All Armored Core for Answer base NEXT models, weapons, and game-original characters belong to gaming company FROM SOFTWARE.

Major characters, customized NEXTs, places, and others tagged with '*' are created and owned by Emerald Sonata…and the DIVINE ULTIMATRIUM.


Armored Core NEVER END
Mission 08 || [A Moment of Silence]

"Tell me now, big brother!"

Basher's face went crashing into the surface of the table, a small but deadly hand pressing him down. A grimace ripped across his face as he fought against the force that pinned him down, but it proved futile as he could only grumble under his breath.

"Alright - alright! I'll spill it out! Now, let go of me, Mina!"

Mina pulled away her grip and hauled Basher up, throwing him into a nearby chair. He plopped right into and, as it teetered forward, he recomposed himself into a cool and calm posture as if nothing happened. The Lynx casually brushed at the bruises across his face, wincing from time to time.

He and his sister were inside the bowels of their personal transport, the Swiss Guard. It was a massive land-based NEXT carrier, with thick armored hulling, heavily loaded with all sorts of anti-anything guns, and had the capacity to carry a handful of NEXTs on the go. Currently, it now parked within the hangar of Haven Nazeraith, next to the group of Algorica transports.

Mina towered over him (even though she was a head and a half shorter than her brother), hands on her hips and cheeks reddened with bottled fury. She cast her older brother a glare that could even make flames disappear out of existence. Basher merely glimpsed away.

"Fine…Me and Xyla were heavily outnumbered by enemy forces, 3:1. We ran low on ammo but put up a good fight. Then back-up came, we kicked the baddies' butts, tried to get the heck out of the rock, but got attacked by more baddies at the exit. In others words, I made it out without much trouble. Satisfied?"

"No!" snapped Mina, "I'm asking you why did you force me to go the other way around than to follow you!"

Basher sat back in his chair, folding his arms behind his head, "Hey, an ambush could've gotten to me and Xyla from any direction. I need 100% focus to keep up with the enemy, without having you screaming junk in my ear!"

"Stop avoiding the question. I really mean it! Why didn't you let me follow when I could've helped?-!"

Basher returned the glare at her, but faltered. For a quick moment, she noticed tears in her glassy eyes. Still, her lethal persona did not change. He let out a long sigh, "I can't take care of my baby sister, if I have to deal with the guys trying to kill me, got it? I thought best we'd split up, so that we aren't both taken out with one stone; or in their case a blasted bazooka round."

Mina scoffed and folded her arms, her tears no longer existing, "That's a laugh. I'm no longer a baby, big brother! And you shouldn't be so reckless! Remember what happened the last time you—"

"Don'tremind me!" interjected Basher. His sister went silent, remembering something along the way, "You know the reason why I pulled it off. You were with me in it before, remember?" Basher grimaced, "Just don't make me recall it…The very thought sickens me, you got that?-!"

Mina, her flames reduced to a bare flicker, nodded back in complete understanding, "…Sorry…"

Basher waved it off, "Save it…I've got all the trouble I need now. So, pipe down and give me a break. Tch, your screaming's giving me a headache."

Mina turned on him, her cheek puffed in spite.

"DUMMY!" Her foot flew and struck Basher's shin dead on. The Lynx doubled over in sheer agony as he held back the urge to scream. Clasped his stinging injury, he threw a killing look at the culprit. Mina just folded her arms and shot her little tongue out at him. After a haughty 'hmph' she stormed out of the lounge, the door sliding to a close.

Alone, Basher slapped a hand to the table, venting all his frustrations in one go.

"THAT BLASTED BIG BABY…OOOOOOOW!" He let out a tired sigh and released his painful leg. A sound of a door slid opened and he scowled, "I didn't say anything, Mina, now let me get some peace and quiet!" The door closed. He grumbled, ruffled his fiery hair, and leaned way back to stretch his spine.

It just so happened that his head nudged into a soft bare stomach and his arms nearly wrapped around someone's waist. He paused to glance up, meeting a pair of golden-yellow and lifeless-blue eyes passively staring down at him.

"Oh…hey Xyla."

"Here…" With a whisper Xyla held along an ice-bag within her two palms. Basher lifted his head from her stomach to spin about. Plucking it out of her grasp, the Lynx slapped the ice-bag to his forehead.

"Ah…" Now this was more like it. Exhausted, physically and mentally, Basher sagged into his seat, "Thanks, Xyla…I owe you one."

"No need…" Xyla quietly took a seat next to Basher, facing him, and had her pale white and frail hands resting across her lap. Basher dabbed the ice across several of his bruises – compliments from Mina – as he let the chilly feeling clear his rampant thoughts.

"Sorry," Basher said after a long silence, "I got a little tense with you back at the office…with Endless and all…"

"…It's alright…"

"…Don't worry, I'll work on that temper of mine…I promise."

"…Thank you…"

"Heh…" Basher leaned back in his seat. He hissed when a part of the ice-pack touched against a bruise too hard. With a shrug, he changed the topic, "Getting used to hanging out with me and Mina?"

"Yes…"

"Well…that's music to my ears…"

Xyla blinked, "Why is that?"

"Obviously, it's better than that god-forsaken place, I'll tell you that…right?"

Xyla paused, lowered her gaze across Basher's bruises, "…Yes."

Basher placed the ice-bag over his eyes, a soft grin brightening, "Glad to know…glad to know."

Suddenly, he felt delicate fingers lightly sweeping through several strands of his burning orange hair. He tilted the bag a bit, to glimpse at Xyla from under his one eye. The girl's expression was blank and unreadable, yet Basher knew fully well what she was thinking. It was a tad bit heart-warming for both him and her.

"Thank you…Basher…"

Basher's grin widened some more and he replace the ice-pack over his eyes again, "Like I said, Xyla, no need. Happy to oblig – ow! Ah Mina, that stupid little sister of mine! She didn't have to pound my eye in for crying out loud!"

[******]

"…I cannot believe you are actually treating that creep for tea and biscuits…"

"Don't be like that, Lulu. Endless saved my life, it's the only way I can repay him. And unfortunately its just tea…this kitchen already ran out of biscuits a long time ago."

Standing inside a cafeteria's kitchen of a military-barrack, Itsumi patiently waited for the hot water to meld with the soaking tea leaves inside a small china teapot. Behind her was Lulu, her lips pursed in absolute distaste and her arms folded. Her leather booted foot tapped impatiently as she eyed the back of Itsumi's shoulders.

"Why do you trust him so much? Haven't I told you about those rumours?-!" she grumbled.

"Personally, I have heard no such thing of Endless or what he did before. I won't believe in such rumours until I confirm them myself…" Itsumi turned to her grouchy field operator with a tender smile, "You should do the same too. And stop picking on Endless, he's already gone through a lot today."

Lulu rolled her eyes. She gave a sarcastic bow, "As you wish, princess."

Itsumi turned back to her readied teapot with a giggle, "You're supposed to curtsy."

Lulu instantly straightened with a scowl. Eventually, she let out her frustration in a single sigh and dipped a bit. Itsumi placed the teapot and three teacups across a metal tray.

"Count me out on your little tea party, Itsumi. I'm going home…" With that Lulu pushed herself off from balancing across a counter and turned for the door. Itsumi was flustered as she watched her leave.

"Y-you're not going to stay and get to know him a little?"

Lulu waved a weary hand over her shoulders, "One day – in the far future. But for now, I need my beauty sleep. Night, lovely…"

The field operator then approached an automatic door, passed through it, and let it seal behind her with a hiss. Itsumi's shoulder sagged as she gave herself a half-grin.

"Mou~…Lulu…"

[******]

Endless slightly fidgeted into his seat across the bench, connected to a table in the same mess-hall. Shoulders dropping and posture all shrivelled up, he was prepared to have his roots be ripped apart by what was about to come.

When a single slender hand rested an empty tea-cup before him across the table, he bolted up in his seat.

"I-I-I'm sorry, Miss Freihart, for abandoning you back then! I really didn't mean to—" The back of his knees struck the bolted down bench and he fell sitting back onto it. A tray was hastily planted, freeing a pair of motherly hands to reach out towards a frightened child.

"N-no, no! That's alright, Endless, don't be afraid, I'm…" Itsumi could not help a gulp and shiver, "I'm not as direct as Basher…"

Endless let out a slow and shaky breath, one that he had been holding onto the whole time. By looking into Itsumi's sea-calm eyes, it made his anxiety peel away from his rigid spine. He straightened at full attention, humbly nodding.

"I…understand…" he whispered. Itsumi warmly smiled, as if towards a young child. She grasped onto Endless' cup and filled it with steaming hot green-tinted tea. After she returned it to his side, she filled her own cup with tea and took a seat across from Endless. For a short moment, they only stared at their cups with a timid air.

The atmosphere itself felt like the two were set up on a blind date, now they were meeting for the very first time. That awkward, awkward silence. Gathering her wits, Itsumi wanted to break that invisible wall between them.

"E-er…I want to thank you again for saving me…back at the canyon…" she said, gaze still lowered.

"N-not at all. I-it's my duty to protect humankind from the darkness like the Iron Ghosts…" replied Endless with equally averting eyes, "I was relieved that I was able to make it in time before…" He trailed off, not knowing what to say next.

Itsumi hesitated as she finally lifted up her gaze, "So…are you really what you call yourself…an Agyle?"

Endless nodded, "Yes…"

"Could you tell me…what is really an Agyle?"

"…An Agyle is a celestial being created by God to protect humanity and the worlds under His domain from darkness. As Basher may have mentioned before, we could be considered a bit like the Lord's Angels…but I wish to disagree."

"…Why do you say that?"

"Angels are too perfect…there's no way we can ever be on equal terms with them…" Itsumi saw a faint grin appearing on Endless' face as he stared at his tea. The dull amethyst eyes under his shocking white bangs glinted a mysterious energy, an energy she was not at all familiar with.

Finding the silence to be uncomfortable again, Itsumi tried to change the topic while she picked up her own tea for a sip.

"A-ah, Endless, where are you from?"

"H-hm?" The boy broke out of his thoughts, his conscious surfacing again, "Pardon me?"

"Y-you know, where were you born and raised in?"

"Oh…The Kingdom of Heaven," Endless smiled.

Itsumi blinked, "…Eh?"

"Like all Agyles, I was born from the Kingdom of Heaven, the Lord's divine sanctuary."

"…Oh…"

"May I ask where are you from, Miss Freihart?"

"…O…Old Tokyo…former Japan."

"That sounds like a wonderful place…" After a pause, the boy started to chuckle to himself, "I feel kind of relieved, actually…"

"Hm? What makes you say that?"

"Because Commander Michael isn't present within our conversation."

"…C…Commander Michael*?"

"Yes, the top commanding officer among the 7 Archangels – the leaders of the Agyles; Michael of the Heaven's Armada. You see, he tends to get really, really angry whenever an Agyle like me tells a human like yourself about who we truly are, since its considered classified information…Usually, he tries to kill us whenever we say the truth."

Itsumi could not help a hard swallow, squeaking, "…K…kill?"

"W-well, he wouldn't personally use the word 'kill', more like: destroy us into absolute oblivion, or so. But so long as Commander Gabriel* and Commander Ariel* are by his side, they'll make sure he won't overdo his punishment unto us by accident."

"…"

"…M-Miss Freihart, is something wrong? You don't look well."

"…No…I'm…fine…"

"Ha-ha, I'm glad." Endless casually took a moment to smell his tea again, leaving Itsumi stunned in her thoughts. On a dare, she asked one last question while they were on the same topic.

"W…why are you telling me this?"

"…I'm sorry?"

"Why are you telling me telling me about you being an Agyle, about where you really came from? I-I know I was too curious for my own good to ask, but you said this was classified information, right? How could you tell me these secrets so easily?"

"Because I trust you, Miss Freihart." Itsumi could not help a short gasp at Endless' response. He did not even think it over when he gave his answer. "To be honest, Agyles cannot lie – they are unable to. So they either tell the truth or not say anything. When they do tell, they only share it to those they trust 100%. Like me to you, I have absolute faith that you will keep our secret within your heart…Also, due to the events that occurred tonight, you deserve to know everything…It's only right."

Itsumi was speechless. The boy was telling him what could possibly be an immensely huge secret – possibly even bigger than simple terms like 'gigantic' or 'enormous'. All because he believed in her; he believed that Itsumi would not utter a word to anyone else. Of course, she was going to keep his secret – as she would for any of her good friends. But was she really worth the risk of spilling such sensitive information like that? She could only wonder…but the gleam in Endless' eyes gave her the answer right off the bat. He was the kind of person to trust someone whole-heartedly, even if they had met for the very first time. Nonetheless, Itsumi felt grateful for his consideration.

"Thank you, Endless…"

"Hm-hm, you're very welcome, Miss Freihart."

The subject ended like that. Itsumi's head was filled with all sorts of thoughts, wanting to ask each and everyone. Too much for her own nerves, she took a moment to sip her tea to calm herself. Still, there was one particular question that kept prodding the girl's mind and she instinctively worded it out.

"Ah…you once mentioned before that…you were the only one…here. Why is that?"

Once again, Endless stopped before he could taste his tea, "Uh…Well, in truth there are a lot of Agyles…"

"How much?"

Endless took a moment to count the fingers of one hand, then answering with, "Possibly over 650 000 and counting, give or take."

"…Oh…"

"Each Agyle has their own set of abilities and power, as well as specific protocols in fighting the darkness," Endless went on. Itsumi did not dare to say a word, half intent in knowing more and half still in disbelief. "I, in particular, am charged in traveling to different worlds that involve mecha warfare – meaning the focus of battles, conflict, and reality revolves around the use of advanced armored-robotic technology. DeepGrave is my Durandel – the soul weapon of an Agyle – and its ability not only includes de-cloaking the Iron Ghosts, but also taking on the form of the primary mecha system in that world."

"Y…you mean…D-DeepGrave is not really an AC to begin with?"

"That is correct. Currently, it takes on the form of an Armored Core, particularly a NEXT type in this reality. In the other worlds that I have been to, DeepGrave would have to adapt into being a Veritech fighter or even a Gundam Mobile Suit if necessary."

"…V-Veritech? Gundam?"

"…M-my apologies, I think I said too much. Commander Ariel warned me that if I shared too much classified information to a human, specifically about another world they are not aware of…it wouldn't be a good thing as it could possible affect your sanity. Worst case scenario: I would be forced to call one of the Commanders to clear that from your memories. So, Miss Freihart…could you pretend you don't understand what I just said…"

Itsumi nodded, hesitantly, "S-sure…" Then in her heart she went, 'Actually, I don't understand any of this at all…'. Honestly, there was no need to pretend.

Endless nervously cleared his throat and went on, "Every Agyle is scattered across the various universes, mostly to places where the use of their powers are needed or are allowed. For example myself: I was created to focus on handling mecha warfare related realities, thus my overall abilities and experience in controlling various mecha weaponry is required in worlds like this. As there are very little Agyles who have a similar power…it is the main reason why I am the only one here."

"Just…yourself?" Itsumi uttered, getting worried, "D-don't you get lonely though?"

"…Yes. But as I'm always busy in fighting the darkness, I really don't have the luxury to dwell on such thoughts. As long as I am following my mandate, protecting the children of God, I am content."

…This was all too hard for Itsumi to swallow. Despite listening for this long, her mentality had trouble keeping up with all this new info. Multiple worlds? Different universes? Mecha Warfare? Archangels? …Gundam? Still, no amount of confusion could overcome the painful feeling of knowing he was alone for most of his life.

"…Say, Endless?"

"Yes?"

"H…how old are you?"

"Uh…according to the standard time frame of the 1st Earth…I believe I am 925 years, 10 months, and 14 days old…if I have not miscalculated."

…But he looked like he was 19…

"W…when was the last time you met with another Agyle…"

"Mmm…If I remember correctly, the last Agyle I had contact with was Nexus Brigade*, the Ultimate Agyle…but that was during the first few years of my life. Why do you ask?"

Itsumi went silent. He…had been alone…for that long? It…was terrible. To Endless, it did not seem to bother him at all, but to Itsumi…just knowing that he was fighting on his very own for all this time, felt heart-breaking. Also…she knew that painful feeling of loneliness. As much as she wanted to cry, she held herself back, not wishing to suddenly scare an oblivious Endless.

"Um…Miss Freihart…" Itsumi snapped out of her thoughts, finding Endless blankly staring at his cup of tea. Come to think of it, not only has Endless not at all tasted the tea, but he had been looking at it weirdly – as if it were the first time in seeing something like this. "May I ask…What is this?" Deduction – spot on.

"Hm? O-oh, this is Japanese green tea. It's a special brew my mother taught me a long time ago when I was very young…" Endless paused before he held out a hand to it. He lifted it off the table and closely examined the content with silent interest. "Never heard of such tea, have you?"

"I-it's not that. I have heard of green tea before, it's just that…I've never had the opportunity to try it."

"I guess that's not surprising. Ever since the National Dismantlement War, various things have changed and commercial trading has become scarce. Now, the companies focus only on making more powerful war technology to best one another…"

"That is true…" replied Endless. Finally, the boy drank the tea…and he was surprised, "I-it's…it's delicious! N-not only that, but it also has a very soothing aroma. It's wonderful."

"Thank you so much," Itsumi giggled, "That's why I really love this tea and will try my very best to preserve my mother's tea-making traditions. Still, I wish it was easier to buy more, I only have a handful left…"

"Then…this is from your own supplies?"

"Uh, yes. B-but you don't have to be discouraged, Endless. I only share this on certain occasions or with a very close friend, like my operator Lulu," Itsumi stopped herself, only to glance aside with a gloomy aura, "it's too bad she finds it bland and boring, however…"

"Does this mean…I'm a very close friend of yours as well?"

Itsumi was caught completely off guard. The question sounded like there was something behind it, but the way Endless looked and sounded felt like he just wanted to know for knowledge sakes – to get the facts…or was it something more? The girl still sensed a bit of hesitation from him, in whether or not this boy alone could be seen as a friend at all. Possibly, due to his bad reputation in the Lynx community, it was difficult to find someone who would not judge him by his faults. Maybe that was why…she could see a speck of fear hiding in his eyes.

"…Though we've only met for one mission, Endless…you saved my life. Whether or not you told me who you really are…it's more than enough reason to trust you…as a very close friend."

It took a while before the full answer could sink into Endless. When his mind finally understood the true meaning behind it…he was shocked. Even his hands were shaking, as well as his shoulder. However, no matter how stunned the boy was…he was able to manage a smile of absolute gratitude towards the girl.

Accepting it, Itsumi grinned back.

"Endless, I—EEK!"

"…E…eek?"

Itsumi was dead still, her face turning whiter by the second. Endless blinked at her, having no clue what was going on. Slowly, ever just so slowly, the girl glanced down at her ankles.

A big rat was nibbling at the laces of her shoe as if a chew toy.

"…A…a…a…a…"

"…Ah?"

"…NE'ZUMI~!"

Before Endless realized it, a blur whipped right past him. It was shortly followed by a gale of wind, which struck the boy dead in the face. The blur kept zipping, bouncing off one table and onto another without stop. When the whole cyclone died away, the boy quizzically turned around with a stunned blink.

At the very, very, very far corner of the mess hall…was Itsumi balled up to her knees across a large crate – three times bigger than her own body.

"…Miss Freihart?"

"NE'ZUMI! NE'ZUMI! NE'ZUMI~!"

"…Hah?"

Though at the very, very, very far corner, Itsumi's scream could be heard all the way over to where Endless was – about quarter of a mile in distance. She was screeching on in a foreign language, one that the boy seemed to recognize but could not understand her completely. It was Japanese.

He guessed that…the girl would start talking in such language whenever she is under duress…or in this case facing a rodent.

Out of all her wailing, all he could translate was: 'QUICK!', 'GET RID OF IT!', and 'IT'S GOING TO KILL ME~!' – And no, that was not a mistranslation. The one word that recurred the most was Ne'zumi, which he deduced to be 'rat' in English.

The said creature climbed its way up to crawl across the table, taking a curious moment to drink a bit from one of the tea cups.

"Um, excuse me." The rat stopped its drinking, perking its head up. Quietly, it turned to Endless who waited patiently for its response. "Er…I do not wish to be rude or anything…but I suggest you leave at once. My friend has a strong phobia for rats and she'll only get more uncomfortable should you linger here."

Not getting it, the rat tilted his head. Endless scratched his cheek, trying to think of an alternative approach.

"…Uh…Boo…Please?"

Finding this particular person to be too strange, the rat gave up and leapt off the table. Eventually, it scampered away across the cold floor and disappeared down a crack in a nearby wall. The boy let out a sigh, knowing the problem has been solved without casualty – somewhat.

Itsumi was still a human-ball. Hands covering her delicate head, she would not stop shivering and muttering in Japanese to herself, praying that the rat would not come near her at all.

*Tap* - *Tap*

"IYAAAAAAAAAAA~AAAAAAAAAH!"

"W-w-w-w-wait, Miss Freihart! I-I'm not a rat! It's me: Endless Evarg!"

Itsumi snapped out of her self-induced nightmare. Lifting her shielding arms, she could see Endless calmly standing next to her at the corner.

"It's gone…the rat, I meant."

"R…really?" the girl uttered, her English returning. All Endless did was nod, and Itsumi burst a huge sigh of relief. A familiar tea cup with still-warm green tea was held out to her, courtesy of the boy

"Here…I hope this helps to calm you down…"

"…Th…thank you…" Grateful, Itsumi accepted it and began to drink it to soothe her nerves.

The tea that the rat had drank a moment ago…was Itsumi's – but he had already carefully disposed of it. Not aware of the meaning behind drinking someone else's tea – especially that of the opposite gender – Endless innocently watched Itsumi return to her normal self.

"…Do you feel better?" the boy asked. Itsumi could only nod. A gentle hand was held out to her, gesturing for her to take it. "Let me help you down…"

The girl found herself still curled up across the crate in the corner, her cheeks burning pink again. With flustered hesitation, the girl reached out her fingers to touch the heart of the boy's palm.

*Blip-Blip* - *Blip-Blip* - *Blip-Blip*~

The touch never completed, with the fingers suddenly retracting. Both Itsumi and Endless jumped at the sudden electronic chirping that echoed all over the mess-hall. A blinking red-light caught the girl's eye, and she found it to be coming from her wrist-watch. A thought finally clicked into her mind.

"A…another mission?" she wondered.

Endless dropped his hand to his side and too was interested in the tiny calling, "I wonder what is it?"

Itsumi raised a finger to press the button, but stopped to glance at Endless, "Would…would you like it if I viewed it with you?"

Silence lingered between them as they stared at each other in the eye. Finally, Endless nodded with a chuckle.

"Of course."

Itsumi smiled, then she pressed the button to project a series of holographic displays. They blurred out and focused to play a pre-recorded video-log.

[##INTERIOR UNION##]
Sent to: Streamgard Lynx, Violet Rose.
Subject: BFF Primary Fleet 1
Client: Interior Union
Mission Parameters:

'Here is the mission briefing. You are to rendezvous with BFF's Primary Fleet 1, an armada of heavily armed naval warships that are traveling through the Mediterranean Seas. Their objective is to assault GA America's major mining depot and naval dockyards, the port of Coast Quartz Plains in former El Jadid, Morocco.

When you meet up with them, you are to assist in their operation in taking over the port. Once the operation is underway, your primary objective is to safeguard several key ships among the fleet and eliminate any opposing forces that threaten the safety of them. The port may not be a fully detailed naval base, but expect heavy resistance of Normals and possibly several other kinds of armed vessels that are on site.

Briefing over. The result of this attack will begin a new course for our future and possibly the beginning of open conflict. If you accept this mission, the Guild will be able to advance forward and become closer to their goals in re-establishing Human Rights and the freedom of the people in the Havens. We hope you can take this on.'

[##END TRANSMISSION##]

"I…I can't believe it…" breathed Itsumi. Endless glimpsed at her from the corner of his dull violet eyes, who began to have a pale face, "The Conflict has already done enough damage to the people trapped in the Havens…but now they're going to start another full-scale war? With the League even?-! This…this can't be happening…"

Endless felt an uneasy feeling resting on his shoulders, and it was coming straight from a crestfallen Itsumi. It was true, ever since several key companies broke away from the League, forming the Guild, it had significant impact on the surviving economy, as well as people trying to hide from the League due to their insane ideals. Truly, this was hard for her to accept all of a sudden.

"…Do you not wish to accept this mission?" Endless wondered in a soft voice.

Itsumi shook her head, "It's not that, Endless. I am more than willing to take on any mission if it means I could make a difference for everyone here in Nazeraith, to protect them…but I just can't bring myself to take part in a senseless war between corporations and their politics…"

"…I see. Then, would you like me to accept the assignment in your stead?"

"H-heh?-!" Itsumi thought she had heard wrong, even hoping it was just her imagination. Unfortunately, the strong look in Endless' eyes said otherwise, "Wh-what are you talking about?"

"I truly believe that fighting will solve nothing…but from what I have experienced in my time, realities never seem to agree." Itsumi fell silent as Endless took in a deep breath, "Conflict seems to have become a natural law amongst the worlds I have been to. It has its own benefits and its downfalls, prizes and casualty…but if the right kind of people don't take part in the fight, to balance that chaos…many innocent lives would be lost. I won't let that happen."

Endless helped to bring Itsumi back down to the ground from the tall crate, even brushing off patches of dust from the girl's shoulders.

"To protect people from darkness, like the fires of war, is what I was born to do…It is what I want to do. If you do not feel comfortable in taking part in this mission, I am willing to take your place, Miss Freihart."

"…N…no."

Now it was Endless' turn to stare at Itsumi, who began to regain her full composure.

"I…I can't do that, Endless. I can't just push all of my burden, all of my responsibilities as a Lynx unto you, it wouldn't be right. To protect people from the war…to make a brighter tomorrow for them all…I want to do that too." Itsumi took in a deep breathe, faced Endless head on, and made her final decision. "If defeating the League can achieve all of that…then I will take on the mission and join the BFF in attacking GA America. I want to help in rebuilding our world, back to the way it used to be before the National Dismantlement War, before all of this. I…want the world I never had the chance to grow up in to return…" A hand folded over the girl's heart, clenching into a determined fist, "For my sakes…for the sakes of everyone here in Nazeraith…I will make it come true"

"Hm-hm-hm. I'm glad to hear that. Then in this case, why don't I come along as well?" Before Itsumi could answer, another electronic chirping went off. The young man turned to Itsumi's watch, but it was not blinking. Her eyes were on his watch instead, which he finally noticed. A sheepish grin etched on his face as he surveyed the opening holographs. His face straightened, "What a coincidence."

"What is it?"

Endless twisted his arm around to reveal the contents of his holograph; another mission briefing with the same subject, only from Rosenthal, "It seems we'll be partners again."

Itsumi giggled whole-heartedly, "I'm looking forward to it, Endless."

Endless returned a nod, "Please do not worry. This time, I promise I will not abandon you like before, Miss Freihart."

"…Itsumi…" Endless was surprised, as Itsumi gave a cute smile, "Itsumi is just fine."

The boy was definitely speechless, his cheeks tingeing red a bit. Nonetheless, he returned the kind gesture with an energetic chuckle and bowed his head in respect.

"Thank you, Miss Frei—Uh, I mean…Itsumi."