Well, I was convinced into picking up the slack on the Wonder Chef/Caleb series of fics for ToS, which means I'm juggling a lot more fics than I'm comfortable with, but at least these ones were completed long ago. So they were never posted anywhere. Go fig. Caleb's story is companion to Adam: Cast from Paradise, as the events in both occur at about the same time, running parallel until they reach the Wonder War event. Now, because things from Caleb's future is a little different from the series I've written so far here in his past, we can just blame ToS2 for that, since its timeline crashed with the one I had for my fics and so I had to speed up the events in the history Caleb has in his modern form. Did that make any sense? Oh well. I'll try to keep both of these updated at the same time.
Caleb: Center of the Storm
At the time Lloyd Irving Aurion sent Derris-Kharlan away into space with the Eternal Sword's power, no one was entirely sure of whether he actually meant to send the comet flying into deep space. This became clear when his father, who had gone with Derris-Kharlan for personal reasons, came back from it after only a half-year or so of solitude. The comet had slowly been making its way around the sun in a wide orbit that took it away from Symphonia but ensured it would remain somewhat close by for Lloyd's own comfort. Upon the retrieval of Derris-Kharlan for yet more personal reasons that ultimately resulted in the creation of Caleb, the automatic doll built to be the mirror image of Zelos Wilder, Lloyd commanded the comet be set into a new orbit that not only kept it close by for when the need to travel to it arose again, but also ensured that the rate at which it orbited the sun alongside Symphonia kept it from affecting the world too much. This meant that, at certain points in time, both Symphonia and Derris-Kharlan would align and traverse space together in parallel fashion for only a short time, long enough for Lloyd to transport people up to the comet as needed, then bring them back safely within a few days, as the poor boy still thought space would aversely affect his friends and family if they traveled through it for long stretches at a time.
Seeing as how the days of 'close contact' had already passed, Caleb resorted to using a gift from his sister, Tabatha the doll turned Goddess Martel, to reach the orbiting planet. Crafted by Origin to allow him one trip to and from Derris-Kharlan, the Eternal Sword Pin carried Caleb, his mana beast companion Peppermint FireBlossom, and the half-elven Hero of Union, Raine Sage, to the comet of mana. Little did any of them realize that peace did not reign on the ancient planet since the passing of Cruxis and Yggdrasill.
Mithos' castle, Vinheim, remained as gloomy-looking as ever, the dark stone interior and deep indigo tapestries all portrayed the angel's dreams of resurrecting his older sister and creating a world of lifeless beings. Though his original intentions behind the many sinister plots that resulted in Symphonia being torn asunder had been pure, his methods of attaining a world without discrimination was deemed everything else. Since then, the angels that were not destroyed during the battle to stop Yggdrasill's twisted schemes took over the city of Welgaia and the castle in attempts to create their own utopia, isolated from the rest of Symphonia and thus protected from the 'inferior beings' that ruined the World Prolongation Plan.
The brilliant burst of light that marked the entry of Caleb, Pepper and Raine faded as the three of them looked around in awe. This was Caleb and Pepper's first foray into the historic castle, as Raine had been through the manor on numerous occasions in the past.
"It's darker than in Sérno's castle." Caleb remarked and walked forward, head lifting to take in the vast ceilings and the fresco that adorned them, "But far more beautiful! Look at those images of ancient Symphonia! And there's a depiction of the sundering of the world!"
"Really? MARVELOUS!" Raine exclaimed as she ran to join him and craned her head up to examine the fresco herself, "You're right! These images were painted during the time the World Prolongation Plan was first being implemented. There's the Great Seed, Martel, Mithos, even Kratos and Yuan are painted into the castle ceiling! I knew I should have taken time to truly examine this place!" Pepper sighed in irritation and walked up to the scholars, tail swishing about in annoyance.
"Caleb, we hurry and get books, yes? Then go home and visit Martel?" she pointed out. The doll frowned, eyes still recording the images into memory.
"Patience, Pepper. There's a lot here that I have to archive for the future. Professor? How many libraries are in this castle?" he asked, looking aside at the silver-haired half-elf trying to ignore the stiffness of her neck as she squinted up at the fresco. She blinked and lowered her head, rubbing the back of her neck as she thought that over.
"I recall at least six or seven that we ran into while trying to evade the patrolling angels." she murmured and looked around, "The staircases that lead to the upper levels are in the east and west wings of the castle. The libraries are scattered throughout those floors." Pepper's ears stood at alert as she stiffened and looked upward again. Caleb didn't notice as he unrolled the crude map loaned to him by the former Chosen, Zelos.
"That explains the zig-zag lines here. All right. So should we start with libraries accessible from the west wing staircase?" he remarked brightly as Pepper suddenly shrieked.
"Caleb! Flying people!" she cried, fur lifting as a small group of angels descended on the group from the upper walkways. Raine grabbed for her staff and held it forward defensively, already falling into a spell to drive the angels away. The lifeless beings dropped before them and scowled coldly at the group, weapons drawing forth to intimidate them. Caleb immediately leaped forward, spreading his arms to protect the half-elf as he glared back at the lead angel, a tall creature adorned in gray robes and steel armor plates, tall steel headdress and black wings. It waved its own staff at him in contempt.
"You are intruders in our domain. A human, a Desian-class half-elf, and an unknown creature; begone!" it ordered. Pepper uttered a half-growl, half-hiss as she pressed forward, wings spreading in preparation for a battle.
"Professor! Don't attack!" Caleb called back and the woman released the collected mana for Photon harmlessly, looking at him in confusion. "Angels of Derris-Kharlan, we come in peace." the doll declared, staring up at the taller angel, "We wish to archive the information found in the libraries of Vinheim. May we have your permission to do so?" The Swordians maintained their defensive barrier around the three friends as the lead angel narrowed its eyes at him.
"Why should we allow an inferior being entry into our sacred chambers? It is the fault of you humans that our Lord Yggdrasill has not returned to complete World Prolongation!" it returned scathingly. Caleb shook his head angrily.
"I am not a human! I am an automated doll built by Master Altessa to archive the knowledge of the world!" he shot back, "And your lord cannot return to this place! He has passed onto his eternal rest to be with his sister so that the world may be saved from his mistakes." The angel swiped at him with its staff in disdain.
"Get thee from my sight, doll. You are far less worthy to be in this place than a pathetic human." it scorned the doll and signaled to the Swordians. "Take the lot of them and throw them to the Perfect Murder units in the lower levels." it commanded and Pepper snapped at the angels moving in on the group.
"Caleb, we fight now, yes?" she growled. Caleb darted forward and grabbed at the staff in the Guardian's hands, catching it by surprise as it flapped its wings and tried to pull free.
"Unhand me! Release my staff at once, doll!" it demanded. Caleb held on, bracing his legs to keep himself on the floor.
"Call off your troops! I told you we mean no harm to your race, but if you threaten the lives of my friends, I will be forced to fight you myself!" he yelled back. The angel continued flapping harder, dragging the doll very slowly across the floor. "That's not an acceptable answer!" Caleb growled as Pepper breathed out her Lethal Flora ability, burning the Swordians from the inside out. Raine resumed her spells, casting Photon and Holy Lance on the angels that tried to get close to her. "We only want to see your libraries! Even Mithos would want that information protected for the future!"
"Begone!" the angel only snapped back and finally lifted into the air, taking the doll with it. Caleb held onto the staff, looking down at his friends as they tore into the feminine angels that swarmed around them. The Guardian shook the staff, trying to drop him back into the fray. "Disobedient little machine! I should have your mechanisms ripped from your body frame!" it threatened. Caleb held on tighter, hugging the staff as it was shaken violently. Gathering mana from within the dark mana crystal in his body, Caleb began murmuring the incantation for a spell of his own. He winced painfully as the energy from the crystal Shadow had given him flowed more freely through him, fueling the spell. Caleb freed one hand and lifted it to face his palm at the angel.
"Dark Sphere!" the doll yelled, catching the Guardian by surprise again, doubly so when the spell erupted within it and dropped the two of them from the air. Caleb landed easily on his feet, holding the angel's staff in his hand as the Guardian crashed into the floor in shock.
"I-impossible! An automated doll cannot cast magic!" it declared as it climbed to its feet, black wings flapping about and shedding feathers from the collision. Caleb spun the staff in his hands, grinning.
"I was built with an aionis alloy making up more than seventy percent of my body, and three mana crystals powering me. I have all the energy I need to cast spells!" he announced and lowered the staff at the angel, "Now call off the Swordians!"
"Angels, fall back!" the Guardian finally relented and the Swordians that survived the attack fluttered weakly back to its side, watching coldly as Pepper snorted and turned to lick at her rapidly healing wounds. Raine cast a healing spell on herself and breathed a sigh of relief before staring over at Caleb.
"When did he learn to cast magic?" she murmured and brightened, "Fantastic! An automated doll with the ability to cast magic! How did Altessa improve on his creation? Where did he get enough aionis to craft the body frame that allows it? Who taught Caleb the spells? I must know!"
"Crazy lady no take Caleb apart!" Pepper growled at her and Raine squealed happily.
"Ah! That's right! You can talk! Marvelous! Tell me, can you speak naturally as you grow or did you learn our language by listening to Caleb speak?" the half-elf fired her questions at the mana beast, "Can you speak elven as well? How old are you? Are you older than the protozoans and elves? Did you also come from Derris-Kharlan?" Pepper shook her head in exasperation.
"Crazy lady asking many stupid questions. Ask Caleb, Caleb knows. I want eat food soon." she grumbled and sat down, scowling at the angels, "Stupid angels hurt me much with sharp knives."
"I've granted you and your group your lives. Now, return my staff and leave this castle at once!" the Guardian angel demanded. Caleb held the rod securely, planting it down at his side as he shook his head.
"Listen to me and listen well." he hissed, "We are here to obtain the records of ancient Symphonia as collected by Mithos and his companions. We wish no harm to any of you angels, provided we be left in peace to archive that data. All we ask is permission to examine the castle and its records." The angel stood still for a long stretch, then finally ascended into the air.
"I must first consult with our current lord on this situation. The Swordians will remain here to guard you until I return." it told him. Caleb nodded.
"We will await his decision." he agreed and tossed up the staff, "Here. I believe this is yours." The Guardian caught the staff, narrowed its eyes at him, then nodded and flew into the upper rooms. Raine took that opportunity to bombard the doll with her questions, poking and prodding at him as she tried to figure out how he could cast a spell. "Whoa! Professor! It's no big deal! Really!" Caleb exclaimed sheepishly, waving his hands as he tried to sort through the rush of questions, "Altessa built me with aionis alloy and implanted the ability for me to cast magic several months ago. I've been practicing the spells since going on my journey to archive the world but I only know a few basic spells and fewer high level spells."
"What type of healing spells do you know?" Raine asked, intrigued by the idea of an artificial sorcerer. Caleb shrugged.
"Just First Aid and Healing Wind. The same ones Zelos and Kratos know." he sighed. The professor looked unimpressed, tapping her fingers on her arm as she folded them over her chest.
"That's it? You can use Dark Sphere, a difficult to learn Dark spell, but you can't even use a simple Heal?" she muttered and shook her head, "I'll have to teach you additional healing spells, as well as some Light spells to counter Dark Sphere." Caleb smiled cheerfully.
"Really? That'd be great! Thanks!" he remarked and looked around, "So, once we get that permission to explore the castle, should we start at the west wing or the east?" Raine laughed.
"You're very confident they'll grant your request, aren't you?" she chuckled. Caleb only grinned at her.
"I just have a feeling they'll listen to me." he replied and looked up as the Guardian returned, flapping its wings as it hovered down before him. "So, what did your leader say?"
"We are the Angels of Vinheim, sworn servants of Lord Yggdrasill." the angel declared, "We have waited for his return but are also in search of information of our own. Lord Tsaneir has made numerous attempts to collect data from the computers in Welgaia, now the lair of the traitorous Angels of Welgaia." It swiped the staff through the air in a show of anger. "They are infidels who no longer deserve to be among us superior beings. Now, Lord Tsaneir may grant you permission to enter the libraries and collect information from the castle only if you perform a service for us." The three friends cocked their heads in collective puzzlement, gazing up at the angel. "If you successfully infiltrate Welgaia, copy the data on Subject A-481, and bring it here, the Lord Tsaneir may deign to allow you to do as you wish."
"May I ask what the information is for?" Caleb asked in curiosity.
"You need not know what it is, doll. Just capture the data and bring it to me." the angel growled and pointed at a teleporter pad behind the group with its staff, "That teleporter will take you to Welgaia. I have released the seal on it that prevents those fallen angels from invading our base of operations."
"I have a question as well, if I may." Raine put in, turning back to the angel, "Why would the angels of Derris-Kharlan split into two factions, when all angels served Mithos and Cruxis in the past?" The dark-winged angel waved the staff in dismissal.
"That is none of your concern. You have your orders; begone!" it declared and flew away with the Swordians.
"Stupid angel make stupid words. Angel no order me around!" Pepper growled as the group walked towards the teleporter. Caleb studied it and shrugged.
"At least they're giving us an opportunity to study the castle, provided we come through on the request first. Raine, any ideas on what might be going on here?" he remarked as they stepped onto the pad. The half-elf held her words until the beam that rose around them finished taking them from Vinheim and deposited them at the holy city of Welgaia. Its clear, wide glass panels allowed them to see out into space, watching tendrils of mana drift by among the brilliant stars beyond. All around them were the soft pastels of the metal and stone that comprised the ancient city, and the same silent deadness surrounded them that had existed for so many thousands of years. Pepper sniffed at the air and snorted contemptuously as the three slowly made their way to the heart of the city.
"Those angels obviously are rooted to their belief that Mithos will one day return to them." Raine finally murmured, "We know this can never happen; Lloyd destroyed the Cruxis Crystal that held Mithos' soul, releasing it from its imprisonment and allowing Mithos to pass on. Whatever data is recorded about this Subject A-481 must have been recorded by Mithos earlier in the World Prolongation as part of the preparation of a worst-case scenario, in the event one should ever occur." Caleb nodded in agreement as they turned down a path towards a set of conveyors.
"I see. So Subject A-481 is a code for a data file set aside by Mithos to be enacted in the event that he should fail to complete World Prolongation?" the doll inquired. Raine shrugged.
"Perhaps. This is purely conjecture, made on the most limited of information we have. Let's find this file and read it ourselves. Maybe then we'll know what the Angels of Vinheim are really up to." she murmured.