Beyond the Sky
It occurred to Shulk that technically, they were still on Bionis.
That wasn't a guarantee in of itself, but he figured that there was a rationale behind that. The world, the universe itself had been remade. A world where titans of land no longer existed, where mortals were no longer at the whim of fickle gods, where the world consisted of more than two behemoths and endless ocean. The ocean that lapped up on the beach where he was sitting.
He and Fiora were sitting, but he barely heard her. He wasn't even looking at the ocean. His eyes were ever upwards, his mind ever racing. The feeling that when Alvis had remade the world, this landmass was simply the titan that he and everyone else had once called home bar the machina. This was all their home now. In this land, in this world. The former was still being named by explorers, the latter simply called "the world." A world that he knew he would never know the full extent of in his lifetime.
He let out a start, tumbling over into the sand. Water lapped up near his hair, but it remained dry. It was past midday, and the tide would be going out soon. Melia had told him that it was something to do with the moon, and the new laws that governed this new world. Or something. Yet another thing he might never understand.
"Hmm." He sat back up in the sand, wiping it off his trousers. "Just thinking."
"You're always thinking," Fiora teased.
"I thought you liked it when I think."
"Everything in moderation." She patted the blanket they were sitting on. "Come on. Lunch is getting cold."
It wasn't, actually. Chicken sandwiches didn't get cold. Still, Shulk had never seen a chicken in the old world, which was a shame, because their meat was far less stringy than that of bunnits. So, he took a bite. And another. And one after that.
"Hey, slow down."
He kept eating. For a moment, his thoughts of gods and titans were taken out to sea. He could taste it. Five years since the new world had formed, and he was still getting used to actually tasting things. The meat, the bread, the spices, even the grape juice was sweet now. In around thirty seconds, he'd finished it. Fiora stared at him.
"What?" he asked.
"Um, Shulk?" she said. "The point of a picnic is to eat and talk."
"I'm talking now, aren't I?"
"After eating. I mean pace yourself."
"Hmm." He reached for another sandwich, but hesitated – would it be more insulting to eat it now, or take his hand back and engage in conversation? Fiora had made the sandwiches, but Fiora was the reason why he was here. Why she was here…well, he knew the reason, and knew…hoped…that she knew the reason. The reason that none of them could say right now.
"I saw them again."
He went with the conversation option.
"Today, at Tephra Hill," he continued. "I saw the titans."
"I'm telling you, I saw them. Up in the sky, beyond the clouds. Huge, soaring creatures that…" He trailed off. "You don't believe me, do you?"
Fiora didn't say anything. She just rubbed her hands on her knees. Shulk frowned. No-one believed him. He didn't think there was anything magical in his ability to see the creatures, but that was the only explanation he could think of. An explanation that frightened him. He'd been different in the old world. Zanza and Dickson had revealed as such. Both of them were dead, and he didn't want to dignify their atrocities by dwelling on them. And yet-
"It's a big world," Fiora said slowly. "I mean, we don't know what's in it yet, and-"
"I've seen them," Shulk said. "Creatures, in the clouds. Bigger than anything in this world or the old one."
"No. Different. Like…like fish."
"Flying fish." Fiora laughed. "Careful, or Rikki might get ideas."
"If he believes me, I'll live with that. They…they're huge, Fiora, huge. Nearly as big as Bionis and Mechonis. But they're always above the clouds. And…what if there's people there, Fiora?"
"People," Fiora blurted out. "People living on flying fish."
"Is that weird? We lived on titans in our old lives."
"We did. Key word is the past tense though. Did. What now? And why have only you seen them?"
Shulk flopped back in the sand. Once again the water lapped up at his hair, but didn't touch it. He didn't know. The creatures were like the water now – always coming close, yet always out of reach.
"There's people up there," Shulk said. "I know it. People in this world, and I'll never get to see them."
"A whole new world," he mused. "Maybe generations from now, our descendants will be able to look at a map, and say, 'this is the world. This is everything we know.'"
"And we get to discover it," Fiora said. "And…aren't the people you already know enough?"
He was about to say "no." But he didn't. Because looking at her eyes, looking at how the wind blew her hair, looking at the clouds and sky behind her…no. The answer wasn't "no." It wasn't necessarily "yes" either, but…
He sat up and took another sandwich. "It's good," he said, eating between mouthfuls. "Really good."
"Y'know, when I said a picnic was about talking and eating, I didn't mean doing it at the same time."
He took a gulp of the sandwich. It wasn't chicken, he reflected. It tasted like fish.
If fate exists, it's got a sense of humour alright.
Fate. Fate didn't exist, he told himself. But he existed. Fiora existed. He was still sure that those giant titans existed, even if he'd never get to see them himself. The colony wasn't without aerial technology, but nothing that would soar that high. And he already knew that there'd be no reason for anyone to do so. Discovery was great, but discovery for the sake of it…not everyone subscribed to that idea.
"Anyway," Fiora said, pouring him some grape juice. "If we're talking about-"
Shulk listened, and didn't talk. The titans were beyond the clouds. Beyond the sky.
In this moment at least, he was fine being below it.
So, I'll be honest, I don't really get why Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is called that any more than Xenoblade Chronicles X possessing its own name when neither of them have continuity with the original. I mean, I get that series like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy exist, where the series is grouped more by theme than continuity, but isn't that what the Xeno series is for? Far as I'm aware, Xenogears and Xenosaga are separate from each other.
Still, it did occur to me that Xenoblade 2 could actually be a sequel, since the setting is based on the idea that the world below the titans has collapsed. So, maybe it is the same world that was created by Alvis, just way, WAY into the future. Eh, probably not, but drabbled this up.