A/N: Sorry this has taken so long to finish. Life has been hard the past few weeks and has took my motivation to write. But even if updates are slow and writing infrequent, I want to continue this story, and eventually finish it. Thanks for all the reviews and support everybody.
Chapter 19: Courage and Fear
He woke up as the world spun around him, the hard concrete and light of the sun normally something that would alert him to something out of the ordinary, but right now, he drifted in the land between waking and dreaming, where the strangest of dreams held all the logic of the world. But as always, these images gave way to the reality of a new day. The hard ground below him told him that something wasn't as it should be. He got up in an instant, seeing the road going out in both directions, strangely empty for a highway.
"Where is this?" he asked, before the flurry of memories from the night before game pounding against his mind.
Then, he knew all too well where they were.
As a warm breeze shattered the still air, he felt the air blow through the holes in his clothes from those bullets, but he didn't feel any pain. Upon closer inspection, he could still see the dried blood along his body and clothes, and the bullet holes were a brighter shade of red than the blood, but despite what he knew should be happening, he didn't feel any pain for it. Whatever healing powers Lloyd had, must have been enough to reverse the injuries. He hadn't noticed anything like that before with Lloyd, but they had seen the rest of their powers grow overtime, so this was at least a possibility.
Still, from everything that happened last night, he would have expected some soreness.
Looking at the sights around him, he could see the blood stains from the battle still along the roads along with a few of the bullet shells along the ground but only a fraction of the number that had to have been fired. Beyond that, there was nothing. No bodies, not even the pieces of the car that had to be lying in pieces after that.
Genis got back up to his feet, slowly, expecting his head to start spinning, but to his surprise, he still felt perfectly fine. If it weren't for the fact he woke up in the middle of an abandoned highway, he would have said his day was off to a perfect start.
Though in this world, things were far from perfect. Despite the calmness around him, Genis felt nervous, like he was in the middle of a mastermind's ploy. There was something more, something sinister about this. He could feel the touch of darkness in the air. It felt almost like he was near one of those seals, except this power was more distant, like it had faded. He couldn't figure out why, and what little he could feel of it soon faded.
Genis then thought of Lloyd, and his eyes turned to the road they were laying on, he saw nothing, causing him to worry at first. But after a couple seconds of his heart racing, he saw a glimmer of red off to the side, and turned to see Lloyd sleeping, upside down, against a tree.
"No wonder Raine's punishments can never keep him awake," Genis said smiling for the first time in recent memory. Leave it to Lloyd to make him laugh, to make the worries that bore down so heavily seem so far away, if only for a moment.
He walked over to his friend, sure that they'd need to get out of here sometime soon, and while he hated waking up someone sleeping so peacefully, (even if he had no idea how someone could sleep like that) they had to get out of here. That and waking Lloyd up was a challenge that normally involved blasting rock music from the nearest speaker.
"Lloyd," Genis said, poking his friend in the side. Lloyd only responded trying to bat the hand away. Genis knew that it couldn't be this easy, but didn't want to hurt Lloyd in case his injuries from the night before hadn't miraculously healed. Though with Lloyd upside-down, his stomach was exposed and Genis could see the dried blood like his own body. But even so, there wasn't any evidence of any lasting injuries and Lloyd didn't appear to be in any pain. "Come on, you need to wake up," Genis said a bit louder this time.
"But I don't want to go to school Dad."
"Lloyd, it's me, not Dirk," Genis said and Lloyd slowly opened his eyes, though tried holding his hand up to block the surprisingly bright light of the sun.
"What are you doing upside down," Lloyd asked, noticing that his bed seemed to look a lot like a tree on its side.
"I'm not the one who's upside down."
At this, Lloyd's balance failed him, and he tumbled over, landing face first on the ground and a mixture of confusion and dizziness filling his mind. He blinked a few times, trying to take in his surrondings, while the memories of the past few days came rushing back to him. He then remembered the battle the night before, trying to fight the gunmen, seeing Genis shot. Flashes of himself being shot flew through his mind, so he instinctively tried feeling where he thought the wound should be, but then noticed there wasn't any pain. He then looked to his friend, who seemed to be unhurt from that battle as well.
"What happened?" Lloyd looked around him, seeing the blood stains from the battle, but other than that, it seemed that someone had already removed any evidence it took place. There weren't any bodies, the car was gone.
"You tried to protect me after I was shot, but you didn't last too long either," Genis said. He remembered all too clearly, seeing once more the horror of Lloyd's fall, how his best efforts counted for nothing. "Then I tried fighting, and thought I could stop them." He thought about his concentrated fury, how it felt like he was tapping into powers he never felt to shrug off their bullets. "But then this guy came, and stopped my fire. Then he did something and I felt pain explode all throughout my body. I couldn't do anything and thought we were both going to die."
Looking alongside the road, he could see the signs of the fight that took place after he fell. The scorched earth was a clear sign of Genis' efforts. "Then what happened?"
"You killed them."
"You don't remember it?"
Lloyd shook his head. "The last thing I remember was going out there trying to fight them while you were in the car."
Genis knew that there was something different about Lloyd back then. The way he heartlessly killed the enemies. Perhaps in self-defense, Lloyd would kill, for those he loved. But to do so without remorse or hesitation?
"Something happened to you then. You were so much stronger than before, no matter what they did you just killed them. A couple of them even tried surrendering." Lloyd looked down at his hands, seeing the blood still on them. He hadn't thought about whose it was, what lives could have been lost beyond he and Genis. "I was scared."
Lloyd fell to his knees, the thought, that he could kill like that not something he could accept. Why? What right did he have to murder? To decide who should live and die? And those who would run, those who would lay down their weapons? If to save Genis, he had to take a life, that might be okay. But to kill those who would flee…that was merely murder.
"I thought you might even kill me."
Lloyd gulped hard and sat alongside the road, wondering if this was all worth it. Why were they doing this? Would it be better to just return home, to forget all this happened and to take whatever punishment awaited them from fleeing the country? Dirk would be pissed, and he was sure Genis would get in trouble with Raine like never before. But that was better than this. If this happened once, it only made sense it could happen again and what if next time the victims were more than those he would call the bad guys? What if it was in a city and bystanders were hurt…or even worse. What if Genis was killed through his recklessness?
"Oh man." Lloyd said at a loss of words.
Genis sat down beside his friend, placing a friend on his shoulder. "You really don't remember any of it?"
"No." Lloyd shook his head, glad that he had amnesia of that event. He couldn't bear to have those visions in his head, of someone having the life fade from them when he knew he was the cause. It was bad enough just hearing about it. "Let's go home." He felt sick to his stomach, wanting to put all this behind him. All this danger, all this adventure, all this fear.
But what if he couldn't? What if it wasn't so easy to run from?
"Do you think we can?"
"What do you mean. It won't be easy but it's probably for the best."
Genis had never seen Lloyd like this, so worried, so nervous. Normally Genis was the one who was afraid, who wanted to stay where it was safe before it was too late. But he couldn't forget his dreams, those where the world was falling apart.
But he also saw Lloyd in those visions. One not so different from the one who killed those gunmen the night before.
If that happened again, would Lloyd return to normal?
He also remembered the reason they did this, to protect Raine and Dirk, and the rest of their friends.
"What if they come after us again when we're at home?" Genis asked, knowing the danger that faced them no matter where they went. "Besides, we're kind of stuck here."
"So what do we do then?" Lloyd asked, feeling utterly defeated.
"Walk to civilization I guess and figure out what to do from there."
"They've grown bolder in their attacks, Selena," Rattan said, going through the papers on the enemies movements. "It also appears that Nova has received assistance for the coming battles, something we can only expect will continue to grow."
"Do you believe it's possible to kill him and allow the Order to crumble below him?"
"Doubtful. Even with my power, Lloyd was unable to kill him. And that was without any of his suppression on Lloyd."
"Still, their forces must be dwindling, and one man can only do so much."
"Never underestimate the power of one. Get a team ready at the seal. I will be joining you personally for this one. We've come too far to risk losing everything now."
They hadn't walked five minutes before Lloyd's legs were getting tired. "Man, why did they have to destroy that car. It was so comfortable."
Normally Genis would mention something about how quickly Lloyd got bored, but the tiredness was beginning to wear on him too. Even so he couldn't help but smile. Lloyd seemed to be back to normal. It was as if the night before was only a nightmare. Maybe that was just a one-time thing. But Genis couldn't just push those horrible images aside. His fear and common sense told him to be worried, even as hope wanted to ignore all that.
"Now I'm even hallucinating there is a car sitting in front of us."
Genis had to blink a few times, but hallucination or not, he saw it too. "That might not be a hallucination."
The two of them were suddenly filled with energy and began running, hoping that maybe this was something they could use, or at the very least, would be occupied by someone who would give them a ride to the nearest town. As they got closer, they saw it was a Saturn Vue, one that looked to be in really good condition. Lloyd ran to the driver's side door and discovered it was unlocked, and better yet, it had a full tank of gas and the keys were in the ignition.
"Hop in," Lloyd said while he turned the key, noticing it started up perfectly.
"You sure about this?"
"What could possible go wrong?"
"Knowing us, everything," Genis said, but got in anyway. He'd rather sit in a comfortable car on the way to town than walk anyway. He then noticed a note sitting on the dashboard.
'I know you're scared, that you're probably still recovering from that last battle. Keep going, remember what, and who, you're fighting for. No matter what dangers come your way, remember you're not alone. You have each other. And while I can't do much to help you now, take this as a gift. I will see you soon.
Your Guardian Angel.'
"What do you think we should do?" Genis asked, not sure how much he could trust the kindness of a stranger. Still, they did so with Regal, and he helped them in more ways than he could count.
"I guess just take the gift, but keep our eyes out for anything suspicious."
Lloyd pulled forward, the road before them seeming to merge into a bigger highway. As he merged into the traffic around them, Genis looked behind them, noticing the road closed signs, which would explain why they hadn't seen any other cars in so long. Whoever was after them, either to hurt or help them, hadn't chosen just a random spot to strike.
"My lord, they were too much for us. We set the ambush, but Rattan was able to strengthen them enough to defeat us."
"So it seems that this battle is escalating. Very well them, prepare what you have left, I shall be joining you personally at the seal of lightning."
"You will be?"
"Yes Nova, we cannot afford to let them get any further. They must be killed."
"Yes, but is that the place to strike? Who knows how many people will be there?"
"Sadly, we have no other option. It is unfortunate that two who were so young were cause of all this. That is why war is so tragic. To win means to make victims of the opponent and to give birth to hatred. That's why we must end this now."
"Understood my lord."
A/N: To answer the question those who know the game as well as I do might have...Yes, He will show up next chapter.