Light in the Storm: Fighting Spirits

It took several short jumps through different subnet paths before Lyntael found her way to the isolation block, where the navigators that were being imprisoned and tortured here were being held. She landed from the last transit at a running pace, before sliding to a halt as the space came into sight properly.

The block itself was made of the same black crystal flooring, but the light flickers shining through it were dense and bright. The space was a large circle, with a single control system in the open central space. Around the edges, stacked three high, a series of ten cells ringed the platform, each with an intricate crystal lattice for walls and a clear front. Power hummed across the surfaces and external walls of the cells, glowing a dim purple, while inside most of them Lyntael could see the shapes of navigators frozen in a timeless stasis. Her fists clenched as she looked at the sight, sparks scattering from her hair, but after a moment she diverted her attention to the console. Focus; she could be angry and work at the same time. Sneakered footsteps dashed across to the central controls and Lyntael began to release the seals.

What had once been a vague understanding of what she would need to do had been solidified by memory fragments of things witnessed in his very room and she worked quickly, but it was still several long-feeling seconds before the first cell powered down and the shape within lurched to motion. The figure that leaned against the cell's frame looked like a young boy, dressed like some kind of comic book super hero. He wavered, leaning on the now open frame and looked about with an obvious dread that swiftly became confusion as he met Lyntael's eyes. As he stumbled forward, the boy lurched slightly and hunched over, gripping at his body. His form glitched before stabilising, all save his right arm that looked as though it was trying to transform in a dozen different ways. Black crystal bands glowed at several points along the limb, seemingly holding it in check. He recovered after a moment and looked up at her again.

“Who... What is this...? I don't want to keep playing your...” his voice broke into a brief gasp of pain. “Your dumb games.” Lyntael fought down the urge to rush across to him and kept working instead, moving to the next cell along.

“You won't. We're getting you all out, now, tonight. Stay close, but I've got to work, we don't have long.” The boy just watched her, cautious and untrusting, but a flicker of hope joined the confusion on his features and he nodded. The next cell shut off; it was a quick process, but it was still taking too long. They had nearly thirty navis contained here, and... she grit her teeth... she couldn't trip the release on the whole system from here, like she'd thought. The final fail-safe didn't route through the stasis block itself at all, in the end. She had to work faster. Two more cells, and more navigators making their way out. She did her best to call out to them as they awoke, but there wasn't time to reassure anyone properly. Time counted down in her head. Another one open. Some of the navigators that emerged tried to lash out, while others tried to get their attention and calm them. Others seemed far less responsive, and had to be coaxed from their cells. They couldn't all travel at full speed. Lyntael felt her frustration rising alongside the anger and her skin began to dance and crackle with light. Too many variables.

A loud tone sounded through the cell block and a wash of purple light shifted to a pulsing red. An alarm. The console switched into a secure access mode and Lyntael drew her hands back for a second, making sense of it. No. No, no no.... there was no time for this. She heard herself growl under her breath as some of the free navigators looked towards her. Voices eager to go, terrified of being recaptured, desperate and confused. The screen frizzed for a moment as she gripped the edges of it. She didn't have time for any of this! Frustration reached into her fury as Lyntael felt her charge rise in response and she grasped it. Her strikers glowed and her skin danced as the energy swelled and she reached out her senses to the subnet itself.

Distantly, she felt the other navigators drawing back from her as sparks of electricity fell and scattered off her body and her fingers dug in against the crystal console. More. She drew deeper, embracing her charge and pushing it into the system as her strikers glowed brighter and brighter. The hot ache of it filling her, coursing through her body, was a moment of welcome sensation to channel the rage she felt and she willed it further, hotter, harsher. The screen shorted out and the flow of dense energy through the black crystal surfaces grew more erratic. Lyntael pushed further, drawing more energy as the cycle of her charge answered, pulsing out and rebuilding stronger each beat. Each ebb and flow swelled larger than the last, starting to scour at her but Lyntael turned her eyes towards the flickering patterns across the data space. She could take it, if it meant destroying everything here. Her grit teeth parted enough to become a growing sound of effort that the girl was only partially aware of. Sparks rolled off her body in its own natural attempt to stabilise, but she instinctively drew the energy fall-off back in to herself and redirected it through her strikers, into the subnet structure. The burn began to hurt, her eyes stung, but she drew deeper.

The warning alarm flickered. Lights coursing through the floor faltered and grew erratic and the steady glow on the stasis cells began to crackle. Lyntael heard her voice become a snarled shout and felt it as, around her, elements began to short and burst. Electrical sparks exploded from the barrier around one cell, then another, then another in an increasing cascade of failures. With a final shower of sparks and a reverberating static explosion the space fell dark. Lyntael threw her head back, arms coming free and stretching wide as they clutched at empty air and trailing bolts of lighting arced into the air above her and grounded themselves on the upper elements of the broken cells. Her shout trailed off into a series of shorter vocal gasps as she fought to pull herself back from the raging storm that wanted to keep going further and further. Focused through was difficult, but one thing that remained was urgency. She had to pull it back, calm down, focus. She couldn't lose control here.

Scared voices brought her back to the present moment. The scent of electrical burns and ozone filled the space. A light source drifted into the air from another navigator – a small blue star of light that bathed the area, guided aloft by a slender woman with long blond hair in a now-ragged dress that glittered. The light revealed a collection of navis now, gradually trying to make their way down from various cells and helping each other stand. Looks of fear caught Lyntael's eye – some of them were directed at her. Worry about that later. She nodded her thanks to the blue lady and tried to address the small crowd through panted breaths.

“I... hahhh... Sorry. There's no time. We need... hahh... we need to go. Now. I'm not leaving anyone behind. If there are some here, who can't walk or run, help them. We are all getting out of this, now, tonight. Hahhh... but we have to go, quickly. They'll know something's up. I've got a way out, just follow me.” Her body was still crackling with sparks, and the burn in her limbs was only slowly receding as she caught her breath. Many of the navigators still seemed hesitant to come any closer. She closed her eyes and tried to will the sparks away with another long breath. “Please, I just want to help.” Their hesitation only lasted another moment or two longer before the gravity of the situation seemed to get through to several of the navis. Others seemed in a much worse state, either physically or mentally, but swiftly enough the group began to galvanise themselves and gather up to move. Lyntael nodded and let herself breath a small sigh of relief. It took her an extra moment to bring the transit back online, to get them out of the damaged subnet, but she'd needed to reconfigure where it could take them anyway. She stepped through once it was ready, and the others followed.
The distance towards the place where Rogan could collect them became a hurried dash through subnets in an increasing degree of activity and uproar. Lyntael found herself taking the lead through most of it, threading between different scanning programs and, now that speed was more important than stealth, even moving to disable several of them instead of waiting. Just as often, however, she had to dash back between transitions to ensure that everyone was keeping up. Several of the navis couldn't move well, in their damaged, crippled conditions, or were too overwhelmed by the situation, or too scared, and more than once she found herself hurriedly crouching by another navi that had drawn in on themselves and refused to move, talking as gently as she could in her hurry to get them going again.

Her memory said that she herself had frozen like this at times, from fear and anxiety, but she thrust it away into the pile of other things that didn't make sense; false memories, mistaken memories – she wasn't like that. There wasn't time for it anyway. She'd given Rogan extra time to get out again, but the charges would go off before that, and they wouldn't leave much of anything here in this network space.

It was only a matter of seconds, though it felt like much longer, before Lyntael reached the last transit and took a moment to reconfigure it so they could get through.

“Lyntael, update. It's almost time and everything is in place here.” Rogan's voice over her shoulder was a reassurance that calmed some of her immediate nerves, despite his serious tone.
“We're on our way, sir!” They were almost there. The connection locked in, permitting them access to the sealed subnet and Lyntael gestured to her followers before darting through.

She brought the group into a broad space, filled with narrow corridors formed by tall crystal structures. This was it. She waited by the transit until they were all through then rushed towards the other end of the space, where the stacks gave way to an open space.

“We're here, sir. Now.” As she spoke, a pale yellow gateway phased into sight, its light pulsing with some uneven flickers but connected and present all the same. She looked toward the navis moving with her. “Go, quickly, through there!” She gestured, hurrying the programs through as they began to disappear one by one.

Sudden movement flickered at the edge of her vision and Lyntael moved on instinct. A figure shot from between the tall stacks, aimed to cut off the escaping procession and Lyntael met them just ahead of the line. She felt another body strike hers and her skin burst with crackling sparks at the sharp slice of a blade cutting across the top of her arm. The figure skipped back a few paces and Lyntael felt herself slip into a fighting stance. It was the other navi she'd seen, the one in the coat with the crooked smile. Silver knives flashed across his fingers as she took him in.

Behind her, Lyntael heard the sounds of distress, short screams and cries of worry. She glanced over her shoulder.

“Keep going, I'll handle this! Please, hurry!” As she looked back towards the other navigator, she grit her teeth and let her charge build to a crackling glow. He was looking at her, taking in every detail, but what had first been a confident, vicious grin shifted.

“I don't believe it...” His smile went from cold to almost joyous, excitement even, she couldn't place it. He seemed almost agitated suddenly, spinning his knives like he couldn't hold still. “It's you... little Lyntael, how is it you..? Never thought I'd get to see you again...” It was an expression of something she might almost call wonderment. Behind her, she heard Rogan's voice cut in, urgent, desperate... panicked even.

“Lyntael! Run, get away from him, now! You have to run!” The words didn't sound like Rogan, especially not during a mission, and as the remaining navigators continued to rush through the gate she looked back towards the navi in green watching her – he was focused on her so completely that he seemed to have forgotten his original quarry entirely. That was good. She called out to hold his attention.

“Look, I don't know who you are or why you're defending this disguising business, but we're leaving, and you are not going to stop us.” She let her charge build, listening to the small pulses of navigators escaping through the gate. Almost done.

The other navi's shoulders slumped,the boyish excitement deflating as she spoke. She saw his expression drop into one of disappointed apathy, and his eyes... There is was, again. Those eyes, looking at her like they were seeing someone else. Staring through her, like she was a ghost. Why him? Why now?

“You ain't her... Damnit. You ain't her.” The words slapped her in the face and Lyntael felt a spike of anger tear up through her determination. He knew! Somehow, this random navigator knew the same thing that everyone was keeping from her. Did the whole world know whatever it was? There he was, staring at her, just like the rest of them, looking at her like that, again!

“How do you know my name!? What do you know!? Tell me!!” A scatter of electricity rolled off her body as she shouted across the space to him, but the other navigator took a long breath and licked his lips, considering her. The smile returned, creeping up one side of his face and he nodded.

“Well, I guess that means we get to do this fresh again, from the start. That's a blessing in itself, isn't it? You look like you want to dance, little Lyntael... so come on, let's dance... there's so much I can teach you, all over again...” His knives spun across his fingers.

“Lyntael, you have to leave, now! You cannot interact with—”
“Shut up!!” She snapped the words back at Rogan's voice, then lunged towards the green-clad navi. He moved with her, taking a step back and then fading into mist before her first strike landed. She felt him reappear behind her and she twisted; a knife lashed out but she ducked low, trying to sweep her leg back to knock him down instead.

“Lyntael, Please! There's no—”
“Shut up!! If you won't tell me, maybe he will!” He was quick, but as she kept up a press of rapid attacks, strikers flaring at each sweep and swing, the other navi seemed to keep mostly defensive. He was smiling, almost laughing, and it infuriated her. “Tell me what you know!!” She manged to land a kick at his midsection and watched as it drove him backwards several steps. The electricity dissipated as it ate through a protective shell about him. He began to circle her, watching for an opening, and she tracked with the movement.

“No fear this time...? You're a lot angrier than you were, little Lyntael... guess that makes sense, though, right? Heh...” Something about this navigator itched at her; something that made her think of cold steel against her back. She shook it off. All around them, sudden flares of light began to erupt across the subnet. Lyntael barely registered it, but the other navi looked up for a moment as small explosions became a spreading corruption that started to eat the space; crystals cracked and the lighting they provided began to flicker and falter. Lyntael pressed his distraction, extending one hand to unleash a flaring arc of lightning that tore across the ground and attempting to blast the other navi. He pulled his coat across him, shielding from the blast and seemed to disappear again, but this time he reappeared further off, to a different side, still looking at the collapsing data space. She didn't care.

“What's you boss gone and done now, huh? Shit. Going to have to take you in and quickly, no time to play.” The data stacks were crumbling away, and precious little of the space remained as the other navi launched himself towards her.

“Lyntael, I'm reconnecting your—” She shut out Rogan's voice with a shriek of frustration.
“You know what happened! You know what happened, tell me!!” A force of bursting electricity seemed to catch and then rebuff the other navi, his assault tearing into her own defences but no further before erratic, uncontrolled bolts began to arc out from her in every direction.

As she shouted, a shock-wave ripped through what remained of the data space, tearing away the fragments that were left and scattering them. Across from her, the other navi winced, uttering a curse as the destructive wave hit him and a beam of light pulled him from the space. It hit Lyntael a moment later and she felt her body flung into empty space as her consciousness scattered away into darkness.
Rogan bit back a curse as his grip on the PET made the plastic creak. His mind reeled, trying to process the past handful of seconds and all that had happened in them. Why hadn't she run? Why hadn't she followed? A part of him knew why, but wasn't ready to deal with that. His heart hammered hard and his breath had quickened, well beyond the normal sharp-edged focus of his usual working attitude. He looked at the screen again, checking through vain hope for a different response. He hadn't gotten her. He'd tried to reform the link between her and the PET – he'd thought it had connected – but she wasn't there. She wasn't there. An empty dread was rapidly consuming his other thoughts; he couldn't lose her again, not like this, not after everything.

A voice from the hallway snapped him out of his stupor. There was no time to worry about it yet. He checked the status of the slim black storage device and slipped it back into his bag. At least he had to finish what they'd started. Less than two minutes to be out and away. Rogan retrieved his earplugs and the world slipped into silence.

As he opened the door and pressed the button, the extended probe on his PET flashed a confirming light and the faint sensation of vibrations running through the floor became a more pronounced series of impacts. Running feet became tumbling bodies and he waited an extra few seconds before stepping out. There weren't too many guards, and with luck most of them had been called to the conspicuous absence of the ones he'd already handled. He counted four more armoured forms in the hall, along with two more casually dressed employees as he strode quickly past them and headed back toward the stairs up.

It had been Vigilance after all. Rogan's thoughts raced as he passed through the halls, eyes darting for new threats. He shouldn't have been surprised to find Lance's navigator checking in on his holdings even though the man himself was still a continent away. Lyntael hadn't recognised him. It had to be part of the things she didn't remember, but the girl he was getting to know now never backed away from a conflict, and without knowing him, she hadn't shown any hesitation. He'd tried to warn her, but... His mind replayed the way she'd shouted at him, blamed him for not telling her more. How much of her staying behind had been his fault?

He reached the stairs a moment later and began to climb them two at a time. With one hand, he reached back and retrieved the grapnel from his bag, then pushed back the sleeve of his coat to begin clipping it back into place and reattaching the support straps. She'd realised there were things she didn't know, and he'd tried, as hard as he could, to convince her that it was for the best that she didn't pry at it, but Lyntael hadn't been content to let it slide. He knew that, but what could he have done? Eric had been adamant that if the girl she was now recalled whatever remained of the imprinted echo of the girl that had come before, it would be dangerous, potentially destructive, for her psyche. What could he do but keep it a secret?

Fire. The incendiaries on the upper floor had started and the play of light from creeping fires were beginning to flicker across the halls already. He'd left the fire suppression systems in the other labs online, and all the personnel that he'd taken care of were in those rooms – they'd be safe. The halls, less so. He began to run. The transfer of the other navis had gone smoothly, and he'd locked that down as soon as they were all safe. There had been time to re-link Lyntael to her PET, before the full destruction of the subnet; it should have retrieved her safely when the space collapsed, but... but she wasn't there. Had she been fighting it? Was that something a navigator could do? She could operate most of the PET's systems on her own, and even leave, if she wanted to... She'd not been happy about him insisting that she not do that any more but as far as he knew she'd done as he asked. He hadn't asked, another treacherous part of his mind jabbed – he'd ordered. The girl's shouts from only moments ago had made it very clear that he didn't actually have that right.

Rogan diverted around a section of hall that was too far ablaze to pass, and found a slightly clearer passage that he could make a hurried leap past. An evacuation alarm began to sound – he could hear the thrum of it reverberating through the air. Almost there. Smoke filled his senses and he lifted one corner of his coat across his face as he ran. Maintenance room; stairs. Soon he began to outpace the climbing smoke and returned to the empty machine floor above. The same room, the same window. The data spaces would have been destroyed and collapsed, but that didn't necessarily mean... navigators would have been jacked out when their emergency systems tripped, but that was because of the failure of the space, not necessarily because they were damaged. He hadn't managed to pull her back, but that didn't mean that she would have been destroyed with the rest of the space. Not necessarily. He paused at the lip of the window, looking back the way he'd come one last time, then reached out, aimed and fired the grapnel.


Rogan was panting for breath as he crouched in the dark of a different rooftop, a few minutes later. Far below, the sound of a siren joined the other night time city sounds. He shut it out and connected his PET to the secured drive. A murmur of several voices met him before one spoke up above the rest.

“Is someone there? What's going on? The lady that was helping us, where is she?” Rogan winced.
“Her name is Lyntael. And I don't know. We're getting you to safety, this is a rescue, but you might be a bit cramped for a little longer. I'm sorry. Are any of you in immediate danger, or need of emergency recovery?” The voices rose and argued again briefly before coming to another consensus.

“We're all... stable, I think. For now. Some of us are pretty bad, but... but none of us want to go back into any kind of stasis right now, even for that. What's going to happen?” The question set off another chain of calls and shouts across the line – navis asking after other names; navigators and operators alike. Rogan tried to sort out the clamour and focused on what Lyntael had insisted upon.

“We're going to get you all looked after, and then we're going to do our best to get those of you that we can back to any operators or other family you might have. It may not be possible, but if we can't do that, and for those of you who don't have any ties, then we're going to make sure you're looked after until you can get on your feet again – either with the GNA, or with one of the other hidden sanctuaries that exist. We're going to make sure you're safe and protected in case any of their agents come looking.” There was another clamour of voices against this worry, but a blinking notification caught Rogan's eye as he studied his PET. Its navi link was badly extenuated and in danger of being lost. His breath caught and his heart lurched. It still had a link. Where to? He tried to answer the worried voices, but callous or not they moved suddenly to his second priority.

“We don't think they will. We made sure of that, somewhat, but even if they do, you'll be hidden from them, I promise... but... I need you all to hold tight for a little longer... I have to find Lyntael first. Just wait, please.” He closed off their channel before any more objections could be raised and trend his focus over to the link diagnostic instead. It was frayed and tenuous; the link itself wasn't clearly locked, but was flickering between multiple high-percentage matches in the same place. She was probably hurt. Rogan tried to calm his breathing, fighting back a resurgence of panic, and alone in the dark, he hurried to trace the signal.

Lyntael felt herself drift. It was a distantly familiar sense; she'd been here before, somewhere between defined spaces, on her way somewhere without really knowing where. Echoes of the anger she'd felt made the peaceful moment discordant. She'd shouted at Rogan again... but he hadn't backed her up when she'd needed him to. Now... what...? She wasn't sure where she was falling to now, but a sensation flickered at the edge of her awareness. Something that felt familiar. Her unconscious mind focused on the strange feeling.

Gradually, her senses returned, only to find darkness. The feeling of damaged panels under her fingers; it felt like grass, for a moment, but then it faded again, back to unformed, blank panels. The girl began to push herself up, and look around; it was a dim space, barely enough light to see by, but the shapes around her made it look like a ruined, forgotten landscape of broken parts. Smaller points of light flickered or flashed in different places – sections of structure that remained partially intact, or damaged code pieces that frayed and faltered. The ground beneath her glitched, trying to hold to whatever state it had once been programmed to but only managing it part of the time, while above her the sky was dark, and shot through with occasional forking flares of erratic energy. The air was still, and aside from the occasional spark or crack of broken structures, the space was mostly quiet.

“Rogan...?” Lyntael's fists clenched as she looked around, turning in a slow circle to check her surroundings further. No answer; of course he wasn't here. The thought crept in with a bitterness that she hadn't expected. She was always alone when it mattered, after all. Even when Rogan gave her a chance to have friends, they always left her hanging, left her wondering if she'd done or said something wrong. She closed her eyes and concentrated. There was still a link – faintly but there, though she couldn't sense a direction to it. Where was she, anyway?

She tried again to determined which way she should go to meet up with Rogan, but the link was too distorted. It felt like it connected in several different directions, but the strongest of them felt like it was here, close even, while another felt fainter, and another felt like the barest of threads still clinging on. Wherever this network was, there were probably native viruses everywhere, and it seemed like it was probably deep down and dangerous. One way or another she had to find a way out. Lyntael looked around again, rubbing at her arms as she did. Without any further clues to go on, she began to move towards the strongest sensation she could feel.

Rogan would be looking for her, even if he wasn't here now. When she found him, he was going to tell her everything, no more excuses. He could look at her with those distant, pain-hiding eyes for all she cared, just as long as he actually told her the truth this time. She'd had enough of playing nice about it, and letting him deflect her. She walked, slowly picking her way through the broken wreckage of whatever network she'd found herself in, for several minutes until a faint glow of light caught her attention, moving between the ruins as well. She was heading towards it, and it was coming towards her as well, and Lyntael slowed further, beginning to move with more caution, preparing herself for danger.

When the figure came into sight, Lyntael stopped. Her chest clenched tight as her fingers curled into fists and she stared forward. She felt a tremble in her hands and a spike of anger thrust forward. She heard herself shouting as her mind scrambled to process what she was seeing.

“Who are you!? What are you? Why do you look like that!? Tell me!!”
Rogan knew he should get further away – at least get off this roof top right beside the site of his work – but there wasn't time to relocate. Finding Lyntael was more important right now, the only thing that mattered in this moment, if he was honest with himself. Even so, there wasn't great deal that he was actually doing; mostly it relied on the PET's own systems for tracking to a network location for its linked navi, while all he could do was try to keep it on track as it traced the anomalous reading.

As the device zeroed in on the strange reading, Rogan felt a tight grimace crease his lips. Undernet location. Falling through the cracks into the forgotten wastelands that their modern net was built on... that made it all the more urgent, especially if she was injured. He felt uncomfortably helpless in the moments when there was nothing to input, but he didn't dare divert his attention.

At last, the location locked in and the view on his screen began trying to resolve. The display flickered as it did, and the navi diagnostics pushed their way onto the screen with a warning. It showed him Lyntael's details, but they shifted and changed; injured, then not, critically wounded, then not, She was angry, furious; she was confused, scared. It showed him mental rhythms, overlaid and contradicting. Three signals, but the PET was trying to claim they were all the correct link, and trying to show him them all at once. He couldn't make sense of it.

Rogan pushed the screens away and tried to bring it back to the net view to work out what was going on, and his eyes widened. His grip on the PET grew stiff as he stared at the two figures on the screen. Both of them were Lyntael, facing each other amidst the dark wreckage of the undernet, and Rogan couldn't make himself act at all for the frozen moment that he took them both in. One was tense, broad stance, fists clenched... angry, like Lyntael often was these days.

The other... The other looked almost identical to her. Almost every detail was the same, in every way; the same slight girl, just on the leading edge of puberty, looking too young and small to be in the danger she was always in. She had the same spiky yellow hair and the same vibrant green eyes. She was dressed the same, too – the same short yellow skirt, the simply buckle-front vest, and... Rogan felt the painful ache in his chest sear – she was barefoot, just like she had always preferred to be, before. Unlike the Lyntael standing across from her, this girl moved in a more painfully familiar way; more hesitant and uncertain, with an expression that looked lost and unsure, more than anything else.

Time seemed to hold still as he took in every detail; everything from the girl he remembered, and every painful way he'd been noticing that she was different from the girl he was trying to save now. His PET thought they were both her. Who was he trying to save? His eyes were drawn to the lost girl's emblem. Lyntael's emblem rested on her chest, a slightly raised identifier that nestled about where a necklace or pendant might sit. On the lost girl, it was shattered. The outer ring remained, hemmed with jagged edges of glass-like shards and showing charred, ruined skin underneath. What should he do? Rogan couldn't think. They were both there, but... his eyes looked at the way the device was identifying both girls. The extension was different on the lost girl. What did that mean?

For a moment, Lyntael... flickered. One moment, she was the girl he had failed, every bit the twin sister to the angry Lyntael across from her. The next, her form shifted, glitching, giving way to frightful details that made Rogan lean back from the screen in sudden involuntary horror. It was gone again a moment later, but it happened again, fuzzing and flickering across her all at once or in bits and pieces.

Her clothing flickered away, leaving parts of her exposed, or it shifted to appear torn and ragged. Beneath, the most gruesome detail that tore his gaze towards it was a large, bleeding stab wound, just beneath her left nipple. Trails of blood tracked from it, like it was fresh, still bleeding in the brief moments it was present. Blood and tears flickered into sight across her face; damaged eyes, burned and scarred like some horrendous tortured mask, and a lower lip that was bitten and torn.

He caught glimpses of scorched electrical burns, weeping blood, all around the girl's wrists and ankles, just like her eyes, as well as numerous other cuts and slices across her body – one over her mid-section, another across her other breast, and a deep stab on her thigh that Rogan's mind supplied the memory of seeing happen. There were broad trails of blood covering much of her inner thighs, more than just that wound, and in a moment when her skirt became torn and her undergarments flickered away, it became uncomfortably clear where they originated. Rogan lifted his eyes, trying to gasp a clean breath of air. He fought the need to retch, tasting bile.

Each flicker seemed to make Lyntael stumble. Her eyes went from lost and confused to a blank, sightless stare, dazed, and she faltered, staggering for the moment it took the flicker to pass. Rogan's fingers clutched at the device, but his mind felt blank. He didn't know what to do. What should he do? He tried to find his voice, but his throat was tight and dry.

“Lyntael... I—” Both girls reacted, their heads lifting up sharply to the sound of his voice. He saw the lost girl's eyes go wide with sudden hope.

“Rogan? Rogan I'm here, it's me! Please, I'm here!” He couldn't have said which girl it came from if he'd just been listening... except he knew that wasn't true. His mind replayed the cries he'd heard played to him from Lance, and further back, the worry, trust and dependence she'd always shown him, that he'd refused to see. He felt frozen as shock let the device slip from his fingers.

Lyntael felt herself recoil as the other girl stumbled forward, and her form flickered to show the horrendous damage it bore. Something echoed in the back of her psyche, some dark, yawning familiarity that she couldn't place and didn't want to. She took a step forward again, slipping back into a stance and raising her fists; the figure hadn't answered her challenge, but that just meant it was probably some kind of trap. Something in the back of her mind whispered that she knew it wasn't, but she smothered it with the anger at everything else. It didn't matter. For another moment, the other girl's form returned to looking normal and healthy, and their eyes met. Green eyes, just like hers, and in them confusion and uncertainty. Lyntael grit her teeth about to call out again, when another sound snapped her attention away.

“Lyntael, I—” Rogan's voice sounded hoarse and dry, but her head whipped up at the sound of it nearby. Not quite over her shoulder, where it normally was, but somewhere close all the same. It hadn't come from the other girl's position, had it? The insidious thought crept in but she dashed it away; no, that much she was sure of, it hadn't... but somewhere between them wasn't much more reassuring. Across from her, the other girl had reacted too, standing upright and looking about with sudden desperation.

“Rogan? Rogan I'm here, it's me! Please, I'm here!” As she called out, Lyntael flinched. It was her voice; lost and worried, but definitely hers. She wasn't – surely he wouldn't think...? Lyntael growled under her breath and then hurried to answer the voice as well.

“I'm here, sir. I'm alright. I think this is the undernet. What am I seeing here, Rogan... what is this?” Now that she was paying attention, she could feel the connection back to her PET properly, and the nearness of the emulation point; Rogan had caught up to her, and it felt close enough that it became indistinct; he could just pull her out from here at any point now, surely. Surely there couldn't be any confusion for him – she was the one connected, after all. As she waited, her eyes returned to the other girl.

Her body wavered and flickered again, showing the uncomfortable injuries along with momentary indecency; what kind of mimicry was that detailed, though? As she spoke to Rogan, the girl's eyes had gone wider and her mouth had started to work, silently seeking words without finding them. She started to shake her head, hurt and disbelief waxing in those familiar eyes as she stared at her. Why hadn't Rogan answered, now that he was here?


Fleeting fragments of thought and sensation, eroding slowly in darkness; it felt like it had gone on forever as she tried to hold herself together and push forward, seeking some way out. Lyntael couldn't have said how long she'd searched; she was tired, hungry, in pain and lost, and she could feel herself blacking out, or losing moments, but she wasn't going to give up. Details about anything recent never came to her mind; her thoughts were too spaced out, but she knew she'd been hurt, and they'd been separated. She had to find a way out. A new sensation reached her; something familiar. She moved towards it.

At some point, she began to take in more of her surroundings; broken network ends, ruined data structures and flickering tails of forgotten code, all beneath a dark sky that crackled with erratic flashes of energy. She was down deep, wherever she was; it was a more coherent thought than she'd had in... she had no way of knowing how long. The pain became more real as well, as she moved forward. Any time she tried to look at herself it seemed fine, but she ached, everywhere. Her wrists and ankles, her chest, her middle, her... she tried not to think about it and pressed forward. Echoes of injuries some part of her knew were there, even if she couldn't see them. Something had happened, something bad, and she could feel it. There had been a mission...

A light, through the darkness drew her attention and she tried to hurry towards it. A mission, and it had gone well, but then it had gone badly. She'd been... captured. Hurt. But Rogan was coming; he was going to save her from it. A spike of fresh pain cut through her and she winced, then took a breath and pushed forward again. That was what she was feeling. That sensation; it was a signal, it was him. She stepped around a tall piece of ruin and the source of the faint yellow glow came into view. Lyntael took another step forward, trying to make sense of what she was seeing; it looked like her. She blinked and stumbled, then caught herself. The other Lyntael shouted at her, calling out to her in her own voice. The pain from injuries she could feel but not see flashed across her body again. What was going on?

Rogan's voice cut through her other thoughts and she lifted her head. She hadn't heard his voice in so long, but it was him; it was really him. She'd made it back after all. She called out, the words coming before any conscious thought to form them. Her chest felt tight and sore, her breath was short and her throat hurt to shout, but none of that mattered. Then the other Lyntael started to talk to him, and she felt sudden flooding despair tear her footing from under her.


Rogan still hadn't responded. Was it really that confusing for him? Surely he could see which one of them was real on her PET? Lyntael had no idea what this replica was, but— Yes she did. The thread of thought dashed in through her subconscious like an uninvited whisper. She tried to shut it out. Whatever it was, she'd need to deal with it somehow. She stepped closer, cautious but ready as her strikers started to glow. The other girl was still trying to shake her head in some kind of silent denial, but Lyntael saw her fists clenching as well. Well, one thing she knew was that she was a far better fighter than all of her false, wrong memories suggested. Lyntael felt her body pulse with static and saw, in the same instant, an identical fan of sparks rolling off her doppelganger and sending small ripples of light outward as she began to close the distance to the copy. It had to be a copy... didn't it? She was real, wasn't she?

-=Echoes of Loss=-
Lyntael.ides: ???Hp [Casing: 30/30Hp][Normal]

-=Echoes of Doubt=-
Lyntael.exe: 350Hp [Casing: 20/20Hp][Normal]

-=Where Broken Things Fall=-
100% Normal
  • No effects.

-=Resonance of a Fractured Soul=-

In the dark of his lonely rooftop, with sirens blaring below, Rogan scrambled to recover the device that connected him to his navigator. It had bounced off his bag and clattered across the concrete but by the time he had scooped it up again, the screen was trying to show a competing mesh of information, with scrambled static in between. His eyes darted as he tried to make sense of it, but it shifted from physical combat statistics changing between one set and another, then to wave forms, overlaid and in competition, then eventually to jumbled data, and symbols that flickered across the view in different directions. Bit by bit, the scrolling symbols resolved into letters, then words. Behind the crossing text, he could see the two girls beginning to trade blows, and his own confusion and worry morphed swiftly into desperate fear for the implications of what was happening.

“Lyntael! Lyntael, what am I seeing here? Stop!” He wasn't sure which figure he was even trying to talk to – it was clear they could both hear him.


Lyntael closed the distance, shutting out her other worries as hard as she could. She was the real one; was all this anger, all this pain and worry, was all of that not real enough? The frustration she felt when her friends looked at her, like that; didn't that continue to linger, and haunt her, at every hour?

As she reached the other girl and leapt to strike out at her, her mirror flinched back, raising her hands and ducking her head. The pulse of an electric field expanded from her with a reverberating sound, and Lyntael fell short in the moment, watching it happen from the outside for once. The girl flickered, clothes torn and bloodied again for a moment as a small secondary pulse of sparks flowed off her body, scattering against her clothes and skin like pinpoints of heat and sharpness; not strong enough to hurt her, but she felt something else along with it – something the made her blink and falter. Her thoughts jumped unbidden back to a long distant memory of playing chess in the morning sun, and the scent of cooking pancakes. A ripple of resentment answered it back inside her; how dare it try to us that against her.

Rogan's voice cut through her thoughts, but it didn't sound like he had any answers. She pulled back enough to take a proper stance again and raise her fists.

“I don't know! But I'm going to have to deal with it before you can get me out!” It was all she had time to snap back at him, but across from her, the other girl's expression dropped from uncertainty into wide-eyed confusion and hurt. Her mouth opened, wordless for a moment.

“Why... Why do you look like me? Why is he talking to you!?” The same tremulous voice that plagued her memories; no, not her memories, the one that were all wrong, the ones that weren't really her. Lyntael growled behind her teeth, fingers clenched as her strikers glowed brighter and she embraced her charge. She could almost feel the other girl's accusation across the static between them.

“Because he's my operator! My name is Lyntael. I am myself, I know I am!” She was shouting far louder than she needed to, to be heard by the other girl a few feet away, but she didn't care. “I don't care what you are! You're not me!!” As the last became a scream, the air around the pair crackled with ozone and the light warped. Whatever this other girl was, she was some kind of monster or virus, some kind of mimic, that had to be it. The static in the air coalesced and crushed inward around the other figure as the idea focused itself – her form changed, becoming grey and rubbery, while numerous tentacles and extra eyes began to extend and erupt across her increasingly amorphous body.

“No... no, no that's not... that's not. Rogan... I—” the blob creature clutched at itself, writhing, before gripping at its head and shaking back and forth. “I couldn't... I didn't... but... But you can't! You can't just... just replace me!” The voice crept back from something wet and soggy, towards Lyntael's own familiar voice. It rose to become a wracked scream as cracks of light forked and spider-webbed across its body. The form exploded into electrical shards as the scream increased and a wave of lightning burst outward, thundering across the ruins with a voracious force. A howling wind blasted out from the figure along with it, buffeting Lyntael and throwing her back from... she blinked past the stinging electrical burns to see herself again, curled over and looking as though she was about to cry.

“Lyntael! I never meant... I didn't—” Rogan's voice again, in the air between them. She could hear the pain there, and her mind supplied the look; the look that always reminded her of seeing someone else, or a ghost, or... or someone loved and lost... and he wasn't talking to her this time. Why was he talking to her? The shock took the wind from her and she looked at the other girl again; in between the flickers that left her naked and abused, she really was just like her. What didn't she know? Her mind skittered around the blank sections; on instinct she shut out the sense of looming dread, but it soaked in anyway. She took another step back.

“Rogan...? I'm, I'm me, aren't I?” Her own form faded as she backed off further, her stance growing more defensive with each step. “I'm.. I'm real... aren't I? Rogan...?” Without realising, her words had dropped to a bare whisper.


Lyntael gripped at her arms and panted, soft winds still curling about her as she felt the cycling of her charge building up again rapidly. Had... had it been a long time, since she'd felt this? The thought was a brief flicker of a thread, behind the more immediate fear and hope and desperation. The other Lyntael had backed off, and now she could barely see her. They might leave, and the sudden terror of being left alone in the dark again, when they were so close, lent her the strength she needed to keep going. Rogan wouldn't do that; he wouldn't just replace her, he wouldn't. She began to dash after the retreating, faded shape of the other girl. She was invisible to her eyes, but Lyntael could still feel her – could still feel the static in the air and the currents that passed between them. She couldn't let them leave, she couldn't! She staggered again, stumbling a few steps before recovering. The pain lanced across her body and at the peripheral of her vision she saw parts of herself; echoes of burns and scars, of blood. Something in her mind knew what that was, but there wasn't time to think about it.

“Rogan, please!! Don't go! Please, you can't do that! I'm here! Please...” the invisible Lyntael was still backing away from her; a sense, like she just wanted to leave, to jack out and go home. But it was her home. She reached out towards the other girl, clutching. “This isn't fair!!” Her words became a shout, and she felt her charge respond, cycling from her strikers and unifying into a bolt of searing electricity that shot from her outstretched hand, burning across the distance between them. She felt the other girl try to throw herself to one side, but not fast enough as the blast scored across her midsection. She cried out in her own voice, tumbling and rolling to one side as she came back into full view, clutching at the impact point. She could feel... fear. Not her own fear, but... Lyntael stopped chasing, steadying herself from the feeling of expenditure and the moment of drained breathlessness, and focused on the other girl as she picked herself up and stood again. She looked angry, and not nearly as hurt as... as she felt. She was scared and uncertain... Just as scared as she was, underneath the angry expression.

Lyntael looked down at her own hands, and the lightning bolt that was still bright in the echoes of her vision. The feeling of the expend; the feeling of it going, and going, and never stopping; the pain and the burn; she tasted blood in her mouth. She felt her mind go fuzzy again, and saw flashes of marks across her skin as the pain returned. Horrible scars around her strikers; the feeling of burning and melting skin; the scent of it. The other girl was still recovering herself, but there she was, whole and intact, alive and healthy. A certainty began to sink into her mind – the more she focused, the more sure of those horrible events she grew. Tears began to fill her vision as the pain in her chest lanced again. The other navi; the torment; how easily he had brushed her aside, forced her down; the helplessness and agony. She looked at her hands again, seeing the echoes of destruction at her wrists. Rogan had been coming for her, but... but...

“I... I tried!” It was a wet, tearful plea, looking upwards in the dark towards wherever Rogan's voice was coming from. “I tried! I tried to hold on... I couldn't... I tried, I did... I tried as hard as I could!” Tears streaking her face made the burned scars sting, and she felt the darkness encroaching around her. She was the one that was broken; she was the one that failed.

As she felt herself falling into the darkness of oblivion, a single thought held on and pulled taught in her mind. An echo of a memory, Eric's voice telling her something important, in those fuzzy early days. Whatever happens, and whatever she had to face, she was loved; she had tried her best. That wasn't an excuse or an apology; she had. She held on as hard as she could, because people loved her, and they were trying their best too. She was still here because of it; people still loved her, as much as she loved them. People still needed her, as much as she needed them. She could not, would not, let go yet.


Lyntael grit her teeth and pushed herself back to her feet. So that was what that felt like. The other girl had stopped, but her cry still rang in her ears. The electricity was just like her own, but it still hurt, somehow. The other girl hadn't pressed the attack, and Lyntael tried to catch her breath; she knew just how much raw power she could bring to bear, if she had to. If the other girl was like her in every way, then she could be in a lot more danger than she thought. She felt the threads of cautious fear, but with them flickering memories of older sensations. She felt excitement nowadays, but she knew, as the feeling washed over her, she knew she had felt like this before. Those old memories, they weren't false or wrong; the were real, and if they didn't line up with how she felt, then... she didn't want to finish the thought.

As she readied herself to fight, she watched the other girl; she had backed off, and wasn't even looking at her now. The flickering had stretched out, lasting longer and lingering on her body, but the girl seemed like she was increasingly aware of the damage when the glitches happened. She was looking at herself, but when she looked up next, Lyntael felt her breath catch and she hesitated. The girl was crying. She could feel, distantly across the static in the air, an echo of fear and despair; real and aching. She began to cry out; not to her, but to Rogan, pleading with him again. Maybe that Lyntael was the real one, after all. What had the other girl tried, and what had she failed at? An echo of a memory that she pulled away from before it could unfold.

Rogan didn't answer and, as she watched, the other girl started to fade at the edges, her form beginning to slip into ephemeral translucency. She collapsed to her knees, limp and hugging herself as she sobbed, and Lyntael grit her teeth. Something wasn't right about this, but... but if that other girl was the one they were all seeing when they looked at her, and she was just a copy, what did that mean? She clenched her fists, crackling, as the other figure faded and flickered, unsure. No, it didn't matter, she couldn't let it matter. Maybe she was a copy, or a clone, or something... it didn't matter whether she was real or not... She was still herself. She wasn't going to just give that up, because of someone who was around before.

She rushed forward and the fading girl's head lifted, clear-eyed and showing a grit-toothed determination through tears she she knew all too well. Her leading kick connected with the other girl's shoulder as she tried to spring up, and she caught the next two on forearms that were still showing torn skin and charred flesh. Their eyes met, close in as the two shifted around each other in fluid instinct. She could feel her anger at the other girls bristling, but the sensation that met her in return held none of the same rage; just a determination to defend herself and endure. It didn't matter. If it had to be one of them, then none of that mattered. She twisted low then rose with another elbow and a following kick to the other girl's midsection.

“I won't back down. I won't! If one of us has to be the real one, it's me!” A wave of static flowed off her as she shouted at her opponent, but as the other girl stumbled, shielding herself, Lyntael's eye caught sight of the sneaker she'd just kicked her back with. There was blood on the white material, from where her foot has struck one of the existing bleeding wounds. It felt wrong; she shut it out. Don't get distracted, she had to do this.

Across from her, the other Lyntael steadied herself. She was wearing only ragged scraps of clothes that failed to cover her now, and the horrific injuries lingered; she only occasionally faded back to her healthier state, but she seemed more focused and aware than before. She could see her eyes still. Hurting but determined; afraid but focused. How many times had she felt that way herself? Too many. She closed her eyes and shook her head, growling. It didn't matter! She pushed herself forward and then threw her body into another series of rapid attacks. It couldn't matter, it had to not matter; the only way she could really be herself was if this... whatever this was, was gone, and she couldn't let anything else matter than that.

The other girl fell back, defending herself from the strikes and giving ground as each one landed and pulsed with static. Lyntael felt her eyes prickle and her heart thud hard and tight in her chest. Why hadn't Rogan said anything? Was he watching, just like... like someone had... said? The thought came in broken and fragmented, evaporating into the gap that her mind wouldn't go to. Why wasn't he saying anything?

“Rogan! Come on, Rogan! I'll fight, if you make me. I will! It's my place, and I'm ready to fight for it, so answer me!” Her body pulsed with another wave of electricity as she shouted and her final strike knocked the other girl back and away, sending her crashing into the rubble and rolling over. Lyntael hesitated, looking from the fallen girl to herself; her fists were marred with smeared blood and they shook as she felt her charge building and swelling again.


Lyntael felt the sharp edges of broken stones digging into her, but it was a minor pain, alongside the injuries, new and old, that wracked her. Her charge pulsed, rippling with a warming beat as she pushed herself up to her hands and knees, then slowly up to her feet again. The other girl... the other Lyntael, she was fast, aggressive... she was trying to destroy her. How must she look to that girl...? She couldn't blame her. The pain from cuts and burns that laced her body were an ever-present sear now, but she was... getting used to it. Her chest ached, like the cold blade in her heart that some part of her subconscious knew it was, and she could feel the wound itself oozing blood down her front, but she pushed on. Unsteady, she lifted her head.

The girl close to her, the other Lyntael; she could see her hesitation, and the look of horrified denial on her features as she looked at her own hands, quickly suppressed. She was angry, always angry; she could feel that too, but didn't want to do what she was doing, either. The connection between them was growing stronger, and she could feel all the ways in which her double's life had gone from unfair beginnings to unfair burdens, to this. She looked up at her; this other girl wasn't a copy or a clone, wasn't a duplicate or anything lesser. She was her own person, in every way, and it wasn't fair, on either of them. Their eyes met across the gap and as she looked on, the other girl's expression changed from uncertainty to rage again; indignation flowed through the static that they shared.

“You're looking at me like that!! Why are you looking at me like that?! Stop it! Stop looking at me like that! Stop it!!” The girl flared with a brilliance that lit up the network for a brief moment as her furious shriek gave way to a blinding blast of lightning. Lyntael saw it, in a slowed moment; the flow of energy cycling through her body, drawing in to a focus point as her hands snapped up, wrists together, then pain and searing whiteness.


Lyntael panted and struggled to draw breath. The hollow ache of her spent charge left her feeling weak for a moment before the fury of it began to cycle back up and fill her again, searing in her muscles and dancing across her skin. How? How was even this other girl, this reflection, this... echo, or whatever she was... how could even she end up staring at her with that same look of pity, and loss. It wasn't fair. Why did everyone end up looking at her like some broken doll, or some lost friend. Why did everyone... she panted for air as a subtle thought fought through the stream of frustration; not everyone. Not everyone. She brushed the thought aside; maybe, but it didn't change much.

The moment was enough to give hesitation to her anger and as she blinked away the spots from her vision and the light from her attack faded, she saw the over version of herself stagger backwards several steps, reeling and swaying. The burn wound that had obliterated her emblem looked worse, almost like a hole seared in her chest. Her eyes had grown distant and staring again as she turned her face upwards, the rest of her body limp except to keep standing. Fresh tears had started spilling down her cheeks again.

“Where were you...” She barely heard it, across the short space, but the girl mouthed other words, voicelessly, before speaking again. “I tried to hold on. Where were you...” Her voice rose, tearful and wet. “Why didn't you come? Where were you!? Where... where are you? Eric... Rogan...” It rose to a shout, desperate and calling out, and Lyntael felt a curling of air becoming a growing circle of wind rushing in and around their space. It whistled between the ruins and moaned as the other girl's voice lifted above it. “Where were you!? Why didn't you come!? Rogaaaan!! Eriiiic!” The wind howled as a wave of electricity crackled in the air and exploded out from the wavering girl. Lyntael braced herself against it, feeling the fierce lightning scoring her skin as the wind pulled and thrust her body about in violent motions.

The storm continued, but as the lighting passed, the other girl's voice voice fell to a soft murmur of sound she could barely hear again. Lyntael could feel the words, though, and as her lips moved she still knew what she was saying. “Rogan... please... Why didn't you come? Where were you? Where are you? I'm here...”

Above them, the dark sky turned grey and the forking stabs of erratic energy became flashes of true lightning, within rumbling, stormy clouds. Lyntael felt rain begin to strike her; thin, scattering droplets that rapidly grew to a torrential downpour. She could feel the other girl's despair as the rain soaked her; she stood still at the centre of the storm, face turned up to the rain and eyes staring. The sky rumbled and the girl lifted her hands to hug at herself, cupping and covering the most grievous of her injuries. Thunder rolled as, each time the girl pressed a hand to one of her wounds, she flinched, wracked with pain. Each flinch caused a bolt of lightning to strike down from the storm clouds overhead, to the ruins about them. Lyntael threw herself away from one as it flung broken rubble across her.

“I don't want this! I don't want this pain! I don't want it to be all that I am!” Lightning continued to blast around her as she cried into the wind. “But... But it's so much... too much... I can't... How can I be anything else?” Blood pooled, diluting into the water gathering around her feet as the rain flooded over her, and Lyntael couldn't help but look down as it started to wash from her own hands as well. She took a breath and felt her body pulse again, releasing small waves of stabilising energy into sparks that danced across the growing puddles while in the centre of the storm, she saw the same effect rippling from the other girl.



L1) Resonance of a Fractured Soul

L*) My Pain is Real L1) My Fear Swells,
and lingers after and grips me tight

L2) My Vision Alters, L2) My Soul Screams,
and drifts askew no more to fight

L3) My Faith Trembles, L3) My Torment Rebels,
and forgets laughter and so I break

L*) My Heart Falters, L4) I Slip to Dreams,
and beats anew no more to wake

L*) My Fear Rejected
L4) With Hopeful Stride
L*) My thoughts Collected
L5) No More to Hide
L6) My Anger Directed, 'gainst Violent Threat
L5) As I look to the Sky,
L6) And My Wounds Bleed Wet

Cooldowns and Ovecharge
((Each signature is used only once))

Lyntael.exe Overcharge: Begin: +0, My Vision Alters and drifts askew (+1), My Faith Trembles and forgets laughter (-2), With Hopeful Stride (+2), No More to Hide (+2), My Anger Directed 'gainst violent threat (+4), End: +8

Lyntael.ides Overcharge: Begin: +0, My Fear Swells and grips me tight (+1), My Soul Screams no more to fight (+2), My Torment Rebels and so I break (+3), I Slip to Dreams no more to wake (-2), As I Look to the Sky (+4), And My Wounds Bleed Wet (-2), End: +6

-=Echoes of Loss=-
Lyntael.ides: 1 Hp [Self-Slow: 1 Rank, 1 Round][Off-Target: 2 Ranks, 1 Round] [Rain]

-=Echoes of Doubt=-
Lyntael.exe: 200 Hp [Glitch: Resonance (5)] [Self-Slow: 1 Rank, 1 Round][Off-Target: 1 Rank, 2 Rounds] [Rain]

-=Where Broken Things Fall=-
100% Sea
  • Fire Elementals lose 10 HP/action standing, 20 HP/action submerged. Other Non-Aqua Elementals lose 5 HP/action submerged. Nullified for Aqua Elementals.
  • Ice attacks: 50% Freeze1 chance, Changes terrain hit to Ice.
  • Terrain changes between Sea and Onsen do not inflict damage upon submerged entities, nor do they eject submerged entities to the surface.
  • Elec attacks: +100% Source Damage.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua.
(Rain soaks the ground)

The winds continued to howl around the shattered battlefield while the pouring rain muted everything else. Lyntael blinked in the heart of it, tears streaking her scarred features as she gasped for breath around painful sobs. Her body pulsed with sparks, trying to balance itself out while she was distantly aware of a matching heart beat alongside her, not far away. It felt like her form was tearing itself apart; breaking open and scattering all the things that mattered most to the winds.

Lightning crashed between them, all around, and the air grew thicker with the scent of ozone. There was so much pain, everywhere, but she tried to grip tight to the threads that slipped between the overwhelming sensation; there were good times too – good moments, worth remembering, worth holding onto and fighting for. Friends she'd made, even if they hadn't stayed around, were still friends; a game of cards on a street corner, a chance encounter in a night-lit park. Little moments that were still worth everything. Her breath heaved, and she felt the other Lyntael's thoughts, across the resonating static, as they drifting towards similar places. She didn't trust those old memories, didn't want to think of them as her own. It wasn't fair; they didn't feel right to the other girl, because it wasn't her place to feel them. They were hers. The other girl was her own person, like she wanted to be. Why couldn't she let her have this?

Lightning lanced down at an angle between the two, anchoring itself to the ground between them as a second bolt struck down across it and remained as well. The air warped and shimmered and Lyntael felt her eyes dawn towards the sight; her gaze met the other Lyntael's through the haze as they both looked to it. She focused on the shimmering air, pushing those precious moments towards it; let her see them. Let her see how important they were to her.

She remembered standing in the hallway of a massive cruise liner; a mission to do, but a distraction at hand. A fearsome pirate, who just wanted her to look after herself. A slice of lemon tart, and an experience of taste and euphoria she'd never felt before. It was embarrassing to reflect on, but it was still a good moment, and one she treasured. Through the hazy images between the crackling lightning, the other girl watched on as well, eyes wide.

The lightning faded and another pair of bolts struck down to one side, creating another series of images. A sunny beach, and a girl in a yellow sun dress, sitting between two other navis. Aurora and Eternalis joking about how quickly she was eating, while Sparky eyed up unguarded skewers of meat. She missed them, so much; even when things had been scary, those moments in the sun made it all worth while.

The ache in her chest was more than just physical, and she felt her body shake with longing sobs. A third set of bolts, and more images; one of the earliest – one her mind always came back to, in the dark moments. A chess board, Eric humming in the kitchen, sunlight on the windowsill, Caminus and Servare smiling at her over every little achievement and the quiet love and adoration in Eric's gaze whenever he spoke to her. She felt her body sink to its knees as she watched the moments flicker by in the haze.

It wasn't just her pain and loneliness that dragged more tears from her amidst the rain; she could feel the other Lyntael watching too. She turned her eyes towards the other girl, and saw that same red-eyed look on her features. She was missing them as well, but... but why? Why when she rejected so much about these old memories that meant so much to her. Why did she want to take them from her, if she didn't treasure them in the same way?

“It's not fair...” She managed to gasp over the sounds of the storm even as the images continued to form and spread around them. “They're my memories... you don't even think of them as yours! But... but you're hurting, too. Why are you hurting? It's not your place, it's mine.” Hazy recollections of friends and family echoed with each pair of strikes. She didn't want to take anything from the other girl... but these memories, this life, it wasn't hers to begin with. They were her memories, she was the one that cared about them!


Lyntael tried to catch her breath in the rain while the haze of recollections flashed and faded all around her. Her mind jump from one to the next as each image appeared, and she was sure it was the other Lyntael doing it, somehow. She longed for those peaceful, brighter days, when she hadn't been so angry at everything, when she'd been happy, and surrounded by people she loved. They both wanted that, didn't they? In the end, that was what mattered. It didn't matter if her memories were the real ones or not, if she was real or not... it felt real, and the pain she felt, missing those times and those smiles, that felt real.

Somehow, she could feel the other girl's heartbreak, and her longing amplified together with her own. She looked down at her hands again; the rain had washed them clean of the other girl's smeared blood by now, but as she looked up at figure in the centre of the storm, she could still see the terrible damage on her ragged, unclothed body. Her mind started to wonder, again, what had happened to that Lyntael, and how, but it skittered away from the gap it couldn't face before she could notice. The memories were nice, but what mattered were the people; her friends and her family, and they couldn't both have that. She began to move towards the other girl, pushing through the buffeting winds.

The other girl had dropped to the ground, weeping now. Lyntael felt a tightness and pain when she though on it, but perhaps whatever this echo was was nearly spent. She didn't want to hurt her, not any more; it didn't feel right, but maybe... maybe the echo could be happy with those memories and fade away, and leave her to go back to Rogan and the others, and live her life.

As she drew close, struggling to think of how she could get the lingering being to let go, the other girl's head snapped up with a sharp motion. Her expression was wracked, red-eyed within the burned scars and her bitten lip trembling, but her eyes had a hard, desperate look in them.

“I won't! That's not how this...” Thunder rumbled as the girl glared up at her. “You could be anyone! You could have any life you wanted! You're free!” Lyntael felt the static grow heavy around her, drowning her senses except for the other girl's words. “Can't you just go? Go, and live your life, be your own person! It's what you want, isn't it?” The words were wet and tearful, from a cracked and and hurting throat, but they rang in Lyntael's ears all the same and she took a half step back, raising a hand to her temple. “You don't get it! You don't get any of it! It's not your place, it's mine! You're not me, that's what you've been saying, isn't it? You don't have to be! Go and be anyone else!” The feeling of crushing static grew tight, hammering at her from all sides suddenly in a barrage of sharp jolts and Lyntael gripped at her head with both hands. Long red hair fell across her vision, coiling in damp ringlets, and her hands, as they pulled away, showed dark tan skin with red nail polish. She looked down and took an uneven step backwards, almost stumbling as her high heels caught in the uneven rubble and her long red sheath dress didn't let her legs move as freely as she needed. Her eyes cast down at herself to find a taller, more endowed figure while, in her mind, the idea of a cute lady operator she could almost feel the name of tried to intrude.

“Just go... go away, go live, and let me have my friends, and my family back! Please!” The girl was pleading as much as shouting, and it looked like an effort for her to struggle back to her feet again. The rumbling of the thunder quieted and the rain began to soften while the howling winds slowed to become a softer circling current surrounding the other girl. Tearful eyes begged her, but a spike of irritated resentment answered it. Even now, it was someone else trying to tell her what she had to do and who she was supposed to be. She could still feel her charge coursing under her skin and she grabbed onto it, filling herself with it again as she dug her fingernails into her arms and grit her teeth. She was herself – copy, clone, fake, whatever... what mattered was that she was Lyntael, and no-one had any right to tell her not to be. Cracks of light began to form across her skin, becoming a rapid dance of light caustics that crackled and sparked. If the other girl thought she could batter her into some other shape to suit what she wanted, well people had been trying to do that to her for her whole life. She glared back at the other version of herself.

“My name is Lyntael.” The image of the red-haired woman that she looked like quaked and rippled. “That's who I am. You can't hurt me.” The false form exploded in a shower of electrical bolts and scattering sparks and the other girl fell back crying out as she raised her arms against the wave of energy. Lyntael took long, slow breaths, her chest heaving as she glanced down at herself; pale skin, delicate features... underwhelming femininity. She frowned for a moment; no that wasn't disappointing. It was part of her, and that was fine. She looked to the other girl, fallen to the wet ground again and wincing as she held herself. “I'm stronger now. I don't need your approval to be myself.” The other girl tried to roll over and pick herself up again, but the laboured breaths that wracked her became broken, crying sobs. She pushed herself up to her knees as erratic pulses of crackling light washed over her body and scattered outward in ever-increasing circles. The waves rolled over Lyntael, but they sparked off her skin without hurting her. She could feel everything the other girl was feeling, and a thread of guilt underscored her own anger and indignation. Even now, there was no malice coming from the other girl, no ire or resentment directed towards her. Had she ever been like that, like her memories said, or had it always been this other girl who was the kinder soul in a way that she just... wasn't? Their eyes met as the other girl struggled to form tearful words around her struggling breaths.

“I love them... I miss them. They're my friends, my family. I want to see them again. I just want to see them.” She tried to sniff and catch her breath, then struggled to her feet on shaking limbs. “I've been searching alone, for so long. I've tried so hard. I've done everything I can... I don't want to be alone any more. I just want to be with them again... I've earned it, haven't I?” The girl hugged herself, looking away and Lyntael grit her teeth as she blinked back tears of her own. Even if other parts of her memories were wrong, or didn't feel right, she still hated being alone, just as much as the girl in front of her now. She took a step back, turning her own eyes away and unconsciously hugging herself in a near mirror to the other Lyntael. None of this was right. None of this was fair. She swallowed and sniffed.

“That's not my fault. I'm just here... I can't help any of that. It's always like this. Why am I the one who has to pay for the things that happened before? Can't I just be who I am? Why do I have to carry all of this?” Even if she could give the other girl her place, that still wouldn't be fair. Why...” She shook her head and hardened her expression. “Why should I have to be the one that loses out? It's not my fault.” Her voice grew firmer as she spoke; it wasn't like the other girl had a better answer. She stepped in closer, reaching out to take the other girl by the shoulders and make her look at her. As she reached out, the other Lyntael lifted her head and raised her own hands with a sudden flash of fear. Their fingers linked, gripping as they locked eyes.

“I just want to live!”
“I have the right!”
“I don't want to disappear!”
“This isn't fair!”

Some of it was words, some of it was simply feeling and emotion that flowed between them. Lyntael wasn't sure which of the thoughts were hers and which belonged to the other girl as she felt her charge course and cycle, almost pulled from her as it rushed through her own strikers to the other girl's and back again in a desperate flood of power that crashed through both of their bodies.


Lyntael felt the power flow, a connected circuit between them as they both held on. She felt it scour at her while her body screamed at the sensation. She felt like she was burning, melting; like the ever-circling torrent of current was going to obliterate her. It was the same feeling as the one she remembered; that never-ending scathe. It was less painful, but still overwhelming and she clutched at the flow of energy, trying to pull as much of it as she could back to herself and stop it from destroying her entirely.

There was more to it than that; more than just the flow of power. She could feel the resonance with the other girl, this close; nearly every thought, every feeling, every piece of frustration and resentment that she had felt at nearly every turn of the short life she'd had. And it had been a short life. Shorter event than hers. She felt the sharp, cold feeling in her chest pulse again. Shorter than hers.

The flow of power ebbed, then stilled. Around them, the rain continued as a soft shower while the wind settled into a barely present breeze that ruffled the other girl's sodden clothing. Lyntael struggled to draw a breath and blinked through blurry vision. She was still standing, but leaning against the other Lyntael just as she leaned back against her, panting together with their fingers still linked. Her head was resting on the other girl's shoulder, and she could feel a warm cheek and wet hair resting on one of hers as well. Seconds passed as they both caught their breath in the softly falling rain.

“I... I don't want this anger.” The voice sounded tired and close to tears. Lyntael felt the vibration of the words against her chest as the other girl spoke without moving. “I don't want to hurt people. I don't want to hurt you.” Gradually, she felt the other Lyntael untangle her fingers and let her hands drop, though she still didn't try to move away. She didn't want her to; how long had it been, since she'd felt contact like this? The other girl sniffed and swallowed. “But.. I have to stand up for myself. No-one else will. It's not fair... but one of us has to lose. I'm sorry, I really am. None of this is right.”

Lyntael felt her own body shake with barley contained emotion, but slowly lifted her hands to wrap them about the girl that ought to have been her sister. She closed the hug and held on tight, but in the exhausted, wet stillness, she didn't know what to say. The more she focused on her own thoughts and memories, the clearer they became, and she knew the truth in her heart; Rogan had tried his best, but he hadn't made it. Vigilance had killed her, and her life had ended. She was still here but... maybe her time really was over. She had no right to take that from her newer self. Held close against her, she could feel the warm hum of the other girl's charge buzzing in her skin, and tried to relax her body. Maybe she didn't need to say anything. The charge hummed brighter, stronger, but she could feel a surge of hesitation within the other girl, heard her draw a longer breath.

“I'm... I'm not good at this, not like you are. Maybe... maybe I was a better person before, but I'm what's here now. I can be better. I can, I just need the chance. Please... let me have this.” Her words were soft, begging, and Lyntael lifted her head, then moved to rub at the other girl's back for a moment. She pulled back enough to look her in the eye, holding her shoulders gently. As long as those parts of her history were missing, she'd always feel like there was weight on her shoulders. She could feel, in the other girl's mind, the gap that she couldn't think about, left out from the person she was now, to save her own sanity. Horrors better left unknown... except... she did know about them; she knew that they were there, just not what the spectre at her back was. She nodded and studied the other girl's eyes; she could see her own scarred features in their reflection.

“Lyntael... you should be whole.” Her voice broke as she spoke, but she pushed on with a wet sniffle. “No more missing bits cut away and hidden. I can feel it in your heart; you want to know, to understand, what it is that everyone seems to know, that you don't... but when you think about it, you can't do it. You can't move forward if you keep running away. Let me help you.” As she spoke she pulled the warmth of her own charge and gently spread it out to meet and then fall in sync with the other girl's energy. They were both hurt and tired, barely standing, but at least one of them needed the strength to carry on.


Lyntael looked back at the tired, bleeding and brutalised version of herself that was trying weakly to smile for her. Some part of her understood, truly, who she was now, bleeding wounds, broken smile, open heart and all, but she found herself shaking her head. She knew, somewhere deep, what the other Lyntael was talking about, and it was all the answers she'd demanded, but her thoughts rebelled against it. She shook her head harder, breath short.

“I... I can't...” The warmth of the other girl's hands holding on became a spreading feeling that filled her, and with it she felt her thoughts directed inward. A memory she recognised – her home, before it had started to feel wrong. An evening with friends, talking, playing games, and sharing grief. She remembered sitting with Aurora and Eternalis, knew she'd shared something important with them. She'd cried, and Aurora had cried, and they'd held each other. It was a painful memory, but a good one too. An important one... but what had she told them? A dark feeling crept in, gripping her chest. Something dark, something nasty. She could feel it there, an echo of something she knew, but didn't. She felt sick; she didn't know; didn't want to know. Couldn't.

She pulled away, instinct taking over as terror without form filled her. Not that, anything but that. With a half-strangled gasp, Lyntael stumbled back and turned, staggering a few more paces away from the other girl's touch. There was the thing she'd told them about, and it was bad, but there was more, too – something it was tied to, more that was missing, and that led to the biggest pit of emptiness of all. She could feel it starting to unfold and show itself, and she ran.

At least in her memory, she'd had friends with her. Aurora and Eternalis had been there. They'd been there for her, to listen, and to hold. Maybe she could face it, if they were her with her... she felt her body pulse and spark with instinctive responses; there was nowhere to run, but she wished she wasn't alone. She stumbled down to her knees, breathless and panting; why did it feel like she couldn't breath? Why did all of her friends leave her? As she tried to swallow air, her fingertips dug hard into her own arms and she gripped tight, rocking softly as she curled over on herself. The water on the ground felt cold. Cold water, on her back; cold water, then cold steel. The remembered sensation dragged a wracked sound from her as she tried to push it away.

A presence behind her was followed by warm hands that that rubbed across her shoulders and slid down to gently push her fingers away from the crescent cuts they were digging into her arms. The warm press of another person, holding her. She lifted her head to find the sad, pained expression of her reflection.

“I... I can't... I'm alone, all alone. I'm always alone.” The words were barely words, mumbled through short breaths. “Why am I always alone, when it matters? I don't want to be alone.” The other Lyntael held tighter and leaned in to rest her head against her. She heard a laboured sniffle and felt the tearful quakes of the other girl's body even as the warm, comforting sensation flowing from her redoubled.

“You're not. I'm here. I know... I'm not much, but I'm what's here now. I'm... I'm here, and I'm not letting go. I won't let you be alone, I promise.” If anything, the other girl's voice sounded in worse state than her own. There was a moment as she felt her shift with aching, weary motions, to kneel in front of her and reach out to hug her properly. Lyntael lifted her head to shake it again, but she couldn't muster the will to pull away any more. Instead, she reached up to hold the other girl back and pull her close.

“I... I can't remember, I can't. Please don't make me...” Even as she spoke, she could feel the gaps beginning to fill in at the edges, darkness unfolding to the empty spaces in her memory.
“You'll always know it's there. You always have. I think... I think they tried to spare you, or you tried to spare yourself, but you always felt it there anyway. You know you cant turn away from it.” She gripped tighter. It was true, she knew that, but... she looked up towards the cloudy sky and closed her eyes to the feeling of soft rain on her face.

“It was something terrible, and dark, wasn't it?” She spoke in a whisper. “I know it was, I can feel it. I can't... I hate not knowing, but I can't... can't face it. I can't... Anything but that.” She felt the fear and the pain and felt her charge straining to react, to protect and defend her from its threat. Her skin danced with light but the other girl held on just as tightly. She could feel both beats of their charge pulse together; she could feel the current beneath the other girl's skin, just an extension of her own. The other Lyntael answered, a murmur by her ear, slow and gentle, between sniffles of her own.

“It is... and I'm sorry. It's dark and it's terrible... It won't ever go away. It won't ever fade. No matter how much I might wish I could forget it, it's there, and it always will be there... but it's a part of me, not a spectre on my back... just a part of me, and... and if I choose to be kind, it's part of what makes me that way.” Her body shifted again, just enough to move from rubbing at her back to clasp a hand with hers. “I'm here.” Lyntael squeezed her hand back as the resonating cycle of their shared charge blended into a single roar that sent shock-waves crackling across the broken undernet ruins in every direction.



L*) A Manifest Spirit
L1) Eyes that Dance
L*) A Longing Heart
L2) Discarded Chance
L1) A Scarred Soul
L3) I've Love to Give
L2) A Fresh Start

L*) I Want To Live! L*) I Want To Live! L*) I Want To Live!

L3)A Burning Ache
L*) Laughter Recalled
L4) A Single Ember L4) A Life Left Stalled
L5) My Heart May Break L5) I Linger Yet

L6) I Must Not Remember! L6) I Cannot Forget!

Cooldowns and Ovecharge
((Each signature is used only once))

Lyntael.exe Overcharge: Begin: +8, A Scarred Soul (-4), A Fresh Start (-2), I Want to Live (+2), A Burning Ache (-2), A Single Ember (-2), My Heart May break (+2), I Must Not Remember (+12), End: +14

Lyntael.ides Overcharge: Begin: +6, Eyes That Dance (+3), Discarded Chance (+3), I've Love to Give (-2), I Want to Live (+2), A Life Left Stalled (-2), I Linger Yet (-2), I Cannot Forget (+12), End: +20

-=Echoes of Loss=-
Lyntael.ides: 1 Hp [Rain]

-=Echoes of Doubt=-
Lyntael.exe: 1 Hp [Glitch: Resonance (10)] [Rain]

-=Where Broken Things Fall=-
100% Sea
  • Fire Elementals lose 10 HP/action standing, 20 HP/action submerged. Other Non-Aqua Elementals lose 5 HP/action submerged. Nullified for Aqua Elementals.
  • Ice attacks: 50% Freeze1 chance, Changes terrain hit to Ice.
  • Terrain changes between Sea and Onsen do not inflict damage upon submerged entities, nor do they eject submerged entities to the surface.
  • Elec attacks: +100% Source Damage.
  • PanelShot: Imbue Aqua.
(Rain soaks the ground)


Burning static and the feeling of raw energy filling every sense. A formless void of white and a feeling of numbness, of time slowed down to single timeless moments that held on and lingered.

Lyntael drew a breath, though it didn't really feel like her body meant much in this space. She could feel herself pressed close to another girl, intertwined in a tight embrace with fingers linked and their heads resting on each other's shoulders. She felt weightless, like they were drifting. She didn't need to open her eyes to feel that there was little left to distinguish them here, now. They drifted for long, timeless seconds before one of them spoke; soft words, felt more than heard.

“I think... we could have gone either way, you know. But... you deserve to move forward. I died. I want to see them all again, but... I can't take that from you. I think it's your turn.” The hug grew tighter as the words faded. One of them swallowed, breath shorter; the other sniffed, quiet tears making their way down her cheeks.

“It wasn't fair, the way he treated you. He never gave you the chance you deserved. I can feel it, in all of your memories.” Around them, the emptiness of the white void seemed to hum with pressure, gradually pressing in, but the other girl just shook her head softly.

“Ours. They're your memories too. Even if you're different now, people change. All those memories, they're still yours, still a part of you.”

Silence filled the space for another drawn out moment; one of them could feel the shape of all the things she didn't know – there, but held still, unpleasant in her mind, yet still indistinct. She'd trusted Rogan to save her, and then... the dark shape made her grit her teeth and cling tighter to the other girl.

“How... how can I forgive him, for all of that? For making your life like that, for treating you like that... for... for letting you...” She could feel the memories reaching into her, but a gentle hand still held them back, covered over with an obscuring haze. The other girl spoke.

“Because I love him...” There was a pause and a soft sigh. “Not just because of that. I understand why he was like that, what he was afraid of. It doesn't make it better, but I can forgive him it, because I'm sure he can change, and learn. I know he can... if not for me, then maybe for you.” One of them shifted, releasing the fingers of one hand to lift and rub at her companion's back slowly instead. She paused after a few moments to lift the hand away and open her eyes to look at it. Across her body, echoes of trauma formed faded overlays on her skin.

“I don't... quite know what happened, for Rogan, when it all went wrong. I don't know what he did, in the end – but I'm sure he tried the best he could to save me. I know he tried as hard as he could. I believe that.” The other girl held tight, letting what memories she had come to the surface and sharing them in a way she didn't quite understand. Faint echoes of the same injuries faded into presence across her form to mach the other girl's, though her eyes remained closed. She nodded slowly.

“He did... He did. I don't remember much either, but... there was a hotel room, at an airport, afterwards. I was there, but, I wasn't me. I was hurt still, I think. Everything that made me... me... was gone... I was just empty, and I didn't understand. Rogan was hurt, there was a lot of blood. I think he barely got out alive, after he rescued me. He did try. He tried as hard as he could, and it nearly killed him... and then...” she felt tears welling in her own eyes. “Then he lost you anyway.” She thought about the fight, at Eric's place, the arguments she hadn't been allowed to overhear, and the broken man that Eric had brought in from the rain.

As the memories shared, one of them flinched and squeezed tighter for a moment, as much to comfort as to feel comfort in the other. There was little barrier between them now; just her grip on the darkest moments, held back – even then, she could feel the understanding of them resonating gradually with the other girl. It was done now, one way or another, and stolen moments were all they had. He really had changed, after everything. Lyntael's voice whispered between them, softly encouraging.

“You see...? Everything I wanted; everything he couldn't give me... he can give those things to you now. He's still hurting, but he does love you... he loves you, like he never let himself love me.” She felt the other girl nod slowly against her, felt her breathing hard.

“It's more than that. More than just him... All our friends, out there... they see you, and they love you.” The other girl shuddered, gasping back a sob as she shook her head and the empty void around them pressed in closer still.

“But... But it's not me they love... it's you! You're the one they really want to be friends with. I'm just... the replacement, different, and not quite right.” The whisper was a cracked, breathless sound. She reached for other memories.

“That's not true... they love you, just as you are.” She pushed a small smile into her words, rubbing at the other girl's back again. “Or do you think Aurora was writing that email to me? She likes who you are, right now – confidence and all.” There were other memories too; ones they both shared.

“They've all helped us, because they care... I was scared, and I wasn't ready, but they all did their best to support me, and you are better for that; they see that, and I know it makes them glad to see you doing so well.” She thought of Martia, and how the other woman had helped her face up to fights; she could see, in the other girl, how much Martia's confidence and style had become a part of her. Her thoughts skipped forward to her first brush with the neo-shogunate, and the attention that her chaperones had extended.

“Drago, and his family... they all tried so hard to help me handle my charge better; all the time they took, all the suggestion and tests, just for us... and you manage that so much better now, far better than I ever did. Don't you think... if you told them all about how you took care of that monster, after Aurora and Eternalis had to leave... all by yourself... don't you think they'd be so happy for you?”

One of them nodded, but as she felt the burning static of their stolen moment beginning to collapse, desperate guilt pushed back. She pulled back, drawing away enough to look the other girl in the eyes; soft green eyes looked back, the echoes of horrible scars only faint on her face. She could feel the same across her own body, as the truth and understanding of what she'd been through solidified into a certain dread.

“But it isn't fair... I fought so hard to be 'the one', I've been fighting you, and afraid of disappearing... I've felt like an impostor, but that wasn't enough to stop me trying to make sure I won... but you... you want it, just as much as I do, but you're helping me. You're better than me! If either of us deserves to have another chance it's you!” Across from her, the other girl smiled, but lifted her hands to gently brush a tear from her cheeks.

“You are your own person. I couldn't ever take that away, or deny you.” She only shook her head; the burning, melting feeling was a prickle across her skin as the glow of energy surrounding them pressed in faster, receding.

“I could... I tried to! It shouldn't be me, it should be you... I can still feel you trying to help me, even now. These memories, these black, horrible nightmares that I can feel... I know... I know what happened, I understand, but you're protecting me, aren't you?” A sense of soft regret reached her through the other girl.

“Not for much longer.” She hung her head, then leaned back in to rest her forehead down. “They really are your memories as much as mine; the good and the bad, they're still a part of who you are. I don't have anything else to share with you.”

One of them could feel the echoes of pain across her form, could remember what it felt like, but even as the recollections of that dark night grew clearer and more horrific, she felt the anger in her chest melting away bit by bit. It felt like the other girl was trying to say goodbye, and she didn't want it. She pulled her tighter.

“There's a whole life still to share, isn't there? I don't want you to disappear, that's not fair. I don't want to accept that, I don't! I don't want to face this alone. I don't want you to be alone either. That's not okay, I don't accept it!” Even as she tried to shout the words, her voice barely rose above the feeling of static. They were out of stolen time, and she could feel her senses beginning to return – blurred, blended and melting, but coming back as whatever the momentary meeting of minds had given them finally failed.

“Are you sure...? I don't know what will happen, if I don't let go.”
“I don't care. I'm sure. I don't want to lose the person you are.”
“Okay... together then.”

Symbols that became words continued to battle across what was meant to be the PET's diagnostic screen, while Rogan watched the two navigators struggle against each other. Crouched in the dark, with its glow lighting his features, he found himself trying to react to each shouted accusation or demand that either of the girls made – to him, or to one another – but every time his throat was dry, his thoughts a shambles and his breath short.

He knew he could try to extract at least one of them, but with the way the device was registering signals right now, he had no idea what it would even attempt to retrieve... and so, paralysed by the moment, he watched, and listened, trying to work moisture into his throat without success.

He'd known that Lyntael had been angry and frustrated, he'd just assumed it was because of the things they couldn't tell her, but... the way he heard he speaking, had she really come to doubt herself, that much, after all the time she'd spent insisting to him about her own truth? Had he failed to see that, and let it fester, or had she just not told him? The other one, the one the flickered... gradually, more and more, she was becoming a stable presence, showing each of the horrific injuries but retaining herself too.

If that really was the girl he'd let die, what could he even hope to say to her? He heard her words; she'd trusted him to save her, waited for him, and endured on that hope, and he'd still failed her. His eyes stung and he blinked back the sensation, listening to her shout and plead about the friends and family she missed, and the love she still felt – he'd never managed to acknowledge any of that, to her, not until after it was far too late. It made him wonder why she even wanted to come back to him, rather than seeking out people who had actually shown her love and care.

The fight gradually crumbled into a more pleading, tearful exchange, with both beings on the verge of destroying each other. Two of the three signals had collapsed into each other, leaving just one for each girl now, but they were so intertwined that he couldn't tell which was which. The colliding, static-covered stream of... was it thoughts or feelings? He didn't know... but it continued as the pair spoke, and Rogan dared to let himself breathe, until a final pair of lines overwrote each other at the bottom of the screen, and a blinding white static pulse obscured everything. The PET became a scrambled mess of unintelligible data for a moment, with no reading he could make sense of at all. The visual was no better, showing nothing but the yellow-white blast of some explosive force.

“Lyntael— Lyntael, answer!” Somehow he found the words, but there didn't seem to be anything to even respond, in the moment. He grit his teeth, his body tense and the sounds of the city below forgotten.


The electrical shock-wave rolled outwards and the fierce glow of light faded away. Thick grey clouds rolled overhead, calm in the wake of the storm while a soft, pervasive morning light showed the broken ruins all around. The scent of rain in the air was accompanied by the drip of water into the many puddles that scattered the open space in the centre of the area.

The last of the brilliant light receded into the form of a girl; a slender, slight build, young but toned and fit all the same. Short, spiky blond hair and pale skin, clear and unmarked. She was dressed in a pale pastel yellow vest with broad shoulders and a buckle-up front that left her midriff bare; a small navel piercing in the style of a sunburst remained visible. A pleated yellow skirt reached only to her mid thighs, leaving the rest of her legs bare down to a pair of white and pale yellow running shoes.

The girl hugged herself, head down and hunched, her body heaving with ragged, breathless sobs. What strength was left in her legs seemed to wane as she sank to her knees on the wet ground, and continued to cry, rocking slightly as she gasped for air. After a few more moments, her gasps slowed and she quieted, taking longer, deeper breaths. The clouds overhead gave a quiet rumble.

A soft breeze picked up amidst the ruins. First from one direction, then another. It curled around the broken structures, winding inwards towards the figure. The girl drew a long, deep breath and the breeze circled her, ruffling at her clothes as it drew in faster. She exhaled slowly and the wind turned, spiralling outwards from her again. She lifted her head, eyes closed and her expression soft and calm despite the tears on her cheeks as she raised her face towards the stormy sky overhead.

Slowly she stood as the wind began to rise again, circling. Her arms relaxed, letting go of the fierce hug and turning her palms gently outward; the wind lifted further, becoming a gentle whirlwind about her. The girl seemed to relax into the circling currents of air as a fresh scattering of rain started to fall. As she took another long breath, the sound of a crystalline crack filled the air; a single fracture across the emblem at her chest spread. It cracked again, and again as the image was covered in an increasingly dense fan of cracks, before it burst with the sound of shattering glass. Shards of material scattered across the ground and disintegrated, until just the slim metal ring remained in its place at her chest. It slipped, then fell to the ground, rolling away with a faint metallic ring and leaving only clear, unblemished skin where the emblem had been.

The wind settled down to gentle stillness again and the girl opened her eyes. Bright green, seemingly all the greener now for tear-marked reddening. A sound like strained static crackled before a voice spoke into the air just behind her.

“—can you hear me? Please answer. Everything is scrambled, but I've got your signal... just... just one signal. Are you alright? Are you...” He sounded like he was barely keeping his voice level and the girl sniffled and wiped at her eyes, clearing her face.

“Rogan? I'm here. I can hear you.” She heard a sharp sigh of relief.
“I couldn't... I didn't know what to do! Are you alright? What happened?” She closed her eyes and took another long breath, letting herself feel the play of the soft breeze all around her and the roll of thunder and lighting in the storm overhead; the hum of her own charge, warm and alive, and the all-too-close memory of everything that had brought her to this point. After a moment she lifted her head again and opened her eyes.

“I don't know.” There was a tense, uncertain pause that she could feel the silent weight of on the other end.
“Are you... That is, do you... Which one... No, that's not what I want to say.” He lapsed into awkward silence again, and the girl felt a small, soft smile touch her lips, despite everything.

“I'm not sure... No... I am. My name is Lyntael, and I am your navigator.” Lyntael felt her voice nearly crack with too many complex emotions at once, but she held onto the soft smile. “And... and I'm ready to go home, Rogan.” A few moments later, a pale yellow light beam engulfed her, leaving the broken section of forgotten network quiet and dark again.


-=Subplot Complete=-
- BugStopper NCP activated
- Signature reset to be acquired some other time, because I forgot to ready it in advance.

((To => A New Morning))