This is a story for the Anti-Cliché and Mary-Sue Elimination Society. If you don't know who we are, then you might not understand any of this. If you would like to understand any of this, visit our C2 and start at the beginning.
A/N: Stephen belongs to me, all other characters belong to their respective owners. Valkyria Chronicles II belongs to Sega.
Insert Actual Military School Here
Two years after the Second Europan War ended in Gallia, things have gotten rough. Following Archduchess Cordelia revealing her true heritage as a Darcsen, not a Valkyria as many had believed, the people of Gallia were polarized. In the southern areas of Gallia, rebellion has turned its ugly, mustachioed head, led by the Gassenarl family. They gained many followers in the south due to their anti-Darcsen beliefs, and soon turned their attention to the capital, Randgriz. Due to the nature of the rebellion, the militia, the characters that the player controlled in the previous game, could not be mobilized against them.
Enter Lanseal, Gallia's premier military academy, training young men and women in the ways of war. Gallia follows a policy of 'universal conscription', meaning that every man and woman can be enlisted to the armed forces in times of war, and military education is required for all citizens. Since the militia cannot be mobilized in the face of a rebellion, Lanseal and her students have turned into the last line of defense against the rebellion.
The safety of Gallia's peace rests on the shoulders of these soldiers, these… children.
Now, enter Class G. In Lanseal, Class G is where the misfits are sent. They have little motivation, a track record that is a bit iffy, and a completely mismatched student body.
For example: a soldier from the Empire (the last game's antagonists) sent as collateral for the peace treaty, a 'professional' singer, a famous wartime painter, a prince from a nearby kingdom, a stalker, and many, many more.
And then, of course, there's their Class Chair, their commanding officer.
If you are familiar with this game, and thought it was the hot-blooded, slightly daft Avan Hardins, you would be wrong. He isn't even going to be brought up in this story.
Her name is Evelynn Aliceabeth Marah Lanseal, a direct descendent of the founder of Lanseal. To call her the best of the best would be an insult. She is the best of the best of the best of the best. She not only passed her entrance exam with flying colors, she stumped the proctors. They literally had no idea which of the five classes (Scout, Trooper, Lancer, Engineer, Armored Tech) she fit into. So, Evelynn made a suggestion.
"Why can't I just be all of them?"
None of the proctors argued. The R&D department quickly devised (with Evelynn's help, of course) a weapon that combined all the characteristics of the weaponry of the main classes, including the sub-classes.
It was called the Infinity. The accuracy of a sniper-rifle, the rapid fire of a heavy machine gun, the punch of an anti-tank lance, with attachments that included an enormous fencer's blade and shield, an under-barrel grenade launcher that also functioned as a mortar launcher, a flamethrower, and an engineer's wrench. Yet it was still as slim and sexy as its bearer.
She entered Class G in January, and took the previously vacant position of Class Chair. And no, she didn't lead Class G to victory time and time again. That would be implying that she needed their help.
She had the mobility of an Elite Scout. The aim of an Elite Sniper. The heal-all Ragnaid of an Elite Engineer. The hit points of an Elite Lancer. The armor of an Elite Armored Tech. No other soldiers needed to come with her on sorties. She singlehandedly won against Class A in the Laevatein Cup, facing off against their Class Chair, the brilliant and just slightly bitchy Juliana Everhart. After the battle, Juliana swallowed her pride out of sheer respect for Evelynn, and transferred to Class G so she could be closer to her.
Every girl in Class G wanted to be like her. Every guy in Class G wanted to be with her.
But, I digress. Been blabbing about her long enough. Let's get this thing started, shall we?
Insert Society Theme Here…
The morning bells rang, signaling the beginning of morning classes. In Class G, the students filed away from Evelynn's desk to sit at their own. Their homeroom teacher, Mr. Brixham, clapped his hands twice.
"Class, may I have your attention, please," He said, brandishing his pointer, idly tapping it against his temples. He glanced at Evelynn for a moment, his eyes hovering over her silky, chocolate brown hair, her big, blue eyes, her… no. Focus.
"We, uh, we have a new transfer arriving today from western Gallia. I hope you'll treat him with respect," Brixham said. The door to the classroom opened, and the new transfer walked in.
He looked about seventeen, around a hundred seventy centimeters tall. The first thing he did upon entering the room was writing his name on the board in the front of the room, underlining the 'ph' in his name. When that was done, he turned to face the other students.
"Name's Stephen Irving, Lancer. Hope you'll all take care of me," He said, doffing his floppy orange hat. His blue eyes darted to Evelynn at the front of the class. He gave her a friendly smile and a small, polite bow. Evelynn's pupils dilated. Everything else about her was the same as it ever was.
"Alright, does anybody have any questions for Stephen?" Brixham asked.
One hand raised. A mousy looking young woman with large ears and a blue beret. "What town are you from?" She asked. Stephen glanced at his palm, making sure nobody noticed the motion. Only one student noticed.
"Nadre. Born and raised there," He said. Another hand. A tall young man, very well built, broad face, tanned skin, black hair.
"Do you have any experience as a Lancer?" He asked.
"No, not much. But, hey, it's a stick that shoots explosions, so I think I should like it just fine," Stephen said. A few students chuckled. The one student who noticed Stephen glance at his palm lifted an eyebrow. Something was up, she thought.
"Alright, Stephen, I think that's all the time we have for questions right now. Could you please take your seat next to, hmm…" Brixham looked for any empty seats in the class. He noticed one next to a girl with her nose buried in a book. "There, next to Magari, if you don't mind."
Stephen gulped. "S-s-s-s-sure," He stammered, taking his seat next to the Darcsen girl whose dark blue hair looked like she had just rolled out of bed. His face was a deep red.
"Alright, class, please turn your history books to page eighty-one…" Brixham said. The new student pulled out his books, flipping it open to the proper page. All through history class, he cast glances at the girl next to him. Eventually, he got a glare from the orange-haired girl next to her, and wisely stopped.
"Excuse me, Stephen?" The subject of Evelynn's question looked up at her.
"Yeah, Class Chair?" He said. She smiled at him sweetly.
"I was wondering if I could talk to you about something outside of class. Do you mind?" Evelynn asked. Every male in the class glared at Stephen, wishing they could end his life with a simple glance. Stephen slowly nodded.
"Sure, lead the way," He said, standing up to follow her. She led him out of the classroom, every pair of eyes in the room following her. Once Evelynn and Stephen left the room, a brown-haired girl with pigtails, glasses, and a camera around her neck stood up quickly and followed them. As she tiptoed after them, she sang something under her breath in excitement.
"Scoop, scoop, scoop, scoop, I've got a scoo~oop…"
Lotte Netzel, the editor (and only reporter) of the 'school newspaper', the Lotte Insider, peered around the building, her camera at the ready. She'd followed the new transfer and Evelynn outside to the back area, and thoughts were already popping into her mind as to why she had summoned him.
'Hmm, old childhood friends, maybe? Ooh, what if it wasn't friends, but… but… childhood enemies? It'll need a title…' She thought, hugging the corner, out of their sight. Time to listen in, and what she heard was…
…Repeated thumping and cries of pain.
Lotte's jaw dropped.
The thumping got louder. Unable to contain her need to take a picture, Lotte took another look around the corner.
Whoop, false alarm. Evelynn was just… slamming… the new transfer student's head against the wall.
"Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow."
Lotte ducked back. Yep, that clinched it. Definitely childhood enemies.
The thumping continued for a few more minutes, each time followed by the transfer saying 'ow' in a monotone.
"Alright, now talk," Evelynn ordered, pressing Stephen to the wall by his throat.
"Okay, well, I'm Stephen, I like hamburgers, my favorite color is blue, I think I look dashing in this uniform, and I…"
"Why are you here, Agent?"
"Would you believe me if I said it was a coincidence?"
"Is that a no?"
"That is definitely a no."
"Tell me the truth!"
"I am! It's a coincidence! I just came here to get away from the Library for a few days!"
Lotte stroked her chin. Agent? Library? What were they talking about?
"And why the Hel would you want to do that?"
"Long story, alright? I'm not here to bring you in, and that's the truth," The transfer said. There was another loud slam, and Evelynn left in a huff, not noticing Lotte hugging the wall and praying that she wasn't seen. As soon as Evelynn was out of sight, Lotte looked around the corner again, and saw that the transfer student was gone, and the only evidence of what had just happened was a head shaped hole in the wall and a few pictures on Lotte's camera.
"…And if we subtract x from y, we find that…" Brixham's math lecture was cut short by a loud clanging coming from the bell tower. It wasn't the bells tolling the hour; it was just a clamorous call to arms for the students. Stephen stood up, glad for the reprieve from math class.
"Alright, some action!" He said, stretching out his arms. He turned to the back wall of the classroom, where all the gear was stored in lockers for the students when they needed to move against the rebels. That was when he noticed that nobody else was standing up except for Evelynn.
"Why isn't anyone…" Stephen muttered. The door slammed as Evelynn, fully armored and equipped, left for the mission.
"Stephen, will you please sit back down," Brixham requested, turning back to the chalkboard. "As I was saying, we find that x equals…"
Stephen leaned over to the girl next to him. "Why did only Evelynn leave?" He whispered. Magari either didn't hear him or ignored his question, choosing to continue to read.
"Because she didn't need any of us," The man on Stephen's other side answered. He was tall, and his long gray hair was in a ponytail over his shoulder. Sitting on his desk was a pot of tea and two teacups. He slowly filled one of them, offering it to Stephen.
"Would you care for some tea?" He asked. Stephen shook his head politely, still intrigued about what was going on.
"What do you mean she didn't need any of you?" He asked.
"We haven't seen live combat since she got here. She's able to complete the missions quite well without our help," The man answered, taking a sip from his own cup. The transfer's eyebrows lifted in surprise. His hand shot up.
"Mr. Brixham, may I please be excused?" He asked. Brixham nodded, and Stephen jumped out of his seat and nearly dashed out of the classroom. After he was gone, Lotte also raised her hand and asked to be excused.
There was a story afoot, and she wasn't going to miss it because of some algebra.
Lotte glanced down the hall to make sure there was nobody in sight before pressing her ear against the door to the men's bathroom. Two voices: Stephen and some woman with an odd accent that Lotte had never heard before.
"A week. You want to take a week to capture her."
"I have a plan on how to take her down without having to lift a finger against her, Tash."
"That's bull, you just don't want to continue the training I set up for you."
"That's because I'm concerned you got the regimen from Dragonball Z!"
"Alright, you think you can pull this off? Lets make a bet. If you're able to bring her in without any bloodshed from you or her, I'll let you interrogate Vlad immediately."
"Seriously? You will?"
"Yes. But! If your plan doesn't work, then you have to continue the training without any complaining. Do we have a deal?"
"Get the zappy thingy ready, Tash. I'll be back in a week."
There was a click. Lotte hopped away from the door, a plan to get the truth from him already fresh in her mind. She whipped out her notebook and pencil, prepared to do what she did best. A moment later, the door opened and Stephen walked out, straight into Lotte.
"Hey, dude! I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions for the school newspaper!" Lotte said, nearly making Stephen jump out of his skin.
"Gah! Lotte, you scared me!" He said, his hand over his heart.
"Alright, just a few questions," Lotte said, not giving him any time to react, "First, you said you were from Nadre, right?"
"What part of Nadre?" Lotte grinned.
"Um… from the… north part."
"You said you don't have any experience as a Lancer?"
"What is your relationship to Evelynn?"
"Have you visited the academy's library yet?"
"No, I haven't had the chance…"
"Were you scouted by one of Lanseal's agents?"
"Alright, last question, dude…" Lotte's grin widened. "How did you know my name?"
Stephen visibly paled. "Lucky guess?" He said.
Lotte shook her head at him. "Nice try, dude. Who are you, really?"
"I'm Stephen Irving."
"Really," Lotte said, "You claim not to have any experience as a Lancer, despite the fact that all middle school students are required to have basic weapons training covering all class weaponry."She grabbed his face. "Nadre's a desert town. Lotsa sun there, but you don't seem to have much of a tan." She grabbed his hand. "You wrote down important information on your hand. 'Hometown: Nadre. Reason to join Lanseal: Protect Gallia. Eggs, milk, butter'," Lotte released his hand and lifted her camera. "I have pictures on here of you being interrogated quite forcefully by our Class Chair, where you claimed not being here to 'bring her in', among other things." Lotte stared him dead in the eye. "Now, who are you, dude? Some sorta secret agent or something?"
Stephen gulped. He was silent for a few moments, as if he was thinking about his answer. His eyes abruptly lit up.
"I'm sorry, but my mission here is classified," He said, averting his gaze.
"How classified?" Lotte asked.
"So classified I'd have to kill you just for telling you how classified it is," Stephen answered, trying to get around her.
"It's about Evelynn, isn't it, dude?" Lotte asked, "Did she do something?"
"You might say that," Stephen answered.
"You really think you can bring her in by yourself in a week without resorting to violence?"
"…Heard that, huh?"
"I can help out, dude."
"Why would you want to do that?"
"Because something is up, and the truth is out there. It's my job as a reporter to find it," Lotte answered. Stephen scratched the side of his face in thought.
"Well, it would help me to have some backup…" He said to himself. After another moment of thought, he nodded to her. "Okay, you're in."
"Dude! Yes! Secret Agent, Lotte Netzel!" Lotte chirped, making a gun with her fingers.
"First things first, introductions," Stephen said, reaching into his pocket and whipping out a golden badge and then pocketing it before Lotte could get proper details.
"Special Agent Stephen Irving, of the top-secret Gallian Military Organization only known as the 'Society'."
"So, do you answer only to the Archduchess?"
"The Archduchess doesn't even know we exist. I was sent here to locate and apprehend a dangerous Rebel spy who infiltrated Lanseal, specifically Class G, using experimental technology."
"Dude! Evelynn's a rebel spy? But she's been fighting them for months!"
"It's my belief that she's working directly for the Gassenarls as their hidden trump card for a later conflict. As far as I can tell, she's using, um, a ragnite based technology that makes her seem absolutely perfect to those without proper mental training. She has Class G, except for you and me, hanging off her every word."
"Wait, dude, how come I'm immune?"
Stephen grinned. "Lotte Netzel. It's your dream to be a reporter like the great Irene Ellet, right?"
"Here's my theory. Deep down, you can tell something's not right here, and your journalistic instincts are just yelling at you that she's not perfect, that she has some dark secret. Am I right?"
"Well, yeah. Everybody's got some hidden truth; I've just gotta find it."
"Well, with your help, we'll make sure that everybody knows her hidden truth. I have a plan."
"What's the plan, dude?"
Stephen grinned. "Well, first of all, we're going to have to…"
Juliana's eye twitched. No matter what she did, there was no way to get out of the current pickle. This transfer student was good.
"Not getting any younger here, Miss Everhart," Stephen said from behind his tented fingers. He had (somehow) procured a pair of white gloves and orange tinted glasses for reasons unknown. Juliana growled a bit under her breath. This kid had just waltzed into the classroom, daring anybody to challenge him in a simple game of wits. Like a fool, she'd accepted.
Valkyrur damn it.
Juliana flicked over her king. Checkmate.
A gasp of awe spread through the surrounding students. Juliana Everhart, brilliant tactician, had just lost a game of chess to the new transfer.
Lotte peered out the window again. No sign of her yet.
"Anybody else wanna go?" Stephen taunted, leaning back in his chair.
"I'll take a shot," A bespectacled Darcsen woman, Mischlitt, said. She took Juliana's seat, watching as Stephen idly reset the pieces on the board.
Time passed slowly, dotted by the sound of pieces being set on the board. Mischlitt was a genius, there was no doubt about that, but somehow, Stephen was staying one step ahead of her at all times.
His orange glasses, seeming to constantly catch the sunlight, disguised his glances at the odd device between his feet.
Lotte glanced out the window again. There she was. She gave Stephen a thumbs up.
Stephen started to go on the offensive. Mischlitt's pieces fell one after another, until only one remained.
"Checkmate," Stephen announced as Evelynn entered the room. Jaws dropped.
"Hmph," Mischlitt scoffed, "Impressive. I haven't lost a match in years."
"Well, what can I say? I just might be the best strategist in Class G!" Stephen crowed, making sure that Evelynn heard him as she stowed her gear. She showed no reaction to Stephen's claim. Stephen scowled.
"A-yup, the best. Not one of the best, the best. Best of the best of the best." Still no reaction. Evelynn was just calmly returning her gear to the locker in the back of the classroom.
"Yep. Best of the best of the best. Of. The. Best."
Evelynn whirled around, fire in her eyes. "Oh? Care to back up that claim?"
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't. What did you have in mind, Class Chair?" Now, assume that this was a fishing tournament, Stephen was a fisherman, and Evelynn was a fish. Let us assume that there is only one fisherman and one fish in this competition, just for simplicity's sake. If these conditions were true, then Stephen would only have to reel in the fish, because he had her hook, line, and sinker.
"Move it, Mischlitt. I'll take him down," Evelynn stated, taking Mischlitt's seat across from Stephen. Stephen clucked disapprovingly.
"I wasn't thinking of playing chess, Class Chair. For such a formidable opponent, I was thinking of playing a different kind of game," He said. Evelynn scowled.
"What are you playing at?"
"Well, here's what I think we should do…" Stephen leaned forward, confident that he had her attention, "A mock battle with members of Class G."
"Hah! All I would need on my side of the field would be me!" Evelynn laughed. Stephen shook his head.
"I thought that this was a competition of tactics, not battle prowess. The two of us would only give orders," He clarified.
"…I accept. On one condition…" She leaned forward to Stephen, whispering something in his ear. Stephen whispered something back, and Evelynn's eyes widened.
"Well? I'll accept your terms if you accept mine," Stephen said. Evelynn slowly nodded. A murmur went up through the assembled students. The new kid versus the school's idol. This would be big.
Stephen and Evelynn decided the rules for the match behind closed doors, in Class G's briefing room. The teams would have one member from each second level sub class. In Valkyria Chronicles II, classes are able to upgrade following a tree for their class, with two choices on the second level (after the basic class) and four on the third level. With two sub-classes for each of the five classes, the teams totaled ten people. The ten classes were Scout Veteran, Sniper, Trooper Veteran, Gunner, Lancer Veteran, Mortarer, Engineer Veteran, Anthem Corp, Tech Veteran, and Fencer.
The match would take place in one week.
Evelynn and Stephen chose students for their team at random, using pictures of the students. The pictures were separated by class, and both leaders chose one card from each pile.
After determining the teams, Evelynn left to review her strategies in the library, leaving the briefing room available for Stephen and Lotte. Stephen handed the list of students on his team to Lotte, who looked over it quickly.
"Scout Vet, me. Sniper, Nichol Martin. Trooper Vet, Erik Kampmann. Gunner, Anisette Nelson. Lancer Vet, Reiner Tristan. Mortarer, Rene Randall. Engineer Vet, Raymond Moen. Anthem Corp… Dude, stop blushing."
"Anthem Corp, Magari. Tech Vet, Morris Ling, and Fencer, Alexis Hildern. Not a bad lineup, I guess," She said, handing the paper back to him. Stephen nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, but I'm still worried," He said, crossing his arms.
"Because I don't think I can think up better tactics than Evelynn can. So, there's only one thing that I can do to win."
"The same thing I did during those chess matches: Cheat until the cows come home. Also, I have an advantage that she doesn't…"
"Well, it'd better be a good one," Lotte said, looking over the list of students on Evelynn's team. She read them off one by one.
"Scout Vet, Helmut Bourdais. Sniper, Melissa Dalen. Trooper Vet, Franca Martin. Gunner, Marion Siegbahn. Lancer Vet, Coleen Celsius. Mortarer, Vario Kraatz. Engineer Vet, Heinz Gilden. Anthem Corp, Randy Hamsun. Tech Vet, Inghild Noverre, and Fencer… dude. She got Juliana?" Lotte gasped. Stephen nodded.
"We got to choose one student manually. I chose you, she chose Juliana."
"…Yeah, your advantage better be a good one, dude."
"It is. You guys haven't seen combat since she joined, right?"
"Nope. The only chance we get to actually fight is during training, and Evelynn sits out of that. She says she doesn't need it."
"One more question: Do you trust her?" Stephen asked. Lotte paused for a moment, thinking over her answer.
"Well… I guess I did, dude. But now that I know she's a Rebel spy… I dunno."
"Okay, how much did you trust her? Enough to tell her your secrets?"
Lotte's answer came faster this time. "No. I… I don't think so."
"There's a world of difference between 'trust' and 'respect', Lotte. And I can bet that most of Class G only respects her. There's no real bonds there, no camaraderie with her forged in the flames of battle," He said, "And that's my advantage."
"That her team doesn't trust her?"
"Nope. She doesn't know the things that they only tell to people that they trust," Stephen pointed his thumb at himself, "I, however, do."
Lotte's jaw dropped. "What? Dude, how?"
"Don't underestimate the Society's information gathering," Stephen said, standing up, "Now, let's go people watching real quick."
Lotte and Stephen sat on a bench in the sunny courtyard, watching the people pass by. Students sat by the fountain, chatting idly about their day. In the midst of all this throng, two people marched through, one of them intent, the other a bit meek.
"Hurry up, Nichol! Stop being so slow!" The elder of the two, a twenty-year-old girl, with dark hair combed to the side, and a single braid, barked at the younger boy.
"Y-yes, Franca," The boy, sixteen, with chaotic brown hair, responded quietly.
"I said march! Valkyrur, no wonder you're a worthless soldier!" Franca scoffed at her younger brother. Nichol stared at the ground, ashamed of himself.
"Y-yes, Franca," He repeated. From the bench, Lotte growled.
"Ooh, that girl ticks me off! She treats that poor kid like trash!" She grumbled.
"In the match, she'll turn against Evelynn, mark my words," Stephen said. Lotte stared at him as if he'd just predicted that he would be hit by a meteor five minutes ago.
"Are you serious. Dude, are you even looking at her? She hates the poor kid!" Lotte said, her voice rising. Stephen smiled.
"Everybody has a hidden truth," He said, reaching into the sack at his hip, "Especially her." He pulled out a spool of black thread, a wad of some sort of clay, and a hollow tube. He held the spool out to Lotte.
"See this thread?"
Lotte took the spool and examined it. "Yeah, it's just thread. Why?"
Stephen took the spool back and attached the loose end of the thread to a small wad of putty. "Swiped the thread from one of my colleagues, who will probably want me to give it back. It's made from a plant called a Cladcrea-something-something weed, and it's pretty darn tough. Prehensile strength of maybe two hundred pounds, and it's completely fireproof. And now… observe," He said. He stuffed the wad down the hollow tube, brought it up to his mouth, took a deep breath, and blew.
The small projectile shot out of the tube, trailed by the black thread. The putty struck the side of the fountain half a foot off the ground, sticking there and making a fairly effective trip wire. Franca had already passed it, but Nichol hadn't. The boy's shuffling gait caused him to trip over the wire, sending him tumbling to the ground. Franca wheeled around instantly, her eyes panicked.
"Nichol!" She gasped, dropping to her knees to make sure her younger brother was alright. Stephen yanked on the thread, pulling it and the wad of putty free from the fountain and reeling it in.
"Owowowow…" Nichol hissed. His face and palms had been scratched up a little bit, but he was otherwise fine.
"You need to watch where you're going, Nichol. Come on, let's get you to the nurse's office," Franca fussed, helping Nichol to his feet. Lotte almost gasped when she saw Franca's face. While she had looked tough and unforgiving a moment ago, she now looked a mixture of worried and compassionate. Stephen smirked slightly.
"I-I'm fine, Franca," Nichol tried to say. Franca hushed him and pulled him away, her face tough again, but still showing signs of that compassion.
"D-dude, what was that?" Lotte asked in shock. Stephen just leaned back.
"Cross Franca Martin off the list, Lotte," He said. Lotte pulled out her notebook and crossed out Franca's name.
"So, this is your plan? Manipulate the members of Evelynn's team so they can't fight?" Lotte asked. Stephen nodded.
"Exactly. Now, there are a few things that I need you to do. First of all..."
A few minutes of talking later, the bell rang, signaling the beginning of the next class.
"You got all that?" Stephen asked Lotte. She nodded, scowling slightly.
"Great. Now, let's get to weapons training."
Coleen Celsius, an eighteen-year old woman with short, pinkish hair adorned with a flower headband, took a deep breath in. She balanced the front-heavy lance on her shoulder, aiming the lance-shaped rocket at the target. The anti-tank lance was a simple long rod with a rocket at the tip, and it could punch through tank armor like it was nothing. Only problem was that they were heavy and it was hard to move while carrying one. Once Coleen was confident about her aim, she pulled the trigger.
The rocket shot off, the recoil causing the lance to buck a little bit, despite her best attempts to hold it steady. It struck the wooden target a hundred meters away, turning it into mere shrapnel. Coleen smiled. "And that's how it's done. You ready to try?" She asked the transfer. Stephen had been trained as a shocktrooper at school in Nadre due to a lack of AT lances, so he was unfamiliar with how to use one. He'd come to Coleen, who was one of the most proficient with a lance in the class, for help.
Stephen nodded, taking the same kneeling stance as Coleen and easily positioning his own lance on his shoulder. He paused for a moment, making sure that the lance was pointed directly at the target. Coleen looked over his stance.
"Hold on, hold on," She said, standing up to direct him properly. "Hold the lance so that it's balanced on your shoulder like…" She moved his hands into the proper position, "This. Alright, when you're ready…"
"FIRE!" Stephen shouted abruptly, pulling the trigger. The rocket shot off, missing the target by about a meter. He hadn't really counted on the recoil, and it sent him sprawling to the ground. Coleen was also knocked back by the sudden force, but she was able to remain in control of her balance. Unfortunately, when she was quickly adjusting her feet to stop from falling, she stepped on a loose rock, which skidded away and caused her foot to land in an awkward position. Pain shot up her leg.
"Gah!" She winced, dropping to the ground. Stephen sat up and looked at the target. He slammed his fist to the ground, making small pebbles in a short radius jump a little bit.
"Dang it, I missed! Coleen, did you see…" He turned to face her, finally noticing that she was on the ground, her ankle bent in an odd direction. "Oh, crap. Are you alright?" He asked, quickly moving to her side to check the injury. Down the aisle of the target range, people started to notice that there was an injury. One student in particular from the grenade range hustled over to see what was going on.
Coleen nodded. "Y-yeah, I'll be fine. Just a little Ragnaid and I'll be alright," Coleen said. She tried to stand up, but winced when she put weight on her injured ankle.
"Here, let me help…" Stephen said, moving forward to support her weight. Unfortunately for him, somebody had beaten him to it. He was around eighteen, wearing the armor of an armored tech, and he had short, black hair hanging straight down.
"I-I'll take you to the nurse's office," He offered, cutting past Stephen. Nobody noticed Stephen's sly grin.
"O-okay…" Coleen said. The boy, Morris Ling, turned his back to her and lowered himself slightly, leaning forward a bit.
"Hop on. I-it'll be easier this way," He said, trying his best to hide how hard he was blushing. Coleen slowly nodded, putting her hands on Morris's shoulders and lifting her legs slightly so that Morris could hook his hands under her kneecaps. A student nearby chuckled a bit. Morris wasn't very tall for a guy, and he was only a few centimeters taller than Coleen, so it was a bit of a spectacle to see him carrying her.
As Morris carried Coleen away, nobody was able to see that her face was slightly pink.
Lotte approached Stephen. "What was that supposed to accomplish?" She asked.
"Cross Coleen off the list. She's been dealt with," Stephen said, ignoring her question.
"Dude, are you serious? She'll be up and walking again in like, an hour," Lotte said. Stephen nodded.
"I know that. Just trust me," He said, "You took the pictures?"
"Yeah, they're right here," Lotte said. She held out a roll of film to him, full of pictures taken just a few minutes ago. "Just take 'em to the store to have 'em developed. Tell the shopkeeper that I sent you," She said, handing it to him. Stephen pocketed the film.
"Everything's starting to fall into place, Lotte," He said, doing his best to look dramatic, "Everything's falling into place."
The next day…
As the girl moved silently through the shadows of Lanseal's library, none saw her. Nobody ever saw her when she didn't want to be seen. In Lanseal, the shadows were the territory of Melissa Dalen.
She was seventeen, with short black hair and a single loch of hair sticking up from the top of her head. Her eyes were constantly half-lidded. Now, they were scanning the room, looking for her target. It was a weekend, and there were no classes, so he was probably here.
"There you are…" She whispered as she saw him sitting at a desk. Zeri. Dark blue, spiky hair, a patterned armband, glasses, pointed chin, serious expression at all times. He may have been a Darcsen, but he was her Darcsen.
…Whether he knew it or not.
…He… didn't know.
Let's make something a bit clear here: Melissa is a stalker. She really, really likes Zeri.
After several minutes, Zeri shut the book he had been reading and left the library. Melissa, feeling like she had logged in her Zeri-stalking hours for the day, decided to have a look around the rest of the library and see what everyone else was up to. It was always good to have practice.
Magari was reading a book (how surprising), Raymond was looking up field medicine, and the new transfer was sitting alone at a table, with nobody else in sight. Melissa peered at him from behind a bookshelf. He was certainly an odd child. On his first day, he had beaten two of the smartest members of Class G in chess and challenged the Class Chair to a competition. Melissa had no idea what he was planning, but it was probably something…
"I know you're watching, Melissa," He said, not looking up from his book. A spike of fear drove through Melissa's heart. He… he'd seen her? That was impossible.
Impossible, but interesting. She stepped out from the shadows, no longer hiding her presence.
"Impressive. How'd you know I was there?" She asked slowly. He turned around in his seat to face her.
"I didn't. I've been saying that at regular intervals over the past few hours. If you hadn't shown up, I would've been here all night," He said. He pulled a manila envelope from his blue uniform blazer and tossed it to Melissa, watching it slide across the floor to arrive at her feet. "I think you should find that interesting," He said. Melissa reached down and opened it, pulling out the photos inside. She glanced over them.
Rage burned in her heart, silent and hot. All the pictures were of Evelynn, sitting on the sidelines of the target range, and they showed quite clearly that she was gazing at a certain Darcsen.
"Well…" Melissa said, crumpling the pictures up, "…this just won't do."
"I know you'll be her sniper in the match in six days," Stephen continued, "Let me tell you a secret. If I win, then she goes away for a long, long time."
"…You want me to betray her, huh?"
A slow smile crept across Melissa's face. "You don't even have to ask," She said, and she vanished into the shadows, a soft laugh being the only indication she was ever there.
The school newspaper was a small thing, and not entirely official. The Lotte Insider, founded, run, and owned by Lotte Netzel, the editor and only reporter, covered simple gossip in Lanseal, and many perceived it as being a rag and a waste of paper. Still, it sold, and the proceeds were split fifty-fifty between Lotte and the school store (That's right. For every five copies sold, Lotte got a sweet five ducats). Lotte had dropped off the latest edition early that morning, praying to the gods of journalism that they would have mercy on her for reporting something that wasn't entirely, well, true.
...Okay, she'd done it before, but not on purpose.
Vario Kraatz, the boisterous almost-professional singer and Mortarer, made it a habit to buy the paper as soon as it came out. Sometimes, it had relationship news in it, and Vario always liked to know where he could find heartbroken girls to comfort with his song. The same can't be said of the girls, however.
Vario was almost always loud. Now, as he read the latest edition on a bench in the courtyard, he was completely silent, his jaw dropped. He lifted the eye-patch over his right eye, since what he had just read had been deemed worthy of his using both eyes to read it again.
SAUCY SINGER'S SECRET SHOW! A LOTTE INSIDER EXCLUSIVE!
You won't hear about this in the Gallia Times, folks! This is an exclusive scoop, from insider information! It's shocking, sudden, and completely true!
Bridgette 'Rosie' Stark, famed singer of the song 'A Love Passed On', which tugged at Gallia's collective heartstrings following EWII, is coming to town! She's making an unscheduled stop near Lanseal to visit the bar where she first started singing, and she's barely told anybody! My source, who wishes to remain anonymous, has told me that next Friday, Rosie Stark will be at the Drunk Lance Bar from noon to six, singing the songs she once sang before she hit the big stage! Check it out!
Vario set the paper down, covering his mouth as he tried to comprehend what he had just read.
Bridgette 'Rosie' Stark was coming. The same woman who had inspired him time and time again with the raw emotion in her song. The woman who could bring an entire audience to tears. She was his inspiration, the reason he sang.
He simply had to see her.
Wait. Next Friday. The match.
Randy Hamsun, the well-liked vice-president of the student body council at Lanseal, sighed. The president's chair was so much fun to sit in. He knew there would be no interruptions to his chair time. The president hadn't come out of the bathroom for about a week now, the door to the office was locked, and the other members of the council were busy doing other stuff.
Randy loved this chair.
A fist popped through the door. Randy nearly jumped out of his chair. The new arm in the door felt around a little bit before locating the doorknob and undoing the lock. The arm pulled back, and there was a loud crack as the door was pulled off its hinges. The transfer student set it aside, humming a simple tune.
"I really shouldn't enjoy doing that so much," He said to Randy. At the moment, Randy was frozen in shock. "I thought I'd find you here, Mr. Hamsun. Sitting in the student body council president's chair, are we, student body council vice-president? Hmmm?"
"I… you… just… that was…"
"Yeah, sorry about the door. Anyway, to business. We need to talk," Stephen said, pulling up a chair in front of Randy's desk. Randy quickly hid his shock and smiled warmly, exuding as much of his natural charisma that he could.
"Of course. I'm always willing to spare a little time to help out new students. Oh, and don't worry about the door. I'll pay for it," Randy said kindly. Stephen smirked, cocking his head to the side a little bit.
"I don't need the nice guy routine, Mr. Hamsun," He said, leaning back and putting his feet on top of Randy's desk. "I know that you've been putting laxatives in the president's food every now and then when you want to sit in the big boy chair. He looks like an incompetent moron, and you get to take up his workload, giving yourself a higher position in the students' minds. But that's not what I'm here to chat about." He set his feet back down on the floor, much to Randy's delight, and leaned across the table. "Mr. Hamsun, I know your motives. You want to be in command of this school. And you just so happen to have a certain obstacle standing in your way, don't you?"
Randy slowly smirked. His blonde hair nearly blocked out his eyes, putting them in shadow and giving him the malevolent look that was his true self. "Evelynn. Try as I might, I just can't defame her in the eyes of the student body. I make it look like she stole something, she just apologizes and nobody brings it up again. I give her laxatives by the dozen, and they just don't affect her. She's untouchable," Randy said, "So, what is it you want from me?"
"On Friday is the match. During the battle, you'll report all of her actions to me. If you do this, and I win the battle, Evelynn will leave, and nobody will ever remember her," Stephen said. "Do we have a deal?"
Randy started to chuckle. "Deal."
The days left until the match passed quickly. Stephen spent most of his free time in the library, reading up on military strategies and trying, unsuccessfully, to flirt with Magari.
The day before the match, Stephen passed Lotte a note during class, telling her to meet him outside the girl's dorms after lights-out. He had something to show her.
When Lotte snuck out of the dorms and crept around back, she saw Stephen sitting against the building, looking up at the first few stars of the night. She sat down next to him.
"You ready for the match, dude?" She asked.
"I hope so. I've got a lot riding on this," Stephen answered.
"That deal you made?"
"Heard that too, huh?"
"C'mon, spill the beans, dude. Off-record, I swear. Scout's honor," Lotte said. Stephen chuckled a little bit.
"Alright, I'll tell you. Well, I've been looking for a certain… Rebel operative, an old friend of mine. Anyway, he's hiding somewhere, and my superiors aren't letting me interrogate the only person who might know where he is because I nearly died trying to capture him. I have to catch a few more Su… spies if I want to do the interrogation. However, if I can bring in Evelynn without having to fight her, they'll let me interrogate the guy immediately. I'm hoping that he'll know where to find the guy I'm looking for," Stephen said.
"Lemme guess, you wanna talk some sense into this old friend of yours?" Lotte asked. Stephen laughed.
"Hel no. I'm gonna try to kill him before he can kill me," He answered, standing up.
"Um… okay, dude. So, what did you want to show me?" Lotte asked. Stephen adjusted his glasses (it had seemed to become a habit recently). They reflected the small amount of light in the area, hiding his eyes.
"Everything is going according to plan, Lotte," Stephen said gravely.
"Pretty much, yeah."
"WHO'S OUT THERE?" A voice called out. Stephen and Lotte paled.
"Scatter!" Stephen hissed, and he and Lotte ran for cover.
The next day…
Evelynn's squad surrounded the map of the battleground on the table in the middle of the command center. Of course, to call it a 'command center' would be a bit of a stretch. It was basically just a table with a map on it, a radio (for relaying orders), and a chair under a tarp. All the squad-members were dressed in full battle gear, using training equipment that could knock a person out, but (hopefully) not kill. Melissa was cleaning her sniper rifle's scope, Heinz was organizing his extra ammo supplies, Juliana was standing by herself off to the side, making practice swings with her massive sword, then bringing up her tower shield to block an imaginary attack, Vario was fidgeting about and checking his pocket watch every so often, and Marion was stroking her machine gun like it was a cat. Evelynn cleared her throat, instantly catching her subordinates' attention.
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming today. Now, as you all know, what is currently at stake is not your lives. It is not your pride, it is not your honor, it is not your country. It is something much more important than that," Evelynn slammed her hands down on the map, "It is MY pride. I expect you all to follow my orders to the letter," She said.
"YES, MA'AM!" was the unanimous response, whether they meant it or not.
"Thank you," Evelynn said, smiling, "Now, here's the plan." Unbeknownst to her, Randy turned on a handheld transmitter he had received from Stephen, catching every word Evelynn said.
"Our objective is to capture the enemy base camp in this area. Marion, you will stay at our base camp and protect it. Juliana, you will make a frontal assault on the camp. Inghild and Coleen, go to this area and capture the camp there. Melissa, get to the tower in this area and snipe from there. Everybody else will be on standby until given orders. Any questions?"
Randy raised a hand.
"Could you repeat that just a bit louder so that we can be sure that everyone heard it?"
Lotte vaulted over another sandbag barrier on her way to the enemy camp. Stephen's plan had worked perfectly. Juliana and Alexis, Class G's other expert Fencer, were still duking it out. Morris caught Inghild and Coleen off-guard, knocking out Inghild with one blow to the back of the head from his wrench (it was a big wrench). From that range, Coleen could have easily hit him with a dummy rocket, but for some reason, she didn't, choosing instead to just stand there, blushing and stammering. Morris took the same approach. Nichol had intercepted Franca and Helmut while they were sneaking towards one of the camps. Franca had found herself unable to shoot her little brother and switched sides, taking out Helmut in the process, Vario deserted early on, and Melissa flat out disappeared after ambushing Heinz, who was trying to resupply her after she had 'lost' her ammo.
Now, Lotte had been sent to make an assault on the enemy base camp, her trained legs letting her cover much more distance than the other classes. Before she had left, Stephen had given her a small parcel, instructing her to use it as bait when the time came.
Lotte ducked behind one of the massive crates near the enemy's base camp. It was a straightaway to get to the camp now, the only cover being provided by the large crates. Lotte crept around the crate, moving forward and staying out of Marion's line of sight. She poked her head around the corner, then ducking back before Marion could notice her. Just trying to shoot her would be futile. She was crouching behind a barrier of sandbags, and the machine gun she carried would turn Lotte into a thimble before she could get close enough to lob a dummy grenade.
Lotte pulled the parcel off of her belt, untying the strings and pulling the brown paper away. "He must be joking," Lotte decided to herself. Inside the package was a small, metal gun, a pistol, unlike any Lotte had ever seen before, and it had a string tied to the butt. A piece of paper was attached to the gun. It read, 'no, I am NOT joking,'.
Lotte growled under her breath as she ripped the note off of the gun. She uncoiled the string from the gun, grabbing one end and leaving the other end attached. She tossed the gun around the corner, ducking back and uttering a short prayer to the Valkyrur. There was silence for a moment, followed by a crunch of gravel. Slow footsteps.
The footsteps stopped, just in front of where the gun had landed.
"Ohhhhh," Marion moaned, "That shape is delicious."
Lotte, too scared to wonder why Marion, high-classed, straight-laced Marion, was moaning at the sight of a gun, yanked on the string, pulling the gun back.
"Don't try to run away!" Marion giggled, trying to pounce on the gun. Lotte kept pulling, and Marion kept following. Finally, the gun was in Lotte's sight again. Lotte stopped pulling the string, and Marion snatched up the gun, falling to her knees as she marveled it.
"Oh, aren't you beautiful…" She sighed, stroking the gun, inspecting every aspect of it. "Mmmm, point forty five ammo, so nice…"
Lotte, finally deciding that she'd had enough of seeing Marion fetishizing over the gun, smacked her over the head with the butt of her rifle. Marion went down like a bag of bricks. Lotte stepped over her, muttering a quick apology, and ran for the flag pole in the base camp.
A minute later, Evelynn's blue flag was lowered, and a red flag hung in its place. Lotte breathed a sigh of relief. They'd won. Lotte slumped against the sandbags, the adrenaline from the past few minutes of running finally wearing off.
And then, there was a scream, and Evelynn's command center burst into blue flames. A sole figure, wrapped in the same blue flames and carrying a pair of spiraling blue lances, dashed from the command center, heading…
…Straight for Lotte.
"Oh, shit," Was the last thing Lotte got out before Evelynn Aliceabeth Marah Lanseal, who was secretly a Valkyrur, fired an enormous burst of blue energy, sending Lotte flying through the air to crash against a crate.
Lotte's vision came back blurrily, slowly focusing until she could make out the engineer applying Ragnaid to her head.
"Ow… head…" She moaned. The massive, broad shouldered engineer, Raymond, jumped when he heard her.
"Lotte's awake!" He announced.
"What happened?" Lotte asked, sitting up slowly. She quickly regretted it as the burns on her front screamed at her. She winced. Before falling back down, she took note of her surroundings. She definitely wasn't back at the Evelynn's base camp. Engineers were scurrying about, applying Ragnaid to other injured members of Class G, almost all of whom seemed to be burnt badly.
"Evelynn happened. Everybody kinda swarmed Stephen when we saw the flag go up, then Evelynn showed up and went completely nuts, just trying to fry everybody, shouting, um, stuff I shouldn't repeat. Stephen ran off a few minutes ago, and Evelynn followed him, but everybody was too hurt to chase her," Raymond said, opening a small canister of Ragnaid and bathing Lotte in a blue glow. The pain slowly subsided as the burns faded away. Lotte stood up, slowly stretching out her limbs to make sure nothing was broken.
"Where'd they go?" She asked.
"I think they were heading to R&D," Raymond answered, "But it's been almost fifteen minutes, so I'm not sure if they're still there." Lotte looked down at her chest. Her camera was still hanging there, singed, but probably functional.
"I need a rifle," She said.
Looking at the hangars in R&D, one would think that a tornado had decided to try its hand at organization. Parts of the walls were on fire, but didn't seem to be spreading, and there was the sound of conflict from deeper in. Lotte ran towards it, her rifle at her side, and her camera at the ready. She had her priorities.
Suddenly, a small tank sailed through the air above Lotte's head. It was struck down in midair by a blast of blue fire, and the small APC sent after it shared its fate. Evelynn sailed over Lotte, thankfully not noticing her. There was the sound of several more blasts. Lotte took cover behind an upside down tank and peeked over, her camera at the ready.
There they were. Evelynn, still on fire and her hair turned silver, and Stephen, covered in small burn marks. Evelynn was stabbing at Stephen repeatedly with her two lances, but Stephen was able to dodge the attacks while only suffering small scratches. Lotte took a picture of the battle, her camera's shutter making a tiny click.
The sound did not go unnoticed. Evelynn, without even looking, pointed one of her lances at Lotte. Lotte scrambled out of the way as the lance started to glow, focusing its energies.
Stephen took advantage of the gap in Evelynn's defense and cracked her across the jaw and kicking the arm she was aiming at Lotte with, throwing off her aim. The beam hit the ceiling above them, causing rubble to fall. Stephen slipped past Evelynn, quickly sweeping her legs out from under her as he passed. Evelynn fell to the ground as she was crushed under the rubble. Stephen didn't stop running.
"Lotte, MOVE!" He shouted, pulling Lotte to her feet without stopping. "That's the third time that's happened to her! She's not gonna stay down for long!" He explained as tongues of flame started to lick at the pile of rubble from inside.
"This way!" Lotte hissed. Just before leaving the R&D building, she pulled Stephen behind a parked truck. She peeked around the truck, and saw the pile of rubble explode, revealing the unharmed, and extremely annoyed, Valkyrur.
"BASTAAAAAAAAAAAAARD!" She screamed, likely at Stephen. Lotte ducked out of sight. Evelynn dashed past their hiding spot, believing that they had left the building.
"Why did you come here?" Stephen hissed at Lotte.
"I wasn't about to miss taking some action shots!" Lotte answered, showing him her camera.
"Well, unless you can help me beat her, you should probably get out of here!" Stephen ordered.
"I'll help out! What's the plan?"
"I don't have one! So unless you can think of a way to give me an advantage against her in close combat, we're screwed!" Stephen answered irritably. Lotte rubbed her temples in thought.
"What if she was to lose her balance?"
"That'd work! Any ideas?" Stephen said. Evelynn was still outside, vaporizing anything that moved.
"One! I'm borrowing this real quick!" Lotte hissed, reaching into Stephen's leather pouch and pulling out the spool of thread. She quickly tied it around one of the truck's wheels, and ran across the building to another parked truck, wrapping the spool around one of its wheels. Stephen grinned, having figured out Lotte's plan. He ran between the two vehicles, on the side of the thread that Evelynn wasn't on. Lotte ducked out of sight.
"Hey! Looking for me?" Stephen called out, grabbing Evelynn's attention.
As soon as he spoke, Evelynn whirled around and fired at him. Lotte averted her eyes, not wanting to see Stephen disintegrated by the ragnite energy. Just before being struck, Stephen whispered a word under his breath, and his body tensed. When the blast ended, he was completely fine.
"Bo-ring," Stephen said after a second. "How 'bout we fight fair?"
"FAIR? After you made a MOCKERY of me?"
"Okay, so I cheated a bit. But you broke your promise, so I guess we're even," Stephen said. Evelynn fired at him again. Stephen whispered one word, and the outcome was the same as the last time. He was unharmed.
"Yes, that tickles," Stephen said sarcastically. Evelynn howled in rage. She bounded straight at Stephen, both lances prepared to pierce him. Stephen grinned, and pulled his right foot back, dropping into a low stance. He gathered his hands at his side, cupping them around an invisible object.
"KAAAAA… MEEEEEEE… HAAAAAA… MEEEEEEE…" He shouted as Evelynn kept on getting closer.
What happened next seemed to Lotte to be in slow motion. Evelynn tripped over the thread, sending herself pitching forward, out of control. She held out her lances to try and stop her fall, all while slowly entering Stephen's attack range.
"HAAAAAADOOUUUUKEEEEN!" Stephen screamed, shifting his weight forward and striking Evelynn in the gut with his two open hands. Lotte's camera shutter clicked just as Stephen struck Evelynn.
It was good that she didn't take pictures of what happened next.
Evelynn went flying outside the building, her eyes blank. She slid to a halt after a few dozen meters, and didn't stand back up. Unfortunately, Stephen was also affected by the force of the blast. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, so he went flying in the other direction. He struck the far wall with a crash.
"OW!" Lotte heard. She winced.
"You okay, dude?" Lotte called out, coming out from behind her cover.
"Yes. Just… definitely going to… have better footing… next time I do that," Stephen grunted, collecting himself from the floor. "Is she out?"
Lotte glanced at Evelynn. "Yeah, she's out cold, dude."
"Then I do believe… that my work here… is done," Stephen said, stumbling past Lotte. He hobbled over to Evelynn, kneeling over her body and slipping a metal bracelet around her wrist.
"Two down," Stephen said to himself, picking up Evelynn and throwing her over his shoulder. "Thanks for all your help, Lotte," He said.
"You're… leaving?" She asked. Stephen nodded.
"Yeah. Society policy. I take care of the job, I leave, nobody remembers I was ever there."
"You seriously expect Class G to just forget about you, dude?"
"They will. As soon as I'm gone, every sign that Evelynn and I ever existed will vanish. Things 'll go back to the way they should be," Stephen said, rooting through his pockets before pulling out an odd looking gun.
"You're welcome back to Class G anytime you want, you know," Lotte said. Stephen smiled, and pulled the trigger. A hole appeared in the air where he had aimed. Lotte's breath hitched in her throat.
"I'll keep that in mind," Stephen said, and he stepped through the portal.
A few days later…
"Hey, shopkeep!" Lotte said cheerfully, slapping the final draft of the next Lotte Insider on the counter. "I've got the new paper for ya!"
"Ah, thank you, Lotte. I'll have that printed up as soon as I can," The shopkeeper said, filing the paper away. He pulled out a large envelope and handed it to Lotte. "Here's those pictures you had me develop, by the way. Some… impressive stuff on that roll of film," He said.
"Huh?" Lotte said, opening the envelope and pulling out the photographs. She flipped through them, easily remembering when each of them had been taken.
Then, she nearly dropped them all in shock.
It was a picture of two people, a young woman and a young man. They were both wearing Lanseal uniforms, but Lotte didn't recognize either of them. The woman was holding two lances, Valkyrian lances, and there was some sort of glow around her. And the man was striking her in the midsection, his mouth opened as he screamed something.
In a flash, Lotte remembered everything. It was Stephen and Evelynn. She gasped.
"Is something wrong, Lotte?" The shopkeeper asked.
"No, no," Lotte said, "Nothing at all." She tucked the photos safely away back in the envelope.
"Nothing at all."
A/N: I decided to try doing something a bit different this time. A story from the point of view of the canon characters, not knowing just what the Agent is up to. I think it may have been done before, but I'm not sure.
Also, I may have taken a few liberties with VCII's canon. Nadre, as far as I know, does not exist. It is unlikely that Rosie's singing career started near Lanseal. I gave each character the subclass that worked best for the story. That is all, thank you.