Chapter 1: Former Fantasy

Lesca's fingers danced over the keys on her machina tablet, and she brushed back a strand of long brown hair. Her dark green eyes (which implied Al Bhed blood somewhere in her ancestry) stared intently at her tablet. She was just... about... done! That was enough for today. She could revise it tomorrow.

She had until the end of the week to complete her report on the ancient ruler Yu Yevon, who had masterfully negotiated a peace treaty with Bevelle 1000 years ago. It wasn't too difficult; she'd always been interested in history, especially that surrounding her hometown of Zanarkand. Lesca herself was even named after Yu Yevon's daughter.

Yunalesca had been one of the greatest summoners of Zanarkand. Lesca sometimes wondered what it was like to be able to summon an aeon to lend aid in battle. Sadly (to Lesca, anyways) the ancient fayth had been destroyed in the Machina Uprising, and summoners were no more. According to the rumors, one fayth still survived somewhere... but such rumors were quickly silenced. Summoners and aeons were of a time long gone. While they had been useful in olden times, now was the Age of Machina. Technological advances were being made every day.

Still, it didn't hurt to dream.

And sometimes even do a bit more than dream.

Lesca bounded down the spiraling staircase. Lesca's mother, Juno, looked up from her tablet.

"Where are you going?" she asked Lesca.

"Over to Mila's. I told her I'd come over this afternoon. And yes, I'm finished with my homework. I've got the whole first draft of my history report done, and it's not even due until Sixthday!" Lesca replied.

"All right," Juno said, chuckling a little. "I don't suppose you'll be playing that virtusphere game again?"

"Mo-om! I already told you, it's called Former Fantasy!"

"All right, all right! Just be back by dinner."

Lesca nodded. "Okey-doke!" Then she rushed out the door.

Juno looked back at the machina tablet. "Kids," she murmured, reminiscing.

Lesca navigated the complicated gridlike streets with the ease of a native Zanarkandian. She could have gotten a ride on a taxi-hover, but she was saving up every last gil she got in order to buy her own VirtusphereStation and a few game spheres to go with it.

She finally reached Mila's house, and rang the doorbell.

Mila answered. "Hey! You finally made it! What took you so long?"

Lesca grinned. "I kinda lost track of time while writing that report on Yu Yevon."

"Hmph. I don't get why we have to learn about something that happened 1000 years ago!"

"Well, I happen to think it's interesting."

"So... you wanna get started again on Former Fantasy?"

"Of course! I think we were in the Macalania Forest, right?"


Lesca stepped inside, and the girls walked to the den.

Two circular platforms, about two yards in diameter, sat on the ground near the far wall. The outside edges were painted a metallic blue, and inside the circles black. It was like a treadmill-- if you stepped forward, the black part would rotate, and you would go nowhere in the real world. But inside the game was a completely other story.

On a shelf in a corner to the left of the platforms sat a glowing violet sphere, two helmets and two pairs of gloves. The helmets covered the head almost completely, leaving only the mouth and chin visible. An adjustable microphone extended from one side to stay near the mouth for issued voice commands. Under the helmet, about where the ears would be, were two speakers. A video screen was in front of the eyes.

The gloves, when worn, would track the movements of a player and translate it into game movement. Thus, a player was completely immersed in the game.

In the wall in front of the game platforms was a box attached to the wall with a sphere slot in it. Mila grabbed the violet sphere from the shelf and inserted it.

"One hour good?" Mila asked, turning to Lesca.

"Yeah. I need to be back by dinner."

Because gamers were so involved in the game, it was hard to tell how much time had passed, or to tell if the spherecomm was ringing, so Former Fantasy gave the option of setting a time limit. It would then give half hour, fifteen minute and five minute warnings to the player (or players) and then, finally turn itself off.

The two girls suited up as the game loaded, and stepped onto the platforms.

"Load save one," Mila said into her mike.

"Loading..." said the pleasant sphere generated voice. "Loading complete. Time limit?"

"Yes," Mila said. "One hour."

"Time limit one hour. Confirm?"

"Yes," Mila repeated.

"Time limit confirmed. Enjoy the game."

Images began to form in front of Lesca's eyes. In the game world, she stood in a crystalline forest, quiet and peaceful. She looked around her.

Lesca had chosen a game form almost exactly like her own-- long brown hair, average height for a fifteen year old, and green eyes. She wore a long, flowing, purple dress, which looked like it should impede movement, but apparently didn't. Her wrists were decorated with silver bangles.

Mila, on the other hand, had opted to become, in the game, one of the ancient race known as the Ronso. The Ronso had never much liked technology, and had left after their traditional homeland, Mount Gagazet, had been tunneled through in order to build a hover line. No one knew what had happened to the Ronso since then. Still, Former Fantasy was what it sounded like-- a fantasized version of the past. Not only was it fun, it could also be justified to one's parents as being somewhat educational. Mila was a tall, blue furred female Ronso, and she carried a spear. She wore a green tunic-like outfit with a bold yellow design on the front. Mila's character was truly an intimidating sight.

The Ronso turned toward Lesca. "Ready?" Mila said.

"Yep," Lesca replied. "Let's go."

They walked along the path, and Lesca admired the scenery.

"Do you think the woods really looked like this when they were still around?" Lesca asked.

"I dunno. Maybe. It's certainly pretty."


Suddenly, a fiend leapt into the path.

The words, "Random Battle" scrolled in front of Lesca's vision, followed by "Bladelimb x1".

In battles, your character could only move when it was their turn. You could run all you wanted on the treadmill, and nothing at all would happen.

Mila's turn came first. She had opted for a physical-based character, and she ran towards the Bladelimb to swing her spear at it. The number 1037 flashed in white above the fiend's head. The fiend then sprung for Lesca, who evaded (not due to any movement on Lesca's part; she still couldn't move. Her evasion stat was merely above average). It was now Lesca's turn.

Lesca's character was a mage/summoner. She only knew some of the lower level magic, but her summoning ability, Lesca felt, made up for it.

"Fire," Lesca said, pointing at the Bladelimb. Flames erupted around the fiend, and the numbers 867 flashed over the fiend's head.

Mila attacked again, and the fiend fell.

The cheery victory music played, and the girls continued.

"I heard there's something called a sphere spring around here," Mila said. "You wanna see if we can find it?"

"Sure." Lesca looked around. These woods were certainly confusing. "Hmm... how about this way?"

They ran on the northern facing path.

Fifteen minutes and six random encounters later, they were near a lake.

"Umm... I think we might've gone the wrong way..." said Mila.

"Well, maybe we'll run into a sidequest or something. There must be something worthwhile back here," Lesca said.

They followed the path a short distance, but the path ran into the icy water, and neither of their characters could swim.

"This bites," Mila grumbled. "I guess we'll have to go..."

Suddenly, something erupted from the lake, spraying water everywhere.

Both girls looked, and saw a serpent head rising from the water. The words 'Boss Battle' flashed in front of Lesca's vision, followed by 'Leviathan'.

"Great," Mila said. "Now we have to fight this thing before we can get on with the game."

This time, Lesca went first.

"Mind if I summon?" she asked Mila.

"Go right on ahead," Mila replied.

Lesca held her hands up, palms facing herself, then pulled them down, simultaneously clenching them into fists. "Quetzalcoatl," she said.

Suddenly, a gigantic bird swooped down from the heavens, landing near Lesca. Its feathers shone an electric yellow, and tendrils of lightning meandered across its body. Its tail, however, was reptilian-- scaly, but of the same yellow color and with clumps of feathers placed intermittently. It looked at Lesca with a glinting black eye, waiting for instruction.

"Umm..." Lesca thought for a minute. "Thunder Storm," she ordered the aeon.

The aeon turned towards Leviathan and flared out its wings. Electricity gathered at the tips, and after a few moments Quetzalcoatl released the energy, and myriad bolts streaked out to attack Leviathan.

The creature bellowed. 2071 appeared as the monster winced.

Leviathan suddenly struck out and bit Quetzalcoatl, doing 1086 damage.

Lesca winced. That was over a quarter of Quetzalcoatl's hit points! "Thunder Storm," she repeated.

Leviathan took another 1986 damage.

This time, the aquatic monster used an ability. The ability's name appeared in a box above Leviathan's head-- Tidal Wave.

Leviathan reared up its head, and the water began to churn.

"Oh no," Lesca murmured. This certainly couldn't be good...

A great wall of water rose above the white-crested waves. Leviathan roared, and it came crashing down on Quetzalcoatl.

2906 damage.

Miraculously, Quetzalcoatl had survived... with exactly 11 HP. Lesca, however, noticed that the aeon's Overdrive gauge was full. "Use Overdrive Storm's Rage," she ordered the aeon.

Quetzalcoatl leaped into the air, hovering above the water. Storm clouds began to gather around the lightning aeon, and it let out an unearthly shriek. Lightning streaked out from the clouds and formed an electric sphere around the aeon. With another shriek, Quetzalcoatl flung the sphere down onto the enemy.

Leviathan winced as it took 5220 damage. The monster attacked again, and Quetzalcoatl slumped to the ground, disappearing in a cloud of pyreflies.

Lesca noticed that Leviathan was lowering its head, as though tired. That probably meant that it was low on HP.

It was Mila's turn. Her Overdrive was filled from the random battles they had fought on their way through the woods, and she decided to use it.

"Overdrive Spear Vault," Mila said. Her character ran forward a few steps, then used her spear as a pole vault to launch herself into the air. She fell, spear down, striking Leviathan, and jumped back into position.

The Overdrive did 2006 damage to Leviathan, who responded by biting Mila for 722 damage. It was Lesca's turn again.

"Cure," she said, pointing at Mila. The number 626 appeared above Mila's head in green.

It was now Mila's turn, and she attacked, damaging Leviathan for 960 damage. Leviathan trembled, then collapsed onto the waves, pyreflies leaking from its body.

"Hmm. That wasn't too hard," said Lesca.

"I guess you're right. Hey, look!" Mila exclaimed.

The water level was receding. After a few moments, a path of ice stood before them.

"Let's go," Lesca said, racing down the path.

Words flashed in front of Lesca's vision, accompanied by the sphere voice-- "30 minutes until the game time is finished."

Mila followed after Lesca, and had just caught up to her when...

"Random Battle"

"Aww..." Mila groaned. "This is going to take awhile..."

After about ten minutes and four random encounters later, they had reached a building. They walked silently within.

As Lesca neared the center of the room, she realized that there was a fayth within.

"Hey, Mila. Look."

"Hmm," the Ronso replied. "Maybe this will be worthwhile after all."

Lesca walked toward the fayth and said, "Fayth, awaken."

A ghostly figure hovered over the fayth. It was male, and he wore a blitzball uniform.

"Summoner," he said. "I am the aeon Leviathan. You have defeated me, and I judge you worthy of my aid."

"Obtained the aeon Leviathan," flashed in front of Lesca's vision.

The figure disappeared, and a treasure chest appeared in front of the fayth. Mila opened it, and discovered inside a new spear.

"Hey, it's got Waterstrike and Strength +20," Mila said.

"Fifteen minutes remain until the game time is finished," the sphere informed them.

The duo slowly made their way back to the edge of the forest, and were given their five-minute warning.

"So... which way now?" Lesca asked.

"Let's try this path," Mila said, pointing.

They managed to get themselves surprisingly lost in the five minutes until the game turned off.