Kocis and Karia flee Sellund Castle with an unconscious Mileena in the aftermath of Ix’s use of Stack Overray to seal himself and Gefion along with the Voidstorm. The growth of Mirrage Crystals caused by Ix’s out-of-control mirristry amplify Ix’s powers in turn, resulting in Kocis growing into an adult form. Mileena and Kocis both realize that Kocis’s continued existence is proof that Ix is still alive, but the rapid spread of the crystals forces them to retreat. With the Heimdallr damaged by crystals and the Salvation Front occupying the harbor, Mileena uses her mirristry powers to create a virtual space for them to escape safely into.
A month later, Kocis and Karia reflect on the state of the world since the Mirrorshift. Shimmeras have been appearing everywhere, despite the lack of Shimmera Glasses. Gareth is still missing, presumably captured by Asgard, the new island that appeared where Odanse used to be. King Demetrius has proclaimed it to be “the revival of the ancient Asgard Empire,” and blamed the Mirrorshift on Mileena.
Meanwhile, in the Asgard capital Hy’Brasail, Mithos is wondering to himself if things have really worked out for the best. Phillip #3, dubbed “Junior”, appears to tell him that Martel has been looking for him, and to remind him to rest and recuperate from the damage to his anima caused by Phantom’s Shadow Beast transformation. Mithos further divided his anima to allow Chester to recover quickly in order to signal Junior so he could stop Phantom. Caius stops by to say that he and Kor are going to investigate the Salvation Front’s movements. After he departs, Mithos observes to Junior that the world is only going to continue growing more chaotic. Though Junior agrees, he says that he can’t leave Mercuria. Mithos says that it probably would have been for the best if they had killed the Nexuses after all, and that it seems that both Phantom and Phillip were being used by Demetrius all along.
Back with the main characters, Kocis catches Mileena attempting to sneak away. Though Mileena claims to be trying to gather information about the current situation for them to make plans, Kocis points out that there’s no reason for her to try to do that by herself. Mileena confesses that she intends to take advantage of the Salvation Front distracting the Asgard Empire in order to sneak into Sellund, where she plans to free Ix from the Mirrage Prison. She wants to save Ix even though destroying the seal would free the Voidstorm as well. Kocis decides to trust Mileena, and insists on accompanying her although he says he doesn’t intend to interfere with her plans.
Their conversation is interrupted by the appearance of a Shimmera, but Veigue, Meredy, Keele, and Jude show up to help them fight. Afterwards, Keele explains that they also went to gather information about the current state of the world, and about the stray Nexuses that Asgard may have collected. Jude says that because he and Yuri have friends who might be in Asgard, they went to ask Karia to help transport them there to investigate. Karia’s behavior made them suspicious, and when questioned by Jade and Leon, she spilled the information that Mileena had left. They decided to split into two groups, one to pursue Mileena and the other to infiltrate Hy’Brasail. Keele suspects that Mileena had been intending to take Ix’s place in the mirrage crystal, and Kocis and the others tell her that Ix sealed himself knowingly to protect Mileena and everyone else, so they should focus on finding a better way to save him rather than wasting his efforts.
Richard appears, saying he will destroy the Mirrist in black and her servants, and sends a Shimmera after them. No matter how many Shimmeras they defeat there seems to be an endless supply. Jude notices a stone Richard is holding glows before more Shimmeras appear; Mileena says that it’s possibly made from mirrage crystal, and that due to the nature of Shimerras, with an object like a Shimmera glass to connect the world and the void it would be easy to summon them. They team up to try to get the stone away from Richard, but are stopped by an older Ix-lookalike, who scolds “Cheagle” (Richard) for going off to act on his own and tells him to meet up with the brigade escorting Illia. The remaining Shimmeras keep the party too preoccupied to pursue.
After the Shimmeras are defeated, everyone wonders about the identity of the mysterious older Ix-lookalike. Although the Ix sealed in Sellund is the third Ix and theoretically the last exoflection, Keele wonders if the man might be an exoflection of a future Ix. Mileena feels that shouldn’t be possible, although Bifrost Mirrists had been doing research into a similar technique. Nonetheless, Mileena believes this couldn’t have been Ix. They decide to keep moving towards Sellund to determine the status of the Ix sealed there. Keele questions Mileena about her earlier understanding of Shimmeras, and she reluctantly admits that she learned more from her shared memories with Gefion. She says that when the Kaleidoscope stripped the anima from living things, it broke them down into particles called animus. The golden grains of the Voidstorm are in fact bundles of animus particles, and Shimmeras are a chimerification of these particles. Kocis says that in a sense, the Shimmeras are therefore made up of the ghosts of the former people and animals of Tir Na Nog. Mileena apologizes again for Gefion’s actions, and the others remind her that she is a separate person from Gefion.
The party arrives at Sellund and sees Ix still sealed inside the crystals. Meredy notices that his hair seems to have grown, which puzzles Keele, who says that the connection with the Void should have suspended life inside the seal. Mileena says the effect isn’t caused by time passing, but rather, that she thinks the Mirrage is reflecting Ixes from both the past and the future superimposed in one place. She wishes she could ask Gareth more about the Bifrost Mirristry techniques, but the group is interrupted by Sync coming to pick a fight.
Marcus shows up to stop Sync and remind him not to forget their objective. Mileena asks to meet with Phil, wanting to know what Phil thinks of Ix’s condition, but Marcus says they have prior engagements and it will have to wait. Jude asks after Alvin, but Marcus says that that “triple spy” has already left, and that he’s working with Zelos as well, before leaving with Sync. Mileena wants to get in touch with Yuri and the others to see if they can find information about Bifrost’s mirristry, so she contacts Karia, who says that Kongwai and some of those who had left with Yuri had returned with a stray Nexus, Ruca. Mileena asks to hear the details.
((to be continued))
Chapter 2 Edit
Ruca wakes up in the Warriors’ Hall in Hy’Brasail, substantially recovered from Phantom’s mirrage array and able to move again. He thinks about how he hasn’t seen Illia since that time, though he believes she was in the Hall as well. Rubia arrives to bring him his meal. Though he asks to be let out, she says she can’t do that, and that all she can tell him about Illia’s condition is that she’s in the Hall as well. Under the guise of feeling his hands to check on him, she manages to slip him a note without the guard noticing. It tells him that because so many soldiers are off pursuing the Salvation Front, the guard is currently weak, and he should take her hostage to escape when she comes back later to pick up his dishes.
When Rubia returns Ruca follows her instructions and grabs her, pretending to hold her hostage to force the guard to release him. Rubia shows him to a storage room where he retrieves his sword, and she tells him that Illia is safe and recovered sooner than he did. However, on the orders of the Four Shadow Generals, she was taken to Sellund for anima-related experiments. Ruca and Illia seem to possess an unknown type of anima, but Rubia says she doesn’t know the details. Ruca asks her to escape with him, but she declines, saying she and Caius have to remain behind for Lukius. She shows him a secret passage and tells him to hurry ahead and save Illia.
On his escape through the passage, Ruca runs into the infiltrating party, including Yuri, Luke, Guy, Cress, Rita, and Senel. Ruca and Senel recognize each other (Arc 1 Ch 14) and Ruca decides to trust them and explain what’s happened and his need to get to Sellund. The party decides to split into two groups, with Yuri, Luke, and Cress continuing their infiltration plan and Senel, Rita, and Guy escorting Ruca back to the entrance to return to Sellund. Mikleo, Sorey, Karol, and Kongwai are waiting at the entrance for the return of Cress and the others. They meet the returning group with Ruca and decide to go back to the hideout to discuss the situation with everyone.
Back at the hideout, Raine, Jade, and Klaus join them for a discussion. Kongwai suggests that Ruca and Illia’s “unknown anima” has to do with their nature as reincarnations. Since Illia was brought along to Sellund, where Mileena and the others currently are, they decide to contact them and attempt to meet up so everyone can rescue Illia together. Raine and Jade agree that whatever Asgard is researching about the unknown anima is likely information they want as well. Karia returns and asks Ruca to explain his situation in more detail to Mileena, and the group sets out for Sellund.
Sorey, Mikleo, Emil, Marta, Karol, Raven, and Kongwai escort Ruca to Sellund. They encounter a Shimmera along the way, and Kongwai is surprised to find that Ruca can still use his Divine Artes. Raven tells them to hide because Asgard soldiers are coming their way, and they see that the soldiers are escorting Illia. Since they haven’t met up with Mileena’s group yet, Mikleo points out that they’re at a numerical disadvantage, but Ratatosk says they can’t lose the opportunity so they charge in anyway.
Ruca and Illia are reuinted, but Kor and Caius step in to recapture them. The Ix-lookalike appears to tell them to stand down. When Caius protests, the man tells him to hurry back for Rubia’s sake, as she’s been imprisoned, and they leave. One of the Asgard soldiers asks “General Naxa” what to do about Omega Nexus Subtype 02. Naxa says he’s collected the minimum data so to let her go, since they’ve already secured Subtype 03. He and the soldiers depart, leaving everyone wondering about the resemblance between Naxa and Ix. Kongwai says that further discussion is meaningless, since none of them knows enough about mirristry, and that they should go ahead and join up with Mileena and the others.
They reunite with Mileena’s group and ask her about Naxa. Sorey notes that “Naxa” is the name of Tir Na Nog’s god of the sea, and Mileena suggests that it might be a fake name. Regardless, Sorey says that they can be satisfied that they at least know the condition of the “real Ix,” now that they’ve visited Sellund. Illia says she’ll join Mileena’s group, and that if Asgard wanted the reincarnated Nexuses so badly, her and Ruca joining Mileena’s side should mean an easy victory. Ruca agrees to join also, though he says he’s worried about Rubia, as well as the “Subtype 03,” who may be another reincarnation from their world. Mileena says they need to find out more about Mercuria and about what Asgard planned to do with the anima of the reincarnated Nexuses, and in the process hopes to discover something that can help Ix.
Back in Hy’Brasail, Chester stops in to talk to Rubia in prison. He asks her why she set Ruca free, despite understanding how important he was, and wants to know if someone else suggested it or threatened her. He says he doesn’t want to see her locked up, and he'll intercede with Mercuria if she’ll only explain to him. Rubia says she doesn’t need his intervention, and that while she’s grateful to Mercuria, the Living Doll project was a mistake. She demands to know if it’s brought Chester any happiness to see his sister in such a state.
Ludger, Julius, Elle (and Rollo) are out shopping for food when Kor approaches them, asking if they’re friends of Mileena’s. He has a letter for them to pass along to Cress, but when Julius presses him to explain further, he says he doesn’t have time and leaves. Julius suspects the letter might be some kind of trap, so he pursues Kor and leaves Ludger and Elle to take the letter back to the hideout to deliver to Cress.
Back at the hideout, Cress opens the letter, then says to get Mileena right away. However, it turns out that nobody knows where Mileena is, so Raine comes to listen as her standin because she already knows about the situation with Chester. Cress explains to the others that after the Mirrorshift, Chester chose to go back to the Salvation Front to keep an eye on the whereabouts of the Omega Nexuses Phantom captured. According to Chester's letter, more than half of the Salvation Front was absorbed into the Asgard Empire in the wake of the Mirrorshift, and Chester and the rest of the Shadow Generals ended up under the command of the surviving Bifrost Imperial Princess. Chester’s letter includes a map of a route to sneak into Asgard, and the additional instructions that Ludger, Elle, and Julius absolutely should not enter Asgard. Worried that Julius’s pursuit of Kor might lead him into Asgard territory, Ludger decides to hurry after him. Elle wants to accompany him, but when he tells her it would be too dangerous, Milla offers to go along and protect Elle. Lloyd and Colette also decide to come along to help.
Julius follows Kor unnoticed and spots him meeting up with Caius again. Caius confirms that no one noticed Kor slip away, and tells him they’re going to attack the Salvation Front base after this. They leave to join the attack, and Julius considers what to do. Although the Salvation Front is not currently their enemy, he also thinks that Kor and Caius don’t seem like enemies either. While he’s lost in thought, Sync ambushes him but is scolded by Marcus. Julius asks Sync and Marcus if they can really afford to be hanging around while the Asgard Empire is attacking their base, and Marcus says things are proceeding as planned, and what he really wanted was to make a diversion to draw forces away from Hy’Brasail. Their goal is to retrieve a mirrage tech captured by Asgard, who Asgard has ordered to do research on the Great Spirit Chronos. Julius is worried by the mention of Chronos, so he agrees to accompany Marcus to try to free the tech.
Ludger and the others are following the trail Julius left behind when they see smoke. Colette flies to scout ahead, and reports that the Salvation Front and Asgard seem to be fighting. However, Ludger notices that the Salvation Front seems to be retreating deliberately rather than being driven back. They hide as Kor and Caius approach, and overhear Kor saying Richter had noticed the same thing. They wonder whether the Salvation Front’s goal is Illia or Cecily, but decide that they need to inform Naxa regardless. While Ludger and the others are trying to decide what this means for Julius’s whereabouts, Phillip appears and tells them that he can answer that for them. Though they initially take him to be Phantom, he introduces himself as the original Phillip, the 103rd Biqe Phillip Reston.
Phillip explains that Julius went with Marcus to Sellund in order to rescue Cecily, the mirrage tech investigating Chronos. Ludger is shocked to hear that Chronos might be in Tir Na Nog as well, but Milla mentions that they’ve encountered other Great Spirits. Phillip resummarizes for those who weren’t present for Efreet’s explanation that Tir Na Nog’s Sun Goddess Dana predicted the destruction of the world, and to prepare for that time she sealed her priestess Yalanda and the Great Spirits in a sleep until then. Yalanda and the Spirits were meant to awaken together, but although Yalanda has not yet awakened, there are signs that the Spirits are. Phillip is uncertain if Chronos has yet awoken or not, but says that Cecily should be able to answer that, and that she’s been brought to Sellund to investigate the anima of the Omega Nexus Subtype. Since the Empire is likely to use either the ruins of the Kaleidoscope or the chiral crystal refinery for their research, Marcus has gone ahead to the Kaleidoscope and Julius to the refinery. Phillip tells them to head towards the refinery if they want to meet up with Julius and asks them to help Cecily if they encounter her.
The team rejoins Julius at the refinery, and Julius tells them the Asgard army recently brought a young girl into the facility, but he’s uncertain if she’s the mirrage tech they’re looking for. He also says that he saw a man who looked like Ix leading the Asgard forces, and that the physical resemblance was so strong that if Tir Na Nog were a fractured dimension, he would have believed the man was a divergence catalyst. They decide to head in to investigate further, but are interrupted by a bang before and Richard and a young girl exit from the back of the refinery. Richard seems to be hurt and the girl is supporting him. An Asgard soldier pursues, telling them that they’ll be punished for desertion. Milla takes care of the soldier and everyone hurries to help the two of them.
The girl insists that she’s fine, but Richard is in bad shape, and faints. Colette says she could carry Richard back but is worried about separating from the others, so Lloyd and Milla go to make sure they’re not being followed so everyone has time to rest. The girl introduces herself as Cecily and thanks them for their help. Ludger begins to ask her about Chronos, but Richard regains consciousness. Richard recognizes Elle as an Omega Nexus and the Key of Kresnik and grabs her. He summons another Shimmera horde to stop them from pursuing. Marcus and Sync show up and tell them that they’ll handle things, and to hurry after Elle.
Elle is struggling with Richard, but something comes over him and he collapses again. Elle suspects him of trying to trick her, but before she can escape, Mithos arrives. He says that it’s dangerous for her to be there alone and he’ll escort her somewhere safe, but she tells him that Richard needs the help more than her. Mithos puts her to sleep for the time being, then turns his attention to Richard, saying that “Cheagle” has caused him some trouble. The others arrive in pursuit of Elle and Lloyd is surprised to see Mithos again. He asks him about what he’s doing, but Mithos says he isn’t interested in telling him. Milla tells Lloyd that even though Mithos is his acquaintance, she’s going to keep her promise to protect Elle, so she has to fight him. Mithos unceremoniously defeats them, so Cecily gives Ludger a mirrage containing Chronos’s power that she says someone of the Kresnik lineage should be able to use. As Mithos is threatening Cecily, Ludger activates the Chromatus.
Ludger keeps Mithos occupied long enough for Elle to recover, and Mithos accepts the outcome, saying they can take Elle and he’ll retrieve Cheagle. He notes that Ludger’s power doesn’t work well on him, because it and the Eternal Sword are both time-powers, and says that this was what drew Demetrius’s interest to Chronos’ power. Lloyd asks Mithos why he would tell them this but Mithos is dismissive and leaves with Cheagle. Ludger notices that the mirrage Cecily gave him broke, and Cecily explains that the power of Mithos’s sword was what did it, and that the mirrage was only a prototype. She confirms that Chronos has woken from the seal already, and as a result of the spirits sharing their consciousnesses from the multiple worlds, the effect of Chronos’s power allows Ludger to use his Chromatus. Julius asks Cecily to confirm that the Chromatus in this world doesn’t have a negative effect the user, or come at a “price”. Cecily says that due to Elle being an Omega Nexus, the time distortion energy is absorbed from Elle’s body into the void surrounding the world. Ludger is troubled by this discussion, but Julius tells him that things are different from their world, and they can discuss it later. Phillip arrives, relieved that Cecily has been rescued safely, and asks her if she will lend her support to Mileena and the nexuses.
Everyone heads back to the hideout. Cecily explains that she is Gareth’s disciple who was captured by Asgard while researching the mirristry of the Bifrost Empire, which Asgard was also in search of. Mileena returns, and they catch her up on the situation. She says that Overray is Bifrost mirristry, and Cecily explains the technology as temporary exoflection of the potential past and future that draws out the user’s latent potential. Mileena believes some of the nexuses may have powers that were limited by the Encode, and that an Overray Mirrage might be able to unleash those powers. Lloyd wants to try out an overray as well but Cecily says that he’ll have to discover the catalyst for unlocking the power of his particular anima. Mileena begins asking Cecily about Phillip, but Karia interrupts to say that Cress and the others are returning. They’ve brought Chester and Ami with them, and on seeing Cecily, Chester demands she take a look at Ami. Cecily attempts to check up on Ami, and when Ami is unresponsive to her questions Chester explains to the group that since Ami’s exoflection, all she’s been able to do is smile vacantly.
((to be continued))
Phillip, Marcus, and Sync have regrouped after the battle with the Shimmeras (Chapter 3) and Marcus scolds Sync for attacking Mileena (Chapter 1). Sync reminds Marcus that he only joined the Salvation Front in the first place because Marcus had promised him he could kill Mirrists, and that he holds Mileena accountable for Gefion’s plan as well. Phil says that if Sync wants to blame anyone, Sync can kill him when things are all resolved, but to get back on task for the time being. The Salvation Front wants to retrieve Gareth to get the Heimdallr running again. However, when they had made contact with Gareth before, he refused to leave Asgard because he was worried about Cecily. With Cecily rescued they believe he’ll cooperate with them now.
Zelos joins the group and Phil asks him about Alvin and Shirley. Zelos says they’re now at the Salvation Front hideout, and he thinks Alvin is a fine bodyguard for Shirley. Sync asks if it’s really alright to take their eyes off that traitor, but Zelos says that he thinks Alvin feels guilty, and it should be no problem. He also says that he feels uneasy with Shirley and believes she’s hiding something. Phil teases him for it being unlike him to avoid a woman, and Zelos says that it’s just that they don’t know much about Shirley, asking if she isn’t a Nexus or a "stranger", but rather a Living Doll. Phil expresses uncertainty, but changes the subject and asks Zelos to accompany Sync to Hy’Brasail to retrieve Gareth. He says they should meet up with Zelos, who is currently in Asgard gathering information on Demetrius.
Back with the infiltrating party of Luke, Yuri, and Cress, the three of them speculate on what Asgard is intending to do with all of the stray Nexuses they’ve been gathering. It seems as though Asgard might be collecting Nexuses in search of Omega Nexuses, although they don’t know for what purpose. They also discuss why Chester’s letter warned Ludger and the others not to come to Asgard, and wonder if there might be something different about their anima in particular. When they reach the entrance Chester had marked for them on his map they find it sealed, possibly because of Ruca’s escape, and are spotted by Asgard soldiers.
Kratos comes to their aid, and though they are initially suspicious, Kratos introduces himself and Luke recognizes him as Lloyd’s father. Kratos says he is a mercenary whose employer has him investigating Asgard’s self-styled emperor Demetrius. He explains that although the Asgard Empire had been destroyed long ago and the imperial line died out, because the memories and emotions of the exoflected populace of Tir Na Nog are vague, the people are very impressionable. Phantom, too, might have manipulated their memories during his final round of exoflections; as a result, only a month after the Mirrorshift roughly 90% of the world is already under the control of the Asgard Empire. Kratos had been suspicious of Demetrius’s activities and has been watching him closely. He says that Demetrius has been collecting the prophecies of Dana, which relate to how Mirrages and Mirrites would bring about the destruction of the world. Kratos is investigating how reliable the prophecies might be, and what Demetrius intends to do with the information. He gives the group directions to another entrance to the Warriors’ Hall and parts ways with them.
Meanwhile, Zelos and Sync have also entered Hy’Brasail. Sync says that the Warriors’ Hall that they are looking for should be in a highly secure position, as it was a repurposed Imperial villa. Though Zelos is surprised that anything would be repurposed already, since Asgard has only existed for a month, he observes that the city does not look new at all. Sync says that he heard from Phil that Odanse was the capital of Asgard in ancient times. From the worn state of the streets and buildings, it seems that Hy’Brasail has been exoflected from the past, although there should be a limit on how far back an exoflection could be taken from. They suggest that Phantom managed to use the Kaleidoscope to create a mirrage arte that was a fusion of both creation and imagination mirristry, using it to exoflect his own vision of Hy’Brasail. The discussion is interrupted by Asgard soldiers looking for Ruca, who mention returning to the priestess’s troops after reporting in about his escape. Realizing that the guard around the Warriors’ Hall will be tighter because of this, Zelos and Sync decide to sneak into the priestess’s troops and infiltrate that way. They also mention that Asgard seems to be intending to use a Nexus as a priestess to be a vessel for the Goddess Dana.
The two of them easily sneak into the Shrine of Dana. Zelos is surprised that Asgard doesn’t seem to have increased the guard after they rescued Shirley, and Sync suggests that that means they have no shortage of substitute vessels. They hide as a priest approaches, and overhear that the latest possession ceremony has failed. Kratos joins them once the priest departs and says he wants to rescue Kohaku, the intended vessel, because she should have information about Demetrius’s actions. Sync says that Kratos and Zelos should carry Kohaku out while he takes her place in the casket to enter the Warriors’ Hall and retrieve Gareth. Kratos says that some of Mileena’s companions had infiltrated as well and he can use them as a diversion. Kratos and Zelos say they’ll rejoin Sync once Kohaku is out of danger, and depart.
Once inside the Warriors’ Hall, Luke and the others run into Sync. Though Luke is apprehensive, Sync says their goals are compatible, since they’re looking for Chester and he’s looking for someone familiar with the Warriors’ Hall to help him find Gareth. They team up with Sync and find Chester, who is with Ami. After they ask about Ami’s vacant state, Sync says that she must be a failure of the Living Doll Project, arranged by Princess Mercuria of Bifrost. The Living Doll Project is intended to place a soul into a different body by injecting anima into a body that has lost its own, causing a chimerification. Cress asks if this means that Ami has lost her anima, but Sync says that that isn’t the case, and that’s what caused her to break and end up in such a condition. Chester hopes that a Nexus might have knowledge that can help Ami and wants to bring her back to Mileena’s base with the others. Sync says they should go and he’ll head to the prison to free the Omega Nexuses, since he needs to retrieve Gareth anyway. Before they part ways Yuri asks Sync and Chester what they know about Flynn. Sync says that Flynn is the Knight Commandant and Demetrius’s aide, and should be somewhere else currently. Chester says he’ll explain more later and they separate.
Sync heads to the prison, where he meets Gareth and tells him that Cecily has been rescued, offering over her spare glasses as proof. Rubia, also in prison, asks Sync to help the Omega Nexuses, but says she has reasons of her own to stay behind. Gareth and Sync hurry to the cell with the Omega Nexuses, where Regal tells them that Karyl has already been taken away, and Rowen has become weak and fallen unconscious. He asks them to help Rowen but says he intends to stay because the Living Doll Project is planning to use Alicia, and he absolutely won’t allow that to happen. Sync and Gareth leave, carrying Rowen. As they escape they are blocked by Dist, who had come to hear about the outcome of Kohaku’s possession ceremony. Zelos and Kratos return to fly Gareth and Rowen away, and Sync bickers with Dist before fighting his robot and leaving.
Phillip, Sync, Marcus, and Alvin reconvene on the Heimdallr and discuss what to do next. Alvin says he’d like to rejoin Jude and the others, and Marcus says that when Zelos and Kratos return from their investigation of Asgard he wants to send them to Mileena’s group as well. Phillip asks Sync to continue working with the Salvation Front, and Sync asks what their plans are. Phillip says that their purpose is unchanged, and they intend to revive and protect Tir Na Nog. Although the exoflection of the world is completed the Voidstorm remains a problem, and he’s also worried about Demetrius’s plans. Sync confirms again that Phillip will let him kill him when everything is over, and so agrees to join. Shirley joins them on the bridge and says that Kohaku and Rowen are settled and still unconscious. Phillip says Rowen might take some time to recover but that his life is in no danger, and he has plans to help Kohaku regain consciousness. Sync asks what their plans are afterwards, and Phillip says he is concerned about Demetrius gathering Dana’s prophecies and wants to focus on that situation, leaving Mileena and her group to figure out more about the Living Doll Project. Whether or not the prophecies of Dana are accurate, it is true that Aifreed sealed the Great Spirits. Given that, Phillip also expects that the Priestess of Dana should still be sealed in a sleep somewhere. With that as their focus, the Revived Salvation Front departs in the repaired Heimdallr.
((to be continued))
Mileena gathers everyone for a meeting to discuss the current situation. Raine recaps the background: the world is on the brink of disaster because of the Voidstorm, which Gefion attempted to seal in her body with her Human Kaleidoscope plan. Though it failed, Ix instead deliberately caused his power to go out of control, creating an outbreak of Mirrage Crystals that sealed himself, Gefion, and the Voidstorm inside. This event, which was afterwards called the Mirrorshift, caused considerable damage and upheaval and was accompanied by earthquakes. Under the guise of providing relief to the damaged world, the revived Asgard Empire has been seizing control. Keele summarizes the research that Keele Labs has been doing on the Mirrage Crystals, saying that all the crystal growths are connected underground, and theoretically are also linked to the stone containing Ix. Because the crystal is still spreading, it means that Ix’s anima is still being consumed. If nothing is done his anima might be exhausted. However, in suspended animation inside the crystal, even if drained of anima Ix should not die. The crystal is both prison and protective shield, giving them time to find a definitive solution, as well as allowing Kocis to move freely anywhere in the world.
Raine moves on to discuss the current Asgard situation. King Demetrius of Sellund has declared himself the Emperor of the revived Asgard Empire, an empire that existed more than 1200 years ago. Raine speculates that his motive is to revive the Bifrost Empire. In ancient times both Bifrost and Sellund were under the control of the Asgard Empire. Sorey adds that they may want to make use of customs or ceremonies that were passed down in the Asgard Empire in particular, and says that they’ve heard from Zelos about Demetrius’s attempts to use the possession ceremony to call the Sun Goddess Dana into the body of a priestess. Though the records he has from the Asgard period make no mention of the possession ceremony, there are many references to priestesses receiving an oracle, and this might be the reason for their interest in the Asgard Empire. Mileena says that Phillip is also investigating the situation, and they should wait for more information from him.
Aside from the Salvation Front, the rest of the world is now under Asgard’s control. With Phantom’s death Phillip and Marcus reclaimed the Salvation Front, but with so many of the members having defected to Asgard their power is weakened. Raine adds that Alvin from the Salvation Front has joined Mileena and the others, and Mileena introduces all the new members (Rose, Dezel, Anise, Celsius, Hubert, Pascal, Pasca, Kana, and Rody) to the group. The Salvation Front has additional Nexuses as well, including Rowen, who is still unconscious, Zelos, Kratos, Sync, Kohaku--and, although she is not a Nexus, Shirley. Senel is startled by the mention of Shirley and asks Alvin for more information, uncertain if she is the person he knows. While they are discussing that, Raine moves the general conversation on to the topic of the Living Doll Project, asking Cress to bring Chester in.
Chester introduces the Living Doll Project, saying it was the work of the Bifrost Imperial Princess Mercuria. Mercuria is a survivor of the mirrage wars who was brought to Sellund as a prisoner after Bifrost’s defeat. Demetrius raised her as her foster father, and she became acquainted with the Salvation Front through Phantom. Unaware that she was a Bifrost Princess, she was accepted as a young noble girl who was a member of the anti-Gefion faction. It was with Mercuria’s help that Chester found his way into the castle during the Mirrorshift, and Mercuria aided Phillip in order to remove Phantom. Afterwards, Mercuria and her guardian Demetrius began talking about reviving Bifrost, and half the Salvation Front defected to her side as her guards. The remainder, with Phillip and Marcus, are in conflict with the empire. Jude asks if Phillip’s opposition to the empire is due to the Living Doll Project, but Chester is uncertain. He says that all he knows is that the purpose of the Living Doll Project is to put a different soul in a body that has lost its anima, but says he doesn’t know the reason. Jade adds that Ami is now resting, although they don’t yet have a way to heal her.
Julius recaps the situation as the group having three main problems to tackle. Firstly, Ix’s runaway Overray and the Voidstorm. Secondly, the Living Doll Project and treating Ami. Thirdly, the Asgard Empire and their plans. The group decides to divide up to deal with the various situations. Rose and Karol are assigned to information gathering, and Rose says the members of their information gathering group will be herself, Dezel, and Brave Vesperia. Keele Labs is assigned to investigating methods to rescue Ix. Combat members of the group are assigned to find and rescue stray Nexuses. Julius, Mileena, Ruca, Illia, Ludger, and Elle are to avoid independent action. As the talk concludes, Mileena asks to speak to Raine and Jade about Naxa.
Karol calls the first meeting of the his information gathering group, with Leon and Lloyd joining the discussion. They decide to start their research on something focused and concrete, so they want to look into the subject of the Omega Nexuses Zelos had reported were captive in the empire, Karyl and Regal. They ask Lloyd and Leon for more information on each of them. Lloyd says that Regal stayed behind to prevent Alicia being revived in the Living Doll Project, and that Regal is a strong, gentle, handcuffed person. Asked about Karyl, Leon says that he sings songs. Prodded further, he says that Karyl is a calm person with strong leadership ability and a heavy past. A woman he loved was killed, and Karyl eventually avenged her. Lloyd notes that the two of them have in common that they lost someone important to them, and Rose adds that Karyl may also want to prevent the woman he cared about from being used in the Living Doll Project. Dezel advises them to be cautious, and Raven agrees, although he says that there are also Nexuses on Asgard’s side who have helped them before (Caius, Kor, and Rubia). Yuri says that there are those whose objectives are unknown, and Raven mentions Flynn. In light of all that, Yuri proposes another infiltration of Hy’Brasail to get more information, and Rose volunteers her merchant connections to help get them in. Karol says that Rita is busy with Keele Labs research, and Estelle is helping the other healers try to find a cure for Ami, so they decide to ask some others to accompany them. Before they depart Cecily hurries in, apologizing for missing the meeting and giving them the new type of mirrages she’s just been developing.
The information gathering group, now including Laphicet, Luke, Guy, and Velvet, departs for Hy’Brasail. Though Karol had just asked Guy and Velvet to accompany them, Luke came along with Guy, and Phi joined Velvet when he heard about the mirrages Cecily had given them. Cecily had explained that the new mirrages should be able to draw out the powers that Nexuses lost in the Encode process, like Rose’s Armatization. If the Nexus encounters a catalyst, the mirrage should be able to manifest the power from their world in a suitable form, and they will be able to use Overray even though they aren’t mirrists. Though Velvet and Yuri initially wonder if Phi was hoping to use the new mirrage himself, they soon realize that he actually came along because he was worried about Velvet and the possibility that manifesting her powers from her original world might cause her to experience the effects of the malevolence. The conversation is interrupted when Karol thinks he spots Emil and calls out to him. Confused why Emil would have followed them in secret, the party tries to chase him. They hear people approaching and are forced to hide. It turns out to be Dist and a priest, who are discussing the rituals. Dist is saying they have no other options because he has no more Nexuses suitable to be a vessel, while the priest is worried that Richter will oppose them. They decide to proceed with their plan anyway and move along. Wondering what they just saw, the group gives up on searching for Emil and heads into Hy’Brasail.
When they arrive in Hy’Brasail, Luke and Guy are surprised to find that Rose’s letter of reference was to a merchant named Astor who they recognize from Chesedonia. Though they know him, Astor isn’t a Nexus, and has no memory of them personally. Astor introduces them to his bodyguard, Hilda. He asks her about the condition of the market, and she says that since many merchants have been detained by the conflict between the Salvation Front and Asgard, they’re petitioning Flynn to secure them safe passage. Yuri asks Hilda to tell him what she knows about Flynn. She says it isn’t much, only common rumors among merchants and soldiers; that he’s the Knight Commandant, who despite his rank deals honestly and kindly with the people. He aided the reconstruction efforts and helped calm the chaos of the empire and restore order. Also, according to the soldiers, he’s very close to General Naxa, and the two of them work closely. Hilda asks Astor if they’re going to make their delivery to Rosemallow Villa as planned. On hearing that Rosemallow is the imperial villa where Mercuria stays, Yuri asks Hilda to bring them along on the delivery, and Astor agrees and instructs her to help them.
Hilda sneaks the party in disguised as merchant workers. She gets them to a warehouse directly across from the inner building of the villa, and then makes a distraction so the group can sneak in, spilling her tarot cards and getting the soldiers to help her gather them again. The last card she picks up is the Moon, upright. Meanwhile the group makes their way into the villa, but is forced to hide when Richter and another soldier approach. Richter is upset that the soldiers still haven’t managed to find Aster and instruct them to use more people, including the knights deployed at the Kaleidoscope. The group quickly realizes that he can’t mean the destroyed Kaleidoscope in Sellund, and conclude that the villa must instead have a Kaleidoscope of its own. They believe it to be Phantom’s revised prototype which he mentioned in his final battle with him. Determined to find out more, they go to capture the soldier to get information out of him.
Back with Mileena’s group, she gathers Jade and Raine to talk about Naxa. She says that it was troubling her how much he looked like the older Ix, so she decided to trace through Gefion’s memories to see what she could find. The original Ix protected the original Mileena, Gefion, from the Bifrost soldiers and was killed. He was 22 at the time, and looked strikingly similar to General Naxa. He also injured his right arm in that final fight, and Mileena says she believes Naxa’s right arm has a prosthetic hand. Rather than Naxa being an exoflection of a future Ix, they begin to suspect that he was instead the original Ix himself, and that Bifrost recovered his body at the time. Mileena says Gefion’s memories of Ix’s death are vague, but that she seems to recall Ix’s body dissolving into golden grains of light, just like from the Kaleidoscope. However, the Kaleidoscope hadn’t been invented at that time, so it should have been impossible. Raine wonders if the psychological trauma of Gefion’s guilt over all the people she killed caused her memories to become confused, but for the time being they agree to consider the possibility that Naxa is the dead original Ix.
Cecily appears looking for Mileena and gets drawn into the discussion as well. She agrees that it would have been possible to preserve Ix’s body, and that she’d heard that Bifrost’s original intention in attacking Odanse was to seize mirristry techniques from them. Raine suggests that possibly Bifrost recovered Ix’s body in order to study it for mirristry purposes, and Cecily says that if it is indeed Ix’s body, that would make him the first subject of the Living Doll Project. Raine asks Cecily to tell them more about Mercuria. Cecily says that Mercuria is very innocent, but because of that innocence, she can also be cruel. She also loves mirristry; all members of the Bifrost imperial family are mirrists. Calculating from the end of the war, Jade speculates that Mercuria must be about 12 or 13 years old, and Cecily agrees. Jade believes this means that Demetrius is definitely the one steering Mercuria’s actions. Mileena says that even though Mercuria came to live in Sellund Castle following the end of the war and she should have encountered her as Gefion, she can’t remember her at all, and Raine suggests that they need to investigate further about Gefion’s memories.
Meanwhile, Yuri’s group has successfully threatened the location of the research laboratory out of the unfortunate soldier. Before they can start looking around for the Kaleidoscope, Repede suddenly becomes alert, and they hide as Naxa and Flynn approach. Naxa is saying that it will be difficult to revive all of Bifrost’s people even if they increase the scale of the Living Doll Project. Flynn(?) agrees that he’s worried as well, and that while Lambda and Richard had given him useful insight, it was difficult to find animus particles like Lambda’s. He adds that it’s only by using “this Nexus’s body” that he’s able to gather animus particles. Naxa mentions his own “already dead” body, and Flynn(?) begins to say something about the anima of body he has, before Yuri blows their cover and charges in. Yuri asks what they’re planning to do by possessing Flynn, but decides he’ll just knock the possession out of Flynn’s body by force and attacks. When their blades cross, the special mirrage that Cecily had given Yuri begins to shine, and Naxa yells for “Baldr” to get back. A giant shimmera appears and the group is forced to fight it instead.
Yuri activates his overray in the battle, and Naxa recognizes the mirrage type that Cecily had given them. Yuri demands one more time for them to return Flynn’s body, but Baldr insists that he needs Flynn’s anima in order to protect Princess Mercuria and Prince Woden. Naxa snaps at him not to use that name and that Prince Woden is already dead. Raven tries to bait them for more information, but soldiers appear as a distraction and Naxa and Baldr get away, leaving behind another Shimmera to cover their escape. Yuri charges ahead of the group, trying to fight his way through in time to catch Naxa and Baldr, and Guy and then Karol scold him for it. Yuri calms down enough to wait for the others and discuss what’s happening. Guy and Raven are troubled by the plans to revive Bifrost with the Living Doll Project, and Yuri says that they need to capture Baldr and bring him back to the hideout to find a way to help Flynn.
They encounter Mithos as they’re following Naxa and Baldr, and ask him to tell them which way they’d gone. Mithos says that they’re in a place Yuri and the others can’t reach and not to bother, and is about to go on his way when Dist appears. He threatens to tell Mercuria that Mithos was willing to overlook the intruders and wonders what kind of punishment Mithos’s sister might receive for this, so Mithos attacks the party after all. However, he doesn’t put up much of a fight, and afterwards uses Distortion Blade on Dist for speaking of Martel. Yuri asks if Mithos is really trying to help revive the Bifrost Empire after all. Mithos says he has no interest in it, but also that he has no intention of interfering for the time being. He leaves, and Yuri decides that they should head back. Based on Mithos’s clues and Naxa mentioning “closing the gate” before he fled, he believes that Naxa is using the same sort of extradimensional space that their own hideout is based in. They believe the new Kaleidoscope may also be inside the same space. They decide to head back to share this information with Mileena and the others, and update them about Yuri’s overray as well.
Back at the base, Mileena asks Cecily what she’d originally been looking for Mileena to discuss. Cecily says that she believes she may have come up with a solution to fix Ami.
((to be continued))