Notes: Plot is too hard, I'm never doing plot fic again.
Fun fact, about two pages in I suddenly wanted to change the ending to exclude Muzaka waking up (spoilers, I guess, but we all know where this is going), but then I realized I'd need to make changes to the end of last chapter... which I already published... and that would be too much work, so we're sticking with this to the end.
Chapter 10: Epilogue
Seira, Regis, M-24 and M-21 stared up at the massive tank in the center of the lowest containment chamber — and the unconscious figure floating within it.
"...Who is he?" M-24 wondered finally, glancing over at Seira and Regis.
Regis shook his head. "I don't know... I've never seen him before. He looks a bit like someone from the Ru clan, but... his aura is different. I don't think he's a noble."
Not that the man, with his massive scars and long pale hair, felt human either. Not even like a modified human, really — despite everything, M-24 and M-21 were still clearly human at the core. But this man...
"It doesn't matter who or what he is," Seira said quietly, but without room for compromise. "We can't leave him here."
Although M-24 could understand the sentiment, he hesitated and frowned. "That's..." he trailed off. Unsure what to say, he glanced at M-21. But for once, his partner was making no protest. He was staring up at the unknown man with an almost enraptured expression. M-24 frowned. "M-21? What is it?"
It took a moment for M-21 to respond. Blinking and shaking his head slowly as if coming out of a daze, he said, "I don't... know... This guy, he's..."
He couldn't explain it at all — his chest felt tight, like he couldn't breathe. It wasn't familiarity, but at the same time, it was. He shook his head again.
M-24 wasn't the only one watching him in concern at that point. Even Seira hesitated to press on, her lips thinning as she found herself caught between two conflicting obligations. "So what are we going to do?" Regis asked finally. Making his way over to the control panel in front of the tank, he peered at it and wrinkled his nose. "I don't know what any of this means..."
He and Seira hadn't spent nearly enough time around scientists to absorb the required knowledge — for the best, but frustrating all the same.
"Let me see—" M-21 started to say, shaking off the odd sensations to move toward Regis.
The emergency lights flickered, along with the displays. Something in the ceiling groaned and then cracked. A thin but widening fissure had begun to open, running down one of the walls. With a quiet, ominous click, a crack appeared across the tank, and the control panel went dark.
"Get back," M-21 said quietly, but with a steely certainty. "Get back right now."
Without taking his eyes off the tank, Regis began to back away. Through the flickering shadows, the liquid and the cracked glass, he thought he saw the man's eyes snap open.
The tank burst, sending water torrenting over them. It was little more than an inconvenience, and M-21 only shook his head quickly to clear his eyes, already searching for Regis. He didn't need the nobles' sense of auras to feel something stirring and awakening. The raw power in the air buzzed against his wet skin and seemed to resonate through his skull.
Sparing a glance toward the remains of the tank, he could see the unknown man's slumped form shudder and begin to stir. Something like a growl, almost too deep to be heard, rumbled through the air.
'We need to run,' M-21 thought.
Grabbing Regis by the arm, he did just that. They barely made a few steps before a howl split the air, and the oppressive power exploded outward. It stripped metal sheets off the floor and dented the walls with its sheer force. Swept off their feet, Regis and M-21 were sent flying, while M-24 just barely managed to remain on his feet until Seira threw up a hasty shield.
As they skidded to a painful stop, Regis tried to do the same.
"Don't!" M-21 snapped, grabbing hold of the arm Regis had raised and dragging him back down to the floor. "You too! Just get down!"
Seira glanced at him uncertainly, but M-24 seemed to understand and quickly pulled her into a crouch instead. As she dropped her shield, they barely managed to duck another twisted slab of metal sent flying by the whirlwind of power rampaging through the chamber.
"Don't get its attention!" M-21 snapped when Seira shot him a demanding glare.
"I don't think that guy even knows we're here," M-24 explained, his voice tense and low, barely audible over the cacophony. "But if you use your powers, he might notice us..."
They were right. The overwhelming power crashing over them and ripping apart the chamber was completely directionless. The unknown man in the center of it all continued to howl, full of rage and suffering — and madness. He did not seems in the least aware of their presence or even of his surroundings.
"What the hell is he?" M-21 muttered furiously. He could just make out what looked like silver fur spreading across his arms and chest, his fingers lengthening into wicked claws.
"It couldn't be, but... a werewolf?" Regis guessed.
'Werewolf?! Those exist too?' M-21 thought with a flash of indignation. In all their snooping through Union files, they had never seen any mention of that — which was hardly a surprise, given the Union's methods and policies, but... This power must have been equal to a noble, or an Elder.
Those claws looked like they could tear through anything.
The long howl cut off suddenly, making them gasp as the tension and raging power vanished. A shiver went down M-21's back as he broke out in cold sweat of fear. He pushed Regis's head down, pressing them both closer to the floor, but he couldn't help risking a covert glance toward the unknown man in the center of the chamber.
He was still standing, head bowed. Something massive and ethereal towered over and behind him — a giant, spectral wolf. Silver fur rippled, and there was the distant echo of a clinking chain.
For an instance, M-21 thought their eyes met, before he hurriedly ducked his head, heart pounding.
'Don't look this way, don't notice us—'
What came next wasn't a howl, but a roar — too loud, too deep for any human to make. Everything shook, more pieces of the collapsing ceiling coming down with a loud crash. Wind whipped through the chamber as the air was suddenly displaced.
Regis cursed, completely drowned out, as he threw up a shield just in time to keep them from getting crushed by the debris.
Eventually, it ended.
M-21 coughed, choking on the dust in the air, and tried to lift his head. It hurt, and so did the rest of his body, despite Regis shielding them from the worst of it. His ears were ringing too, and he had to blink furiously for a minute before his eyes stopped swimming with spots.
The unknown man — werewolf? — was gone. Judging by Regis's faint frown as he looked upward and turned slowly to follow something out of sight, he had fled the island completely — by carving a path straight up, through the ceiling and the layers of rock between the lowest containment chamber and the surface.
Faint natural light was filtering down from the small glowing circle of the opening up above. Looking up at it made M-21 shudder instinctively at the display of insane raw power.
"What the hell was that...?" he muttered.
Regis shook his head mutely. "It... it doesn't matter," he decided. "It's gone now... I hope." He shook his head and stood gingerly. "Seira! Seira, can you hear me?"
They couldn't see the place where M-24 and Seira had been anymore, only outcroppings of jagged rubble — one of which finally moved, heaving once, twice, before the topmost boulder was thrown aside to reveal M-24, covered in dust, but otherwise unharmed, and Seira, looking worn, but also unharmed.
"We're alright," M-24 said, rolling his neck and wincing when it cracked. "Somehow."
"That's great, but we should probably get out of here before something else happens," M-21 said. He looked up, squinting. "At least there's a way out now... not sure how we're going to get up through there though."
"It's fine, we can— ugh," Regis started to say, only to cut himself off with a strange sound. Glancing at him, M-21 saw that he'd gone pale, despite his already near white complexion.
"Oh," Seira said very quietly. "Sir Gejutel... is here."
'Gejutel, Gejutel...' M-21 exchanged a glance with his partner, trying to place the name. "Your grandfather?"
He could have sworn Regis whimpered.
Nobles could fly, it turned out. That was what Regis's grandfather did, descending regally down into the underground chamber and floating overhead as he regarded them with a look that made even M-21 look away in some instinctive sense of contrition.
"Well," Gejutel said slowly. "This is not how I expected you to prepare for your coming of age."
Regis almost certainly whimpered then.
"Given the situation, you will make your report to the Lord," he went on. "Come along. Rajak has already retrieved his brother." And before Seira could protest, he added, "Bring your... clansman too. And the other one, I suppose."
He didn't sigh, but it was clearly implied.
'Clansman?' Regis mouthed, sharing a look with Seira. They couldn't possibly be getting off that lightly, right? On the other hand, it wasn't like they had much chance to make a break for it.
'The other one?' M-21 mouthed to himself, scowling. Never mind, he was going to give this geezer a piece of his mind...
Regis elbowed him sharply.
"I can't believe we're getting off this easily," Regis muttered, dropping his head in his hands — in relief, but also in confusion. "She didn't even care about the contract."
Or rather, she — the Lord, nobles had some strange customs — had been apparently willing to accept Seira's excuse that M-24 had already possessed the power of a noble to begin with, so entering into a contract with him did not violate the spirit of the law against it, which was meant to prevent humans being given power they were not meant to possesses.
Or maybe she had just been more interested in the proof that the noble traitors truly had joined the human Union and were indeed behind the incident one hundred years ago. Regis, Rael, M-24 and M-21 had been ushered out before any discussion of that point could take place — Seira remaining as the new Loyard clan head — but it had certainly seemed to shake and trouble the other assembled clan heads.
"I can't believe my brother's not even mad," Rael muttered, mimicking Regis's posture. "He actually said he was proud of me..."
Well, Rajak had made a show of scolding Rael a little, about listening in on things he was not meant to hear and not alerting the rest of the clan to his plans, as well as underestimating his enemy. But in the end, he had congratulated Rael on supporting Seira and remaining steadfast even the face of an enemy that he couldn't defeat.
Although, Seira had hardly found a happy ending to her search...
"Great. So what happens now?" M-21 wondered. He was... happy for the noble kids, he supposed. It was good that they hadn't gotten in trouble and made it back home, to this Lukedonia, safely. But what did that mean for him and M-24?
Regis pursed his lips, frowning. "The Lord and the clan heads will have to break the non-aggression agreement with the Union," he said decisively. "We know the traitors are working with them. We know they... attacked our people. We have to take action, even if it's in the human world."
Frowning as well, Rael had raised his head. He couldn't say Regis was wrong — the clan heads were much more cautious than a hotheaded kid like Regis, but holding back served no purpose anymore. "I doubt we'll declare war right away or anything like that," he said, tapping his foot thoughtfully. "But things will definitely start moving now."
Well, at least his brother would know to take extra care out on missions now. It wasn't as if the threat of Ignes and the other traitors was ever just going to go away. The sooner Lukedonia crushed them, the better off they'd be.
"That's... interesting," M-21 said. Huge, world-changing, in fact. He could barely wrap his head around an entire species on par with the Elders or even stronger making the Union their enemy. It sounds almost like the Union might be... but no, he wouldn't get his hopes up. He added, somewhat dryly, "But that's not really what I meant."
"Do you think we'll be able to stay here?" M-24 asked bluntly.
"Grandfather acknowledged it, right? You're part of Seira's clan," Regis said, his tone making it clear he thought the answer was obvious. "Where else would you go?"
He looked between them slowly as if trying to figure out why they were even asking — humans were so confusing — before comprehension dawned on his face. He almost had it right, too.
"Oh! Well, it's true we don't really bring humans to Lukedonia much," Regis admitted, glancing at M-21, "but it's a special case anyway. Grandfather told me it used to be different in the past, and we do have some humans here sometimes, like it they wash up shipwrecked."
"It's not like Seira will let you get kicked out. Even if you didn't make a contract, she's already decided you're her clan by proxy," Rael muttered, making a face.
He understood that much now — about Seira and the way she was. In a way, he supposed they were alike. He would do anything for his family, his brother, too. It was just that Seira's definition of family was different from his. Her dedication to their memory and their ideals... was almost inspiring. Following what his brother believed in, because it mattered to Rajak and Rajak mattered to him — Rael was beginning to understand that too.
Regardless, he was right. When it came to those she perceived as her responsibility — her family, her clan — Seira wouldn't hesitate or stop, no matter what. 'She certainly proved that,' M-21 thought with a sigh. 'To a stupid extent...'
He turned to look at his partner when M-24 clapped a hand on his shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. M-24 smiled. "It's be alright," he said simply.
For a moment, M-21 didn't respond. Then, he snorted and shook his head. "Yeah," he admitted, with a small smile of his own, "we made it... somehow."
If only for a little while, there was no need to worry. They were finally safe, together.
(season 1 end)
End notes: It's oveeeeeer. I do technically have a general plan for S2, but I'm just really not feeling writing at this point (as you can probably tell from the poor quality, haha). Plot is too hard to do! Character interactions and development are too hard too! (Also, I'm not exactly inspired by the werewolf arc in canon.)
Anyway, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it even a little bit! If you can, please leave a review~