Chapter 6: Proof of Friendship
Before the crack of dawn, everyone was ready to move out and was either checking their equipment or fidgeting around unsure of what to say. Barely any of them thought they would get this far and the final battle put almost unbearable pressure on them. One of Anisette's own worries was what Aliasse would do if she had to fight Foerster, who despite never caring for Aliasse at Lanseal and abandoning her, would obviously still feel to Aliasse like her 'mother' in a way. Anisettte was all for keeping Aliasse behind as support, but No. 1 wouldn't hear of it.
"All of us are charging at the same time. The Regular Army is dragging its feet. It's up to us, the militia, to capture Randgriz castle and drive out the Federation," he said. "None of us is staying behind. We need as much infantry as we can muster, because we've got only one tank."
No. 1 had also made a pretty good plan - the tank would drive in front of the infantry and cover them while they attacked. The fencers and armored techs would be at the sides and back row so as not to expose the main infantry from any side. Aliasse wasn't going to stay behind anyway.
When everyone was in position, No. 1 gave a signal and the tank lurched forward with everyone else following. No. 1 was piloting the tank himself and he was surprisingly skilled at it. When Castle Randgriz came in sight they saw that the Federation was more than ready. A whole row of V2s preceded the gate. Being fake Valkyria, they were also significantly less powerful and they made it into the castle without any major damage. Once they reached the castle gates the tank turned right on its treads to circle around followed by part of the squad while the rest moved into the castle. Anisette and Zack, of course, were in the former.
Once inside the Federation and Gallian soldiers merged and everyone started shooting at everyone else. The orderly squad split up and took cover wherever they could. It was a long, tough fight that ended with the Federation pushed back by what remained of the Gallian squad. Anisette saw that Zack, Zakir, Aliasse and Dave were still alive but Pliskin was injured. Iya was healing him with the meager supply of ragnaid they had.
They left Pliskin and Iya behind for them to heal and moved through the rubble of the once grand castle to stick a flag in their newly formed base camp. Dave and Zakir were left there to defend it from the Federation soldiers that were still coming while Anisette, Zack and Aliasse moved back out to see how No. 1's part of the squad was faring. Outside it was silent as death and immediately Anisette sensed that something was wrong. They went to the castle's extremely spacious courtyard where lion's paw flowers grew in abundance and saw the remainders of the squad there. Bodies of soldiers were everywhere. Their tank stood there with fist-sized holes in its treads and No. 1 was slumped inside it. Anisette ran over and climbed the tank to check up on him.
"He's dead," she said quietly.
Zack and Aliasse climbed up silently, unsure of what to say. Zack finally crouched by No. 1's body and said, " ... thanks for bringing us where we are, No. 1. You did a really good job. I promise we'll take Gallia back." Forgetting aboutthe battle they stood there in silence.
"Hey! What's going on here-" Zakir said, running over and he fell silent at the sight before him.
"Zakir, what of the base camp?" Anisette asked.
"I left Dave and the others to defend it so I could check up on you guys," Zakir explained. "No. 1's..."
"I have an idea who did this," Anisette said, indicating the holes in the treads that she felt sure only real Valkyrian fire could make.
"Aliasse, over here," said Foerster's voice behind them and sure enough, she had turned into a Valkyria. Aliasse looked shocked.
"Mama, why are you here?" she asked.
"Oh, heck... Zakir, get Aliasse out of here," Anisette said as she and Zack readied her weapons.
"She's not going anywhere. She's coming with me," Foerster said forcefully. "Aliasse, there's nothing for you here. Come to my side if you actually want a future. Remember when you wanted to stay with Avan and Cosette? You've had nothing but wars then."
"Aliasse, don't listen to her. She doesn't care for you," Zack said.
Foerster cackled madly, seeming drunk with her power. "And do you? You dragged her into another war here. But if you two must be so insistent," she said, inclining her head towards Anisette and Zack, "then let's see what you can do against my power."
She raised the gun she had and fired the blue flame from it. Anisette and Zack dove behind the tank, but the flame simply ripped through the tank and hit Zack on the other side. Foerster smiled, raised her gun again and fired at Anisette who fell injured as well. She shot Zakir who didn't look as if he knew what to do.
"That was simple, wasn't it?" she said and turned towards Aliasse. "Now, Aliasse, over here."
"Aliasse... don't," Anisette said, clutching her side in an atempt to stop the pain.
Aliasse looked blank for a second, then a whip and shield materialized in her hands and she was covered in blue flame.
"I'm sorry, Mama," she said and she meant it. "But I can't let you hurt my friends any more."
"Fine," Foerster smirked, a lance materializing in her hands. "Then you'll have to die like the rest of them."
The moment their weapons met the courtyard was engulfed in a blinding light and Anisette shielded her eyes.
Despite being a Valkyria, Foerster didn't know her own powers, having not being one all her life and it ended with her mortally wounded and Aliasse left standing, breathing hard from the exhaustion of the fight. Anisette turned back to her more human form and knelt by Foerster.
"If this is what you chose, siding with feeble Gallians and Darcsens... you'll have to live with the consequences. You'll never have a normal life," Foerster gasped, blue flame still around her although more feeble.
Anisette, Zack and Zakir got up, still injured.
"Zakir, get Aliasse away from here," Anisette said. This time, Zakir did as she said.
Anisette pulled out her pistol and walked over to Foerster.
"Oh, it's you again," Foerster said, sounding exasperated even then. "You and that Darcsen..." she said, inclining her head towards Zack, "... you're blinded by patriotism."
"Give me a good reason, then, why this world won't be a better place without you," Anisette said, aiming at Foerster.
"Go ahead and shoot me then," Foerster said. "I have no regrets if this is the cost of research."
Over the horizon, Aliasse tensed as a gunshot rang out, then broke down in tears. Foerster never thought of her more than a 'subject', but she still thought of her as her mother. Zakir put an arm around her, trying to comfort her. As they went off to free Cordelia who was a prisoner in the castle's dungeon's, Anisette and Zack watched the flame fade away from Foerster. After an eternity, they had avenged the countless Gallians who had died because of Clementia Foerster.
"Guess we're done here, then," Zack said, walking away. Anisette pulled him around and kissed him, and he put his arms around her and returned it.
"Thanks for sticking through with me," Anisette said when they pulled apart.
"We're still staying together," Zack promised.
(A week later)
The Federation pulled out of Gallia, both countries having sustained heavy damage - Gallia in particular. But relieved that the war was over, the citizens started rebuilding the country and helping each other in every way they could.
Cordelia gi Randriz held a ceremony to present a Gallian Medal of Honour to the three soldiers who had been crucial to the end of the war: Anisette Nelson, Zack and Aliasse. None of them arrived to receive their medals.
(Near a village)
"Foerster told me they'd destroyed our village," Anisette said as she and Zack walked towards said village.
"Don't worry. We'll help in rebuilding it, people all over the country are," Zack assured her. "Do you think Aliasse will be okay?"
"Cosette will help her get over it," Anisette said. They had taken Aliasse back to Cosette. Aliasse had been uncharacteristically quiet ever since Foerster died. "At least, I hope she does."
"Aliasse saved us back there, and she has to go through so much now. Poor girl."
They arrived at the village and saw that it had been indeed completely destroyed and abandoned. Once Anisette's home, it was now more of a ghost village, with no living being in site.
"We'll help in rebuilding it," Zack said again.
"There's nothing here," Anisette said, "but I know this is our home."
Author's Note: Well, there ends another story. Sorry for the abrupt ending, but I barely have access to the computer now and couldn't write is as long and nice as I planned. This is probably the end of the entire story, but I suppose I'll continue it someday because I love this pairing so much.