Well, here we go with the repost. Everything new and clean, bright and shiny.
Let's see. Major spoilers. Disclaimer: FFX isn't mine. Follows the story, but kind of AU. It's an Aurikku (didn't start that way) but they don't even meet until chapter 7, and don't speak until chapter 8. This is about characters and the gradual building of a relationship. Um, haven't really got a handle on the ratings, yet. I'm pretty sure this is all -T- right now, or even less. I'll probably dedicate the story when I see if anyone likes it. Probably a pain to have a story no one likes dedicated to you. Guess that's it.
Well, twenty chapters in and a few people do seem to like the story, so I am dedicating it now. Well actually, I'm dedicating the first twenty chapters.
You know, as soon as this turned into an Aurikku there were a couple of people I had in mind. So, the first twenty chapters of Soldier of Spira are dedicated to Gining, because she's done so much for the pairing and the idea that Auron maybe deserves a little happiness, and that Rikku isn't just some teenager. And also for Gabi-hime for, bar-none, the best Rikku characterization I've ever seen. It's supernatural.
Soldier of Spira
It's a shame about the city.
Passion lived here for a long time. Misery too. Love and loathing lived here. Hate, hope, and joy. Anger, envy, despair. Sorrow and grief lived here.
And seven thousand kinds of pain lived in this city.
I lived here for ten years. In a way.
From up here, from this roof, standing this high at night between the sky and the sea, the city truly was beautiful. Spreading out, soaring up, lighting the heavens, filled with people...of a sort. Zanarkand. The city that never sleeps.
Ironic really, considering.
The city was awake now, from the high and the mighty, to the poor and the desperate. There was a game on—blitzball. You know it? It was all anyone talked about for days, even the killers and rapists.
New to the list, number 43 on the List of Things I Loathe and Despise, killers who insist on talking sports to me.
It seemed like a calm night. It wasn't. I stared into the wind. Out at sea—out past the stadium—I watched a bulge form in the water. Something huge was coming to the surface. It became a tidal wave rushing at the city. Behind it the water kept rising. It didn't stop. I watched it become a dome, then a globe, vast and cryptic. It rose in the air. It hung in the sky.
There was something inside, watching.
It was change. It was death and destruction. It was madness. It was nightmare. It was the end and the beginning.
It was an old friend. I raised my jug. Here's to you, Jecht.
You finally made it home.
The tidal wave smashed the city. Probably killed hundreds. I doubt anyone noticed because that's when Sin cut loose. Bolts of energy shot from the globe and smashed through the skyline. Buildings fell to the street, cut to pieces.
Not the one I was on.
I knew people down in those streets.
Don't think about it. That part is over.
It was time to pick up the boy. Down on the ground the city was starting to come apart. It was dying. Maybe already dead. Sin can do that. People were running. Weeping. Screaming.
It wouldn't help.
It wouldn't hurt.
Don't listen to the ones calling your name, Auron. Pretend you don't hear them. Auron help us. Auron save us. Can't stop today, too busy.
Auron the hero.
Hang on. I like this song.
----Auron walking the disintegrating streets of Zanarkand----Sounds of Silence----Simon and Garfunkle----
"Auron! What are you doing here?"
That was him. Tidus. Young star-player of the Zanarkand Abes. A good-looking kid in really good shape. He was going to have to be.
Unique dress sense, too.
Got it from his father.
"I was waiting for you."
"What are you talking about?"
I was leaning against rubble that used to be a wall, looking at crumpled shapes that used to be people.
I pushed off and started walking back into the city. I didn't really need to. Sin would find us. But it would probably calm the boy to be doing something. He followed me. Halfway across the bridge I could tell someone was playing time-tricks nearby.
As I walked I could see in the distance the Hall of Justice was still standing. Looked like the Fighter Guildhall was gone.
Was Emma in there, I wondered. Where was Willa?
Don't think about it.
Will the Cage hold?
Not important. Not anymore.
The Trade Rep building was gone. So was the Old Museum. There was something going on around the Hall of the Summoners. Vedec's old place was burning.
"Hey, not that way!" He caught up.
"Look," I told him. He followed my gaze out over the fires and the missing buildings. He saw the immense globe in the air. It was hanging over the city now. The boy stared at it, eyes wide, mouth hanging open.
Yeah. First time took my breath away too. I gave him a moment, then said, "We called it Sin."
We watched as giant tentacles shot out of the water, crashing into different parts of the city and shooting out scales. Weird, even for Sin. One crashed into a building nearby and scales showered down around us, shaking themselves out into small fiends. These were nothing. Pests. I think Sin must have dropped them from sheer habit. But the boy would still need more than his hands to handle them. I reached under my coat and brought out a sword. I handed it down to him. "Take it. A gift from Jecht."
"My old man?"
"I hope you know how to use it."
He didn't know it, but he had two gifts from his father. The sword was from Jecht. He asked me to pass it on when the moment came. It was a good enough sword, but the boy would probably find better in time. The sword was from Jecht—his other gift was from Sin.
I pulled him to his feet. There were a couple of small scales in front of us.
"Those ones don't matter. We cut through." We cut them apart and ran on. Easy. There were more in front of us, behind us, all around us. "Don't bother going after all of them. Cut the ones that matter, and run!"
We cut down those in our way and kept going. Then we ran into a tentacle.
"Get out of my town!"
That was the boy. Kind of a fatuous thing to say.
"Some can't wait to die!"
Now that had some style. We had to get to the tentacle before it Demi'ed us to death—a spell that would hurt both of us every time it was cast. We needed to get through the scales between it and us. This was almost getting serious.
Every fighter knows a few tricks. One of mine I call the Dragon Fang. I was younger when I named it. It's a twisty little move designed to suck multiple opponents in close then cut them all with one sweep of the sword, and it worked fine against the nearest scales. It cleared the way to the tentacle and the boy and I pounded on it until it dissolved in a mass of pyreflies. I pulled out a couple of potions, one for me and one for the boy, and then we ran on, past the face of Jecht on the side of the Sports Authority building. He yelled up as we passed, "What are you laughing at, old man?"
Kid has spirit. He'll need that too.
"Auron! Let's get out of here!"
I had stopped almost at the end of the bridge.
"Huh?" He didn't understand. "Give me a break, man!"
No way he could understand, really. The world isn't what you think it is, boy. That's when the scales showed up. Lots of scales.
"Hm...this could be bad." Time was starting to be a factor. Sin would wait, but I was getting impatient now, this close. Besides, it was possible this many scales could actually hurt the boy. Mentally, I took a step back and scanned the immediate surroundings. "That—," a huge piece of damaged machine hanging over the edge of the bridge, "—knock it down!"
"Trust me. You'll see." Four blows severed the connection hanging it up and sent the machine over the edge, followed by an explosion that brought the building down on the bridge ahead of us. No more scales. Also, no more bridge.
Well, that's what impatience buys you.
"Go!" I sent the boy jumping over the gap. He was game, but impulsive. He leaped at the widest point and barely caught the edge with his fingertips. I leaped the narrower part and walked over to him. I stood on the broken bridge and looked up at a great whirling hole in the sky overhead. It was Sin.
"Auron!" I looked down. Yes. The boy was still hanging there. "Auron!"
Around us, the entire city was unraveling, spinning, falling up into Sin. I looked up. "You are sure?" I asked. This is the way? This is the time? I looked back down at the—at Tidus.
"This is it," I told him. He wouldn't understand now, but he would remember later. I got a hold of his shirt and pulled him up. "This is your story. It all begins here."
We were pulled into Sin.
Shame about the city.
There was a blinding white light. When I could see again, I was standing on a featureless plain, silent and alone. There was no sign of the boy. There didn't seem to be anyplace worth walking to, so I just stood and waited.
I thought about beginnings.
For me this all began with promises to two dead men from two different worlds—depending on just what you mean by "worlds" and "dead" and "began." When it really began depends on your perspective. So does being dead, I guess. None of us was exactly alive, but we were not-alive in different ways.
And even I don't know what I mean by worlds.
But promises...I know promises.
Tell you a story.
Once there was a man whose life was made of broken promises. He promised his parents he would be good. Say his prayers. Protect his mother and his sister. He vowed to serve Yevon. To defend the church. To obey his orders. He swore he would save Starfall Village. He would love her forever. He would guard his summoner's life. He took an oath to defeat Sin. He always failed. And after every broken promise his legend grew, and the people cheered him louder. Then he died, and went away, and never broke another promise.
I saw three figures walking toward me.
They were three young women. Dark haired. Attractive enough. They looked like sisters.
They made no noise. No footsteps, no rustle of clothing. The only sound on that strange plain was their voices.
I would have expected them to say something more profound.
"Go to Luca," they said.
I waited, looking at them, to see if there was anything more.
"Go to Luca."
Then the world shattered.
It was cold. I heard wind roaring. I smelled snow and rock.
Yes, snow and rock have smells, especially when they're wet.
I opened my one good eye. I didn't really want to, but I had been doing things I didn't want to do for a long time. I opened my eye and looked around.
Snow. Rock. Sky.
I should have known. This is where I came to leave Spira ten years ago, to be carried to Zanarkand by Sin. To where else would I have returned?
That huge ball of fayth was around here somewhere. So was that bitch's pet guardian.
And a truly unholy number of fiends.
Welcome home, Auron. We missed you.
Should I have set the logic bombs while I had the chance? Who knows when I'll be in contact with Sin again. No, Auron, I sighed. You don't know enough about Spira to act blindly. It's been ten years. Anything might have happened.
Reassured in my own mind that I had made the right decision, I slowly stood up and looked around. I didn't see the boy. I didn't really expect to. Sin could have dropped him anywhere.
First day and already The Plan is shot to hell.
I wasn't really that worried about him. Two reasons—first, Sin doesn't really want him hurt. It won't put him down anywhere too dangerous—nowhere like the Alpha or Omega dungeons. Second, the boy has a gift—a special gift that others don't. One of the things that make fiends so terrible is their violent hatred of the still living. They relentlessly pursue any man, woman, child, pet, or farm animal that tries to run away from them. Some fiends are slow, but many are fast, and in the military annals at Bevelle there is not a single confirmed record of any true fiend ever fleeing battle. They always attack until killed, and they NEVER give up.
But they wouldn't chase Tidus. They'll attack. Fiends can't really do anything else. But they won't like it, they won't like his smell. They'll be nervous, and if the boy has sense enough to run, they won't follow.
Just a little gift from his father, Sin.
Tell you a story about it later.
I stood up and took stock. Even for one like me, it was cold, but my old, red coat was well-made and warm. It also had a few Zanarkand improvements. I had some potions, a sword, some gil in my pocket, and my jug. As long as there's somewhere to buy some food, a man doesn't need much more.
Except someplace to go.
Well, I had that. Luca was as good a place as any.
Just before I started out, I stood tall for a moment, there on top of the mountain, looking up, and out.
I was close to the summit.
I have always loved the high places. Except for the wind, it was quiet. The sky was a deep, deep blue that almost shaded to purple overhead. I could have stood for hours watching it.
I swear, sometimes it feels like...
I started down the mountain, keeping watch for fiends. Fiends were rare in Zanarkand—the monsters there were men. There would be many more in Spira, and I was ten years out of practice. When I arrived in Zanarkand, I had to start over and teach myself how to fight again with only one eye. I know I could do things ten years ago that I would have to relearn now.
The wind picked up and the snow flew around me. It was cold, but I ignored that. I'm good at ignoring things that aren't important. Soon I reached the caves. That was a problem. For one thing, the Gagazet caves were full of water obstacles.
Number 7 on the List of Things I Loathe and Despise, water obstacles. Heavy fighters are not at home in the water. There's no way to get leverage behind your swing. On our pilgrimage ten years ago, Jecht had done all the water fighting for us. He was also our anti-flyer specialist. We kept him busy on our journey. He was incredible in the water. I never saw anyone to match him.
For another thing, the cave was full of fiends, strong fiends.
The first time I came down Mt Gagazet, stumbling and falling back from Zanarkand, coughing blood and bitterness...well, I don't really remember how I got through the caves. I just remember putting one foot in front of the other. Pain and promises were the only things in my world.
One foot—next foot—one foot—next foot. You just have to get up one more time than you fall down.
I stopped, sniffed.
There was something in the air. Something in the wind. Trouble was coming fast. A mountain yeti erupted out of the snow under me. I rode him up, flipped off, and rolled to my feet. This wasn't good. I wasn't ready for this, not yet. Skills deteriorate in ten years. It was coming at me, slashing, roaring. I dodged and hacked at it, trying to cut through its thick coat. I had to be careful, the footing was treacherous. It was strong. I needed to concentrate on defense, I couldn't afford to let it land even one blow. I tried to use armor break, one of the ki-break techniques the temples teach the warrior monks. They're special spirit attacks heavy fighters can use to weaken an enemy. But it wouldn't come. It had been too long. I never needed them in Zanarkand.
The simplest attack—the first you learn—was power break. It worked. I cut the beast, and I could feel my ki-energy pouring through the sword into its body. I abandoned defense and attacked. Now my blows were landing. Now the blood began to fly. It reached for me and drew back a stump. I dodged a blow and threw myself sideways to hamstring it. It went down in the snow and I took its head. It erupted into pyreflies. A mountain yeti. I was lucky there was only one.
Welcome home, Auron.
I stood on a ledge near the top of Mt Gagazet and considered my position.
The cave was ahead of me, filled with water obstacles and strong fiends. I was no good in the water, and out of practice fighting fiends.
Looking down the mountain, I could see the Calm Lands spread below me. Even past the caves the mountain was probably crawling with fiends.
I didn't have time for this. I had promises to keep. I needed to find Tidus and Yuna.
Well...there was another way. Something I had done once or twice in Zanarkand.
All right, once.
I took a potion from my coat and slipped my glasses into a pocket. I didn't want to lose them. They were an expensive gift from people who never had much.
I looked around. I stepped off the cliff.
You only die once, right?
Falling. Plunging. Smashing, crashing against the mountain, tumbling over and over. Red sprayed against the white. Ribs splintering, coming apart. Legs broken, and broken again. Drink the potion while I can. Almost. Almost. There. The ground, coming, growing, waiting.
Breathing is hard...it hurts...
Vision is blurred...my one good eye...
Can't move...have to move...have to get to Luca...
Hold it together, Auron...promises to keep...have to get to Luca...
"Ooh, Sir Auron!"
Can't turn my head...a woman?
"You only had to wait a little bit."
My body being lifted—pain! Going higher. Look down—that's easy. The ground rushing past. A shadow racing the clouds. Wings? Look up—that hurts. Colors. Red, and blue, and gold. Before it all goes black.
Next: Al Bhed Princess