Disclaimer: I do not own Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or anything in it.
This is a collaborative piece between me and a friend, therefore it is also posted on their ao3 account.
Author's Note: As mentioned this is an AegisSwap AU! Meaning Mythra and Malos have switched places, meaning certain things will obviously be different while other things might not. And also in keeping with the AU spirit, Rex is a girl, named Reyna in this fic.
Also as of this moment this chapter has yet to fully edited, etc. So it's still an extremely raw, unedited chapter, my apologies for thatx3
Warning(s):AegisSwap AU. Good!Malos. Evil!Mythra. F!Rex. Older!Rex. Possible OOCness. Mentions of violence and possible adult themes.(I mean, they are using things like swords and cannons and whatnot, so..it's not all going to be sparkles and fairydust.)
Reyna wakes to a man's voice blaring overhead, wincing from the volume of the speaker.
"We're in position. All personnel, report to yer stations."
She's slow to sit all the way up, nervous knots twisting in her stomach realizing it was time to go to work. In the end she hadn't been able to really get much of an idea on what exactly the object of so much gold and hired man power was, if Drivers and Blades were involved, then could it be a blade? She pondered for a moment while grabbing her gear, too deep in her thoughts to notice when she reached the deck down below.
'Guess I'll find out soon enough. ' She thought, failing to stifle a yawn. She could hear the torrential downpour of rain pounding against the outside of the ship, her shoulders sagging a bit realizing it was very obviously wet, and typically where it was wet, it was also cold. Not her favorite combination, truth be told.
"Your target is located inside a shipwreck 450 peds straight down." Reyna flinches a bit at that, never before had she gone so deep. "Searching the wreck while submerged is too high a risk for our tastes, so we'll be using floatation devices and cranes to lift the hull first." She's also never had to use so much equipment just for one payload before.
'Is this thing really worth it?' She thinks, not daring to voice such thoughts. The last thing she wanted was to be responsible for discouraging another, more capable salvager while on the job.
"Next, you'll split into teams and explore the interior. Once the target is found retrieval can commence. If that's clear, let's begin with attaching the floats. Get into position!"
Reyna turned, about to leave when—
"We're paying you lowlifes a lot, so don't screw it up!"
Reyna couldn't help the oh-so-subtle twitch of her left brow. Meeting Nia's stare with her own, giving a half-hearted glare watching Nia scoff a moment later before turning and walking off.
"Someone's on a bit of a high horse." Reyna mutters, walking off to go and join the other salvagers, pulling her goggles up and over her head. She snapped on her helmet and suit, clicking them in place along with the breathing tube.
She could hear her own heart pounding in her ears over the loud cracking of gears as the side of the ship slowly began to open, exposing them to the outside elements; Lightning lit the sky in brilliant streaks. Torrential rain pounding down on them in sheets, drenching them before they even made it into the water below. To Reyna, it was like an orchestra of nature, each sound vying to be heard over the others, beating in perfect sync with her own racing heartbeat.
'I can do this. I can do this. ' She repeated to herself stepping out onto the platform. 'I can do this!'
Steeling her fraying nerves, she forced her feet to move. Letting her body drop down into the abyss of the Cloud Sea.
All of Reyna's senses were altered; the sounds are lazy and the light, however dim, is gentle. Reyna kicks deeper, feeling the familiar pressure against her suit. She stops suddenly, her eyes become wide with wonder seeing a huge black mass in the distance. The large object takes up a large portion of the seafloor.
It was ten-thousand tons of ancient looking rusted metal and peeling paint. Something that resembled an anchor embedded into the thick layers of coral and dirt alongside it. She swam closer to what looked eerily similar to the deck of the slanted vessel, her eyes sweeping over the moldy patches of green, twisting ladders and rails, the anchor winches and blast-roof.
'Whoa...is this a ship!?' She thinks, in awe of the sheer size of the thing. ' It's massive!' She can't help herself, taking a good, long look from one side to the other.
It probably had to be the biggest ship she'd ever seen. Even more massive than the black ship she'd spotted back at the port, maybe even bigger than all of Goldmouth itself!
The rails were only half-intact with most of the hull eroded by the constant beating of waves. Moldy green going along most of the ladders and some of the doors leading to the innards of the ship. Large sheets of metal had fallen off, laying forgotten either alongside the broken apart ship or were likely getting carried off by the currents. Towards the back was a complicated mess of valves and heavy looking machinery with the outer shell area looking half-broken apart.
Is that some kind of propulsion system? The inner mechanism looked like it was capable of sparking a fire, with jagged pieces of metallic silver chipped off and scattered. Weird, does that mean it didn't use a titan?
She blinks and the scene changes, wincing at the sharp pain that tore through her skull. Gone are the moldy, damp and dimly lit outsides of the ship. In their place is a fresh stream of sunlight that came from Architect only knows where and ornate-decorated walls and floorboards-turning left and right as she tries to make sense of the sudden shift in scenery. Where did her salvaging gear go?
She hears laughter and turns, barely catching a glimpse of red -
" ...-ra! Hey, Lo-"
She blinks and she's back in front of the moldy, ancient exterior of the broken down ship. No sunlight, no warmth. And no one was around to call for her.
Now wasn't the time to be getting distracted anyway, she swam closer and closer until she reached the side of the large ship already seeing the cranes being lowered, attaching onto the ship. Taking a quick, cursory glance around at the supplies dropped down along with other divers, Reyna went for one of the closed floatation devices and with a bit of effort guided it onto an empty spot of the ship.
Once the floatation device was secured, Reyna began backing up, sending a wave to the other divers to let them know her job was done. They returned the gesture and began swimming back up towards the surface just as the floatation devices sprung open, slowly dragging the massive ship heavens bound.
Reyna broke through the surface of the cloud sea at the same time as the ship. The majority of salvagers had already latched themselves onto the main deck, watching the ship rock along the waves, creaking loudly as the top part crashed down onto the surface of the cloud sea after so many years below it. From her spot in the water Reyna could just barely make out the forms of Pyra, Jin and Nia on the deck of the ship. Once the vessel seemed clear and stable, Reyna started padding her way back onto the ship to remove her gear.
A large part of her felt relieved knowing the more tedious part of the job was at least done. Now all that was left was taking a look around. Thankfully, removing her gear always went a whole lot faster than actually putting it on, beating Nia and the others by a good few seconds aboard the newly uncovered sea vessel.
"Excellent work!" Nia said, the smallest form of what might've been a smile on her face, walking over just as Reyna finished clicking her belt into place. "You're not half bad, ya know that?"
"Uh, thanks. G-glad I could help!' Reyna chuckled, not used to being complimented. It wasn't that she was bad at her job, she just didn't know very many people who gave out praise. Or so she kept telling herself.
They turned to the rest of the salvagers as the commander started to speak. "All teams, proceed inside when ready!" He ordered. The assigned teams head out just as Pyra and Jin pass by her and Nia.
Reyna, suddenly feeling insecure, busied herself, looking anywhere but the red-haired beauty walking on by.
She was about to scurry back to the Maelstrom like a good little hired hand when her face smacked into something. Or rather, Someone .
Rubbing her nose meekly, whimpering a little. Her eyes traveled up the wall of silver in front of her, finding a set of piercing blue eyes staring down at her.
She could barely utter an apology before he spoke. "You . With us."
"M-me?" She blinked rapidly.
"Seriously?" Nia sounds a tad perplexed. "You're gonna drag the kid along?"
Nononono ! Reyna's mind was going into panic mode. "Uh, I-I really don't think— "
"Jin has his reasons, Nia." Pyra cut in over Reyna's protests, sparing the stuttering girl a sympathetic, almost pitying glance. She smiles then and it's full of reassuring warmth as she closes the distance between herself and Reyna. "You have no reason to be afraid, any monsters that come our way we can handle, right?" She looks back over her shoulder towards Jin who slowly nods.
"There, see? If you weren't necessary, we wouldn't bother troubling you so much." Pyra smiled warmly at her.
"Yes, of course." Pyra said with a small tilting of her head. "I— we —need your help for just a little longer Reyna, then you can leave."
"But the other salvagers are-"
"I know, but you're the only one from Leftheria, remember?" Realization went through Reyna's eyes. "So we need you now. No one else."
Reyna hated how her lack of confidence must have shown. "O-okay…" Reyna mumbled shyly.
Pyra nodded, pleased, turned and walked on ahead, flanked by her blade.
Nia can't come up with a worthy enough response it seems, so she settled for shooting Reyna another small glare. "Well!? Don't just stand there! You've got your orders, haven't you?"
She turned, stalking off to join the other two with Reyna following a bit further behind.
The group didn't get far however, with Reyna herself instinctively stopping just a millisecond before everyone else, feeling some kind of shift in the air that made her skin tingle a bit.
The heavy metal doors came flying towards her a split second later, or rather the spot she would have been standing had she not stopped. The tough metal digging into the outside of the ship caused a skittering row of sparks to follow before Reyna flinched, the loud sound of metal buckling and crunching as the door bounced and smashed into the guardrail on the side.
"What the…?" Nia looked towards the approaching shadow coming out of the interior of the ship. "What's that?"
"That's...a-a Lethal Lysaat King." Reyna surmised quietly, barely even heard above the roaring winds around them. "They're only volatile when provoked or when they feel something is threatening their place of habitat."
Observing how the aqua-prone creature's antenna twitched, trying to hone in on the threat.
"A what?" Nia remarked, arching a brow towards Reyna. "How do you know that?" Suddenly feeling insecure while trying to smooth out her messy hair
"I- I read it in a book." Reyna said quickly, avoiding the other girl's probing stare. "It probably has it's family in there, typically once their eggs hatch they separate. That must not have happened yet."
The Lysaat lets out a screech, daring anyone to come closer. Pyra and Jin look unphased, but it is Nia who steps up first. An air of confidence surrounded the Gormotti as she readied her rings in each hand just as the Lysaat started to lunge for them.
"Let me show you what a Driver can do."
For a split second Reyna's fingers drift towards her battle braid clipped onto one end of her belt only to hesitate, fear taking over when Nia charges. Dromarch at her side, covering for her while the familiar blue glow of ether envelops the rings.
Nia seemed to be holding her own well enough, but she soon started to struggle. Her water-based attacks are not doing nearly enough damage. Not to mention from what Reyna read in books, she knows ring-based blades are typically used for healing , not attacking.
"She...she needs help." Reyna says, her voice quiet and uncertain. About to take a step forward, wanting to help somehow when the choice is taken out of her hands.
Pyra lunges. The redhead weaving across the battlefield with such ease and elegance, easily dodging every hit the Lysaat threw at her while drawing her sword.
Reyna felt an immediate sense of dread for the lysaat having been on the receiving end of Pyra's blade herself, already knowing how things would end. Trembling when that deadly looking, fire-breathing blade was unsheathed, the orangish-yellow flames mixed in with the green glow of pure ether as she brought it down in one fell swoop.
Easily burning apart the thick outer shell and eating away at the tender flesh underneath resulting in a horrible, god-awful cry escaping from the monster's mouth seconds before the flames spread, engulfing it's entire body. Purplish blood and guts spilled onto the deck of the ship. Reyna watched the taller girl make a single, drawn-out cut reducing the poor creature to nothing more than a pile of ash in seconds.
Ruthless . It was the only word that would come to Reyna's mind in that moment, and even that seemed far too nice a description for it.
Seeing so much unnecessary blood triggered painful memories for her, the kind she preferred not to ever think about. Her mind goes back to darker times, internally replacing the purplish blood with a more crimson colored substance. The metallic exterior of the ship melting into dense green foliage.
She started shaking like a leaf in the wind, slowly backing away.
An invisible hand clamping over her mouth. An equally ghostly hypodermic of adrenaline piercing through her heart, unloading in an instant. Reyna feels her ribs heaving as if bound by ropes, straining to inflate her own lungs. Her head becomes a carousel of fears spinning wildly out of control, each one pushing her further into the uncaring darkness.
Sounds that were near suddenly felt far away, including Nia yelling something.
She feels hands that aren't her own steady her, gripping onto her shoulders tightly. Bringing her back into the present.
"-focus on my voice, okay? Nothin else, just-"
Black dots still swam in her vision, the surrounding faces blur into focus a bit more now.
Several long moments seem to pass in which Reyna miraculously manages to stay on her own two feet. Her heart rate slowed down, and her breathing returned to normal now. The faces and colors all come back into crystal clear focus.
The first thing she registers is the clear signs of worry etched onto Nia's face that causes Reyna's own cheeks to redden slightly. Looking and seeing all eyes on her now.
"I-" Reyna began, swallowing the bile that had arisen.
Nia and the one called Jin are staring at her, one in open-mouth horror and the other in quiet interest.
"We should press on." Pyra's voice cut through the thick tension, hers is the calmest of the bunch right now, being the first to turn away from Reyna. "The sooner this is done, the sooner Reyna can get some rest."
"Hold on a minute! Maybe…" Nia trails off looking torn. Reyna can't really blame her, they weren't friends and Reyna-someone Nia had already voiced doubts about-had almost passed out just from watching someone off one measly monster.
"M'fine." Reyna said, nudging out of Nia's hold not wanting to appear any weaker than she already had. "Let's just go."
Jin followed soon after with Nia being the last one inside, but not before giving out a huff of annoyance muttering something insulting under her breath.
The sooner the job was done, the sooner Reyna could return to Gramps.
The air inside the ship was stifling with the rest of the interior more dank than Reyna imagined. She starts to feel a bit queasy, the lingering scent of charred flesh and spilled innards seeming to cling onto her as she enters, doing her best to hide the trembling in her knees. She glances towards Pyra's back, immediately looking away when garnet eyes turn to meet hers.
The name Pyra, Reyna supposed, made more sense given the redhead's obvious affinity with fire-it did make Reyna wonder if the flaming sword was Sever's though-as well as that strange looking emerald-colored crystal she'd glimpsed in the center of the blade. From what she could see on Sever, there was no sign of a green core crystal. Was Sever some kind of rare blade?
The male of the trio: Jin, had no blade though, and from what Reyna could tell he didn't really have a lot of layers on him, making her wonder. "Um, aren't you cold?" She asked, a dash of worry in her voice. The look she was given in response made her consider a part-time job as a bug, blinking for a few measly seconds before he strode further in. "Umm alright then?"
"Jin isn't really one for small talk." Nia commented from behind, arms folded. "Listen Reyna, about what happened out there-well...are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine, really!" Reyna said, pouring whatever energy she could spare into a wide, fake grin. "I just, you know...I'm not used to seeing so much blood. I don't use a sword, remember?"
A flicker of doubt seemed to pass through the Gomrotti's eyes before vanishing, letting out a derisive snort instead. Nia started walking away, "ya better not go chuckin any of that yucky stuff on me, got it?"
Reyna followed along, keeping her growing headache and shaking legs to herself for the moment.
She stops, her gaze straying off towards the side for a moment. Away from the set of stairs Pyra and the others were heading towards. A sense of Deja vu washing over her, looking towards a different set of stairs leading up.
"That's the helm of the ship." Pyra spoke up seeing Reyna had stopped moving. "Or at least it was, by now it's probably filled with nothing but monsters I'd imagine."
"Don't tell me you feel like pokin' around up there? We got a job to do, in case ya forgot." Nia says shooting the salvager a pointed look.
"You mean you're not curious?" Reyna inquired of the other two, the male pausing a short distance from Pyra but remaining silent. "It's my first time being on a ship like this one…"
"You've seen one ship, you've seen 'em all." Nia shrugged indifferently.
"From the outside it didn't look like the ships back at Argentum, it looked like this one could run without a titan." Reyna added, remembering the intricate looking pieces of weathered metal and rusted fragments of valves.
"Don't be ridiculous, there's no such thing." Nia said with a scoff. " 'Sides, who knows how long these things have been rottin' at the bottom of the ocean for. It's probably just some old fashioned Urayan vessel or something. It looks big enough," the Gormotti muttered the last part off-handedly.
Reyna furrowed her brows a bit at the small tidbit of information, mulling it over internally. 'Maybe she's right, but somehow I just don't think that's the case. I'd never heard of Urayans building a ship with this kind of gear on it, I'd always heard less is more with them. '
"I wonder…" Reyna mumbled. 'Where did this thing come from?'
She blinked, a small glimmer of something familiar filtering through in her memory, like a distant dream she'd forgotten about.
"Wow, so this is a Tornan ship then? Amazing, I don't even see a titan attached to it!"
"Right!? And it gets better too, come on! Follow me up the helm, you've gotta see this amazing view!"
"Hey, hold on a minute!"
"W-what?" Reyna turned so fast she stumbled, letting out an undignified yelp as she landed on her bum. Her face now became red.
Nia sighed, shaking her head. "I said...hurry up and get a move on or else we're leaving you behind!" Nia scolded, moving to follow after the other three.
Reyna made a small noise of unease, oblivious to when they started walking again. Doing a quick double-check of her gear before sprinting a bit to catch up.
Pyra was at the head of their motley crew moving at an impressive clip. There's something oddly frightening in her eyes that makes Reyna hang a little further back than before, the way those garnet-colored eyes focus straight ahead like she sees something Reyna can't.
Reyna tries hard not to focus on the deadly determination shining in those brightly-colored eyes. Recalling how desperate the redhead sounded earlier for whatever this thing they were after was.
In her struggle to keep up Reyna stumbles some more, her foot caught on a nearby grate as they were walking. She barely has time to let out a yelp before Dromarch catches her, his mouth latching onto her sleeve giving a quick tug. The crash of the grate echoes through the empty halls of the ship and Reyna feels an immense wave of relief. She glances down and sees a swarm of smaller looking Lysaat's gathered down below, thankful she hadn't become someone's next meal.
"Thanks…." She says, trying her best to sound sincere. Dromarch gives a polite nod before returning to his Driver's side.
Continuing forward, no one really was paying her much heed. Part of Reyna is thankful for it, but another, more lonely part wishes at least Nia would talk to her more. Reyna would like to think she isn't that troublesome of a person, was she?
"Reyna, stand back a bit, will you?" Pyra requested suddenly as the small group came to a halt. Before them was another door, this one noticeably less heavy looking than the one outside, but the metal didn't look like any kind of material that was familiar to Reyna all the same.
"Hm? Uh. w-why…?" She asked slowly.
Before the redhead could offer any kind of response, the door came flying off its hinges.
Reyna recoiled, her heart leaping up into her throat for the second time that day. A thick outer shell of ashy gray and milky-white bone making up two-thirds of the attacking creature's body, with sharp looking spikes jutting out at all angles as it snapped it's giant-sized pincers with a stream of bubbles spewing from it's tentacle-covered mouth. The confrontation was brought to a close far quicker and a tad less gorish than the one outside with the Lysaat.
Pyra's strength still made Reyna shudder though, not wanting to be on the receiving end of such brutality anytime soon.
"Let us proceed." Pyra said, her tone lacking some of its usual warmth as she sidestepped the beast's broken apart, slightly charred shell without a second glance. Reyna however lingered a bit, looking sadly at the burnt creature hearing it's last pathetic cry.
"Reyna." Pyra called, stopping as she realized Reyna was not following. Noticing the other girl's hesitance to leave she turned fully, one hand over the other in a polite fashion while she made her way back over. "Is something the matter? You look sad."
"I just…" Reyna shifted nervously, not wanting to cause her employers any unnecessary trouble. She noticed Nia was beginning to look mildly annoyed by all the hold-ups while Jin's face was still stoic.
The girl could only imagine the irritation they were all probably feeling by now with her, she had that effect on people after all. "I thought it might be lonely, even though it hurts… dying alone is cruel, you know?" She mumbled, her words growing softer and her cheeks starting to burn with embarrassment.
Nia let out a snort. "You feel sorry for a monster that was just about to kill you! Are you serious?"
"Nia." Pyra said in a more chastising tone. "Reyna," Pyra began looking at the shorter girl with something akin to pity, "I understand wanting to show mercy, but do not allow it to cloud your sense of judgment entirely. Just as running is more likely to make you stumble in battle, hesitation will only serve to give those against you more openings."
Reyna's frown deepened a bit, watching Pyra turn to walk away. Recalling Jin's words from earlier on the Maelstrom, salty tears pricking at her eyes for a moment. Ducking her head a bit more, she continued trailing after them.
"This is…." Nia started to say looking around as they came to a more open area with a few abysmal glowing lights and a wall lined with ether injectors. Despite the ship having no power, Reyna stared in awe at the visible sign of how much fuel needed to be consumed for a single venture.
"It looks like a control room." Pyra surmised, glancing back towards Jin who nodded. "Which means we're getting close, what we're looking for should be all the way at the bottom."
"I don't think this door will open though…" Reyna spoke up, trying to be helpful while looking over the nearby door that was identical to the last one they saw. "Not until we're able to find some fuel to put in that still functioning ether injector there," she nodded towards the barely glowing machine all the way in the corner. "So we need to find an ether cylinder."
"I— well then. Thank you for the insight Reyna," Pyra commented with a smile. "Do you have any idea where they might be?"
Both Nia and Reyna blinked, the former guffawing a bit. "Her? Why ask her?" The Gormotti inquired.
"I…" "Reyna swallowed the lump in her throat. "I …saw something that looked like a cylinder bank further down that hallway up there." She said, pointing from the direction they just came.
Pyra simply nods, already walking back up. Her blade and the male, Jin, are quick to follow. Nia however, lingers for a moment, her golden eyes pointedly fixed onto Reyna.
"You seem kinda familiar with this place, why's that?" Nia asked, arms folded. Reyna floundered for a response.
"I-I don't think I am! I just… read a lot, a-and I'm a bit more observant is all."
"You sayin' I can't see?" Nia replied, a bit more waspish than might've been intended.
Reyna shrank a bit. "No, not at all. I just…" Reyna shrugs, struggling to find the right words. "I'm a bit of a bookworm, I don't have too many people who are willing to talk to me...back at the guild, I mean. Books were kinda my thing," Reyna adds.
The group retraces their steps accordingly, with Reyna making mention that the places with more ferocious monsters were likely to have some. "I read somewhere that just like blades, certain wildlife and smell the ether particles in the air and are drawn to it." She informs while walking feeling pleased that all those hours pouring over various tomes finally seemed to be paying off.
"This is it." Pyra announced, turning and gesturing for Reyna to come forward, placing a hand on a glowing orange cylinder propped up against a mold-covered wall. "Reyna, would you mind carrying this please?"
"Uh, s-sure." Pyra smiled, lifting the cylinder with ease and depositing it into Reyna's arms. The shorter girl let out a yelp from how heavy it was, nearly pitching forward.
"We have what we need, now we can move further in." Pyra announced, brushing past a slightly stunned Reyna. Unsure of why exactly she had to carry it, figuring it was probably because everyone else was busy dealing with any monsters.
Once they were back in the control room Reyna slid it into the open ether injector watching it click shut and slide back into place. A brilliant orangish light shot up in the column part followed by a thin stream of blue flowing ether extending out towards a nearby control panel.
"And now, in theory…" Reyna started to say, walking over and eyeing the various buttons and switches. Pushing on the bright glowing red one.
The shifting of gears coming from the door impeding the way further in.
"The door should open now?" Pyra questioned receiving a nod. The redhead smiled, looking back towards the door barring their path with a strange look of yearning Reyna didn't recall seeing before now.
Their reward for opening the next set of mechanical doors comes in the form of a ferocious looking hybrid lizard, shark-like creature standing before yet another set of doors. Almost like it's guarding something. It's skin like slimy green mucus with big yellow spots on top and a white scaled underbelly gnashing it's razor-sharp looking teeth at them.
Pyra stepped out in front, meeting it face-to-face and being greeted with what sounded like a wet roar.
"You won't let us through, will you? So be it then." Pyra says looking like she expected such a response. She unsheathed her sword like she had what seemed so many times before, only this time she goes for the blue one strapped to her backside. "Sever." She calls without breaking eye contact with the beast, tossing the blade up into the air effortlessly.
Reyna doesn't even realize she is shying away until Sever leaps up, wordlessly grabbing the unsheathed weapon before unleashing a powerful, concentrated blast in the shape of a burning green 'X' of wind causing yet another horrendous wail of agony to echo through the empty bowls of the ship before the beast fell.
Reyna paled. The creature never stood a chance, unsure of what drew her attention first; the flickering embers where chunks of flesh were laying, or the heavy splotches of weirdly green-colored blood that splattered along the ceiling and floor. The stench of charred flesh reached Reyna's nose making her almost retch.
'How awful.' The brunette thinks, wincing at the loud, icky sound of charred guts being wiped from Pyra's blade.
"Those who stand in my way will receive no mercy from my blade." The redhead declares with an icy calmness that grips at Reyna's heart in the most unsettling way. Sucking the breath from her very lungs.
It's only when her back hits against something hard that Reyna lets out a small startled cry, assuming it to be another monster, whirling around and meeting the cold, hard eyes of Jin. He simply stares at her for a moment that seems to stretch into an eternity, not saying a word. She wonders what he sees looking back at him that makes him carefully sidestep around her with a posture not quite as rigid as before.
"Lora." The name slips from her lips without even realizing it, blinking in surprise when she sees both Jin and even Pyra stiffen.
"Reyna." Pyra was the first to speak up, fixing Reyna with an inquisitive stare. "How do you know that name?"
"Huh? O-oh, well I...I just, uh-"
"Was it...someone you knew?" Jin asked. His stare seemed to go right through her.
Reyna isn't quite sure of where the name came from, an image of auburn hair and a sword-much like the one strapped to Jin's back-flashing through her mind.
"Y-yeah, uh just...the name of someone back at the guild!" Reyna lies, rubbing the back of her head and avoiding looking directly into those cold, piercing eyes. "I was just remembering how I promised to play hide and seek with her once I got back, that's all."
"Really?" Pyra murmured, looking thoughtful.
"You play hide and seek?" Jin's face did...something. He looked almost like he was in pain.
"Yeah, just with the younger kids that hang around the guild really. Um, most of them are orphans, and so they...uh...a-are you okay?" Jin wasn't looking at her anymore.
"It's nothing." He says curtly walking ahead, leaving Reyna standing with only Pyra now.
"Sorry, it's a personal matter." Pyra explains simply before turning to follow. She pauses for a moment, turning back to Reyna almost immediately. "Reyna, does the name Leandra mean anything to you?"
"Leandra?" Reyna blinks, sounding dumbfounded. "No, why?"
The glow of Pyra's eyes seem to dim a little, shaking her head. "Oh it's nothing of major significance, just...the name of someone I was acquainted with. You remind me of her, that's all."
"So, a friend then?" Reyna asks, face brightened at the thought. Pyra was certainly nice enough, even if her power was a little on the scary side.
"She was…" Pyra trails off, looking like she is struggling to find the right words all of a sudden. The redheaded driver's features softened, turning into a look of fond reminiscence "...unique."
"Unique? How so?" Reyna figured Pyra was too polite to say weird instead.
"We spoke a few times, before I met Jin and the others. She befriended and rode around on a Lysaat. She even named it Gerald."
Reyna's jaw drops at that. "She... befriended it?" Was such a thing even possible?
Pyra laughed-actually laughed!-at the memory of such a thing. "She had a tendency of making the impossible possible. Said it was one of her many talents in life, if you can believe it."
"So then, where is she now?" Reyna felt compelled to ask. "Are you still traveling together?"
Pyra's eyes dimmed, her smile turning sadder. "We didn't travel together actually, we were more like acquaintances I suppose. I...knew her for only a very short time, you could say."
"O-oh...um, s-sorry…" Reyna mumbled, sensing the sudden shift in mood. "Didn't mean to bring up bad memories."
"No," Pyra is quick to interject, shaking her head with a soft smile. "Some of them are...good memories. It was through her and a few others I was able to find someone like me; Someone to understand and stand alongside me."
"Like a brother?" Reyna said with a tilt of her head, drawing on some of the comments made by other kids back in the guild rather than her own personal experience.
Pyra's smile didn't waver, turning to look in the direction Jin and Nia had walked off in. "Maybe. I won't know until I see them again…" She whispers, wistful.
Reyna watches her walk on ahead at a more leisurely pace, somehow feeling lighter than before after the small 'heart-to-heart' she and Pyra just shared. She felt closer somehow. Even if it didn't completely banish her fear of Pyra's sword, Reyna was happy the other girl felt comfortable enough to open up.
'Maybe things won't turn out so bad here after all.' Reyna thought, a spark of assurance going through her.
"Come on now, no straggling behind!" Nia scolded from further ahead, turning when she realized Reyna was standing still. "Pyra says we're almost there."
The door that stood before them next is much bigger than the previous ones, with a more ornate design to it as well. In the middle, etched onto the raised circle portion that is closer to ground level, is what Reyna thinks looks like a symbol of a flame. It looked kind of familiar, but she can't think of why that would be. Like something she heard from an old story a long time ago…
"Pyra, look there." Jin says, his voice lacking the cold edge he had earlier when speaking to Reyna.
Pyra steps forward with an audible gasp, her hands folding over the area where the armor plating on her chest was. "That's it, there's no mistaking it." She says, her voice thick with an emotion Reyna can't quite place. "It's Addam's crest."
"Addam's...crest?" Reyna echoes curiously, a strange sense of foreboding washing over her. 'Do they mean the same Addam as in that mural displayed at the Praetorium?'
Reyna's brows scrunch together as the thought passes through her head… the mention of the crest piquing her interest. Like a girl possessed, Reyna walked right past the Drivers and Blades, halting in her steps once the full image of the crest came into view with her gaze dropping to the charm Gramps had given her before she left; They were the same!
"What? But how…?" The beginnings of a headache had started up again.
"Um, maybe...we shouldn't be down here?" Reyna said, turning to face the others now, trying hard to ignore the twist in her gut. The headache quickly worsened.
"No, this is exactly where we need to be." Pyra insisted.
Reyna isn't so sure, and she figures that it must show on her face since it's Jin who addresses her next, in a calmer tone. "Reyna, correct?" She's surprised the male of the group even remembers her name.
"Will you open this door for us?" He asks.
"Please Reyna." Pyra didn't look the type to beg; The large, garnet-colored eyes seemed to look past the door at whatever was inside, her hands held together over her heart. "What's beyond this door-it's very precious to me."
Reyna doesn't know how to respond to that. A part of her isn't even sure she wants to try- her mind flashing back to the fight against the lizard, gulping. Pyra could be truly terrifying if someone-or thing-got on her bad side, and Reyna did think they had something of a bonding moment just a few seconds ago, so…
"A-alright...I-I'll try it then…"
The notion was a bit absurd really, that there was a door only she could open. Still, she's come this far and Pyra seems desperate enough to beg too. Part of her really wanted to know what was beyond this door.
Her fingers barely brushed against the crest before it started to glow. Something inside her chest lifted, that strange sense of Deja vu coming back, beckoning her further down the now opened pathway. Towards the next, bulky door. Oblivious to the small green sparks emanating from her feet as she walked.
'Someone's …calling me …?' Reyna thought, entranced by the foreign whisper that brushed against her conscious, guiding her forward still.
When Nia moved to follow, a sudden noise from Jin stopped her, effectively snapping Reyna from whatever trance had a hold of her. "Wait," he says, looking ahead himself.
"That one too, please." Pyra requested, eyes shining with what might have been hope. Looking like she was seconds from following Nia's example to run ahead.
Reyna can't quite explain the heavy pounding of her heart as she steps towards the next door— 'This is the last one,' her mind supplies—-feeling a sudden burning in her veins, like fire. This time her fingers don't even make it all the way to the switch, almost as though the door itself knows why she is there, even if she herself does not.
The fog that was rolling around her is now starting to dissipate before her very eyes, stepping into a large circular chamber with pipes all around and a pool of fresh, flowing ether giving the room an ethereal glow. There is a single platform in the middle with a pedestal in the center, a familiar looking sword buried deep in it; The ether lines going to the blade are green, but the ones running along the edge of the blade and handle are a beautiful, shimmering amethyst color that was brimming with raw power . The sharpened edge is lined with an intricate, ornate design of royal gold and obsidian black.
What drew her attention the most, however, wasn't the sword but the capsule- rather the person inside-
"A...man?" Somehow he looked familiar . Though, for the life of her, Reyna couldn't figure out why.
He was clothed in black armor unlike any she'd ever seen before with the occasional splash of rich, royal-gold. His skin is a flawless olive color, like that Pyra girl's. His hair the same shade of black as the sword and his armor, short and spiked. His hands neatly folded over a spot on his chest where Reyna could almost swear she saw the edges of a crystal peeking out, only …she couldn't tear her eyes from his face.
Things were moving in her mind at a thousand miles per second, a myriad of images and voices colliding together making her head feel as though it might explode, bringing a hand up to her face. She groaned, feeling like she might just collapse when a single voice pierced her thoughts …drawing her back to a different point in time where everything seemed brighter and she was suddenly outside running towards an unknown silhouette.
"Hey, hey take it easy there, would ya? You're fighting in a group, so you don't have to overexert yourself." She heard herself say in a much more confident voice, sounding a smidge too close to exasperation.
The person she was speaking to let out a scoff, giving Reyna the distinct feeling they were rolling their eyes at her. "For the last time, I'm an aegis. Why do you even care? It's not like you're my driver."
The atmosphere changed, and she was filled with a sudden sense of dread and despair. Something wet trickling down her cheeks.
"You're tired, aren't you? It's alright...you can close your eyes. You can rest now... Malos."
"M- Ma...los…" The name fell from her lips, spoken like some distant prayer. She moved her hand away from her face, not at all noticing as something wet fell onto the bare flesh of her arm, drawing her attention back down. She blinked, slowly touching her fingers to her cheek, not realizing a few tears had started to fall.
She didn't understand where this sudden sense of despair and regret came from. Was it because of this guy? Did she...know him somehow?
Something like a heartbeat pulled her from her silent musings, directing her gaze towards the sword embedded into the pedestal. The heavy pulsation of power emanating from the blade was unlike anything she'd ever seen or felt, maybe even more so than Pyra's. With a light greenish aura surrounding it as her hand went out to touch it. The violet glow reflected in her eyes, feeling something take hold of her once again, calling out to her.
It's at that very same moment Pyra and the others have caught up. Pyra's eyes do a quick sweep of the newly discovered room before muttering to herself, "this place...is like a prison ." She blinks, eyes flicking ahead, focusing on the capsule and the person inside it.
"Jin, look." Pyra whispers.
"Yes, there's no mistaking it. That's the Aegis." Jin affirms while Nia crept closer for a better look, the violet glow around Reyna growing brighter by the second.
A beat of silence passes in which Jin grips his sword, about to unsheathe it when his mind goes back to that moment a few minutes prior where Reyna had spoken her name. The image of vibrant golden eyes and auburn hair setting him off balance. His grip became slack.
"Reyna, no! Don't touch that, please!" Pyra yells, a feeling of dread spilling into her words realizing it is too late. Seeing the sparks of amethyst fly into the air when Reyna's fingers brush against the crystal embedded into the blade
Nia's eyes are wide, barely catching Pyra's movement from the corner of her eyes, faster than even Jin. The redhead's sword getting drawn, blazing to life with that powerful, all-consuming fire. She doesn't even have time to shout a warning.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as a familiar burning sword met flesh and not at all in a painless way like some might like to think.
There was pain indescribable, insurmountable pain feeling the blade get twisted deeper and deeper in the span of just a few measly seconds. Nia was saying something, but Reyna couldn't make out what. Her eyes focused on the fiery tip of a sword now protruding from where her heart was giving out it's last few, desperate beats.
"P-Pyra…? But...w-why?" She stammered, cold shock coloring her words.
"I'm sorry...but you can consider it an act of mercy." Pyra whispers and Reyna barely registers how the redhead's hand trembles on the handle of the blade, like she is desperately trying to hold herself together from within. "I-...I can't let anyone else have him. This is the only way."
The garnet eyes are wet, but shining with resolve when she speaks her next words. Except Reyna's consciousness is already fading along with the fiery glow of Pyra's sword, unable to make it out clearly. Hearing something shatter as she fell with her vision starting to tunnel.
The last echoing beats of her heart fading away.
Hope you enjoyed!
Didn't mean for this to take as long as it did, but life's been on the hectic side for me a lot, so...yep.
Also let me know your thoughts on how everything seems so far in terms of characters not being too OOC, plot and even maybe what kinds of blades you'd like to see Reyna with eventually.