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His ear piece crackles with a bad connection. Nyx crouches behind a boulder sitting precariously on one of Duscae’s arches, presses the unit into his ear to hear Pelna swear in something closer to high definition. Something explodes in the distance, another one of those shit MA Hoplomachus. He hears a daemon scream in anger as someone lights up a holy fire.

“Pelna,” Nyx snaps. “Status.”

I’m good,” he crackles out¸ “I’m fine. Lost sight of the Prince. Repeat: Lost sight of the Prince.”

That has Nyx swearing too. He peeks over the boulder, seeing the battlefield under his feet. The empire had never brought the fighting so close to civilians before, their army relying too much on the outposts for waypoints just as much as Insomnia did. Yet, here they are, fighting on the roads. One building is already dust, another listing to the side. No one is going to able to rent chocobos from this place ever again.

He sees the holy fire on the edge of the field—and a MA-X DUX and a fucking Deathclaw. There’s someone warping down there, the after images too blue to be a glaive, and the starshell that appears seconds after the MA-X DUX stumbles is enough to clinch where the wayward prince went.

War is not for children. Nyx had said this, even when he had been a child himself. Crowe said this when their king decided it was smart to have his son and companion join them on a skirmish—a skirmish that morphed into this clusterfuck. It was something Libertus said the moment the sun went down, and Argentum seemed to have lost his nerve, until the prince swung his sword and the kid figured out where he stood.

War is not for children, even the king knew this. And the prince may be sixteen and grown into his magic at an alarming rate despite everything, but he’s still a child. A child going up against a MA-X and a Deathclaw without any backup except for a fellow sixteen-year-old who barely knows enough magic to craft them into his bullets.

Nyx throws one of his daggers with all his might, following it with a purple tinged warp. When he reappears into this plane, he immediately throws the next one. He flies across the battle field over everyone’s heads, gravity bringing him closer and closer to the ground each time. Hopefully, by the time he makes it to his goal he won’t be so high up with the threat of breaking bones once he hits a solid surface.

When he’s in his last free fall he touches a finger to his ear and shouts: “Nyx here, got eyes on the prince and sunshine. Standby for medics.” And that’s all he gets out because the DUX is launching missiles that he’s close enough to be a target for.

He twists midair, barely rolling out of the way, and throws his dagger one last time to lessen the impact of the landing.

“Shit, man!” Prompto practically shrieks, his guns smartly pointing at Nyx for half a second before realizing he’s an ally and pointing them back at the Deathclaw advancing towards Noct’s back. “Don’t do that.”

Nyx grunts. “Less talking, more shooting.”

“Sir, yes, sir.”

Prompto lets out a barrage of magic coated bullets, herding the Deathclaw away from Noct trying to deal with the Dux and into the holy fire consuming the trees and bushes on the edge of the outpost. Nyx winces at the sight, all that nature up in smoke, but can appreciate the strategy. It’s basically a barrier keeping other daemons from spawning in the even darker shadows and coming out to play and makes other daemons uneasy about appearing on this corner of the battlefield. He’ll have to tell Crowe her magic lessons are coming in handy.

The Deathclaw screams when Nyx warps his daggers through its armor, knocking it back into the fire completely. Nyx jumps back before he can get burnt and, together with Prompto, they hack at the armor until they get to the soft flesh underneath. Nyx jabs his dagger into the opening and lets loose the most power thunder spell he can risk. The monster makes the most awful death rattle, its legs giving out from underneath it. It collapses in on itself, black ooze bubbling out, hissing when it touches flames. Some of the fire smothers out completely, the grass and foliage withering into nothing just as the Deathclaw melts away all together.

“Nice one!” Prompto says, smile happy and wide. He bounces on his heels, still all energy despite how long the fight’s been going.

“Some help would be nice!” Noctis shouts, backflipping out of the way of one of the DUX legs slamming down. Blood drips down the side of this face, his uniform is torn and bloody. He’s favoring his side, his landing made him stumble and reveal that his knee won’t be keeping him up for much longer.

They’re too slow.

The DUX releases missiles and they go screaming into the air. One lands behind Nyx and Prompto, the force of it singeing their backs and sending them flying forward. Noctis isn’t so lucky, two missiles land on either side of him. He screams, his attempt at warping doing nothing to get him out of the blast zone. Prompto shouts his name, running out without a thought towards the mech unit.

Noctis is still screaming, his clothes smoldering. He twitches and writhes in the burning embers left behind, his screams fading into pained whimpers. Prompto throws himself over his friend and liege protectively, gun raised as the DUX advances. There’s a glow to his veins, climbing up his forearm to intensify at his hand.

The piercer shot that comes blows apart the gun, shrapnel and fire shredding Prompto’s hand into ribbons. Nyx warps between them and the DUX. Prompto cradles his hand close to his chest, moaning in pain even as he hovers over Noctis. The DUX’s cockpit is caved in, the glass shattered.

Nyx widens his stance, daggers gripped tight in both hands. Noctis falls silent behind him and he risks glancing back. The prince stares blankly up at the sky, chest heaving shallowly, blood on his lips. Prompto meets Nyx’s gaze, tear tracks on his cheeks, red oozing down his wrist.

ETA for back up, five minutes. Hold on.

He turns back to the DUX. War is not for children. He’ll never forgive himself if this doesn’t end well.