Author's Note: I've actually decided to come back and edit some of my earlier chapters, because I noticed the site ate up a bit of my formatting. It won't change the story at all, really. I've just fixed a few things that needed fixing.
Special Thanks: Many thanks to all my readers. You're all awesome! Also, infinite cookies and other good things to Marlene, for being an awesome beta.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy X. It belongs to Square-Enix. Also, I don't really have anything against Tidus, other than the fact that he's pretty whiny at the beginning of the game.
Chapter 1: Zanarkand, Ho!
Charlene Brooks stared at the carefully wrapped package her mother pushed at her. "Mom, did I miss something?"
"It's your birthday, dear, did you forget already?"
Charlene gave her mother a sheepish look, and said, "Actually…yeah."
"Well, this is your birthday present, Miss Eighteen, so go ahead and open it up."
The birthday girl tore the brightly colored paper open, and her eyes widened. "A PlayStation 2...Mom, you shouldn't have!"
Her mother grinned. "I know you didn't want anything expensive, Charlie, but it's your eighteenth birthday, and I know you don't like things like 'prissy' clothes and makeup, so I got you this."
Then, almost as an afterthought, she passed her daughter a smaller package. "Oh, I figured you might want a game to go with it, so I got one of those, too."
Charlie opened the smaller package and stared at the blond haired boy on the cover. "Final Fantasy X? Keith and Johnny keep trying to tell me stuff about this game, and it sounds like it'll be a lot of fun. Thank you."
A little while later, the girl hooked up her new PlayStation, and popped in her game. Charlie chose "New Game" and stared at the somber-looking group encamped on the outskirts of a ruined city. A sorrowful tune played in the background, and at the end of the sequence, a young male voice, apparently belonging to the blond boy, said, "Listen to my story. This may be our last chance."
Something about those words made Charlene feel uneasy, but she quickly forgot about it when a bunch of cheering people greeted the hero and started shoving weird looking blue and white balls in his face. When the time came to pick a name for her character, she decided to let him keep his own name, so "Tidus" signed autographs, flirted with girls, and listened to the advice of a creepy little boy dressed in purple. "Okay, that kid has officially freaked me out!" Charlie thought.
Eventually, she managed to steer Tidus through the crowd, and a cinema type scene began. At first, it was just a tournament between Tidus' team, the Zanarkand Abes, and their opponents, the Duggles, but it soon switched to a mysterious man in red. The stranger stood in a high place, and held up a white jug in salute to what appeared to be a massive tidal wave heading toward the city. Suddenly, the scene shifted back to the match, and the fans cheered as Tidus knocked an opponent out of the water, but then it changed back to the stranger, who was now walking from the wave, which had changed into a massive ball. Strangely, as the man walked through a puddle, the water lifted out of it and headed toward the ominous floating sphere.
Once again, the scene shifted back to Tidus, who was hanging above the water in the stadium, preparing to kick the living hell out of the ball in front of him, until he saw the water globe hovering beyond the city. Suddenly, several energy bullets fired out of the mysterious object, and smashed into Zanarkand, destroying the stadium in the process. The blitz pool collapsed, and Tidus managed to grab a broken girder, but still fell to the ground below. Unfortunately, the boy must have landed wrong, because he did not get up. "What the hell kind of hero dies at the beginning of the game?" Charlie shrieked when she saw that Tidus had apparently broken his neck.
Then, the scene faded, and a pulsing rainbow light oozed out of the television screen. "What the hell…" the girl began, but the liquid light flowed across the room and quickly absorbed her.
Now floating aimlessly in an odd, glowing place, Charlene found herself face-to-face with the ghostly little boy in purple. "What's going on?" she demanded. "What just happened?"
"I'm sorry," the child replied, his voice sounding slightly hollow.
He vanished, and she crashed to the soaking wet concrete next to Tidus' corpse. Charlie quickly pushed her black hair out of her face, but stopped and stared at her right hand. She was now wearing a weird metal armguard much like the one the dead hero wore on his left arm. The same short black overalls, black and yellow sneakers, and tiny yellow hooded jacket he wore had replaced her clothes as well. Thankfully, whatever strange force changed her clothes also gave her a black halter-top, so she wasn't flashing her "assets" for the whole world to see. "What in God's name is going on?" Charlie wondered as she stumbled out of the ruins of the arena.
Once outside, the bewildered girl spotted a familiar figure. "The guy in the red coat…what was his name?" she wracked her brain, trying to remember the names she read in the instruction booklet.
Finally, she remembered the name and shouted it aloud. "Auron!"
The man in red turned around and stared at her. "You…who are you?" he demanded. "Where's the boy?"
"Are you talking about Tidus?"
When he nodded, she sighed, "I hate to break this to you, but Tidus is dead."
Auron's voice turned flat. "What?"
"Yeah, he sort of broke his neck when he fell."
The man swore under his breath and stalked off, leaving Charlie behind. She hurried to catch up to him and shouted, "Hey, don't leave me here!"
Panicked people surged everywhere, trying to get away from the destruction, and she tried to catch up to Auron, but then time stopped. "It begins," an all-too familiar voice said from behind her.
"Huh?" The girl whipped around and saw the little boy in purple again.
"Don't cry," he told her.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
Suddenly, time unfroze, and the people surged past her once again. Charlene looked around and finally spotted Auron in the distance. Once she caught up to him, she said, "Hey, you DO know that this is the wrong way, right?"
He gazed up at the ball of water hovering over the city and replied, "Look!"
When she stared at it, he continued to speak. "We called it 'Sin'."
Before Charlie could say anything else about it, a large blue spear-like creature covered in tentacles smashed into a nearby building and countless pods rocketed off it. Each of the odd capsules morphed into a large creature that looked like a cross between a bird and a bug, and they surrounded the girl in a semicircle, chattering angrily. She tried to back away from them, throwing a punch at one when it got too near, but she tripped and fell flat on her butt. Then Auron held a sword out to her. The blade was long and red, and hooked downward in the front. "Take it," he ordered, staring down at her.
Charlene, not knowing what else to do, grabbed the handle, and Auron lifted her to her feet without ever letting go of the sword. "My God, he's strong!" she thought, staring at him with awe.
Then he let go of the blade, and she nearly dropped it on her foot. "A gift from Jecht," he said, as if that explained everything.
"Jecht? Are you talking about that weirdo on all the billboards?" she asked, before slashing at the bug creatures.
The monsters backed away, and Charlie redoubled her efforts to drive them off, once again losing her balance and falling down. Auron gave a small sigh, pulled out a massive sword that was nearly as long as he was tall, hefted it over his shoulder, and all but growled, "I hope you don't kill yourself with it."
Suddenly, the bugs surrounded them on all sides, their wings fluttering and their eyes glowing angrily. The two of them hacked and slashed the monsters, and clouds of opalescent lights rewarded them as the enemy fell. Their progress was short-lived, however, when more pods dropped, and turned into bugs. "These ones don't matter. We cut through!" Auron shouted.
Charlene didn't argue with him. They slaughtered the creatures that impeded their progress, and ran until more of the little beasts surrounded them again. "Any ideas, Chief?" the girl asked when she killed a bug, only to have it replaced by another one as soon as it fell.
"Don't bother going after all of them. Cut the ones that matter, and run!" he replied, dispatching the one in front of him.
The two of them concentrated their efforts on the enemies in front of them, and once all of them were gone, they easily managed to outrun the rest of the swarm, although more pods continued to fall from the sky like a hellish rain. Then there was a loud crashing sound, and Auron ran toward it, leaving a very aggravated Charlie to catch up. When she found the swordsman, however, she also found another of the giant tentacle things, along with six or seven more bugs. "Get out of my way!" she screamed, waving her sword in what was supposed to be a threatening manner.
Auron shot her a sidelong glance, and replied, "Some can't wait to die."
Whether he was talking about her, or the monsters, she never knew, because at that moment, the huge beast waved its tentacles about, and a crushing darkness exploded around her. The little creatures moved to attack, but at the last second, the air around Auron seemed to catch fire, and he leaped skyward. A moment later, he landed with his sword pointed downward, and when it stabbed the pavement beneath, an explosion of flame burst from the street under the monsters and wiped out all the bugs, along with a few of their progenitor's tentacles.
"Jesus friggin' Christ, Auron!" Charlene swore, her eyes as wide as dinner plates. "What the hell was that?"
"Dragon Fang," was his short reply.
"Oh, well that really explains it!" she muttered under her breath as she whacked the blue "spear" again.
The massive creature kept losing tentacles in clouds of those eerie lights, but it only retaliated with the same dark spell it used at the beginning of the battle. Finally, all but the largest tentacle vanished, and the thing's body suffered a series of explosions before losing more creepy lights and shriveling up like a leaf in the desert. After it died, Auron took off again, and Charlie ran after him, but stopped when she saw a bizarre blue light welling out of a crack in the street. Curious, the girl reached into it, and a warm surge of energy rushed through her, renewing her waning strength. "Okay, that was weird," she said to herself as she hurried to catch up with Auron.
She caught up to him yet again, and realized that he had her backtracking toward the stadium. Staring up at the image of Jecht, she said, "Auron, let's get out of here!"
"We're expected," he replied, his voice calm.
When the swordsman took off yet again, she screamed, "Expected? By who, the Queen of England?"
By now, Charlene was seriously considering washing her hands of the whole affair, but then she remembered that Auron might be her only ticket home, so she continued to follow him. Then, another rain of bugs fell from the sky, and a huge swarm of the annoying creatures surrounded the both of them. The lost girl and the swordsman hacked at their attackers for a while, but more kept coming, and Auron smirked and said, "Hmph, this could be bad."
"Oh really, you think?" was his unhappy partner's reply.
The swordsman quickly surveyed the situation, and noticed a tanker hanging haphazardly off the side of the bridge. "That! Knock it down!" he yelled to Charlene.
"What? Are you out of your damn mind?"
"Trust me. You'll see."
She wasn't happy about it, but did as he said and attacked the tanker. It seemed to take forever, even with the two of them working together, but finally, the machine fell to its doom and exploded. All the bugs died, but then the bridge started to collapse, and Auron shouted, "Go!"
It seemed like the whole world was blowing itself to pieces, and Charlie voiced her dislike of the idea of running on an exploding bridge quite loudly. "You crazy son of a bitch! I want to go home, not get blown to kingdom come!"
The irate teenager threw herself at the ledge, just as the last remnants of the bridge collapsed from beneath her feet, and found herself hanging above the abyss by her hands and the last vestiges of her strength. Auron slowly stepped to the ledge and stared down at her, while the ball of water that was Sin hovered directly overhead. "Auron! Auron, what are you doing?" she shouted, her voice wheedling slightly due to her fear of heights.
Sin's form changed, and looked like a giant wormhole from a sci-fi movie that was swallowing everything around it. Charlene continued to struggle as the swordsman stared up at the living vortex. "She isn't the one we came for," he said to voice that only he could hear.
"Oh great! I'm stuck at the mercy of a psycho!" she thought bitterly, trying to suppress a bout of hysterical laughter.
"You are sure?" he asked the unheard voice.
Apparently, it responded with a yes, because Auron sighed, reached down, and picked Charlie up by one of the straps to her overalls. "This is it," he told her as he hauled her up. "You aren't the one we wanted, but I guess you'll have to do."
She told him several painful, and probably physically impossible, things that he could do with himself as she scowled down at his face. One dark brown eye hidden behind dark sunglasses impassively stared back at her. The other eye was sealed shut by a terrible scar. "He's trying to hide it, but there's a terrible sadness in his face…Wait, what the hell am I doing thinking about that at a time like this?"
They reached the blinding light of the event horizon, and he said, "It all begins here."
Then, Auron vanished and the burning light swallowed her. "What the hell am I gonna do now?" was her last thought before the light faded and unconsciousness consumed her.