This is Part Two of the Seven Year War Chronicles.

Kiria, Yoshiya, and Mariko Nomura, Nathaniel Price, and any other character that is not part of Capcom's original series is of my own creation. Alternatively, any character from Capcom's original series is not mine, and I do not make any money off of this series.

FULL SUMMARY: It's the second day using the MASON system, and Apollo's ready to start taking on whatever seven years ago has to throw at him. But when things suddenly start getting personal for Kiria Nomura, things start getting dangerous both in the past and in the present.

Rated T for intense situations, violence, minor adult themes, language, and suicide.

Established Pairings: Phoenix/Maya

Prologue :: Second Chances

I was up by five in the morning. I'd dozed off sometime around two a.m., but I was awake after a few hours of nightmares. No matter what I did, I couldn't get Kiria Nomura out of my head. She permeated every cavity in my brain, declaring an objection whenever I dared to think of something else.

What had I gotten myself into?

When I sat down at my computer, I tried to convince myself that it was concern for my life that had me pulling up a search engine and typing her name in. I took a few breaths, staring at the text, my finger poised over the 'Enter' key, but I couldn't bring myself to press it. I suddenly remembered Mr. Edgeworth's face when he'd told Mr. Wright that he was instilling a bias in me. Would I gain a bias from a mere Google search? I tried to convince myself not, but my finger still wouldn't move.

I left the window up, moving around my apartment to make coffee and take a shower, but when I came back a full hour and a half later, I still couldn't do it. I couldn't push the button.

Needless to say, three hours of sleep and an unsolved mystery left me in a foul mood.

I drove around town aimlessly, cursing gas prices, before I found myself stopped in front of an apartment building. Namely, Kiria Nomura's old apartment building. It was tall and pristine, with metal balconies adorned with lawn chairs and tables. Kiria Nomura had lived on the top floor, I remembered. I got out of the car, peering up at the top balcony. It had the same chairs and tables. It was like it had been seven years ago, when she had lived there.

Of course, someone else was probably living there now. Death—or disappearance, as Maya predicted—did not stop leasing from happening. But even so, it was spooky, standing in the same place where she had undoubtedly stood, shielding her eyes from the sun as she evaluated the building as a potential home. It evoked a shiver down my spine, the same one as I would undoubtedly feel when I entered her old office again today and was transported back into her memories.

I took one more long look at the building before getting back into my car and driving to the office.

I arrived at work fifteen minutes early, even with my early morning detour. "Good morning, Polly!" Trucy greeted cheerfully. Her hands were clasped around a mug that I deduced from the color must have held hot cocoa or coffee with a ridiculous amount of cream and sugar in it.

I poured myself a cup of coffee from the carafe. "Good morning, Trucy. How did you sleep?"

"Great!" She giggled. "Pearly and I had a sleepover!"

For any other teenage girl, this might not have been such a big deal, but it was to Trucy. Although her adopted father attempted to give her as normal of a childhood as possible, there was no denying that Trucy Wright had been forced to grow up at a young age. She'd once confessed to me that she'd envied those girls in school with the large packs of friends who would go to the movies every weekend, because she'd had to work. And while she loved doing magic, she'd missed out on a crucial point in her childhood. So if she could have her childhood now with a girl who had missed out on the same opportunities, I wasn't going to ruin it, despite the crappy morning I'd had.

"That's great. Did you do all of those normal girl things?" I asked, slurping some of my coffee.

She cocked her head. "Normal girl things? Like what?"

I could tell that this was going to get really awkward really fast, but hey, I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently. "Oh, you know. Hair and makeup and all of those things? Talk about boys and shoes?"

She looked at me like I'd grown a second head. "Why would we talk about those things?"

Frankly, I had to agree. "Uh, yeah."

"Do you do those things, Polly? When you have sleepovers?" she asked innocently.

I blinked. "No." But I could feel my blush, which she was going to pick up on immediately and begin teasing me relentlessly about.

"Then why would you ask?" she asked, leaning forward as if to intimidate me.

"I—uh, I heard that—um, girls are supposed to—uh, talk about that stuff."

"Girls are supposed to talk about what stuff?" Mr. Wright asked, emerging from the office.

I didn't need to be teased relentlessly. "Nothing," I quickly said, taking another sip of my coffee before I could break under his searching gaze.

"I didn't realize you were up," he said to Trucy, mussing her hair affectionately. "You're up pretty early. Pearls still sleeping?"

She nodded.

"Well, Apollo, it's up to you. You can wait for everyone else to get here, or we can start working now." He perched on the edge of the desk, shrugging his shoulders. "It doesn't matter to me."

I drained my cup, setting it in the small sink. "I'll get started."

"That's the spirit." He led me into the room, motioning to the MASON system. "I'll get it calibrated from the other side. You relax. It's just like yesterday."

I shoved the helmet on, and the screens began to play.

It was time for Round Two.

A/N: Volume two is finally up! There's always this weird celebratory feeling when you start a new fanfic. I'm relieved, if only to start at the small numbers again!

So, obviously, if you haven't read The First Strike, you've got to read it for any of this to make much sense.

Happy cinco de mayo~ Celebrate responsibly.

Read and Review!