Actions

Work Header

Blooming Aegis: Scattered Petals in a Sea of Clouds

Chapter Text

A flash of gold.

Pain, her body sprawled prone on a metal floor.

Shouted words lost to her addled mind.

Silver eyes slowly open, a blinding green glow.

Scrambling to rise, a hand reaching out towards the light.

More shouts. Anger.

Smooth crystal.

Verdant light flashing brighter, an echoing pulse.

Recoiling, dazed, stumbling  away.

Heart-piercing brings clarity.

She looks down. A thin blade jutting out of her chest. Her hands, covered in her own blood.

Her eyes fall upon a shining emerald wrapped in a sword of crimson and gold.

A whisper; “Let this be a mercy.”

Darkness.


Rex stared, eyes wide with shock, as he tried to understand what had just happened. The job had been going so well. He and the other salvagers had managed to raise the sunken vessel to the surface without issue. Exploring the interior of the ship had gone similarly easily, with Jin, Malos, and himself taking care of the lingering wildlife while Nia kept everyone healed. Well. Jin and Malos had cleared out the wildlife. He’d managed to get a few hits of his own in, but it was clear those two were on another level. Which was a bit strange given how Jin wasn’t a Driver, now that he thought about it.

It had also been somewhat strange, not to mention a little irritating, when they’d so rudely ordered him to open up those marked doors, but they were the clients on this job, so he’d obliged. With how much they were paying him, he could tolerate a little rudeness. He’d gone slightly ahead of the group, partly out of curiosity, partly to cool off. That was when he’d seen it. The red sword, embedded blade down in the floor, and behind it, the girl sealed inside a glass chamber, her hair and clothing the same color as the sword.

But before he could go and get a closer look, something had happened. There had been a flash of golden light, and another girl had appeared in midair, landing hard on the floor right in front of the sword, which began to emit green light, even brighter than the gold had been. By that point, the rest of the group had arrived. Malos had been the first to speak.

“What the hell? That’s the Aegis, no mistaking it, but who the hell’s the girl on the floor?”

Aegis? The name rang a bell, but he couldn’t quite place it. Nia had seemed similarly confused. He decided to speak up and try to explain what he’d seen.

“I dunno, there was this big flash of light and she just fell out of thin air. Whoever she is, she looks like she could use some help. Nia, think you could handle that?”

Before the Gormotti Driver could respond, the girl on the floor began to stir, groaning with pain and confusion as she slowly got her legs underneath her, one hand reaching out towards the light. Malos hadn’t taken it well.

“Hey, HEY! Stop right there!”

If the girl had heard him, she didn’t acknowledge it. Her fingers touched the source of the light, causing it to flash even brighter, along with a sound like ringing crystal. Rex couldn’t recall what exactly had happened next, as he’d been tossed aside like a ragdoll by Jin as the white haired man rushed forward. When he’d finally gotten turned around, the girl was lying on the floor, a vacant look on her face, Jin standing over her with blood on his Nodachi, and the crimson sword had been shattered into pieces.

He could hear Nia and Malos arguing off to the side, but the words didn’t quite reach his brain. He was too busy staring at the girl on the ground, her silver eyes devoid of life. Had, had Jin killed her? Why? Because she’d touched whatever was making that light?

Jin turned and walked away in silence, blood still dripping from his sword. Rex wanted to charge the man, force him to explain why he’d killed the girl, but before he could Nia was in front of him, her tigeresque Blade Dromach at her side. She leaned in close to whisper to him as Malos walked up to the girl in the case.

“If you want to get out of here alive, you’re gonna need to do exactly as I say, understand?”


For the second time, Ruby Rose found herself rising to her feet. This time, however, was fueled by a rush of adrenaline as the events leading to it raced through her mind. 

Cinder’s attack during the evacuation. Yang saving her from Neopolitan, only to fall over the edge. Blake’s desperate attempt to save her, only to miss by inches. Fighting over the Relics, buying time for the civilians to escape. Losing her beloved weapon. Cinder betraying Neo, sending the both of them falling. Blake swinging to save her, only to have their lifeline burned away. An eternal instant alone in an infinite void. Awakening in pain and disoriented, blinded by emerald light. The shock of connection as she touched its source, then lying alone in the grass.

As the rush of memory faded, she took in her new surroundings. She was alone in a field of grass, a scattering of trees behind her in the distance. The sound of a distant bell brought her attention forward, eyes drawn to a solitary tree off in the distance, a crimson blur standing beneath it.

A rush of thoughts took hold in her mind.

Am I dead? Is this the afterlife? Where are the others? What was that green light? Oh gods, I hope Weiss, Jaune, and Penny managed to get to safety.

The bell sounded once more, bringing her back to the present.

Right. Assume I’m alive until proven otherwise.

She made her way to the tree in the distance, the bell tolling all the while, and the red blur beside it slowly came into focus.

It was a girl, standing with her back towards her, one arm on the tree for support. Her crimson hair was cut in a short bob, and her outfit was colored to match. Armored thigh high boots worn over a pair of stockings, ending at mid thigh. A pair of short shorts with leather straps hanging off either hip. Most of her back was exposed, and a cape like a pair of scarves fluttered in the wind, hanging off of what appeared to be a metal chestpiece, decorated with black and gold. Green light glowed from a series of geometric designs on her back, and her hands were covered with fingerless black gloves, the backs of which glowed green as well. Completing the look was a set of pauldrons and vambraces, also crimson.

Ruby called out to the girl, who was seemingly the only other person around.

“Hello!? Can you tell me where we are?”

The girl turned, seemingly startled to hear her voice. Her eyes opened wide in surprise, showing Ruby that they were the same crimson as her hair and clothing. Her chestplate was seemingly molded to her form, lines of green energy flowing across it. A gold tiara crested by a glowing green gem graced her head, alongside a pair of earrings shaped like four point stars. And adorning her chest, just above her heart, there was a brilliant emerald crystal, rectangular in shape save for a pair of small triangular stubs attached to the sides near the top, giving it a slight resemblance to a cross.

“You’re not the person I was expecting.”

Her voice was deeper than Ruby had expected, the sudden sound ending her examination of the woman in front of her.

“I’m sorry? I know I kinda dropped in from out of nowhere, literally I mean.”

She ran a hand through her two-toned hair, chuckling nervously. She had no idea what was going on, or where she was, and the only person around was being cryptic.

“My name is Pyra.” She gave Ruby a faint smile. “And this... is Elysium. A land where, long ago, mankind lived in harmony with their creator.”

Ruby took a step back in shock.

“You mean creators , right? The Brother gods? And what about the Faunus?”

This time it was Pyra’s turn to look shocked.

“I’m afraid I only know of one creator. My father, the Architect. He created all of Alrest. And I’ve never heard of a Faunus before.”

Both girls stood in silence, each trying to come to terms with what was being said. It was Ruby who broke the silence.

“I, I’m not from this world. My name is Ruby Rose, and I’m from a world called Remnant. Me and my friends, we were in this space, it was an empty void we had routed a bunch of portals through. I got knocked over the edge, along with my sister, Yang, and her partner, Blake. I fell for what felt like hours, but at the same time it was like no time had passed at all, and then I woke up, and there was all this light, and I touched something and the light got brighter, and then everything went dark, and, and... AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING ANYMORE!”

Ruby fell to her knees, tears streaming down her face as the weight of everything finally made itself felt. All the pain, the deaths, the losses and setbacks, everything she had kept bottled up inside her. She slammed her fist against the grass, cursing the unfairness of it all. Salem. Cinder. Ozpin. The gods and their curses. Her mom, Summer, either dead or twisted into a monster. Her dad, Taiyang, who’s last sight of her had been either a note she’d left before running away like a child, or as part of a transmission she’d sent to the world that had cut off too soon. Her partner, Weiss, all alone without her team. Her uncle, Qrow, who she had no idea if he’d made it out of the falling city alive. Her friends, Jaune, Nora, Ren, Penny, even Emerald. Had they made it to Vacuo safely? Oscar, poor Oscar. The latest in a long line of hosts, just another step in an endless cycle. Finally, Yang, and Blake. Her sister, the person she loved most in the entire world, and her partner, whatever context that word had between them. Both of whom had sacrificed themselves trying to save her, only for it to be all for NOTHING!

She was trapped in another world, possibly dead. Her greatest enemy was out there, Gods only knew how close to being able to end the world in her selfish attempt at suicide. And speaking of the Gods, they’d been the ones responsible for making that monster in the first place! Giving her immortality, to teach her some kind of “lesson.” Yeah, how’d that one work out for you, assholes? Rebelled against by your creations, your gifts turned against you, all life wiped out in a petty fit. All of it, except for the one ultimately responsible! Real smooth!

Ruby lost track of how long she stayed there on all fours, tears streaming into the dirt, a wordless wail of rage and frustration long held back finally making itself known. Finally, eventually, the emotion petered out, leaving her feeling numb.

A pair of hands gripped her by the shoulders, lifting her to her feet and pulling her into a warm embrace. Ruby choked back her tears, trying to push the other girl away, but Pyra’s grip was ironclad. Ruby let her arms go limp as she sobbed into the mystery woman’s shoulder.

“It’s alright. It’s ok. Let it out. You’re safe.”

Her voice was as gentle as her embrace.

Once she was satisfied that Ruby had gotten everything out of her system, Pyra spoke.

“So. Ruby. When you touched my Core Crystal,” She gestured at the gem on her chest. “I was able to get some of your memories. But you are in need of answers. I am what is known as a Blade, a sentient being born from a Core Crystal, capable of manifesting a weapon to be used by the one who bonded with me, known as a Driver.”

She held out her hand, in which appeared the sword from the metal room.

“Specifically, I am the Aegis, a one of a kind Blade possessing incredible power. For 500 years, I have been sealed away, until you resonated with my crystal and awakened me.”

Ruby nodded, slightly in awe. In any other circumstance she would be bursting with questions, the idea of a weapon who was also a person being something she had dreamed of for years. Right now however, it was taking everything she had to keep from breaking down again.

“We were born here, in Elysium. Created by the Architect.”

She waved her hand out at the open expanse all around them, trees and greenery as far as the eye could see.

“For reasons I don’t know, humanity left Elysium for the world below, where they live upon the backs of great beasts known as Titans.”

Another nod. At this point, Ruby could believe anything.

“I’m sorry to tell you this, but you did indeed die, stabbed through the heart. I don’t know who did it, you never got a look.”

The memory flashed in Ruby’s mind, of the blade coming out of her chest, blood soaking her blouse. She nearly broke down again, but Pyra placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

“It’s not too late. I can revive you by sharing my lifeforce with you. It will keep you alive.”

The currently deceased huntress stared at the living weapon in front of her.

“I’m not going to end up sharing a body with you until eventually our two souls merge, am I?”

The Aegis looked at her and blinked, obviously not expecting that response.

“No, nothing like that! Think of it like a transplant. I place part of my core crystal into your chest, keeping your blood flowing as your heart slowly heals! In return, you will become my Driver.”

Ruby nodded, somewhat understanding.

“Why are you offering this to me? I’m not from this world, I don’t know how to be a Driver, heck, I can’t even fight with a sword! Why me?”

Pyra looked out over the great green expanse in front of them.

“I want to go home. Return to Elysium. See my father again.”

Her voice was tinged with melancholy. Ruby could feel the truth to the words, she felt the same way.

“As I said, I’ve seen your memories, at least some of them. You’re strong. Courageous. No matter what, you refuse to back down. I can’t do this by myself, I need a Driver to stay active.”

Pyra turned back to face her once more, a smile once more lighting up her face.

“And, if you do bring me there, I’m certain he'll be able to figure out a way to get you home.”

Ruby’s eyes welled up once more with tears. She had hope again. If what Pyra was saying was true, and considering everything she had no reason to believe it wasn’t, then this might just be her way back.

“Alright. I’ll do it. Just, be warned, I’m more skilled with a scythe than I am a sword.”

Pyra’s smile broke into a grin. “I think I can work with that. Now, place your hand on my chest.”

She gestured to her Core Crystal. Ruby did her best to keep from blushing, but she could feel a slight tinge of red across her face as she placed her fingers against the emerald gem.

Once more, there was a flash of light and a sound of shimmering crystal.


Within the bowels of the ancient vessel her Blade had long been sealed within, the Aegis’s Driver rose to her feet, chest marked by a piece of green crystal in the shape of an X.

“You’re ALIVE !”

She looked over and saw a boy who couldn’t be older than 15, wearing some kind of diving suit, holding what for all the world looked like a greatsword from back home.

“I was so worried when I saw you lying there! And then that bastard Jin stabbed you in the back! I was sure I was done for, but then Nia helped me play dead, and we’ve got to get up top and save that girl from the case!”

Ruby couldn’t help but giggle internally. This must have been how Weiss felt all the time.

“Hey, easy, slow down. I just got back from the dead, I don’t know what all you’re talking about!”

The boy started for a moment, quietly mouthing to himself.

“Back from the? Ok, right sorry, not important right now. I’m Rex, I'm a salvager who was hired to help bring this ship up to the surface of the cloud sea, and also unlock a few doors somehow. There’s a couple of right bastards up top named Jin, and Malos, alongside their much less of a bastard friend Nia, who helped me avoid getting paid in steel rather than gold. Jin’s got this long, slim sword, I think he called it a Nodachi, while Malos has this Blade named Sever, whose weapon is some kind of bladed tonfa that can shift around a lot.”

Rex was so busy talking that he missed the smile on Ruby’s face. Oh, she knew how to deal with those. She held out her hand, and with a burst of emerald light, the Aegis Sword took shape in her grip. But it didn’t stop there. The sword began to extend, its handle elongating into a straight haft, while the blade swiveled and unfolded, forming into the shape of a scythe. Fire erupted along the length of the blade, green at the base before cooling out to vibrant red.

“Ok then. Now I know who to aim for."


On top of the ancient vessel, Malos carried his prize one handed down the deck of the ship towards his exit vehicle. Even with the storm raging overhead, he was feeling ecstatic. Despite a few minor hiccups, everything had gone according to plan. He’d been a bit worried when Nia had balked at killing the kids, but eventually she’d seen the necessity of it. Speaking of which...

“Nia. End them.”

The feline Driver looked over at her ostensible comrade. Was he serious? More deaths? Hadn’t the girl and “Rex” been enough?

“End? Like, what?”

Malos didn’t even glance back at her.

“The price for their lives has already been paid in full. Now that we have finally obtained the Aegis... The fewer living souls know about it, the better.”

The various salvagers they had hired began to look nervous. None of them were Drivers by any measure, just honest men making a living through hard work.

“So end them, like you did the kid.”

She balked. What was this, some kind of twisted test? Did he know she’d only faked killing Rex? Why else would he mention the Aegis in earshot of everyone?

“I, I can’t do that. Rex, he’d already seen too much yeah, but them? They haven’t done anything to us!”

“I don’t understand you.” Malos stopped in his tracks and began to turn around to face her. His voice was cold, devoid of emotion.

“Now, now. Have you forgotten why you came here to begin with, Nia ?”

The yellow jumpsuited girl took a few steps back, staggering closer to her Blade companion, flinching at the emphasis he put on her name.

“N-no, but..”

The dark armored Driver’s temper flared.

“Oh, for the love of...”

He turned and started striding back towards the hired help.

Fine, I’ll handle it myself.”

Before he could get any farther, the sealed chamber he was carrying began to glow, then flames burst forth from its seams. Nia threw up her hands to shield her face, stumbling backwards blindly. Malos failed to maintain composure, tossing the burning container to the deck of the ship.

“Ugh, What the..?”

Anything else he might have said was cut short by the towering pillar of fire that engulfed the case, the inferno rising dozens of feet into the sky. A single mass erupted from the greater whole, landing above the entrance to the lower levels of the ship, flames fading away to reveal Pyra, the light from the conflagration reflected in her eyes. Her body coursed with emerald light, centered on the crystal on her chest, now with an empty space in the shape of an X. The deck plating in front of her began to glow a molten red, and it soon collapsed in on itself, releasing a swirling vortex of flaming petals that spiraled up into the air, soon collapsing into the form of Ruby Rose, trailing behind her a blazing scythe. She pointed the head of the weapon behind her, a blast of flame sending her soaring down to land on the plate metal below. She twirled the newly formed Crimson Rose behind her, settling into her usual ready stance, emerald light shining from her chest. As she did, an anchor tipped cable launched out of the hole she had made, snagging onto the edge of the doorway, hauling up the young salvager who had supposedly been left for dead.

“Rex? And the dead girl? What!?”

Nia’s eyes were wide with shock as she got her first good look at the girl. A deep red cloak trailed behind her, somehow untouched by the blaze surrounding her. Her black-red hair was painted crimson by the dancing light of the flames. Beneath her blood-stained blouse and mesh shirt, a brilliant emerald glow was cast, contrasting against the dark red of her dress as it washed over the black fabric of her corset. A brown leather belt hung at an angle from her waist, bearing a grey medallion in the shape of a blooming rose, which was matched on the opposite side by a small leather pouch, bearing the image of an animal she didn’t recognize. She kept hold of the modified Aegis in a pair of fingerless black gloves, wrists protected by dark leather bracers. Her boots were capped in metal, reflecting the surrounding inferno, and promising a bad time for anyone struck by them.

 Jin remained silent, while Malos raged, venom in his voice.

“You? Just who the hell ARE YOU? AND WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE AEGIS?”

Ruby just smirked.

“The name’s Ruby Rose.”

She twirled the weapon in question.

“And I helped Pyra make a few modifications.”

Her eyes narrowed as she took in the three people in front of her. The Faunus in the yellow jumpsuit with the white tiger beside her had to be Nia, and the Mistralian warrior knockoff with the alien beside him had to be Malos. That left the guy in the white long coat with the silver mask as Jin. Huh. What were the odds she and her sister would both have run-ins with masked katana wielders that left them maimed. She was pretty sure Yang had gotten the better deal on that one.

“Kinda unsporting to stab a girl in the back before she’s even gotten her senses in order, don’t you think?”

She spun her weapon, haft pointed towards the enemy.

“Rex, stay back! Pyra, covering fire!”

The masked warrior made to draw his weapon, but was stopped by his comrade in arms.

“Jin. Leave them to me.”

The white haired man gave a curt nod before turning and leaving, leaving Malos to his food.

Ruby let loose a blast of flame from Crimson Rose, sending herself rocketing at the dark-haired Driver, Blade raised high. He raised his bladed tonfa up to block, but a quick jet of flame altered the course of her assault, and she swung at him from the side.

“Sorry Kid.” He backhanded her with the flat of the blade quicker than she could raise her Aura, sending her flying back, but she dug the tip of her scythe into the deck plates, bleeding her momentum, although not quite as much as she would like, the flames cutting into the metal.

“I can’t let the likes of you just claim her power for yourself.” Malos’ face was smug as he stared her down. “This is as far as it goes.”

Pyra jumped down from her perch, rushing to stand Beside her Driver, only to be forced to dodge as Sever clawed at her.

“Over here Aegis!”

The reptilian blade placed himself between Pyra and Ruby, making himself an obstacle.

Ruby smirked at Malos as scythe clashed with tonfa.

“My Uncle Qrow fights better than you!”

Nia stared at the battle in front of her in awe. Whoever this girl was, she knew how to fight, that was for certain. She’d never seen a Blade like that before either! Was this the power of the Aegis? Or was she just that good?

She glanced over at Rex, still standing under the doorframe leading deeper into the ship, then at the various other salvagers stuck gawping at the spectacle.

“Ayeh, Dromarch. Fancy a rescue mission?”

His bared fangs were all the answer she needed.

Ruby liked to think she was handling her new weapon well, but the exhaustion of the day, combined with the flames around, was slowly but surely chipping away at her Aura reserves. Not to mention the effort it took to control the massive flames coming off of her scythe. She took a horizontal swing at Malos as his guard went down, only to overextend as he leapt backwards, tossing his weapon into the air as he did so. Her surprise at his disarmament lasted only for a few seconds, as Sever leapt into the air and grabbed the blade, swiping it twice in quick succession, sending a green x of energy slicing down at her. Before she even had time to move, Pyra was in front of her, a dome of green light springing into existence around them. Attack met defense in an explosion of energy, lighting up the cloudy night sky. Ruby quickly rose to her feet.

“Whoah, you can do that? You and I need to have a serious training session after this!”

“Ruby, focus!” “Right!”

Blade and Driver raced forward together, Pyra shielding Ruby from more of Sever’s blasts. As they closed in, Ruby sent her scythe curving out from behind Pyra’s shield, taking advantage of the extra reach to catch Malos by surprise. She managed to cut a gouge into his pauldron, smiling as she did so. A world away, with an unfamiliar weapon, and she still had it.

Rex’s voice called out from somewhere nearby.

“Everybody, go, now! Quick!”

What few salvagers remained aboard quickly made their exits, The slower ones being dragged by a massive white feline. Ruby’s smile quickly faded. She hadn’t realized there were still other civilians onboard!

She pressed her attack, hoping to keep Malos on the backfoot, but he backflipped up onto the upper deck, Sever tossing him their shared weapon, which shifted mid-flight into a traditional straight blade. The Driver took aim at the escaping workers, preparing to fire off a blast of energy. That just wouldn’t do! Taking a page from Blake’s playbook, she channeled her Aura into the flames lining the tip of her scythe, then sent them flying with a quick downward slice.

“Your fight’s with me!”

The blast of flame took Malos by surprise, colliding with his own attack and blinding him with a cloud of smoke..

Pyra ran to her side, gripping Crimson Rose alongside her, and suddenly Ruby knew EXACTLY what she was planning. She enveloped them in her Semblance, sending them spiraling into the air, a trail of petals following in their wake. As they reached the apex, they coalesced back into solid form, the petals rising up in front of them.

Blossoming!

As one, they swung the burning scythe down in a perfect vertical line, the petals caught in its wake igniting and following behind.

“INFERNO!”

Malos was buffeted by a razor sharp blade of fire, followed after by a swarm of burning flechettes. An explosion of billowing smoke soon obscured the combatants.

Everyone watching held their breath, waiting to see who would still be standing, and then the smoke cleared, revealing Ruby and Pyra floating in mid air, seemingly held aloft solely by the force they were placing Malos’s shield under.

For the briefest moment, the opposing Drivers locked eyes, lifeless grey meeting shining silver.

“I don’t know who the hell you are, Brat! Or how you can fight so well! But I’m ending this!

In his free hand, an orb of darkest purple light began to take shape. Pyra’s eyes went wide, and as Malos thrust the orb at her Drivers chest, she wrapped her arms around her and dragged her out of its path, sending the both of them flying back. Both Pairs of Driver and Blade landed atop the smoldering deck plates of the ancient vessel, ready to finish things.

Ruby could feel the energy Pyra was feeding into her body. It wasn’t quite aura, it lacked that true spark that signified the power of the soul, but she could make use of it all the same. She rammed the butt of Crimson Rose under the lip of Malos’s shield, Breaking his guard, following it up during the same swing by hooking behind his leg and sending him Toppling to the ground. She spun her body a full 360 degrees, caught him with the flat of the blade, and Launched him skyward. She shifted her grip towards the top of the shaft, extending the handle to Pyra, who swung her Driver like a flail with all her strength. A steel toed boot caught Malos in the gut, sending him sprawling back towards the ground. He slowly crawled back to his feet, smug expression never leaving his face.

“You’re good, kid. I’ve got no idea how you managed to reshape the Aegis like that, but it’s obvious you know how to use it.”

Ruby just stood ready, waiting for him to make a move.

“Smart too, aren't cha. Well then. See if you can outsmart this!

He extended his weapon out straight in one hand, another orb of purple building in the other. He launched the line of force at her head, the ball at her feet, waiting to see how she would move. Pyra moved to intercept, quickly blocked by Sever, and Ruby made ready to shift into petals to dodge. Her aura was running low, but she felt she had one more quick burst left in her. Before she had to do so, however, she was dragged out of the path of both and lifted up onto the back of Dromarch. Malos didn’t take this well.

“What the hell Nia !? Are you out of your mind ?”

She glared back at her former employer, fangs bared.

I’m not the one targeting civilians here you bloody psychopath! Consider my resignation tendered!”

Malos cracked a sadistic grin as he spotted Rex at the other side of the deck.

“Targeting civilians huh? Good idea!

He launched a sphere of darkness at the boy, only to be shocked as he was carried out of the way by a blur of red petals.

“Pyra, CATCH!"

Ruby tossed Crimson Rose into the air as Pyra leapt skyward. Scythe quickly shifted back into sword, and the Aegis brought the burning blade down on Malos’s head, forcing him to raise his guard and block, catching it along the edge of his tonfa. He forced her up and over him, but she was prepared, spinning mid air to land facing him. The pair began to trade blows in earnest, sparks flying as their weapons collided. Malos spun like a top, trying to catch Pyra with rapid slashes, but each time his blade came near she flipped backwards out of the way. Once enough distance had been gained, she launched a cascade of fireballs towards him, which he contemptuously sliced out of the air. Blinded as he was by their early detonation, he was nearly too late to catch her upwards swing on his crossed arms. Their blades locked with a clash of sparks.

“You’re pretty sharp for someone who’s only just woken up.”

Pyra remained silent. Ruby was out of aura and breath, leaning up against Rex, while Nia and Dromarch didn’t want to risk getting in her way.

“Takes me back to 500 years ago...”

His voice dropped to a whisper.

“What’s the deal with that appearance?”

The two warriors gazed into each other's eyes over the light of their interlocked blades.

“I’m guessing your goal is Elysium...”

Pyra finally took the chance to speak.

“I made a PROMISE to take her back home!”

“Then I have no choice but to stop you!”

Malos shoved forward, breaking the lock, and swung at Pyra with a fist cloaked in purple energy. She leaped backwards out of the way, twirling through the air as she did, landing softly on her feet, sword at the ready.

She was not prepared, however, for Malos’s reinforcements to arrive in the form of a massive ship pulling up alongside behind her. A pair of missile pods rose from with its armor plating, and only the timely warning of both Rex and Ruby allowed her to throw up a shield in time. But it still wasn’t enough to keep from sending ragdolling.

“PYRA!”

Ruby raced over to her Blade, sweeping her up onto her feet.

“Are you okay!?”

She got a weak chuckle in response.

“More or less...”

Ruby just held her tight, moving over towards Rex, Nia, and Dromarch, but the ship, recognizable to Nia as the Monoceros, simply pulled farther up alongside. Rex ran to help Ruby support Pyra, while Dromarch leapt in between them and the ship, Nia riding atop his back.

“Stop this!”

The missile pods unleashed a salvo once more, but Dromarch unleashed a mighty roar, causing a barrier of energy to spring to life and defend them. Two more pods rose and began to contribute to the assault, causing the bestial Blade’s barrier to begin to falter. Ruby held Pyra tight, while Rex kept Nia steady atop her steed. The barrier could not last, however, and an errant explosion nearly sent the feline Driver flying off the side of the salvaged ship. On instinct, Rex grabbed her by the arm and fired his anchor into the deck plates. The forces involved nearly ripped his arms from their sockets, but Nia was safe.

Malos, however, was unimpressed.

“Aren't you all forgetting something?” he called out, pointing at the missile batteries which had yet to resume firing.

“Oh,” started Ruby.

“Shit,” finished Rex.

Their fears were laid to rest, however, as a series of explosions rocked the Monoceros, sending it reeling to the side.

“What the hell was THAT ?”

A trilling cry filled the air, causing Rex’s eyes to open wide as a draconic shape came swooping down out of the clouds. The titanic flier flew between the two warring vessels, wings vertical as he did, giving a nod to Rex as went past.

“Gramps!” Rex shouted his guardian’s name in triumph.

Wait, Gramps? Is that thing Rex’s grandpa? Ruby could perhaps be forgiven for thinking so, given her lack of sleep and the sheer insanity that had been her last few days.

Azurda, or Gramps as he was known to his ward, swung around to make another pass, eyes sighting on first Jin, then Malos. The recognition was mutual. Azurda Climbed into a spiraling ascent, flipping over at the apex of his climb to begin bombarding the two with blasts of flame.

Jin simply stood ready with hand on hilt, slicing in half the only attack to come near.

Taking advantage of the distraction, Azurda landed atop the now thoroughly devastated vessel, calling for Rex to get on. The adolescent salvager dragged the still unconscious Nia atop the titan, while Ruby and Pyra climbed atop Dromarch, who followed soon after. His passengers secured, for a given value of secure, Azura leapt off the soon to be derelict vessel and out into the open sky.

On Malos’s order the Monoceros opened fire on the fleeing Titan, filling the air around him with explosive blasts, but Azurda flew on unhindered. They were soon far beyond the range of the Tornan vessel’s weaponry. Jin called off further pursuit. Malos expressed confusion, but was rebuked. The Aegis was awake. That would be enough for the time being. They could hunt her down later.