldn't figure this woman out. But as he looked on at her retreating figure, he couldn't help but feel a sort of warmth radiating off of her. He had never known as strong-willed and intelligent a woman as her before, but it seemed he was allotted more time in which to get to know her.
This was one enigma he was looking forward to solving.
A/N: Finally finished! Sai, I hope you like this! Anyways, news for anyone who enjoyed reading this: I thoroughly enjoyed writing this fic, and truth be told there was supposed to be a lot more to it that plot-wise I simply couldn't fit into the story. As such, there is a high possibility that there will be a second part to this fic, but I'm not sure just yet. If there were a second part, it would focus more on developing Yuan and Raine's relationship in a more romantic manner. Fortunately and unfortunately, Yuaine is not a pairing that will just get together that easily. In fact, I imagine it would take a long time before they realized anything. Anyways, I was just wondering what you all thought of the idea.
Should I write a second part? And, as always, don't forget to review!