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Swallowed Pride (FFXIII, Lightning x Fang)

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Swallowed Pride (FFXIII, Lightning x Fang)

Post by Valkyria Lightning on Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:38 pm

Fandom: Final Fantasy XIII
Genre: Romance, Drama
Couple: FLight (it will develop in the story)
Rating: Teen (later, probably M)


„Stay together. You'll never know what's going to happen in this place…"

Lightning's voice sounded low yet firm as she went on, leading the group through a canyon where they just had filled up their water resources. This place… how did Fang call it? Vallis Middia? The soldier had never seen anything like this before, not in her entire life. With sharpened senses and a collected trot, she watched her environment closely; not only did she take care of anything that would startle her instincts, she also used this occasion to adore bold cliffs, water that rushed down ancient rocks with an enormous roar that covered everything in reach with a fine spray of fog. The air was cool and moist, a real pleasure compared to the dry and burning heat they had to deal with in the past days.

The pink haired woman had to admit, some things changed inside her mind as they passed the nearly endless plains, entering the gulch. No matter how small and impassable it had appeared from upon, as soon as her first steps led her into untamed wilderness, cut by rivers and streams… she couldn't help it but to be awestruck and deeply stirred. Yes, this place had been so much more different than Cocoon; So much more rebellious and wild. She could see how much it had formed the two Oerban women.

The noise of crunching gravel under their shoes rang in Lightning's ears as her gaze wandered from left to right, over her shoulder from time to time. Fang and Snow followed closely, Vanille and Hope a little behind while Sazh decided to bring up the rear. Of course, he wouldn't only investigate whatever would lurk behind their backs – the female soldier knew that the man needed to pace himself, so there was nothing wrong with his decision. This canyon, as marvellous and powerful as it presented itself to the travellers, could have become nothing else but a death-trap. Once the group would run into their ruin, getting attacked by multiple creatures, there was no way out. For a single moment, Lightning listened. She closed her eyes, allowing the sounds of nature to embrace her, taking her in. The woman's sense of hearing was an exceptional trait on her; she never had any trouble to separate common soundscape from something more… unusual and threatening. But right now, everything was lulled in peaceful silence; a cool breeze tugged pink colored hair, twisting it in playful ways. Even with closed lids, the soldier sensed the tree branches moving in the wind. The contrast of light and dark before her inner eyes changed constantly.

"Hey, sis! No daydreaming!"

The soldier felt a light bump against her back and revolved in an instant. Of course, she should have heard Snow's steps pacing up to make fun of her. Being caught that off-guard. How embarrassing; the others wouldn't have noticed and thought of that action as some… funny sort of joke. The woman, however, didn't. If even a clumsy and LOUD person like the leader of NORA was able to literally jump her, then what about other soldiers? Or even monsters? She really grew paranoid over the matter and her senses heated up. His poor attempt to actually tease her didn't make it better. Not at all.

"Don't call me that…", she groaned in response, her steel blue eyes met his gaze in an acidulous attitude. In response, she only earned an amused chuckle, arched eyebrows and lifted hands to mentally disarm Lightning.

"Now, now, don't kill me! Serah wouldn't be pleased about that!"

Serah. How… could he…

"Cut it out!"

Pupils dilated in remarkable fashion as she faced him. Yes, it had been still a touchy subject between them, looming over her and the man like a dark cloud. And Snow remembered the words of Lightning's sister way too clear in this moment.

'Lightning will never directly show her anger, but before she is going to shred someone, you can feel the electricity in the air.'

Electricity, she said? Hell yeah! Every inch of the soldier's body seemed to spark in a storm of agitation; not only a storm – but a hazard. Making a step backwards, the blonde nearly stumbled into Hope who reacted very confused about sudden change of terms. The whole group had paused and watched the upcoming discussion with greater or lesser interest.

"Wait, why are you so mad? I was just joking! Don't be so touchy all the time, si-eh… Light!"

Better start to deescalate the situation, he thought to himself, but… seriously, Snow? Appeasing the female soldier? Well, sounded like a nice attempt of suicide.

"Touchy. So… are you actually implying that I AM touchy over that subject? Over MY sister?"

"Well…," he started with a nervous undertone,"… being relaxed surely sounds… different. Right?"

Hope, who just stood frozen in place behind Snow, shook his head. Seriously, that guy… how pathetic was he? Didn't the blonde notice how much more he actually messed things up? A fleet glance into Lightning's direction told more than a thousand words could actually do. She was… no, not mad, already surpassing that state she became… furious, and that with every new word or phrase of that idiot. Maybe the soldier wasn't going to decapitate him, but that expression in narrowed, steel blue hues told as much. Words only grazed his mind briskly; the boy's focus was on her facial features, every change or twitch of muscles and nerves – but also on Snow's gestures. They were really at it. Their arguments were ALWAYS the same, as long as Hope could remember. He… had to do something! The only question was: What could he even do? The only thing he had been able to, was just standing there and watching things become REALLY ugly.

Lightning approached with a harsh move, pushing the man around who was way taller and more muscular then her. And he even let it happen, stumbling away from her fury, trying to save the situation with soothing words. But once the soldier marked a target as such, there wasn't much he could do.

"Lightning, I told you I'm sorry! I'll do whatever I can to make it right!"

She stopped in her movement, glaring. Her glance looked right through his, of course, standing still wasn't part of the woman's nature; she started to stalk around like a predator, sharpening her claws. Each step tossed up gravels and water, letting it spray into several directions. One hand started to tear her own hair, watching the bangs fall over her eyes and taking her sight for a few seconds.

"Sorry… Sorry. To HELL with that!" she started- her voice firm and filled with annoyance and hatred. Closing up the distance between them, Lightning pushed him with brutal force, not even allowing any other emotion than the ones that have taken over her already. Losing balance, Snow had no chance to get a grip, except on her. Helplessly, he reached out, grabbing a part of the soldier's cloak and tearing red fabric before his hind met the ground of icy water and rocks.

"YOU are just about the talking! What have you done until NOW to save her, SNOW?? TELL ME! I only see your trap moving but it's nothing more than hot air!"

The fallen rebel coughed, cleared his throat while having his ass planted on the ground, eyes widened and his mouth gaped open. That… was something he didn't see coming. Well, he should have. Did Snow really expect that he could provoke Lightning like that and even get away with it? To be honest, no, he didn't. But… he realized that the push ONLY had been a warning. My, did the soldier already soften around the edges? In the very beginnings of dealing with her, she did her best in making his life a miserable pain in the arse, beating him nearly senselessly.

"As if you did better for now, Lightning…," he hissed in response, getting on his knees. The man didn't care anymore about the cold water, not about the rocks or the woman in front of him. God, he grew tired of her accusations.

"You didn't even believe her when she told you. In fact, you made your sister cry and run off! And now you really want to blame only ME? Bravo, now THIS is what I call great action taking place… grow up already!"

Snow clapped his hands in sarcasm, a move that went far overboard. Only a few seconds later, he felt her kick against his chest, forcing him back into the water. Coughing loudly, the blonde cringed, eyes narrowed to mere slits as he looked up, the shadow of the female soldier right above him.

"You don't like when someone stands up for the truth, right?"

Lightning's boot crashed against his chest once again, keeping him where he was. Her whole body was shaking; blinded by rage she clenched her hands to fists, not sure if she would shred him into tiny bits now or later. She raised her fist, ready to strike the one who was already on the ground, fixed by her weight. Snow shut his eyes tightly, deciding that the soldier should beat the hell out of him again – if it made her feel better, why not. The power of her punches surely did not matter in this case, since Lightning did NOT hit like a woman. Despite her rather fragile frame and slim features, she was trained. The blonde rebel didn't even need to open his eyes to examine her. Walking next to the pink-haired female had given him more than only one opportunity to study her build. She was a body of steel, a weapon; if necessary, a killing machine.

Snow waited for the first impact that never came. Instead, his ears sensed Hope's voice, hasty steps and splashing water. The weight on his chest was gone and the young man allowed himself to breathe deeply.


"It's not. Out of my way, Hope!"

Gripping the back of his head, Snow finally dared to blink and lifted his upper body. His clothes were soaked and he started to freeze, but the things that happened right before him caused the man to forget about any kind of physical irritation.

The silver-haired boy started to build up in front of him, spreading his arms widely. And even if the fragile looking kid was the type who'd rather run and hide, he protected HIM. - The one who caused his mother to die. That came… unexpected. Still… Snow's body was sprawled out on the ground, nearly in numbed state.

"No, Lightning. It's enough! He already paid for his actions, so… stop it already!"

Eventually, the rest of the party awoke from their paralysis.

"The kid is right! You kicked his ass hard enough."

Lightning twitched uneasily as she turned her attention away from Hope who used the little distraction to turn his back on her, extending his hand to help Snow getting back on his feet – right to the tall Oerban that approached her. It didn't even take a second to sneak up behind the soldier, gripping her tightly around waist and chest, pulling her away from the scenery.

"Let go, Fang. I'm not done yet!" the pink-haired female hissed, clenching her teeth. Her threat, however, caused the taller one to grin and let out a light laugh.

"You're done, believe me. Besides…," she paused and took that opportunity to turn Lightning around to face her, "…better save your energy for the evening, soldier! Once we reached the fitting spot to camp, we need to get some food. So why wasting your resources on him anyway? He's not worth it."

The female soldier shuddered lightly, but not from anger. This time, it got replaced by a tad of frustration, the feeling that Fang was the one in control of the situation – pinning her like some kind of… kid. Right now, she even felt like a helpless, little girl.

"Why do you even care? It's not your business," the pink-haired replied, her voice sounding throaty and low, almost defencelessly.

"You see that, soldier?"

Fang's hand crept along Lightning's chin, turning her face into the direction of the group that has built a crowd along Snow, giving him comfort and words of… understanding? The female soldier didn't understand what they were saying in the distance.

"It IS my business. Not even mine, but everyone else's in this group. We are a TEAM, Lightning! I don't care what issues you two got. Just make sure you carry out your differences elsewhere instead of demoralizing everybody!"

Even if the pink-haired female wasn't willing to listen – she did. Fang's voice had been close to her ear, snaking up into her system like a venomous serpent and somehow, the intentions of her companion made an impact deep into her heart. She… was right. Really? What kind of LEADER would act out so… unstable, so childish? But of course, Lightning wasn't the one who would admit her mistakes and apologize that easily. It wasn't only her who made that mistake. No, Snow also had to take a part of the blame. Without him, things would have never happened the way they did. Without him, she could have celebrated her birthday with Serah without the escalating fight. She even could have fulfilled her secret plan to take her sister on a short trip like it had been her usual intention.

The travelling brochures were still at home, right on the table, hidden in an envelope. Now, that Lightning's thoughts brushed this topic… it made her sad. All the plans of making up for neglecting and not spending enough time with her beloved sibling didn't have any value anymore. Who knew when Serah would awake of her crystal sleep? Fang and Vanille had been asleep for five hundred years!

She shook her head, disengaging herself from the female's grasp. That situation, no… everything had gotten a bit to her head. It was simply too much to bare right now. Lightning rubbed her hands, lifted her head and stared into the endless blue of Grand Pulse's sky line. So, could she actually go on like this and take the lead for this group, no matter what had happened just minutes ago? Her mind told her differently. Behave like a leader, think like one! Do, whatever seemed to be best for now, for the sake of this group!

"Fang? Vanille? You two take the lead for now. You know this place better than I do."

The tall Oerban beauty arched her eyebrows in slight wonder and confusion, viridian colored eyes fixing her. But eventually, Fang got the meaning, walking over to her younger companion. Seems like our soldier needs some time think, she muttered to herself, her lips warped into a knowing smile.

"Come on guys! Time to hit the road," she ordered, waving her lance as she turned and marched along, Vanille sticking close by her side. The crowd started to move, with Lightning at the rear – eyes narrowed and hands stuffed into the pocket of her medium length coat. The woman kicked some smaller rocks being in her way, lowering her head and tilting it to the side. There was NO time for sulking, damn it! She was a soldier! SHE was LIGHTNING! Not Claire, not anymore! She needed go get a grip on herself, for fuck's sake!

That's why sharing the responsibility for now sounded like the most logical option.

Who knew if walking at the natural stream channel had been a good idea in the first place? It had to be! All the spots offside the riverbank, covered by weeds, trees and bushes were an attractive spot for critters to hide. They could be everywhere, attacking the party out of the blue. Lightning paid attention to the front of the group, watching Vanille walking next to Fang. Both had a very content and relaxed body language. The soldier rolled her shoulders which felt awfully stiff, trying to ignore the cheering voice of the younger Oerban, followed by a husk laugh of the older one. How must it have felt to them? After so many years in crystal sleep… walking on homeland.

"I love it, Fang! Do you smell it? The air is so fresh and clean! It's like in my memories!"

The addressed woman tipped her head, offering a gentle look to her younger companion as she placed her hand on Vanille's slim shoulder.

"Yeah, I do. I'm really glad to be out of Cocoon," she sighed, stretching her lithe, well-toned forms as they kept on walking. "Surely was a mess up there."

Her index pointed into the sky, up to the planet floating above them like a threatening, ancient monument.

"Don't talk like that, Fang. It… wasn't that bad, right? Even after all that troubles in the beginning, we got along, right?"

Fang's gaze fixed the younger woman's smile and she couldn't help it but to grin as well. With a disarmed smile, she nodded eventually.

"Yeah. You're right."


Time passed by on their trip through the canyon and communication died down after some time. While Fang and Vanille were used to this terrain, the other members needed to save their breaths, subdividing their powers. Lightning, however, didn't feel out of energy or tired, compared to the rest. Her mind was occupied, racing madly and circling about one and the same topic. She silenced completely, listening to the running stream and hoping for some welcome relaxation which simply refused to roll over her. Punishment for her stupidity, right? She had learned her lesson for now, that was sure. Still… the members of the party didn't think so; they refused looking at her or talking. They had all their own issues and problems, so it had been only logical. So, she only kept on marching, reducing herself into being a functional machine, following blindly but still being aware of the things that could be sneaking up behind them, like some kind of invisible enemy.

Again, she was carried away by unnecessary thoughts. The whole situation left her being careless, a stupid move for someone as trained and skilled as her. What the hell was happening to herself? Seriously, the pink-haired woman couldn't bring up a decent explanation for it.

"Hey, soldier! Already cooled off?"

Bobbing her head hastily, Lightning noticed Fang next to her, a wide grin on her facial features. How… heck, why didn't she notice?

"… How long have you been walking next to me?" she asked, highly confused and out of composure, crossing her arms like a shield of protection.

The Oerban laughed.

"Hm… quite a while, I suppose?"

Fang's eyes gleamed in amusement while she watched her counterpart creating a wall around herself, not allowing her to enter that little world.

"Come on, just chill! I'm not going to bite you!" she continued, tapping the soldier's shoulder and earning a silent scowl in response. It was so funny, nearly… cute? My.

"I wouldn't let you bite me anyway…"

"I beg your pardon?"

Lighning furrowed her brows.

"Ugh… just forget it, ok?"

She quickened up her pace, trying to be on her own again. But the Oerban warrior knew what was going on, and it had been easy to keep up with that stubborn woman. Tugging the soldier's cloak lightly, Fang forced her to slow down this way. The look she received for her action caused the taller one to chuckle. Steel blue eyes glistened and gleamed in purest annoyance.

"Now, now, soldier. Chill a bit and shut down your defending system, ok? What's the deal anyway? Why are you so tensed and out of it?"

Lightning slowed down, dropping her shoulders. Could she really do this? Spilling out her sorrows and worries, just like that? No, she had been responsible for everyone. She could NOT allow herself to wallow in self-pity. But well, she already DID. So…?

"It's nothing," she answered eventually.

"Nothing, hu?"

Fang grabbed the woman's shoulder, turning her around – this time with more softness in her action than before.

"Doesn't look like 'Nothing' to me, if you ask me."

"But I didn't ask you."

The Oerban beauty sighed deeply, lowering her head as she looked down into steel-blue, troubled pools which reminded her of a clouded sky, uneasy and caught in a storm of emotions she couldn't handle well.

"Right, you didn't. But do you really call it 'Nothing' when you let out your anger on somebody else? Come on, Light, you can do better than THIS. Get a grip on yourself."

Now it was Lightning's turn to sigh, turning her head to the side and closing her eyes with a strained expression.

"Look, Fang," she started after a short span of silence between them, "… it's nice to know that you care, but I can take care of myself. Better go to Snow and lick his wounded pride."

Wait. What? Did she just hear that?

The Oerban warrior stopped and leaned her forms against her weapon, breaking out in roaring laughter. That was just too adorable, right?

"Soldier, don't cha worry about him! The others pet his ego well enough. I'm here to pet YOURS!"

Lightning only grimaced over Fang's statement, rolling her eyes dramatically.
"If that's the case, get lost. I don't need pity!"

"Whoa, that's quite a grumpy one I'm looking at," the dark-haired muttered with a playful wink, shifting her weight from one leg to the other before she strolled ahead, slipping one arm along Lightning's back, pulling her with herself. The female soldier felt far too taken by surprise to complain; instead she followed suit, her finely curved eyebrows narrowed. No, she really didn't like that situation, the way Fang touched her like- this.

"I'd be thankful if you stopped treating me like a clueless kid…"

"Now, really? Did I just treat you like a child? Oh my, I'm sorry…"

Fang's voice contained a lot of tease, but the way she had whispered it into Lightning's ear… so soft and delicate, nearly purring each vocal, left the solder in unease and confusion. Another one of the Oerban's tricks to lead her on?

"Stop teasing me like that," the pink-haired retorted gruffly. But instead of moving out of Fang's reach, she stayed close.

"I actually wasn't teasing you, soldier. Just wanted to cheer you up."

This time it had been the tall warrior who broke their fragile contact, staying behind Lightning with a thoughtful expression.

"But you know… just imagine I'm not talking to you now, but to somebody else,"

Fang arched her neck, staring into the sky that has started to change its color from brightest azure to warm, blazing shades of orange and gold, the view interrupted by single clouds glowing in lightest shades of pale pink.

"Even a knight in shining armour is a human of flesh and blood, protected by steel. Even a soldier, coldblooded and supposed to think clear, is a human with a weapon in his hand. Humans get hurt, they bleed and die, they fade away in the comforting breeze of the atmosphere. Use the time you have, soldier. Hold your head up high and smile... If not for yourself, then do it for me..."

Lightning pretended not to listen, but… each word coming from the Oerban warrior's lips, shook her insides like an earthquake. She was right. The soldier hated to admit it, but Fang was completely right! A little smile crept up on the doll-like face.

And then she turned around, offering her companion a smile so ghostly and subtle, barely apparent on usually icy features.

"This is only for you," she whispered, her voice still vibrant enough to Fang's ears. The addressed woman smiled in return, ruffling her hair.

"I wish it was wider, though!", she complained with a playful undertone.

"Then... make me."

Fang snorted, picking up her pace.

"Come on, we shouldn't lose track! They are so far ahead that I can't see them anymore!"

Lightning nodded and accelerated, running after her.

Valkyria Lightning
The Apex Asexual Predator struck by FLightning
The Apex Asexual Predator struck by FLightning

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Re: Swallowed Pride (FFXIII, Lightning x Fang)

Post by Valkyria Lightning on Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:39 pm


The female soldier couldn't tell anymore how much time had passed yet, but one thing was sure: On Grand Pulse, periods moved at a different pace. The sky remained in blazing colors for a felt eternity, illuminating the canyon and water with a golden ray. The high weeds gleamed mysteriously and Lightning felt the everlasting warming beams of sunlight on her skin. It made her think of Cocoon and the amazing sundown she could watch from the window of her house in Bodhum every evening; it never stayed on for long and once the flaring disc disappeared behind the horizon, she looked forwards to the next dusk. The colors… the mood, everything about that daily event had something that comforted the soldier, a feeling when the actual sunlight hours came to an end – the dark blanket of night sky would embrace her and put her to sleep. The pink-haired woman looked up, arched her neck and wondered about how many hours they had travelled until they finally arrived at the discussed safety point.

The party had stopped at an area she would have called a glade. Surrounded by cliffs, the spot offered a good cover and appeared to be a caldera, probably created by a Fal'Cie centuries ago. Right now, the soldier felt first signs of fatigue; pushing her hands against her knees to support her upper body, a deep exhale followed. Even if she went through hard training in the army to increase endurance and strength, the woman couldn't walk on like this forever. Lightning felt that she had reached her limits that day, but she knew she hasn't been the only one struggling; she just showed better skills to cover it up. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Hope dropping into the tall standing grass, refusing to move any further. Sazh sat down on a rock, his eyes closed as he tipped his head back. The Chocobo chick flapped with his little wings and landed on the palms of his hands; surely it must have been an endless forced march to him, but despite his age the man caught up as well as he only could. Fang and Vanille on the other hand? Since they had grown up on Pulse, such a stride didn't affect them much. They even joked around; the petite redhead giggled over something while her older companion smiled in content and relaxed fashion, ruffling the short girl's hair in tease.

And… Snow? Ugh. Really, she could care less about him, but… the second she even thought about his name, her glance sought his appearance. And THERE he was. The "rebel-to-be" man stretched his arms, sighing deeply and removing his bandana; he shook his head, a flood of long blonde hair hid his face during the process. Lightning only grimaced at that view. Serah might have liked it, but… no. Maybe the woman was quite frumpy in her views, but this guy needed a haircut. BADLY. She couldn't see anything really likeable about him, even after all this time they've been fighting together and… well, tried to reconcile their differences in a more constructive way. Constructive? Lightning tilted her head, only snorting at her antics. Their face-off from before SURELY had been anything ELSE than helpful; so what did her sister actually see in this prick?

That superficial bad boy – image, literally stamped on his getup, filled to the brim with an overdose of self-confidence and actually thinking to be everybody's pal??

Really? That guy, who blew out more empty promises and hot air than the Sanctum? The guy, who was actually SPEECHLESS after their fight with Barthandelus, forced to find out that they all were just TOOLS in a higher sort of chess-game? This had been the fist time Snow's trap was shut as tightly like a nailed door…

Absently, Lightning clicked her fingernails together, the expression of her eyes turned numb and absent-minded.

No. Maybe it had been one reason of many others though. His appearance was explanation enough to protect her; no other guy would have even dared getting closer to her sister with him by her side. So… has it been only an earmarked purpose? She doubted it. Serah might have chosen him to get revenge on Lightning neglecting her that much in the last time. Since the pink-haired woman went into her career as a soldier they have seen each other only in the mornings for breakfast – and sometimes, on her days off. Clearly, this wasn't enough. The realisation came soon. But since Serah never brought it up and still did well at school, Lightning never saw the necessity to ask and kept thinking that things were alright. She should have known that her younger sister felt lonely, even if she was surrounded by friends. Family? They had lost it, both of them. But drifting apart had been the biggest loss. Only their surname defined them as "family" though.

On that day as Claire gave up her old name and started to call herself Lightning, it had sealed their fate. The big sister took care of everything her parents had to do, at the same time she had to raise her younger, more fragile-looking sibling. The soldier sacrificed so many child-like wishes and dreams, forcing herself to grow up and become accepted as a young adult individual that didn't need help – no matter how MUCH they would have needed it in the end. There were things a girl her age simply couldn't manage and still, somehow she went through it with all the responsibility weighing heavily on her shoulders.

Speaking of shoulders…

Lightning shifted, her eyes narrowed in pain as she tried to lift them. She hardly felt able to move; but the moment as several pairs of eyes were attached to her, the woman forced herself into a blank gaze and straightened herself. They noticed that something was wrong, that much was obvious. The group just couldn't tell what. Why did they have to stare like that?


She turned her head, a tad too quick. The pulsating ache numbed her senses to a certain degree, but the woman decided to swallow that bit of emotion down, turning her attention to the person behind her instead. Vanille.


The soldier snapped out of her train of thoughts.

"What's the matter?", she asked lowly, any kind of emotion was washed away from her voice and facial expression. The petite redhead hid her hands behind her back; striking grass green eyes were attached on her counterpart with a questioning look residing in them.

"A Gil for your thoughts?"

Umph. Had it been so evident? Clearly, it gave the impression. Lightning managed a ghostly nod, adding a faint "Nothing" to her dramaturgy. The fragile Oerban, however, wasn't that easy to impress and shoo away – not as easy as Hope. She needed to remember that.

"Fang wants you to show up, that's what I came for in the first place…"

Fang? Why did she send Vanille? They were in the same area, so…

"What does she want?"

Lightning pushed the palm of her left hand against her right shoulder, fingertips pressing against it to feel out the tension of each muscle. A silent crack rushed through her system and eyes narrowed for a moment, a low hiss escaping her throat.

"Uhm…," the girl started, shifting her weight from one leg to the other before she put up a wide smile. "I guess, she needs your help to get some food. She's at the stream, not too far from here. You remember the place with the overturned tree? I bet she's waiting for you over there!"

"I see."

The pink-haired woman had to collect her composure once again.

"Thanks for the info, Vanille! I… only wonder, why she didn't go hunting with you instead."

"Wee~ll", the redhead piped up and tilted her head to the side, "I think she wants to talk to you. Face -to- face. Probably about that thing with Snow, I guess?"

Lightning's jaw tensed slightly as she gritted her teeth.

"…Right. I should go before it's getting dark. Tell the others to build up the camp in the meanwhile!"

"Don't leave her waiting! Fang can be quite… impatient…", the Pulsian replied cheekily; turning on her heel, Vanille made her way to Hope, sitting down next to him for a little chat.

Even if Lightning felt completely out of power, she couldn't just rest like the others. There was something called responsibility for the group and the woman simply HAD to fulfil this duty, nothing more, nothing less. Organizing food couldn't have been so much trouble here on Pulse, right? On their way to the safety point, she had seen many creatures lurking in the shadow. The chances to find something edible existed, most likely. And since Fang and Vanille knew this area better than anyone else, they wouldn't need to starve. Her fingers tapped lightly against the holster of her Gun blade; steel blue colored eyes trailed off into the distance, lingering on a point at the horizon. She tapped her foot against the earth, getting ready to leave as she put her hand on the blade's hilt.

Lightning trudged through the weeds, trying to set her mind on different things than her sore body. The sky has become a little darker by now, hadn't it? She paid some more attention to it, feeling the grass tickling her bare legs. The soldier had decided to walk through wild vegetation, ignoring the ancient trail for now. Since the opportunity had offered itself, she just wanted to be herself; on her own, enjoying the beauty which people of Cocoon would only call "hell" in disgusted fashion.

Fingers touched, caressed the blades of grass in absence, her gaze focused on high growing flowers and their petals, flashing up in brightest red. She was wrapped up in thoughts; the way how weeds felt on her fingertips soothed the pink-haired woman. Why would humans call this place… hell? Sure. It was far away from civilized existence, not as progressive and neoteric as the planet she had called her home ever since. But this terrain in front of her, with all its untouched, rough beauty and freedom, appeared like a painting out of a children's book. She never had seen such a place on Cocoon and right, at this moment, Lightning could understand Vanille and Fang being so glad to be… back. She could imagine that both must have experienced a cultural shock. So many humans, different architecture and surroundings, even the smell and taste of food seemed to be diverse since Lightning noticed Fang's "unhealthy" affection towards salt in her food a while ago.

Right now, the female soldier felt the same way, tossed into a world she didn't know. The wind carried various sounds from several directions, whistling close to her ear. The grassland started to move with each breeze, creating unique and bizarre patterns in front of her. Lightning's lips warped to a faint smile, strangers wouldn't have even noticed that little change in her usually controlled facial expression. She felt like a child, exploring all the things that came ahead. And nobody would see her like that, thinking of her as a sentimental and weak fool. There was… only one person she would have loved to share this experience with.


As the name shot into her mind, the throb came back. The soldier shifted her shoulders, rolled them with an exerted gaze. Right! She wasn't here to keep on dreaming, as alluring the thought had been. God, how was she even supposed to fight without screaming? Maybe the upcoming adrenaline would numb her senses to a certain degree; she looked forward to it.

At a shorter distance, she could already hear that familiar sound of the stream they had walked across before. Her steps quickened all the more until she fell into a collected run. Surely, it wouldn't have made a difference when her trip took a few minutes more. But Lightning's focus went on "business" – which automatically came together with "food". If she already felt hungry, the rest of the group must have been close to STARVATION. And even if Vanille knew some edible plants, it never would have been enough for a group of men, equipped with an appetite like a horde of Adamantoises. A smug grin flit over her lips at that thought.

The scenery changed, from the tall-grown, golden weeds to an indefinable muddy ground, meshed together with gravel and smaller rocks. Each step felt different, granting her orientation and a feel to the territory she was walking on. The last part, however, was a rampant section leading up to a viewpoint. From there, it would be easy to find the Oerban huntress, right?


It was simply breathtaking. Walking up that path had been worth it; the view nearly made the pink-haired woman forget why she had been here in the first place. Right now, her soreness, her feelings didn't matter, not anymore. The scenery made up for it. Birdlike creatures adorned the sky, painted in vermillion; from her viewpoint, it looked like they were flying towards the lost planet in the sky – closer and closer to Cocoon. Breathing deeply, the female soldier got on her knees, scooping water with her hands from the stream to drink. Her throat felt awfully dry and during the entire walk, she had shoved any urges like thirst or hunger away. The fluid was crystal clear and cold as ice – a joy to her atrophied senses.

Quickly, Lightning got on her feet again. Better hurry up, she scolded herself and darted along the gravel bedding, the sound displeased her sense of hearing. But right with the latest flash of adrenaline, it mixed up with her increased heartbeat and created a spurring rhythm. And soon enough, she finally found the object of desires.

At a cataract, Lightning spotted the mentioned tree that has fallen over this part of the stream, held by various sized and shaped rocks. A natural bridge was created, connecting both sides of the river. She slowed down, watching the scenery in front of her.

Fang stood on the weathered, slippery underground. Not only standing, but lurking, eyes barely opened as she watched the streams below; lips parted slightly whenever she inhaled the clear and moist air. The rough power of nature embraced that wild huntress, two avalanches became one. So… this was a person that people from Cocoon would call a… barbarian? A savage, without any education and belief; dear Etro, they all had been wrong. SO wrong! Lightning didn't even dare breaking that fragile contact; she just HAD to watch the Oerban, being in balance with the elements around her.

Fang's hands held the lance in a light and gentle grasp, positioned over her head with the peak pointing downwards; what an unusual sight. If the woman was unaware of her environment, Lightning could have easily disarmed her in not even seconds. Was she… meditating?

Most likely; the tall Oerban predator was as absorbed in her own little world, just as Lightning before; however, she could see a difference. One of them got caught off-guard. The other one focused, brought herself into equilibrium. The female soldier slowed down her movement even more, stalking closer as if she was sneaking up on an enemy. Of course, she only did it so Fang wouldn't be disturbed by any noise, but… who knew if she hasn't already spotted her?

For a single moment, her eyes moved and Lightning could have sworn that a pair of viridian green flashes had pierced her mercilessly with a typically sly smile. She dared another, closer look. No. Surely it had been her imagination. Nothing about the woman's stance had changed, not in the slightest. She looked relaxed, but by closer examination, the pink-haired soldier was able to spot the prominent veins on the huntress' well-toned arms. Caught by curiosity, the soldier closed the distance between them even more, she was able to hear the constant breathe coming from her taller counterpart. The moment she wanted to step on the log, however, completely changed terms.

Viridian eyes shot open.

It didn't even last seconds. Lightning only watched the Oerban's body tense and change her posture; extending and flexing her arm, she tossed the lance with unknown drive and power. The weapon cut the air like a red flash, followed by a cracking sound that reminded the soldier of scattered armours and a screech that set everyone's teeth on edge. Lightning's senses were alarmed and like on unspoken command, her hand shifted to the holster and pulled out the Gun blade.

Prowling down the lift, the following silence was eerie; only the rushing stream reached her ears. However, Lightning didn't believe that the creature was already dead. She had seen and experienced the powers of Pulse's beings, and Fang's attack could have been only the beginning of something that could easily get out of control. Once she had reached the end of the trail, the woman noticed the water colored in bright red. But… where was the target? Only a shadow, moving too fast to be actually seen; the soldier didn't waste time, jumping on a rock to get a better view. Her heartbeat increased as her grip tightened around the Gun blade's hilt, her knuckles turned nearly white from the power and intensity. There! She saw the flitting scheme again, this time it shot into her direction.

A giant shadow leapt out of the water, scales glinting in dim light; blood and water emerged, dripping down the slimy body…

Valkyria Lightning
The Apex Asexual Predator struck by FLightning
The Apex Asexual Predator struck by FLightning

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