DISCLAIMER: I do not own FF8, its characters, or the world this fic takes place within. I'm just having a little bit of fun with it all, making absolutely no profit; please don't sue.
Prologue: Alea Iacta Est
Fate raised an eyebrow. "And no cheating, Lady," he said.
"But who could cheat Fate?" she asked.
He shrugged. "No one. Yet everyone tries."
"And yet again, I believe I felt you giving me a little assistance against the others?"
"But of course. So that the endgame could be the sweeter, Lady."
"Nevertheless," said Fate gnomically.
He scooped the dice into their unusual box, and then glanced up at her.
"Unless," he added, "you wish to resign…?"
She shook her head. "Play." she said.
"You can match my stake?"
-Terry Pratchett, 'The Color of Magic'
He left his King open.
It wasn't like him to make such careless mistakes. Sometimes it almost seemed as if he let her win; he was the best strategist of the two, after all. No matter what the case, however, she did not enjoy such a shallow victory.
The Ice Maiden's eyes rolled upwards, chin resting on her intertwined fingers. "Are you being careless or just insufferably chivalrous?"
The words cut through his train of thought and he looked up, as if only now waking up from a deep trance. "What?"
Shiva arched a fine, blue eyebrow. "Are you even paying attention?"
"I was," he hurried to say, his usually booming voice sounding odd when he was trying to speak gently. "I mean… I was trying to."
Shiva cocked her head to the side, looking at him across the chessboard. His eyes were reflected against the translucent red and blue pieces. "What's troubling you?" she asked.
"Shouldn't you know?"
The look he gave her was all she needed to finally realize: She did know.
They both did.
She had felt it, not too long ago. It could have been eons in human terms, at some point during the game that never seemed to end, but it felt like mere minutes to her. It was unsettling, that feeling in the pit of her stomach. And faintly recognizable. She had begun to suspect it was so, but thought it was far too soon. Had it already been that long?
But then he made a careless move. Which hadn't really been careless after all; it was meant to happen. The moment his King's last shred of protection crumbled down like a wall, she knew it was by his own doing. She saw his clawed fingers tremble.
It was already under way.
"Is it time?" Shiva asked, a ghost of a smile on her lips. The smile was timidly trying to reach her eyes.
He looked up from the chessboard, meeting her crystalline blue gaze and nodded. Even his own beastly face was capable of producing a smile right now. "It is time," Ifrit said.
Smiling, she brought one slim finger forward.
Her azure Queen glided straight ahead, leaving a faint trail of frost on the chessboard in her wake. The red Knight seemed to almost cower at first, but eventually accepted defeat with honor and gusto.
He always did.
Queen takes Knight. Rook checks King.
A/N: So… I'm back.
With a totally new fic. It's a project that went through many stages in the past, transforming into something completely different than it used to be. Me likey. And I hope you will, too. Chapter 1 should be already posted as well (unless you spotted this the minute I put it up). I know it's confusing and raises a lot of questions, some of which I might answer and some, are for you to figure out through the course of the story.
Experience has taught me the fanfic authors, like many other types of authors, tend to take some things for granted from time to time when writing, things that are essential for the understanding of a chapter by their readers, so I expect a number of questions to pop out every now and then for things I have mistakenly left unexplained. For that very reason, I shall direct you to the forums, where I've created a forum to answer questions for this fic. Fell free to direct all your queries there, and I'll check it as often as I can. The name of the forum is the same as that of the fic, and can be found under the category Games, Final Fantasy 8, naturally.
As for the title itself… Look it up if you wish. It may hint to what's coming in the future.
04/10/2010 EDIT: The forums are no longer going to be used.