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Fandom Xenoblade: Future Reclaimed

ReaperMelia

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The sounds of clashing blades and ether rifle shots filled the air as Melia, Colony 21's assistant commander, rallied her troops. Mud sloshed around the Kevesi forces' boots as they charged at the Agnian soldiers. A pair of Levnises rolled past the assistant commander while she summoned a flare elemental to support her squadron's advance on the remaining Agnian troops. While the opposing colony had managed to prove more resourceful than anticipated, its smaller size and lower rank meant that this particular skirmish had been tipped heavily in Colony 21's favor.

Melia didn't understand why one of Keves' best colonies was being sent into battle against a small colony from Agnus; perhaps it was meant to be a simple victory run before Colony 21's commander departed for her homecoming in a few days? Of course, Melia knew better than to question a direct order from a consul, and she wouldn't complain about an easy method to ensure her colony's flame clock would remain topped off. Anything that would make her upcoming transition into the commander of a silver-rank colony start off on a good note was welcome to her.

Taking stock of the current situation, Melia was unsurprised to see that her colony was making short work of its foes. Husks from both sides were strewn about the normally quiet Noh'm Wetlands, their red motes dancing upwards into the sky. The assistant commander grimaced, recognizing the faces of some friendly soldiers from her own colony; even in her eighth term, the young woman had never grown accustomed to seeing the spark of life flicker from the eyes of her comrades. She silently vowed to make sure they were properly sent off once things quieted down, but until then, she knew she'd need to steel herself and refocus on the conflict.

"Push forward! We almost have them!" She called out to her squadron and charged ahead with them. Raising her staff up above her head, Melia dispersed the flare elemental she previously summoned, engulfing a couple Agnian troops in a raging blaze. One of her companions rushed in with a great sword to finish the two off, leaving their now-empty husks where they once stood.

Trudging through a shallow pool of water, Melia and her squadmates tried to regroup with Colony 21's commander, but an Avis swiftly cut off their path. As it swiveled towards the group, Melia hastily pounded her staff into the ground, causing shadowy tendrils to reach up and ensnare the Levnis. This prevented it from swinging its blade at the assistant commander, but a stray ether cannon blast from another nearby Levnis landed between the Testudo and Melia. The ether blast threw muddy water into the air around the group, obscuring Melia's vision... which cleared just in time for her to see an Agnian swordsman leaping at her, blade ready for a downward strike.

Melia raised her staff to guard the hit, thankfully managing to intercept her opponent's blade before it could come swinging down at her head. She shoved forward, sending the troop off balance as his feet slipped in the water. Melia followed up by thrusting her staff into the swordsman, pushing him further back. Her greatsword-wielding companion rushed in and heaved his own blade at the swordsman while he was stunned, finishing the foe off in one powerful motion.

Before the two could celebrate their victory, the Testudo broke free of the tendrils keeping it in place. It raised its blade and thrust it at Melia, but before the attack could connect, a Sagittarius sped over to shield the blow for her. It fired its cannon at the Testudo from a point-blank range, blasting a large hole in its steel hull and incapacitating the Agnian machine. Melia sighed in relief and thanked the pilot for the help.

With the immediate threat out of the way, Melia scanned the battlefield to figure out where her commander had ended up. Unable to spot her in the chaos, Melia began leading her squad towards a nearby group of Agnian soldiers. She summoned an earth elemental to bolster her troops' defenses as they charged at the next group of enemies.
 
Clashing steel and the screams of soldiers filled the air. They were sounds the eighth term offseer had become all too familiar with in her short lifespan. It was sad, but what could she do about it? All Nia could offer was her song once they had passed on. It left a bitter taste in her mouth each time. She hated that she'd even become an offseer in the first place, yet ever since she had arrived in Colony Chi, she had been pushed to become one. Most claimed it went well with her extraordinary healing capabilities, but she had to disagree. It hardly suited her. Even so, she had succumbed to the peer pressure several terms ago and now here she was on the backlines watching as her comrades fell at the hands of the enemy. It was sickening.

Flicking her ears in irritation, Nia gripped the hilt of her sword tightly. The frustration of it all was catching up to her despite how hard she tried to hold it back. It always was this way. It wasn't as if the commander saw her a weak, but much rather the opposite. He was stubborn as ever about it though. He always felt a need to shelter her in the backlines if she wasn't needed with their top unit, which for this fight particularly he had decided she wasn't needed. She could only assume it was because the vast difference in strengths. Colony 21 was a well known Colony even among the Agnus Colonies. It was hard not to warn each other of the other side's powerful forces. It didn't change the outcome though.

Nia's fangs bared and buried themselves into her lower lip as her eyes scanned over the fallen husks of her comrades and enemies alike. Motes drifted up from each fallen body, reminding her of the grim reality she lived in. This was war whether she liked it or not.

Averting her eyes, she finally pushed herself forward even if she hadn't received orders to head out. She couldn't take it any longer. Did the commander really except her to sit back and watch as their Colony crumbled? If he believed for a moment she would ever do that, he was sorely mistaken. She would fight and die alongside her comrades if that is what today brought upon her. Such a fate was something she had resigned herself to long ago, though she never had let that notion be known by anyone.

Hurrying on, Nia ignored the mud that splashed up onto her pant legs and held her sword even tighter before she lunged forward to join the nearest squadron. Her arrival was just in time too. Her blade clashed with that of an oncoming broadsword and protected the lance user the attack had originally been meant for. Even for such a simple parry, a wave of green ether flowed out from around her and enveloped the three soldiers around her, healing them a small bit. It was enough to get them on their feet to help overpower the Kevesi before her.

With the enemy dispatched, Nia gave the trio a small nod of her head before she bolted off. This was only the beginning. She had a lot of work ahead of her. While she knew it likely wouldn't be enough to turn the tides in their favor, it could be enough to severely wound a Colony like 21. If they could do that then maybe another Colony could swoop in and finish them off. Of course she'd never know if she died here. That was the price she was willing to pay. It was all she could offer.

As she continued on her path forward, her presence would quickly become known amongst the fighting. Her slashes would make quick work of weakened soldiers as large amounts of healing burst out with each strike and helped those who seemed to be losing their spark. A battle that seemed well over, quickly had turned into a bit of an inconvenience thanks to her inclusion.

Maybe that had been the commander's thought process this entire time. It was entirely possible he had been keeping her back in hopes of using her as a trump card and catch the enemy underestimating them. Then again, her healing could only keep up for so long. While it did make for a nasty surprise, if the Kevesi picked up on its source, they'd come for her without a second thought and then all would be lost. If that's how it had to be, then so be it.

Nia slowed herself as she finally reached the front lines where their top unit had been holding the line. Each of them looked at her warily, but none dared question her actions. They knew what a spitfire she could be and didn't want to be on the receiving end of one of her hostile verbal assaults. Instead, one of them informed her of the situation at hand:

"The group ahead is one of Colony 21's strongest units. If we can take them out then..."

The soldier trailed off and watched as an elemental was cast out by one winged woman with a staff. From the way she commanded the troops around her, Nia couldn't help but wonder if that was the opposing commander. It was bold for her to be this close to the front lines, but maybe it gave them a chance to turn the tides. If they could topple the commander then maybe, just maybe they could break the enemies morale.

"Aim for that one," Nia spoke bluntly as she pointed a finger in Melia's direction. "She clearly looks important and if we can take her out, well... maybe we can still win this."

Nodding, the rest of the squad couldn't argue with her assessment. Surprisingly Nia did have a keen eye for these kinds of things even though she was the reckless, hotheaded type. Following the suggestion she gave out, the group would quickly get into position, their archer taking aim while protected by the other four. In a split second he let his arrow fly in Melia's direction. There was no turning back now. Nia gripped her sword tightly at the thought and prepared herself for the attack that would be coming for them.
 
As her squad began closing in on the Agnian soldiers, Melia took a moment to assess the group. There were originally just four soldiers, but a fifth Agnian joined them: an offseer who seemed to cause a slight disturbance with her appearance. The offseer pointed right at Melia and said something to her soldiers that Melia couldn't quite make out. That being said, from the stern look on her face and the way that the other soldiers seemed to respond and prepare for combat, the assistant commander could only assume that this offseer was an important combatant as well.

As soon as the enemies began falling into position, an archer fired an arrow straight at Melia. While the speed surprised her, her greatsword-wielding squadmate quickly moved into position to protect Melia, taking a shot to the shoulder. Thankfully, Melia's earth elemental helped protect him a bit, but the blow still took its toll on her companion. He grunted in pain. "Careful, assistant commander... These ones look stronger than the others we've fought." He coughed and groaned as he prepared his blade and resumed his approach.

Melia nodded, summoning an aqua elemental to offer what little healing she could give to her allies.
"Do not take any unnecessary risks! We need to take out the offseer. She seems to be the one in charge of this unit." She clutched her staff and kept a close eye on both her own troops and the opposing forces.

It was unusual to see an offseer this eager to take the lead and fight on the front lines, but Melia knew she wasn't much different in that regard. It didn't seem like the offseer was the commander of the colony, but the uneasy looks on her fellow soldiers' faces made it clear this was an unusual circumstance nonetheless... And perhaps one that made them a bit uncomfortable. Melia surmised that she would be an unpredictable opponent, and a wildcard would be the one thing that a small colony could use to turn the tables in this battle. While Melia had her doubts it would be enough to completely upset Colony 21, Any sort of liability had to be dealt with, and this mysterious offseer seemed like a big one.

With the greatsword-wielder injured, a soldier with a sword and shield led the charge, shield raised and ready in case the archer tried to fire off a second shot. A healer with an ether rifle shot a healing round up into the air above the greatsword-wielder to expedite the healing process Melia had started. Their last squadmate, a winged troop with twin rapiers, fell in just behind the soldier leading the charge. The two in front brandished their blades, prepared to cut down anyone who stood in their way as they made a push for Nia.

Melia stayed close to her ally with the greatsword, trusting him to keep her safe if anyone tried to target her. As the two moved in on their opponents, Melia dispersed her earth elemental. As much as she wanted to keep her unit's defenses up, she knew she had to do something to hinder the offseer. A cloud of toxic ether began to bubble up in the water around Nia's feet, threatening to surge upwards and poison the offseer. Even if Nia was able to avoid it before it rose from the ground, Melia hoped it would at least provide a distraction that would allow her forces to move in and eliminate her before it was too late.
 
Nia hissed softly under her breath as the attack missed, though admittedly she had anticipated as much. No simple attack such as that would take a skilled soldier by surprise. It would take more than that and she knew it.

Noticing the Kevesi unit changing their formation as well, the offseer shook her head and watch as her own defensive member took the frontline. He tightly gripped a shield in one hand and a spear in the other. Behind her, the archer remained alongside a woman who wielded a pair of battle fans, specifically used for healing. The last member, who happened to be the squad's actual leader, held a pair of twin whip-swords. It was a ragtag combination of weapons but they worked surprisingly well with one another when things came down to it.

"You break left, I'll break right. Got it?" she directed toward the squad leader.

The horned woman simply nodded her head and without questions she burst out from behind their defensive line and began their charge. Nia on the other hand didn't move as quickly. The moment she had prepared to take off, she noticed the water bubbling around her feet. She knew something wasn't right and right before the cloud of poison burst up from the ground, she jumped to the side with a low growl. What a nasty trick! It was good she was quick on her feet, though it did worry her. Such an attack had been clearly targeted, meaning she had already been identified as a potential threat among their unit. How annoying.

"Are you alright?!" the fan wielding woman squeaked out, which was met by a silent nod from Nia. Luckily the mist hadn't gotten her, though bits of it still lingered in the air around them. It could be problematic if not properly dealt with. She couldn't do it though. If she didn't get moving forward then her companion that had taken off ahead would likely be in trouble. While she was a skilled combatant, she was still a single soldier up against a unit of five.

"Be wary of any nasty ether attacks coming up from underfoot."

With that simple warning, she pushed herself forward, glancing at their defensive unit and giving him a nod to silently inform him to follow up as soon as she engaged with the the enemy. Her speed would pick up afterwards and soon enough she'd meet the Kevesi squad head on. The whip user was already engaged in combat with the greatsword and had one of her own blades wrapped around his, leaving the pair in a stalemate.

Nia would have dove in to help her immediately, but the other tank unit of the opposing squad had to be taken care of. In seconds, her flowered sword clashed into the opposing soldier's shield and with it a wave of healing ether burst out to help her own squad. That was her talent and it would be easy to pick up on. While her healing was incredible, it did have a drawback of mostly emitting out while she was engaged in combat herself. Sure, she had some non-combat healing, but it wasn't nearly as effective.

Pushing the thought aside that her own use was out of the bag, Nia watched as her spear ally hurried forth to help her and bring an unfair fight to the soldier she had clashed with. As he lunged forward with his weapon, the offseer quickly jumped back to avoid getting the the middle of the two and taking unnecessary damage.

Behind her, the archer launched several arrows in the direction of the battle. None of them had real targets, but rather acted as cover fire in case the enemy unit stepped out of line or dared to make any sudden movements. Beside him, the fans woman made sure to act as his support, knowing Nia herself could support the two that had pushed ahead alongside her.
 
Melia frowned; she had hoped that the heat of battle would prevent the offseer from noticing her attack, but the bubbling water betrayed her intentions, and it seemed that this offseer was as observant as she was spirited. Glancing around, she noticed that her greatsword troop was engaged with a whip user while the offseer charged at the Kevesi unit taking the lead. The Agnian blade met the Kevesi shield, emitting a familiar green glow...

Melia's eyes widened as she realized why the other Agnian forces seemed unsettled by the offseer's appearance. The woman was a healer, and seemingly a very talented one at that. It was unusual to see a healer so eager to rush ahead to the front lines and personally lead her troops against a squad as powerful as Melia's, but if her specialty was healing her allies as she traded blows with her opponent, it was likely worth the risk. Still, it was a risk, and Melia would capitalize on the discovery.

With both of her tank units now keeping the Agnian squad's frontliners busy, Melia took the opportunity to target the offseer herself. She glanced back at her own healer. "Stay close to me!" She then directed her attention to her twin rapier user and motioned for her to relieve the sword and shield user of his opponent. While her troops were occupied with their current objectives, Melia focused on preparing her next move. She began by summoning an ice elemental to help bolster the defenses of herself and her allies.

The ether rifle unit shot a few rounds at Nia in an attempt to prevent her from stopping the twin rapier unit's advance. The rapier user gripped her blades as she charged towards the Agnian spear unit. She waited a second for her ally to back off before lunging at the spear user, freeing the Kevesi tank to advance on the archer. He briefly used the greatsword unit as cover before zigzagging his way towards the archer, keeping his shield ready to block any arrows he didn't manage to dodge.

With her own units now keeping the Agnian soldiers busy, Melia turned her attention to Nia. If her healing abilities relied on attacking her foes, the assistant commander knew that the best way to take her down would be to ensure she wouldn't be able to get close enough to an opponent to strike. With her healer still firing at the offseer, Melia dissipated the ice elemental. The temperature dropped as jagged ice stalagmites began to burst up from the water. Melia aimed a few stalagmites in Nia's direction, trying to box her off from the rest of the troops and push her towards the looming cloud of poisonous ether she created earlier.
 
Nia jumped back as several shots were fired in her direction and she took momentary shelter behind her spear user though he was quickly charged upon and had to shift his focus from her to his opponent. That wasn't the only shift in battle. The Kevesi tank charged towards their backline forcing the war fan user to step in and help her archer with all the support she could muster. It was unfavorable to have their line broken like this though.

Watching her allies engage with the enemy, Nia jumped out from behind her spear unit and decided to continue with her attack. Even if her allies were preoccupied, she needed to press on and reach their target, but it seemed the other woman had the same idea more or less. She was being targeted as well. Eyeing Melia as she allowed her healer to fire round after round towards her, the offseer let out a soft huff of annoyance. A two-on-one wasn't favorable for her unless she could close the distance, but it was clear that would be easier said than done.

Her ears flickered as her irritation rose and she bared her fangs as she felt the chilled air around her. Nia hated the cold. Did this woman somehow know that? No, that'd be impossible. She quickly shook the thought off as she quickly evaded the ice that came flying at her, though a few shard snared her uniform and ripped through before flying past her. Growling under her breath, she continued on, her mind doing its best to focus though it was difficult. She knew she was being pushed away and isolated from her squad. It was as clear as day, but there wasn't much she could do about it unless one of them broke through. The one thing she hadn't accounted for was the poisonous cloud that still loamed behind her. Her mind had been so focused on what was ahead that she had forgotten of it.

As she unknowingly began backing towards it, a sudden explosion erupted nearby. It was neither squad's doing, but its impact was strong and was more than enough to send Nia flying as the gust of wind from the explosion hit her. A yelp rose from the back of her throat before she hit the mud and was sent rolling through it without a chance to stop herself. All of her senses were thrown out of whack even as she finally came to a stop.

A pierce ring echoed in her ears as she struggled to lift herself from her heap. Her eyes struggled to focus as well. Everything around her was a blurry mess though vibrant orange flames danced in the corners of her vision. A raspy groan slipped from her lips as she managed to sit up and grab her temple, but it did little to soothe the pounding that surged through it. What was going on? Was this the doing of the Kevesi squad?

Nia couldn't even answer her own question as she could see blurry figures emerging from the flames and charging in all directions. She couldn't tell if they were friend or foe, but it didn't matter. She still had the winged woman to dispose of. Where had she gone?

Frantically she scanned the field, but it was impossible to make out anything useful in her current state. Even so, she still had to fight. Gripping her blade tightly, the offseer struggled to her feet and forced herself into a defense position as blurred figured approached. She could only assume it was the Kevesi units coming to finish her off, but little did she know a third party had joined the fray.

The City had arrived!
 
With the Agnian offseer nearly pushed into the poisonous ether, Melia prepared another attack. However, a surprise explosion threw Nia off her feet and blasted muddy water at Melia and her companion. She instinctively moved her hands to shield her eyes. By the time she lowered them, she could see that searing flames now danced across the battlefield as a mysterious group of soldiers joined the fight. It wouldn't be too difficult for Melia to move in and finish off the blinded offseer, but her focus now shifted over to the newcomers. Their uniforms clearly weren't Kevesi, but they looked nothing like Agnian garbs, either. Who were they, and more importantly, were they a threat?

Confused cries and screams filled the air, informing Melia that no one seemed to have any idea what was going on now. Kevesi and Agnian soldiers both attacked the new troops in a panicked frenzy, though the newcomers seemed to be holding back in their fights; she noticed a few downed soldiers weren't emitting motes, meaning they were merely knocked out. Who would enter the fight and avoid fatal blows where possible?

As the chaotic clash played out around the two squads, Melia's teammates broke off from their individual battles as the greatsword and dual rapier units formed a defensive formation around their leader. "What's going on now?" The greatsword-wielder groaned, still nursing his wounds from his previous duel.

"I'm not sure, but our top priority right now is focusing on defense until we figure out what's going on. Leave the Agnians for now!" The assistant commander only hoped that the opposing squad would make the same decision.

In the midst of the conflict, a short figure in red armor and a helmet with wings in a large X formation materialized on the battlefield. The figure, Consul X, took a moment to enjoy the pained shouts and chaos surrounding her before she summoned a scythe. "This is a total mess, but at least I finally get to have some fun." She chuckled a bit to herself before launching into the fray, cutting down any soldiers- Kevesi, Agnian, or City- in her way.

As she studied her surroundings, Melia caught a glimpse of her commander running over to Consul X. The chaos surrounding her made it difficult for Melia to make out exactly who X had been fighting before, but she felt a sense of relief.
Our consul's here for support! Though I've never known her to join fights before... But before Melia could dwell on it further, she watched her commander hurry over to say something to the consul... only for X's scythe to slice through her. Motes began drifting off of her lifeless body before it could even hit the ground.

A wave of dread crashed over Melia as she nearly fell to her knees. X wasn't here to help... She was here to eliminate everyone on the battlefield. The sight of the consul targeting a few other Kevesi soldiers only confirmed her fears. Melia couldn't hold back a fearful scream as she realized the colony that she was going to inherit would be wiped out before she'd have a chance to rally her troops, and she wouldn't even know why the queen had turned on them.

X's head sharply turned in the direction of the scream. The sight of the fearful Kevesi assistant commander and the blinded Agnian offseer so close to each other elicited a shrill laugh from the girl.
"Lucky me... I don't need to search for both of them!" She kept a slow pace as she approached the two, basking in the fear and confusion around her as she slashed through any troops who approached. Sure, the City's arrival was unexpected, but she knew they couldn't stand up against Moebius. She wanted to take her time and enjoy the frightened look in her targets' eyes before she finished her mission.
 
Nia's vision was still blurred as screams filled her ears and caused them to constantly swivel about as they tried to pick up on something useful, but even then everything was a mesh of incoherent sounds. Breathing heavily, the blurry figures that had been coming here way had been intercepted by Kevesi and Agnian forces alike. Whatever was going on, she couldn't tell.

Her head shook as red motes rose to the skies all around her and the screams grew closer. Immediately Nia perked up and turned, allowing her blurred vision to settle upon Melia in the near distance. Despite how little she could see, the fuzzy outline of wings was clear and she knew it was a Kevesi soldier- possibly the one she had been facing previously. Her gaze moved past her though and landed upon the vibrant red uniform that blazed across the field. It was a Consul and from their stature, she knew it was the one that looked over her own colony. This was the Kevesi colony's Consul. This was bad!

Fear quickly surged through Nia and she frantically looked around in search for her own squadron. Maybe if they regrouped they could safely retreat and meet up with their commander to figure out some plan of attack. Was that even possible? With a Consul on the field it was wishful thinking, but she had to hope. It was the least she could do.

Stumbling in the direction of her colony's ferronis, the offseer was yet again greeted by bloodcurdling howls. They were no random ones though. No... they were all too familiar. They belonged to the members of her squad. Horror washed over her face as she spun in their direction. She had to reach them! She could save them if she just...

Immediately such thoughts were wiped from her mind as her eyes settled upon the broad, tall figure of the Consul that belonged to her colony. He was hard to miss, and admittedly she had never seen him take the field to fight with them. If anything, Nia had only known Y to be lost in pursuing odd experiments, or that was what she had overheard him speak about with the commander before. Some of the colony members had even been sent off to help with said experiments and as far as she was aware, they hadn't heard from them since. It wasn't her place to stick her nose, but it was unsettling. It was even more unsettling to see his large figure standing over the fallen bodies of her archer and war fan squad mates. It sent chills down her spin and in that moment she felt her body was too heavy to even move.

"Tsk tsk X... always trying to hog all the glory," Y mumbled to himself. It was true he didn't dirty his hands often, but how could he overlook an opportunity like this? He couldn't let his fellow Consul have all the fun, now could he? Perhaps he could even manage to whisk away a few soldiers for his own bidding in the process. He would have wished Z would let him experiment on the queens themselves, but alas, he had been forbidden. Keeping them trapped in the cycle was what their leader wished and he was supposed to abide by it.

Turning his gaze from the few Agnians he had dispatched, his gaze silently scanned the battlefield. He was aware of Nia's presence nearby, but in the moment he was simply taking it all in. It was a beautiful sight after all. Soon enough, his gaze fell upon Melia and he smirked beneath his mask. It was good to see she wasn't too far from his own target. Perhaps he'd steal X's glory for himself. The thought certainly amused him. For the moment though, he made no moves and instead focused on the City's movements as if trying to deduce their goals. No matter what it was, they'd be wiped out in the end as well.

*****
Off in near distance just beyond the battlegrounds, the head scout for the City stood with a pair of binoculars pressed to his face. He could see everything and he was starting to doubt the information they had received from some of their squads earlier in the day. They had reported the possibility of important figures being in the fight between these colonies, but it was little to go off of. If anything, he was starting to believe this was a suicide mission for them, especially now that the Consuls on both sides had made their presence known. Was it worth it? His concerns seemed to bother the nopon that stood at his side and he felt the furry creature hit his leg with one of his wings.

"Let Riku have look. Riku will tell if retreat necessary." The man handed the furball the binoculars and for a moment they stood in silence, but soon Riku spoke up once again: "Aha! Reports not wrong. Important people very much present. Riku guarantee real queens are here." The man stared at him in disbelief. How would he know what the queens looked like? Sure, legends and stories had been passed down about them, but Riku seemed far too confident. "You doubt Riku? Riku good honest nopon. Why have doubt?" Riku questioned with a disappointed look upon his face as he rested his wings on his side and huffed in annoyance. "Tell squads to look for white winged Kevesi lady with staff and furry eared Agnian lady with flowered sword. Riku know they who City want."

Sighing in defeat, the scout did as Riku requested and quickly sent instructions over their communication line. Now they could only hope that this mission was successful otherwise their losses would be great and they'd be empty handed. That wasn't something he wished to bring back to the City's leader. She'd wring him for it.
 
X's advance continued, and as she began to close in, the other members of Melia's squad fell into position to protect their commander. They knew they had no chance of stopping their consul, but they were willing to throw their lives down to give their leader even an extra second to escape. Still, their wobbly knees and shaky grips made it clear that they were terrified of the situation. The greatsword wielder looked back at Melia and tried to snap her out of her fear. "Commander Melia, please, you need to retreat and bring as many of our soldiers along as you can! Colony 21 must survi-" Before he could finish his sentence, X's scythe slashed through him, killing the soldier in a single blow.

Melia heard her comrade's words and didn't intend to allow her teammates to die for nothing, but the weight of the situation still left her too controlled by fear to run off. She slowly backed away from X, fighting through her fear to create at least a little more distance. As she walked backwards, she eventually found herself bumping into another soldier. She turned her head to see that it was the Agnian offseer she had been battling just moments ago. If she wasn't too busy fearing the inevitable, she likely would have noted how odd it was that she'd end up dying alongside a foe.

Consul X took note of Y's advance as she began to close in on the queens. Judging from the way he looked at the queens, she surmised he at least considered killing Melia himself and depriving X of the victory she desired. With both queens now together, X decided it was time to quit playing around and finish both off in one strike. After finishing the last of Melia's squadmates, she began to charge at Melia and Nia. Melia shut her eyes and prepared for the end...

Only for the sound of clashing blades and an annoyed grunt to make her open her eyes once again. A pair of strange warriors she didn't recognize had intercepted X's charge and blocked her attack. Just as suddenly as the two warriors appeared, they suddenly seemed to fuse and transform into a strange red and purple creature with twin rings. X groaned. "Dammit, they sent Ouroboros! Y, come help me teach them to give up already! We'll finish off those two once we're done." As much as she wanted the glory of killing an Ouroboros pair and the queens herself, she knew that taking down the strongest threat took priority right now, and there was no way these two would be able to hold two consuls off long enough for the queens to escape.

As much as the combined form of the mysterious soldiers confused her, their assistance momentarily brought Melia back to her senses. It seemed that this was the opening she needed to escape. Of course, the fact that the two consuls seemed to be working together only made her more confused by the situation. Judging from the confusion of the Agnian soldiers, it seemed that the other consul was in charge of their own colony. If so, why were consuls from opposing sides working together, and why were they eliminating their own troops? Melia cast a glance at Nia, wondering if she happened to know what was going on...

*****​

In the midst of the chaos, a soldier from the City gathered a group of three of her comrades. "We've been ordered to find a winged Kevesi woman with a staff and a furry-eared Agnian woman with a floral sword. Don't know how he knows, but it sounds like Riku claims they're the real queens. Can't say I really believe it, but if he's right, this is a top-priority mission. We need to get them out of here safely... no matter the cost. We got some Ouroboros reinforcements as well, but most of the squad is running behind. We've only got one pair here, so we need to be careful." The soldiers looked baffled by the sudden revelation and order, but they nodded and grouped together to scan the battlefield.

Luckily, the sight of two consuls and Ouroboros was enough to get the squad's attention, and they quickly spotted the queens nearby. The four rushed over to the Kevesi and Agnian soldiers; they were cautious in case they were attacked, but at this point, it seemed that the surviving soldiers were stunned by a mix of fear and confusion. They lifted their blades above their heads as the approached their targets to indicate that they meant no harm.

Of course, now face to face with two women who were supposedly the real queens of their land, the City soldiers had no clue how to address them. Should they be formal and bow? Were things too dangerous right now to do so? They didn't have much time, so they chose to be direct. Thankfully, everyone in the City knew their names, so that would be the best way to determine if Riku was corr
ect. "You two are Nia and Melia, right? We're allies, and we're here to take you somewhere safe. I know this must be confusing, but please, you have to trust us." The squad leader addressed the two with a salute as her companions fell into position to protect the queens.

"How do you know my name...?" Melia wondered aloud, though she realized that there wasn't time to discuss that question when the consuls were nearby. She had no clue who these soldiers were or who they were aligned with, but their insistence on saving a soldier from each faction only made the situation more bizarre. Of course, if her queen had turned on her colony, she felt the right move was to take her soldiers and get as far away as possible, and these strange soldiers at least seemed like they'd be better allies than her consul right now. She sighed. "What about my people? I am the assistant- no... the commander of Colony 21. I can't just leave my soldiers behind."

"Our troops will do what they can to help them, but you two take priority above everyone here, including ourselves. We don't have time to argue. We have a transport ready to go, so please come with us." The other three soldiers prepared to begin escorting the queens, even if it meant dragging them to the shuttle.
 
There was a lot running through Nia's mind as things began getting out of hand. Her heart was pounding harshly inside her chest and her eyes as wide as saucers as she stared at Y's blurry silhouette. A few seconds passed before the Agnian offseer felt the immediate presence of another in her vicinity. Her gaze darted towards the woman at her side. Up close she could make out exactly who it was; the winged Kevesi from earlier. While she couldn't see her exact facial expressions, she could tell that she wasn't looking to attack, at least not in the current moment. Her body language was hardly any different than her own. Even so, she couldn't worry herself with the other woman. She had her own issues to worry about. Was there even anything she could do? She wasn't sure and her body hardly wanted to work with her either. To think death would scare her this much.

At the arrival of the strange creature, Nia's ears perked up. One moment there had been two people, but suddenly, in the blink of an eyes they had turned into one. Her vision was good enough to make out that much, though she could hardly understand it. Still, whoever or whatever they were, they had blocked the Consul's attack, though upon hearing her words, it was clear she was calling for aid of Y. It baffled her to think her own Consul would help the opposing side, but here she was, and from how they were attacking, her and this winged Kevesi were their primary targets, though she had doubts that anyone would be spared. It frustrated her.

While Nia was processing the ordeal, Y himself seemed to show very little panic. A sigh escaped his lips at the arrival of Ouroboros, knowing full and well what such people were capable of. It was a shock they had even come to help, but given who was involved in this fight, he could surmise they had caught wind of it. For as long as he could recall, the City had been trying to get their hands on the two queens, but Z had always played his cards carefully and over the years belief that the queens even still existed had diminished. Y could understand why. Information had a way of changing especially over nearly a thousand years. Plus the queens themselves didn't exactly resemble their fake counterparts given they had been thrown into the cycle and appeared much younger than they should've been. That benefited their plans. Though for the City to be so sure in their actions, it made him wonder how they knew. Clearly someone among their ranks was an issue. That was a problem for another time. He supposed he should aid X. It was the only way to ensure their goals were met.

Speaking no words, the brute pushed himself forward. He wasn't nearly as quick as his opposing Consul, but for what he lacked in speed he made up in other ways, particularly his durability. Reaching the scene, Y wasted little time and rammed his large frame against the Ouroboros in attempt to free X from her current struggle. If they wanted to win they'd need to work to their strengths. Perhaps it was even time their own forms came out to play. His Moebius form was his preferred combat method after all and with an enemy like this present, it might be time to use it.

"To think Ouroboros would show up today of all days. It must be our lucky day," Y laughed under his breath as he took a step back to give himself some space. Without any kind of hesitation or input from X, he transformed into the hulking mass that was his Moebius form. It wasn't too different in nature from the Ouroboros before them, though he was far larger in size and towered over the pair rather easily. "It's time we show these City rats what we're capable of!"

With those words, the Consul swung downward at his target with as much power as he could muster. It was a sight Nia never thought she'd ever see and thankfully, or maybe not, her vision had mostly cleared by now and the horrors before her were burned into her quivering eyes.

"Bloody hell!" she hissed under her breath as her hand gripped tighter around the sword in hand. In that moment, she was prepared to make her retreat to try and save whoever she could, but before she could a group of the strange soldiers had already approached. As one of them spoke directly to her and Melia, Nia cocked her head in confusion and creased her brow. They spoke of her by name and even said they had been ordered to save her, as well as the other woman who seemed to be named Melia. The Kevesi looked no less confused than she did and from how she spoke, it was clear that she was in the same boat as herself. Hearing her refer to herself as the Colony commander caused Nia to tense up and even momentarily debate ending her right there to weaken the Kevesi Colony, but she knew this was no position to do such. The chaos around her proved as much.

As much as she wanted to stand and argue, the offseer surprisingly kept her spitfire attitude in check. As noble as it would be to die alongside her allies, the thought of avenging them burned even stronger in her heart. If she escaped now, that much could be possible, if these people were actually trustworthy. From their actions they didn't seem hostile towards them, only the Consuls. That laid some baseline trust, albeit very little.

"Fine... I'll go with you, but when we get wherever we're going, I expect answers to the questions I have," Nia finally spoke up before her eyes averted towards the corpses laying about the battlefield. "And once this is properly settled, I'd like to return to put these soldiers to rest properly. It's the least I can offer as an offseer."
 
X took her partner's entrance into the battle as an opportunity to catch her breath. "Too bad the others didn't show up with them... We could've wiped them all out in one go!" Following Y's lead, X transformed into her own Moebius form. She bared her fangs at the Ouroboros duo and cackled. "Let's get this over with!"

The interlinked Ouroboros pair sidestepped Y's overhead swing, but before they had time to reassess the situation, X charged at them and aimed a horizontal slash with her scythe. The pair blocked the attack with one ring and swiped at Y with the other. She leaped back to avoid the hit. The Ouroboros pair shifted their position to block the consuls' path to the queens, prepared to put their lives on the line if it meant that this mission would be completed successfully.

The sight of the dueling giants distracted Melia for a brief moment, but a response from Nia brought her focus back to her conversation with the mysterious soldiers. She could have questioned Nia's willingness to leave her allies behind or ask why she was being taken away with an enemy in the first place, but the looming danger made her decide that the Agnian offseer had the right idea. She looked at the City soldiers and nodded.
"I'll join you, but I have my own questions I'd like answered as well. And your allies had better do their best to save my colony."

The leader of the City squad sighed as she braced herself for the onslaught of questions she knew would be coming once everyone boarded the shuttle. She hardly understood any of this herself. How could she be expected to have the answers these two wanted? And of course, the matter of sending off the fallen would be tricky as well. It would be easy for Moebius to use the corpses as bait to at least lure Nia into a trap. It wouldn't be difficult to guess that the offseer would want to do her duty for her fallen comrades, and Moebius could easily take advantage of that desire. Still, there was no time to argue. She had to get them moving.

"Of course. Once we're on the shuttle, you two can ask me anything you want. We'll come back here once things quiet down so you can put your soldiers to rest. But for now, come with me. We can't afford to dawdle any longer." She began running towards the shuttle, and her troops stayed in position to help protect the queens once they began moving.

Melia glanced around at the rescue squad, and her eyes lingered on Nia for a moment. While it seemed that they'd need to try to get along during this escape, she knew that the offseer was still an enemy. What would happen once they arrived wherever these people were taking them? Would their fight resume? At the same time, it seemed that their consuls had planned to wipe out both of their colonies... And even stranger, the consuls were working together. Melia didn't understand any of it... But the rescue team was correct. They didn't have time to sit around and try to figure out what was going on. They needed to leave. Melia took a deep breath and followed the squad leader towards the shuttle. One of the remaining escort troops accompanied her, and the other two waited for Nia to make her move.
 
Nia knew it wasn't a good look for her to accept so willingly, but given it had been the only option she had, she knew she needed to take it. Her commander would had already been trying to keep her out of this fight in hopes of not letting her fall here and have her abilities go to waste. He had always seen her as special and while she hardly thought of herself in such a manner. Sure her healing was very potent and she was surprisingly strong in combat for someone who specialized in support, but she hardly saw those as reasons to play favorites with her.

Wrinkling her nose at the thought, Nia pushed it aside as she silently nodded towards the soldiers trying to guide her forward towards the shuttle. It felt odd to trust these strangers, but even odder to be doing so alongside a high ranking Kevesi soldier. As she moved along with the small group, her eyes warily moved towards Melia. Only moment ago the two of them had been trying to kill each other yet now they were fleeing side by side. It made her feel dirty and she figured it was no different from the other woman's perspective. She wasn't going to act like she understood what soldiers from the other side went through but as an offseer, her outlook on the war had always been a bit different than the rest. Everyone ended the same way; a husk on the battlefield. It didn't matter which side one was on.

The grim thoughts caused her to silently chew on her lip as she let herself board the awaiting ship. A few soldiers were already on board and wore similar uniforms to that of the ones escorting them. Clearly they were some faction that hid in the shadows. The thought had never crossed his mind that a third party existed, yet here they were. They were odd looking too though she couldn't exactly explain how so. Maybe it was the wrinkles some of them bore or the fact they all wore an eye patch. Either way, she would have to ask once she was allowed to. For now she moved across the interior of the shuttle and found an open seat, sinking down into it with a soft sigh. None of this made sense and the more she thought upon it, the more questions were raised in her own mind.

As she waited for the others to board, her eyes flickered back towards the battlefield they were leaving behind. Motes of red littered the sky as they drifted up from the fallen husks. Agnian and Kevesi soldiers alike were in a tizzy trying to figure out what was even going on, some even stopping their fights against one another to look on in horror at the clash between the Consuls and the Ouroboros. They were no less lost than Nia herself and she could only hope some of them would make it out alive. It would be a miracle if they did. Most of them had took up arms today knowing it was likely they'd all die, though this hadn't been the manner in which any of them thought it would go.

With the battle raging on, Y growled as his giant fist crashed into the awaiting earth and created a small crater from the impact. The Ouroboros were quick, much quicker than himself, though X would make up for that. Lifting his hulking arm back up, he took another swing towards the fused pair, though this time he aimed beside them hoping to make them anticipate he would try for another direct hit. They needed to end these two as fast as possible if they had any desire of catching the queens before they were escorted off and taken to safety.
 
Melia paused for a brief moment before entering the shuttle. Was this really the right move for her to make? What kind of commander would just abandon her soldiers and entrust their safety in a hopeless battle to a strange group she had just met? And even though the Agnian offseer seemed to be just as much of a victim here as she was, Melia couldn't help but feel even more guilty for fleeing alongside an enemy soldier while her own troops were being slaughtered. She considered trying to break off from her escort and return to the battlefield, but the City soldier guided her onto the shuttle and shut the door before she could make a move. She sighed and did her best to hold back her tears as she realized that it was likely she'd never see her old comrades again.

The soldier directed Melia to sit in the seat next to Nia's. She gave the offseer a wary glance before taking her seat. She didn't feel entirely safe around her yet, but it seemed like she had no other choice. Once they were seated, the shuttle took off, and a few others joined it and split off in different directions to act as decoys. The leader of the City squad sat across from Melia and Nia and took a deep breath before filling them in on the situation. "First off, put these over the eye that has your Iris." She handed the two eyepatches that looked identical to the ones worn by their rescuers. "They'll prevent the consuls from tracking you."

Melia took a moment to study the eyepatch. It seemed a bit odd, but she wasn't going to argue if it really could help keep the consuls away. Besides, it's not like an eyepatch could hurt. She put it on over her left eye. With that out of the way, she launched right into her first set of questions. "What's going on? Why were our own consuls attacking us, and who are you?"

The squad leader sighed. She knew this question was coming, but she still wasn't entirely sure how to answer it. After taking a moment to think it over, she leaned forward and began. "Well... this whole snuffin' war's a farce. The queens, too. All of it is being orchestrated by the consuls. They've been making you Kevesi and Agnians kill each other for centuries so they can steal your energy and live forever. They act like they're on opposing sides of the war, but they're all working together to control both of your nations. They're your real enemies." She leaned back in her seat again, pausing for a moment to give her words a little time to sink in before addressing Melia's second question.

"As for us, we're all outside the bounds of your war. We're from a place called the City. We've managed to forge our own lives free of the consuls... And while some are content with just enjoying their peaceful existence while being completely ignorant of your plight, not all of us are like that. Those of us who came to help today have dedicated our lives to fighting the consuls, bringing an end to this war, and restoring this world to its former glory."

Under ordinary circumstances, Melia would have found the woman's story nonsensical. However, she saw the consuls of two warring colonies work together, and they were clearly familiar with each other. And the consuls seemed eager to turn on their own soldiers... She still had trouble wrapping her head around it, but she couldn't deny that it lined up with what she just witnessed. The realization that everything she had fought for was just a lie twisted her stomach into knots. Melia grit her teeth and glared out the window at the now-fleeting sight of soldiers fighting and dying on the battlefield. Her friends' deaths were all just part of their consul's plan? In the end, they were nothing more than fodder? It took the normally level-headed commander all of her self-restraint to not cry out in anguish. She took a moment to glance at Nia and see how her former enemy was taking the news.

The squad leader also directed her attention to Nia. "There, she had her turn. Now it's yours. I told you I'd answer your questions, so shoot."


*****​

Back at the battlefield, the Ouroboros rolled to the side to dodge Y's attack, managing to fall right into his trap. They tried to move their rings up to block the strike once they realized their mistake, but they still took the brunt of the attack. The pair cried out in pain before refocusing their strength and trying to push back up against Y's fist to break free. Even after sustaining heavy damage, they refused to back down. They'd hang in until the queens were far enough away to be safe. They just hoped that would be soon...

X slowly walked up to the pair.
"Aww, looks like the wannabe heroes are stuck. Too bad I won't get to see the fear in their eyes when I finish them off." She cackled and slashed at the interlinked Ouroboros with her scythe. They tried their best to move away, but having to bear the weight of Y's fist slowed them down enough for the scythe to meet its mark. They fell onto their back, breathing heavily. They raised their rings in front of themselves in a last-ditch effort to protect themselves, but they knew it wouldn't do anything in their state. They kept an ice-cold glare fixed on the consuls as they desperately hoped that their sacrifice wouldn't be in vain...
 
Staring at the eyepatch that was presented to her, Nia hesitated to take it, but she knew resistance now was futile. If this was to keep her safe then she had no reason to argue. Grabbing the patch from the City soldier, she brought it up to her right eye and pulled it on. It felt strange and she blinked a few times to adjust her vision, but she didn't have long to adjust before her ears perked up at Melia's questions. Those were questions she had as well and would like answered sooner rather than later. None of it made sense to her after all. The basics, or what could be considered as such, were good to get out of the way early on to lay the ground work. Depending on the answer, it may lead to more questions, though from how the squad leader seemed to react, she wasn't overly thrilled with being tasked with taking on such responsibility. She couldn't fault her on that, but given the circumstances, she would have to deal with it.

The answer that came wasn't something Nia expected though. Her words seemed crazy, though given the situation they had been dragged from, maybe crazy wasn't too farfetched these days. Besides, she had no proof to counter what was being told to her. In a way it all added up whether she wanted to believe it or not. The Consuls working together was already enough proof that things weren't as they seemed. Still, she would remain skeptical until giving better reason to believe the outsiders. As the woman continued on, the offseer frowned a bit and let a stifled sigh slip from between her lips. While it was nice to hear some of these City folk did wish to bring all this to an end, to know there were some who weren't keen on the idea did make her wonder if they'd truly be welcomed. If they weren't then what? Would they be forced to return to the eternal war and be forced to have that thought stuck in their minds as they did? The thought hardly comforted her, but before her mind could delve too far into it, the woman turned to her and stated it was her turn.

Where did she even want to begin? There were a plethora of questions floating around in her head wanting to be answered, but Nia knew she couldn't ask them all. They didn't have the time nor did she think some of them were all that important in the grand scheme of things. Narrowing down what she deemed important and what she didn't was part of the problem. Remaining silent for a moment, she brought a hand up to her chin and stroked it in thought until finally she settled on her own inquiries.

"Why did you need to save us specifically? If your goal is to end the war, wouldn't it be best to prioritize more lives over just two? What made us the most important? I know far stronger soldiers in my colony that should have been saved over myself..." Nia trailed off as the signs of distress finally caught up to her and her ears quickly pinned back against her head. A wave of emotions had built up inside and while they wanted to come out, she did everything in her power to keep herself together. She couldn't afford to break down in front of someone who she may still need to be wary of.

**********​

Everything had gone exactly according to plan in his strategy. The pair had been forced to take the brunt of his attack, allowing X to take her turn and cause substantial damage. This fight was nearly over and despite the icy glare the other shot toward the pair, Y knew that they had accepted their fate. That meant very little to him if the queens escaped though. His eyes quickly scanned the battlefield in search for either of them, but neither was in sight. His eyes soon fell upon the shuttle in the sky above and he grimaced. They had been delayed too long! Letting a growl rumble in his throat, he swung his fist down on the interlinked Ouroboros pair yet again, putting as much power in it as he possibly could.

"You damn Ouroboros! You've let our prized possessions escape! You'll pay for that!" His anger was evident, even if it was rare for him to show such emotion. He couldn't hold it in though. He was beyond frustrated that the one mission they had today had been foiled. How the City scum had even known to target Melia and Nia was beyond him, but he didn't have time for questions. This fight needed to end!
 
Realizing she had become lost in her sorrow, Melia took a deep breath and listened quietly as Nia took her turn. The commander still didn't understand why the City seemed so focused on just her and the offseer, either. Why go to all that trouble and risk so many lives just to run away with only a couple soldiers? Sure, Melia was the second-in-command of her own colony before its leader perished, and the Agnian offseer's healing ability seemed like an incredible tactical advantage, but how would the strange soldiers know about them in the first place? Melia watched the City squad leader curiously, eager to learn the reasoning behind such a dangerous mission.

The squad leader suppressed a groan as she carefully considered how to answer Nia's question. She had just explained to them the true nature of the war itself... How could she leap from that to explaining the true identities of the soldiers sitting in front of her? Would they believe her? Did she believe it herself? She opened her mouth to begin explaining, but she paused for a moment longer, brows furrowed as she mulled over all the possible answers she could give. Perhaps her best bet would be to keep it vague. She wouldn't lie, but she'd avoid making the two think she was crazy... for now, anyway.

"Well... To tell you the truth, that's going to be much easier to explain after we reach the City. The short answer is that there are two people we've spent a very long time searching for. We believe that these women have the power to turn the tide of this war in our favor and finally bring an end to this cycle of strife. While I'm sure it's difficult to believe, our scout believes you two are the ones we've sought, and I think I might agree with him at this point. That's why you two were our top priorities. You may not feel like you are the strongest or the most capable, but if we're correct, you two are far more important than you realize. So... we need you. Both of you. And you'll be needing each other if you want this fighting to end, too. Got it?" She studied the soldiers' expressions as her words began to sink in. She knew they'd have trouble learning to trust each other, but she had to do what she could to at least help start that process. It wouldn't do to have them argue

Melia frowned a bit as she took a moment to ponder the leader's words. To tell the truth, she had her doubts that she would be able to live up to her superior's example when she took control of Colony 21. Now she was expected to bear the weight of this entire war on her shoulders? How could she be expected to take on that much responsibility, especially after the disastrous battle she just fled? And the thought of having to do it alongside an Agnian soldier only made her feel more uncertain. That being said, she couldn't deny that she was at least curious about the details that were being withheld for now, especially after what all she had learned about the consuls and the true nature of this war. She didn't seem to have any other choice in the matter, anyway. She sighed and looked over at the offseer seated next to her. "I suppose I can agree to cooperate for now... At least until we get a good explanation of why they think we're so important. I won't agree to anything beyond that, though. And I still have plenty of questions in the meantime."

*****
The Ouroboros pair shakily lifted their twin rings up to block Y's finishing blow, but their strength was too far gone to protect themselves. All they could do was silently hope that the two soldiers these consuls sought were really the ones who could put an end to Moebius' reign. The two defused as their final sparks of life were snuffed out by Y's fist, leaving two fresh husks in its wake. Under normal circumstances, X would have relished the moment, but Y was right. They had failed their mission, and she knew that this would mean trouble later on down the line. On the bright side, they had managed to take down two members of Ouroboros, but that still left four more... and now the queens were in the City's protection. "I can't believe those City brats got us!" She growled as her fingers curled tighter around the pole of her scythe before turning her gaze at the remaining troops on the battlefield. "You're all gonna pay for this!" She charged at the nearest City soldiers, figuring she could at least hurt them back by decimating whatever she could of their military forces. Blinded by rage, she wildly swung her weapon at the crowds, still in her hulking Moebius form as she unleashed her fury.

One of the City soldiers hastily reestablished communications with the other troops and Riku's group. "The targets have been evacuated, but Ouroboros lost to Moebius. All troops must retreat! Tell the rest of Ouroboros to stay far away! The battle's over! Repeat, the targets have been evacu-" His report was cut off by a spine-chilling shriek as X's scythe tore through him.
 

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