Shadowlord Nier hoped he would be proven wrong but when he arrived at the Junkyard, he found damning evidence that everything Devola and Popola told him was true.
Destroyed beyond repair, the twisted, battered frame of Defense Android P-33 lay strewn on the platform below the main staircase of the old military base in the mountains, covered in jagged rents from a bladed weapon and burn holes the colour of deep purple bruises. Nothing remained of the Shade at all – a Shade that was damaged to the extent that it could not hold its physical form together was erased from existence like so much faulty code in the Universe – but the android was positioned as though it had been attempting to shelter something much smaller than itself. Khalil had been a young child when he was transferred into his Gestalt form. He had not been corrupted enough by the defective code to lose his mind and attack Replicants on sight. He was hiding from Shade hunts in the Junkyard and had somehow persuaded one of the ancient faulty androids to defend him – maybe old, abandoned faulty creatures had a kinship. He had fought the Replicant Nier in self-defence after he and the android protecting him had been hunted down and tracked back to their lair. The Shadowlord's homicidal Replicant had been thorough and merciless; he had destroyed the android first, then slain Khalil when he refused to flee and abandon the android.
The scene was exactly as Popola and Devola described. Not all the evidence was there but it was enough to fill in the gaps, considered all the other reports he had heard ever since his Replicant had waken up. He was insane, he killed without thought and he was searching for Yonah.
No, the Shadowlord corrected himself, he did not kill without reason, nor were his goals at all difficult to understand. The Shadowlord had already been told, by Yonah herself, what the Replicant was after. More accurately, while his goal was pure, most of his beliefs were entirely false and his methods pointless waste of life. He had already been taught that he was wrong but he refused to listen or change his course of action. He would not let anything as trivial as the truth or basic morality come between him and his goals. He was more dangerous than a completely insane person; he was a deluded fanatic.
He could not be allowed anywhere near Yonah.
"Take the rest of the Shades to the Second Floor," he instructed the leader of the survivors. The Replicant had left the Junkyard already, had no particular reason to return. There was nothing in the Second Floor that could possibly be of any use to him. Not that this would stop him killing every single Shade in the Junkyard if he found out that they existed; that was why the Shadowlord had already used Grimoire Noir to reprogram them with heavy armour and stronger magic.
If something went right for a change and the Replicant went to the next place on his treasure map – either the Ayrie or Facade – he would be walking into an ambush. The Ayrie was a disastrous place to be ambushed from, with its high ledges to snipe from and its precipitous drops to be pushed off, and it was already bristling with armoured Shades. Facade had something even more dangerous; a pack of wolves led by an enormous wolf that had, for some reason, been put through the Gestalt Project. The Shadowlord wondered if it been a treasured pet or just an attempt to test the procedure on animals first. Whatever the case, it had a full complement of Grimoire Noir's powers and a temperament as nasty as an angry wolf and a corrupted Shade combined.
The Shadowlord was not confident that these encounters would even slow the Replicant down. He had heard the rumours of the other Nier's power as well as his casual murderous prejudice against Shades. That was why he didn't visit the sites of the ambush himself. He went home, to conserve his power and to protect Yonah. He couldn't do anything for his daughter if he was killed in the front lines.
The Shadowlord Nier was standing on the balcony of the Great Hall, watching the Waltz, when he received the news that his Replicant was coming for him. Yonah was too exhausted to join him, so she was resting in bed. Her condition was getting worse, even though her Gestalt and her Replicant had been combined. At least her mind wasn't degenerating.
Everyone in Ayrie was dead, the messenger reported. They had managed to combine and form the 'Wendy' conglomerate but it, too, had been slain, then the village had been literally wiped off the face of the map in a huge magical chain reaction. The wolves of Facade were dead too – not just the Shade-wolf but the entire pack, including the cubs. The Replicant hated Shades so much that he even killed those who followed Shades in battle; he had also been known to kill the faulty Shades in the Lost Shrine, the ones who couldn't control their limbs properly, never mind fight back, and the intelligent Shades that had gone on an expedition to the Mansion above the research facility, to gather the books from the library.
Once the Shadowlord had subdued and captured his Replicant body, he would start working on a way to restore it to a state where he could use it as a physical shell again. If it worked without any dangerous side-effects, he would use the same procedure on Yonah. He had already made some progress in stabilising Gestalts: the Shades in the Ballroom were intelligent and capable of advancing culturally and one of the Shades capable of reproduction had recently farrowed a litter, meaning that they could rehabilitate a new generation of Shades from birth. He hoped that the Replicant's companions, a living weapon from a failed precursor to the Gestalt Project and a Replicant possessed by the sentient and extremely malicious Shade of a scientist involved in the project, could be captured and interrogated for the information they must have about the Gestalt Project, and how it was intended to work before it went so catastrophically wrong.
By the time the messenger arrived, a second messenger was already on their way to report the destruction of the androids Popola and Devola. The Shadowlord Nier ordered the remnants of his elite guard to protect Goose and the newborn Gestalts at all costs. Then he retired to his chambers to watch over Yonah.
Yonah was complaining about the other girl inside her head again. The Shadowlord wasn't sure what to say to her. He realised that it was going to be the hardest part of the battle, to convince her to co-operate and put her own interests first when she believed there was another child's life at stake, a child who had exactly the same thoughts and feelings as herself. How could he explain that the 'other girl' was just an empty shell of herself, one that she was meant to inhabit but that had somehow come to life and acted on its own, that she had as much right to claim back as she would her favourite dress or shoes if someone walked up to her and stole them from her? All he could think of was tell her that the other girl and her father weren't from the same world as them, didn't belong here, and that all she could do for them was take back her body so that her father could leave his own body as well, and they could go away together, back to where they belonged.
He wasn't even sure that one would work. It was only half true, and she was too intelligent to believe something that was only half true. He wasn't even sure if he would be given enough time to tell the story to her. They were coming. He could hear their voices. He could hear the distorted screams of his Shade guards dying. He could hear them pushing open the door.
((A/N: This is my first playthrough of endings A through D to Nier, I have done some research on parts of the game I just plain didn't understand but please correct me if I have gotten something drastically wrong. My mental image of the Shadowlord is that he is the opposite of NIer in that he can communicate with and understand the motivations of Shades but not Replicants.))