Lightning sliced through the armored hull and rolled under the great machine. Powered and manipulated by the great Fal'cie Eden, a vast majority of their machine fighters had turned against them in the war, greatly weakening Cocoon to the scourge they'd once depended on to keep them safe.
A missile silo lowered from the machine's undercage, firing out with heated discharge that passed so close to her shoulder, it burned. Lightning jumped and rolled to the carved ditch, dropping four feet into the lip of it. Screams rose up behind her. Lightning popped back up to see over half her crew decimated, the stench of burning bodies only overpowered by the nearly nuclear discharge that'd created a crater where her squad had crouched, firing from above.
"Around!" Lightning barked, "Flank around!" The machine's automatic picked up on fire, hitting the left side. All those who didn't duck quick enough were quickly ridden with dozens of bullets. Lightning crouched up firing, aiming for the scanning socket the machine used to detect them. The right flank fired with her. "Jack, where are my god-damn reinforcements!" Lightning snarled to her communicator. It only buzzed in deadened response.
The flamethrowers started up.
"Fuck!" Ripping off the useless piece the Fal'cie had probably hacked, Lightning fired once more, a shot that cracked the beaming scan port, then ripped up from her cover, blade flicking out from her gun. Jumping to the crashed school bus that they'd murderously burned to a husk of metal several days back, the children still inside, Lightning sprinted up the incline and jumped, powerful Omega ripping through steel like shredded paper as she drove it to brace her landing. Catching her balance as quickly as she could, Lightning forced to her bloodied knees and wrenched the gunblade free to stick the ungodly machine several feet further ahead.
Slowly, she climbed.
It was one thing to know soldiers were dying under her command, a cold fact Lightning dealt with daily in this war. It was another to watch the slaughter from atop an automated destro-bot's back. Lightning forced herself to ignore it, the clear death screams that tinged the air, countless men who fought and died for the safety of their families, reduced to ants in their last moments under the might of demi-Gods. She couldn't even signal her troop anymore, God-dammit. These fuckers would pay. Even if it killed her, Lightning vowed on every dead soldier present. The fal'Cie would pay for this.
They wouldn't win this battle, but humanity would not fail in the war.
Lightning reached the zenith and raised her gunblade again, ramming the weapon as hard as she could against the bulletproof, glass sheen encasing the metal core. The blow jarred straight up her arms to shoulders, but the glass barely splintered. Lightning lifted it again and stabbed, crushing against the glass with all the might she had.
The splinters grew.
She smashed, again and again, slowly deepening the spider-cracks across the glass.
A small group tried to follow her up the bus, seeing her success. The first man missed the jump, and Lightning almost lost her balance with the machine's auditory sensors to noise. She cringed as her fellow braver soldiers fried in a blaze, unable to even call out to them over the roar of creaking machinery and the steadily dying buzz of gunfire as guns dropped with the dead.
Exhausted, heaving, she crushed the glass again, so close she could feel it. Cries of her soldiers died with the machine's self-preserving lurch that caught Lightning before she could catch herself. As such, Lightning pitched over its high front and struggled to slow herself, unable to drive her gunblade into the metal with enough force to stop her fall. Instead, sparks flew in her downward tumble before the blade flipped up to gun and Lightning curled, smacking to the ground as loosely as she could manage, which snapped something nasty.
Lightning groaned, but adrenaline ate the pain quickly. She aimed up to the monstrosity and fired away rapidly with her one good arm, shot of fire wavering unsteadily.
The machine's giant leg lifted to crush her, the only remaining resistance in a field of dead men.
Lightning started to roll, heart sprinting a mile a minute.
A thundering bellow rocked through the air. The foot landed— to the left of her— and Lightning rolled to her back just in time to see the shadow pass overhead before the tinkle of shattering glass broke above her. Lightning covered her face against the falling pieces. She backpedaled, cutting her arms up unavoidably in the process, since her right leg wouldn't help to move, and pulled back to a safer distance, where she spotted the woman at the giant's central core. With the strength of ten behemoths, the woman rammed her spear to the adamantite core and wrenched through its electrically powered innards, that spot of Dark Matter that kept the monster alive.
The hulking metal froze, short circuiting.
The woman hopped from the machine quickly, hitting the ground spear-first before she sprinted.
And then it started to fall.
Lightning heaved away, crawling, broken limbs hampering her escape. So close to her freedom— She'd be crushed in seconds.
She closed her eyes in her moment of death. I'm sorry, Serah.
Lightning's arm wrenched out of its socket as she lifted over gravel, momentarily flying before she hit hard rubble and crumpled. Something thunderous shook the earth. Strong arms lifted her within seconds, cradling her body. Lips pressed to hers, breathing hot breath.
Lightning's eyes shot open. "I'm awake," her heart thudded. The woman pulled from her. "And you forgot to hold my nose." Lightning realized they were already in motion.
"Keep thinking about it," the woman advised.
She didn't understand. The pain hit seconds later with the slowing of her energized heart. Lightning gaped with the sudden rush of agony and nearly seized. She gawked for inability to speak.
"Bite down," the woman ordered, indicating her arm where Lightning curled.
Lightning's teeth drew blood.
"Fuckin' bastards." Fang hurried quickly home.
"What's an idi… idi-oat, Mum?" Raina asked, inquisitive, stumbling over her pronunciations.
"It's someone who doesn't think very much, honey," Lightning explained, cradling her little girl. She stroked her daughter's pink hair fondly, hair Raina had inherited from Mom's style, almost identical but for her red tips.
Lynx looked to her father with a puzzled frown. "I like bloody, soul-sucking bastards better."
"Lynx," Lightning reprimanded, "Ladies don't use that kind of language."
"Daddy does," Lynx argued, oceanic eyes seeking approval. Fang rapidly shook her head. Lightning gave her a look. "So does grandpa."
"Which you will not take after, because daddy and grandpa have dirty mouths."
"Hey!" Jaeger protested from the other room somewhere.
Fang pouted, earning another look.
"Daddy?" Cereza's silver brow furrowed in immense concentration. "Wasn't this the first time you met Mommy?"
"The very first."
This only distressed the child's brow further, brilliant blues a reflection of Lightning's. "But you kissed her."
Fang nodded slowly, "Yeah?"
"But Mommy was hurt."
"Ooh," Raina cooed, lisp taking the harsher edges of her words. "Did yo'r lips make it better, daddy?"
"For a little bit, they did!" Fang claimed honestly, "I was trying to keep her adrenaline up so she wouldn't feel any pain."
Lightning rolled her eyes. "Daddy just wanted a kiss."
"But you were hurt." Cereza repeated.
"Sometimes Daddy doesn't think." Lightning added.
"Like an idiot!" Lynx giggled.
"Sometimes," Lightning agreed, drawing Fang's sad eyes out. "But she's cute enough to make up for it."
"Yeah, hear that?" Fang ruffled Lynx's messy hair, her pink highlights tossing all in a fritz. "I'm cute."
"Daddy!" Lynx swatted at her hand, then jumped Fang when she didn't stop. Fang chuckled, catching her easily in Lynx' miniature attack. Fang wrestled with her playfully, Lightning fondly watching.
"Mommy?" Lightning looked to her eldest, or the one who liked to play the part at least. Cereza had only beaten her sisters by seconds at that. "Did you like the kiss?"
Lightning smiled, stroking little Raina's back. "My mind was on other things."
"Like being hurt?"
Lightning waved her silver-haired daughter over. Hair cropped short like Jaeger's, her idol, light blue glints glistened as she sat on Mommy's other lap. "Your daddy's a hero, you know."
"I know, Mom. But Daddy says you save her too! Every day, she says."
"Daddy's sweet," Lightning kissed her cheek fondly, "It's why we let her get away with things we sometimes know to be inappropriate."
"So it was wrong?" Cereza asked, "She kissed you too soon?"
"Not wrong necessarily," Lightning corrected, "Just very forward. I grew to love her, but Daddy was very hasty. It's why I had you angels so soon after meeting her. We both got lucky we wanted the commitment."
"That seems risky, Mom."
"It was," Lightning stroked her shoulder lovingly, "When you become of age, I encourage you to wait as long as it takes. There's no need to rush in love."
"I think I'd want to," Cereza considered, "I'd wanna mate who's children I have."
"That's very mature of you. I approve." Lightning kissed her brow. Cereza glowed.
"Hey," Fang grumbled, in the midst of being pinned, "What're you teaching my children?"
"Gotcha, Daddy!" Lynx cried victoriously, on top of Fang and holding her wrists to the ground.
Raina yawned, quiet among her sisters. "Tired, Raina?" Raina snuggled. Lightning kissed her little head. "Let's get you to bed," Lightning stood with both children, who clung to her warmly.
"Bed?" Lynx complained, "It's only nine!"
"And you're only four," Lightning pointed out, "If we went by number, you're five hours overdue."
"Lynxxx," Lightning whined back, "Your father will get you your warm milk for the evening."
Lynx grumbled more, like an accusation. "You just wanna have sex with Daddy." Fang perked. "See!"
"Bedtime, Lynx!" Fang encouraged, scooping her right up.
Lynx groused. "Way to pushover, Dad."
"It's what bottoms do," Fang informed, going to the fridge to grab out the milk. "And don't tell Mommy I said that, either."
By the time Fang had catered to the small child, Raina and Cereza were already tucked into the giant bed. Fang carried Lynx on over, giving her the far seat by the nightstand. She seated her in, then tucked the edges, an old Cocoon manner Lightning had told her from her childhood. The children seemed to like it dearly.
Fang kissed Lynx' head, then Cereza and Raina, whom they kept secure in the middle. "Goodnight, loves."
"Night Mommy, Daddy," came the response three different ways. Lightning kissed her missed Lynx, who grabbed her warm cup and drank.
Lightning rubbed Cereza's forehead fondly until the little one closed her eyes too. Raina snuggled between her two sisters. Fang glowed.
Leaving their sleepy children, Lightning and Fang quietly shut the door behind them. Fang took her hand. Lightning squeezed it. "I don't think we have time, Fang. Twenty minutes till Jihl expects us, and you know how you are before battle."
"Lie with me?"
Lightning led the way to the bedroom. "Ten minutes,"
Fang would take it with this woman.
Curling on their bed behind her, Fang's arms wrapped around her securely. Lightning breathed a contented sigh, snuggled to her woman. Fang's lips touched her neck gently. "We could've dumped the children."
"And you wonder where Lynx gets her caustic sense of humor."
Fang pouted; Lightning felt it on her lips. "She called me an idiot, Mom."
"At least it wasn't bloody, soul-sucking bastard." Lightning turned her head back, accusing lip. Fang mewled. "The doctors were wrong when they told me I'd have three."
"Are you saying I'm a child?" Fang's lips drew up petulantly.
Lightning chuckled faintly and kissed her. Fang's hand lifted to her cheek and cupped it, making sweet love to Lightning's delightful lips. Lightning savored her, then released mutually. "You despoiled the honest soldier out of me."
"Does that mean I can do you now?"
"Not yet," Lightning kissed her again chastely, "Soon."
"You know what Jihl needs?" Fang grumbled, "A Yun. Woman can't allow any fun, but if she knew…"
Lightning's smile touched her eyes. "I love you."
"Pretty sure you can feel my love," Fang grumbled, snuggling to her warmly. Still touched, they didn't say it often enough. Fang kissed her cheek. "I love you too, Claire."
Lightning warmed, resting in Fang's arms.
The door creaked open a few restful moments later. "Light, Fang,"
Fang glanced over with Summer's familiar lilt. Lightning murmured, only coming out, "Mmm?"
"Anya's back in. She arrived a little after I fetched the kids and tucked them in with yours."
"Is Serah home?"
"Not yet, but her shift ends in a couple hours." Summer paused, "Are you ready?"
Lightning exhaled softly, upset. "We'll be there in a minute."
Summer bowed her head, sorry for having to disturb them at rest. Lightning especially must've been so beat. Summer wondered the last time she'd slept.
Closing the door behind her, she left the couple at peace for the one lasting moment she could give them.
"Sky," Serah cooed, cozy in the strong Yun's arms, "Don't get hurt out there."
"I'm not going to get hurt." Sky rubbed her back, squeezing her.
"You better not, else you won't get any after-fight relief with me. I'm not letting you tear another injury on me."
Serah kissed her, which Sky eagerly accepted before Serah found herself backed to the wall, glorious Yun hands on her prime body. She moaned into the beautiful touch, yearning for this Yun. Sky's lips dropped to her neck, skilled hands making her eyes flutter. "Okay," Serah breathed, "Maybe I'll still do you."
Sky kissed her soft on the neck. "Once more before I go." Serah unexpectedly clenched.
"You'll be late."
"No I won't." Sky's fingers slipped under her skirt. Serah's ripped panties fluttered to the floor.
"We're in the kitchen," Serah protested meekly, words coming weak, even to her. "Anyone could walk in."
"They won't." Sky's pants unzipped. Serah felt her girth and gasped, gratefully taking in that bulge that had her moaning. Weak in the knees, Sky pushed her against the counter's edge. Serah stretched to encompass her, clenching even by first touch.
Sky supported her up through the strokes, making Serah gape with every resurgence, whimpering on the withdrawals. She trembled within minutes, and Sky readily kissed her up for it. She came on Sky's biting kiss, so powerfully entranced with this woman. Sky slammed into her one last time, hot seed gushing to join her heat. She caught Serah against her body with Serah's flop off the counter's edge and held her while Serah caught her breath again.
"I'm so… embarrassed," Serah breathed, cheeks flush with her heat. "You make me so… so hot, so fast." She inhaled deeply, "You could've… could've gone four times that, couldn't you?"
"That's for the after-sex," Sky smiled at her half-wheezing laugh, kissing that pink head.
Serah and Sky both looked back to the door where a pale, charming boyish grin stood. "Hey, Tiger. We've gotta pull out."
"I'll be there in a minute," Sky dismissed.
Sky waited, then growled behind her. "Leave, Hawk!"
"Oh sure, be a prude to your good buddy Hawk. Last time I let you love me up the ass, my friend."
"She's kidding," Sky clarified quickly.
"No I'm not!" Hawk called through the closing door.
"She is." Sky insisted, "I've never had sex with Hawk."
"Keep saying it, you might convince yourself it's true!" Hawk echoed through the closed door, making Sky rumble.
Serah giggled and stroked her cheek fondly. "It's okay. I'd still want you."
"Threesome?" Hawk asked hopefully.
"Ignore her," Sky passed off, "She's a dog. Would probably fuck one."
"What?" Hawk protested, "I would not!"
Serah kissed her, smiling, aglow in Sky's arms. She pulled back only to keep from arousing her again, knowing how sensitive Sky's smell was. Sky rinsed with a counter cloth and zipped herself back up. "Come on," Serah held out her hand, "I'll walk with you to the front."
Sky took her hand and went with her through the common entrance where the soldiers staying on at the safe house handed off their gear. Sky bent to kiss her again to Serah's joyful 'Mmm,' and the second glance of a couple soldiers returned to home duty.
Hawk reached to cup her during the kiss, to which Sky punched at her and Hawk ducked out, chuckling away.
"Be safe," Serah bid, wishing Sky and her fellows goodbye.
Smiling to the new set of soldiers freshly returned, Serah reported she'd be making food for those hungry after showering. Serah retreated to the kitchen, disposed of her panties and cleaned up after her and Sky, adding air freshener in case any smelled her. She started off to work cooking and made it halfway by the time the first of the soldiers reported back down.
"Ahh, better," the dark haired one bid, hair slicked back after his long shower.
"Smells good in here," the second, blondie, bid cheerfully.
"I'm Serah," Serah introduced herself, used to serving these shifts for the soldiers.
"Rick," the blond greeted.
"Name's George," Slick drawled, "You can call me Geo, though. And might I say what a nice finish it is, having a pretty little thing such as yourself serve us weary soldiers."
"You can say that because I'm flattered," Serah offered a kind smile, accustomed to complimentary remarks like so while on the job, most not as kindly stated. Yuns were mostly the only other women these guys saw on the job and they tended to have a stuck-up opinion about their kind, since Yuns were so blatantly arrogant against them too. "Thank you."
"It's no problem, Baby," Geo rolled out, "Credit goes where credit is due. Isn't she a pretty lassie, Rick?"
"Your hair," Rick nodded up to it, "You're not a Yun?"
"No, not me," Serah chuckled, even more flattered by that mistake, "I'm no warrior; home-girl, from Cocoon."
"You was kissing one," Dark-skinned Tom contributed. "That your girlfriend?"
"Sky?" Serah shook her head, "No, no, we're just good friends."
"Good friends you kiss," Tom re-emphasized.
"She says it isn't like that, Tom. It isn't like that," George leaned to the counter beside the stove where Serah cooked, "It'd be too much of a shame to waste such a pretty girl on one of their kind anyway."
Serah frowned. They were all sentiments she'd heard before about the Yuns, but it never ceased to bother her. "Again, I'm flattered, but that's my friend you're talking about."
"I didn't mean anything by it," Geo cooled off just as easy.
"You kiss all ya friends?" Tom wasn't so quick to drop.
"Tom," Geo started in warningly.
"That wasn't no relative's kiss," Tom shook his head, "I saw the tongue. She's one of them Yun sympathizers."
"A convert," Rick spit, "Disgusting."
"I'm sure it's not that," George made another attempt, then reached out and touched her cheek, startling Serah, but he stayed gentle. "You don't crush on those Yuns or anything, do you baby girl?"
"She's flinchin'" Tom pointed out, "She didn't flinch with that Yun in her throat, but Geo just touches her an' she's all scared and shit. I'm tellin' ya, it's one of thems. She fucks with that thing!"
George's brow furrowed, "That true? You go for the Yuns, girl?"
"Think that one's packing?" Rick spat again.
"Lesse if this' familiar," A strong hand grabbed her ass, fingers curling under her pantie-less skirt.
The pan flew on panicked instinct, smacking Tom across the cheek where flesh burned with Tom's howl.
Rick and George looked down at their friend, then up to Serah with the hot pan. "Get 'er!" Tom yelled, springing a seething Rick to action. Serah flew by George before instinct could drive him to her too. Tom scrambled from the floor, horrid burn riding up the side of his face. "Get that fuckin' bitch!"
"Tom— " George started going to help, but Tom pulled up himself. "She's a lyin' Pulse bitch!" Tom tore off on after.
Serah's heart rushed to her throat in her mad dash away, Rick right on her heels. She raced down the hallway, feeling his hand at the back of her neck a moment before his fingers snagged into her shirt and choked her back. Slammed to the floor and dizzy, Serah threw the hot pan up at him and squirmed back away— right into a Tom's greedy arms. Dragging her up against his body, Serah felt a hardness there. She fought for all she could, but Tom was just too strong.
"That's right, bitch, squirm. Know what it is to feel a real man." He thrust her against the wall, but before Serah could do anything, Rick's strong arms pinned her, one grabbing both her wrists, the other centered hard at her back.
Serah heard a zipper. She yelled for someone to help her, terrified, but kept her wits as he stepped towards her.
He leaned over to her ear, "See how you like a real size, slut."
Then, with the most powerful force she could muster, Serah rammed up her back foot, snapped right between his legs.
Tom dropped like a rock crying, but the snap earned her a hard shove till she hit the floor, Rick's heavy weight dropping on top of her. Serah's skirt flipped up under his frisk.
She squeezed her eyes shut and yelled again, squirming, but was not stronger than he.
"Rapist," A new raged, hissing, followed by a quick snap. Rick's weight fell to the side of her, grip loosened. Serah scrambled for freedom, turning to see a tall, pale woman pinning Rick by his neck. "The lady said no." A knife followed, sinking into Rick's chest. Serah screamed.
The woman turned to her. Serah recognized her from earlier, the one Sky had known. "Hey," the woman spoke. She cowered back at her first step, to which the Yun paused entirely for her. "You okay?" the woman asked, voice softer in frozen step of her approach.
Serah struggled to remember, mind abuzz with panic. "H- Hawk?"
Hawk nodded once. "Sky's friend. It's okay. I won't hurt you."
"Hawk… " she mumbled, curling, overwhelmed. Hawk waited, then took a small step closer. Serah flinched, but didn't squirm as she had. Hawk took another to her, then another, and knelt before Serah. Serah looked at her, fear still alive in her eyes. She searched Hawk's face, finding familiarity in the slender curve of her face, her distinctly beautiful Yun features, oddly pale.
Serah unexpectedly threw herself at Hawk, who caught her easily and held her as Serah cried into her shoulder, distraught and shaking.
When Serah had calmed enough, Hawk helped her up slowly and guided Serah along to the door, flicking something sharp by the side of her hand to Tom, which ended in a suspiciously gurgled choking. Serah winced. Hawk gave her a gentle squeeze. "It's okay," she bid again softly, "I've gotcha."
They hit the kitchen where George still stood frozen. Hawk reached for another miniature throwing dagger, but found none. She leaned Serah to the wall. "Look away," Hawk told her, guiding her head away. Hawk disappeared in a flash, followed by another gurgle.
"Hawk, don't!" Serah squeaked, protesting when she realized Hawk was killing him too. Hawk looked to her, George suspended in the air by one hand that could probably break his neck. "H- He wasn't part of it. N-N-Not fully."
Hawk looked back to the man suspended. "Lucky day," Lowering him, she instead jerked her knee up. Something cracked between his legs. "Or maybe not." Hawk dropped him without further concern and returned to Serah's wincing side. "Here," Hawk gingerly offered her arms. Serah gratefully sunk to her, where Hawk picked her up bridal-style and carried her. "I'll call Sky," Hawk promised. Serah clung to her tight.