Ivory Hand

A Xenogears fanfic by Princess Artemis

© S.D.Green, 2003, except what is Square's

Bony fingers stripped of flesh scrabbled at his finely stitched coat. "I'm hungry hungry hungry I'm hungry, Krelian! It hurts...!"

Krelian's lips turned up in a smile that held no warmth as he lead my disintegrating form to a pile of bloodied meat. "Eat this," he said, pointing to the gore. I did not hesitate, so hungry, so hungry...burying my oversized skeletal hands into the still-warm flesh, I scooped it up and devoured it. Too hungry to care that it was untreated Wels, I began gulping down the entire body. It eased my hunger but not my pain. Little to be had now would do that. No untortured human form entered here while I was free, except for Krelian and Elsa, she of the indigo hair. As much as I lusted for their unadulterated blood, I dared not attempt it, lest they warp me more than I was already.

He turned away and left me to my meal. I remembered the first time Krelian had given me Wels flesh to eat; it was in fact the first meat I had eaten since I had myself ceased to be human. I remembered screaming at him for food that would easy my pain, blood of humans, not some mutated monstrosity. I could taste it was Wels flesh. Somehow, I knew my own.

Once, long ago, I was human. I had a name, I think. Satoru Ricdeau...that was it, when I still had eyes to see and ears to hear. And a family.

I shoved the last bit of the dead Wels past my jagged teeth and envied it. Not so hungry now. I was left with little to take my mind off the pain after that. I had long since given up any attempt at dignity; what tatters covered my rotting body were damp with new blood and stained with old. My horribly changed hands were useless for the task.

The bones outgrew the skin that contained them. I can still feel my hands tearing. I can still see the folds of skin and muscle flapping at my elbows, still recall the horror and wonder when I realized the bones worked. That was the first thing I lost, my hands.

The next thing was my sister, and I did not even realize it when it happened.

Krelian brought her in, sometime after the mutations had first started. He had left me hungry. He had thrust her into my cell, along with my brother. I was not beyond recognition then, but they were beyond mine. I smelled her blood...that was all I could think of. Untainted blood to quell my suffering. I attacked her, killed her, and ate her. I do not know if I had ever known such joy as that. The bones of my hands stilled their unchecked growth and I felt no pain.

It did not last long. With my bloodlust satisfied and pain eased, I held my sister's half-eaten arm in my mouth and gazed on my brother. I realized then what I had done, and what I would do again. He was terrified, disgusted, and so was I. But it made him ill... Me, I kept gnawing on her bones. Somehow, I knew it was all I could do to hold onto my human body. I had long black hair then, a face...my legs were not yet malformed. Yet still, I knew, I was lost. I could consume my family and any other perfect human to ease my pain and delay the ultimate destruction of my body, but it would not save my soul. My hair was soaked in blood; my face covered in gore, my legs stood in the viscera of my kin.

In time, I did eat my brother. I am fortunate Krelian never brought my son. My brother and sister were the only tastes of delicious, untarnished human flesh I had, and when there was nothing left of them but their dried lifeblood in my hair and clothes, the mutations began again. I tried chewing off my hair, hoping that there was enough purity left in the dry blood to stop it, but to no avail. It hurt; the fire of it was indescribable.

I howled for more flesh, but even in my agony, I had enough wits left not to beg for my son.

Sometimes I wonder if any of the Wels Krelian has given me to eat were friends of mine when I was human. I wondered if I had ever met the Wels that I just finished eating.

More often, I wonder why Krelian keeps me, why he still performs experiments on me. They used to hurt, but no longer. I know what true pain is now, and I long for an escape.

After I had been given plenty of time to finish the Wels, Krelian returned. "Come with me," he said, voice calm. It was not an unpleasant voice, I suppose. I followed him. We entered a room full of small metal canisters; they strongly resembled some of the processed food I used to eat when I was human. Solarians almost never had fresh food to eat...an irony that the first fresh meal I had was raw human. Krelian picked one up and set it in my bone hand.

I used the other hand to stab it open. A quick sniff confirmed the contents...somehow I already knew. The can was packed with highly processed Wels flesh made to resemble some vegetable. I actually laughed, so bitter was the knowledge. We all ate Wels, humans and Wels alike. All of beautiful Solaris ate mutated, disfigured, used up Wels.

"Why show me this?" I asked.

"You were always special. I thought you deserved to know your fate."

I suppose I could have attempted escape then...but...this fate did not seem so bad. It was a fate, after all, a final release from my grotesque and tormented body. Krelian took me to a conveyor belt and I stepped on.

Elsa came by and stood next to Krelian. As the conveyor moved me forward to my final rest, Elsa spoke to Krelian. "So you're done with him?"

"Yes," he said. "I collected all the data I was able. I was right, he was Animus."

"There were no others?"

"No. The time hasn't come yet. It was a fascinating opportunity to study an Animus up close. I'll watch his descendants. I expect this Animus will turn up again."

"Indeed. Hopefully it won't be too long before—"

That was the last I heard. The saws drowned out Elsa's voice. I spared no moment to wonder what an Animus was; my last thoughts were for my son, Tsuguhiro. I wondered if he would come to dine on his father someday, never realizing it. I hoped he would never know. Not him, nor his children, nor his children's children.

And yet I could not bring myself to hate this system. The saws would relieve me of my agony, and for that, I would forever be grateful.

~ ~ ~

Citan helped the Nortune gravediggers shovel dirt over the rough pine box containing the remains of Redrum. Agreeing to do most of the work was the only way he could guarantee the Wels would be interred properly. No one else wanted to do it, and Citan had to drag the body out of the sewers himself.

"Why are you doing this?" Fei asked, confused. He couldn't see any use in giving a monster a burial fit for a human. Citan had even convinced a sister of Nisan to oversee the interment and say the benedictions of her religion for it.

Citan set the tip of his shovel in the grass next to the gravesite and leaned on the handle. "Do not even these pitiable creatures deserve some dignity?"

"But it's just a monster! It killed Rico's henchmen and would have killed us, too." Fei shuddered hard. "The thing tried to eat me."

The doctor adjusted his glasses. "Yes, it did; it made the same attempt on me. I am sorry that I cannot properly explain, Fei, but allow me this. Perhaps you will understand someday." Citan's dark eyes were uncharacteristically sad.

"All right, Doc. I just never expected to be attending a funeral for a monster." At some unknown prompt, Fei took the monster's bell from his pocket and jingled it. The bell made a light tinkling sound. Fei looked at the golden bell for a moment then put it away. When he glanced back up at Citan, he was surprised to see the doctor wiping his green sleeve across his eyes. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Fei," Citan replied calmly, only the slightest catch audible in his voice. "My hands hurt. I am sure it is nothing serious and will go away shortly."

"Oh." Fei had the distinct feeling his friend wasn't telling him the whole truth, but he didn't want to press him. He didn't remember ever seeing Citan shed a tear. "Maybe it's the shovel?"

"Perhaps. Yes, perhaps that is all it is."

The End

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Author's note— I guess this is mostly a Wels fic. I dunno if it's a subject that gets much coverage in Xenogears fic. Anyway...I don't want to give everything away, but I'm putting Satoru Ricdeau as having lived about 150 - 200 years before Xenogears and that Citan doesn't remember him in any real way.