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Lake Bresha, 200 AF

Chapter Text

"What the-!?"

Noel's outburst as he and Serah emerged from the time gate drew Serah's attention to their surroundings. "Oh, this is..."

Crystal. They stood on a massive formation of crystal, towering around them and arcing like waters stilled. It seemed to be late at night, for the skies were dark; yet the crystal waves glowed lightly, providing a clear view for those upon its surface. Several metal wrecks were jutting out of the crystal, although age and weather seemed to have worn them down significantly from what she remembered; there also seemed to be considerably less arc to the waves higher up the area, although the lower she looked, the more the waves seemed to still be intact.

Serah's lack of surprise had Noel's attention. "You know this place?"

"Yeah," Serah confirmed. "This is Lake Bresha."

"Bresha?" Noel echoed. "Like, the ruins with Atlas?"

"Mm-hmm." Serah beckoned towards the downhill slope ahead of them. "I think they're at the bottom."

Noel shook his head. "How does a lake have a bottom?" he asked.

Serah sighed, turning away form the gate. "Well, lakes tend to form waves when something really big lands in them," she pointed out. "Like... a fal'Cie."

One hand was raised, forward and skyward, and Noel turned his gaze to find something massive looming out of the crystal waves in the distance - a cross-shaped metallic figure, its lower half buried in the petrified water. It was frighteningly similar to the Proto fal'Cie that had loomed over Academia in the unaltered 400 AF; Noel realized that Hope must have based Adam on a fal'Cie he knew. "That's..."

"The Pulse Vestige," Serah remembered. "Don't worry, the fal'Cie is dead." Her head tilted to one side. "I remember it sticking out more."

"Remember?" Noel crossed his arms. "So you don't just know it - you've been here."

"Kind of," Serah confirmed. "That's the fal'Cie that branded me. After I turned to crystal, Snow and Lightning attacked the fal'Cie. The lake froze like this, and we all got scattered. Snow was trying to dig me out."

Noel glanced around. Now that he was less stunned by the spectacle of a crystal landscape, he could see several cracks and fissures across the surface, as though the entire lake had been subject to a massive impact... or tremor. "That would be before Ragnarok, right?" he asked. "Look - this place has taken a hit."

"Kupo!" Mog's interjection drew their attention. "I sense something lower down. It feels powerful, kupo."

"Might be that's why we're here," Noel observed.


Even cracked like this, the landscape of the lake was absolutely stunning; massive waves turned to crystal, forming tunnels and paths all around, with several metal structures reaching out that Serah explained were wreckages of a region in the Cocoon outskirts known as the Hanging Edge. The view was, unfortunately, a bit hindered by the presence of some of the most aggravating frog monsters, but Noel was nonetheless amazed at the sight of everything; he couldn't understand how Serah was so... nonchalant about it.

The last of the Cocoon bits they came across was the corpse of a massive train... and soon enough, they saw the source of the powerful thing Mog had noticed.

"Oh no."

"Oh, no!"

"Kupo!?"

They'd seen the same thing in the Vile Peaks - chaos swirling about a dark, shadowy figure. This time, there were visibly two figures within the chaos' storm - and Serah knew, even before they were near enough, what form those figures took. As they started down the train, the chaos seemed to burst and dissipate - and then the shadows reappeared behind them, taking clearer forms that looked mechanical. Two female forms, each with a large, extending headpiece; one was dark-skinned and covered in gold, a large wheel mounted in her headdress, while the other was pale-skinned and covered in silver, with an identical wheel floating at her side.

"Shiva!" Serah reached for Mog as she and Noel leapt away; the moogle quickly took the form of her bowsword, and as they landed she seized the blade two-handed. "This is where they fought Snow!"

"Another paradox in the form of an Eidolon!" Noel realized, pulling his weapon off his back and then drawing the shorter blade from the sheath mounted on the larger one. "How did this one go unnoticed?"

Nix drew her floating wheel back, and Serah raised her weapon. "Here they come!"


Twilight Stiria
HP: 706000
Status Immunities: Deprotect | Deshell | Poison | Imperil | Curse | Pain | Fog | Daze
Absorbs: Ice
Chain resistance: 90 | Stagger Point: 300%

-Employs powerful ice-based attacks
-Healed by ice damage
-Capable of restoring HP

Twilight Nix
HP: 706000
Status Immunities: Deprotect | Deshell | Poison | Imperil | Curse | Pain | Fog | Daze
Absorbs: Ice | Halves: Physical, Magical
Chain resistance: 90 | Stagger Point: 300%

-Employs powerful ice-based attacks
-Healed by ice damage
-Delivers devastating physical attacks


"This isn't working!" Noel protested. "They're not going down!"

Serah quickly realized what the problem was; Stiria was healing faster than they could hurt, and Nix's relentless offensive meant they couldn't afford to deal with her first. "We need to get out of here," she insisted. "Come on!"

She quickly started back up the corpse of the train; Noel started after her as she fired a few parting shots to dissuade the Twin Sisters from following. Fortunately, the paradox had no intentions of following them; the shot collided with Nix's wheel as it was retreating to her side, and the two faded to silhouettes as the swirl of chaos remanifested around them.

The two of them stopped only after they were well out of range, beneath structures that looked like giant chains. Noel panted for a moment before turning back the way they'd come. "This is getting old," he muttered. "Freaking Eidolons!" He took a few steps forward, yelling in Shiva's direction. "Leave us alone! The goddess didn't send you to try us, what are you even doing here? We're not l'Cie!"

"You're right."

The sudden murmur drew Noel's attention, Serah had a look of realization on her face. "Wait, what?"

"We're not l'Cie," Serah echoed. "And they're not Eidolons. This is just a paradox imitating Shiva's form. Eidolons fight l'Cie as a trial, to earn the right to summon them - but they're not Eidolons. That means we're not bound to the rules of the trial."

"Okay," Noel conceded. "And that helps us... how?"

Serah remembered the way there had only been one storm of chaos, despite there being two bodies within it. "Stiria and Nix are two halves of a single entity," she replied. "There must only be one paradox behind them both. If we can separate them, it will divide the power that the paradox has to work with. Then we can fight them separately, and prevent them from working together to stop us."

Noel reckoned that was as good a strategy as any other, but saw one flaw. "Alright, but how do we split them up?"

"Let's take a look around," Serah insisted. "We're bound to find something."


Travelling up a slope is a lot less pleasant than travelling down. Serah's legs were burning before they were even back to the level of the gate, and the relatively smooth crystal surface wasn't exactly making the ascent a pleasant experience. She was quite thankful for something to take her mind off the climb when Noel spoke up as they started up to higher levels.

"Can I ask you a stupid question?" When Serah nodded, he asked, "You said you've only been here while you were sleeping in crystal. How do you know all this about the lake and the Eidolons?"

"I landed in that area where the paradox is," Serah explained, "after the Vestige fell. While I was dreaming, I... could sort of see things around me, or around the crystal tear Snow was carrying. He tried to dig me out down in the basin - that's where Shiva fought him."

"So people sleeping in crystal can see their surroundings," Noel observed. "If that's the case, your friends in Cocoon's pillar must be able to see everything on Gran Pulse."

"I guess so," Serah admitted with a small laugh. "That's actually kind of a nice thought - that they're watching over us no matter where we are."

"Well, I mean, depending on how thick the pillar is," Noel admitted. "Might be they're too deep to see anything."

"You ruined it."

"Sorry."

A bit more climbing, and they found something at the highest waves - a wrecked attack ship that looked like it had flown straight into the crystal. "And here I was hoping we'd arrived before the paradox could hurt anyone," Serah bemoaned.

Noel shook his head. "It doesn't look like it was crashed recently," he observed. "It might have been taken down by something else."

Serah noticed it had crashed at such an angle that one of its guns was sticking out of the wreck - still intact. "That looks like it'll still fire," she observed. Curious, she hopped up the corpse of the machine until she was standing behind the turret; it was lined up aiming at the basin where the paradox was, and the way the waves had broken higher up meant she had a clear shot. "This could work!"

"What could work?" Noel asked.

She quickly hopped back down. "If we trigger this, it'll shoot right at the crystals around Shiva," Serah explained. "It should break enough to separate them, and then we can take them out!"

Noel was hesitant. "That's a long way down," he reminded her. "Even if we split them up, they'll still have plenty of time to regroup before we can get there."

Serah hopped down. "Right. I'll hit it when we get down there."

"Yeah, you'll hit it when we get- wait, are you nuts?"


It was a long journey down; Noel's doubted she could make the shot, but Mog was convinced that a little moogle magic would let him guide the arrow straight to their target. When at last they arrived, Serah was about to fire when he pointed out a caveat.

"If we're going to take them down before they can regroup, we have to act fast," he insisted. "Who do you want to tackle first?"

LIVE TRIGGER
Which one will you fight first?
_____
Δ
Stiria (healer) ▯ | O Nix (attacker)
X
_____

"Okay," Noel agreed. "Make the shot."

Mog quickly took the form of a bow, and Serah seized the weapon and took aim. A single arrow flew heavenward and arced in the air as they leapt down to lure out the paradox... and they couldn't even make it out in the night sky before it collided with the gun of the airship atop the waves. The gun started firing down at them, striking the crystal waves and dropping the pieces down towards them; Nix and Stiria moved aside, and Noel and Serah quickly charged one as the fragments blocked them off from the other.


Twilight Stiria
HP: 706000
Status Immunities: Curse | Pain | Fog | Daze
Absorbs: Ice
Chain Resistance: 70 | Stagger Point: 300%

-Employs powerful ice-based attacks
-Healed by ice damage
-Capable of restoring HP

FRAGMENT DISCOVERED!
Twilight Fragment Gamma
You obtain 3000 CP!


Twilight Nix
HP: 706000
Status Immunities: Curse | Pain | Fog | Daze
Absorbs: Ice | Halves: Physical, Magical
Chain Resistance: 70 | Stagger Point: 300%

-Employs powerful ice-based attacks
-Healed by ice damage
-Delivers devastating physical attacks

<> Twilight Stiria
<> Twilight Nix


"This fragment," Noel inquired. "Is this like with Odin, where it was the source of the paradox?" 

"That's right, kupo!" Mog confirmed. "With this, the shadows of Shiva won't be able to hurt anyone else, kupo!"

"That's a relief," Serah sighed. "Looks like we've avoided another Blitz Squadron incident."

"Looks like," Noel agreed.