Author's Notes: ...Do I even have the right to show my face around here anymore? Actually the reason for the update is because I was re-reading this story and I found myself thoroughly entertained. Yes I am well aware that I wrote the story. But isn't it a good thing if you enjoy reading a story that you wrote? That's what I thought.

Disclaimer: No owning of Tales of Symphonia exists here.

Chapter 44: The Temple of Lightning

"Lloyd! Lloyd!" Colette chewed her lower lip nervously. She had walked for hours and hours in the darkness of Gaoracchia, but the forest refused to yield its secrets. Lloyd had remained out of sight, and Colette stayed lost. All sense of direction became muddled by the unchanging paths and circular routes. Everything seemed exactly the same as before.

She had tripped numerous times, falling over tree limbs, sticks, stones, specks of dust... Really anything that may have been in her path. By now her white—though hardly pristine—clothes were covered in dirt and mud. Sticks tangled their way through her yellow hair, now a mess of leaves and mud after her many blunders. It hadn't helped that the branches she crawled over or under were so adamant when it came to snatching at the gold locks.

Her feet ached after her eternal walk, and every limb in her body drooped in exhaustion. Had she been this tired when walking with the others? It seemed so long ago. Wait... When... when was now? How long was "long ago"? Colette stopped. Had days or weeks passed? Had it only been a few minutes? They hadn't even gone searching for her...

A twig snapped, and Colette tripped again. She lay on her belly, and held very still. Nothing stirred in the woods. After a heartbeat or two, Colette felt herself breathe again, and she rose to her feet. She didn't bother trying to wipe off the dust. There was simply too much of it, and the effort would lead to a greater mess than it was already.

Colette swiveled her head, blinking in surprise. She did not know how she had heard, but the quiet footsteps rang loudly in her ears. The blue hair obscured his face, but Colette found it easily recognizable. He just stood there, unmoving, unblinking, almost a spectral figure in the dim lighting.

"M-Mr. Yuan? Thank goodness it's only you! You scared me." Colette smiled brightly. He didn't return the gesture, or acknowledge her in any way. "Mr. Yuan?" Colette bit her lower lip, and took a few steps forward.

"I remember you." That wasn't Yuan's voice. It was a sugary voice, one so sweet, so cloying, that it made her want to vomit. "My dear, what would bring you so far from your friends?"

Colette spun around just as he stepped out of the shadow of a particularly large and gnarled tree. "You-you're Yggdrasill!"

"Yes. And you are Colette Brunel, the would-be Chosen had the... experiments… proven unsuccessful." Yggdrasill's self-satisfied smirk grew as the girl slowly backed away from him.

"...Experiments?" Yuan's eyes narrowed as he looked over at Yggdrasill.

The leader of Cruxis ignored him."My dear, it has taken a long time for this day to come. You are the perfect match for my sister." Yggdrasill offered a glance behind her. "Yuan."

Yuan let out a frustrated sigh, but obeyed the unspoken command regardless, and grabbed a hold of her arms. "Don't struggle and it will go easier for you." She twisted her neck to look up at him with fearful blue eyes. His green held no emotion. Had... had he really never cared? Was it all a lie? Yuan was the leader of the Renegades. Why was he helping Yggdrasill?

"Wha-what about the Renegades? I thought you said that...!" The look of horror on his face made Colette realize she said something dreadfully wrong. "I-I'm sorry."

It was too late.

Sheena could feel herself shaking. She kept telling herself that she had to do this for Lloyd and Colette. B-but could she really? Could she face Volt again? She bowed her head. 'What if I fail them?'

Zelos frowned. Sheena was clearly upset. She did not need to think of the possible outcomes. But it would look weird for him to try and "comfort" her…

A lazy grin stretched over his face. "C'mon my beloved Sheena! Lighten up already. I hate seeing any of my lovely hunnies so down and depressed!" Zelos casually wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her against the open collar that exposed most of his upper chest.

Sheena jumped, jerking her elbow into his gut. "Oof!" Zelos doubled-over, but his eyes remained fixed on Sheena's face, watching her reaction carefully. Depression turned to anger and indignation in a flash.

"Don't touch me you stupid pervert!" He smirked inwardly, grinning at his success in distracting her from her troubles. He knew it wouldn't last long, but still…

"Volt should be just up ahead," Kratos cut in, abrupt as per usual. Sheena shivered. "It will be alright," he said. Coming from anyone else, the odd attempt at comfort would have been awkward and out of place. Coming from Kratos… it was outright surreal.

"…ye-yeah." Sheena bit her lip. Kratos did not seem to notice (or care) about how ineffective his "comforting" words were.

They came to a large antechamber, with a mirrored set of stairs on either side of the room. They led to an overlooking platform, where an altar rested in the center of the balcony. It was small, but still rather impressive with the intricate designs carved in blue along its sides. Sheena gulped for air, her chocolate brown eyes unimaginably wide. This place... Sheena fell to her knees, buckling under the torrent of memories filling her mind. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to banish them. But they simply kept coming, replacing the dark with lightning and the stench of burning flesh...

Then all of a sudden, the crack and sizzle was real. Her eyes flew open as she sensed the ball of energy, and she found herself lost in those vicious red eyes glaring down at her hatefully. Volt made a sound. An incomprehensible sound.

Sheena ground her teeth in frustration and fear. "I-it's just like last time! I can't understand a word he's saying!"

"Sheena, calm down," Raine spoke in her soothing tones. "he says, 'you who have the right of the pact, I am one bound to Mithos.'"

Gasping for air, Sheena tried to gain a hold of her voice. She just managed to override her fear with routine. "I-I... ask that thou annulst thy pact with M-Mithos and form a new pact with me."

Volt's lightning cackled angrily, knocking Zelos and Genis to the ground, and even caused Kratos to lose his balance. "he says, 'I desire no new pact. I will not be betrayed again.'"

"You are certain?" Kratos asked this time, fearlessly stepping toward the ball of energy. A bolt of lightning shot inches away from his feet. Kratos didn't so much as flinch. "You and I both know Mithos needs to be stopped," he said, quieter this time, so the others could not overhear. "Sheena and the others... I believe they can do it. They can set the world to rights. They can undo the mistakes we made so long ago."

Volt lashed out, his eyes flaring red as lightning flashed around the group in a wide ring. Kratos drew his sword. "Be on your guard."

Endnotes: I told Yuan those child grabbing classes would come in handy... Yes I know I probably don't have the right to do a cliff-hanger at this point but the next chapter is mostly complete I just need to do a few more checks before updating again. So, probably soon.

As for what happened to poor Yuan... That's what happens when you demand things of me! He just really wanted to be in this chapter, and that was the way I worked him in...