This story takes place when the Renner Triplets are 19 years old, in 2269. In this story, Anastasia, as the infamous Judge Althaea, has been secretly fighting a private war with the 'New' Archadia for 2 years. However, a new threat has begun its approach, and Anastasia may have to sacrifice the thing about Judge Althaea that gave her confidence (her anonymity) to save that which she truly cares for...
Anastasia ran to her room, closing and locking the door behind her. Her sister Sasha and brother Sen were in another fight. The 2 rarely, if ever, got along, and Anastasia didn't like to see them fight.
Of the Renner triplets, Anastasia was the youngest, and undeniably the most timid and shy. In the presence of other people, unless she was close with them, she couldn't bear to look them in the eye.
Her computer sparked to life, adding light to her dark room. "Anastasia..."
It was Larsa, one of those few who managed to get Anastasia to open up to him. "Larsa...you can't imagine how good it is to hear you..." Anastasia rushed over, sitting at the desk near the computer.
"Siblings fighting again?"
"Well...I'm sorry this couldn't come at a better time then..." Larsa said, apologetically.
"Right, you've got something?"
"Yes, I need you to meet with me immediately."
"I'll be there momentarilly." Anastasia then logged off. She moved to one end of her room, and, kicking the rug aside, she revealed a small panel on the wall. Kicking a button on the panel, she deactivated the hologram hiding a secret passage, revealing an Ivalician Waystone.
Making sure the hologram closed behind her, she pressed a button near the waystone, revealing a set of Ebony-Black Plate Mail, designed after Judge Gabranth's Armor, only modified for a more feminine body.
She donned the armor, then activated the Waystone. A moment later, she found herself in a room on a Dalmascan Space Station near Earth. The only 2 in the room was Larsa and Gabranth. "Good to see you made it," Larsa told Anastasia, "I'll give you the details of the current mission shortly..."
Chapter 1: The TimidEdit
3 Days later
"Reports are still unclear, but what has been confirmed is the destruction of another Archadian Vehicle Production Plant. It is believed that, due to the nature of the attack, that this was again the work of the vigilante that calls herself 'Judge Althaea'. When the Dalmascan Navy discovered the plant, most of its starships were rendered into wrecks, and most of the Archadian Personel were found either imprisoned in their own brig, or those that apparently attempted to kill the vigilante were themselves killed. Again, while unconfirmed, reports suggest that the Judge is now using stolen experimental Archadian-Made Espers, apparently obtained from the Archadian Lab destroyed 6 months ago. These reports suggest Judge Althaea using a serpentile Esper of Water, currently only known as 'Leviathan', to wash away most of her opposition. Still no reports on the exact damage to the facility, but it is confirmed that this is a major blow to the Alliance of Unrelenting Darkness, and will likely give the Coalition an advantage, if the 2 superpowers go to war anytime soon. This is Yvekim Korsos from Coalition News Current reporting."
Sasha was watching the news, due to a lack of good TV on. She was, technically, Anastasia's older sister, although they and their 'older' brother Sen were really the same age. Sasha was just born before Anastasia, but after Sen. She heard the door open, and, a little tired, entered Anastasia. While she still cared a little for Anastasia, Sasha was somewhat resentful of her powers, and, due to her timidness, saw her as somewhat a coward. She pointed at the TV, and said to her 'younger' sister, "Looks like your deities strike again."
"Huh?" Anastasia said, before looking at the TV. "Judge Althaea...she's been appearing everywhere, hasn't she?" Anastasia, while tired, voiced her comment in a way where she could successfully mask her secret identity as the Judge in question.
"Looks like grandma all over again," Sasha responded, refering to their grandmother, Holly Uricei Lund-Urec. Anastasia remembered how their grandmother was, in her prime, one of the greatest heroes of the Coalition. She also remembered how their grandfather's first 'death' led to a downward spiral that led to Holly leaving the spotlight.
Anastasia then asked, on the Judge, "What's your opinion on her? I mean...she IS knocking the AoUD down a peg or 2..."
"Same opinion as I've got on the Ferrans and the Sigurdsons. They keep killing the enemy the way they do, you won't catch me complaining," Sasha answered. Then remembering something, she asked, "Also, where did you go? Not exactly like you to skip out for a few days."
Nervously, Anastasia answered, "I had...things to do..."
"And I had people to do. Sorry you had to see the fight, by the way," Sasha replied. Of her 2 siblings, or any of her direct immediate family for that matter, Anastasia is the one Sasha got along with the best: unlike her brother and mother, Anastasia wasn't bossy around her, telling her off on her actions over the years. Sasha knew that Anastasia felt the same way about her actions as her mother and brother did: she just appreciated Anastasia not getting on her about it.
"It's...it's ok...I guess..." she said sadly. It was no secret that there were times Anastasia wished Sasha and Sen would get along...she also knew better than to get on Sasha about it.
"To you it's not," Sasha replied, quickly able to tell that Anastasia was lying.
Anastasia started, "It's just..." but cut herself off. Instead, she sighed, crossed her arms, lowered her head sadly, and turned slighty. This was an obvious sign that she wanted to say something, but, afraid of angering Sasha, she tried to bottle it in.
Sasha, knowing what was bugging her, said, "If you can talk him into not trying to run my life, I'll do what I can to get along with him."
Anastasia responded, sadly, "I...I don't know if I can do that...Sorry...I...I gotta go..." Then, with a little bit of haste, she left the room, going up to her room. From the way she sounded, she was trying to keep from feeling upset.
Sasha sighed. "Why do I even bother?" she muttered to herself, before returning her attention to the TV.
After taking a few hours to calm down, Anastasia came back downstairs. There, she met her older brother, Sen Renner, named after their deceased Grandfather, Sen Urec. Like their grandmother Holly, Sen Urec was a well-renowned hero of the Coalition, until his deaths. First time he supposedly 'died' was in 2160. This led to the spiral that led to Holly leaving the galactic spotlight. However, as it turned out, Sen was alive, and returned 2216. However, Sen died again, this time for real, in 2250, at the hands of the clone Nes Ceru.
Anastasia got along ok with both siblings, but one thing she hated was how they didn't get along with each other. She understood they had different personalities and different views on different things...but so did herself and Sasha, and, while sometimes Sasha scared her, they did, to an extent, get along.
"Say...where's Sasha?" Anastasia asked her brother.
"Out...I don't know...I don't even see how you can get along with that..."
"She's my sister, Sen...and yours too...Sometimes, I really wish you'd act like it," Anastasia said to him.
"Well, maybe if you could convince her to stop being a bitch, then maybe I could..."
Poor choice of words. All he did was send Anastasia back up to her room again. When Sasha returned a half hour later, she'd find Sen sitting on the couch, hitting himself in the head with the butt of his lightsaber, again, and again, and again...
After a few hours in her room, Anastasia was visited by her mother, Elle.
While a caring parent, Elle hasn't been mentally right since the Mirror War: she underwent extreme psychological torture that left her partially insane, and because of the hallucinations she had, was highy protective of her children. While Sen appreciated Elle's protective nature, and Anastasia felt that her mother cared about her because of it, Sasha felt suppressed by Elle's overbearing care, and became rebellious.
Elle said to Anastasia, "Dinner's almost ready."
"Alright..." Anastasia said, in a sad tone...
Elle knew her daughter just wanted her siblings to get along, and while Elle loved them all...she sometimes couldn't stand Sasha. While she was at least glad Sasha got along with Anastasia...to an extent...she did more than piss Sen, and even Elle herself, off more often than not.
"Anastasia...I know you want your siblings to get along...but they're two totally different people...and people that different are hard to make get along: IceBite and Ian, I wish, would just get along, but they hold 2 totally different sets of ideals, of which, I agree with parts of both, but they just can't seem to be in the same room without fighting..."
"I know, but I'm just sick of all the fighting that goes on between those two. I understand they're different, yes, but neither seems willing to try to fix things between them...it's almost as if they like fighting one another..."
Unlike Anastasia's siblings, Elle knew better than to press a conversation that was upsetting Anastasia further. Instead, she said, "Well...dinner's gonna be ready in a minute, so wash up..."
"Alright," Anastasia responded sadly. Elle left the room, and, after a moment or so, Anastasia bured her head in her arm and cried: all she wanted was for her family to all get along, but it was becoming apparent that that will never happen, and that realization just made her cry more.
Chapter 2: Family TroublesEdit
It was a new day, yet Anastasia did not feel any better. To her, it was just another day where the infighting in her family would continue. Again she wished that her family could just learn to get along...and again she mentally kicked herself for thinking it: they would never get along.
Once again, she wished that her Judge Althaea persona was not just a buried personality inside her and actually a part of her. Maybe then she'd be able to drill her point home to her family. Althaea was always the stronger personality, more capable at standing up for her beliefs and desires. However, no matter how hard she'd try, Anastasia just couldn't be brave like her 2nd personality can.
She'd just finished brushing her hair, after getting dressed, and, fully ready, she went downstairs, to hear her mother and brother in a conversation. "No, I am not sure where she goes every morning. No, I do not know what she is doing. And no, I can't go into her room for details: she's boody-trapped the door to the point where I almost lost a finger just turning the door nob."
"I didn't say look in Sasha's room for her whereabouts..."
"Sasha's room? I was checking Anastasia's room, like you said! And I still think she has no idea either..."
"You're right...but still, I'm just getting frustrated about not knowing where Sasha is: what if something happens to her, and we can't get to her in time. As much as she pisses me off, I don't want to find her dead!"
Anastasia, knowing that if they got a chance, they'd pull her aside, quickly went down the stairs and exited out the front door. By the time either Elle or Sen could respond, Anastasia was already some distance away from the house.
Anastasia walked along the pathway, keeping her head down. Several groups of people were around her, and while some of them looked up at her, she just kept her head down, trying to keep from being noticed.
Finally, she found a bench in a secluded part of the area of the base she was in. She sat down and just hung her head low, thinking of all the issues with her life: her family not getting along, her father dead...
Suddenly, a gust of wind appeared, and a young-sounding, but experience-burdened voice said, "You're Anastasia...why are you here on your own?"
Anastasia looked up, and saw who the newcomer was: Galiana Matveev, one of the heroes of the Mirror War. Anastasia just kept her head low, hoping Galiana would just pass her by. After waiting a moment, she looked up.
"Doesn't work that way..." Galiana said, having caught onto Anastasia's plan early on. Anastasia jolted at that.
"Wha...what're you doing here?" Anastasia blurted out, before realizing what she said. When she did, she sputtered, "I-I-I-I'm sorry...it's just that."
Galiana came over and sat on the bench as well. "It's alright. I remember, many years ago, I too felt alone in the universe, and that I had lost any chance of anyone caring, or those who did care were always fighting."
"If you'd have lived as long as I have, you'd have experienced quite a bit. Now, what's going on that has you so depressed?"
Anastasia wasn't sure if she should say anything to Galiana, but, something about her just seemed to make her feel she can trust her. "It...it...it...it's my family...they just...can't get along! And they refuse to TRY to get along...No matter what I try...they just won't...won't..."
"That's enough...don't need to force anything out you don't want to," Galiana said. Then, she added, "Sometimes, you just can't make everything perfect...but..." She then stood up, and prepared to leave. "There are ways of making do with what you have. And, when you find the way to do so, sometimes, things get better..." After saying that, Galiana departed.
Anastasia thought over what Galiana had said to her: about how she has to make due with everything she does have, and, if things work out, things'll maybe get better. On the one hand, she just couldn't bring herself to believe that was true...but another part just hoped that it was.
Elle was alone at her house: Sen was out with his friends, and both Sasha and Anastasia had disappeared. She always had an anxiety attack when her children were gone: what if they were in danger and she wasn't around to help them?
Several years ago, she was captured by the Mirror Beings, where they subjected her to some form of psychological torture, practically scrambling her mind, until someone came and rescued her, restoring some semblence of sanity to her. However, she still has flashbacks fo the torture, which to her, showed images of those she cared for being mercilessly and brutally butchered.
For some reason, she can occasionally see some of them as her own children, and began to think that, in order to keep these flashbacks to become real, she'd have to do what she can to protect them. However, while Anastasia and Sen were more cooperative, Sasha not only denied Elle's attempts to protect her, she actually openly rebelled: staying out long past when she was supposed to be home, doing questionable actions despite the risk, and then, blatantly accusing her of suppressing her. All Elle ever wanted was for her children to be safe and happy, but with how ungrateful Sasha was being, it angered Elle to no end...
She felt about ready to smash something, but when she heard the front door open and close, she suppressed that urge immediately. She turned her head slightly, to see who came through, and saw Anastasia walking over to the staircase and going up to her room. Anastasia, she was also worried about: not only was she always depressed and shy, but she'd been disappearing a lot herself lately. However, something in Elle's gut told her that Anastasia's excursions were much more dangerous than anything Sasha was getting into...
Chapter 3: ...In the Dark...Edit
Anastasia had just finished dinner and now had left the house again, to wander the base again. Her thoughts shifted between her sadness over how her family couldn't get along, and Galiana's words about making do with what's there to make things better. She partially was still miserable about how her family could not get along, and how she couldn't do anything about it. She just wished that there was a way she wouldn't have to deal with this conflict anymore. However, nothing came to her...
Suddenly, she felt as though someone was nearby, watching her. Immediately alert (and nervous), she looked around her, trying to find who was watching her. She switched to Aura Sight, to try to find the aura of what was following her. Nothing. However, she still heard something approaching her...behind her. She immediately turned around, and saw a tall, imposing figure in black MJOLNIR Armor. Anastasia wasn't sure who it was, but when the figure spoke, it gave reason for her to calm down.
"So, you're Anastasia...they're right: you do look constantly nervous. Name's Tex."
Anastasia had never seen Tex, but she had heard of her. Nervously, she asked, "Your one of the Freelancers...the AI one, right?"
"Ummm...yes..." Tex responded, not necessarily pleased to be called an AI, despite the fact that it was true that she was one.
Anastasia immediately picked up on that. "Oh-oh, I'm...I-I'm, sorry, I didn't mean t-to..."
"It's...alright..." Tex hissed, clearly trying to suppress any angry thoughts she had, "I just don't like being refered to as an 'AI'..."
"So, what's the matter?" Tex asked.
"The usual things: family not getting along, and nothing I can do about it. Galiana tried to cheer me up...but all it's done is add more of a burden...I mean, I do feel a little...alright...over what she said...but...at the same time...it...it just makes me a little more uncertain..."
"Yeah, that girl was always one for cryptic responses..." Tex replied.
"I just wish that...my family would just get along...but with Sasha's rebelling and Mom and Sen's restrictive behavior..." Anastasia couldn't continue.
"You feel that they're not going to change, and tear your family apart," Tex guessed. Anastasia nodded in confirmation. Tex had several things she wanted to say, but, based on what she heard about Anastasia, none of them would have the desired outcome. Instead, she said, "Well...sometimes there are things you just can't change. Sometimes, you just have to deal with it."
"...You sound like Galiana right now..." Anastasia responded, seeing a correlation between what Tex just said and Galiana said earlier.
"I just said she has a cryptic way of saying things, I didn't say she didn't know what she's talking about...I have to go: gotta keep the bafoons in line..." With that, Tex left.
Now, Anastasia had 2 different people who both said the same thing to her: that she can't necessarily force her family together ,so try to make do with how her family is now. This, however, did not give her much in the way of confidence in her family possibly coming together. And that's the issue: all she wants is for her family to get along...
Chapter 4: Cold WarEdit
On the edge of Coalition space, an individual killed a young Ivalician. Absorbing the individual's access to the Mist, the individual now had the equivalent of 3 peoples' power over the Mist. Finally, he reached into the young individual's pocket, pulling out a glyph. Not an Esper, but an Archadian Eidolon. How such a young individual got a hold of the Eidolon, he was uncertain, but now it was his now. He'd soon break its spirit, as he did the other 2 he had.
He'd been hearing rumors of a person, some kind of female pseudo-Judge, from Coalition space striking blows against the Archadian Empire singlehandedly. He'd been wanting a partner to work alongside for a while, so he was readying for when he found her. And, if she wouldn't join him, he'd kill her family and her, then use her powers himself.
IceBite had called Ian to Kaven Base. When he arrived at Kaven Base, Ian snidely said, "If this becomes regular, I'll assume you want me on my knees."
"Excuse me for wanting to give you some information and wanting to make sure it got to you undisturbed..."
"Then start talking, because in this security lacking shithole, I'm feeling uncomfortable."
IceBite started with the intel, despite the anger he felt welling up inside of himself. "In the outer rim, we've received the reports of 3 Ivalicians, 2 of them in their mid-to-late teens, having been murdered."
"That's my problem how? No one has offered a job for it."
"This is different: all 3 bodies were analyzed, and all traces of Mist Energy were gone from them, as if someone harvested it from them after they killed them."
"Kcaz was killed by Sennes years ago."
"I know: that's why I'm worried: wouldn't be the first time that asshole was killed and returned from the grave, but even if it's not him, then it looks like we have a new problem on our hands. I felt I should let you know all of this, and hope you're able to use this information to protect yourselves, if our mystery power-stealer comes after you guys...I'm certain Dawn's replacing her staff again for the fifth time this month, trying to reconfigure everything to protect ourselves from this guy."
"Alright then. Tell your sister she still owes me that sandwich." Then, Ian left.
Once Ian had left the base's perimeter, Leinad said to himself, "I REALLY hate that guy!"
May, who IceBite had married a few years back, and was in the shadows that whole time, came forward and said, "Well...he's got his own people to take care of...and so do we."
Leinad looked up at her. "You're right..." he replied to her.
May continued, "We especially need to watch Vaan, Penelo, Balthier, Fran, and Anastasia...those 5 have Mist Powers, and if I read this guy's Modus Operandi correctly, he targets those with such powers."
"I know...I just don't want to give Elle more of a reason to be driven mad trying to protect her children...still trying to keep that bit of intel Zack gave not too long ago secret from her and her family..."
Giarc sat in the shadows of a marketplace on one of the worlds in backwater Coalition Space. He was thinking over his plan, to group up with Judge Althaea and convince her to side with him. However, in case he couldn't convince her, he was readying plan B: kill her and steal her powers. He surveyed the marketplace, looking for a potential victim, but none of the people he saw had any form of powers, let alone Mist Powers. He about gave up, when he spotted a 14 year old girl. He sensed strong Mist Energy resonating from her, but not with the 'family' surrounding her.
"Adopted, huh?" Giarc muttered. He disappeared in a flash of Vanish Magick. He'd stalk the family until they got to their home, then kill them all, and steal the daughter's power.
Chapter 5: ...Going HotEdit
IceBite exited the transport, after it landed on the hospital ship. Another Mist Power user was attacked: a young girl from an outlying world. Fortunately, Holly, Alban, Aria, and Johnson were in the area and were able respond to the attack quicky: at least he hadn't absorbed enough power to overpower them like Kcaz could have yet.
He arrived in the medical labs, where a pair of nurses were caring for the girl. She'd only barely survived the encounter, and only survived due to Holly's mastery of the Force. IceBite sighed with relief that the person killing these people didn't claim another victim.
He finally found the victim's family, wounded, but not nearly as bad as the girl was. The family looked worriedly at him, until he told them, "Fortunately, my people got to her in time. We believe she's gonna pull through."
The family, whose faces were drained of color, and expressions showed intense worry, finally relaxed, color returning to them. The father said, "I just don't get why someone would attack Melany: we adopted her when her family was killed 10 years back...We knew she was a Hume, from Ivalice, but we didn't expect someone to come after her..."
The mother then asked, "What should we do? None of us want to abandon her, but we also want to be safe..."
IceBite thought for a minute, before saying, "We believe the person who attacked your adopted daughter was also responsible for the deaths of 3 other Mist Power users. Hellcat Squadran's forces are currently on the lookout for any information regarding this predator. We'll take you to our base of operations: you should be safe there. Once we get there, I'll need you to tell me everything you know of the encounter. If you're ok with it, we have Psychics who can probably recover the details directly, but it's your decision whether you want to allow that or not."
The family thought for a moment, before the father said, "If it'll help you find the person that tried to do this to Melany, I'll do it."
It didn't take long for knowledge of the civilian family staying at Kaven Base to spread across the base, and soon, the reason spread even faster. Elle soon began making her children stay closer to home. However, she was now keeping a closer eye on Anastasia: the killer's MO involved targeting Mist Power users, so, naturally, Elle believed she needed to protect Anastasia more, as she had Mist Powers.
Sasha, while glad her mother and brother were not getting on her about her behavior now, felt pity for Anastasia: she knew the only reason they layed off of her, was because they were now working to keep Anastasia under lockdown. And that pity extended to the fact that a person out there is killing people with Mist Powers, which caused her to think that, while her family's actions are a little extreme, she admits that it would be a good idea to have Anastasia under protection.
Sasha snuck into Anastasia room through the window, to pay her a visit. When she entered the room, Anastasia took notice. "Sasha? What're you doing here?"
Sasha responded, "Thought you'd want company."
"Yeah...to be honest...it is getting a little lonely here..." She then sighed.
"Its criminal, really," Sasha said.
"Yeah, but at the same time, I really don't feel safe outside of here with that lunatic out there anyways: who knows where that guy is now?"
"Still, you think I felt safe first few times I went out?"
"No, I didn't. Nothing was scarier then when I took my shirt off in front of a guy for the first time."
"Ok...well, still, there's a murderer out there going around killing people with my kind of powers...Not sure what to think right now? If he was able to kill so many people with such powers, how could I ever defend myself if I were to encounter him?"
"Same way I dealt with a rapist when I was sixteen?"
"How was that?"
"I let him come close, then I bit his ear off, and then I broke his neck and hid the body in a dumpster."
"Ewww...not sure if I could do anything like that...not to mention this guy probably attacks from range anyways..."
Sasha sighed then...
"Sorry, just a little...scared...over this whole thing..."
"That's messed up. The most powerful one is the most afraid."
"...You think I'm the most powerful one?"
"Of you, me, and the neanderthal, yeah."
"...Thanks...kinda...need that confidence boost..."
"Yeah. I'm gonna go now. Now you know how I feel all the time."
At that moment, Sasha climbed back out the window, leaving Anastasia feeling a ittle more confident about herself.
Sasha readied to leave the base again, after having visited her sister. As she prepared her equipment, however, she saw something on one of the base's landing platforms: her mother and brother, fighting someone. She quickly realized this was the lunatic that was killing Mist Power users, due to how he was using extremely potent Mist Powers on them. She immediately readied her bow, and fired on the man, but he immediately deflected her arrow, responding by firing a Fire Magick at her.
Sasha ducked out of the way, then prepared a sneak attack. Hiding until she thought he lost interest, she then charged at him, readying her icepick. However, when she was close, he immediately faced her and fired a Thundara Magick at her. She was blasted backward by the attack, but still got up and advanced. The attacker just shook his head, and waved his hand, causing a gravitic rift to appear next to Sasha and explode, knocking her towards her mother and brother. Sasha, still trying to attack him, got up and kept going.
The man shook his head again. "You're efforts are futile. I am Giarc Evargrah, and I will be the one to destroy you." He readied a Thundaga attack, when several bullets and arrows shot towards Giarc. He was forced to bring up a Paling to block them, as Norm and Mark entered the fray.
"Heh...looks like this will get interesting..."
Anastasia tumbled the thoughts inside her mind over a few times. She knew that this person would eventually find her, but was uncertain she could take him on: it took Holly, Alban, Aria, and Johnson to chase him off, and he absorbed the Mist Powers of 3 different Mist Power users.
However, her conversation with Sasha earlier returned to her...
"That's messed up. The most powerful one is the most afraid."
"...You think I'm the most powerful one?"
"Of you, me, and the neanderthal, yeah."
She knew Sasha was right: she shouldn't be so scared of this man: she could probably take him down easily...However, how would she know where he was...
Suddenly, she looked out the window, and saw commotion on the landing platform. Using her Aura Powers to scan the battle, she sensed her family there, fighting...someone...and that someone was pounding them...hard. She quickly realized that it was the man hunting Mist Power users. She immediately realized that she had to help: as scared as she was to face him, her family was more important to her. She kicked her rug aside, and pressed the button under it. Once the hologram dropped, she ran to the armor cabinet, and openned it, showing her armor.
Giarc unleashed an Thundaga Discharge at Mark, before grabbing him by the neck and throwing him at the rest of the Renners, all of them now beaten and exhausted. At Giarc's side were his Eidolons Pandemona, Tiamat, and Alexander, who were responsible for weakening Sen and Elle. Elle, with her Disc Blades in had, tried one more, vain, attempt to attack, only to be knocked down by a Thunder attack.
"I guess I'll just crush you all here...then find that girl that escaped me on that outer world...and I heard of more Mist users here, should be fun to drain them as well...Then, I, Giarc Evargrah, can put my plan into-"
Suddenly, Metallic Clanking could be heard. "Or maybe it begins prematurely..."
A person is large, heavy Ivalician Adamantine Armor clanked onto the platform. The armor looked like Judge Gabranth's, only designed to fit a more feminine figure.
"Ah, it's you," Giarc said, "I've been following you, and been wanting to meet you for a long time...we have much to discuss...now let me dispose of these insufferable fools so we can talk in peace..."
The Renners remained silent. They hoped that Althaea was on their side, but with how long she stood their doing nothing, they became less and less certain.
Suddenly, Althaea finally reached behind her, clenched her weapon...and pointed it at Giarc. Giarc, realizing he wasn't gonna make an ally of her, snarled in anger.
Althaea then spoke, and the Renners realized...other than the subtle warping in her voice, she sounded drastically familiar. "I'm sorry, but I have loyalties to these people I cannot ignore."
Elle's and Sen's eyes widened: they realized who Althaea had to be...but they couldn't believe it. Elle even said “It can’t be…”
Althaea took her free and, reached up and grabbed her helmet, and removed it...revealing Anastasia's face under it. "It is..." she said to the others, in a serious tone the likes of which they never heard her speak in before. Then, she put her helmet back on, and turned at Giarc.
"I wanted this identity to remain hidden, so that I could continue fighting with confidence...however, family is more important." She then raised her dual-weapon, keeping it pointed at Giarc. "Giarc Evargrah! You've committed crimes against the Coalition. You will be judged...I'LL CLEAVE YOU!"
Anastasia separated her dual-weapon into its composing weapons, and prepared for the upcoming battle.
Sasha commented off to the side, "Cleave you? REALLY?"
Anastasia scattered 3 runes, releasing 3 of her own Eidolons: a massive bird-like creature crackling with lightning, a large red and black demon-like creature, and a large serpentile creature, that immediately mutated wing-like appendages. "Leviathan, Diablos, Quetzalcoatl...we must protect my family...defend them from his Eidolons, I will take him down. Now, go!" Anastasia and her Eidolon's charged forward.
Giarc, seeing the group attacking, said, "Now...things get interesting..."
Chapter 6: Sword of JudgementEdit
The Eidolons of both combatants soon collided and fought: Giarc's Pandemona was fighting Anastasia's Quetzalcoatl; Giarc's Tiamat was dogfighting Anastasia's Diablos; and Giarc's Alexander, the leader of his Eidolons, was taking on the leader of Anastasia's Eidolons, Leviathan Omegus.
Anastasia rushed Giarc. Giarc thought a simple Thunder would take her down, but he'd momentarily forgotten that this was Judge Althaea: she shrugged the attack off as if it were nothing, and proceeded to strike with her blades. The blades slammed into him full-force, and 5 swipes caused him to be thrown backwards: the first hits he took in this fight.
He picked himself back up, and fired Shock, a more potent Black Magick. However, Anastasia countered with Shell, which blocked the brunt of the attack. Knocked backward a little, Anastasia re-combined her swords and, with her newly-freed hand, charged Mist Energy, and projected it in the air. Soon, it gathered above Giarc, and then burst into heavy flame.
"Gah! Ardor! How skilled you are with Magicks for such a young girl!" Giarc then dispersed the flame around him, and fired his own Ardor attack. However, Anastasia dodged out of the blast radius, and began charging another attack: a scathing shaft of light shot at Giarc, who was blasted backwards by the attack.
Once Giarc picked himself back up, he saw Anastasia charging at him...however, the charge was broken off, when Diablos knocked Tiamat out of the sky, forcing Anastasia (and Giarc) to evade the falling Eidolon. Once Tiamat hit the ground, the dragon was reduced to a small Eidolon Rune.
Anastasia looked towards Quetzalcoatl, and watched as the Thunder Eidolon reduced Pandemona to a Rune as well. Finally, she looked over and watched as Leviathan engulfed the struggling Alexander in a tital wave, causing Alexander to transform to a smaller form, before also succumbing to defeat.
She then looked at Giarc, who was weakened slightly, but still going strong. Anastasia realized she needed to end the fight and quick.
"Heh...you think you're winning: I don't need those false espers to defeat you!"
"Your fight ends here Giarc! I will unleash my full power to stop you!" Anastasia then began charging as much Mist Energy as she could. Just as Giarc realized what Anastasia was about to do, he also realized he was too late to stop it: Anastasia unleashed her Quickenings.
Firstly, she charged energy into her blades, causing them to glow brightly, until she slashed the air in front of her, causing the energy to swing out like bladed whips, that struck, and cut into, Giarc hard.
Next, Anastasia charged energy into her clenched fist. Once fully charged, she swiped her hand back, before openning it wide and pointing it in front of her. Arcs of energy shot out from her, arcing everywhere, before changing course and slamming into Giarc, causing massive damage.
Finally, she began charging more and more energy, until finally, she leapt up into the air, and landed with a resounding crash. This forced the energy out of her and into the ground, forming a mist-charged fissure, that cracked towards Giarc. Giarc was unable to escape, and was swallowed by the energy of the fissure.
Then, the residual energy from Anastasia's Quickenings coalesced into a massive burst of Dark Magick Energy, sending tentrils of Dark Mist at Giarc, slicing and cutting into him. Once the energy cleared, Anastasia used her last ounces of energy to charge herself at Giarc, and sent her weapon, the Dual Starblade, swinging in a sweeping arc. The weapon made contact with Giarc, and, making good her threat from earlier, cleaved the being in half. Anastasia finally brought herself to a halt as Giarc's 2 halves, now devoid of life, began to dissintegrate.
After about a minute of silence, Sasha, refering to her response to Anastasia's threat to cleave Giarc in half from earlier, exclaimed, “Again!”
However, as Giarc finished dissintegrating, Anastasia became uneasy on her feet, tottering and about ready to fall over. Sasha and Mark were the first to her, slowly easing Anastasia to the ground. Once she was laying down, Sasha removed Anastasia's helmet, revealing Anastasia's tired expression underneath.
"Jesus, Ana, told you you shouldn't be afraid!" Sasha said, her tone a mix of excitement, exasperation, and worry.
Anastasia wheezed and coughed, before saying "It...took...everything I had..." A cough then interrupted her, before she finished, "...to do that..." The then coughed and wheezed again.
Then, Norm came over and said, "C'mon, guys, something tells me the press are already on the way."
"What?!" Immediately, as if through a surge of adrenaline, Anastasia pushed herself to a sitting position, then it seemed as though she became light-headed from sitting up too fast.
Norm then pointed out, "She doesn't want that, let's get her the hell out of here, Mark, go head em off."
"Done," Mark replied, going to try to head off the media.
Sasha just shook her head, and helped Norm and Sen get Anastasia out of there, while Elle, after collecting Giarc's Eidolon Shards, went to help Mark out.
Chapter 7: RevelationsEdit
Sasha, wanting to talk to her sister, entered her room. Anastasia was at her desk, resting her head in her hand, still obviously a little woozy from the battle from a couple days ago.
Sasha waited for Anastasia to notice her, which, with how dazed Anastasia still was, took her several minutes to do. "Huh...wha...Oh...Sasha...sorry, how long were you there?"
"About seven minutes."
"Wha...oh...shoot...sorry...guess I'm...still a little tired..."
"So, why are you still in here?"
"Still...not feeling up to...much: using Quickenings...well...it takes a lot out of you, and...I would not have normally used them...it was just...necessary back there..."
"Why'd you freak out when Norm mentioned the press?"
"I...I guess you've...probably...already guessed that no one...really knows about...the other me..."
"Why? Why hide in here all the time when you can slaughter an entire army?"
"I...I have my reasons...just please promise...not to tell anyone..."
Sasha sighed and shook her head. "Fine, fine." After that, she left.
After Sasha left the room, Anastasia rested her head on her desk. Ten minutes later, there was a knock on her door. Anastasia, who was close to falling asleep, exclaimed, "Who, what, where?! Oh...come in..."
Norm openned the door and entered the room. "Hey. How're you holding up?"
"Feel...like...crap right now..."
"Yeah. I figured. I just wanted to tell you something."
"Your dad. He'd have been proud of you."
"I know so."
Anastasia smiled at that...but a cramp caused her to react in pain. "Sorry...just...Quickenings take a lot of energy to use and...I've not really...mastered...their usage...yet..."
"You'll get there. Ask your mom to tell you stories about him learning to use the force."
"Alright..." Anastasia was still cringing from the cramp she just felt.
"Try putting hot water on that."
"I have to go. My family's got to go through a security check. See you."
With that, Norm left, and, as he did, Anastasia pondered whether to try the suggestion he gave to deal with the cramp.
Elle was in her living room, thinking about the battle from a few days ago. During the fight, she found out that her daughter Anastasia, who normally seemed nervous and shy, turned out to be one of the most powerful individuals in the family, practically singlehandedly taking down someone who could have potentially become the next Kcaz, not to mention she'd been wreaking havoc on the AoUD's manufacturing plants for the past 2 years. She still couldn't believe it.
Just then, Mark entered the room. "You planning on giving them some breathing room?"
"What're you talking about?"
"C'mon, Ana is capable of turning Kcaz the second into dust. Sasha lasted as long as you and Sen against the same guy on her own, without any powers. They aren't children anymore."
"I just...don't want anything bad to happen to them. There's more dangerous stuff out there Mark...and I'm not sure if they're ready to face it..."
"You won't be, they will. All you're doing is smothering them."
"What I'm trying to do is keep them safe, Mark...I don't want them to end up like..."
"Sean would agree with me."
"Just...I don't want anything to happen to them..."
"Does any parent? Look and Zack and Leandra, when Riley and Emilia died, they trusted Kira and Claudia to be able to defend themselves, while still keeping an eye on them. Claud might be a little AWOL now, but Kira is more of a symbol of this Squadran then IceBite by now."
Elle sighed...she really wanted her children to be safe, but what Mark was saying...
"Ryan and Claire? They have ten times the kids you do and they know their children can defend themselves. Why is it you're the only one who won't let them grow up? Sasha's talked of running away and moving in with the Saints more then once."
Elle immediately sell silent.
"And I'll be honest, at this point, I wouldn't stop her." With that, Mark left.
Elle seemed rattled by that...was she really just smothering her children?
...No, she's doing what she has to do...There's no way she's losing her children like she lost Sean...
...She will protect them...she has to...does she?