(Twilight Prince and Brother_Zero)
NOTE from author: This story takes place during Mega Man Zero 3, just after Zero infiltrates Sub Arcadia and defeats Phantom in Cyberspace. I want to take a small opportunity to thank my little brother, Brother_Zero, for helping me with this story. If it wasn't for him and his love of the Mega Man Zero series, this story would have not been possible. I also want to thank Cubed for allowing me to fulfill my dream of posting a fan fiction on his site. Thank you all so much, and little bro...you're the world to me! Thanks a lot!
It had been a long and harsh battle. Zero was about depleted of his energy and so was his advisary, Phantom. Zero had stumbled into Cyberspace while infiltrating Sub Arcadia, and had found out that one of the Four Guardians of Neo Arcadia had somehow survived since thier last battle together so long ago. Zero and Phantom were closing in on each other, weapons at the ready, and ready to deal a finishing blow to each other. The two combatants clashed, and a bright flash of light ensued. Who had won...?
When the light faded, Zero had his Z-Saber in his hand, standing up and completely exhausted of his strength. Phantom was slumped on his knees on the ground, gasping for air, all the while his circuits were slowly losing thier power. Phantom then spoke to Zero, giving off an exasperated gasp: "You truly did...have the soul of a hero..." he said, still taking deep breaths, "Go...Cross blades with Omega and show him what that body can do! Will your blade flinch after you learn the truth? Do you have what it takes...to be a hero? You must be the one to determine that!" With those last words, Phantom vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving a Secret Disk.
Zero picked up the disk, knowing that he had finally seen the last of Phantom. But as he was about to teleport out of the room's vicinity, he noticed what appeared to be a Cyber-Elf floating around where Phantom last was. "Hm? A Cyber-Elf?" he wondered, and reached out to gently grab it in his right hand. Indeed, after closer examination, it was a Cyber-Elf. A Hacker-Type Elf from the looks of it, since it glowed with a whitish-blue color. Zero started scanning the Elf, trying to find out what kind of powers this Elf possesed. Unfortunately, his scans came up with nothing. "Perhaps Ciel can find out more about this...but for now, I have a mission to finish." he said again, and with that, Zero teleported out of the room and back to the Cyberspace version of Sub Arcadia.
A little later on...Back at the Resistance Base...
Zero had completed his mission in Sub Arcadia, but was mentally and physically drained from the harsh battles between not only Phantom, but Crea and Prea as well. As he was transferred back to the base, he held his left arm tightly, for he was slowly losing power, and he needed a major recharge before going out to fight again. Soon, Zero appeared back in the Commander's Room of the Resistance Base. Ciel saw that Zero was injured and went over to console him. "Zero!" she said, sounding very worried, "Are you alright? What happened?"
"I'm...alright." said Zero, still holding onto his arm, "I...just had a rough fight, that's all. Nothing I can't recover from."
"What's with your arm?" said Ciel, noticing that Zero was holding it tightly.
Zero removed his hand from his arm, showing a large gash in his upper arm, revealing sparkling circuits and broken chips. "It's just a scratch..." he said, sounding as if nothing was wrong with him, but then he let out a loud grunt and fell to his knees.
"That's NO scratch!" said Ciel, sounding more worried than ever, "Zero, what happened over there?!"
Zero, clasping the wound again, told Ciel all that had happened while he was infiltrating Sub Arcadia; how he had stumbled into Cyberspace and met up and fought against Phantom, and how Crea and Prea attacked him again and how he had no choice but to destroy them. Ciel felt sorry for Crea and Prea, for she had taken care of those Baby Elves herself for so long, only to have Dr. Weil turn them against the Resistance. "I'm sorry you had to go through that, Zero." she said, trying to comfort him.
"Don't be. It wasn't your fault." said Zero, giving off another slight grunt from the pain, "It's all Weil's fault. He's to blame for all of this."
"Yes...I guess you're right..." said Ciel, knowing Zero was telling the truth. Then she got concerned for Zero and his injuries. "You need some repairs, Zero. You should get some rest and have Cerveau look at you. We got the coordinates of Weil's Laboratory from X, so we can go there at any time. But for now, you should rest and repair, okay? We can't afford to lose you, Zero!"
"Ciel...well, okay...I guess you're right. Can't fight Weil and Omega like this, can I?" he said, giving off a slight smile. "That reminds me...Ciel?"
"Yeah, Zero?" she said. Zero held out his injured left hand, revealing the Cyber-Elf he had found earlier.
"I found this Cyber-Elf after I had defeated Phantom, but I couldn't identify it or its powers. All I know about it is that it's some type of Hacker Elf. Could you look over it while I rest?"
"Of course, Zero." said Ciel, taking the Elf from Zero's hand, "I'll start examining it right away, but you need to get to the Recovery Room, now! You there!" Ciel pointed to a guard near the door of the room. "Help out Zero to the Recovery Room, on the double!"
"Yes, Ma'am!" said the guard, and slowly helped Zero out of the room.
As Zero left the room, Ciel looked at the Cyber-Elf in her hands. It gave off a whitish-blue glow, like all Hacker Elves do, but upon closer examination, Ciel saw what the Elf looked like. It looked humanoid in appearance, but it also was a little larger than most other Cyber-Elves that she had seen before, and it appeared to have what looked like a blade on the back of its head, much in the form of a mowhawk haircut. Ciel also noticed that, while it was alive, the Elf had its eyes closed and didn't appear to breathe. It almost looked as if it was in a state of suspended animation. Ciel slowly carried the Cyber-Elf in her hands back to her lab.
Meanwhile, in the Recovery Room, Cerveau was busy looking over Zero, trying to repair his broken parts and circuits. "You sure know how to get a battle scar, huh Zero?" he said in a not-so-joking manner.
"Guess you're right..." said Zero, who was awake during the whole procedure, "I guess I got a little reckless back there, huh?"
"Suppose so." said Cerveau, still putting Zero's arm back together. "Zero, what do you think of Ciel?" he asked suddenly.
"Wha-?!" Zero was totally surprised at Cerveau's question, "What are you talking about?"
"What I mean is, what do you think she's thinking right now?" said Cerveau.
"I'm no mind-reader, Cerveau! How should I know?" retorted Zero, sounding a little miffed.
"Well, you see Zero..." said Cerveau, putting one of his tools down on a table, "Every time you go out on a dangerous mission like the one you just went through, she worries about you to no end. She thinks you're going to get killed every time you do something reckless or even downright insane. But despite that, she never gives up on you, Zero, for she knows that somehow, some way, you always come back safe. A little worse for the wear, maybe, but safe nonetheless. You should listen to her more often and stop making decisions only for yourself."
Zero was at a loss for words, the first time in a very long while. Although Reploids were capable of showing emotions unlike a standard robot, Zero felt an emotion that most other Reploids wouldn't admit they had: Guilt. He felt guilty for himself making Ciel worry about him time after time he went out on a dangerous mission, even though he did his missions without much of a hassle and with minimal injuries to himself. Still, he couldn't shake off that guilty feeling he had knowing that every time he went out, Ciel worried about him.
"I...had no idea...she felt that way." said Zero at length.
Back in her lab, Ciel was busy trying to interpret what powers the Cyber-Elf had. Ciel had securely placed the Cyber-Elf inside a container and was using the machine she had kept Crea and Prea in to serve as the scanner. She had gone over several scans already, only finding out what what Zero had before, and she was now running the seventh scan on it. "What could this Cyber-Elf be?" she wondered out loud, "I've never seen one like it before, and we certainly don't have it in our Cyber-Elf Vault down in the lowest part of the base...so what does this Elf do?"
As she was scanning the Elf, her mind suddenly shifted to Zero. I know Zero is capable, she thought to herself, but even he's not invincible. No one is... Sooner or later, he'll face someone or something that will be too much for him to handle, and then... Ciel shook her head violently, banishing the thought of Zero being destroyed out of her mind. No! That can't happen to Zero! I can't let it! But what can I do? I'm only an energy researcher. I'm no fighter whatsoever... Ohhhh, if only I could find a way I can help Zero!
But Ciel knew that was virtually impossible, for she was not even profiecient with any kind of weapon, new or old. She knew that there wasn't any reason to be thinking such thoughts, and mentally hit herself for even thinking such a ludicrous idea.
However, as she was mentally chiding herself, the Cyber-Elf, still in the container on the scanner, started to glow. The glow was faint at first, but it was slowly growing more intense. Ciel quickly snapped out of her thoughts and looked at the scanner readouts. The readouts were off the charts! Ciel then immediately looked at the Cyber-Elf inside the container, and it appeared to have come back from its slumber, and the glow around it was intense! Ciel shielded her eyes and heard the container start to crack open, and soon, it shattered into tiny particles, not even leaving a shard of glass on the floor. Ciel was terrified, and ducked down to the ground, her eyes covered up.
Soon, however, the glow dimmed down, and a frightened Ciel slowly uncovered her eyes and looked up to see the Cyber-Elf floating above her, just inches away from her face. Ciel slowly stood back up and the Cyber-Elf soon floated back up to the front of Ciel's face. Then Ciel heard a small voice: "Did you wake me?"
"What...?" said Ciel, sounding surprised. She looked at the Cyber-Elf with a curious look. "Did you say that?"
"Yes, I did. Were you the one who woke me?" said the Cyber-Elf.
"I...I don't understand." said Ciel, "What do you mean?"
"You said you wanted to help someone. That was the fuel I needed to reawaken." said the Cyber-Elf.
Ciel gasped and had a shocked look on her face. "What?! But...I didn't say that! Not out loud, I mean!"
"I have the ability to read someone's thoughts." replied the Elf, "I guess you could say I'm a telepath of sorts!"
Ciel looked at the Cyber-Elf with a confused look. "So, my thought on how I wanted to help Zero is like an energy resource to you. Is that what you mean?" she asked. "What ARE you anyway?"
"I am Grandia," said the Cyber-Elf, bowing to Ciel, "and you are correct. It is the thoughts of people helping others that gives me energy, and I must thank you for releasing me from my slumber!"
"Uhh...you're welcome." said Ciel, still not sure what was going on, "How did you get like that anyways?"
"To make a long story short...I was imprisoned by a man named Dr. Weil." said Grandia, sitting itself on Ciel's right shoulder, "One day, after he was banished from Neo Arcadia, he was busy trying to develop new Cyber-Elves that would help him get his revenge on Neo Arcadia. Soon enough, he created me, and he wanted to use me to take back what he had lost and then some. But, I refused to help him. This got him angry and then he imprisoned me in a state of suspended animation, only to be awoken by one who would have thoughts of helping others. Of course, as long as he was around, that would NEVER happen. Soon, after Omega was back, a rift in space-time known as Cyberspace had appeared, and I was pulled into it. After that...well...I was here, with you, the one who woke me up."
"Oh...you poor little thing...that's horrible!" said Ciel, sounding very sorrowful at Grandia's tale. "I know how you feel, Grandia. Dr. Weil is causing all sorts of trouble for us now. Currently he's the self-proclaimed ruler of Neo Arcadia, and he plans on ruling the world next if Zero and I don't do something about it!"
"So, you're fighting against Weil as well?" said Grandia, "Hey! I know! Let me help you! I want some revenge for Weil doing that to me anyways!"
"I understand, Grandia, but what is it that you can do?" said Ciel.
"I may be little, but I can accomplish BIG things!" said Grandia, floating just in front of Ciel. "You said you wanted to help out this Zero guy, right? I can help you do that! Take me outside and I'll show you what I mean!"
"Well...alright. I'll show you the way out. Follow me and stay close!" said Ciel, and her and Grandia went out of Ciel's lab.
Back in the Recovery Room, Zero's repairs were just about finished, with only a few plates of armor left to attach. As Cerveau was working, Zero still couldn't get what he had said a few minutes ago out of his mind. What's wrong with me? he thought to himself, apparently worried about something, Why can't I shake off what Cerveau just said to me? Maybe he's right about Ciel...I should probably talk to her about how she feels about me always going and doing crazy things during my missions. Maybe that'll make her feel better and I can then finally get it off my chest.
As Zero finished that thought, Cerveau had finally finished Zero's repairs. "There you go, Zero!" said Cerveau, setting his tools down on a nearby table, "Now don't go and do anything crazy this time, okay?"
Zero lifted his left arm and felt it with his right hand. Cerveau sure knew how to fix Reploids. What was once a large cut in his upper arm was now looking almost brand-new. Zero looked over at Cerveau and gave a slight grin. "Thanks, Cerveau. And don't worry, I won't be doing anything crazy like that for awhile."
"Don't mention it. I'm here anytime!" said Cerveau. Soon, Zero was being called to the Commander's Room on the loudspeaker. "Heh...they sure run you ragged, huh Zero? Go on, get moving. Don't want to keep 'em waiting."
"Yeah. Thanks again." said Zero as he dashed out of the room.
As Zero left, Cerveau sighed with a bit of dismay. "Zero...don't you dare die..." he said to himself. "It will only break her heart."
Ciel and Grandia were almost outside the Resistance Base when a few guards came up and stopped her. "Ms. Ciel! Where are you going? It's dangerous out there! There could be Neo Arcadians waiting to pounce!" one guard said.
"I'm...uhhh...just...going out for some air, that's all!" said Ciel with a slight giggle. Grandia had hid in Ciel's hair, just to be sure it stayed out of sight. It seemed to have worked, for the guards didn't notice the little Cyber-Elf. "Don't worry, if I see any trouble, I'll rush back in, okay?"
"Well, alright..." said another guard, "but watch yourself out there, okay Ms. Ciel?"
"I will, thanks!" said Ciel, and the guards let her outside into the dusty, sandy desert that surrounded the base. It was a clear and pleasant day, and despite the fact that Weil even now was planning on ruining it for everyone on Earth, it seemed so calm and peaceful. It also, for some odd reason, wasn't very hot either, around only 90 degress (which for a desert in the middle of the day is rather cool). Ciel looked high into the sky, seeing a clear blue sky with a few patches of clouds far up in the upper atmosphere, and sighed a sigh of content.
At that moment, Grandia came out of hiding in Ciel's hair and floated in front of her. "Wow, this place sure has changed a lot since I was created..." it said while looking around at the landscape.
"You mean...this wasn't always a desert?" said Ciel looking at Grandia.
"That's correct." said Grandia as it sat on Ciel's shoulder again, "This place used to be a beautiful field, with flowers and lush plains of grass as far as the eye could see. But then when Weil came along, he destroyed all of it, and then I guess it became the desert you see now."
"How terrible..." said Ciel as she looked around at the desert, "Is there no end to Weil's inhumanity?"
"I guess unless he's stopped, there won't be any end to it at all." said Grandia.
"So, what're we out here for?" said Ciel looking over at Grandia on her shoulder, "You said you would show me what powers you have, so what are they?"
Grandia hovered a foot away from Ciel's face. "Follow me." it said, and started hovering away from Ciel. Ciel didn't know what it was planning and hoped that this Cyber-Elf still wasn't under Weil's control, but followed Grandia anyways. Soon, her and Grandia were about 200 yards away from the Resistance Base. "Okay, I think that's far enough." said Grandia, coming to a halt.
"Far enough? For what?" said Ciel, still clearly confused at the whole matter.
"You said you wanted to help Zero, right?" asked Grandia.
"Umm...well...yes I do." said Ciel.
"Then say that wish in your heart and I'll do the rest." said Grandia.
"Well...alright, but what's going to happen?" asked Ciel, concerned.
"You'll find out soon enough. Now are you ready?" asked Grandia.
"Alright, yes I am..." said Ciel, a little nervous.
"Do you promise to only use my power for the better good?" asked Grandia.
"I will! I promise I'll use your powers only for the good of humanity!" said Ciel, folding her hands as if she was praying.
"Very well, then...Close your eyes...and make your wish come to life!" said Grandia.
Ciel closed her eyes and thought of the one wish she had on her mind: I wish I could help Zero and make sure he stays alive...
Almost immediately, Grandia started to glow again, and soon it came up to Ciel and "merged" with her, causing Ciel to glow the same whitish-blue light that Grandia gave off awhile back. Soon, however, the glow dimmed, and everything had stopped. Ciel opened her eyes to find out that, strangely enough, nothing had happened. "Grandia?" she said, "What happened? I don't feel any different...I..."
But then Ciel's statement was cut off when she felt something...weird inside her. She felt as if she had a headache, stomachache, and a backache all at once, but it didn't seem to hurt very much. She winced and became nervous, thinking that something bad was happening to her, thinking that Grandia was just sent by Weil to hurt her and cause chaos at the Resistance Base. But her nightmare of a thought was interrupted when she felt something else...something even weirder than the last feeling.
"Wha...what...what's going on?!" said Ciel, a lot of fear in her voice. Soon, though, Ciel felt as if the surrounding area around her looked different than before. It looked...smaller to her. It took a few moments for Ciel to realize what was going on: She was getting bigger! As she realized this, a feel of horror welt up inside her, and she was both terrified and confused at what was going on, and yet she hadn't stopped growing yet. A little fortune was with Ciel, for her outfit was also growing with her, making her feel a bit relieved at the fact that she wasn't going to be exposed. Soon the weird feeling had stopped, and so had her growth, leaving a frightened Ciel at about 100 feet tall, with her body also having grown in perfect proportion to her new height. Ciel, still frightened out of her mind and wits, surveyed her surroundings. She could see the Resistance Base almost right next to her. To her, the highest point of the base came no higher than the bottom part of her knee, and to her, the base was only a step or two away. Ciel was terrified, worried about her well-being, and not believing what had just happened to her! Not able to contain her fears any longer, Ciel gave out a VERY loud scream.
A little earlier...Inside the Commander's Room...
Zero was hard at work, trying to think up a plan to infiltrate Weil's Laboratory and defeat Omega once and for all. However, even though he was fully repaired, he still lacked the mental and physical strength to go there now. The battles between Phantom, Crea, Prea, and all the rest of Weil's Numbers had taken a toll on him in the past few days. He needed at least a day's rest before he could take on Omega and Weil, but would they wait that long? Probably not, for evil waits for no one and nothing. As Zero was busy thinking up a plan, he was going over some schematics of Neo Arcadia and the surrouding area, wondering where there could be a good place to transfer him when the time comes.
But all the while, the thought of what Cerveau had said to him earlier still lingered in the back of his head. Zero tried hard to ignore it and focus on the task at hand, but try as he might, it wouldn't stop haunting him. Get over it, you numbskull! he thought to himself, hitting his head softly, It's not like Reploids can LOVE a human! That's just plain wrong! But why...why can't I get what Cerveau said outta my mind? What was it about that saying that makes it haunt me? What...
But as Zero was thinking those thoughts, an ear-piercing scream filled the room. It literally shook the walls of the whole Resistance Base, causing Zero to fall out of his chair and hit the floor back-first. Zero could swear that he heard a cicuit inside him pop, and got up off the ground, rubbing his head from the loud noise. "What in the hell was that?!" he yelled out loud, but then, in the midst of all the chaos that had just happened, he recognized the scream and who it belonged to: Ciel! "She's in trouble! I've gotta help her!" said Zero in a panicked tone, and raced out of the Commander's Room.
Unfortunately for Zero, everyone else in the base had heard the scream as well, and were running through the halls in a panic, thinking that Weil had launched a surprise attack on the base. Everyone was panic-stricken and running every which way. Zero did his best to avoid as much of the congestion as possible, even though he got bumped over a few times. Soon he came across one of the guards, which just happened to be one of the guards that addressed Ciel earlier. "You there!" said Zero, pointing at the guard, "Where's Ciel?!"
"Uhh...last I saw her, s-she went outside!" said the guard, scared out of his mind.
"That's all I need to know!" said Zero, and he raced towards the door that led outside. But as he was, a thought crossed his mind. That was Ciel's scream, I know it! he thought to himself, But there's no way any human could scream THAT loud, even if they used a loudspeaker of some kind! What in the world is going on here...?
Soon, Zero had approached the door that led outside. Zero, prepared for anything, held his Z-Saber in one hand and his Recoil Rod in the other, and kicked down the door, expecting a Neo Arcadian Army to come blasting though...but what he saw afterwards was beyond that entirely, something that he and no other Reploid or human would possibly ever see in thier entire existence...
As Zero rushed outside, thinking the Neo Arcadians were waiting for him to show up first, he immediately saw the source of the scream, who it belonged to, and why the hell it was so loud. Zero, thinking he was ready for anything, surely wasn't ready for this. As he looked up to see who had screamed, he saw Ciel...all 100 feet of her, slumped down on her knees and sobbing. Zero, who was totally dumbstruck at what he was witnessing, dropped his Z-Saber and Recoil Rod on the ground and just stared at the now-gigantic Ciel before him with a blank look on his face.
Ciel? Zero thought to himself, thinking that this was not even possible of happening, What happened to her?! How...how is she...what...how the... but the words he was trying to find escaped his mind. Zero was just too amazed and confused at the site of Ciel's current condition that all words had escaped him for the moment. But soon, Zero gathered his wits again. I need to know what happened to her! I gotta ask her what's going on and how she's like this! he thought to himself, and picked up his weapons off the ground and dashed towards the sobbing Ciel.
As Zero got closer to her, he couldn't help but feel daunted by Ciel's new size, how powerful yet serene she looked from his point of view. He had faced many large Mavericks in his past battles, but all of them dwarfed in size compared to Ciel now. He knew that Ciel could now probably give Omega a run for his money, and Weil would probably die at just the sight of her! But, putting such childish thoughts aside, he had finally reached her, standing near one of her knees on the ground. The sound of Ciel sobbing echoed around him, and even though Zero didn't have actual ears (at least not from what anyone has seen), because of his hearing sensors, the sheer sound of Ciel's sobbing made him wince from time to time.
Zero decided that he should call up to her and see if he could get some answers as to why she was like this. Zero put his hands around his mouth and yelled as loud as he could. "Ciel!! HEY, CIEL!!!" he yelled as loud as he could, but Ciel didn't notice Zero. Her eyes were closed tight because of her sobbing, and because of the size difference between her and Zero and the sound of her sobbing, there was no way Zero could be heard, even if he had shouted as loud as he could.
"Arrgh!" Zero grumbled to himself, "There's gotta be some way I can get her attention, but what?!" Zero thought for a minute, still wincing from time to time from Ciel's sobbing. Then he remembered something: All Reploids had the potential to amplify thier voice up to ten times louder than normal, should they need to talk over loud distances or if used properly, was a last-ditch weapon (you could call it a new form of "Verbal Assault"). With that, Zero closed his eyes for a moment, all the while his internal circuits were re-adjusting his voice output to ten times louder. Soon, Zero opened his eyes, and his newly amplified voice was ready for another attempt to get Ciel's attention, and hopefully stop her from sobbing. Zero looked up at her again, took a deep breath, and yelled her name again:
The voice echoed almost as loud as Ciel's previous scream, and the scream immediately had its intended effect. Ciel quickly opened her eyes and stopped sobbing, giving off a small, short gasp. She looked all around her, knowing exactly who's voice that was. "Wha...Zero?!" she said, her voice echoing throughout the desert, "Is that...you, Zero? Where...where are you?"
"DOWN HERE!" yelled Zero, his voice still amplified, but not as loud now, since he didn't have to shout over Ciel's voice.
Ciel immediately looked in the direction Zero's voice came from and looked down to see a now diminuitive Zero standing right next to her right knee. She just stared at Zero, thinking how small and fragile he looked now. She was still downright confused at how all this had happened, and wasn't thinking very clearly. Soon, however, she decided to speak up. "Uh...Zero? What's happened to me?!" she said. As she said this, she could see Zero holding his head in pain. Ciel then realized that her voice must be pretty loud to Zero, so she quickly apologized to him in a more whisper-like tone. "Oh, my! I'm sorry, Zero! I didn't mean to be so loud! I'm...it's just that...I..."
"I can see what's happened to you, Ciel." said Zero, removing his hands from his head, mentally thanking hmself that Ciel wasn't being so loud now. "What I'm curious about is how you got this way!"
"I...don't know..."said Ciel, still confused. "Wait...was it...Grandia...?"
"Grandia?" asked Zero, more confused than Ciel was, "What's Grandia?"
Ciel was about to explain when Zero immediately turned around at the sound of the Reistance Base door's opening. He knew that if anyone saw Ciel at this size, there would be too many questions to answer, not to mention that most of the people in the base would be downright terrified of her. He knew he had to hide her new identity, but he had to move fast. Otherwise, Ciel's secret would be out...
Ciel immediately saw what had got Zero's attention, and was also terrified at the fact that someone else was going to see her the way she is now. Both her and Zero held thier breaths as the door crept open. But suddenly, it stopped, just barely making a crack in the doorway. Zero and Ciel (especially Ciel) let out a sigh of relief. Zero knew someone was at the door, but was probably afraid that Neo Arcadians were still storming the base, so they had decided to formulate a plan before going outside. Zero saw this as an opportunity and got an interesting idea. He didn't mean to lie to the people he had worked so hard in helping, but it seemed like the only way to hide Ciel's current condition from anyone else until the time was right.
"Hey, Ciel!" said Zero, getting her attention. Ciel looked down at Zero, who was motioning her to bend down so she could hear him and no one else could. She understood and bent down closer to Zero and put her ear next to him. Once she was positioned right, Zero spoke his idea to Ciel.
"Listen to me, Ciel:" began Zero, "Everyone in the base thinks that Neo Arcadians are attacking us, and have absolutely no clue of your current condition, okay? I don't want them to find out about you yet, so I know of a way we can make them think I can handle the current situation, but I'm gonna need your help in doing it."
"Okay, Zero..." said Ciel, "What do I have to do?"
"Okay, good. Here's what you do..." said Zero, explaining his plan.
Back inside, a small troupe of soldiers were at the entrance to the Resistance Base with guns ready. "Listen up, troops!" said the leader of the posse, "We all know that Mr. Zero is quite capable of defending us from the Neo Arcadians, but that doesn't mean that he won't require some backup! I want all of you out there protecting Mr. Zero, even if it costs you your life!"
"But, Sir!" said one of the soldiers, obviously scared, "We are no match for the Arcadian weapons!"
"That may be true," said the leader, "but that doesn't mean we can't try, right! Now let's get out there and whoop some Neo Arcadian butt! AM I CLEAR SOLDIERS?!"
"YES SIR!" said the soldiers.
"Alright! Let's go!" said the leader, reaching for the door.
But just as the leader was reaching for the door handle, Zero burst inside and quickly shut the door behind him, making sure that no one saw what (or who) was outside. He was breathing heavily and had dust and sand covering his body. The leader went up to Zero and asked if he was all right.
"I'm okay." said Zero, still breathing heavily, "I've driven off the majority of the Neo Arcadians, but they had one last surprise...a really big one at that."
"What is it, Mr. Zero?" asked the leader.
Just after he had said that, a loud rumbling sound was heard and the ground shook with a lot of force, like an earthquake was happening. All the soldiers stumbled onto thier backs as the ground shook from the tremor. Unbeknowest to all of them except Zero, it was actually Ciel outside causing the tremor, using her fists and pounding them into the ground. Zero peered out of a hole in the doorway to see that Ciel was playing her part in this role rather nicely, and turned back to look at the shaken-up soldiers.
"They had a large Maverick robot that can cause earthquakes, and they are using it to make the base crumble! I'm the only one that can take care of it, so I want all of you to go and take shelter in the basement, and don't forget to tell everyone else to do so as well!" explained Zero, seeing that his plan was so far working.
"But, Mr. Zero? What about you?" said one of the soldiers.
"Don't worry about me!" said Zero, eyeing the soldier, "It's nothing I can't handle!" But inside, Zero was thinking something completely different. Yeah, right...like I haven't handled a 100-foot tall girl before. If only they knew what I was REALLY up against...
"Well?!" yelled Zero, "Don't just stand there! MOVE!!"
"You heard him, troops! To the shelter, double time!" yelled the leader, and everyone didn't hesitate to follow those orders, for another tremor had just started. Everyone except Zero stumbled out of the hallway and into the next area of the base, but the leader stopped and turned back to look at Zero. "Uh, Mr. Zero? Where's Ms. Ciel? Last I heard she was outside!"
Zero shuddered for a moment. He hadn't counted on this in his plan, and the question caught him by surprise. Soon, however, Zero came up with a definite answer: "She's fine." he said in a reassuring voice, "I got her to a sheltered area outside, so she's out of harm's way. Don't worry about us, I'll take care of her."
"If you say so, sir. Now if you'll excuse me..." said the lead soldier, and he ran down the stairs. Zero smiled to himself, knowing that his little friendly ruse had worked and that Ciel would really appreciate him for hiding her current problem. He then turned around to head outside.
Outside the Resistance Base, Ciel was patiently waiting for Zero to reappear. He had been in there for only a few minutes, but it seemed like it was taking forever to her. Soon, however, the door to the base opened and Zero came rushing out, not knowing that he had left the door open. Ciel breathed a sigh of relief, seeing that Zero's plan had worked. As Zero came rushing back to Ciel, he noticed some large imprints in the sand. To him, those imprints were about ten to fifteen feet in diameter and possibly a dozen feet deep. Zero was both impressed and somewhat scared of realizing just how much strength Ciel now possessed. Even he couldn't make this large of an indention in the ground with a fully charged Z-Saber attack.
Soon, Zero had reached Ciel, who was lying on the ground on her stomach. She was like that so that Zero wouldn't have to yell at her to speak to her, and also so that no one inside the base would see her all too well from the lookout posts. "So...was I convincing?" said Ciel, slightly giggling afterwards.
"It worked like a charm." said Zero, coming up to Ciel's ear so she could hear him clearly. "They never knew it was you causing those tremors. I'm glad you were able to not cause any damage to the base."
Ciel hadn't thought about that. It was true that the tremors she caused didn't cause any structural damage to the base, but she knew that if she wasn't careful, she could've done much worse. Soon her thoughts were interrupted by Zero speaking to her again.
"So, as I was saying..." he began, "What was it that caused this to you? And what's this Grandia you were talking about?"
"Well...um..." Ciel started, trying to remember all that had happened previously, but then thought that someone would come outside any moment, even if all the people and Reploids inside were in the shelter. "Uh, maybe we should find somewhere more secluded to talk about this, huh Zero?"
"Good point, Ciel..." replied Zero, nodding at her, "Why don't you pick me up and we'll head out into the desert to someplace more remote? We'll talk then."
"Okay, Zero." Ciel agreed, and she stood back up to her full height. When she did, Zero couldn't help but feel intimidated at seeing her like this. As before, she looked so powerful, and yet so serene at the same time. He couldn't quite explain how or why he felt this way, for any other Repliod would not be able to explain it either. As he was thinking this, Ciel bent down and placed her open right hand down next to Zero so he could climb on. Despite himself, Zero was a bit unsure of all this, but knew he could trust Ciel.
Zero hopped onto Ciel's hand and sat down, clasping some of the fabric of her glove just so that he wouldn't lose his balance. He signaled Ciel that he was secure. When she saw it, she slowly picked Zero up off the ground. As she was, Zero felt gravity kick in and the force of being hoisted up nearly made him feel like he was being bolted to the ground, even though Ciel was going very slow in doing so. Soon, the movement stopped and Zero found himself nearly 80 feet off the ground, still sitting in the palm of Ciel's hand. Ciel saw the tiny hero in her hands and smiled at him. "Zero, look around! It's a wonderful view, isn't it?" she said.
Zero slowly got on his feet and took a look around him. Indeed, Ciel was right. Despite the fact that all there was was desert as far as the eye could see, the view looked simply amazing. Even though Zero had been up a lot higher than this before, it felt different this time since someone much larger than him was holding him that high. Zero turned back to Ciel and smiled. "It sure is." he said, "But we can sightsee later, Ciel. Right now we have to get away from here before someone sees you, okay?"
"You're right, Zero. Let's go!" said Ciel, and with that she turned and walked in the direction opposite of the Resistance Base, trying to be as quiet as possible and making doubly sure that she wouldn't lose her tiny passenger. Even though she was trying to be quiet, her footsteps still made a moderately loud booming noise as she stepped away. Soon, the Resistance Base was out of Zero's line of sight, and the giantess and her passenger were heading out into the desert.
Meanwhile...Somewhere in Neo Arcadia...
"What do you mean Crea and Prea are destroyed?!" yelled a very angry Dr. Weil. A few Pantheon Hunters were telling Weil of the news that the two Baby Elves were now no more. Dr. Weil was furious at this, knowing that Zero undoubtedly did them in. He got so mad that he struck one of the Pantheon Hunters so hard, it went flying at least 5 feet away.
"Grrr...." grumbled Weil, turning away from the Pantheon Hunters and folding his arms, "Well...it doesn't really matter though. Those two Elves served thier purpose, and now Omega will show that fake Reploid who the real hero is!" Weil started laughing maniacally, his laugh almost being louder than a loud buzzing noise that soon cut off his laughter. "Huh? What's that noise?!"
Weil turned to look at the source of the buzzing noise: A machine that looked a little old in comparison to the rest of the ones around him. Weil hovered over to the machine and pressed a button on the console, stopping the buzzing noise and bringing up a viewscreen. What was on it made Weil gasp...it was a readout of a Cyber-Elf, one that looked faintly familiar to him...
"This...this is...could it be...?" said Weil in a confusing manner, but sounding like he had seen that specific Cyber-Elf somewhere, "Could it have actually survived all these years? This is not possible...I was sure I had that Elf shut down...What could have awakened it...?"
Weil had only one word left to say..."Grandia...?"
Back in the desert...
Ciel, with Zero standing firm in the palm of her right hand, was still walking away from the Resistance Base so that she wouldn't be seen and so that her and Zero can discuss on what had happened to her. Soon the two had come to what appeared to be an oasis. This was fortunate for Ciel, for she was getting a little thirsty from walking around in the dry desert. Seeing as though she was higher up than most things out here, she was probably feeling more of the hot air than usual, since heat rises and cold air falls. Soon, Ciel stopped in front of the oasis. To her, the oasis was about big enough for her to dangle her feet in, and was only deep enough to go up to her ankles.
"This looks like a good place to stop." she said to Zero, gently lowering her hand to place Zero on the ground. When her hand was near the ground, Zero hopped off and stood in the shade of a palm tree nearby. Though he was capable of standing immense heat, the dry, hot air was getting to him a little, so he needed to cool off. He then heard and saw Ciel kneeling down next to the pond in the oasis, cupping her hands to take a drink. It was a good thing they had found this little oasis, or else Ciel, even at her new size, would have probably died of thirst. The temperature in the desert had gone up from what it was earlier, near 105 degrees, and Ciel was desperate to cool off.
Zero then saw Ciel do something he didn't quite expect: Ciel took off her shoes and set them near another palm tree to her other side, leaving her in her bare feet. She then put her feet into the pond and reveled at the coolness of the water. A small amount of water was displaced when she put her feet in the pond, but not enough to really matter. Ciel gave off a relaxed sigh. "Ahhh...that feels so much better..." she said in a relaxed tone. She then proceeded to take off her hat, letting her bright blonde hair flow downward and cooling her head off. Zero looked over at her and smiled, seeing that even though she had just acquired much size and strength, she was still able to do things and wasn't afraid of herself anymore. Once he saw that Ciel was relaxed, he went over and tugged on the bottom part of her shirt. Ciel looked down and saw Zero motioning her to pick him up.
Ciel obliged and carefully picked up Zero with her thumb and index finger, being especially careful not to hurt Zero. For someone who had attained such immense power and size, she was as gentle as a powderpuff. She set Zero on her right shoulder near her head, so that he can be easily heard. Once he was sitting on her shoulder, he took one of Ciel's strands of hair and tied it around him, just to be sure that if he falls off, he wouldn't tumble to his doom. For someone who hadn't come across something like this, he sure knew what to do to safeguard himself.
"Alright, Ciel," said Zero looking up at her face, "let's start from when I got back from my mission, okay? What happened after that?"
"Well..." said Ciel, being sure to keep her voice down for Zero, "While Cerveau was repairing you, I was examining the Cyber-Elf you had given me. But like you, the scans revealed nothing unusual about it, and failed to identify its powers. I had just about given up when I had some...uhh...personal thoughts."
"Personal thoughts?" said Zero, curious about this statement Ciel had made. "What do you mean?"
"I'll explain that later, Zero. For now let me tell you what happened first." continued Ciel, not quite ready to tell Zero about how she had wanted to help him, "After those thoughts of mine, the Cyber-Elf somehow came back to life, and it introduced itself by the name of Grandia."
"So...that's what Grandia was, huh?" said Zero.
"Uh-huh." replied Ciel, continuing her story, "Grandia told me that Dr. Weil had imprisoned it inside Cyberspace when Omega was reactivated, and that the next thing it knew, it was there with me. It wanted to help me fight Weil and also wanted to...well...make those thoughts of mine come true."
"Were those thoughts about you being like this?" asked Zero.
"Not really..." said Ciel, "Anyways, he told me to step outside so he can show me his powers, and after I did, he told me to think those thoughts again, and soon I found myself like this. To tell you the truth, I was terrified at first, but now I'm kinda used to it. I'm guessing Grandia's power was to make things larger, whether it be humans or Repliods."
"Hmmm..." said Zero, clearly in deep thought about what Ciel had just told him. The story he had just heard made some reasonable sense to him, but it still perplexed him on how a such a small thing could do something like this. He then turned to look at Ciel again. "So basically, Grandia made you like this?"
"That's my best guess." replied Ciel.
"So, what are these 'personal thoughts' of yours?" asked Zero.
"Well...um..." said Ciel, a little unsure if she should be telling this to him, but knew that she could trust Zero, "I've always been worried about you whenever you go out on your missions Zero. I just only wished that I could do more and help you out in your missions, how I've always wanted to fight with you by your side, and how I've always wanted to make sure that you came back safely."
Zero was awestruck. Cerveau was right...Ciel really was worried about Zero whenever he did something most would call crazy. She had voiced her concern before, but never like this..."Whoa...that was a little much to take in Ciel." said Zero, holding his head like he had a headache.
"You probably find that stupid, don't you?" said Ciel, although it didn't sound like she was annoyed at Zero's reaction, but instead, it sounded almost like she was curious.
"Well...in all honesty, I kinda do, Ciel." said Zero, but then he remembered something. "Wait a minute...Ciel, you mean you don't remember?"
"Remember what?" asked Ciel, wondering what Zero meant.
"You have helped me before, twice actually!" said Zero, standing up on her shoulder, "First of all, if it wasn't for you and Passy, I would never be alive to help you and so many others. That alone was a lot of help! Second, you remember back when Elpizo launched that attack on Neo Arcadia, but failed completely? In return, the rest of the Guardians of Neo Arcadia sent a ship with a special bomb attached to it, and if it wasn't for you, we never would have disabled that bomb and saved the base! Although...I remember you suffering a few bruises because of some stray shots...I'm really sorry about that. But regardless, you helped me out a LOT on that mission! You don't need to be a hundred feet tall to help me, Ciel. You can do things even at your normal size, and I really appreciate all the help you and the rest of the Resistance has given me."
Ciel was at a loss for words. She did remember all those things happening, and she knew Zero was right. Ciel was so happy at Zero for reminding her of those times. "Oh...Zero..." said Ciel, a lone tear running down her right cheek, "You're right. I do remember all of that! I have helped you out before! I'm...not useless. How in the world could I even think such a thought?"
"It's okay, Ciel." said Zero, rubbing the tear from her cheek, "Everyone has a point in thier lives when they feel useless. Even I have."
"YOU?! Since when?" said Ciel, a little louder then before, but purely by accident because of her reaction. It didn't faze Zero though.
"Well, when I was trying to stop Elpizo from destroying X's body, he trapped me in some sort of energy field, and I couldn't do a thing but watch as he destroyed X's body and released the Dark Elf. I felt so helpless that I couldn't do anything to stop him from destroying X and absorbing the Dark Elf's powers. After I had defeated him, he was so exhausted that he wasn't going to live, but somehow he was turned into a Cyber-Elf himself, and was able to continue living doing so. I felt sorry for him..."
"Oh...I see..." said Ciel, sounding a little sad at Zero's tale. "So even you have felt helpless, huh?"
"Yep, that's right." said Zero in a reassuring tone.
"So, now that we know what's happened to me, what now?" asked Ciel.
"Dunno..." said Zero, pondering on Ciel's question, "I guess it's up to you, really. Whatever you want to do, I'll agree to it."
"If you say so, Zero." said Ciel, but then she noticed that it was nearing evening. "I'm a little tired Zero. You wanna rest here tonight?"
"You can rest, Ciel." said Zero, "I'll stay up and keep guard watch. Even though nothing I know of could harm you right now, I still don't want to take any chances..." Zero then untied the strand of hair around him as Ciel reached up and plucked him off her shoulder.
Ciel set Zero down on the ground next to her shoes, smiling at him. "Hehe...okay my little hero, you can keep watch. I feel safer with you anyways!"
Zero looked back at Ciel and gave a thumbs up. Ciel winked back at Zero, then lied down on the ground gently and closed her eyes, propping her feet up on a nearby rock. Zero just stood there, admiring how Ciel could still be so calm after all that had just happened to her this day. He just continued to stand there, watching over her and making sure that she would stay safe. Suddenly, he heard Ciel mumble something. "Zero...don't...ever...leave me..."
Zero didn't know how to react to that. He didn't know if she meant it or if she was just talking in her sleep. Regardless, he crept up to her ear and said in a soft tone, "Don't worry, I won't leave you ever...Ciel."
That night...back in Neo Arcadia...
Dr. Weil knew that Grandia had been reactivated, and was more determined then ever to get it back. Thankfully, he didn't seem to know that Grandia was currently under use by someone, and the one using Grandia was quite possibly someone he'd least expect. Weil had gathered two squads of 100 Pantheon Hunters each and summoned them to the outer gates of Neo Arcadia. "Listen up, my squads!" said Weil in a loud and determined voice, "A Cyber-Elf of mine has been stolen by those Resistance extremists! I want one squadron of 100 to follow the directions dowloaded into your memory units and find the Cyber-Elf, while the other squad heads over to the Resistance Base and blow it sky high! You have your orders, now go! And don't return without that Cyber-Elf!!!"
The two squads went thier own directions, one towards the base, and the other towards a marked location out in the desert. The same exact location of Zero and Ciel. "Soon, Grandia will be mine again, and Omega and I will rule the world with an iron fist! No one will stop me! AH-hahahahaha!!!!" laughed Weil as the two squardons disappeared into the distance.
Meanwhile...Back at the Resistance Base...
Everyone in the base had resumed thier normal posts, thinking that Zero had thwarted the Neo Arcadians earlier that day. Since both Ciel and Zero were gone at the moment, Cerveau was put in temporary charge until they had returned. Although Cerveau was only a mechanic by nature, he did know how the base ran, and did a decent job of leading the base. However, the thought that Zero and Ciel were still in trouble lingered in his mind. Where are those two...? he thought to himself, worried at the possibility that Zero and Ciel had not survived the attack, Maybe they were on the run from the Arcadians and had to flee to the desert. I guess all we can do is trust that Zero will take care of Ciel. Hopefully the worst hasn't happened...
The night passes...and morning comes...
Back at the oasis...
Ciel lay there fast asleep, dreaming about...well, one couldn't really guess, since she didn't really talk in her sleep. The desert sun was just now in full view over the horizon, and Zero was sitting next to a palm tree, still wide awake and watching over his giant partner. She had slept soundly all night, despite what all had happened yesterday, and Zero was still thinking those thoughts that Cerveau had told him the previous day. Wow...so she really does care about me, huh? he thought to himself, looking over at Ciel. She looked so peaceful lying there, not to mention she looked quite beautiful in the light of the rising sun. Beauty didn't have any effect on Zero, but he still admired it secretly. Zero lay back and put his hands behind his head, relaxing in the moderate coolness of the desert winds blowing in his face. It was a peaceful moment for him and Ciel, and they probably wouldn't have another like it until Weil was stopped for good, so he was making sure to get the most out of it.
That peaceful moment, however, was interrupted by a faint sound. Zero sat up with a jolt, and with his enhanced hearing, listened carefully at the sound, worried that it might be danger heading this way. His worries came true when he realized the sound: at least 100 pairs of marching footsteps were headed this way. This only meant one thing and one thing alone to Zero: Somehow, Dr. Weil had found him and Ciel, and had sent out many troops to take care of them. Zero stood up and looked in the direction the sound was coming from. Sure enough, he could see the faint outlines of a large squad of Pantheon Hunters heading his way. Zero took out his Z-Saber and started to dash towards the group. I can't let Weil have Ciel! he thought in his mind as he was rushing towards the group, I'll do anything to protect her, even if I die trying...!
Soon, Zero had come face-to-100-faces with the squad of Pantheon Hunters and charged at them head-on. The squad saw Zero coming and let out a volley of bullets. Zero effortlessly deflected them with his Shield Boomerang, and once he had it fully charged, slammed his Z-Saber into the front lines, causing several explosions and scattering debris of the fallen Pantheons every which way. Still the Pantheons fired at Zero, and Zero continued to block thier fire with his Shield Boomerang, with some of the bullets bouncing off the shield and right back at the Pantheons! Zero thought this was going to be an easy fight, but he hadn't counted on the fact that he was still fatigued from the previous day. Soon, his relflexes slowed down, and he couldn't find the strength to hold his Shield Boomerang up anymore, so he had to rely on dodging to avoid the bullet fire.
As Zero zigzagged around the bullets and slashing every Pantheon Hunter that got in his way, he was again feeling the fatigue settle in and take over, and he slowed down even more. A bullet grazed him in his right arm, leaving a burn mark. Zero ignored the minor wound and tried to not think about the pain as he slashed at the Pantheon that fired at him, leaving the Hunter in two parts. Soon, however, Zero's strength was starting to fade, and he was shoved into a large rock nearby, knocking the wind out of him. As Zero struggled to get up, he could see at least a dozen Pantheon Hunters surrounding him, guns pointed straight at him, with the remaining ones crowded around behind them. He had managed to take out about 30% of the squad, but it wasn't enough, and Zero knew this wasn't going to end well unless he did something. However, in the state he was in, he could barely do a thing except watch as the guns of the Hunters charged up, ready to fire a fatal blast at the now downed Zero. Zero closed his eyes, hoping that by some miracle, something good would happen...
As the Hunters prepared to fire at Zero, the sky around them all of a sudden got dark. Many would mistake this for a solar eclipse, but Zero looked up above the Pantheons, who had stopped thier fire in curiosity on what had happened. Zero then saw what was blocking out the light, or rather WHO was blocking it out. There, behind the Pantheons, stood Ciel, looking down at the squad of Pantheon Hunters with a hateful glare on her face. The Pantheons turned around to see what was causing the disturbance, and froze in fear when they saw Ciel. Zero, knowing somehow what Ciel was planning to do, used the opportunity to escape, and dashed out of the premesis of a now-angry Ciel. He knew that she was going to do something to them, but he didn't want to be around when she did.
"I THOUGHT I heard something!!" yelled Ciel, looking down with an icy stare at the squad, "So, you thought you could sneak up on Zero and me and take us by surprise, huh?! Well, I don't like that, and I really hate being woken up in such a disturbing manner!! I think you little Mavericks need to be taught a lesson!"
As if on instinct, the Pantheon Hunters somehow shook off thier fear of Ciel and fired a large stream of bullets at her, hoping that thier sheer numbers would outdo her. But...thier efforts were a lost cause, as the bullets simply deflected off of Ciel upon impact. Ciel looked down at the Hunters, now even more angry than ever. She brushed off her shirt and looked at them with a VERY angry look. "Not only do you attempt to murder Zero, but you also shoot at a GIRL?!! That's IT!! I've had it with you little pests!!"
Zero saw all this happening from a rock he had hid behind at a safe distance, and nearly dropped his jaw when he saw what Ciel did next. Ciel leapt up into the air, leaving a small sand cloud where she stood. To her, it only seemed like she jumped about a foot in the air, but to anyone normal-sized, she lept a good 50 feet up. Zero was amazed at the fact that someone of her size could do such a thing, but he knew what was coming next and braced himself as hard as he could for impact....
Ciel came crashing down on the Pantheon Hunter Squad feet-first with full force, causing a massive tremor and an even more massive dust cloud kick up. As she landed, Ciel could hear multiple (but to her miniscule) explosions underneath her feet. The tremor she had caused was immense. If it could've been read, that tremor would've registered at LEAST a 7.0! Zero was ready for this from his viewpoint, but even though he had tried to brace himself, he couldn't help but fall on his rear.
Soon, the large dust cloud had finally settled, and Zero, brushing the sand out of his eyes, looked over in the direction Ciel had landed. When he got a clear view, he saw Ciel standing next to what looked like a large crater. That crater she had made was at least a good 30 feet in diameter and about 20 feet deep, with cracks in the ground surrounding the outside of it. As for the rock Zero was pinned up against earlier, it was completely shattered into pebbles. As for the Pantheon Hunter force, well... let's just say not much of them were left, but none were alive either. Zero was dumbstruck at the display of sheer power Ciel just did. Ciel was just as amazed, and also a little bit scared. "Did...did I do...all that...?" she said out loud, worried about if Zero didn't make it out in time.
Her worries were over as she looked over and saw Zero stumbling over to her, his legs still shaken up a bit from the earthquake Ciel had caused. She sighed with relief and squatted down to pick up Zero with her left hand. Zero hopped on her hand and was lifted up so that he was right in front of her face. He could see no damage was done to her, save for a little dust and sand on her face. "Z-Zero...? Are you alright? Is anything hurt?" asked Ciel in a worried tone.
"Just a little of my pride..." said Zero, rubbing the burn on his arm from the bullet he had failed to completely dodge earler. "What about you? Are you alright?"
"I...I..." started Ciel, but then the tone in her voice changed, "I've never felt better! I really did do all that didn't I? I stomped them like bugs!"
Zero smiled at Ciel, seeing that she was showing some signs of confidence. He decided to play along with her statement. "You sure did, Ciel!" he said, "I bet that'll teach Weil to mess with you, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess so!" said Ciel, giggling afterwards. But then her happy tone turned worried again. "But why do you think Weil would send so many Pantheons just to get to us? Surely he had a reason...?"
Zero pondered on this for a moment, but then the same thought hit both Ciel and Zero at the same time, almost as if they were sharing each others' thoughts. The answer came to them like a lightning bolt to the head:
"WEIL KNOWS ABOUT GRANDIA!" they both said at the same time.
"Of course! He must've caught the signature of Grandia and then used it to track it down!" said Zero, "But instead of finding Grandia, they found..."
"Me..." Ciel finished, but then knew why. "It must be the signature! Since I'm using Grandia's powers, I must be giving off Grandia's signature!" Ciel was a little scared at this at first, but then felt that confidence come up again. "But, if Weil knew that, he wouldn't have sent just a squad of simple Pantheons, would he?"
"No, he wouldn't..." said Zero, getting what Ciel was saying, "which means that he doesn't know it's currently under use!"
"So, I guess I'm a little safe then, huh?" said Ciel smiling.
"For now, but we've got to find a way to block out Grandia's signature. No doubt that wasn't the only group of Pantheons he sent out." said Zero.
"You're probably right Zero..." said Ciel, walking back to the oasis with Zero still in her hand. When she got there, she sat Zero on the ground and went to put her shoes back on (after brushing the debris from the bottom of them, that is). Then she put back on her hat and sat down, thinking what her and Zero should do next.
Suddenly, Zero's radio came active: "Mr. Zero! Please return to the Resistance Base! We're under attack by Weil's soldiers! Hel-" but then the transmission cut off, leaving only static.
"Resistance Base! Come in!" yelled Zero. This yell got Ciel's attention, and she looked at Zero with a worried look.
"What is it Zero? What's wrong?" asked Ciel.
"The base is under attack! We've gotta get back there, NOW!" yelled Zero.
"OH NO! Quick let's get going!" said Ciel. She picked up Zero gently and placed him in the pocket of her shirt, stood up and turned around. Zero held on while Ciel was busy running as fast as her legs could back to the Resistance Base, each of her steps creating a thunderous noise. Hopefully they weren't already too late...
Meanwhile, Back in Neo Arcadia...
Dr. Weil was pleased to see that one set of Pantheon Hunters had successfully infiltrated the Resistance Base, but he was concerned about the other group that had suddenly vanished from his radar screen. "WHAT?! How is this possible?" he yelled, sounding very annoyed, "All there was there was Grandia! There's no way a Cyber-Elf could wipe out a whole miniature army!! What in the heck is going on here?!"
Dr. Weil was about to lose his temper when he realized something. "Wait...maybe Zero was there..." he began, pondering on the situation, "But even at his current potential, he couldn't take out that whole squad by himself unless..." Dr. Weil then had a look of realization on his face, "Unless he's using the Cyber-Elf's powers! Grandia was made to enhance the abilities of someone by looking into thier thoughts, so Zero must be using Grandia to defeat me! That fake!! He won't get away with this!!"
Dr. Weil then noticed that Grandia's signature was heading back for the Resistance Base. He was right about one thing: Grandia was currently under use by someone, but not who he had mentioned. Dr. Weil then pushed a button on the control panel, causing a speaker to activate. "Listen up!" he said through the loudspeaker, "I want every bit of the Pantheon Air Squadron to go to the Resistance Base, NOW!!" As he said that, the Pantheon Air Squadron was preparing for launch, ready to take out the Resistance once and for all...
At the Resistance Base...
The air around the base was filled with the sounds of explosions and metal being broken apart. As useless as thier weapons were to the Pantheons, the Resistance was putting up a decent defensive fight. They had managed to keep the Pantheons from actually entering the base, but in spite of that, the Pantheons were getting closer to thier goal: Reaching the main power generator of the base and destroying it, thus blowing up the Resistance Base. They didn't care if they got blown up with it, for they only were following Dr. Weil's orders.
"We've got to keep them out of the base!" yelled a soldier, all the while firing his gun at a Pantheon Hunter, causing several bullet holes, but not seeming to do any damage. The Pantheon looked at the soldier and whacked him upside the shoulder with its arm, causing the soldier to fly a foot away and into the wall of the base. The soldier was badly injured, and the Pantheon Hunter, along with two others, were closing in on him, ready to silence him for good. The soldier, paralyzed both from fear and pain, put his arms up and covered his face, waiting to be blasted to pieces...
But as he did, a loud sound could be heard, the sound resembling what a lightsaber sounded like when being swung. As the soldier uncovered his face, the three Pantheon Hunters fell to the ground, all of them precisely cut in two across the midsection. When they collapsed, Zero stood there in front of the wounded soldier, Z-Saber in hand. The soldier was surprised to see him, naturally.
"Are you all right?" asked Zero in a no-nonsense tone.
"I'll live..." said the soldier, aching in pain.
"Good, get to a sheltered place. This place is about to become dangerous, trust me." said Zero, sounding as if he wouldn't take any other answer other than yes.
"Okay, Mr. Zero!" said the soldier, and with a little help from Zero, he was able to make it back inside and into the infirmiry. Zero then dashed back outside, telling all the Resistance soldiers to retreat into the base. None of them were aware of Zero's idea, but they didn't hesitate to follow his orders. Zero made sure everyone got inside, all while fending off a few more Pantheon Hunters, and still feeling fatigue. He knew he was tired, but he had to get everyone inside safely, for what was about to happen next was not going to be pretty for most people to see, at least in the way Zero thought that is.
Soon, everyone except Zero was back inside the base. Zero slammed the doors and welded them together with the energy coming from his Recoil Rod, making sure no one would get in or out. At first Zero was afraid that they would run out of air, being sealed in there and all, but then he remembered that there were vents connecting to the outside, so he knew that would provide plenty of air to breathe. He then put his hand on his helmet and activated his radio. "Alright, Ciel...everyone is inside! It's your turn now!" he said.
As if on cue, a loud booming noise could suddenly be heard. Zero knew that was Ciel and quickly climbed into an open vent to get inside the base. Before he did, he looked back at the remaining Pantheon Hunters, who were confused at the loud noise. Zero gave off a sly smile. "Heh...good luck Ciel." he said as he climbed into the vent.
Zero had got inside just in time, for Ciel had just arrived on the scene. Needless to say, the Pantheon Hunters were quite surprised to see a 100-foot tall Ciel standing almost right next to them. Ciel looked down at the puny squad and gave a wry smile, knowing that she was instilling fear in them. Although she doesn't mean to be intimidating, this was one time she didn't mind someone being afraid of her, and for good reason.
"First you attack me and Zero, then you go and attack the Resistance Base?!" yelled Ciel, her voice booming around the whole area, "Now you pests are gonna get it!!"
Before any of the Hunters could react, Ciel sweeped her right hand down on them, causing about half of the Pantheons to go flying a few dozen feet away. Upon impact on the ground, most were destroyed, but some survived with major damage caused to them. Ciel then noticed that some of the Hunters were firing at her, but like before, the shots merely bounced off her. To the Pantheons, Ciel's skin was like the toughest armor, and thier puny energy bullets weren't even making a scratch on her, much less even faze her. Ciel turned and swatted the group that was firing on her, crushing them into small pieces and leaving oil splattered on the ground and her glove. "Ugh...this'll never get out!" said Ciel in a disgusted tone while looking at the oil blotch on her hand.
Ciel then saw that the remaining Pantheons were trying to get away, but she knew that she wouldn't let them. "Oh no you don't! Get back here!!" she yelled while giving chase. It didn't take more than two steps for her to reach the retreating Hunters, and she immediately blocked them off with her massive right shoe. The Pantheons, desperate to get away from her, turned in the other direction, but it too was blocked off by Ciel's other shoe. The Pantheons looked in fear up at Ciel, feeling all too intimidated at her. They had good reason to be, for they wouldn't be functioning much longer at this rate.
"Going somewhere?" said Ciel in a mocking voice, relishing the thought that she was now powerful enough to take down Weil's troops with no trouble, "Sorry, but this is the end of the line for you!" With that, Ciel leaped up into the air again, but not as high as before. You'd think she'd do the same thing she did to the other Hunter group, but this time she did something a lot different...
Ciel had crashed down on the Pantheon Hunters, but this time however...she had used her rear to smash them to bits, and once again it created a VERY loud noise as well as a good tremor and dust cloud. It wasn't as intense as before, but the tremor could be felt inside the Resistance Base. Luckily, Ciel had controlled herself and made the quake minor enough not to cause any damage to the base. When the dust cloud settled, Ciel could be seen sitting in a small sand crater, which just happened to leave quite an impression of her rear. She slowly got up, brushed the debris from her posterior, and turned to look at what she had done. Indeed, the "crater" was about in the shape of her rear and there was nothing left of the Pantheon Hunters, save for the debris she just brushed off. Ciel smiled and headed to the door of the Resistance Base.
In a whisper tone, she called to Zero. "Okay Zero! The coast is clear! Everyone can come out now!"
Inside the base, Zero had heard Ciel's words, and turned to look at everyone else. While Ciel was busy taking care of the Pantheon Hunters, Zero had been explaining everything to the Resistance Base members about what had happened to Ciel. Most didn't believe it, and Zero had tried to convince them it was the truth, but to no avail. "So you don't believe me, huh?" said Zero, sounding a little angry that the people he had helped so much wouldn't trust him, "Well, seeing is believing as they say, so come with me, all of you! And remember this: If anyone doesn't want to come with, they can stay here. Unless you're not willing to accept the truth."
Everyone looked at each other for a few moments, then they all agreed (some reluctantly) to follow Zero. Zero turned and led everyone outside, where Ciel was waiting. He had just remembered that he welded the door shut, so he took his Recoil Rod out and charged it with energy. When it was charged, he let it loose and the door was shoved a good ten feet away, and fell to the ground with a crash. Zero then turned and looked at everyone. "Alright, if you're all ready to see I'm telling the truth, then let's go. But just remember not to be scared, for the truth is indeed scary at times..."
Soon, everyone was outside, but Ciel was nowhere in sight. "Is this some sort of trick, Zero?!" said one of the soldiers, still not believing Zero's tale. Instead of responding to that statement, Zero just took his two fingers on his left hand, put them up to his mouth, and gave off a loud whistle. Everyone covered thier ears for a moment because the whistle was very loud, but soon they felt the ground vibrate, and pretty soon, Ciel came into view...all 100 feet of her.
Needless to say, everyone looked at Ciel with disbelief. Some were just dumbfounded at her appearence, some were a little scared of her, and the rest just had blank looks on thier faces. Ciel saw this and looked a little sad. "Listen to me, please..." she said in a soft, non-threatening tone, "I know I must look scary to you...but...please believe me when I say that I have no intention of harming any of you. Please...don't be scared...please..."
Ciel got on her knees to make herself look less daunting, but it seemed to have no effect on the rest of the Resistance. They just continued to stare at her with dumbfounded looks. Some even backed away when she knelt down. Then again, she didn't blame them for that, for anyone would most assuredly back away from someone much bigger and stronger than them. Zero knew this would happen, and stepped up in between Ciel and the Resistance, folding his arms across his chest and looking a little displeased at everyone. "What's wrong with all of you?!" he said in a loud tone, "Just because she's a lot bigger than she usually is doesn't mean that you need to be afraid of her! She's still the same kind and gentle person you all know! Give her a chance! She's..."
Zero was interrupted by the sound of footsteps, small ones in fact. He turned to look behind him to see one of the younger humans walking up to Ciel's knee. The kid was no more than 5 years old, so maybe he was too young to be afraid of her. Zero looked at the kid, and smiled. However, the child's mother began to run up to him, telling him to get away. But, Zero stopped her and simply said, "Wait. Please...give her a chance. Your son will be fine, trust me."
Ciel saw the little boy at her knee. To her, the kid was no bigger than a flea, and she knew that she had to be a LOT more careful around someone like him. She lowered her head down so she could see the child. "Well, hi there." she said in a sweet voice, trying as hard as she could not to frighten the child, "What's your name?"
"Ummm...Sam." said the boy, looking into Ciel's big blue eyes, "You're Ms. Ciel? You're really big!"
Ciel giggled. "Yeah, I am aren't I?"
"Wow! That's so neat! Can I be like you when I grow up?" said Sam, not feeling the least bit scared of her.
"Heh, I don't know...I'm only like this because of some special power given to me." said Ciel, seeing that Sam wasn't scared of her.
"Cool! Did you beat up those bad guys we saw?" asked Sam.
"I sure did! I beat them up good!" said a very happy Ciel.
"Cool! You're awesome! You're as cool as Zero!" said Sam.
Ciel just giggled in response. Zero turned to look back at the rest of the Resistance. "You see?" he said, "Ciel's not any threat to us. She's still herself, except for the fact of her new size. It doesn't matter that she's changed on the outside. She's still the same inside, and that's what counts!"
Everyone looked at Zero and nodded in agreement. They had all shooken off thier fears of Ciel after seeing that a little boy named Sam had clearly not shown any signs of fear around her. They all went up to Ciel and cheered for her. Ciel looked down at everyone and smiled happily. For once in her life, she felt like a true hero, and this event had brought tears of happiness to her eyes. "Thank you, everyone! I promise I'll use this power to help all of you! Thank you!" said Ciel, wiping the tears from her eyes.
This turned out to be a premature celebration, however, as Ciel heard some loud sounds coming. It almost sounded like jet engines. Ciel quickly turned around and saw that the Pantheon Air Squadron had somehow found the Resistance Base. This shocked Ciel, and she quickly turned back down to the Resistance group. "Everyone! Get inside and into the shelter, please!" she said, her voice echoing around the base. Zero saw what was coming and quickly got everyone back inside. Ciel, on the other hand, went to meet the Air Squadron, determined to make them not get any closer to the base.
As the Air Squadron approached Ciel, they fired off a large volley of missiles. At first, Ciel thought these wouldn't hurt because of her new size, but when one of them hit her in the left shoulder, it made her stagger and caused a light wound in her shoulder. She grunted in pain and saw the rest of the missiles coming straight for her. She had to do something or else they would probably do more than a light wound. She reared her right hand up and clenched it into a fist and punched with all her might into the oncoming volley of missiles. Surprisingly, they didn't explode on impact, but instead they went spiraling in multiple directions, some even into the oncoming airships! This didn't have its drawbacks, however, as Ciel felt a sharp pain in her hand afterwards, probably because of the force of the impact.
"I've had enough of this! You won't get any closer to them!! I swear it!!" yelled Ciel, obviously very angry at the fact that Weil was trying to hurt the ones she cared about. She responded to this by punching the closest airship with her right hand, which sent it collapsing down to the ground in a flaming rubble. Ciel knew this would be much more of a challenge than a small group of Pantheon Hunters, and they knew that she knew it. The remaining ships fired another volley of missiles, but Ciel was ready for this and punched them with her left hand, causing most of them to return to thier sender and blowing up more ships.
About half of the fleet was now destroyed, but then Ciel saw something come out of what appeared to be the main aircraft. It was a large laser that looked even powerful enough to take down Ciel in one blast. Before she could react, the laser had fired and made contact with her, causing electrical energy to surge through her. Ciel screamed in pain, her scream echoing throughout the desert area. In fact, even though she was a decent distance from the base, her scream had shattered a few windows...and those windows were supposed to be shatter-proof! Ciel collapsed on her hands and knees, breathing heavily on the pain she had just suffered. She had never felt this sort of pain before. It felt almost as if her insides were being ripped apart. Ciel wasn't getting up anytime soon, and she saw the air fleet go by above her. Even at her new size, she was once again feeling helpless, knowing that if something wasn't done, the fleet would bomb the base and everything and everyone she held dear would be destroyed...
But those nightmares passed her when she saw Zero right below her hanging face. "Zero! They're going to bomb the base!" she said, still gasping for air, "But...I can barely move! If I don't do something soon..."
Zero, however, had an idea. "Can you stand up at least?" he yelled to her.
"I...I think so..." said Ciel, and she tried to stand up. With a bit of struggle, she was able to do so.
"Good! Now pick me up!" said Zero, who had amplified his voice again so Ciel could hear him.
Ciel, still struggling a bit from the pain, slowly bent over and set her hand down so Zero could climb on. Zero did so and Ciel slowly lifted her open palm up to her face. "Okay...now what?" she asked, curious on Zero's plan.
"I want you to..." Zero then slightly shuddered at what he was going to say to her, "...throw me towards the squadron."
"WHAT?!" said Ciel, forgetting to keep her voice down, "Are you crazy? You'll..."
"Trust me, Ciel...please!" said Zero, interrupting her.
Ciel looked at Zero for a moment, then turned her head to look at the squadron. They were almost to the Resistance Base, so she had little choice other than to do what Zero said. Ciel turned her head back to Zero. "Okay...Zero...but..." Ciel started to say, but then did something that even Zero wouldn't expect. Ciel leaned her head down towards Zero and...kissed him. Needless to say, Zero was shocked at Ciel's action. Her lips were practically covering his whole body, and he could feel a twinging feeling in his body, much like...extreme nervousness. Soon, Ciel broke the kiss and Zero looked back up at Ciel with a bewildered look on his face. "What was THAT for?!" he yelled.
"Just for luck." said Ciel, "Now, get ready for launch!"
"Um...okay..." said Zero, still feeling a little dazed from Ciel's kiss. Zero braced himself as Ciel reared her hand back and called out to him. "Ready?" she said.
"READY!" yelled Zero.
At the sound of those words, Ciel flung Zero forward at high velocity, probably around at least 120 m.p.h. It's a good thing Zero could withstand high amounts of speed, so he wasn't worried of this. As he was streaking towards the fleet, he pulled out his Z-Saber and aimed it forward, causing him to activate the Gale Attack he had acquired earlier. The blade glowed with energy and soon reached its peak in power. He had got it to full charge just in time, as he was flying right to the main aircraft, which was completely unaware of Zero.
"HAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!" yelled Zero as he plunged saber-first into the back of the airship, but he didn't stop there. He continued to fly through the ship, slicing a large hole in the process and continued to go through at high speed, and he wasn't losing any speed either. Soon, though, Zero had gone through the whole ship, not realizing he had also gone straight through the ship's main power core. As Zero sped on, the main airship went up in a massive explosion, taking out a small majority of the other airships around it. Zero then knew that he had to make a safe landing somewhere, but where? He looked forward and saw the tallest lookout tower of the Resistance Base. Perfect he thought to himself. Zero whipped out his Shield Boomerang and brought it up in front of him. With its help, he was able to push against the wind and slow down enough to cling onto the wall and slide down, not taking one bit of damage.
Ciel saw what Zero had did, and felt her courage well up again. She shook off the rest of the pain and sped towards the remaining two ships and grabbed them with her outstretched hands. When she did, she thought about just crushing them in her hands, but then got a different (albeit weird) idea. She remembered back in her childhood how she had a lot of toy ships and other things, and now that the ships were no bigger than a 12 oz. soda bottle to her, she couldn't help but think that these looked like the toys she used to play with, and that made her want to revisit that part of her childhood again, although this time, she wouldn't get in trouble for breaking her toys.
"Heh...I think I'll have a little fun!" she said, and soon began shaking the ships like maracas! Zero looked back at this and thought that Ciel had lost her mind, but then realized that she was only playing around. "Well, I'll be..." he said, looking at Ciel with a smile, "She really thinks they're like toys or something. Eh...I'll let it go."
As Ciel continued shaking the ships, debris fell from them and they soon were beginning to crumble. Ciel saw this and then got another idea. "Hey, Zero! Watch this!" she said to Zero, looking over to the Resistance Base tower. She then started juggling the ships! Since there were only two of them, this was easy for her. One could only imagine what was going through the electronic minds of the Pantheon Hunters inside the two ships...providing any of them were still functioning, of course.
Ciel then thought that playtime was over and decided to finish the job. As she was juggling, she "accidently" dropped one of the ships to the ground, causing it to explode in a blast of fire. "Oops! My mistake, tee-hee!" she said, obviously being sarcastic. She then looked at the other ship left in her other hand, and brought it up to eye level with her. "So, you guys like flying, huh?" said Ciel with a slightly wicked smile on her face. She then turned away from the Resistance Base and reared her arm back. "Well, then...you'll LOVE this flight!!" she finished. With that, she flung the ship far off into the distance, quite possibly ripping it and all its robotic passengers apart due to the high speed. Ciel smiled as she eventually saw the ship she had thrown explode after about five seconds.
Once again, Ciel had saved the Resistance Base from utter destruction, although there were piles of rubble all around due to all the crashed airships. Thankfully for her, there was minimal damage to the structure of the base, with only a few blast marks littering the outside wall. Ciel waved to Zero signaling that the coast was clear. Zero saw this and went inside the base via the roof door, and proceeded to get everyone outside so that they could see that Ciel had saved the day. Once everyone was outside, they looked in awe at the remains of the airships that before littered the sky above the Resistance Base, only now the only thing up in the sky was Ciel standing there admiring her work. Everyone looked up at Ciel and cheered loudly, praising her for her courage and dependability. Ciel just smiled and waved at the crowd. "Thanks, everyone! But...I still couldn't have done it without Zero! If it wasn't for him, I never would have had the courage to do all this! Thank you all!" she said, smiling happily. Zero just looked at her and smiled as well.
In the midst of all the excitement, nobody seemed to notice that one lone Pantheon Hunter had survived all of Ciel's carnage, and was slowly stumbling back to Neo Arcadia...
Later that day...
Ciel and Zero were taking a much-deserved rest from the harsh battle they had just gone through. Ciel was leaning against a mesa near the Resistance Base, and Zero was on top of the mesa, which just happened to be small enough so he could look eye-to-eye with Ciel. On the ground below her, many of the Resistance members were busy cleaning up the junk from the battle. Ciel felt a little guilty for having everyone else clean up her mess, but everyone had agreed to clean up and let her and Zero take a much-needed break, and boy did they need it!
"Wow...I still can't believe I did all of that..." said Ciel, turning her head to look at Zero, who was sitting on the end of the mesa.
"Yeah, I know..." said Zero, "And to think that I was powerful..."
Ciel just giggled slightly, trying not to hurt Zero's feelings on the fact that it was certainly true. She did posess enough power to pretty much topple anything, and Zero, though he did have destructive powers of his own, they wouldn't stand a chance against Ciel's newfound might. As the two just sat there, watching the rest of the Resistance clean up, a thought came to Ciel's mind, and she decided to share it with Zero. However, she didn't want anyone else to know...yet. "Hey, everyone!" said Ciel, speaking to the Resistance Base crew. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked up at Ciel. "Why don't all of you take a breather inside the base? You've been working for hours on end, and I don't want to see you all exhausted because of my actions. Go on, I'll take care of the rest, okay?"
Everyone nodded in agreement and they all went back inside the base. Ciel was right in the fact that most of them were pretty tired from all the work, and she could hear "Thank yous" coming from all the crew as they went inside. When everyone else was gone, it was just Ciel and Zero outside in the hot desert sun. Thankfully, some kind Resistance members had planted some very large palm trees near the base to help keep the area cool, and they were large enough for Ciel to be under if she sat down. She had Zero get on her hand and went over to the palm tree under the cool shade.
"Umm...Zero?" she asked him, "Do you feel okay?"
"Uh...yeah, why?" Zero responded.
"No reason, just making small talk." she replied, but then Ciel's eyes went wide and she started giggling loudly.
"Huh? Ciel, what's so funny?" asked Zero, wondering what made her laugh.
"Heehee! SMALL talk, get it?" she said, trying to hold back laughing.
Zero thought for a moment on what she had said, but then soon got her little joke. "VERY FUNNY, CIEL!!!" he yelled.
"I'm sorry, Zero..." she said, still trying to stifle her laugh. Zero just stared at her with a slightly annoyed look on his face. Soon, she shook off the laughter and then decided to get to her thought she had. She placed Zero on her shoulder. "Actually, I wanted to share something with you..."
"What's on your mind, Ciel?" asked Zero, curious of her thoughts.
"Well, um..." she began, taking a deep breath before continuing, "Zero...I want to help you defeat Omega and Weil!"
This sudden statement of hers caused Zero to lose his balance on her shoulder and made him slip off and slide down her arm. With a few grunts and oofs, Zero slid off her arm and onto the desert sands. He didn't sustain any injuries, if you didn't include the fact he was covered in sand. Ciel gasped as she saw Zero slide down her and onto the ground. While he was still lying there, she carefully scooped up Zero and a large handful of sand. She sifted the sand through her fingers, making sure not to have Zero fall with it. Soon, all that was in her hand was a confused Zero. "Did I say something wrong, Zero? Are you alright?" she asked him, worried he might be hurt.
"I'm fine..." said Zero, but he was still confused at what she had said. "But, what do you mean you want to help me defeat Omega and Weil?"
"It's just as I said." said Ciel in a definite tone, "I want to help you defeat them. I can't let them get away with what they almost did to the Resistance Base, not to mention what Weil did to that residential area in Neo Arcadia just to get the Dark Elf. He killed hundreds of humans just to get it! I can't forgive him for that!!"
Zero knew there was no way he'd win this argument, so he reluctantly shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well, you've convinced me, Ciel. Alright...I trust you. You can help me."
"Great!! Thanks, Zero!" she said with excitement.
"However..." said Zero, "Just because you've gained size and strength doesn't mean you'll win Ciel. It takes more than that to thouroughly beat an opponent. What you need is...a weapon of some kind."
"Well...if you say so Zero." she said, but then realized something. "But, where am I going to find a weapon big enough for me to use? We don't have anything like that in the base!"
"Oh...yeah..." said Zero, stroking his head, knowing that she had a good point there.
"I think I can help with that." said a voice.
"Huh? Who...? Wait...I know that voice..." said Zero, looking around him. He soon saw a small glowing light in front of him. Ciel could barely see it herself, but it almost looked like a Cyber-Elf. The glowing light then disappeared and a faint holographic image appeared in its place, showing the figure of someone Zero knew all too well. "X, it's you!" he said.
"X? You mean...that's the real X?" said Ciel, surprised at who was there just now.
"Yes, I am." replied X, turning to face Ciel, "I must admit, I'm rather surprised at your appearence, Ciel. I'm even more surprised that a small Cyber-Elf could do something like this. It's no wonder Weil is afraid of the Resistance right now!"
"He's...afraid of us?" relpied Ciel, surprised yet again. "That's...neat!" she ended with excitement.
"Well, I guess even Weil can be shooken up at times, huh, X?" said Zero.
"Guess so." said X.
"So what do you mean that you can help us with finding a weapon for Ciel?" asked Zero, getting back to the point.
"I'll explain that in a minute." replied X, reverting back to his Cyber-Elf form, "First, I want you two to follow me."
"Okay, X. Lead the way." said Zero.
Since Ciel couldn't see X in his Cyber-Elf form very well due to her size, she had to rely on Zero for directions. As Zero was standing on her shoulder while she was walking out into the desert, a thought crossed his mind. I honestly hope that Ciel isn't getting feelings for me...It would break her heart if I told her we couldn't love each other for obvious reasons. Then he smacked his head. Oh, get over it! Don't be thinking such thoughts! Keep your mind focused, you nitwit!
After about 20 minutes, Ciel came to a large clearing in the desert. "Hold on, this is it." said Zero, indicating that X had stopped. Ciel nodded and stopped walking. X then floated in front of Ciel's face and changed to his hologram form. "Alright Ciel, you need to dig here. You'll find something that might be useful for your battle." said X.
"All right, X." she relpied. She then set Zero down on the ground a little ways away and started digging in the sand where X had indicated. Each handful of sand she scooped up was about at least a few hundred pounds of it, although to her, it felt as if the sand weighed nothing. After about ten minutes, Ciel hit something hard in the sand. "Huh? What's this?" she wondered out loud, noticing a metallic object buried in the sand.
She then dug up some more sand and soon the object came into full view. What it was astounded Ciel: It was a Buster Gun that looked just like Zero's, except that this one was on a much more massive scale! Zero leaned over to look into the pit Ciel had dug up, and saw the large Buster Gun inside. He too was dumbstruck. If his Buster Gun had quite powerful blasts at his size, imagine what a Buster Gun of this size could do!
"This..." said X, answering Ciel's previous question, "is a weapon me and my compainions were working on during the Elf Wars so long ago. Unfortunately, the Elf Wars ended before we finished it, so we decided to scrap the project. However, I thought that it would still be useful someday, so I buried it out here, thinking that one day, it just might need to be used. We called it: The Mammoth Buster."
Ciel heard all of X's story and looked at the Buster Gun again. Indeed, there were a few components missing, namely the handle, trigger, and a few other things. She picked it up carefully. To no one's surprise, it was just the right size for her, although to anyone else it couldn't even be wielded. "So, does it work?" she asked, looking the Mammoth Buster over.
"It will once the remaining parts are put on." said X.
"I think we have plenty of those." said Ciel, just having realized something, "We can use all the scrap parts from the airships ealier! I'm sure we could finish this thing!"
"Just what I was thinking!" said Zero, glad to see that Ciel catches on quickly.
"Then I'll leave that in your care, Ciel." said X. "Just remember not to get overconfident with it..."
"I won't! Thank you so much X!" replied Ciel.
X nodded and then reverted to his Cyber-Elf form and floated away in the distance. Zero looked and saw X floating away, but his view was suddenly obstructed by Ciel stepping in front of him. "Let's get to the base, Zero. We need to start fixing this." she said, but then noticed that Zero had a look of concern on his face. "Is something wrong?" she asked.
"No...it's nothing. Just something X told me once, that's all." replied Zero.
"Oh. That's all right, Zero. Come on, let's get going." she said while lowering her hand down so Zero could climb on. Zero did so and the two walked back to the base in the sunset desert.
A little later, back in Neo Arcadia...
The lone Pantheon Hunter that had somehow survived Ciel's attacks had finally made it back to Weil's hidden lab. As he entered, Weil saw him and turned to face him. "Well? Where is the Cyber-Elf?!" he said, sounding angry that only one Pantheon had returned. The Pantheon told Weil in electronic beeps and noises about all that had happened. Weil thought this Pantheon had blown a circuit or something. Either that, or it was trying to make up a lie for the fact that Zero destroyed the whole group, not to mention the air squadron. Of course, Weil still didn't know who was really responsible (how dense can a guy get?).
Not willing to accept what Weil called "a pack of lies" from the Pantheon, he swatted at him, sending the Pantheon flying into the garbage chute, where it would eventually be crushed and recycled. "This is outrageous!!" Weil yelled, "I know Grandia had potential, but this is ridiculous! A simple cheap Reploid like Zero couldn't possibly take out the entire air squadron! This is just absurd!"
Weil thought that this would be it, but then remembered Omega. "Heh...it doesn't matter anyways. I still have Omega and the Dark Elf. Even Grandia can't stand up to them! Tommorow, I'll show that fake Reploid and that traitor of a Cyber-Elf just who rules this world!! BWA-HAHAHAHAHA!!!"
Later that night...
Every mechanic in the Resistance Base was hard at work repairing the Mammoth Buster and using the scrap parts from the destroyed airships to make up for the lost parts. If all went well, they could have the Mammoth Buster repaired and fully functional tommorow morning. Zero was overlooking all the construction, and was very pleased to see that everything was going very well and quite fast. It was amazing how Ciel had motivated everyone to do this, knowing that they put thier trust in Ciel, despite her large size. As Zero continued to overlook the construction, Cerveau stepped up to him and spoke. "Um, Zero?"
"Yeah, Cerveau? What's up?" asked Zero.
"Ciel wanted to talk to you...privately." said Cerveau.
Zero was sort of surprised at this, but decided it was best not to keep her waiting. "Um...okay. Where is she?" asked Zero.
"She's outside next to the Resistance Base. Can't miss her." said Cerveau.
"Alright, thanks Cerveau. Watch over the construction while I'm gone, okay?" said Zero as he started leaving.
"Sure thing." said Cerveau. Zero then smiled at him and left the construction room.
Zero had made it outside. Sure enough, there was Ciel, sitting down and looking at the starry night sky. Zero went up to Ciel and tugged on the cloth of her shirt. It took a moment for Ciel to notice the tugging feeling, but soon she looked down and saw Zero standing there next to her. She smiled upon seeing him. "Hi, Zero." she said, sounding somewhat troubled.
"Hey Ciel." said Zero, climbing into her lap to join her. "Cerveau told me you wanted to see me. So, what's up?"
"Oh, yeah..." said Ciel, still sounding troubled, "Well, Zero...I..I've had something on my mind lately..."
"Really? Like what?" asked Zero, noting that her voice sounded troubled. "Is something wrong?"
"Well, not really, but..." started Ciel, but then hesitated and sighed. Zero noticed this right away and spoke up.
"Ciel, you know that if you are ever troubled about something, you can tell me. I trust you." said Zero, putting his hand on her waist.
Ciel looked at Zero's kind gesture and smiled, now feeling a little better. She then told Zero what was on her mind. "It's just that...if even I can't help you, and if you can't destroy Omega as well, what hope do we have left?"
Zero was shocked at Ciel's thought. "Ciel, don't think like that!" he shouted, "If you start thinking like that, then we'll never win! You've been a great asset to me so far, so don't even think about things like that. You are quite possibly the most powerful person on Earth now, and I'm sure Dr. Weil knows that and is scared out of his mind because of that!"
The thought that a powerful man like Dr. Weil would be scared silly of her made Ciel giggle. Obviously, Zero's words had a positive effect on her. Seeing this, Zero smiled, and Ciel looked down at Zero and smiled back. But as the two looked at each other, Ciel all of a sudden felt a little faint and woozy. Her eyes became half-closed, as if she was going to faint at any moment.
"Uhh....Ze...ro? I...feel...ohhh..." she said before her eyes fully closed and her head slumped over. She was still sitting up, but seemed to be unconsious.
Zero almost felt like panicking. Was this a side effect of Grandia's powers? Or was this something worse? "Ciel? CIEL!!!!" he yelled, but there was no response.
But, almost as soon as she had fainted, she woke up again. She seemed fine, except for one minor detail: Her eyes seemed to have no color to them. In fact, they were completely white. Ciel looked around her for a moment, then back down to Zero. What happened next shocked Zero so much, he felt as if his CPU would crash.
"Hello there, Zero." said...wait, that's not Ciel's voice! Her voice sounded different, less feminine and more like a guy's voice.
Zero immediately noticed this and pulled out his Z-Saber on instinct, thinking that something evil had taken over Ciel. "Who are you, and what have you done to Ciel?! If you've harmed her, I'll..." said Zero, but he was soon interrupted by Ciel (?) picking him up and holding him in her right palm.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Easy there, Zero!" said Ciel's new voice, putting her other hand up showing Zero she meant no harm. "It's alright! Ciel's fine!"
"Who are you?!" Zero repeated, but the answer he got surprised him even more.
"I'm Grandia." the voice said. Zero felt like he was going to fall apart when he heard that. How was this possible?
"What? How...?" started Zero, completely dumbfounded, but he was interrupted by Grandia.
"Hold on, I'll explain everything." said Grandia, taking a deep breath before continuing. "First of all, I'm using Ciel's body to communicate with you. It's a little hidden talent of mine, you see. Second, Ciel is fine, she's just...resting for a moment, that's all."
"Uh....okay....I guess that makes sense." said Zero, putting his Z-Saber away, but he didn't quite trust that this was Grandia he was talking to. He had to test it, just to be sure. "If you really are Grandia, you should be able to read minds like Ciel told me, right?"
"That is true, yes." replied Grandia, knowing that Zero didn't quite trust him yet, so he decided to go along with what Zero had in mind.
"Okay, if you really are Grandia, answer me this:" said Zero, "What was the name of the Cyber-Elf that Ciel used to bring me back to life? Only me and her know the answer to this."
Grandia smiled, for he was about to earn Zero's trust. "It was Passy, if I'm correct." he answered.
Zero then knew that this was Grandia, for he was totally right. Zero then breathed a sigh of relief and sat down in Ciel's palm. "Okay, I believe you. You really are Grandia, aren't you?" he said, still a bit surprised how a small being such as this could have such great powers.
"Yes I am." replied Grandia.
"Now that I'm talking to you, I have a question..." said Zero, "How is it you can do this to someone? I mean, we've seen lots of Cyber-Elves, but not one like you. How can you do this?"
Grandia's smile soon turned faded. "I only wish I knew, Zero...I wish I knew..." said Grandia, sounding sad.
"So, even you don't know the potential of your powers, huh?" said Zero, "I'm sorry..."
"For what? You didn't say anything wrong, Zero." said Grandia, "Sometimes one doesn't know thier limits, but when they least expect it, those limits are reached and sometimes even exceeded. It is then that one knows thier true potential, and what they must do with it to help others they care for. Whether they use it for good or evil is up to them, but they will know they are making the right choice in thier eyes."
Zero pondered on Grandia's words, which seemed to have made a lot of sense. "You're right, Grandia." said Zero, standing up and looking into Ciel's face, "You're absolutely right. My limits have been reached before, but even before then, I knew what to do with my powers, and that is to use them for the better of humans and Reploids, so that they may one day live in peace together."
"Just what I would expect to hear from you, Zero." said Grandia, but then gave a wide smile, "In fact...hehe...I knew you were going to say that!" he finished, chuckling loudly.
Zero then remembered that Grandia could read minds, even computerized minds. Knowing that, Zero fell on his back and...laughed. For the first time since he was reborn, Zero was actually laughing. It felt weird yet great to him. Soon, though, Zero regained his composure and stood back up to look at Grandia, who was looking down at him.
"Actually, Zero...the reason I'm talking through Ciel is because I wanted to tell you something." said Grandia.
"Really? Like what?" asked Zero, wondering what Grandia was going to say.
"I just wanted to say...thank you." said Grandia, giving off a smile at Zero.
"Huh? For what?" asked Zero, wondering what Grandia meant.
"For helping Ciel." replied Grandia, "Because of you, I was rescued from Cyberspace and thus was able to help her. With the power I have given her, you've helped her gain much more confidence than she ever had in her life. I wish to thank you for that, and I'm sure she's thankful as well."
Zero was almost speechless. Grandia was once again right; Ciel had shown a great deal of confidence and bravery in the past few days, and although Grandia was responsible for giving Ciel the power she needed to help Zero, it was her own actions that made her feel the way she does now. Zero looked up at Ciel's face again. "You're welcome...Grandia." he said.
Grandia just smiled back, and then Ciel's eyes just closed. She had fainted again, and once again, she woke up almost instantly. The color in her eyes was back, and a look of confusion was on her face. She then spotted Zero in her hand, who had a smile on his face. "Uhhh...Zero? What happened?" she asked.
"It's a long story, but I'll tell you anyways." said Zero, and told Ciel about his experience with talking to Grandia.
"Wow...I knew Grandia had awesome powers, but that's amazing!" said Ciel after Zero finished his story.
"Yeah, I know." replied Zero, "Just when you think you know someone, they do something you never thought possible."
Ciel and Zero didn't say anything for awhile and just looked at each other. They then turned and looked up to the starry night sky of the desert. It was absolutely beautiful that night. All the stars visible to the naked eye could be seen that night, and it was an experience that Ciel and Zero would not soon forget. The quiet moment, however, was interrupted by a loud gurgling noise.
"What was that?!" said Zero, looking all around him from the top of Ciel's palm. He then looked at Ciel, who had started to blush and put her other hand over her stomach. That could only mean one thing...
"Uh-oh...I think I'm getting hungry..." said Ciel, a little embarassed, "Shoot! Where am I going to find enough food for me? I must have enough of an appetite to feed the whole Resistance Base! But...if I don't eat something soon..."
Zero pondered on Ciel's newest predicament, but then remembered something. "Hang on, Ciel! I think I have a solution! Put me down on the ground and I'll be right back!" said Zero. Ciel didn't know what Zero had in mind, but if it would help curb her hunger, she would do anything. So she smiled and put Zero on the ground, and once he was, Zero sped back into the Resistance Base. A few minutes later, he came back out carrying a large crate on his back. Since Reploids could lift many times thier own weight, this was a cinch for Zero, although he had to admit to himself it was a bit heavy.
Zero then plopped the crate down next to Ciel's knee and took a few breaths. Ciel then spoke up. "Uh...Zero? What's in that crate?"
Zero looked back up at Ciel and smiled. "This..." he started as he patted the crate with his left hand, "is the solution to your hunger problem, Ciel."
"You mean there's food in there?" asked Ciel, but then felt a little guilty of something. "But...if it takes that much to feed me, what will the other humans in the base eat? They can't consume energy crystals like Reploids can..."
"You're right on the fact that there is food in here, Ciel, as well as the fact that humans can't consume energy crystals..." said Zero, sounding confident, "However, you're wrong on the part that the rest of the humans will starve because of you."
"Huh? What do you mean? There's gotta be at least 100 pounds of food in there, Zero!" said Ciel, still not believing that Zero said something like that. But then she got a surprise as Zero pulled the lid off the crate, revealing not food, but small round capsules. They were no bigger than a moth ball to Zero, and were greenish-blue in color. Ciel was curious, to say the least. "What the...? Zero, what are those?" she asked, pointing to the contents of the crate.
Zero chuckled and picked up one of the capsules. "An amazing invention, these are..." said Zero eyeing the capsule, "Perrioquet made these. They have as much nutritional value to equal out a four-course meal! On top of that, they fill you up rather nicely, and they taste like chicken from what I've heard. And don't worry about hogging all of them, Ciel. Perrioquet made enough crates of these to last a century, so feel free to ask for another crate if you get hungry again!"
Ciel stared at the capsules in the crate. She was still a little unsure about them, but her growling stomach got the better of her and she decided to go ahead and eat up. Besides, it wouldn't do her any good to starve herself for the sake of others. She effortlessly lifted the crate up and poured all of the capsules into her open mouth, swallowing them all with one gulp. For a moment, Ciel said nothing, but then licked her lips and patted her stomach. "Mmmm, not bad! I'm full already!! Give my compliments to the chef!" she said, wiping her mouth off with her sleeve.
Zero smiled up at her, knowing she was satisfied. Ciel then threw the crate over her shoulder and it landed a few dozen feet away, breaking it to pieces when it landed. Ciel looked back at this and saw that the crate had crushed a cactus upon impact. "Oops...my bad..." she said, blushing again. Ciel then looked back at Zero, and soon she gave off a loud yawn. "Oh, man...I'm sleepy...I'd better turn in for tonight. Gotta save my strength for tommorow. Would you stay here with me like last night, Zero?" she asked.
"Of course, Ciel. You know I'd do that for you." said Zero. Ciel smiled and laid down next to the Resistance Base, using some of the large palm trees as a pillow. But before Ciel fell asleep, Zero spoke up. "Uhh...Ciel?"
"Yes, Zero?" she answered.
"Umm...uhhh...how do I put this...?" Zero stuttered, trying to find the right words. Soon he took a deep breath and spoke again. "Ciel...do you...well...love me?"
Ciel's eyes went wide as Zero finished that last sentence. "What?! What brought that up, Zero?" she said, almost forgetting to keep her voice down. Zero knew this would happen, and just continued. "Well, lately...you've been showing...well...feelings for me. You've saved me, protected me, helped me out when I was in trouble, voiced concern for me, and even kissed me! I was just...you know...curious on that matter, that's all."
Ciel didn't know what to say. She had never heard Zero (or any other Reploid for that matter) say something like that. She felt...nervous. "I...I...Zero, I do care about you." she finally managed to say.
Zero knew she would say that. "Shoot...I knew it."
"What do you mean 'shoot'?" asked Ciel, wondering why Zero would say that.
"It's just that..." Zero started, taking another deep breath before continuing, "You're a human...and I'm a Reploid. Humans and Reploids can't love each other. It's...just...not right. A human can't love a Reploid like they can another human. So if you really do love me, then...I'm...sorry. I can't return that love."
Ciel felt like she was going to be sick. Zero was right on one thing: She did love him. But this was a different kind of love. She promptly stood back up and grabbed Zero in her right hand. "WHA-?!" yelled Zero, but he couldn't finish as he was hoisted up to her face. Zero was being held tightly by Ciel, but not so tight as to harm him in any way, and Ciel was looking at Zero with a stern look on her face. She didn't seem happy about what Zero had said to her...
Uh-oh...I don't like where this is going...I shouldn't have opened my big, fat mouth. Aagh, you klutz! thought Zero, thinking that she was about to do something bad to him for being so insensitive. But before he thought that she was going to do something, her frown turned into a smile, the same one that Zero knew she always had.
"Zero..." Ciel started as she opened her hand up so Zero could sit down, "You're right. I do love you, but not in the way you think."
"I...I...don't understand..." said Zero in a broken voice. This certainly wasn't the reaction he was expecting from her.
"Zero, what I mean is...that I do love you, but not like the way most people do. I love you for the fact that you are my best friend. In fact...I could even say that you are my TRUE friend, Zero. And nothing, not even Dr. Weil or Omega can change that. I do love you, Zero, but not the way you're thinking. I'm sure you can return that kind of love...can't you?" she said.
Zero didn't know what to say at first. This caught him completely by surprise, knowing now that Ciel did love him, but not as a wife or husband would, but as a true friend would. This made Zero feel something he hadn't felt before...passion. "Ciel..." he said, walking as close to her face as possible, "...thanks. I was stupid to think such a thought. I really appreciate what you have said to me today, as well as the times you saved my butt from being scrap metal. As a true friend, I can return that kind of love, and I will protect you to the very end, come Hell or high water!!"
Ciel then slowly placed Zero on the ground and then returned to her lying position, using the large palm trees once again as a pillow. "Thank you, Zero." she said as she closed her eyes, "I'm blessed to have someone like you for a friend..."
"Same here, Ciel..." responded Zero as he patted her cheek, "Same here..."
Later that night...
Zero was sitting next to Ciel, watching over her as she slept. It felt funny to him knowing that hardly anything could hurt her, and yet she still felt comforted knowing that Zero was there to protect her. But his thoughts were on other thigs at the moment, most namely Dr. Weil and Omega. X sent us the coordinates for Dr. Weil's hidden lab... thought Zero, stroking his chin, The coordinates, however, are right next to where I was sleeping, and that area is dangerously close to Neo Arcadia. If Ciel was to battle Omega there...
Zero didn't finish that thought, for he knew exactly how it would end. He knew that if Ciel and Omega would clash there, it's almost assured that much of the area of Neo Arcadia that Dr. Weil's lab is near would be destroyed, along with all the humans and Reploids there as well. As much as he wanted to see Neo Arcadia burnt to the ground, he knew that he didn't want Ciel to be responsible for causing the deaths of many innocent lives. Sure the humans of Neo Arcadia were ignorant, but that doesn't justify the means. He had to do something, but what could he do? It's not like he could evacuate the area. Only the leader of Neo Arcadia could give the evacuation codes.
Wait... thought Zero, suddenly realizing something, Maybe the leader could...! Zero had a smile on his face, as well as a plan in his mind. He stood up and turned to look at the sleeping Ciel. He didn't mean to leave her alone, but this was important to both him and her. "Don't worry, Ciel...I'll be right back." he whispered. Ciel probably didn't hear him, for she showed no indications of it. With that, Zero ran back inside the Resistance Base.
As he did, a guard was passing by. Zero saw him and stopped him. "I need you to do me a big favor." said Zero, "I want you to go outside and watch over Ciel. Make sure nothing happens to her. If anything goes wrong, contact me immediately. Is that clear?"
"Yes, sir! Nothing will happen to her!" said the guard, saluting Zero and heading outside.
Zero then spoke up one more time before the guard left his view. "Oh, yeah...don't get any funny ideas around her!" he said, pointing at him with a serious look on his face.
"Of course not, sir!" said the guard, feeling a little nervous. The guard turned and headed outside.
Zero had come to the deepest part of the Resistance Base, where only the highest authority members could go. Only him and Ciel were allowed down here, but since Ciel was too big to even put her hand inside the base without causing damage, Zero was the only one who could do it now. As the retina scanner scanned him, Zero only had one thought in his mind: I sure hope this works...
The scanner read positive and the sliding door opened. After Zero stepped inside, the door promptly closed behind him, locking itself as well. Ciel had made this room so that if someone got in, then unless they knew the passcode, they surely wouldn't be getting out. But what was in this room that was so important? The room was pitch-black, save for a few red lights on the ceiling and the light coming from a nearby lone control panel. Zero saw a chair in the faint light and pulled it up to the control panel and sat down.
So, this is what Ciel used to contact Neo Arcadia... thought Zero as he scanned through the controls. Indeed this was the same device she had used to contact Neo Arcadia about finishing her new energy system, which she called "The Ciel System". She had hoped it would end the energy crisis, thus stopping the whole ordeal between the Resistance and Neo Arcadia. However, once Weil had the Dark Elf, that all changed for the worse, and now Zero was going to use this to make things (hopefully) for the better.
Zero knew exactly who to contact, although it almost made him blow a circuit on knowing who he had to. He cracked his knuckles, took a deep breath, and punched in who he had wanted to contact...
Meanwhile, near Neo Arcadia...
Dr. Weil was grinning like the madman he is, knowing that very soon, Omega will be fully prepared to crush Zero and the puny Resistance. "Soon...very soon, Omega, you will show that fake Reploid who's the real deal! AH-HAHAHAHAHAAAA!"
A loud noise interrupted his laughter once again. Weil groaned to himself and turned to look at the source of the noise. It was coming from the communications panel. "Who could be calling me at this time of night?" Weil wondered out loud. He hovered over to the panel and pressed a button on it. On the screen came an image of someone he truly didn't expect: Zero.
"Zero?! Well, this is an interesting surprise!" said Weil, grinning to himself. Zero, however, was not in the mood.
"Spare the pleasentries, Weil..." said Zero in a no-nonsense tone, "I'm only here to ask you something."
"Is that so? Well, I suppose I could answer. What is it?" asked Weil, curious as to why Zero would contact him in the first place.
Zero felt a little nervous asking this from his main enemy, but he had no choice. He took a deep breath and spoke up. "Weil, I'm coming for you and Omega tommorow at noon, and nothing you do can put a stop to me destroying you and Omega."
"Brave words, Zero..." said Weil, still grinning from ear to ear.
"I'm not done." continued Zero, "I must ask of you to evacuate every human and Reploid within the vicinity of your hidden lab. I don't want to be held responsible for the deaths of innocent lives."
Weil just gave a maniacal laugh in response. "WHAT?!! Zero you must be joking! What makes you think that I'll do that?!"
Zero knew he wouldn't agree to it under normal terms, but that's where his plan came in, and he set it into motion. "If you say so, Weil." he said, shrugging his shoulders, "But think of it this way: If me and Omega cause enough damage, we could cause Neo Arcadia to crumble to the ground. Then, not only will you not have a city to rule, but without anyone alive there, you'll practically be the ruler of nothing at all. You'll lose all your power over this world, Weil." Zero leaned his head closer to the viewscreen. "Do you really want that?" he said getting his point across.
At first, this remark didn't seem to have its intended effect, but Zero could see some uneasiness in Weil's eyes, and he knew then that his little mind game had worked. Soon, Weil grunted in frustration and spoke up. "Grrr...you do have a point there, Zero. Alright, fine! I'll evacuate all the humans and Reploids surrounding a mile of my lab, but you'd better be here when you say so!!" he said, pointing a finger at him.
"You can be assured of that, Weil." said Zero, who felt like he had fire in his eyes.
"One last thing, though, Zero..." said Weil, wagging his finger in the naughty-naughty fashion, "Don't think that just because you have Grandia means you'll win. Omega is far more powerful than you think."
Zero smiled a sly smile at Weil. "You should know by now, Weil, that I'm full of surprises..." he said, and before Weil could respond to that, Zero cut off the transmission.
"Hehe...surprises, huh?" said Weil, rubbing his hands deviously, "Well, that's not half the surprise as you're going to get tommorow, Zero! Hehehe...BWA-HAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!"
Zero, glad knowing that his little ploy worked, got up from the chair and turned to head out. He then went to input the passcode (which was "Hero") so that he could exit the room. As he was making his way back outside, a thought ran through his mind. I know better than to trust Dr. Weil... he thought, knowing that Weil wasn't exactly the most trustworthy person in the world, so I need to be sure that Ciel doesn't do anything rash during our battle tommorow. He then exited out of the Resistance Base and thanked the guard for watching Ciel. The guard then returned to his post.
As Zero sat down by Ciel, who was still fast asleep, he continued watching her as well as stare at the bright starry sky. A couple of minutes had past when Zero heard footsteps behind him. Zero stood up and immediately turned around, seeing Cerveau coming his way. "Oh...it's just you. What's up? How's the construction going?" said Zero.
"It's going along fine, Zero." said Cerveau, stepping up to him, "It's almost finished, actually. Just a few more modifications and it'll be as good as new."
"Good to hear, Cerveau." said Zero with a smile.
"Actually, that's not the reason why I'm out here, Zero..." said Cerveau.
"Really? Then why?" asked Zero.
"Well, after you told all of us how Ciel got this way and how Dr. Weil tracked her down using Grandia's signature, I thought I might be able to help with that." said Cerveau.
"You mean...you can block it out?" said Zero, a glimmer of hope in his voice.
"Exactly." replied Cerveau with a smile.
"That's great, Cerveau! You always were the genius here!" said Zero with excitement.
"Yeah...I know..." said Creveau. "All I need to do is scan Ciel and I can get Grandia's signature. With that, I can create a device that she can put on her to block out Grandia's signature. It'll only take me the rest of the night to complete the device."
"By all means, go ahead Cerveau!" said Zero, stepping out of his way. Cerveau went to scan Ciel. He decided it would be best to do it around her midsection, since that is where Zero was told by Ciel that Grandia merged with her. After about 10 minutes, the scan was finished, and Cerveau went back to Zero.
"Did you get the data you needed?" asked Zero.
"Yep. It's all here. I just need a few hours to make the device, then Ciel is as good as gone on Weil's radar." said Cerveau.
"Nice work, Cerveau. I hope you're successful in making it." said Zero. Cerveau just smiled and walked off, leaving the two to relax until the big day tommorow.
Night passes, and morning comes...
The next morning...
Ciel woke to the bright desert sun in her closed eyes. Her eyes fluttered open and she slowly sat up, giving off a loud, long yawn. "Boy, that was a good night's sleep..." she said as she finished her yawn. She then looked down to see if Zero was around.
Oddly enough...he wasn't there. Ciel looked around her once again, fearing that she might have accidently rolled onto him during the night. Her fears were put to rest when she looked over at the doors of the base, with Zero standing there with another large crate of capsules for her. "Oh, there you are, Zero..." she said with a sigh, "Is that another box of those capsules you've got there?"
"Sure is." said Zero, "I want you to keep your strength up for our battle at noon, so eat up. You need the energy."
"You're always so thoughtful, Zero..." said Ciel with a large smile. She then picked the crate off the ground, easily pried the lid off the top, and poured all the capsules down her mouth in one gulp. However, in her haste, she breathed while swallowing, and she felt as if she was beginning to choke. Zero saw this and started to worry for her safety. "Ciel!! Are you okay?!" he yelled.
Ciel couldn't respond, but she pointed to her throat, indicating she was choking on something. Zero knew this gesture, and decided to help. But what could he do? Certainly he couldn't use the Heimlich Maneuver on her for she was too big...so big in fact...that...
Zero had an idea, but he knew he wasn't going to like this experience one bit. He called out to Ciel. "Ciel!! I have an idea! Pick me up, quickly!" Ciel, still holding her throat and trying to breathe, wondered in her mind what Zero was doing. But, she knew to trust his judgement and picked up Zero with her other hand and brought him up to her face. "Alright, Ciel..." he started, "Now listen to me carefully: I want you to...*shudder*...open your mouth and let me in there!"
Ciel almost felt like screaming, but she couldn't, so she gave a surprised muffle in response. Zero knew she would hesitate, so he continued. "Look, Ciel, if you don't let me in there, you're going to choke to death, and I will have failed everything I have promised to you! I'll be fine, don't worry! If you just stay as calm as possible, nothing bad will happen to me! I'm just going down your throat to pry loose whatever is clogging your windpipe, okay? Just stay calm...for me...ok?"
Ciel was still not sure of this, but knew that if something wasn't done soon, she would have a very unpleasant end. She slowly but surely opened her mouth and tilted Zero inside, all the while remaining as calm as she could so as not to swallow him by accident. Zero, who in the back of his head was literally scared to death, saw himself pass Ciel's teeth and landed on her soft, moist tounge. Ciel kept her mouth open to let the moisture out so that Zero would have more even ground, and she kept her tounge perfectly still so that Zero wouldn't slip. Zero, after regaining his bearings, stood up and spoke to her. "Good job, Ciel...now just hang in there, and I'll get this done quicker than you can say 'Zero is my Hero'!" he said, going towards the entrance of her throat.
Ciel heard this and did as she was told, but her irregular breathing was not making this any easier for Zero. Every time she did, Zero almost lost his balance. She didn't mean it, for she was choking after all. Soon, Zero had made it to her esophagus, and since it was pitch-black in there, turned on a small light he had on his helmet. He started to shimmy down her throat. The feel of Ciel's throat was definitely a new experience for him. It almost felt like he was in an organic cave, and that there was a lot of moisture inside as well. Luckily, Zero had a good grip on her throat muscles, and carefully made his way down.
As Zero was climbing down, he was thinking some thoughts again. This is certainly a mission I didn't expect to do. he thought as he continued climbing down, feeling the damp moisture around him, Ugh...it's so humid in here! I hope I never have to do this again...
Soon, Zero stopped and saw what was causing Ciel to choke. A whole mess of capsules were bunched together and was clogging the entrance to her windpipe. Zero didn't wait another second, for he knew Ciel's life was at stake. He promptly let go of the throat muscle he was holding and lept over to the capsules, using the muscle of her throat to hang onto while he did what he was going to do. Zero yelled as loud as he could to Ciel. "Okay, Ciel!! Hold still and don't breathe until I say so!" From outside Ciel heard him and did what she was asked. Zero prayed to himself that Ciel heard him and took out his Recoil Rod. With it, he pried the first capsule loose, grabbed it and threw it down the hole that lead to her stomach. After that, he went and grabbed each capsule one by one and threw it down the right way. Soon, all the capsules were gone down her throat, and Zero quickly wall-jumped over to the other side of her throat and clung on as if he was about to fall to his doom. He then amplified his voice again before speaking to Ciel. "Okay, Ciel! Take a deep breath and blow as hard as you can!"
Ciel heard this, took a deep breath, and blew!! As she did, Zero felt the wind from her lungs rush up from underneath him, and he used the force of the gale to hover back up her throat, past her tounge and teeth, and back outside, where he landed in Ciel's palm. Ciel saw him land there, and cried out to him. "ZERO!! ARE YOU OKAY!?! SPEAK TO ME!!" she yelled, not remembering to keep her voice down.
"Ugghhh..." mumbled Zero, holding his head from the sound of Ciel's voice, "I never wanna do THAT again..."
Ciel's eyes brightened up at the sight of Zero being fine, exepct for the fact that he was covered in saliva. She smiled at him. "Oh, thank God...Zero..." she started to say, but then her sorrowful tone turned bright as well, "You know...it's funny really..."
"Huh...? What is?" asked Zero, wondering what was on her mind.
"It's just that...here I am, possibly the biggest and most powerful human in the world, and yet I needed someone very small to help me. Tee-hee! It's just so ironic!" she said, giggling.
"Yeah...I guess you're right..." said Zero, seeing that Ciel was being as cheerful as always.
"My little hero..." said Ciel, patting Zero on the head with her finger.
After that climatic episode Zero went through with Ciel, he needed to rest for a few minutes, so Ciel had set him down next to her so that he could relax in the cool shade of her shadow. The breeze that came from the desert felt cool and refreshing in the shade, and Zero was feeling a lot better, considering that if he had made one false move while in Ciel's throat, he would've been a goner for sure. As the two sat down and relaxed, Cerveau, along with several other guards, came outside to meet with Ciel and Zero.
"How are you two doing this morning?" he asked. Ciel then looked down at Zero and he looked up at her, thinking that they shouldn't tell anyone what just recently happened. Zero decided to speak for Ciel in this case. "Everything's fine, Cerveau." he said, getting up and walking to him. "How's the Mammoth Buster? Is it finished?"
"It's done, yes." said Cerveau, "And, I got the device done too." Cerveau reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a device no bigger than a grapefruit. "As long as this stays on Ciel in some way, Grandia's signature will not be detected on her."
Ciel heard this and was overjoyed. "Really? Thanks Cerveau!" she said, smiling down at him. Zero grabbed the device from Cerveau and turned to face Ciel. He prompted Ciel to pick him up, and Ciel did so. "Okay Ciel, now put me near your chest so I can clip this on, okay?" said Zero.
Ciel obliged and carefully put her open hand next to her chest area. When Zero was close enough, he reached out for a small portion of her shirt and clipped the device on. He then pressed a button to activate it, and pushed against Ciel's shirt just to be sure the device was secure. As he did, he accidently pressed against Ciel's left breast. This got Ciel's attention, and she looked down at her diminuitive hero. At first, she was going to scold him for being inappropriate, but instead, she had a teasing smile on her face. "It's pretty soft, isn't it, Zero?" she said with a giggle.
At first Zero didn't know what she was talking about, but when he saw what he had pressed against, he immediately jumped back with a jolt. He then sat down on Ciel's hand, breathing hard. Ciel, however, just continued to giggle at Zero's reaction. Down below, some of the guards were laughing at Ciel's little joke, and one of them was mumbling to himself. "Lucky Reploid..." he grumbled.
"You're really enjoying being this big, aren't you Ciel?" said Zero as he got back on his feet, his legs shaking.
Ciel just giggled. "Well, I won't lie to you Zero. I actually am."
Zero just smiled in response, and Ciel placed Zero back down on the ground near Cerveau. "Well, I'm glad to see you two having some fun together, giving the fact that you're about to go headlong into battle." said Cerveau.
Zero didn't know how to respond to that and just nodded. "That reminds me..." said Cerveau, reaching into another pocket and pulling out a small box-shaped device and handing it to Zero. Zero stared at the device and then looked back at Cerveau. "What's this?" queried Zero.
"I had some spare time after I made Ciel's device," said Cerveau, "so, I decided to make you one too."
"But...I'm not giving off Grandia's signature..." started Zero.
"Actually..." replied Cerveau, smiling and stroking his chin, "this device gives off the same signature as Grandia. I thought that if you're going to take Ciel with you, at least make it look like that you are the one using Grandia's powers."
"I get it!" said Ciel, making Zero look up at her, "With that, Weil will think Zero is using Grandia and won't expect me there!"
"In other words..." said Zero with a sly smile on his face, "We have the element of surprise on Weil..."
As Zero marveled at this great turn of events that they had, not to mention the fact that Weil is going to be surprised out of his mind when he finds out just who is using Grandia, a large opening in the sand appeared. It was one of the underground docking bays that the Resistance used to send out ships if needed. Ciel and Zero went over to the opening and saw that the Mammoth Buster was on a rising platform inside. The Mammoth Buster looked totally brand-new, and Ciel picked it up once it had reached the top. She looked it over and saw that it was perfect.
"You sure you know how to work one of those?" yelled Zero.
Ciel looked down at Zero and gave a wide grin. She responded by putting her other hand on top of the Mammoth Buster and cocked it like a gun, giving off a loud "CH-CHINK!" noise that echoed through the desert. "I've seen you use it plenty of times, Zero." she said as she placed the Mammoth Buster in her pocket, which fit perfectly.
Zero smiled at her and then noticed that it was nearing noon by the fact that the sun was almost in the top part of the sky. "We'd better get going, Ciel. Don't want to keep Weil waiting, do we?" he said with a sly grin.
"Right, then! Let's go Zero!" she said, and picked Zero off the ground and put him in her shirt pocket. She then headed towards Neo Arcadia, and to what they were hoping to be the final battle. As she was walking, Zero spoke up. "Hey, Ciel...I know how we can surprise the living daylights out of Weil! You interested?"
"I'm all ears, Zero!" responded Ciel, looking down at her shirt pocket at Zero.
"Okay, good. Here's what we'll do..." said Zero, and started to explain thier plan.
Later on, at Weil's Hidden Lab...
The air around Dr. Weil's base was quiet...only the sound of the wind could be heard, and it was very faint as well. There were no signs of activity there, for Weil had instructed all within a mile of the base to be evacuated, as done by Zero's request. Dr. Weil thought of himself as a fool to do something for his arch-nemesis, but even he had the brains to know that if Zero and Omega did destroy Neo Arcadia in thier battle, he wouldn't have anything left to rule by. Dr. Weil sighed in disgust as he waited there with Omega by his side.
Soon, it was noon, and Dr. Weil was getting impatient. "Okay, Omega!" he said, "Zero isn't here, so let's go look for him!"
But before Weil and Omega could start walking, one of Weil's Numbers (who had been revived to take on Zero again and slow his progress) came stumbling towards him. It was Cubit Foxtar, the only female in the group, and she looked to be in a lot of pain, showing from the fact that not only was she struggling to just walk, but sparks were flying out of her every which way. In fact, one of her arms had seemingly been cut clean off, causing a lot of oil to leak out. Weil looked at her with a slightly horrified look and came up to her. "What happened? Did Zero do this?!" he exclaimed.
"N-n-n....no..." said Cubit, her voice breaking from the severe damage, "N-n-not...Z-z-z-ero...it...w-w-w-a...s..."
But before Cubit could finish, a loud crackling sound could be heard, and Weil looked around Cubit's chest area, only to see Zero's Z-Saber plunged into it, then quickly being withdrawn. Cubit let out a scream of pain and broke into pieces, leaving her totally unrepairable. Weil looked up to see Zero standing there, Z-Saber in hand, ready to fight.
"So...Zero, you came." said Weil, smiling an evil smile, "You're still playing the hero, Zero?"
"You do realize..." said Zero, clutching his Z-Saber tightly, "that I have no time for your petty games, Weil? I'm just here to destroy you and Omega, then we can all get on with our lives."
"Hehehe...good speech Zero." said Weil, clapping his hands in a mocking way, "But you don't seem to understand that you are no match for Omega. He is far more powerful than you know."
"Hmph..." grunted Zero, "He just looks like another Maverick to me."
"And besides..." continued Weil, "It seems as though that you still give off Grandia's signature, and yet you show no signs of increased potential. Why is that? Are you planning to save it just for Omega?"
"No..." said Zero, suddenly smiling, "I have Grandia's power with me right now."
Weil looked confused at Zero's statement. "What?! That can't be...you should look different in some way or another. Yet, you still look the same."
"You just don't get it, do you Weil?" said Zero, still smiling, "I said I have Grandia's power with me, not ON me."
"What are you babbling about?!!" yelled Weil.
To answer Weil's question, a large blast of energy that came from behind crashed into Omega suddenly, causing a deafening roar in the air. Omega was sent flying at least 20 feet away from the recoil of the blast. As the dust settled, Weil looked at Zero with a surprised look on his face. "How did...you do that?!!" he exclaimed.
"Simple." said Zero, "I didn't....SHE did!" Zero pointed behind Weil.
Weil immediately turned around and was awestruck and speechless at what he saw. There was Ciel, in all her giantess glory, standing there with the Mammoth Buster in hand, and the buster seemed to have been shot recently. Ciel looked down at Weil and saw his reaction, and she couldn't help but smile. "Not so big and tough NOW, are you Weil?" she said, not bothering to keep her voice down for Weil. Zero had gotten used to it, but Weil fell backwards at her loud voice.
Weil just continued to stare up at Ciel, feeling intimidated and daunted by her sheer size and power. Zero was relishing this turn of events. All this time that Weil had played the big bad guy was now sinking like a boulder in a lake. As for Omega, it had recovered from the blast, but was badly damaged. Although Omega had no feelings of its own, it too was impressed at Ciel's power. Soon, however, Weil spoke out loud. "So, Grandia's power is inside you, huh?" he yelled, "This makes no difference! Omega! Show her what you can do!!"
Not taking a moment to consider that, Omega sprang to action and flew towards Ciel, its large energy sword at the ready. Ciel was surprised that Weil actually had the guts to do this, and turned to look at Omega. Sure, Omega was big in comparison to Zero, but to her, it was no bigger than her thumb. Ciel smiled and reached out to grab Omega, and sure enough, she got ahold of it. Omega, stunned by the force of her grip, struggled with all its might to get free, but try as it might, Omega could not relinquish her grip. Ciel just smiled at the now-helpless Omega. "Hmm...what should I do with Omega, Zero? Any good ideas?" she said sarcastically, looking down at Zero.
"Good question..." replied Zero, also smiling, "How about...stomping Omega into the ground like the bug he is to you?"
"Sounds good to me!" said Ciel, looking back at Omega with a cruel smile.
Weil heard all of this and shuddered. As Ciel was about to throw Omega down to the ground, he quickly got his bearings back and spoke up. "Omega!! Unleash the powers of the Dark Elf! NOW!!!" he roared.
Omega heard this and growled loudly. As it did, Omega began to glow. Ciel saw this and immediately dropped Omega. As much as she was expecting Omega to be blown to pieces from the impact on the ground, it never happened. Instead, a bright white flash filled the air, and everything went white for a few moments...
When the blinding light subsided, Ciel opened her eyes to find a newer, more improved version of Omega hovering in front of her. To make matters worse, this version of Omega was just about as big as she was! Not only that, but it had a much larger energy saber and a very large arm cannon as well. Ciel gasped in surprise before she realized that Fused Omega was charging up its arm cannon. She realized just in time and quickly jumped out of the way of the large blast. As she did, she landed on a few deserted buildings, smashing them to pieces. She gasped and looked around in the debris, worried that she had hurt someone, or worse yet, killed someone. She was relieved to find that the building was empty, and stood up and turned to face Fused Omega.
"So...you think just because you're bigger and have a few new weapons that you think you can take me?" said Ciel, glaring at Fused Omega, "Well, think again! I'll take you down all the same!"
Ciel aimed the Mammoth Buster at Fused Omega and fired a large blast. The shot connected, but it didn't do anything except make Fused Omega stagger backwards a few feet. Ciel was shocked to see that even the Mammoth Buster could barely put a scratch in Fused Omega. Desperate, she fired a few more shots, all of which connected, but had the same result as before. I don't get it! thought Ciel as she was slowly backing up, Why isn't it hurting Omega? What am I doing wrong?
Before she could ponder on that, Fused Omega fired a large red energy bolt from its head. Ciel quickly stepped to the side of it, thinking that it missed, but she didn't expect it to turn around and hit her in the back. Ciel couldn't move, for she was feeling pain reeling throughout her body. It hurt, yes, but not to the extent that she would collapse from exhaustion. Instead, it felt as if it was just holding her in place. Ciel quickly realized that this energy bolt was made to hold down opponents, and she could see Fused Omega getting closer to her, and it seemed as though it was going to impale her with its larger energy sword. Ciel had to think fast, otherwise she'd be dead in a matter of seconds.
Ciel violently struggled to get free of the energy surrounding her, and soon, she felt as if her arms could move. Fused Omega was right next to her, and it was raising its sword. With every ounce of strength she had at the moment, Ciel flung her arms forward, fists first, right into Fused Omega's chest, causing it to lose its balance and fall directly on Weil's lab. With that sudden outburst, Ciel had broken free of the energy that was engulfing her a few moments ago. She felt as if a bunch of needles had been stuck in her, but then she saw Fused Omega lying on the ground, trying to regain itself from the recoil she had caused.
This is my chance! thought Ciel as she went over to look at Fused Omega, But...then again, if I shoot another Mammoth Buster shot, it'll do nothing to it. Ciel didn't have a lot of time to think about this, because Fused Omega was starting to get up. She saw this and planted her foot down on Fused Omega's chest area, causing a loud thunderous noise and a lot of debris fly upwards. Ciel had bought a little time, but she couldn't hold Fused Omega for long. She had to think of something...
Wait...that's it!! she thought as she looked over at Fused Omega's sword. She reached over to grab it from Fused Omega's hand, but she had to struggle to pry it loose from Fused Omega's grip. She pulled and pulled, but it wouldn't release it. She knew she had to think fast, otherwise everything wouldn't end very pretty. She then used her other free hand to slam her fist down into the arm that Fused Omega was holding its sword. This caused an obvious reaction as Fused Omega let go of its sword, allowing Ciel to grab it with both hands and lift it up. To a Reploid of Fused Omega's size, this sword could easily be wielded, but Ciel, being a human, still had to use both hands.
"Time to end this!!" Ciel yelled, and with that, before Fused Omega could react, she let out a battle cry and plunged the large sword right into Fused Omega's head. At first, all was quiet for a few moments, but that sudden silence was broken when Fused Omega's body began to crumble. Ciel let go of the sword and stepped back, seeing the multiple explosions and watching as Fused Omega's body began to break apart. Soon, a loud and violent explosion filled the air, and everything went white for a few moments.
When the dust settled, pieces of Fused Omega's body were still intact, but they were all over the place. During that grueling battle, everything within a half a mile was devastated. As Ciel looked down at the remains of Fused Omega, her thoughts turned to Zero and Weil. "Zero? Zero, where are you?!" she yelled, wondering if he was okay. She got her answer when she faintly heard the sound of moving rubble. She turned her head towards the sound and saw a slightly battered Zero crawl out. Ciel sighed with relief, knowing that he was safe.
Down on the ground, Zero brushed himself off and went over to look at one of the parts of Fused Omega. He just stared at it for a few moments, but then looked behind it. There, he saw something that seemed very familiar to him. A large structure was in front of him, and it seemed to have cables and other pieces of broken equipment hanging from it. "Wait...I know this place..." Zero said to himself, "This...this is where...I was sleeping."
Indeed, this was the place Ciel had first found Zero and brought him back to life with Passy's help. It seemed like so long ago...
"Hehehehe..." came a wicked chuckle. Zero knew that laugh anywhere...Weil. "Excellent work Zero...and you too Dr. Ciel. I have to admit, you've done very well so far."
"So far? What do you mean?" asked Zero, still wondering where Weil was. It was then Zero saw that Weil had escaped during the battle, and was now communicating via radio. Of course, Ciel still had her radio too, so she could hear everything as well.
"You know, Zero," continued Weil, "you are pretty good...for a mere fake."
"Fake?!" exclaimed Zero, "What do you mean? Stop telling riddles and get to the point, Weil!!"
As Zero finished his sentence, he all of a sudden felt a great amount of energy nearby, and it was coming from the part of Fused Omega that he was standing near. Zero backed up a few steps while watching the piece of Fused Omega crumble apart, leaving a lone figure standing there in the pile of debris. But...this figure looked familiar, even from Ciel's vantage point. Ciel recognized it immediately, and gasped with shock. Zero followed with a frightened look on his face as he could now make out who the figure was.
"Wait....what?! Two Zeros? How is that possible?!" said Ciel as she looked down at the Zero clone.
"Allow me to explain:" said Weil from the radio, "You see, the Zero you found is nothing more than a cheap copy of the original Zero. You thought all this time you had the legendary Reploid on your side?! HAH! How pathetic! Omega himself is the one and only true Zero!"
Ciel and Zero were awestruck at this. They never knew that all this time, Zero was a fake all along. Zero was looking at his original self. "The...original Zero...?" he said, sounding confused, "Why is it your slave then?!"
"Hmph!" Weil grunted, "He's a bloodthirsty God of Destruction! All I did was upgrade him so that he could tap into the powers of the Dark Elf!"
Zero just glared at Omega. Omega returned the glare right back. This wasn't looking good...
"Want me to..." Ciel started, but was interrupted by Zero.
"No." Zero said, anticipating her question.
"Huh?! Why, Zero?" asked Ciel, wondering why in the world Zero would say that.
"This is something...I gotta do alone. Just stay back and let me handle this." he replied, pulling out his Z-Saber.
"But..." started Ciel, but knew that she should do as Zero said, "All right...Zero...I'll...just be here if you need me, okay?"
"Thanks Ciel." said Zero, turning to look up at her and giving a smile.
Zero then turned back to look at Omega, gritting his teeth and getting poised for battle. This was one fight he would never forget...
"Alright, Omega..." said Weil, giving a devious chuckle, "Or should I say...'Original Zero'! Time to wake up this cheap fake from a century-long dream!!"
As Weil finished, Omega pulled out his own Z-Saber, except that his was reddish-violet in color in opposite of Zero's green one. Omega then spoke up: "Heh...you cheap fake. You think you can beat me with that body?!"
"We'll just see, won't we other Me?" said Zero, all the while not taking his eyes off Omega.
The two just stared at each other for a few moments, then charged at each other, giving out battle cries as they clashed Z-Sabers together. The battle of Zero Vs. Zero had begun...
Ciel watched as the two combatants continued to clash, watching and quietly rooting for Zero (the one she dubbed Zero, of course). Please...don't let anything bad happen...please. she prayed to herself, hoping that this would all turn out well in the end.
Meanwhile, down on the ground, Zero and Omega were jumping, dashing, and slashing, trying to get in clean hits on the other. This guy's good...too good almost... thought Zero. Indeed, this enemy knew many of his own techniques, everywhere from using a buster gun to using some of the Saber skills that Zero had picked up from Weil's Numbers. Not only that, but Omega could do charged attacks without charging his weapons! This was indeed not only a battle of power, but wits as well. Soon Zero could see Omega dash towards him, and promptly leapt out of his way, striking Omega in the back with his Recoil Rod. It barely scratched Omega, but it did enough to make Zero get out of his line of fire.
"You're good, fake..." said Omega in a cunning voice, "But let's see you do THIS!!!" At that point, Omega slammed his fist down on the ground and multiple energy balls shot out in starburst directions. Zero didn't know this move, but saw a way around it and dodged quickly. But before he could get close to Omega, Omega sped away, reappearing behind Zero! "So slow..." chuckled Omega, quickly backhanding Zero, which caused Zero to fly off into some debris.
Ow...didn't see that coming... thought Zero, rubbing his head and standing up from the debris pile. He then saw Omega dash towards him, and knew that there was no time to leap away. If he didn't do something soon, Omega would corner him and it'd be all over. Then...Zero got an idea.
"CIEL!! POUND THE GROUND!!" yelled Zero.
Ciel heard Zero and slammed the ground with her foot, causing another tremor. This surprised Omega, who then lost his balance and almost his footing. Zero saw this an an opportunity to strike back. He swiftly dashed at Omega, Z-Saber ready. As he did, a glow appeared around him, and Zero spoke up: "You may be my original self...but that won't keep me from stopping you!!" With that, Zero closed in on Omega and continuously slashed at him, left and right, up and down, in a flurry of Z-Saber strikes, ending in a Split Heavens strike and then a blow to the head of a stunned Omega. All in all, his Z-Saber connected with Omega a grand total of 13 times. The force of this powerful series of strikes was too much for Omega, and he was sent flying into a pile of debris at least 20 feet away.
Ciel saw what Zero had did to Omega. When did he learn that?! she thought while looking at a beaten-up Omega in surprise, I know Zero is powerful, but that seemed...almost inhuman. She continued to stare at the beaten Omega, but her thoughts were interrupted when she saw a dark light come out of Omega.
Zero saw this as well, and immediately knew what was happening. "The Dark Elf..." he started, gazing at the dark light that appeared above Omega, who was on his knees, "It's gonna revive Omega! NO!"
Zero rushed over to Omega to stop him once and for all, but as he got close, a barrier made Zero bounce back and hit the ground. Obviously the Dark Elf had protection around Omega. "Errgh!" said Zero, holding his arm in pain, "Can't...move..."
"Hehehehe...." came a familiar chuckle, "Watch...but don't interfere. You forget...I hold the lives of all humans and Reploids in my hand. Now be a good boy and stay down!" Weil had been monitoring the whole thing, and was pleased to see the Dark Elf reviving Omega.
"Uggh..." grunted Zero as he watched Omega stand up. This was almost like when he had failed to protect X's body from Elpizo. His foe was on the verge of breakdown, and yet he couldn't do anything to stop him. He was feeling helpless yet again...
All of a sudden...a green-colored figure appeared before Omega, and with two energy swords, sliced him three times before being shot back by the forcefield. "Zero!" came a familiar voice, "What are you doing?! Stand up! You've got Omega on the ropes! Finish him off!"
"Harpuia?!" Zero exclaimed, seeing one of the Neo Arcadia Guardians in front of him. Zero was surprised to see Harpuia helping him, much less just be here in the first place.
Soon, another figure appeared behind Zero, and shot off three large fireballs at Omega, wounding him even more. "Hey, Omega! I'm here for a little payback!!" yelled the other figure.
"Fefnir?" said Zero, seeing number two of the remaining Guradians.
Then a third figure appeared, this one more feminine in appearance. She thrust her javelin into Omega several times before also being forced back by the barrier. "Time to straighten the record!!" she said.
"Leviathan! You guys!!" said Zero, seeing all the remaining Guardians of Neo Arcadia at his side. Thier attacks had once again made Omega fall to his knees.
"Weil is trying to trick you, Zero." said Harpuia, glaring at Omega, "There's nothing he can do right now. Omega's totally helpless!"
"GRR!! Dark Elf! Shut them up!" yelled Weil.
But suddenly, the Dark Elf began to flicker between white and black, as if something was wrong with it.
"What the..." said Zero, but then someone else had appeared...X.
"The curse on the Dark Elf is being broken..." X said, remaining in his Cyber-Elf form.
"Who's that?! X?!" said Weil in frustration.
"That's right Weil." said X, "It's just like a century ago. Me and Zero defeated this Omega then, and we'll do it again now."
"Just like...a century ago?" said Zero, slowly standing up.
"The defeated Omega is only using your original body, Zero. That's all." replied X, "Your body may be a fake, but you still have the heart of Zero. That's all that matters."
"The...heart...?" said Zero, still staggering from pain.
"Alright, Zero...now's the time...while the Dark Elf's power is waning..." said X, "You know what you need to do..."
"Right..." said Zero, grasping his Z-Saber. He slowly walked towards the defeated Omega. He raised his Z-Saber above him and was about to destroy Omega if Weil hadn't spoken up:
"Zero!! Don't do it!! That's your original body!! Don't you feel any attatchment?!"
Zero stopped his Z-Saber just inches away from Omega's head, frozen in fear. Something had gotten to him just now, and it was thanks to Weil's remark that did just that. Zero looked at Omega again. It's true... thought Zero, scared out of his mind, That is my original body...and I feel an attatchment to it. But...if I don't destroy it...this whole mess will continue...but...but...
Zero was not sure of what to do...
"Zero!!!!" came a loud voice, snapping him back to attention, "You have to do it! Please!!" It was Ciel who had spoken to him.
"But...but...it's...my..." Zero stuttered, still unsure of what to do.
Ciel saw Zero was still hesitant, and decided to do something about it. Without a moment's notice, she scooped up Zero and the flickering Dark Elf into her right hand and pushed everyone else back gently with her left. Without any debate from Zero, Ciel looked down at the beaten Omega. "This has to end....NOW!" she roared, and she slammed her foot down on Omega, crushing it into dust. A violent explosion filled the air, and everything went white once again...
A while later...
"Zero..." came X's voice, "My energy is almost spent...I don't...have much time left in this world. I want to leave the world in your care, Zero. Please...take care of...everyone...Thanks...good...bye..."
X's voice faded, and Zero soon regained conciousness. He found himself lying in Ciel's lap. He looked up at her.
"Ciel? What happened? Where are we?" he asked.
"We're back at the Resistance Base, Zero." she said.
Zero looked in the other direction, seeing the towers of the Resistance Base next to him and Ciel. "How'd we get back here?" he wondered out loud.
"She helped us..." replied Ciel, looking at a bright, white light hovering near her.
Zero looked at the light Ciel referred to, and felt a warm, gentle feeling surround him. "Dark Elf...?" said Zero, but then quickly noticed something, "Wait...no...you're..."
"What a warm, gentle light..." said Ciel, feeling that same feeling Zero was.
"Mother Elf..." was all Zero said.
The Mother Elf started to float away from Ciel and Zero. "Shouldn't we follow her?" he said.
"She's finally free." replied Ciel as she looked at the Mother Elf floating away, "There's still Weil, sure, but for now, we should let her go in peace..."
"You're right..." said Zero, watching the Mother Elf fade in the distance.
Once the Mother Elf was gone, Zero and Ciel looked at each other. "So...what now? Are you staying like this forever, Ciel?" asked Zero, curious.
"I don't know, Zero." said Ciel, rubbing her chin, "If I have to, I guess I'll have to get used to it..."
Before Zero could respond, a glow surrounded Ciel's body. "Wha? What's going on?" said Ciel, looking at herself. It was then that she realized that she was returning to normal size. Zero saw this happening and leapt off her lap. Zero watched as Ciel slowly but surely returned to normal size.
When she did, a faint glow came out from Ciel, and Grandia appeared in front of her. But something seemed wrong with Grandia. It seemed faint...almost lifeless. Ciel put her hands out and let Grandia fall in her hands. "Grandia...?" she asked as she looked at the Cyber-Elf, "Are you alright?"
"Ciel..." said Grandia, but its voice seemed faint as well, "I'm...afraid...my time is...almost up..."
"What...what do you mean?" said Ciel, a hint of sorrow in her voice.
"I'm...afraid I forgot to tell you that...*cough*...I'm a Fusion Elf." replied Grandia, choking and wheezing.
"A Fusion Elf....? Wait! That means...!" exclaimed Ciel, horror permeating her voice. Zero stepped up beside Ciel and looked at Grandia. This was the first time he had seen Grandia since he found it in Cyberspace. But now, Grandia seemed to look as if it was losing power.
"I'm afraid so..." replied Grandia, coughing again, "Pretty soon, I'll be gone from this world..."
"No..." said Ciel, tears filling her eyes, "No! You can't leave! You've done so much for us...and for me...! Please...don't leave us, Grandia!!"
"I'm sorry, Ciel." said Grandia, its light fading even more, "I was created before Satellite Elves were discovered, so I guess it was my destiny to eventually be used and then expire. I'm just glad that I was used by a great person like you. Just do me one favor...don't worry about me...for I...will...always...be...with...you...I'm...glad to have...helped...y...o...u...Ciel..."
With those words, Grandia gave his last breath and slumped onto Ciel's hand completely. Soon, Grandia disappeared in a bright sparkle of light, leaving nothing in Ciel's open hands...
Ciel couldn't take this, and dropped on the ground, crying constantly. She had already lost Passy to help in reviving Zero, and now she had lost Grandia as well for helping Zero. Zero knelt down to her and patted her on her back. "I'm sorry." was all he could say.
Ciel acknowledged this by hugging Zero tightly. Zero was a bit startled at first, but soon put his arms around Ciel and hugged her back. He knew what it was like to lose someone, namely X who had just passed away as well. "Ciel...?" said Zero, stil hugging her.
"*Sniff, Sniff*...Yeah?" Ciel said, all while sniffling the tears out of her eyes.
"I know this is hard for you, but Grandia did say not to worry about him. It was his dying wish, after all..." said Zero.
Ciel wiped the tears from her face and smiled. "You-You're right...Zero. I'm sorry." she said, still sniffling.
"Ciel? There's one more thing I need to say..." said Zero.
"Huh? What is it, Zero?" asked Ciel, wondering what he was saying.
Zero stood back up and looked out at the sunset. Without looking back at Ciel he just said, "Thank you."
"For what?" wondered Ciel, not getting what Zero was getting at.
"For destroying Omega." replied Zero, "I can't believe I hesitated like that...I wanted to destroy him, but I felt attatchments to my old body, and because of that, I couldn't do it. So when you did it instead..."
"I...I...I only did what I had to..." said Ciel, getting back on her feet.
"I know, and I'm glad you did, too." replied Zero, looking back at her with a smile.
"You are?" said Ciel, smiling back.
"Yes. It's just like X said..." replied Zero, looking back at the sunset, "I'm still me...I'm still...Zero."
The two just smiled and watched the sunset go down over the horizon. They may have defeated Weil for now, but he was still at large, and one day, Zero would bring him to justice. And all the while, Ciel would be there beside him, even if she wasn't physically there with him. It's just as Grandia said...they may be apart, but they'll always be in thier hearts forever. And no matter what anyone said after that day, Zero knew that he still was the real deal.