It was a cool Summer’s evening in August. The moon, high in the sky, shone upon the couple walking along the seafront. One a tall handsome young man, the other a beautiful young ... actually, it was difficult to tell. Having proceeded a few more metres, oblivious to their observer, they turned towards each other, gazed into each others’ eyes for a moment, and embraced.
All remained quiet for a moment. Then one of them spoke.
“...now I’m conflicted”. It was the shorter one.
“I always knew you would get over your problem,” said the taller. “You never disappointed me.”
“Well, you could have done better than to select the form of my former closest friend.”
Their observer watched from the shadow of the cliff-face, showing an evident degree of excitement at these proceedings.
“You have been in touch with Beta, have you not?”, the taller was saying. “Do you remember what he said? Your aiua are entwined. Very heavily entwined. In fact, it’s bizarre that you and Elliot never showed interest in each other in this universe.”
The other could only manage a muted “now I’m more conflicted” before their observer left the shadows and approached them. She was a short, blonde-haired girl, with a certain air of mischievousness about her.
The couple both seemed remarkably unabashed by this apparent invasion of their privacy. The shorter turned to observe her, with apparent recognition, and then spoke with a strong air of suppressed emotion.
“Sarah. I didn’t expect to ever see you again.”
“Did you two think about starting without me?”, Sarah teasingly responded.
The shorter of the two began to respond, but was interrupted by Sarah’s embrace. “Oh, Tedd!”, she exclaimed. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!”
Tedd returned the kiss. But overtaken by apparent emotion, he took his seat upon a rock and wept. “It was always my fault,” he sobbed. “I could have stopped this. I should have found where the energy came from. My dad didn’t need to die... Elliot didn’t need to die...”
“There was no way for you to know”, the taller figure said, seeming to transform, becoming more feminine, gaining longer hair. “And every battle has casualties. Of all of us, I should know that. Those who died, died fighting a noble cause. You should never forget that. They gave their lives that we may be safe.” Grace sat down next to Tedd and placed her arm around the sobbing figure.
Sarah appeared to be debating whether to speak, eventually opening her mouth. “That’s what I wanted you to know,” she added. “If wasn’t you, Tedd. It was me. I want you to know what happened to me a few months ago.”
Sarah told them everything. About the magic mark which she had received, completely unaware of its presence at first. About the immortal who appeared in her room that night and told her not to tell Edward. And the instruction, “don’t be boring”.
She told them of her attempts to gain more power, the many times when she used it at every possible opportunity. How she had asked for a gauntlet, not as a rechargeable wand, but as a means to gain more magic. How she had exercised her magic to eventual awakening. How the ambient energy had surged. How the laws of magic, just short of their yield point, had bent, just slightly, toward those of the Alpha Universe. Just enough that General Tail and his followers had been finally able to invade using their deadly weapons.
Global war had resulted. Elliot had been the first of them to die, fighting to the bitter end, buying them time. Justin and Nanase, the other capable fighters, had held out for longer, Ellen had taken over for Nanase when she was too wounded to go on, but eventually all three had died. Edward, Tedd’s father, had been killed when the headquarters were destroyed. Susan was missing in action but presumed dead.
Tedd and Grace had stayed together, never leaving each others’ side. Tedd, with his gauntlet, had proved merely a support to Grace, who with her Shade Tail abilities had effectively dispatched all that came their way. Even unto General Tail himself, who had proven a formidable foe but who finally met his match that night, when he took on his counterpart in a fight to the death and lost. After a month of carnage, the war was over.
And Lord Tedd? By the time they had found him, he was already dead. He had killed himself, alone, blaming himself for every atrocity which Tail had brought to pass.
Only one good thing had come of this, and that was that Pandora had been forced to reset. An open council of immortals had ruled that, letter of treaty notwithstanding, Pandora’s actions were inexcusable. Upon rebirth, she had recoiled in horror at the legacy of her predecessor and solemnly vowed to reset on the two-century mark and no later.
[Note: this was written before Volty’s introduction, does it show?]
And Sarah? She, too, had been presumed dead. But she had survived, aided by her gauntlet. And her ability to strategise in collapsed time. To scout an area at speed without sustaining harm. And, since not long after her awakening, to literally slow her opponents. And now she had, at length, tracked down the other survivors.
“Do you remember how we used to fool around together?”, asked Sarah. “Isn’t it funny to think that, only a month ago, we were fooling around in the basement and worrying about school? Those days have gone now. But it’s so good to see you again.”
Sarah sat next to Tedd and put her arm around him also. “We both care about you,” she spoke soothingly. “It was not your fault. You are not alone.”