"Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

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Guerrier Maya
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par chaton »

Très bonne histoire
J ai beaucoup aimé
J attends la suite avec impatience
Perso préféré : esteban
Couple préféré: esteban zia
:Sancho: :Pedro: le condor ? c'est pas d'l'or ?!?!?? ça vaut rien alors!!!!
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Maître Shaolin
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Este »

chaton a écrit : 08 août 2020, 02:09 J attends la suite avec impatience
Moi aussi !! Vivement la suite qui se fait attendre pour quelqu'un comme toi !! :lol: :lol:
Saison 1 : 18/20 :D
Saison 2 : 13/20 :roll:
Saison 3 : 19/20 :-@ :-@ :-@
Saison 4 : 20/20 :-@ :-@ :-@ :-@ :-@

Perso préféré : Laguerra
Couple préféré : Mendoza et Laguerra
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Ra Mu
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Ra Mu »

Este a écrit : 08 août 2020, 11:26 Moi aussi !! Vivement la suite qui se fait attendre pour quelqu'un comme toi !! :lol: :lol:
Il n'y est pour rien, il s'est simplement pris un ban d'une semaine, (car PhPBB ne propose rien entre ça et 24h) pour propos inappropriés pour un forum destiné à la jeunesse. Donc, va falloir être patients... ^^ 8)
Z'avez raté une occasion de vous taire. 8)
- On s'est tout de même embrassés, cela ne signifie donc rien?
- HEIN? T'as embrassé Ambrosius?
- *soupir* Allez, déblaie!
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Vénérable Inca
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Sandentwins »

chaton a écrit : 08 août 2020, 02:09 Très bonne histoire
J ai beaucoup aimé
J attends la suite avec impatience
Ce sera sur archiveofourown.org. Pour raisons pratiques j'ai cessé de publier sur le forum parce que c'est plein de mariettes ici. Aujourd'hui j'en suis au chapitre 23.

https://archiveofourown.org/works/25015 ... s/65066707
:condor: Le meilleur personnage de toute la série, c'est la mère d'Esteban.:condor:

Deviantart -- Fanfictions
S1: 14/20
S2: 15/20
S3: 17/20

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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par manonallemende »

Sandentwins a écrit : 27 sept. 2020, 19:09
chaton a écrit : 08 août 2020, 02:09 Très bonne histoire
J ai beaucoup aimé
J attends la suite avec impatience
Ce sera sur archiveofourown.org. Pour raisons pratiques j'ai cessé de publier sur le forum parce que c'est plein de mariettes ici. Aujourd'hui j'en suis au chapitre 23.

https://archiveofourown.org/works/25015 ... s/65066707
T’es insultes tu te les gardent pour toi :roll:
Isabella Laguerra x Girlada x Elise Tielrooy
"Mon maître ?! Je n'ai pas de maître ! Sachez le Señor Mendoza !" Isabella Laguerra
"Cette nuit c'est moi qui dors sur le canapé ou je vous brise le cou !" Ariel Grimaud
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Maître Shaolin
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Este »

En tout cas la suite est très bien !!
Saison 1 : 18/20 :D
Saison 2 : 13/20 :roll:
Saison 3 : 19/20 :-@ :-@ :-@
Saison 4 : 20/20 :-@ :-@ :-@ :-@ :-@

Perso préféré : Laguerra
Couple préféré : Mendoza et Laguerra
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Sandentwins »

Allez, va. Je suis pas vache, donc je vous mets l'intégralité du dernier chapitre. Pour ceux qui préfèrent lire sur AO3, c'est par là:
:condor: https://archiveofourown.org/works/25015 ... s/66143689 :condor:
Comme d'hab, réflexions et artwork en fin de post.

:condor: Chapter 32: For the Skyfire and the Shattered Earth will Rest in her Hands. :condor:

By the end of summer, two major events happened.

They've tried to delay the first one as much as possible. To stop it, to hinder it in any way possible. But they've done all they could, and there was no stopping the inevitable. By the end of summer, Lohikaarm the Wardragon, the seventh City of Gold, had been completed.

It was a frightening beast of orichalcum and glass, a fortress of destruction and death shaped like a mythical creature. When it first took off, carrying a city of a thousand people on its back, the sonic boom it caused could be heard from the other side of the ocean. The trail of its solar energy was unmistakeable, and that was how they knew it was too late to stop it.

Its heavy wings bore enough solar panes to power up an entire kingdom. Its tail could catch radio waves from the other side of the Earth, with more efficiency than Ophir ever could have. Its legs could crush towers and temples if they were to land in the middle of a city. But the scariest part was its maw, which held the power of the sun's very core, and could unleash it all in a single breath.

And the orders were no mistake: it was to be headed for Atlantis, and strike the whole island with its fire. This time, there would be no recovering from this. If it truly were to target the continent, the force of the solar stone it held would melt rock and crack stone open, turn the vegetation to ash and the creatures to scorched carcasses. Even the people of Atlantis, who were born from the sun goddess herself, would not be able to handle its wrath. It would be the end of the war, and the end of a civilization.

But such a fortress needed a lot of power. To fully charge its death ray, it first needed to fly south, where there was more sun, and stay in altitude as to not miss any of it. From several outposts around the world, it could be seen hovering above the clouds, following the sun every day without fail, as if to remind the people below that the end was coming. It was hard to estimate from below, but Rana's engineers calculated that at this rate, it would be powered up in a matter of days, and that it would strike before the end of the week.

In a few days, the world as she's known it would be gone. Everything would change for the worst, and there was no hope. Or at least that's what she'd have thought.

The order to fire still hadn't been given. There was still a chance the beast would land without striking at all. A small, ridiculously slim chance, but one nonetheless. And she knew the only way it could happen was if the Emperor were to somehow be incapacitated. Who else but him would claim the honor of destroying Atlantis with a single word? She knew his pride too well. Which meant that she still had a chance to stop him, and stop all of this chaos from happening.

It was delusional, and contradicted everything she's been trying to accept in defeat, but she couldn't help it. For the second major event had rekindled this flame of battle within her, this desire to fight and emerge triumphant. By the end of the summer, Asterion of Mu, heir to the imperial throne, had been born.

What had to happen, happened without Rana even worried about it. One moment, she was giving out orders, carrying out an emergency evacuation plan; the next, she was done giving birth, and now holding a little baby in her arms. Perhaps it was best that her troubled mind had forgotten the details, but in either way, she was glad it was over. She couldn't say she hadn't suffered, but looking at the face of her child, she knew it had been worth it.

It felt to her like the most beautiful baby in the world. A little bundle of joy, so tiny she could hold it in one arm. A squishy face with round cheeks and sparse tufts of brown hair, tiny hands with minuscule fingers that endeared her beyond reason, adorable little feet like baby ducklings, and a hearty voice that sang more than it cried. She's wanted to think of something else, to stay in denial, but there was no doubt: this child was a treasure, someone worth fighting for. And she would make sure they had the brightest future she could ever create with her own hands.

However, she felt worried. She did not feel the unconditional, bursting love that new mothers were so eagerly talking about. She was happy that her child was finally born, of course, but it wasn't the all-encompassing and blissful feeling she's been expecting. She felt like something was wrong, like maybe she's been broken somehow; to be a mother for the first time, and not feel anything! She felt so ashamed of herself, like she was failing at the most basic of tasks! Why couldn't Asterion be the solution to all her anxiety and fear?

Still quite shaken from the experience of a first birth, she had to take some time to recover and restore her emotions. Luckily, she was not short of attending hands and helpers, many of which were or have been mothers as well. It felt good to not be alone, to have answers to her most pressing doubts. And as her body recovered from the trial of motherhood, her mind did as well. She shouldn't have to force herself; love would come as she bonded with her little one. She just had to give it time.

She would love to. But unfortunately, time was running out every day, as the dragon in the sky kept reminding them. One day it would disappear from its course, and that's when they'd know it was too late.

How she wished her mother was here. How she wished she could see her first grandchild, and reassure Rana's worries. Vai'Sina had seen her daughter become a woman; but she would never get to see her become a mother. All because of this stupid, cursed conflict.

Rana was always busy, for the duty of princess could not wait. Kardelios had been assigned to a protection mission, helping evacuate town in case the solarbeam were to strike here as well. Research on souls and Atlantean genes being halted by emergency, it was Meliad who became Asterion's main caretaker. It simply felt logical; and it was such a joy to see them together. He worked his task with duty and reverence, and always took great care of the baby, for he was a naturally soft person. Since the start, he's grown completely endeared of the royal child, and one who did not know better could have sworn it was his own. Perhaps caring for Pichu for all these years had shaped him into the perfect nurse.

It reassured Rana a great deal, for she knew that if she were to disappear, her baby would be in good hands. She hated to think this way, but with the situation at hand, she had no other choice. She knew she would not be here forever, and that her child would maybe never know their mother. But at least, their life would be spared.

Maybe that too, had been meant to happen since the start.


She tied her snowy hair in a tight bun, keeping it out of her eyes. In her sleeves, the hidden daggers were ready, and in her shins as well. Gone were the appealing dresses and shimmering fabrics: this time, she was here to act, not to stay passive and show off her status. She needed to merge with her fellow team members, for their fight was hers as well. So far she's stayed behind, given orders and made things happen through others, but if she wanted this war to end, she needed to put a stop to it by herself.

“Your Highness, you do not have to do this.”, Meliad insisted again. “You'll put yourself in unnecessary danger!”

“Whether I go or not, the entire world will be in danger.”, she said, strapping her belt on. “So I might as well make sure to save you all.”

“This is madness! What if...what if something happened to you?”

“He's right, you know.”, Kardelios hesitated, sheathing his sword. “We might...we might not return from this.”

He turned to her, gently held her hand.

“I mean, I'm always ready for action, but...now that we have Asterion, I'm not so sure I want to do this anymore. Let's stay behind, just this once!”

She could see the worry in his eyes. She could feel the restlessness of his soul. She sighed, and squeezed his hands tight in return.

“You do not have to come.”, she said, deadpan. “But I don't have the choice. I have to face my father, for no one else can.”

“You know that if you're coming, I'm coming too! What I'm asking you, is that you don't risk your life! You're still weak, you have to stay!”

Feeling irritated, she withdrew her hands.

“I cannot afford such a luxury. Time is of the essence: every minute I stay inactive, is one minute closer to our doom. My body might be recovering, but my soul is strong.”

To prove it, she tried to show off her aura, to make them all feel just how powerful it was. But the lioness was indeed shaking on its paws, even though its roar wanted to be as tremendous and mighty as before. There was just too much hesitation in her soul, and it afflicted her a great deal. But what could she do about it, besides facing her demons and fighting them face-on?

It was what the world needed her to do.

She turned to Meliad, who felt right about to cry. She could see it in his eyes, even if he tried to hide it. Gently, she stepped closer, and held his hand in hers.

“It will be fine. I promise.”

“I...I am not so sure anymore. Everything feels like it is coming to an end, and I cannot do anything to help you.”

She tried to reply, but a flurry of green feathers cut her.

“Rana, Rana, don't go!”, Pichu cried out. “Don't go!!”

“I'm sorry, old friend. But my duty calls me.”

She held the parrot on her hand, letting him snuggle up to her. Her only piece of her old life, the only thing left from everything she had been through. She had no idea of how old Pichu was when she first met Tao, but those last ten years since she's arrived in the times of Mu definitely showed in his sad plumage. Parrots could live long, but their life was still so short compared to that of humans. And it was horrible to know.

“Thank you for being there with me all these years, my Pichu. My little featherball. Now, I want you to stay with Meliad, and Asterion. Be their friend too, and you'll make me very happy.”


He still allowed himself to be perched back on Meliad's shoulder, to stay grounded there. Rana turned to him next, he whose sad puppy eyes still tugged at her heartstrings.

“You have a purpose too. The world needs you as much as it needs me. For it is you that will accomplish one of the greatest tasks of all.”

She took off her royal medallion, and handed it to him. It did not blacken in his hand, of course. She made it so. She took care of everything.

“Go to the Voice of the Desert.”, she instructed. “There will be a small team waiting for you. Give them my medallion, and they will rebuild the City anew. It contains all of the data we have salvaged, and so much more.”

The history of her people, of her fight for peace, that has been recorded in the Temple of Memories as well. Her legacy to the world: the knowledge that even in the heart of the war, there have been people that opposed it. That fought against the conflict itself. With this knowledge, history would be made right once again.

“The City will be reborn.”, she continued. “It will become even greater than before. It will become the Kûm Laa Ar.”

“...the Tomb of the Royal.”, Meliad whispered.

In a thrust of thought, he understood what it all meant. What did she plan this time? Had she gone so mad that she's planned her own burial in advance!?

“Let me come with you!”, he pleaded. “I will help you, I...I will...”

“Your concern is good, Meliaki. But you are not a fighter. You will have more luck staying behind, where you can oversee everything. I left you all the instructions you need.”

“But...but I have to protect you! This is what I am meant to do!!”

She smiled. A sad, endeared, devastated smile.

“You will protect the medallion.”, she said. “But you will also keep the most precious part of me. The one I leave to the future.”

She leaned down, to look at the baby he was holding. Her baby, her little treasure, that she was putting so much hope into. In a sense, it felt right that she did not grow attached to this child; maybe she's felt since the start that she wouldn't be staying with it. But still, it pained her to go and leave it alone and orphaned. She tried to quell her heart's cries as she planted a kiss on their tiny forehead, maybe the last one they would ever get from their mother.

“Goodbye, Asterion. I wish I could have known you more. But I know you will grow into someone great.”

She looked up at Meliad, and saw he was indeed crying. Gently, she kissed his cheek in turn, to ease his tears of pain. Kardelios walked closer, to hold his baby's hand a last time, see its happy and peaceful little face, and cried a little in turn. Unlike his wife, he had no intent of hiding his feelings, and perhaps it hurt more to know than anything else.

“Goodbye, little buddy.”, he whispered. “I'll wait for you, I promise. Grow strong, and...and be happy.”

He wiped his eyes, trying to stay strong and keep face. Meliad gently cupped his cheek, brushing his tears away, and Kardelios forced a smile at his attempt.

“They don't make 'em anywhere like you, little nymph.”, he teased. “It's been a pleasure knowing ya.”

And then, in a thrust of playfulness, he leaned in and touched his lips to the nymph's, who let out a little surprised squeak. Pichu whistled on an amused tone, not helping the situation at all.

“That's a promise.”, Kardelios said once they parted. “When the Princess and I come back from this, we'll both marry you. Cause with all you've done for us, that's the least you deserve.”

Meliad simply blinked, still confused and red-faced. Rana chuckled at that scene, thinking that such an arrangement could work out indeed. Even in dire times, Kardelios knew how to stay optimistic, and that would be of the greatest help.

“I...okay.”, is all Meliad managed to speak. “…be careful.”

“We will, Meliaki. Good luck.”

“Rana be good, rrk!”

They exchanged a last smile, a last glance; and then, it was time to go. Rana and Kardelios headed outside, to join the rest of the team that had gathered in the landing court.

“Time is running out, my friends.”, she spoke. “Sharias, you and your team head to Atlantis this instant and help evacuate the island. Threaten them if needed, but have everyone ready to depart.”

“Right on it, Your Highness.”

“Rodon, help spread the word that Mu is in danger as well. This strike will call for retaliation, and no one is safe. Use the communications channeler and set it on 99 to reach as many outposts as you can.”

“It will be done.”

“Krata and Akis, keep the evacuation of New Sun Land going. Head inland, keep away from the coast.”

They nodded in unison.

“Fasavis, you're coming with me. If everything else fails, we'll need you.”

“Hope it doesn't come to that. But a task is a task.”

“Then it is said. Everyone to their station, and pick up the pace! We have a war to end! Bring down the dragon!”

“Bring down the dragon!!”

And everyone moved forward. Rana looked at them deploy, get to where they were needed, watched the vehicles take off and fly away. Then, it was time for her to follow. She turned to Kardelios, and he opened the beak of a Golden Condor for the three of them.

“We might never come back home.”, she said. “But we will not leave in vain.”


“If only you could see things the way I see them, darling.”, he slowly spoke, looking out the window. “If only you could see the beauty of my actions.”

The Emperor took another step, watching the majestic dragon slowly fly high in the sky. Was there ever a sight as beautiful as this one? The symbol of the power of Mu, the jewel of the seven fortresses. The protector watching over them, hiding out the sun out of love for their people.

Truly, a magnificent invention.

“Beauty, huh.”, a voice smirked behind him. “I fail to see how death and destruction can bring out beauty.”

Fisaga turned his chair away, refusing to gaze at this wonder in flight. His hand touched to his chest, scratching nervously at it.

“Your heart has been darkened, Kane. Your mind has been lost for too long. Do you not see that this is tearing us apart?”

“This is for the greater good.”, Kane'Oro answered. “My methods may seem cruel, but they come from a place of love. With everything I have done, I can build the world anew, and make it better! I can get rid of the corruption that took a hold of it!”

“Corruption!? Is that how you call our old allies?”

“They were nothing but a nuisance. At the first occasion, they turned their loyalty away from us. They were not deserving of everything we had to offer!”

Fisaga suddenly swiveled around.

“You have gone completely insane!”, he called out. “Is that your solution to everything you dislike? Just because our alliance came to an end, they now deserve death and destruction!?”

“There is no place in my world for a civilization of snakes and backstabbers.”, Kane'Oro replied sternly. “And the time has come to prove it. Far too long have I allowed their follies to go on, yet now there is no other choice but to destroy them. Destroy everything that stands in my way, and shape the world as I see fit!”

“You speak like a tyrant! Is that what you make of your power!? Is that what you have sworn your life to??”

Kane'Oro simply shook his head in disappointment.

“And you speak like a child. You are too fond of those below us, for you have too much pity for them! Have you never thought of being more, of going beyond what is right or wrong?”

It seemed that only he knew the truth. And that is why he was the Emperor of Mu, the leader of the most powerful nation that had ever existed. Why, he might as well be the ruler of the world! He saw no difference at all. To him, the world was his birthright, his playing field. He who had power beyond anything known, why should he not use it to do what he wanted? He was the only one not to be hindered by morals and reason; those were distractions to keep people obedient and in place. But he was beyond rules. He made the rules!

“I understand how you feel.”, he said after a time. “I know how pity can make one feel. Have I not felt pity for you, when we first met? Have I not felt pity for this poor child, lost in the desert?”

“You are lying to yourself. I know you are better than that. You love me, don't you?”

The Emperor simply chuckled.

“Why, I do. Do you not see how everything I have ever done was made out of love? Perhaps you cannot. Perhaps you will never love me the way I do.”

“Your way is twisted. You pretend to love our daughter, and yet you chased her away!”

“She was growing too powerful for her own good. She was not ready to succeed to me yet. When I learned that she was sneaking with snake-eyes, I knew she was as good as gone.”

“You're a psychopath. You and your twisted mind games, I hate you! I hate this monster you have become!!”

He heard Fisaga start to cry, but made nothing of it. He was past such reactions. Tearing his eyes away from his creation, he stepped away from the windows; but that is when he felt something. He raised his head, letting mageia flow all around the room, the palace, the city, until he located it.

“Ah, will you be happy, my dear!”, he cheered with a smile. “Our lovely daughter has come to pay us a visit.”

Fisaga suddenly sat up.

“Rana!? She's here?!”

“Right on time, right on time. And- oooh, she is not alone. It feels like we will have some sunny company very soon!”

He grinned, feeling it all like a stupid joke. She might try, of course, but she would only come to face the cruel truth. Ah, well, he could entertain her for a time, if that is what she wanted! But the result would be the same.

It could only go one way: his way, and none other.


“Rana. We're here.”

Shook by a gentle hand, she woke up from her half-trance, and saw the houses and streets of Patiala below her. How it felt strange to come back here...


She sat up, recalling the steps of the plan. They only had one chance to do this, and perhaps they've already flubbed it; but she had to try. She had to at least try to stop the catastrophe from happening. Even if she failed, she could say she's done all she could.

Not that she would be able to say much anymore.

“You'll be alright?”, Fasavis asked, switching seats with her brother to pilot in turn.

“We will try. And if we fail, well, why bother? That is the last thing we will ever feel.”

Kardelios blinked at that.

“I thought you didn't like our sense of humor.”

“I got it from you and your endless jokes. Your wedding present to me.”

“Out of all the things I've given you...”

She chuckled, patting his cheek.

“You'll still have time to give me more. Maybe another child, even.”

“Wow, eager, aren't you, Princess?”

“It must be some animal instinct. If you cannot preserve yourself, preserve your species.”

“By sending them away...”

It was cruel, she knew. But it was that or death for all.

Here they were. The Emperor's palace, in the heart of the city. So far, no one had seen them, disguised in the Condor's cloaking mechanism. A technique they have refined, learned from the masters of invisibility.

Fasavis pressed a button, and the windshield opened. Carefully, Rana climbed out onto the bird's head, followed by Kardelios who held her hand very very tight.

“If in twenty minutes the dragon is still airborne, you know what to do.”, Rana told Fasavis.

“Princess, I...I'm not sure I can pull it off. That's a lot you're asking of me...”

“If Lohikaarm strikes, Atlantis is as good as gone. Let that fuel your gesture.”

She knew it was a sensitive cord to be tugged at, but now was not the time for sensibility. Now was the time for action!

“...alright.”, she eventually conceded. “Well, see you at mom's place, you two.”

“See you at mom's place, buttface.”

The siblings exchanged a last salute, before it was time to go. Rana breathed in, her her spouse's hand tight, and ran towards the edge of the beak to leap right out of it.

Roosters were not meant to fly, but that did not mean they couldn't. Rana held tight onto him, focused her mageia, and let it wrap around them to carry them into their descent. Her feet flipped forward, and she let it happen as the two of them were brought down, eventually touching to the roof of the castle. Rana then gestured to Fasavis, and she saw the disguised Condor fly away.

Now was their time to shine.

“Promise me to never do that again.”, Kardelios said, voice shaking.

“There will be no other occasion, anyway.”

She's spent her teenage years in this palace; she knew the ins and out very well. This way, they could reach a loose window they could sneak in through. It landed them in a hall in some tower, which seemed deserted. Rana stood carefully, sensing the air for any presence.

“Guards on our right. Let's take this way.”

Kardelios followed diligently. His sight might be half of what it used to be, but he still had very good ears.

“Footsteps. Come close.”

Rana huddled up to him, and Kardelios focused. His body became all warm, his breathing changed its pace. She felt something strange wrap all around her, like a form of mageia, and her sight got all warped like she was surrounded with a bubble. She stayed as still as possible, trying to make no noise at all. Two guards on patrol came this way, and kept going without even seeing them. Once they turned a corner, Kardelios released the illusion, and the invisibility effect shed away.

Distorted light. It slipped right off their bodies and kept going off into nothing, rendering them effectively invisible. At least, Rana got to learn how it worked while she was still alive.

The throne room was this way. Something told her the Emperor would be there. How could it be any other way? He had a flair for the dramatic, and so had she, in a sense. If a fight were to take place, it would be here. She dreaded to think about it, but there was no turning back now.

The door was locked, with a lock so simple it might as well be open. She made nothing of it, and the two of them entered the throne room. It was empty, for now was not the time for audiences. No court members to witness was was going on, no guards to come hinder them, nothing.

No one but Fisaga, sitting by the throne.

When she entered in, he opened wide eyes. She sensed around, and felt nothing but him in here.


She ran to him, to see if he was alright; he seemed shaken by something. Kardelios stayed behind, watching for any upcoming threats, but there were none in sight.

“Rana…?”, Fisaga hesitated, as if he had trouble speaking. “What...what are you doing here!?”

“Father, there is no time. We have to get you out of here. Where is the Emperor?”

“Rana, you have to leave! It's dangerous, you should not be here!”

“I know, but I had to come back. I had to.”

His eyes then darted to her companion.

“Who's that? What is- what is he doing here!?”

“It is a very long story. I will explain everything, but you can trust him. I know I trust him with my life.”

“You have to go! Now! Please!!”

She blinked, not getting what he meant. She sensed the dog barking, irritated and angry. Something...something was holding it in place, and it was trying to warn them. Immediately, she felt something else in the room with them.

She moved just in time to avoid it. One second too late, and the reptile would have struck her right in the soul.

Kardelios drew his sword, pointing at where that came from. From the shadows of the room, the Emperor himself slowly walked out, his aura slithering and hissing as it came back to curl around him. The dragon was still mighty and fearsome, like a tamed animal he'd carry around and caress to intimidate his enemies. In that moment, he appeared to her no different than Ankheru the Falcon King.

“Look who came back to greet us.”, he snided. “Welcome home, Rana'Ori. Finally, you have recovered your sense of loyalty.”

He grinned at her. A grin that meant nothing good, she knew it.

“Or maybe you did not come here to rejoin me? I see by your...entourage that you still hold beliefs I cannot accept.”

Kardelios held his sword in a defensive position. Rana had warned him plenty about what exactly Kane'Oro was able to do, and he would not fall for his traps.

“I admit, this is not the situation in which I hoped to meet my father-in-law.”, he joked despite his serious attitude. “Though I fully understand why you'd want to kill me.”

“Keep your pleasantries to yourself, snake. They would make pitiful words for your epitaph.”

“What does he mean?”, Fisaga asked. “'Father-in-law'? Do you...do you mean…?”

“Yes.”, Rana nodded, seeing no point in hiding it. “Kardelios is my lawfully wedded husband, for a year now.”

Kane'Oro smirked. A cruel face that betrayed his disgust pretty well.

“And to think I once considered you my own daughter. Why, if you are so keen to come back on your own words, what care do I have for mine?”

The dragon hissed and stood up, taking most of the space as usual. Rana tried to stand tall, to not let herself be impressed. This was not a real dragon, it was merely a projection. It could not hurt her, she would not allow it to!

“Father.”, she spoke slowly, but with certainty. “You know why we have come here.”

“Of course I know. I know everything, you should be aware of it by now. You want to force me to stop the solarbeam strike, and save all your Atlantean friends. I know you too well, my child!”

“Then you already know how it will end.”, she warned. “I will give you one last chance to surrender, bef-”

Her voice was suddenly caught in her throat, and she fell on her knees. She didn't even notice the dragon catching the lioness in its maw, almost biting into it whole.

“Please.”, Kane'Oro scoffed. “Spare yourself the trouble. Why should I surrender to you!?

Kardelios gasped, seeing his love in sudden and invisible pain. He rushed forward and attempted to strike, but was stopped with the same ease, suddenly falling to the ground like his body refused to obey.

“Do not even attempt to lay a hand on me, you serpent! You have never matched us and never will. Your strength is merely an illusion.”

And he took pleasure in bringing a cry out of him, holding Kardelios's aura so tight in his claws that it inflicted physical pain. Rana screamed, recovering the use of her voice, and tried to evade her father's control, to fight it and stand back up.

“You fight in vain, all of you. Have you not understood that your only chance to live is to surrender?”

His tone was awfully calm, as if he was not currently holding his daughter's and her husband's souls hostage. Rana tried to fight it, to struggle, to writhe out of it, and managed to free her arm. Despite the pain and paralysis, she aimed her hand and flicked her wrist; a dagger shot out, and Kane'Oro noticed it a moment too late. He stepped out of the way, the dagger ripping at his sleeve, and his control released.

Quickly, Rana got back on her feet, and Kardelios followed. He did not hesitate; in that instant of stupor, he went to strike at the Emperor, his sword tracing a silvery trail in the air. But Kane'Oro managed to block it with his armguards, pushing back the blade. Rana used that moment to strike in turn, biting at the dragon's flank and distracting him, so that Kardelios could try to get a slice in from the other side. He was pushed away with mageia, but did not evade another thrown dagger, this one hitting him in the leg. He stumbled a little, his control already weakening, and Rana got to deal yet another bite.

Kane'Oro fell on one knee, and his aura roared at them to keep them away. It took off and dove like a hawk to catch Rana's, but she held tight onto Kardelios's arm and his own soul pushed the beast away. She showed him the way, and together they went for a combined auratic assault, with a practiced synchronicity that took the Emperor aback for a moment. Their combined strike had more force, for their kindred auras echoed back to one another. Then they parted, each taking in a different direction, and the dragon stayed disoriented, not knowing which to chase. Rana tried to strike at Kane'Oro again, and he pushed her away with his arm, throwing her to the ground. A dart hit him from behind, shot from Kardelios's wrist crossbow, but got slowed by his thick clothing. He shot again, and again, but focused as he was on aiming, he did not sense the dragon attacking him from above. He fell on the ground, feeling his strength suddenly leave him, and Rana screamed; then it was her turn to be pinned down by a solid hand, so hard she felt something break.

“Enough!”, the Emperor roared, so loud that his voice echoed all around the room. “You have lost, I tell you! There is no way I will let you win!!”

“Kane, stop it!!”, Fisaga pleaded, unable to help. “You're hurting them!!”

“I will hurt anyone I please! I will hurt the entire world if it means succeeding!!”

Rana tried to fight back, but her own forces were leaving her, bleeding out from the dragon's assaults. Kardelios laid on the ground, as if he got knocked unconscious. Kane'Oro's hand clenched around her throat, and she felt her pulse grow dangerously high.

“You could never understand.”, he growled. “That is why you will always be weak.”

He clenched, and Rana felt her eyes start to hurt. She clawed her hands at his', tried to push him back, but her body felt weakened. She's barely recovered from childbirth, she could not handle such a fight!

Suddenly, Kane'Oro's grip released, and he fell to the side. There was a loud noise, and Rana breathed in a large gulp of air. She stood up in a hurry, and took a moment to assess what happened. With horror, she saw that Fisaga had fallen out of his chair; he's ran into his husband as fast as he could, enough to make him fall. Before Kane'Oro could stand, Fisaga got on top of him and pinned him to the ground with all the strength of his upper body.

“Get off me!”, the Emperor roared. “Let me go!”

“When will you stop!?”, Fisaga barked. “You've gone too far, Kane! You've gone insane! Have you got no sense at all!?”

“Let me go!!”

And he pushed him away. Rana yelped, and immediately went to his aid, helping him sit up. Kardelios was also wobbling back onto his feet; when he saw what was happening, he rushed to stand behind Rana and the Emperor, sword shakingly pointed at the him. The latter stepped back, looking at the three of them with disgusted, yet tired eyes.

“You make me sick. All of you! When will you understand that I am doing all of this for you!?”

“You're not!!”, Fisaga shouted. “You think you are, but you're deluding yourself! You cannot justify your cruel actions with love!!”

“I can justify anything I want. For I am unstoppable! Soon, my creation will be complete, and no one will oppose me ever again!”

“With all due respect, Your Majesty, you are the epitome of insane.”, Kardelios intervened, panting. “You can't achieve peace by eliminating all those who oppose you. You can't rule the world with fear!”

“What would you know about ruling?! Who are you to tell me about peace, you who soon will be landless!”

To that, Kardelios smirked, his voice sounding as tired as ever.

“As if that could happen. My land is everywhere, you know. And that's why your attempt is useless.”

He lowered his sword, his arms weakening.

“You can wipe Atlantis off the map. Every last bit of it. But you'll never kill us. For we'll always be there, ready to defend the world!”

“You will be nowhere! You are nothing, you hear me!? Nothing!!”

“Then why are you so afraid of us? If we're nothing, why do you want to get rid of us? Or maybe you know that we do match you, and that's what scares you?”

Rana sensed the dragon twitch. Had Kardelios tugged at something she did not foresee?

“I will never be afraid of you! I will kill you all, and erase your pathetic kind from my world!!”

“Yeah, right.”

Kardelios stood straight, and sheathed his sword. He then casually walked to Rana's side, and let Fisaga hold onto him to stand up.

“Look, Your Majesty. Kill me if you want. I'm just a person, I'm meant to die someday. But what I stand for? You'll never be able to kill. Not with fear, not with giant wardragons. It's just too much for you.”

That's when Rana felt it. It wrapped around her, shielding her from the world. It felt...warm, and soft, like a feeling of happiness. Her hands felt very warm, and Fisaga felt it too. That's when she noticed that outside, the light had changed.

Slowly, the sun was coming back into the bleak skies. She smiled, and she invited it in as well, let it shine through the windows. It should not be possible, and yet...she just knew how to do. It felt like the most natural thing in the world, and that was great.

This is Atlantis.”, Kardelios grinned. “This is who we are. This is what you'll never conquer.”

Kane'Oro was fuming with rage. He tried to fight back, to impose himself back in, but there was no fighting it. His own feelings have been wounded during the battle, and he could not order darkness back inside.

“Pathetic.”, he scoffed. “You are so pathetic, believing in folk tales. But it is only fitting that the very thing you believe in will be your undoing.”

And he smiled. Rana did not know what he meant, and it frightened her, but that is when he showed her. His own memory, his own knowledge.

The sun had come back to shine bright, and its light was enveloping the city. But in doing so, it also covered Lohikaarm's wings. The Wardragon had finally ended its charging cycle, and its systems were operative. It beat its wings, and deviated from its week-long course, starting to head to its destination. In its core, the solar stone was whirring.

Rana did not control herself. Her feet moved on her own, her fingers clenched, her mageia sparked. Her voice screamed, and her fist met with Kane'Oro's chest, punching him with all the force of an enraged and betrayed daughter.

He might be powerful and prideful; but even with all his powers, his bones remained old. His back hit a pillar, and gave way like nothing. Then Rana fell on her knees, and screamed out all her tears.

Nothing. She's done all of that for nothing!! It was too late to stop Lohikaarm, it was too late!!

Kardelios sat Fisaga in his chair and rushed to her, trying to hold her. But she kept crying, screaming out all that weighed on her. She's failed everyone! She was a failure, a failure!! Now everything would be gone, like nothing ever mattered!!

“What are we going to do!?”, she asked, in tears. “Are we going to stand here and watch it all disappear?!”

“We won't! There...there's got to be a way!”

He looked around, panicked. Then he turned to Fisaga, who was still under the shock of what had just happened.

“There is a way, right? We can...we can still stop it?”

Fisaga looked like he knew the answer, but did not want to say it. Rana knew that it was too late, that nothing could be done now. And it tore her apart, it tore at her more than knowing she would soon die.

“...there is one.”

She felt her breath cut short. She looked up, and almost crawled to her father's side, looking him in the eyes.

“There is? What is it?? Oh, father, I beg you to tell me!! We need to stop it!!”

Fisaga looked away, as if it weighed on his heart to say it. His fists clenched on his robe, and the dog whined with its ears down.

“Kane'Oro...knew you would try to stop the solarbeam.”, he said in a small voice. “It is automated: once it has launched, there is no stopping it...unless you enter the emergency code.”

From his pocket, he produced some small device with a keyboard input. He handed it to her, and she took it with shaking hands.

“...what is the code?”, she asked.

“I do not know it. Neither did Kane. The only ones who know are dead. And the only place to find it...”

He then put his hands to his chest, and slowly undid his shirt. Rana did not understand what he was doing, but she saw something intriguing.

Fisaga's torso bore some scars. There were those of his chest surgery, healed lines right under where his breasts used to be; Rana has heard him speak of it. But in-between, right in the middle of his ribcage, was one that looked much more recent. One that made her very nervous.

“What...what is this?”, she asked in a small voice.

“The Emperor can be very cruel.”, he said like it was a proverb. “He knew you would be the one to try to stop him. So he hid the emergency code where...where you would have to get it by yourself.”

“You mean…?”

Fisaga nodded. Then, he spoke in a grim voice.

“He has implanted the code in my heart. If you want to stop Lohikaarm, you will need to tear it from my chest and cut it open.”

Rana's breath simply stopped. Kardelios made a disgusted noise.

“What kind of freak even thinks such things!?”

“One with a lot of power, I am afraid.”

He took a deep breath. Rana didn't notice it, but he looked so tired, as if he's aged a whole decade in just a few years.

“Sweetheart.”, he said softly. “Only you can decide of what to do. If you want to save everyone, I will not stop you.”

“But...but what about you?”

“I guess I will die. But I know that my sacrifice will not have been in vain.”

He smiled weakly.

“I have lived a good life, Rana. I will leave no regrets.”

“No!”, she said, shaking her head. “I...I can't do that! I just can't!”

“There is no other option. Lohikaarm is already on its way to destroy Atlantis. I know you want to save them, and I cannot stop you. I will not be angry at you, I promise.”

And he held her hand, to point her hidden dagger at his chest. This sight horrified her to no end; she withdrew her hand, removed her dagger and threw it away.

“I cannot!!”, she protested. “I will not let you die! I have already lost too many people I cared about!!”

“But what about all of those that will perish? What about-”

His words were cut short by the strength of Rana's embrace. She's fallen on her knees, holding him by the waist, head on his lap. He sighed, and simply caressed her head, letting her cry all she needed. Kardelios knelt as well, patting her back gently.

“We were ready to sacrifice ourselves too, you know.”, he said quietly. “For the good of the world.”

“But this is different! He is my father, Kardelios! How can you expect me to kill him!?”

He sighed.

“How can you expect me to let you run away to your death? Rana, you feel in this instant the same way all of your people feel for you.”

He embraced her tight, letting her cry on his shoulder.

“You are loved, you know. By me, by Meliad, by everyone. And we feel that hurt when you speak of letting yourself die for peace.”

“But...but that's what I'm meant to do.”, she sobbed. “I knew since the start I would die, does that mean nothing?”

“We all know that! We're not immortal.”

He gently kissed her tears away.

“But that's what makes life beautiful. That's why we fight to preserve it.”

She sniffled, taking a moment to wipe her eyes. She felt Fisaga's hand on her shoulders, gently soothing her. It did not feel in this moment that everything would come to an end; it felt...oddly peaceful.

“So...we do nothing?”, she asked. “We're really doing nothing? Just...letting everything happen?”

“Well, that's up to you. I have no way of contacting Fasavis. Everything is already set in motion.”

One step after the other, he invited her to stand. Fisaga held her other hand, and the three of them made their way to the window. How the city looked so beautiful, minutes away from its destruction…

“Atlantis will cease to exist.”, she said. “But so will Mu. No one will hear of them for ten thousand years.”

“A country that puts itself above all others does not deserve to exist.”, Fisaga said. “Mu has grown into a twisted parody of itself. Perhaps...perhaps it is for the best.”

“Perhaps indeed.”

She leaned into Kardelios, rested her head on his shoulder. He felt his lips in her hair, and her heart started to beat fast. She felt...weird. She felt like doom was about to strike at any moment, an impending feeling of devastation; and yet, she did not move. She did not want to move from here. It would break the peace of this moment, and she'd hate it.

“This isn't such a bad way to go.”, Kardelios said. “At least, I got to be with you till the end.”

“Me too. I...I am glad we got to live what we've had.”

Their hands naturally found their way together. She held onto him tight, so tight that there would be no mistake as to who they were. For tens, hundreds of years, their bones would stay interlocked together, two lovers sharing a last embrace before the end, until they vanished into dust, carried away by the sea. And then she would be reborn, and...and perhaps he would be reborn too, and they would meet again. Perhaps his resemblance to Esteban was not a coincidence. Perhaps it was meant to be, perhaps it has always been meant to be.

She felt the earth start to shudder. She heard the ringing of the emergency alarm. In town, there was activity, and she was witnessing it. Perhaps on the other side of the world, Lohikaarm was getting ready too. She closed her eyes, savored the last instant of peace she could get, and just held on closer.

“You met me at a very strange time in my life.”, she said.

Kardelios chuckled, returning her touch. She couldn't help but think of Asterion, of Meliad and Pichu. They would be far, by now, they would be in a whole other country. Perhaps he'd return to his homeland, perhaps they'd be a family. The baby did not have golden eyes, and maybe no one else ever would anymore. But that would not last forever. She had a hunch it'd come back someday. 

The time has come. She opened her eyes, and saw the light flare shine seconds before thunder rumbled all over the earth, and everything took place in a heartbeat. She did not even feel it, only felt this welcoming warmth that took a hold of everything, as if to hold the entire city in its arms. 

I'm coming, mother.

Wheeeeeeewww!!!! Butin que c'était long. 127k, babey, c'est ma plus longue fanfiction ever! On a dépassé The Condor's Last Flight depuis longtemps, et même Of Scales and Swords! Je crois bien qu'on a même dépassé mon premier livre! J'ai un peu peur pour la prochaine, du coup xD

Je crois qu'à la base, ça partait d'une idée débile. On était tous là genre "la fille de Rana'Ori par-ci, la descendante de Rana'Ori par-là" donc j'ai tiré une grosse latte et je me suis dit: "bruh, pourquoi pas Rana'Ori elle-même?" Je devrais arrêter de consommer des produits stupéfiants, mais vu ce que ça donne, je sais pas trop, lol.

Ca faisait longtemps que je voulais écrire sur Rana'Ori et la cour de Mu. Une histoire d'amour interdit entre deux nations en guerre, un peuple réduit à s'auto-détruire, ça me semblait bien. Rappelez-vous ce passage dans Après la Pluie:
Bercé par le murmure de la Cité, son esprit encore tourné vers les leçons de Tao parlant du temps de Mu, il se laissa porter vers un demi-rêve de Sages, de rois et d'aristocrates qui se pressaient autour de lui, ramenant la vie à la cour de la princesse Rana'Ori. Et pendant un instant, un court instant, ce fut comme s'il y était, comme s'il se retrouvait là, devant elle, au milieu de tous ces gens venus pour la voir et l'écouter. Assise sur son trône, son naacal favori à son côté, elle avait les traits de Zia, et parlait d'une voix si douce et pourtant si puissante, que son cœur en ressentait chaque mot comme un sortilège. Il ne comprenait pas ses mots, mais il en ressentait l'émotion. Et puis elle le regarda lui, et son ressenti de spectateur laissa place à une admiration sans nom, alors que ses gestes lui échappaient et que le rêve continuait, s'emparant de lui et lui ôtant les rênes de sa propre pensée. Il s’avança vers elle, empli de détermination, et tendit la main pour prendre la sienne…
Octobre 2019, quand même! Ca fait plus d'un an que j'avais ce truc en tête!

Sauf que maintenant, c'est Zia à la place. Mais ça marche quand même.

Que ça avait mis un désordre pas possible dans mes continuités. Je me souviens, je m'arrachais les cheveux à tenter de caser cette histoire dans ma chronologie bien étable, parce que toutes mes fanfictions sont reliées entre elles d'une certaine façon.
[ image externe ]
Au final, cette Zia-là vient d'une quatrième continuité post-s3. Il n'y en a qu'une seule, et elle est différente de base. Oui, c'est l'ancêtre de toutes les autres Zia. Qu'est-ce que vous voulez, c'est compliqué, le temps. Pis ça m'a donné l'occasion de décrire son évolution vers un tout autre chemin que celui qu'on lui donne d'ordinaire.

Et de la dessiner dans pleins de joies robes sur dix ans.
https://www.deviantart.com/carminekanze ... -858553394

Enfin bref. Ca fait un bon moment que je voulais m'y atteler, et c'est fait. J'ai fait 2012, j'ai fait -9000, je sais pas trop ce que je vais faire ensuite mais je sais que ce sera pas pour le moment. Là j'attends le prologue d'Agent et pis un peu la s4 aussi. Je doute que j'écrirai yournameiszares.odt sauf si vraiment mais alors vraiment je trouve une bonne idée qui va avec. Pis merle, j'ai de la broderie à faire, aussi.
:condor: Le meilleur personnage de toute la série, c'est la mère d'Esteban.:condor:

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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Sandentwins »

*breathes in* Chuis pas mort!!!!!!

:condor: Everything is Coming Together :condor:

Tao passively tapped his quill against the rim of the inkwell, thinking about his words for a few moments, before the flow in his head resumed and he could put down the next lines.

I'm not sure of what to think about your prediction, though. It does sound a little worrying, put like this, but I know interpretation is a big part of astrology. Another eye than yours could see those same words as something positive, and there is never a single truth to what we see. I will admit all of this is still pretty new to me, but I suggest you sleep on it and come back tomorrow. Perhaps you will see your text with a fresher, more optimistic eye.

Nested between some candles, Pichu was comfortably sleeping, bringing some green into the otherwise earth-colored study room. He twitched a little in his sleep, likely chasing some dream, and Tao paused for a moment to give him a little scritch on the head. He gazed down at the old tome the parrot was using as a perch, and it reminded him of another thing to write down.

I would be honored to help you with your book. If you manage to send me a copy, I would gladly find it a place in the Tower's collection. Perhaps I could send you some of my own writings in return? I have made interesting breakthrough over the past months, and I think we will see successful results soon. I will keep you updated.

Hm, seems he was reaching the end of his parchment. Seems he would have to wrap it up, then. But how to condense all he wanted to say into mere words?

Please give my regards to everyone. As always, know that you are welcome to visit us anytime. I would gladly do the same, but something tells me I am still not welcome in Chambord. Tell Athanaos I honestly appreciated his package, and that I feel very touched by the attention. You will find enclosed a little gift of my own, that only felt appropriate to send in return.
I wish you much luck and happiness, old friend. I hope this letter finds you in good health, and still as kicking as ever. I eagerly await your reply, and more of your fascinating observations.
Until the Great Reunion,
Taokan, Founder of the Order of the Condor

He let the ink dry up, rolled his scroll tight and shuffled around his desk to find some wax. It was but a light commotion, but it still woke up Pichu, who opened sleepy eyes and came to perch on his master's shoulder.

“Good morning, sleepyhead. I took that you had a nice nap?”


His only reply was to passively rub against Tao's neck, watching him do. Once the letter was sealed, Tao stood up, letting his eyes adjust to the comparatively bright hallway as he stepped out of his study. It was a bright day outside, but he has been cooped up for hours in end again. What could he say? He could get very absorbed in his work. Luckily, he had some assistants to remind him to take a break.

“You've been staying up all night again, Master Tao.”, one of them said, noticing his tired eyes. “It's not healthy for you.”

“I understand your concern. But science does not sleep, my dear! Neither shall I.”

Yet he still took a few bites of the food he was handed, before resuming business.

“Satya, could you have this letter sent to our colleagues of Chambord? I believe the merchant caravan is still in town.”

“Right on it, sir.”

“I've also got a package that goes along. Wait, let me get it.”

And he entered the familiar dimness of his study again, to get the little crate he's prepared a few days ago. Just a few nothings that his friends would appreciate, as well as more research material.

However, as he cleared his cluttered desk to find it, a little gleam caught his eye. Curious, he pushed a few papers away, and his surprise rose to great levels when he saw that it was the golden point. It was doing that strange blinking light again; immediately, his heart started to pound fast.

“It's time.”

He quickly took out the package and sent his apprentice away with a few more instructions, before returning to the strange phenomenon taking place on his desk. He picked up the orichalcum point, tied the string to his wrist, and quickly went around the room trying to find the board.

“Friends, friends!”, Pichu happily crooned when he saw the light. “Friends!!”

“Yeah, it's our friends. It's been a while!”

So big a while that the wooden board has been buried under more books and mess, and it took him a good moment to get it out. But he eventually did, and set it flat on the ground, bringing a few candles to see better. Then he crouched by, and held his hand over the board, letting the point dangle from his wrist.

It kept blinking slowly, its gilded light illuminating the engraved symbols. There were about a hundred of them, word ideograms inlaid in orichalcum, spread about equally all over the board. Gently, Tao started swaying his hand, and the tool moved about like a pendulum, its light reflecting on the golden symbols as it passed over them; but then, one of them started glowing brighter. With his other hand, Tao quickly wrote it down before the light disappeared, then went at it again; another symbol glowed a moment later, then another.

It went so for a minute or two, enough to point to a dozen signs or so. Then, other engravings on the edge of the board started glowing in turn, and Tao took note of them as well– numbers. It lasted for about a minute, after which the pyramid tip stopped shining, and he was left with a message.

Everything is coming together. It is time to gather everyone by the full moon.

And then, seemingly random numbers. Tao quickly went to fetch a map, laid it flat on the board and grabbed a protractor to make some calculations. These numbers turned out to be coordinates, and they pointed to a region that couldn't be mistaken.

Right on the southeast coast of Africa.

His heart barely caught up as he dashed his way down the hall of the Memory Tower, almost running into a wall and tripping on a step as he rushed downstairs. A few members of the Order just stared at him, but didn't pay any more mind than that, for their leader had already done worse and weirder things after all. Pichu quickly caught up to him and perched on his shoulder, and the two of them eventually made it out to the outer court.

It was still rather early, and there weren't many people about. The jungle nearby was somewhat quiet, and the weather pretty conciliatory. It was a warm day, one that would feel perfect for such an occasion. He looked up at the sky, and saw the moon in the horizon: only a few days left before its full phase, which wasn't a lot of time but still let him enough margin.

“Master Tao, is everything alright? We've never seen you out this early.”

He scoffed, knowing this was very well an attempt at a joke. Of course he'd come out in the mornings too; but his attitude did have something strange to it.

“Something came up.”, he told his colleague. “Something...important. I must be off for a few days.”

“I hope that isn't bad news!”

“No...no, I don't think so. But I'd rather make sure. Can I trust you to take care of things in my absence?”

“That...yes, sir. I will.”

“I won't be long. But I might come back with very good news.”

He walked down the courtyard, to where his old friend was resting. Still as shiny as ever, it seemed, casually taking in sunlight to start the day on a good note. He took the solar key at his belt and held it up, and the Golden Condor's eyes lit up before its beak opened. Commonplace at it might now be, it still gave him that little bit of pride whenever he did it, for the mere concept of being the one to command the Condor now was just surreal. And yet it was true, and it made him feel like the adventure never truly stopped.

Even though most of the time, he'd be alone to ride in it.

The bird came back to life, and soon its feet lifted off the ground. Tao mentally checked a map of the area, figuring out in which direction to go, and the bird set off into the sky, away from the rising sun.

As he flew, Pichu landed on his lap, nesting comfortably. Tao smiled, giving him a hearty pat, as the now-familiar scenery started to become smaller and smaller underneath him.

“Friends.”, he crooned. “Esteban, Zia. All!”

“I hope we can see them all, too.”, Tao sighed. “It's been so long.”

Why now of all times? Why not before? He felt a bit jaded at the idea that he could have waited so much less time, but he tried to keep his thoughts in check. To have news at all was already fantastic, he couldn't be angry at them for taking their sweet time!

But most importantly, echoes of the message still intrigued him. “To gather everyone by the full moon”...oh, he didn't want to be too optimistic, but what if he wasn't the only one on the road right now? What if their message had somehow been relayed to other ears as well, what if they were planning something big? He'd hate to get his hopes up, but there was no way around it. It would be great, he knew it.

“I just can't wait.”


The warning horn sounded out, just as the Condor's feet touched to the ground. Shortly after, Tao headed out, and found himself welcomed by a very eager crowd. All that attention sure was something! But it was hard to match such warmth, such friendship, even in a lot of places he's been to. Without a doubt, Mutapa truly was a welcoming place.

Maybe that's why he was brought here.

Almost nothing had changed. The stone walls were still standing tall, the air was still warm from metalwork, bird statuettes were as present as ever. In the heart of Zimbabwe, the energy door was still standing, shut off as always. Yet now it was surrounded with all sorts of tributes and offerings, like a shrine to some new deity that just made its debut into the world. Peace had returned to the world, and he was so glad to see everything going smoothly, everyone still enjoying their lives in happiness.

“It's been a while. But I'm so glad to see you all.”

Among some familiar faces he met, there were some he didn't recognize, of course; he couldn't possibly know everyone, even if he tried. And yet, among the crowd of children that came his way, there were two he identified without he's ever seen them.

“Oh, my! What do have we here?”

He crouched down, showing a smile, and the two girls appeared a little scared that he was speaking to them. They looked about five or six years old, with adorable chubby cheeks and an unmistakeable shy demeanor.

“You've grown a lot since the last time I saw you! Soon you'll be even taller than me.”

But they didn't seem to exactly know who he was, as shown by their dubious glances. One of them hid behind her sister, who timidly approached.

“Um...who are you, mister?”, she asked in a shy voice.

“Oh...oh right, you were just babies last time. You can't possibly remember me.”

Tao chuckled, letting Pichu perch on his hand. The parrot always intrigued all children he came across, and helped ease the mood a lot.

“I'm a friend of your dad's. My name is Tao. And, let's see...”

He grinned a little, and pointed to the girls in turn.

“You must be Maria, and...you're Manyara, right?”

“No, I'm Maria!”, the shy one suddenly spoke with anger, stepping out of her sister's shadow.

“Oh, such silly me!”, Tao whined, comically smacking his forehead. “How could I ever have made such a mistake?!”

The girls giggled at his sorrow, and Tao internally smiled, seeing these two have completely fallen for it. Then it was Pichu's turn to entertain the small crowd, flapping and cooing around, letting Tao stand back up and look around. The twins' mother wasn't far behind, and judging by the appetizing smell in the air, neither was their dad. And since pretty much everyone in the city had caught wind of his arrival, he naturally invited himself in.

Some people had great goals of adventure, riches or knowledge, and he knew a few like those. But some would find their life ambition in humble pursuits, like stability and family; and it never looked as true as with Sancho. Tao barely recognized him at first, but as always, the sight of old friends made him as happy as could be. And he still was very soft to hug, it seemed.

“Well, seems like you've definitely made a home for yourself here!”, he teased. “I was about to ask you to come on a treasure hunt with me, but I doubt you've got time for that anymore.”

“It's, it's all good now. I'm done...I'm done with adventure. Now I have...I have other things to ca...to care about, you...you know?”

“I want aventure!!”, Maria interjected, holding onto Tao's sleeve. “Please, can we come on aventure?? Please please please?”

“Why you look a little young for that.”, Tao chuckled, lifting her up in his arm. “And you've already got everything you need here. Trust me, you don't want to make your mama and papa sad by leaving.”

Manyara giggled, calmly sitting by Sancho's side. Her sister pouted and crossed her arms, clearly not interested in stepping down.

“'s not fair.”, she whined. “Pedro says you go on the aventures a lot!”

“That was before. Now, I've got things of my own to take care of.”

He put her back down.

“By the way, where is he? You two are always stuck together.”

“He's...he's at the forge. That's where...he spends most of...most of his days, now.”

Tao couldn't blame him. To be surrounded in fine gold and precious metals, all day long? That'd be the kind of life he would get up to.

“I'll go say hi real quick. Keep me a seat, I'll be back.”

Outside, the sight of the Golden Condor had attracted some curious eyes. The great golden bird of legend, finally coming back: what an event! What an occasion! Tao couldn't help but stare at it for a moment, quite impressed himself. How majestic of a creature, wasn't it?

Pichu had stayed with Sancho's little family, so he couldn't have possibly warned him in time. In his deep thoughts, Tao couldn't hear the footsteps that hurried his way. No, the only way he grew aware of what was happening was when he was tackled right in the back, with a force that took him so much by surprise that he fell right onto the ground, his breath cut off and his train of thought hijacked into crashing.

“Think fast!!”, a voice called right as it happened.

Tao inhaled like he could, trying to get back up. He turned around with difficulty, attempting to see who had knocked him over like this, and the sight of messy black locks answered his question, all while raising so many more.

“Not fast enough.”, the kid snickered. “You lost!”

“Wh- Víbora!? Is that you?!”

He managed to push him off enough to stand up, and dusted himself up. The kid just grinned at him, a little shit-eating grin that only betrayed his mischievousness even more than tackling his friends.

“What are you doing here?”, Tao asked. “Where are your parents?”

“Still in Kilwa. They have business to do, but they'll join in later.”

“That's a hundred leagues away! I hope Gaspard came with you!”

Víbora just shrugged.

“He did, he did. Don't worry.”

But Tao kept glaring at him, in a way that made him turn his face away after a moment.

“...until I ditched him somewhere in the savanna.”

“I can't believe you! You mean you're all alone here!?”

“Relax! I'll be fine. Mama gave me her gun, see?”

And he lifted his vest a little, to reveal the holstered pistol at is belt. Tao sighed, frustrated to be faced with such carefree parenting.

“I can't believe they let you do this. You're barely ten!”

“I'm eleven!”, Víbora huffed. “Almost twelve! I'm old enough to be on my own.”

He snickered, taking the blue-beaded pistol out to spin it in hand. It was obvious he had skill with it, but in contrast with his young age, it only seemed worse.

“I'm not afraid of wild beasts. If they try to come at me, I'll shoot them right between the eyes!”

And he pointed his gun forward, prompting Tao to quickly try to have him put it away. He obliged, but evaded his grasp yet again, stepping instead towards the Golden Condor to see it from close. Tao just sighed in tired frustration, wondering where he could possibly get this from.

“...have you been here for long?”

“A few days. We got news that something was happening in Zimbabwe, so we went to check it over. Until the geezers got held back on the coast.”

“Is that how you speak of your own parents?”

“What? They're fine with it.”

“...I really need to get in a word with them about how they're raising you.”

Víbora simply shrugged. From what Tao knew, Mendoza and Laguerra have always been pretty hands-off parents, and it showed. Their son was a rude mouth and a snarky little butt, but at least he was independent and could take care of himself.

It was weird to think that at some point, Tao and his friends were the same: children going through the world, headed for adventure at such a young age. Anyone in their right mind would have objected, and the kids would have protested, for they obviously knew what they were doing. This couldn't have been farther from the truth, for they've been but clueless and lost children, and yet they felt like they could take on the world. They've learned a lot from it, too; so who was he to tell this boy he couldn't do what himself did? In the end, he just sighed, and ruffled his hair with affection.

“But I'm glad you made it in one piece. I'll admit, you're impressive.”

“That's just the basics.”, he giggled, trying to swat Tao's hand away. “Just wait till I'm old enough to get my own ship.”

“Well until then, don't run away from adults who take care of you. Impressive or not, you just can't pull off such stunts on your own.”

“What do you know about that? You did the same.”

“I had my friends with me, including your dad. And they saved my life many times. You should never go on big journeys alone.”

Víbora scoffed, with that face that meant he got the message, but didn't want to make it seem like he'd obey. He freed himself from another head pat, and went on to check out the warriors' sharp and shiny spears.

A few days, huh? Guess someone else had gotten the message. He glanced at the pyramid tip at his belt, wondering what else his friends had in store for him. Could it be...they've found a way to gather everyone? As great as it sounded, perhaps it was far from the truth. But part of him wanted to keep up hope. He's been needing it a lot, these times, and perhaps his waiting would finally pay off.

After some more thinking, he went to check on the energy door. For years, it has stood here closed, since no medallions could open it anymore. (Which in itself was kind of a jerk move, anyway. How could Esteban have expected Tao to use the Golden Condor if he took the only keys with him?) Various offerings of food, gold and flowers gave it this spiritual and worshipped aura, a place that was to welcome all sorts of stories and myths about it. And there were many stories to be told about the children that saved the world from the skyfire; perhaps he was a part of them too? Was this the legacy he'd leave to the world? Well, all things considered, it wasn't too bad, maybe.

“Just hurry.”, he said to no one in particular. “I've waited years for this day, and you two owe me a whole lot of tales.”


There were a couple days left before the full moon, during which Tao was of course invited to stay in Zimbabwe. It was the perfect occasion to catch up with his old friends, and see all that he's missed for these last few years.

Peace had slowly returned to the world, and while life wasn't perfect, the echoes of the Great Cataclysm have finally settled. The end of times has been avoided, and a new generation has been born. Life was following its course, unstoppable and eternal, and it reassured him like nothing else.

It felt a little strange to meet up with his old buddies, to share stories of before and what his adventures used to be like. The twins already knew a lot of these, thanks to their uncle's constant storytelling fever, but it seemed Víbora could never have enough of Tao's reminiscences of their journeys on land, sea and sky. And of course, everyone else that would listen on would meet his tales with the same excitement and wonder.

Though again, it was Pedro who did most of the telling, since he had such a knack for it, and Tao could not find it in him to deny him that joy. He thought it a little weird that despite his seemingly satisfying relationship with the Princess, he did not have any children yet; but he figured the King had something to do with that. Ah well, he had his nieces to dote on, so he was happy all the same. At the end of the day, that's what mattered most.

On the dawn of the third day, two more foreigners came to join the gang, to Víbora's painfully-concealed happiness. And it felt to Tao like a breath of nostalgia, for he couldn't fathom just how old they looked. But Mendoza and Laguerra were well on their way to their fifties now, and seemed to have weathered more than they've aged: a life on the seas had brought out that pirate aura they've always had, and made it into something instantly recognizable and defining. Yet under that rough and those gray hairs, Mendoza still had that warmth about him, that only grew more obvious with time and fatherhood. No matter how old Tao was, he'd still feel like a little boy with him around, as if the old sailor just had that power to him. As for Isabella, while she still had that sharp bite about her, it felt as if her shell had somewhat softened with time, like glass smoothed out by the sea over years' worth of tides. She was the same swashbuckling adventurer she's always been, and her many battle scars proved it; but it felt as if she's grown past her fear of opening up to others. Or at least, it wasn't as prominent anymore. And if their couple has grown past the point of excessive honey-sweetness, it was obvious that they still harbored a lot of affection for one another, and for their son as well. In their own, slightly weird way, that is.

He's missed this. He's missed sitting all together, gathered around a fire and a good meal, telling each other stories of what they've been up to. It's not like Tao was always alone, now that he had a whole brotherhood of his own; but it just wasn't the same. He didn't have with the Order of the Condor the same battle-forged bonds as with that of his old friends', the same memories of exciting journeys and discoveries all throughout the world. He's missed this so terribly, he's missed the calling of adventure and exploration, now that he had responsibilities and duties; and to be here with all his friends kind of made up for it.

Well, almost all.

By the time evening came, everyone knew what would happen. No one had spoken of it, no one has even mentioned it besides in passing, but it seemed as if everyone had spread the word of what was to take place. Under the light of the full moon, they gathered around the shrine, silent and waiting, the peace of this moment left untroubled and untouched by even the slightest of words. Even the young children knew something was about to happen, and they anxiously held on their parents' hands as they watched, and waited still.

Tao's heart was pounding like crazy. He could hear it in his temples, feel it in his legs, sense it in his gut. He didn't know for sure what was going to happen, or when and how, and it made him awfully nervous. His hands were clenched around the pyramid tip, anxiously waiting for the tiniest sign, and squeezed it so much that the indents left some marks on his fingers. On his shoulder, Pichu was feeling all that stress, toetapping nervously like he couldn't handle all that emotion. In the sky, the clouds parted away, revealing the gilded light of the full moon, and Tao's head rose with hope and apprehension.

Nothing happened at first. He begged in his mind, he prayed, he pleaded for something to take place, to reassure him, to justify everyone's presence in this very place. And it felt like an awfully long wait until at last, the first signs of something did happen, and the golden point in his hands came to life. It was but a weak gleam, a blinking one, but it was here, and it couldn't be mistaken for anything else. His eyes turned to the door, his heart pounding away, and that's when it happened.

Out of nowhere, a flame flickered. It felt so faint, dancing in the air for only a fraction of a second; and then it appeared again, bigger and sparkier this time. The characters on the door started to light up, and the air felt tense with energy. In a matter of instants, the light grew brighter and bigger, fractionated as if it was unstable; but then it started to take shape, molding itself into a silhouette Tao would have recognized anywhere. And before he knew it, before anyone knew it, the light grew so bright it almost blinded them – and just as fast as it came, it disappeared. But the unmistakeable sound of feet on the ground then broke the silence, and when everyone's eyes opened again, they were met with the sight of them.

The two of them opened their eyes, as if they've just woken up from a long sleep. They looked around them, a little confused, but seemed to recognize their surroundings. A second passed, then two, then three, before they stood upright and faced the crowd. And then, everyone broke into cheers.

After twelve years of absence, the Chosen Ones were back.


It felt so weird to see them again. Tao had almost forgotten their faces, but to have them again here, in the flesh was like whiplash.

They looked as if they've barely aged since that day. They were adults now, but they still retained that youth to them, that made them seem like creatures from another world. The was an unknown poise in their gestures, something graceful and delicate, and he sure wondered where they could have been taught that. But especially, there was peace in their eyes, as if they've lived all that time in some sort of eternal bliss.

“The world is so different from what we thought.”, Zia explained as they were telling their story. “The Cities of Gold are not places. They're…they're more like living beings, with their own self-awareness. And they have seen so much.”

“Eternity is the place they go to when they close up.”, Esteban followed. “It's some sort of resting area, some...some point between all worlds that have ever existed. It's there, but it's nowhere as well.”

Needless to say, their explanations were pretty difficult. But they spoke them as if they were natural, as if everyone could perfectly understand the complicated concepts they were dealing with.

“And...what is it like, in Eternity?”, Tao asked.

“It's very strange. There's no day or night, there are no seasons. And yet I never felt time pass.”

“It's like we didn't even need time. We didn't need anything, neither food nor sleep...why, I'm sure we didn't even need to breathe! It's as if time had been frozen still, but we could move as we wished.”

“Neither food nor sleep?”, Pedro interjected. “What kind of miserable existence is that!?”

They all laughed, in a manner so simple yet so distant. How long has it been since they've last been there, gathered together and discussing?

“It's not that bad.”, Zia shrugged. “But...I have to admit I've missed this.”

And she happily bit into a fruit, slowly taking in the flavor as if she was experiencing eating for the very first time.

“It's an amazing place.”, Esteban continued. “I...I think it's some sort of afterlife. We've met people that couldn't possibly have been alive...and at many points I wonder if we had died too. But I just knew I was still alive, you know? I could feel it.”

He put a hand to his chest, searching around his breast until he found his heartbeat again. How long had he feared it would suddenly stop one day, and leave him as dead as all those ghosts of the past he's claimed to meet? It felt horribly dreadful to envision, and Tao didn't even want to think about it.

“This must have been quite an experience.”, Mendoza nodded. “But I'm glad you were safe. You wouldn't give up so easily, anyway, would you?”

“There's no way we could die in Eternity. Not when there was so much to explore!”

He's told them about it. While everyone was living their life, these two have been exploring the Cities of Gold in great detail, uncovering every last bit of their knowledge, and getting so familiar with them that this place had become like a home to them. There was no way they could abandon it anymore, not when it still had a lot to show them. Perhaps they would make their life there...if it could still be called life.

Tao noticed the way their hands were brushing together, the way they looked at each other. He wasn't clueless, nor was he jealous. After all, had there ever been any other outcome? These two were the Chosen Ones; their fate has been decided long before their birth. In a sense, it felt right...but that didn't mean he couldn't be a little bitter about it.

“I suppose you won't be coming back to Earth?”, he asked after a moment. “Not when there's so much to do in Eternity.”


It was obvious the question made them uneasy. It was hard to speak about, of course, and he didn't expect them to have made their minds entirely. And perhaps Víbora sensed it, for he turned the question to a whole other topic.

“So when are you two having babies?”

From unease, Esteban and Zia shifted right into embarrassment and fluster, their tattooed cheeks now red as could be. The kid just grinned like a troublesome little devil, knowing fully well this would happen, and Mendoza playfully bapped his head.

“Come on, don't pressure them. Let them figure it out on their own.”

But from the two's avoiding glances and very awkward behavior, it was obvious this subject was far from figured out. In all their time spent alone, growing up together and with no possible rivals in sight, they've never even thought about it? If so, then they were even more clueless than Tao would ever have thought.

“I doubt that's possible.”, the latter said, trying to relieve the mood. “Based on what you told us, it's very unlikely anyone can be born in Eternity. You won't have to worry about it.”

“Well...we're not there yet, anyway...”, Esteban attempted. “It's...it's all a little complicated, that's all.”

Tao rose a brow. In twelve years, they haven't moved past holding hands? Either they were completely clueless, either...yes, perhaps the nature of Eternity made it so. If they had no need for food or sleep, it could be possible they had no need for romantic fulfillment, or anything of that nature. To be content with holding hands and maybe a kiss or two, for the rest of their eternal life? That sure would be something…

It seemed that even after their departure, these two still had a lot of surprises in store. And perhaps it would never end at all.


“You can't sleep either, can you?”

Esteban turned around, breaking from his contemplation.

“I have lost the habit. But it's fine, I'm not tired.”

He stifled a yawn, trying to keep up with his lie. Then he resumed gently caressing the Condor's foot, admiring the way the moon gleamed on its shiny hull.

“I've lost a lot of habits over time. I'm sure that if I were to prolong my stay, I'd starve to death or something.”

He chuckled, walking along to feel more of the bird's body. Tao hesitantly followed, watching him do so without knowing what to do.

It's like he barely changed. He was so different, obviously, and definitely not the little boy Tao remembered. But he's kept that same youthfulness, that same spark to him no matter how fancy his clothes were, how intricately tattooed his cheeks and arms were, how spectral his honey eyes seemed like in the light of the moon. He looked like a whole new person, but under that shell of magic, he still was his old friend. His first friend ever, that he's lived so many adventures with.

“I guess that means...you won't stay long.”, Tao eventually said.

Esteban looked at him, with a rather sorry expression.

“I don't want to cause you trouble.”, he softly said. “But to be here...it almost feels like it hurts. And there's so much we have to do, so little time...”

He started rubbing his arms, as if he were cold. His clothes were not made for the freshness of night, and it was obvious he'd forgotten about it. Instinctively, Tao moved closer, embracing him with his long sleeves, and Esteban smiled.

“But it's alright. I wanted to see you so badly, I can handle it all.”

“I don't want you to suffer because of me.”

“But I'm not suffering.”

He smiled, and his hand held onto Tao's.

“I'm fine. I've never been so fine.”

He had trouble believing him, but his smile was as warm as could be, so much that it reassured him a little. His hand was warm, too, radiating sunlight as if it wanted to warm up the entire world. They locked eyes for a moment, not saying anything, until Tao eventually drew his' away, unable to handle the sheer paleness of his friend's.

“So...what about you?”, Esteban asked after a moment. “I've yet to hear your own tale.”

“I guess I've been doing fine. The Order of the Condor was a success, by the way.”

“No Zares in sight so far?”

“I'm making sure of it.”

The two of them sat down in a patch of grass under the Condor, letting the light of the moon bathe over them.

“I'm working on replicating some of the Mu technology we've seen. We have achieved a first version of the diamonds of Ophir, and we're currently running tests.”

“The stones of healing?”

“If we can successfully produce them in large quantities, we could do so much! All the dangerous diseases we could cure, the wounds we could heal! We could help so many people with that knowledge!”

“You're putting your ancestors' legacy to a noble cause. They'd be so proud of you.”

Gently, Esteban embraced him a little, and Tao let him. He's missed it a lot, what could he say? He closed his eyes, enjoyed it while he could, for the very next day he could very well be gone.

“I'm sorry we couldn't come sooner.”, Esteban then said. “There was...there was so much to do. And we missed you a lot, but we couldn't do anything about it...”

He sighed, and then smiled at him.

“But we can change that. We can make things better.”

“What do you mean?”

And he simply offered his hand to him. Tao looked at it for a moment, unsure if he should take it.

“You could come with us.”, Esteban said. “You're more than worthy of accessing Eternity.”

Tao rose his eyes at him.

“With you? You mean...like, with you?”

“We have room for you. You could research so much! The secrets of the Cities would be open to you!”

Tao had to stop to recollect his thoughts, completely taken aback by what he was just offered. To be with his friends, united again like in the good old days, and spend their life exploring and discovering all these secrets? Immediately, his heart pressured him to accept, to take that hand and follow them...but his mind held him back.

“I...I'd be honored.”, he hesitated. “But...I can't. I'm sorry.”

Esteban blinked.

“I'd love to, really. But now, I...I have responsibilities, and duties, and...I can't just give up now. There's people that need me here, and we're so close to our goal...”

It hurt to say. And he was sure it hurt to hear. But Esteban didn't say anything, simply looking down with hints of sadness in is beautiful eyes.

“...I understand.”, he answered after a time. “It's selfish of me to ask you to come.”

“I'm sorry. I really wish I could, but life...well, it's what it is.”


He chuckled a bit.

“Bet your wife wouldn't agree either.”

“My...my what?”

The two of them blinked, looking at each other, until Tao felt he had to clear something up.

“I'm...I'm not married, you know. Or with anyone, really.”

“Really? How curious...wasn't that your goal?”

“Maybe at first, but...”

He sighed.

“Indali and I have tried. We...we were together for a time, and it was great. But in the end, we didn't work out. We didn't have the same goals, it...it just wasn't what we wanted. She's married to someone else now, someone that makes her happy, and that's about it. Since then, I...”

He rubbed his neck awkwardly.

“I guess I haven't been in the mood to try since. There was a lot of work to do, and there still is. I mean...do you see work-crazed little me raising a family? No, it's best I...you know.”

“I don't know. That's kind of the point.”

Esteban chuckled.

“I guess that even outside of Eternity, some things never change.”

“We can't all leave our comfort zones. I'm not saying we should always stay in the same place, but...sometimes it doesn't hurt either.”

“It feels comforting.”

Gently, Esteban's head laid down to rest on Tao's shoulder. And the latter didn't say anything, for he's missed this as well. The simplicity of their friendly touches, the warmth of amity, the reassuring mark of each other's presence watching over them. Nothing bad would happen to him here, Tao would make sure of it.

“Perhaps...if not now, maybe later.”, Esteban said. “When you feel ready, you'll just have to contact us. And we'll take you in.”

“Whisk me away to the afterlife, like the reapers you are?”

“In a sense.”

They both chuckled from the silly imagery. But underneath that sorrowful implication, the message was clear.

“Is it...that good, in Eternity?”

“It's peaceful. So peaceful that I wouldn't mind spending the rest of my life there.”

Esteban turned a bit to face him.

“But it's so different too. Every second I spend on Earth reminds me of a sensation I couldn't feel anymore.”

“That must be horrible...”

“You get used to it. It's pretty good, actually...but there are some things I'd love to enjoy while I'm here.”

“What kind of things?”

Esteban's only answer was to gently tighten his hold on Tao's hand. The latter blinked, not getting it, but his friend's gaze met his own again, and it conveyed all sorts of things no words could ever express with the same efficiency.

“Eternity just doesn't feel right without you. The two of us are not enough.”

“Nor does Earth feel right without the two of you.”

“Then, would you like...we give you something to remember us by?”

Tao wasn't sure what that could mean, but again, Esteban's eyes betrayed his thoughts. So he nodded, and let him come a little closer. He softly closed his eyes, and just let it happen, let him have a taste of yet something else he's missed on.

Like the dry heat of the desert only made water feel more refreshing, or the pang of hunger only made food tastier and more fulfilling, a touch-starved life only made simple gestures like this into a much-needed relief. Tao didn't even know he needed this, but everything told him he did, and it felt wonderful. And so the two of them savored it for a beautiful instant, one that seemed to last forever in the silence of the land and the shine of moonlight.

Their lips parted, and they looked at each other. Esteban smiled, as if he's just discovered something absolutely amazing, and Tao asked himself why he even let it happen. But then, he smiled in turn, feeling it wasn't so bad.

“Now I'll definitely remember you even more.”, he laughed.

“It's only a preview of what awaits you in Eternity. Well, at least until we start not feeling like it anymore.”

“Now you're selling it to me. How am I supposed to bear the wait?”

“Well, you could always join us right now. No one's stopping you.”

Tao snorted, and playfully pushed him away. But then he got up, and offered him a hand.

“Come.”, Esteban said. “Let's find Zia. This is our last night on Earth, so let's do all sorts of crazy stuff while we can!”

“I have a bad feeling about what you mean by 'crazy stuff'.”

“Nothing of the sort, let me reassure you. Well, unless you ask for it.”

“I swear, not even an entire lake could quench your thirst at that point!”

“I haven't felt thirst in twelve years! Let me indulge myself a little.”

And they both laughed it out, before returning to the city, hand in hand, determined to make the best out of tonight. Soon would come the time to part, to return to their daily lives, but he knew it wouldn't be for long. He would wait as long as it took until they could be together again; but for now, he'd make sure the three of them would go home without any regrets. Only good memories, promises and the reassuring knowledge of their friendship still being strong, through time and space.

There could be no other way, after all. They were the Children of the Sun, and not even years or different dimensions could keep them apart.

*dabs in writer* parry this you mucking casuals
:condor: Le meilleur personnage de toute la série, c'est la mère d'Esteban.:condor:

Deviantart -- Fanfictions
S1: 14/20
S2: 15/20
S3: 17/20

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Maître Shaolin
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Este »

Merci beaucoup !! J'adore toujours cette histoire !!
Saison 1 : 18/20 :D
Saison 2 : 13/20 :roll:
Saison 3 : 19/20 :-@ :-@ :-@
Saison 4 : 20/20 :-@ :-@ :-@ :-@ :-@

Perso préféré : Laguerra
Couple préféré : Mendoza et Laguerra
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Re: "Sa Machine Ailée" et autres histoires

Message par Sandentwins »

La famille de Mendoza, c'est tout un chapitre. En voici donc un nouveau.

:condor: Scattered Feathers :condor:

How could the world be both so dark and so warm? Mendoza had long since stopped asking himself.

The team had stopped for the night, finding respite in a corner of the African wildlands to rest their tired bodies. They've started a small fire, and already the smell of food was floating in the air, calling for a good meal shared with friends. He could hear the children laughing, the sailors happily discussing, everyone trying to forget their misadventures a little. Mendoza tried to smile in turn, but he just didn't have the heart to.

Sitting away from the group, he was pensively gazing at the landscape ahead, his thoughts unable to leave him alone. Thoughts about a certain woman who kept haunting his mind, of course; but that night, she wouldn't be alone. He's lost the notion of time a while ago, and only caught up with the calendar in passing, yet his intuition told him he couldn't be wrong. And this time of year...oh, how he dreaded to think about it.

It's always been a sore time for him. A time to recall all the bad decisions he's taken, all the what-ifs that plagued his memories, all the alternate turns of a twisted path he's had the misfortune to walk upon. One in particular wouldn't leave him alone, one that stood like a deadly flower in a field of thorns. Beauty hidden in sadness, that only hid more sorrow.

His face. His face has always been beautiful. Mendoza knew that he'd grow up into a lovely man, and openly told him so. But now, that'd never get to happen, would it? He sighed, letting his head rest on his arm, thinking back on the days where it'd just be the two of them, fighting against the world. Two children lost out among an ocean of cruel adults, with nothing but each other to rely on.

They've made promises. They've made plans. They've acted on them...and that was his undoing. That only wrecked everything, ruined one life and terminated the other. And he kept thinking about it on and on, especially during this time of year. He's thought about it so much that it practically rotted away at his soul, taking a bit more of him every year. There was so much gone already that he'd never recover, no matter how he tried; for that was how much it was weighing on his mind.

“That's your bad days' face, pal.”

Mendoza blinked, looking at Pedro who just sat next to him.

“Wanna talk about it?”

He took the bowl of food he was handed, but didn't have any heart to eat. So he simply looked away, not knowing what to say.

“I suppose I'm just thoughtful.”

“Wouldn't that have to do with a certain swashbuckler, hm?”

The teasing was very much unwelcome, given his current state of mind; Mendoza's cold glare ought to show it. Immediately, Pedro understood he shouldn't have said that.

“...it's not her.”, Mendoza said, more calmly. “It's different.”

“Well...you know you can tell me, old pal. It'll make you feel better.”

“Will it really?”, he asked, disbelieving.

“Doesn't hurt to try.”

Mendoza kept staring ahead, silently. But he knew his friends would worry. He quickly glanced to make sure the children were not in hearing range, before trying to alleviate his thoughts.

“I was thinking back on...on my brother. That's all.”

“Oh, right...”

Pedro and Sancho have never met him, that was way before the three's encounter. But it's not like he never spoke of him either. While they did not know of all the story, they were aware of his existence, and especially of his importance in Mendoza's mind.

“It's around today that...that it happened, right?”

Mendoza nodded.

“I can't help but think of it. I've been careless...he died by my own fault.”

“Now, don't say such things! You know it wasn't your fault.”

“But it was. I brought him with me, and...and...”

His throat felt stuck, unable to keep speaking. Why? Why couldn't he form words? It was supposed to be simple! So why was everything aching?

“...and you did what you could to escape your situation!”, Pedro insisted. “No one can blame you for that.”

“They did. They all did, and I'm the first to do so.”

Pedro sighed, with a resolve few had seen of him.

“Look, you couldn't have known. Anyone would have wanted to escape your family, and you actually did it; not only that, but you also brought your brother with you! You had his best interests at heart.”

“I would gladly have stayed there, if it meant he'd stay with me.”

“And become a miserable wreck of a human being?”

He felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Don't lie to me, buddy. I remember all those times you'd come running into the inn, beaten an inch away from your life and barely holding together. How would that have turned out? You did what was best.”

He didn't know what to say, so he simply sighed. It's true that his teenage years have been a horrible time in his life, in no small fault due to his harpy of an aunt. Only thinking back on it made him cringe with fear and disgust, his skin tremble with echoes of beatings and bruises, her shrill voice still drumming in his ears.

“...it was horrible.”, he conceded. “But without Esteban, it was even worse.”

Pedro looked at him strange, glancing back to the boy sitting by the fire.

“My brother.”, Mendoza cleared up. “That was his name too.”

A fairly common Spanish name, all things considered. The Child of the Sun wouldn't have to ask himself why this one out of many other possible names. Only Mendoza would know it was a gift from one promising boy to another. Almost like a substitute; only years after the golden-eyed baby had been handed over to the monastery, had it dawned on him how childish it was of an idea.

“Well...it didn't last forever.”, Pedro tried. “You left at some point anyway.”

“I made it out, and he didn't. Had I waited a few more years...”

“Maybe it wouldn't have turned out this way. Maybe you'd both be in the ditch right now.”

Mendoza's fist clenched, feeling how horrible of a thing that was to say. But he was right, and there was no dismissing it.

“I'm sorry it happened. I'm sure your brother was a great guy, and I'd have loved to meet him. However, you're here talking about how it could have gone better...but it could have gone worse too!”

That didn't help much. So Pedro felt the need to try again.

“And hey! Who's saying he's dead, hm? You said you lost him out at sea, but who's to say he didn't survive?”

“I've long considered that possibility, you know. It just can't be.”

“Who says so? Esteban's father survived a shipwreck. We did too! Anyone of your blood is bound to be tough.”

He playfully hit his shoulder.

“Have a bit more faith in your folks, would you? You talk of them like they're a bunch of rotten apples, but we know it's not the truth.”

Mendoza couldn't help a slight smile. The rotten part of his family, the one he was stuck growing up with, was all on his father's side. Yet his mother and her crewmates, the big family of the wind sailors, have been some of the greatest people he's ever known.

He remembered her. Her thick curls, her loud voice, her cut and scratched hands that were always so gentle with little him. She never backed down, never surrendered, never gave up in the face of danger. She disappeared doing what she knew best: fighting the King's navy and protecting her legacy. Sometimes, Mendoza liked to think he got that from her, like a last gift from his homesea.

And for a while, the three of them were happy. But it didn't last, and their life on the high seas was torn apart. It felt so distant, so out of reach, that the idea either of his mother or brother were still alive felt like a dream never to come true.

“I'm not sure this could ever happen.”, he eventually said.

“Hope never hurts, does it?”

It didn't, true. Stripped of everything else, that might as well be the only thing he had left.

“Come on. You need some serious cheering up, pal. And I know just what to do.”

Mendoza sighed, but showed a faint smile anyway.

“I guess it can't be helped, then.”

And after some more contemplation, he went to sit with the others.


Kilwa really was a big place. A nasty, shady place crawling with bad business like jungle ants over a dead body. Yet it was their only lead, and only that Cinza guy could help their quest.

Granted they find him first. Zia and Mendoza have been wandering around for a good hour, asking people about the elusive man, yet no one has been able to give them an answer that wasn't ignorance or pure vagueness. Seems that Cinza didn't want to be found, which made him wonder how he even got to be known in the first place. That, or his reputation simply preceded him. Still, it felt frustrating to be searching around, unable to find whom he was looking for; that, and the children's moral situation that had plummeted like crazy, following what they've seen earlier.

At some point, he and Zia got separated. He tried to follow after her, but knew her well enough to know she was onto something unrelated yet important. There was no changing these kids, he sighed to himself, so he'd leave her to her usual shenanigans and watch from afar. She was smart enough to not get in danger that easily.

However, as he walked alone in the streets of Kilwa, a disturbing feeling washed over him. He didn't even need to glance behind him to know he was being followed; at least two or three different people, based on sound alone. It wasn't too obvious, but it was here.

Trouble attracts trouble, it seems.

He played along at first. Pretended not to notice, headed between streets a little at random. Mentally mapped all possible escape routes, before coming to a halt in the middle of a recluse alley. And then only did he turn around, facing his followers.

“It would be rude to not introduce each other, wouldn't it?”

The two ruffians glared at him, weapons ready to appear. Mendoza brought a hand to his sword, letting them know he'd retaliate if they tried anything. Yet he kept watch of his back as well, for he heard the metallic shing of a dagger being drawn.

“We already know you're a meddler.”

A young voice. If he turned around to face it, he'd leave his back open for the two brigands to do whatever they pleased; but then, he found he didn't have to. For the person behind him suddenly moved, jumping against a nearby wall and leaping off it with impressive dexterity, landing straight in front of him. And they stared right at him, looking for trouble.

“And we don't like it very much, sadly.”

A woman. A fairly young one, he thought, but the way she stood before the other two told him that she was the one to fear. He quirked his brows, unsure of what to say, but Laguerra's behavior and fierce temper came back to mind. Right...he wouldn't go soft, then.

“What business do you have with me?”, he asked.

“What business do you have with Cinza?”

“So you're working for him, I presume?”

“I'm the one asking questions here.”

She snapped her fingers, and the bandits drew their scimitars. She didn't seem to have any weapons herself; just in case, Mendoza drew his own sword, feeling there'd be no chatting with these goons.

“I simply wanted to meet him. That isn't forbidden, is it?”

“Depends. You don't look like his type of entourage.”

She glanced him over. She seemed to hesitate for a moment, but then resumed her quips.

“Or...his type of entourage. Sure are fancy, but not fancy enough for the job.”

Her croons chuckled at that, but Mendoza stayed impassible. His attention could not draw away from what was unfolding.

There was something about her. Did he know her from somewhere? He could swear he's seen her face before, but he couldn't place it. Thick brown curls, sharp traits, jumpy feet, and a stare that wouldn't leave his face. Well, whoever she was didn't matter; for now, he had a whole other situation at hand.

“Just take me to him, and I won't bother you any longer.”, he offered. “We could all use peace, don't we?”

“I could do that, yeah. Or...I could have some fun with you before I turn you in.”

Devil's guts. Seems the peaceful option wouldn't work.

“What makes you think I'll let you do so?”

“I know you will. Weaklings like you know how to gently obey.”

Mendoza huffed, and drew out his sword.

“You've misjudged me greatly, señorita. A mistake you shouldn't have made. So, we can settle this easily, or do it the hard way: the choice is yours.”

The two bandits stepped forward, but the woman snapped her fingers at them. She glared at him still, and stepped in turn, decided to settle this here and now. One-on-one? Fine by him. Yet instead of drawing a sword or even a pistol, she simply armed her fists at him like a hand-to-hand fighter.

“Now you're just making this uneven.”, he scoffed. “I can't possibly fight y-”

Bam. Before he even knew it, his sword flew out of his hand, landing a few feet away. Her own foot was raised in the air, from where she's just kicked his weapon out of his grasp. Before he could even react, she jumped again and gave another kick, this time aiming for his face, and he barely even managed to protect himself before it hit, sending him stumbling back. He fell on the ground with a huff, and the goons snickered at him, who was so powerful just a moment ago and now had bitten the dust all teeth out.

“You're right.”, the woman snorted. “That is uneven!”

Her mocking laughter only made it even more bitter. Mendoza stood back up, reaching for his sword; yet another kick sent it flying out of reach.

“Aww, baby boy can't fight without his butter knife? What a land dweller, really!”

“Don't you get on my nerves!”

Irate, he matched her stance, fists ready to hit and feet steady on the ground.

“If you want a fight, you'll get it!”

“Not from you, I hope.”

Before he could react, she swooped down and aimed for his ankle, and he fell to the ground; but he managed to catch himself before her other foot could hit him in the face. He stood up like he could, just as she was going for another strike, and raised his leg to shield himself. It hit him in the shin, and it hurt quite badly too, but he tried to not show it. Not show any weakness, cause that was what she wanted.

“You wench...”, he breathed out. “What are you playing at?”

“Too advanced for you? You can give up, you know. I wouldn't blame you.”

That only made him not want to give up. This time, it was his turn to charge, and he headed for her face; but his leg couldn't bend that high up, and while his foot was in the air, she went for his other ankle to trip him. In a sudden reflex, his foot fell back down, and he stepped on her leg to stop her swooping kick, which gave him a moment's relief to get away. Try to blame that!

“...not bad.”, she admitted, getting back up. “Didn't see it coming.”

“You won't see the next one either.”

She grinned, taking it as a challenge, and went at him again. Mendoza readied himself, and met her with all attack the strength he could muster.

It was so weird. He's never been well-versed in hand-to-hand combat, besides some tavern fisticuffs, yet it was obvious this woman had training in some elaborate, bizarre fighting style. She had the powerful kicks of a monk of Shaolin, yet no such grace, discipline or technique. She was kicking at random, swooping, punching with force, and counting on all varieties of dirty tricks to make him fall. Mendoza tried to retaliate, to hit her in return, but just when he thought he had her attacks figured out, she'd pull out some nasty cheat to surprise him. No body part was off-limits for her strikes, be it his face, his gut or even lower; she had no shame abusing his weak spots. Faced with this much devilry, all he could do was to endure it was much as he could, and letting her exhaust herself.

It seemed to work. The more powerful her kicks, the more she'd tire herself out. That's when he'd strike, and retaliate with precise moves right where it hurt. Despite the ruthless nature of their altercation, he didn't want to go all out on her, for she was still smaller and meeker than he was. He knew he could pummel her to death if he wanted to, and he did not want to do that. Not when she was his only lead to Cinza, and the rest of the trail.

She went for his face, and he shielded himself with his arm. His other hand moved, and clocked her right in the nose, sending her to the ground. She fell with a thud, somehow getting even dustier than their dirt fight had made her, and stopped moving. He feared he's gone too far, that he's somehow killed her, but she weakly stood up on wobbly legs, a hand to her face.

“You cursed little fuck...”

She lifted her head, and he saw blood on her fingers. Her nose was bleeding.

“Fania! What has he done to you?”

The two bandits that mostly stood around until now got to her, and she shooed them away. Was she...crying? They turned to Mendoza, obviously irate.

“You bastard! Look at what you did!”

“You made her cry!”

Mendoza managed to pick up his sword, his own body shaking and bruised. He wasn't in any state to fight back. He tried to stand his ground all the same, ready to defend himself, but the woman held back her goons.

“Cut it, you two!”

Blood dripped down her mouth, making it a little hard for her to speak. Her eyes were pooling with tears, that she was obviously trying to hold back. Did he hurt her that bad?

Did I hurt you that bad? I didn't mean to.

“I...I didn't mean to.”, he tried.

She glared at him, blinking away her blooming tears.

“You fucking made me bleed. And now you're saying you didn't mean it?”

“I didn't!”

You did! It hurts! I'm sorry. I didn't want to. Here, you can hurt me back.

“You're lucky I've got my rules.”

She wiped the blood away, only smearing it more. It would have looked so tough on her, if not for the fact she was now crying like a kid, and trying so hard to not show it.

“Fania, that guy's insane! Let's get done with him!”

“I said, I've got my rules! He drew blood, he wins. See red, stop dead.”

And remember, kids: when you see red, you stop dead. We fight to win, not to kill.

“You were quite close yourself.”, Mendoza said, feeling his bruises. “That's...impressive technique, you've got there.”

The woman scoffed at his attempt at flattery.

“Trained with the best there are.”, she replied. “Authentic wind sailor moves.”

And at that, Mendoza froze right in his tracks.

“Now, you've got two choices. Either you get right out of here and never come back, either I chase you down for the rest of your short, pathetic life. Cinza's paying high money to have his business undisturbed, so meddlers like you can fuck right off.”

But he didn't answer. He couldn't answer. His mind was already gone in a whole other direction.

“...wind sailors?”, he breathed. “There's...wind sailors, here? In Kilwa?”

And that seemed to get the woman's attention in turn.

“Oh, you know us? I see our reputation precedes us.”

“'Us'? You don't mean…?”

She only snickered, and stood straight as she could, arms crossed.

“That's right. You're talking to the current leader of the wind sailors' fleet: Fania the Gull, nice to meet you.”

And she gave him an odd hand gesture that he knew was a salute. He's seen it before, shared between his mother and her crewmates; instinctively, he did the same in return.

He wanted to believe this woman. But something felt off. It didn't make sense. He knew there were several tribes of wind sailors, so these guys could be from an other ocean, and yet...something was definitely wrong.

“Why should I believe you?”, he tried. “You're way too young to be a leader.”

That made her huff. With her still-wet eyes, she looked like a child fresh out of a temper tantrum. Who chose this runt as their leader?

“Yet I am. If you've got trouble with that, fight me.”

She grinned.

“If you dare.”

“Bold words for someone who's just gotten a beating.”

Her smile dropped bitterly, and that brought him some amusement.

“You don't want to mess with me.”, she threatened. “You may have beaten me, but a gaviota never backs down.”


Sure, you may be strong. But are you strong enough to defeat La Gaviota?

Now that she said the word, it clicked in his head. That face...that familiarity! Those sharp kicks! Could it be that…? No, it couldn't, it couldn't!

“How do you know her?”, he gritted between his teeth.

She's used the Spanish word instead of the Portuguese one, she could be comparing herself to just any seagull...but the coincidence was too great. He didn't want to believe it was all a coincidence. Had he been wrong, she'd be asking him whom he was talking about. But instead, after an initial moment of doubt, she just sneered.

“You've had a run-in with La Gaviota, I see. Well, be honored, for you're speaking to her only daughter.”

“You're lying!!”

He didn't know what prompted such an outburst. But that girl was lying, there was no other way. There was none other!!

“How dare you use her name to lie about yourself?! You're despicable!”

“I don't need to lie. All I'm saying is the truth.”

“You're a liar! A filthy liar, that's all you are!!”

His fists clenched. She was lying, there was no other way. La Gaviota never had a daughter, she never had anyone but...but the two of them. There were only the two of them, from the beginning to the end.

Carlos. Gavito, look at me.

“I don't get what you're playing at, but it's not working.”

“She's never had a daughter. What are you playing at!?”

I want you to take Esteban and follow your father. I want you to follow him, and get away from here.

“Who are you to say that? What, were you her lover or something? I don't see what she'd find in you.”

“You shut your mouth right now!”

Worry not, gavioto. I'm strong. I won't be defeated.

“I won't let you slander her name for your own interest, you pirate!”

“That's it. Now you're looking for it!”

Mendoza grabbed his sword, Fania stole her henchman's blade, and the two of them clashed once more. But this time, Mendoza would not be holding back. Not for anything in the world, especially not against this liar.

“How can you claim to know her better than I did?”, she hissed, dodging his slashes.

“How can you claim her to be your mother?!”

Metal hit metal in a rage, one Mendoza didn't even know he could muster. And yet he was going for his target with impressive strength, his strikes getting faster and dirtier with every miss.

“I'm not lying! Why would I?”

“You are! I know so!!”

You two escape, quickly. We'll meet when the battle's settled.

“She had no other children but the two of us! And you want to sneak yourself into that!?”

“The two of- what!?”

The scimitar flew out of her hands when Mendoza struck it, and nearly stabbed one of the goons. Deciding it was way too dangerous to stay here, they ran out, but Fania stayed completely frozen.

Mendoza panted, out of breath, still beaten and exhausted. He pointed his sword at her, and she barely took a step back. She just stared ahead, into the void, into his aura of vengeful rage. He didn't want to hurt her, he really didn't; but it ached way too much. All he had left of his mother were memories, and that girl dared to insult them by twisting the truth into a pitiful reason to lead people. What else was she lying about? Was she even employed by Cinza? He didn't care, right now, he was way too angry to care. But she didn't move; instead, she stared right at him, and their eyes met.

“What's your name?”

The question surprised him.

“Why should I give it to you?”

“I gave you mine. Now give me yours. What's your name?”

He was tired, his heart beating to his temples. He didn't want to indulge her, but he just felt weak.


She blinked, and something in her eyes changed. He wasn't sure what was going on, or even who this woman was, and he didn't want to know.

But then, she slowly spoke.

“From Barcelona. Is that right?”

This time, it was Mendoza's turn to freeze.


“There was a house. A tiny stone house, squished between alleys. And...and the garden. There were the docks, too.”

He could see it. He could see the house, clear as day.

“We weren't allowed to go to the docks.”, she continued. “But...we went. To see the ships going away. And he said...he wanted to be a sailor, and he'd have his own fleet.”

“...a fleet of ten thousand men.”

Their eyes met again, and the familiarity struck him again. That face, he's already seen it! Those words...he recalled them!

I'll be the head of my own armada! Captain Juan Carlos Mendoza, leading a fleet of ten thousand men!

“And...and he said we'd explore the world. We'd get out of there.”

If you're captain, then I'll be captain too! Well, I will need someone to help me man my second ship. Alright then, Junior Captain.

“I...I promised.”, Mendoza whispered.

There was no way. No way in hell. And yet...those thick curls, those sobbing eyes, could it be…?

“But then there was...the storm.”, he said. “We were on a boat. And I...I lost him. I lost him at sea.”

“You did.”

She was crying again. But this time, it wasn't from pain.

“But now...you've found her, haven't you?”

There was no way it could click, and yet it did. There was no way it could ever have happened, and yet...and yet, he wanted it to be real. Mendoza stared at her, completely struck with doubt and disbelief, and the question of all his lifetime barely made it past his lips.


The woman smiled. A smile he recognized, for he'd recognize it among a thousand others.

“It's Fania, now. Hey there, Carlos.”

And then, it was his turn to cry with joy.

Trans Rights, babey. J'vous avais dit qu'je l'ferai. On dit #MendozaIsTrans, mais on a jamais précisé *lequel* Mendoza >:3
:condor: Le meilleur personnage de toute la série, c'est la mère d'Esteban.:condor:

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