The Final Chapter: Retribution Lost
Author's note: Thanks to eric8teen for lending his characters Nehro and Zanna from his story Chronicles of the Darcsen Brotherhood. This chapter contains character death, but it's non-canon to the game series so that's okay.
A few days later, Anisette and Edy were back at the general's office.
"We're sending a team of scouts and shocktroopers to Lanseal to see if this so-called conversion centre actually exists. These guys call themselves a war pack - The Darcsen Brotherhood, if I remember," he said, leaning over his desk to them. Anisette didn't like him, and neither did Edy. He had a huge moustache that moved annoyingly up and down when he talked, and his mouth stank of tobacco and who knew what else. He seemed to be very proud of his moustache - he leaned back in his chair and started stroking it. "However, Darcsens are helpless by themselves - "
"Only because you higher-ups treat them so badly," said Anisette angrily, thinking of how they had left Zack behind. "And if this is the Darcsen Brotherhood, you couldn't have won the 1935 war without them."
" - so I'm sending one of my best men to lead them. You don't know how much I'm doing for your far-fetched claims, Nelson," he said as if he hadn't heard her.
"Not much. When are we leaving?"
"In a few weeks."
"A few weeks! That's far too long."
"You should be grateful it's happening at all..."
At the same time, Helmut and Zack reached the outskirts of one of the army's smaller bases and from there Helmut said, "Stop."
"Now what?" said Zack, looking back from the pilot's cockpit.
"I can't go in there like this - I just need to be near enough to send them a message and hear what they have to say."
"Right, a Darcsen and an Imperialist. I bet they're bringing out the red carpet as we speak," said Zack sarcastically.
"Remember Avan Hardins?"
"Hard to forget."
"I've already met up with him and he's going to help us out with this."
"Wait, you didn't make that decision to join us right there, right then?"
"I'd been thinking about it for a year."
"Why are you helping us anyway?"
Helmut looked at Zack with such a bitterness in his eye that it could have withered tree bark. "I'm not doing this for you or anyone else. I'm doing it for the civilians in Gallia. You guys treated me like an outsider in 1937, then kicked me out back to the Empire. Remember?"
"I know what they treat you like, it's the same with me," said Zack.
Helmut opened the APC's back door and for a while they waited when an orange bird - a Gallian swift - flew in with a blue ribbon tied around its neck.
"Jarde?" asked Zack.
"I told you, Avan is going to help us contact the army. Very few soldiers own this bird, and it's only found in Gallia. It can only be an insider that contacts them."
Helmut took a map of the Gallian-Imperialist border out of his bag and marked five locations on it, two of them inside Gallia and three of them barely outside the border.
"Those are the Empire's outposts. If they can destroy these, they can drive out the Empire which will make dealing with the Federation much, much easier," Helmut explained as he wrote a note with the same gist, enclosed it around Jarde's neck and sent the bird off.
"I hope they believe you," said Zack. "Now we've got somewhere else to go."
Across the time of the next three weeks, the bulk of the Gallian army - with skeleton forces left behind to defend the bases - moved near the border and destroyed every one of the Empire's outposts with such force that the Empire had no time to react. The Empire announced its withdrawal from the war in the next few days. Gallians were overjoyed at this victory, however no one knew who had provided such accurate intelligence to the army. Cordelia gi Randgriz gave a speech to the public the day after the Empire withdrew, holding a Gallia Commemorative Medal for the brave person who saved the Gallians in the west of the country.
At midnight of the last day of May, Anisette and Edy were listed as part of the task force that were going to scout Lanseal. As Edy picked up her gun and loaded it, she said, "I forgot how easy it was to get ammo when you didn't have to lift walls for it. Guess these guys are good for something."
"We should go say hi to the guys we're working with," said Anisette.
The Darcsen Brotherhood was a war pack created in 1935 by the Darcsen soldier Nehro, who along with his sister Zanna and his other companions, had been a crucial state within a state to Gallia during the war with the Empire. After the end of 1935 it was disbanded and was reformed after the war with the Federation started. However, out of all the soldiers that had been in it since the start, only Nehro and Zanna were left of the original squad - others had chosen civilian lives or were in other parts of the country.
Nehro was in his early twenties, older than both of them, with long hair and a medium stature. His younger sister, Zanna, who was medic on this mission, was slightly younger than Edy but older than Anisette. She still looked to be about Anisette's age, though.
"Thanks for helping out on this," said Edy to them both.
"It's all right, all I want is this war to end so we can go back to our normal lives," said Nehro.
Anisette seemed to say something but hesitated, and Edy saw this. She said nothing, however.
"We've heard so much stuff about you. How you're one of the most skilled snipers in the Gallian army and all," said Edy.
"Yeah, my father taught me everything about rifles. In fact, he taught me everything I know," said Nehro.
"Hey! Get moving, all of you!" shouted a tall man, moving towards them from the other side of the base. Following him were a group of Darcsen teenagers who could barely lift their guns.
"They're coming with us?" asked Anisette, indicating what was supposedly their squad.
"Yes," said the man. "I'm the leader of your squad, Vlad Galvez. You'd better shut up and do as I say unless you want trouble."
"They're having trouble handling their guns, how can you expect them to - "
"They won't need them if you're a bit quieter. This isn't a battle, it's scouting."
"Right," said Anisette, giving up for once.
While the other soldiers got into the two APCs they had for this mission, Edy pulled Anisette aside.
"Listen," she said. "We might not come back alive from this with our idiot of a commander, so tell me now - what were you about to say when Nehro talked about the war ending?"
"It's nothing," said Anisette - or nearly did so. She decided against it. "I just wish we were back in 1937. It was a war, but it was OK because I always knew I was going to wind up at the academy - now we never know where to go - and everyone thought of me as one of them. Now everyone remembers me as a celebrity, but no one remembers me as a soldier. I wish that didn't happen. I wish I could just go back to school and be normal."
"It's happened to me too. I promise, when this war ends we'll be normal again," said Edy.
"We won't. Dr. Forster said they destroyed our village. We've got nothing left."
Edy was quiet for a while, trying to face that the place where she'd always lived had been destroyed. " ... It won't stay burned down forever. We'll help in rebuilding it when we get back. That's something to remember us for," she said.
"Thanks, Edy. You're a great older sister," said Anisette.
Two hours later, they were nearing the academy, Anisette overcome by a deluge of memories that started here, when the APC in front of them stopped. The commander, Vlad, stepped out. The place was oddly deserted.
"Get out, and check inside!" he shouted at the rest of the soldiers.
"While you just stay safe here?" aasked Anisette, climbing out.
"Rank has its priveliges," said Vlad pompously.
"I don't understand. This place should be crawling with Federals," she said to him in a low voice.
"Which means it's a trap," added Edy.
"You dragged us here and now you're saying we should high-tail it to safety?" asked Vlad.
"No, I'm saying we should be smart. We can't go through the front, that'll get us killed," said Anisette.
"We're not going through the front. The Darcsens are," he said. "They're our decoys. We're going in through the back."
"You're going to get them all killed?" asked Anisette. "They trust you and they're following you, and you're feeding them to the Federation now?"
"It's not too big of a sacrifice. Move out, men!" he shouted over to the Darcsens and they all started moviing towards the academy gates.
"Wait!" Edy shouted at them, but they didn't seem to hear her.
As soon as the Darcsens passed through, landmines exploded and some of them died right there while the rest scattered. Gunfire sounded and orange lightning flashed just behind the academy gates. Vlad ran around to the back.
"That stupid idiot," said Edy. "There's nothing w can do about this now, we'll just have to follow him."
As they reached the back of the academy, they saw Vlad kneeled over at an awkward angle, a gunshot wound in his leg. As they watched, a shot sounded and a sniper bullet went right through his neck and he slumped forward, dead, like a ragdoll.
"There!" said Edy, pointing her gun over at where the R&D building was, and Anisette saw a man with completely white hair and a thick beard, holding a sniper rifle. Anisette recognized him at once from newspaper pictures: Jean Townshend, who wasn't just a Federal Ambassador but also a sniper. The man who had killed her parents and destroyed her life. He saw her too, and when their eyes met she saw that he knew exactly who she was. Then he was again with the rifle and fired at her, missing narrowly.
"I'm going to kill him," she said plainly to Edy. "Keep firing at him and keep him distracted."
"You're a quick thinker," said Edy.
"I'm angry, not stupid," said Anisette. "Now!"
Edy opened fire at Townshend and Anisette ran around to the R&D building. Anisette was awful at stealth, but the leaves covering the ground and the dark of midnight kept her well covered anyway. She slowed down as she reached him and took out her knife - remembering that it was the same knife she used at Lanseal - and launched herself at him just as he noticed her and turned around. She grabbed his back and dug her knife right into his chest. In the moment that their eyes met, his filled with fear and hers fiery, he gasped, "Nelson..." and went limp. Anisette removed her knife and looked at him for a while, until Edy walked over to her.
"That's for our parents," said Edy.
But the battle wasn't over yet. They still had to rescue the Darcsens - those that were alive anyway - and destroy Lanseal. But having been farther back in their own battle, they didn't notice what had happened back there.
Zack and Helmut had arrived in the nick of time, and even though they weren't a whole army in quantity, they definitely were a whole army in quality. They had turned the tide of the battle in favour of the Darcsen Brotherhood, and most of the Federal soldiers were dead.
When Edy and Anisette went back inside the main building, it was quiet as death.
"Hold it - oh, it's you," said a dark form in the shadows which turned out to be Zack. Wordlessly Anisette and Zack walked together, and kissed each other while Edy went off to help the injured Darcsens. When they finally pulled apart, it seemed like the world had changed.
Helmut had disappeared. The Darcsens, most of them injured of disoriented, were staggering back, and as Anisette remembered their final mission, she realized that something wasn't right.
"Zack, this doesn't look much like a conversion centre to me," she said. He nodded tiredly. "It isn't," he said. "In fact, it feels like some kind of ... "
"Trap," said Anisette, her senses jerking into alertness. Just then Clementia Forster appeared, but drastically changed. Her hair was completely white and blue flame erupted around her.
"It isn't," she said. "At least not for anyone else. I intended to make myself a Valkyria, and test my powers here. Now where is Jean?"
"You go check. We'll wait here," said Anisette as she and Zack raised their guns together.
"You killed him, didn't you?" she said. Her eyes went deep red and she screamed of rage as the Valkyrian flame around her shot off in all directions, demolishing the entire building. Someone pulled Anisette out of harm's way as the roof caved in.
When Anisette woke up, the first thing she noticed was that her head felt like it had been filled with wet cotton. Annoyed, she shook it, trying to clear it, but it only felt worse.
She was in some kind of medic's tent.
"You're awake," said a man who she thought was the medic.
"Where's Edy and Zack?" she asked.
"Zack who? And Edy's been drafted to another squad. She left a letter for you while you were unconscious," he said. Then he walked out. Anisette picked up the letter. It was in Edy's hurried writing.
I'm being drafted to another squad, so I'm sorry having to leave you. Especially at this time. I've gotten in contact with Helmut, and he said he's joining the Gallian militia now. Nehro and Zanna are in the same squad as me. Clementia Forster escaped, but I'm sure we'll find her soon. It turns out that the conversion centre wasn't in Gallia after all, and that this war isn't looking to end any time soon. I'm sorry that I can't fulfill the promise I've made any time soon either. Zack was there when Lanseal was destroyed, and no one could find him. They think he didn't make it.
It's said that if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. I hope it'll be the latter for you. I'm sorry that you both couldn't spend more time together. In the end we got retribution for our past losses, only to have new ones. But no matter how long it takes, I'll see to it that you do get to have a normal life.
A tear fell from Anisette's eye onto the letter. "Edy, I... " she said. Then she scrunched up the letter and threw it away. She didn't take the news of Zack well, and she felt guilty for not apppreciating Edy as much as she deserved. She doubted she would ever be the same again.
Author's note: What a tragic ending. But it's only for a third sequel (I love writing Valkyria Chronicles stories) and besides, everyone loves a sob story. I originally meant to continue it in this story and make this chapter longer, but school got in the way. I will start writing the third story as soon as possible.