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Salvaging the Unsalvageable

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“Rex.”

The boy in question turned around to see Mythra approaching slowly, his grin wide. Rex's face fell when he that noticed something was off right away: her entire body was tense and rigid. (It reminded him of Poppi's movements.) Her gait was completely different, her movements unnatural and odd. Rex looked down slightly to her right hand clutched around something tightly. When she got close enough, she swiftly grabbed his hand and placed the object in his hand. Rex immediately knew what it was.

“Isn’t this….”

“Malos’ core crystal? Yes, it is,” She stated, looking at the ground with sudden interest as her arms wrapped around her body. “I just… wanted you to have it.”

“Because you’re the only one you trust to be your brother’s driver?” Rex guessed, smiling softly. Mythra froze and scoffed, refusing to meet his eyes. Rex chuckled, twirling the dark purple core crystal in his hands. It... was hard imagine that this small, cross shaped crystal held his former enemy.

"How did you find it? I thought he died when..." Rex mentioned after a moment, clutching the core crystal in his hands.

"I thought he died too. But Pyra woke up this morning to his crystal by her bedside," Mythra said, looking up. "He's alive, too. I mean, he's conscious."

"How is that possible?" Rex asked, curious. 

"It's an Aegis thing," Mythra said, smiling. Rex chuckled. That phrase had become somewhat of an inside joke for the trio, much to their friend's dismay.

Rex squeezed the crystal in his hands out of habit. The Master Driver felt Malos’ life force pulsing anxiously in retaliation. It made sense: the other's life was in his hands, literally and figuratively. Rex could kill the Aegis right here and now by destroying the crystal in his hands. It wouldn’t be too difficult to pull off. If he squeezed hard enough or found a sharp, sturdy rock...

If sensing his thoughts, Malos sent a startling wave of ether energy through his body. It didn’t hurt, but it was enough to derail his train of thought. A warning, so to speak. He rubbed the crystal in apology. Despite everything that happened both in the distant and recent past, Rex found that he bore no ill will towards the other Aegis. Disapproval? Of course. Disappointment? Sure. Anger? That’s to be expected. But the intent to harm? Never. It wasn’t who he was. Nor who he is.

“Don’t worry about it Mythra; I know you care about Malos in some capacity. I’m not going to do anything stupid,” The last statement got him a disbelieving glare. “And besides, don’t you remember what I said before? Rule 6 of the Salvager’s code? First, have a punch-out, then drink to forget,”

“Once you’ve forgotten, the friendship’s all set. Yes, yes. I know. But…” She trailed off, her lips curling up in a strained smile. Rex smiled softly and wrapped her in a hug which she returned graciously. While Mythra liked to pretend that she didn’t really care, he knew better. While he didn’t understand the extent of Malos and Mythra’s relationship both as individuals and as Aegises, he understood that this was important to Mythra. And what was important to Mythra was important to him.

“It will be fine, Mythra. Don’t you worry about it!” Rex stated, puffing his chest out while his hands went to his hips.

 


 

Rex took the (other) Aegis anywhere and everywhere he went. He had brought an additional pouch for the crystal that could be attached to his salvaging belt. After he turned in for the night, the bag was placed on his nightstand. Whether he went out to salvage or to simply get food, he took the bag with him. He even took it with him when he enjoyed some of the local hotsprings. Rex wanted to be certain that nothing would happen to Malos. Nevermind the fact that the blade had plotted to and almost destroyed the world twice, was a wanted criminal in all countries, and that his core crystal would be immediately destroyed out of fear: He was an Aegis and ergo was a target for those with ill intentions. There was a reason Mythra had entrusted him with who was effectively her brother (Could actual blades have siblings?) She had to know from experience that Rex had trouble killing a nest of Fliers, much less a highly intelligent being on par with herself. And that he would fight to the death to keep Malos out of enemy hands, if it came to that.

As far as he knew, Rex was the only one who knew that Malos was still alive (or as alive as you could be in a core crystal). Morag was off in what remained of Mor Ardain, helping her brother with political and social matters caused by the unification of the titans. Zeke was in a similar position with Tantal. Nia had returned to Torigoth, citing that she “had a lot to think about and a much-needed vacation to attend to.” Tora and Poppi also returned to Torigoth, working alongside his father inventing some kind of fancy thingymajigs. That left Gramps, Mythra, Pyra, and himself to return to what was left of the Leftherian islands alongside Auntie and the other children.

Rex had a sneaking suspicion that Gramps knew Malos was still around as Rex had spotted his former mentor eyeing the bag quite a few times. The old titan never commented on it, however. Rex was grateful for it. While he was not ashamed of having the blade with him, Rex also wanted the Aegis to grow comfortable around him. He knew Malos was particularly stubborn (Like Mythra. Huh. Must be an Aegis thing) and if any reason was given for him to hide away further, Malos would take it and run with it. It was already going to take months or even years for the Aegis to finally show his face. Rex didn’t want the inevitable to be delayed any longer since Malos was likely to have similar mental health issues to Jin and the others from Torna.  Rex couldn’t even begin to fully understand the horrors that the Tornan flesh (and blade) eaters had gone through. He only had an idea of what they could be due to Mythra, whom he had to comfort many a time after difficult and panic-ridden nightmares.

And the longer it took Malos to awaken, the more damage that would be done to his psyche.

 


 

Rex’s first mistake was not taking a blade with him as he salvaged. Rex’s second mistake was assuming that he wouldn’t run into any challenging monsters. The salvager had thought that he would be able to deal with any of the creatures that he came across. Rex had expected to find a Krabble or two, not a Crane Serprond.

“Aw no!” Rex cursed, looking for a way to get out. Gramps was nowhere near and he had left his swords back at home. Mythra was gardening and Pyra was probably cooking something. He could run but he would lose the treasure and there was no guarantee that he would get away.

A sea of purple surrounded Rex, taking him off guard. Malos’ core crystal levitated out of the pocket, morphing into Malos’ humanoid form. An ether link formed between the two of them as the Aegis summoned his weapon.

“Monado Buster!” Malos charged towards the creature, his sword’s blade glowing a sinister purple. Despite being startled, Rex couldn’t help but be awed by the sheer power emanating from the weapon, the sheer strength of Malos. It didn’t take long for the creature to be felled; Rex wasn’t surprised in the slightest. Even outside of Aion, Malos was a force to be reckoned with. The Aegis landed next to him, his sword dissipating.

“Hey, kid. Next time don’t forget to bring a Blade with you,” Malos stated, his voice somewhat muted. He looked different; he was paler than what Rex remembered. He was hunched over like it hurt to stand up straight. He almost seemed... depressed. It saddened Rex to see how lackluster the Aegis seemed. He wanted to reach out, to give him a hug, but Rex knew that Malos had still not been ready to resonate with him (emotionally, that is) and only had done so to save his life. So he settled with a light punch to his arm (It would have been a comforting hand on his shoulder, but given the height difference, Rex thought otherwise).

“Nice of you to finally join the land of the living,” Rex commented, grinning widely. Malos’ face twitched slightly. Rex knew he appreciated the joke even if he was not feeling well.

“Why don’t we rejoin the others now that you’re done with your, ah, searching?” Malos asked, his weight shifting slightly between his legs. Rex chuckled. For all the hype and fear around Malos himself, the man was abysmal with words when he was anxious. The ether link between them grew stronger despite the battle being long over.

“Are you sure you want to see the others now? I wouldn’t put it past Mythra to slap you in the face when she sees you,” Rex stated, gathering up the spare materials and gold. Malos offered his hand out to Rex; Rex firmly grabbed his blade’s hand and hauled himself up. Malos shook his head, frowning.

“I have no choice,” The blade stated. Rex hummed thoughtfully, fully aware that there was a some hidden meaning behind the words that he couldn’t decipher.

“You always have a choice: There is nothing stopping you from taking off and trying to end the world again,” Rex said, locking eyes with the blade. “But you won’t, will you?”

Malos scoffed, leaning back onto the heels of his feet. “You can try all you want, kid. You can’t save me no matter how hard you try.”

“That’s right,” Rex said, déjà vu hitting him full-force. “You’re forcing yourself to believe that you can’t be saved. I can’t save you if you truly don’t want to be saved.”

Rex slowly moved towards the taller Aegis. “But do you know what I think?”

Malos scoffed again and crossed his arms in front of his body. “And what do you think?”

Rex smirked. “I think you want to be saved. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have resonated with me and saved my life. You're not like me. You wouldn't sacrifice something for another person unless you could get something out of it.”

Malos stared back at him for several tense moments. Rex remained unwavering until Malos startled him by erupting in laughter. An echo of a real laugh, but a laugh nonetheless.

“You got guts, kid, I’ll give you that,” Malos said, walking towards the entrance of Fonsett. “I… suppose you... could be worthy enough to be my driver.”

Rex grinned, catching the hidden meaning in his words this time as he jogged to catch up. 

“Oh really now? Five hundred years have finally given you standards?” Rex asked in jest, grinning from ear to ear. When Malos didn’t reply immediately, Rex thought he had gone too far.

“....You cocky little shit,” Malos replyed after a minute, giving him a blank stare. Rex chuckled, relaxing. Rex’s grin only got wider at Malos' amusement when Mythra tripped and fell into the Cloud Sea at his sudden appearance.

As Rex stifled a laugh at Mythra flailing in the clouds, he thought about what the future would hold. Rex knew that it wouldn't be easy, not for any of them. There were a lot of events that he wasn’t privy to that would cause a lot of tension, especially when it inevitably would come out that Malos was not only alive but also awakened. But Rex (and Malos) would preserve. Rex would make sure of it.