Author's preface: This story is told in first-person for the most part. Some narratives are from in-game characters, others from originals. I've inserted notes to indicate changes in scenes and narrating perspectives (change in s & n), a change in perspective within a single scene (in n) or change in scenes within the same narrative (in s).
In this fanfic, magic, the Empire, and Kefka remain dead and gone, but the events of this story are built directly upon the events of Final Fantasy 6. What could happen in this post-Gestahl, post-Palazzo world void of magic? Plenty. New ordeals, friends, and enemies are sure to be found. This story is rated fairly, based upon strong language, intense violence, and implied suggestive content.
That said, I hope you enjoy the post-game story of Final Fantasy 6: The Balance and Contrast of Yin and Yang...
Chapter 1: A Mutual Emptiness
…It's not the net result of one's life that's important…
…It the celebration of life…
…of one's life…
"Damn it!" I snapped awake immediately, frustrated that my own words were once again taunting me as I slept, words that I'd spoken with a newfound confidence at the time. Granted, I knew more at that time than I did the previous year about the subject in question, but that wasn't saying much.
Blinking the sleep from my eyes, I sat up in my bed and felt at my oversized blue nightgown. Despite having slept under just one sheet and a single blanket, I was drenched in sweat, my nylon nightdress clinging to my skin. The dreams had been going on for a while now, but they were becoming more frequent, and more tantalizing.
I glanced at the clock on my night stand and walked to the bathroom, tossing my sweat soaked nightgown and under garments into the hamper. I didn't have time for a full bath, but a quick sponge bath would suffice. I was going to meet up with Sabin today and didn't want to keep him waiting any longer than necessary. The train ride to the capital was long enough.
I finished washing up, grabbed some new undergarments, and sifted through my chest of drawers for something to wear, clothes that would allow for ample movement. I had no idea of what I'd be learning today, but Sabin had implied that more interesting techniques would follow. I finally settled on short black boots, a black leather skirt, a black strapless top, and a gray belt with a hand-crafted buckle, made from silver mined right here in Narshe. I than topped it off with my ruby studded necklace and tied my long green hair back in the usual jeweled hair band.
In the kitchen, I heard the sound of children outside. I looked out the window and saw a group of young kids boarding a chocobo-drawn carriage, most likely bound for one of the town's many youth academies. I couldn't help but remember the orphans who once lived in Mobliz, whom I once cared for after the great collapse. I thought a role as their caregiver was my true calling back then, but the facts were still the facts. Mobliz was set out in the middle of nowhere on the veldt, a very dangerous region with its assortment of monsters. And I really wasn't a person to take on the role of 'mama'. I had so few memories of my own mother. The children were better off where they were now, just as I was better off without the pressure of such intense responsibilities. Raising dozens of children who'd lost their parents would be a tremendous undertaking, even for a person who'd lived a normal life.
A normal life.
This latest taunting dream must've rattled me even more than the previous few. I didn't want to habitually think negative thoughts again, and this latest thought pattern was making me feel depressed already. I needed a wake up call, so I boiled some water and made a cup of hot chocolate. This did the trick, the hot, sweet taste fueling every nerve in my body and clearing all the depressing thoughts from my mind. I grabbed my leather purse, clipped it to the side of my belt, and grabbed a purple wool sweater from the closet, since the lawns and rooftops looked a bit frosted. Leaving my house, I began walking.
In the three years since Kefka's death, Narshe has boomed into an industrial metropolis. According to the last census I read in the newspaper, the town itself is now home to about 900,000 residents. In The Figaroan Monarchy, it is second only to the large capitol that surrounds the castle. Electric generators, powered conveniently by windmills, stick up here and there throughout the city. Electric heating and lighting is common place in just about every building now, business or residential, though fireplace heating and kerosene lamps are still used sporadically. Coal is not the only product of the mines, as several types of rock, metal, and natural gas have also been discovered. The newly constructed railway system frequently runs back and fourth through the mountains between the city and the northern edge of the capitol.
After walking the half mile from my house, I arrived at the station. The train I usually caught to Figaro was nowhere in sight, but its whistle could be heard approaching from the distance, so there was no hurry. I pulled my ride pass from my purse and showed it to the guards at the station entrance. In the waiting area, I took a seat on the bench and looked at the horizon. One of those small ships was floating about, most likely on its way to the landing zone near the Lete River. I never would've thought Setzer would come up with the idea of small cargo airships, since he generally enjoyed having the sky to himself. But after Edgar discovered several blueprints that Setzer had lying about in the Falcon's drafting room, the former mentioned an idea to the latter about using smaller airships as a quick means to transport supplies to the various towns and villages that were rebuilding, and in some cases, expanding after the fall of Kefka.
Setzer agreed, under the condition that they be nothing more than simple transport ships used for moving cargo and not passengers, and the mechanics of both Narshe and Figaro Castle began developing the airborne cargo vessels. Setzer made quite a bit of money off their development, since he designed the machinery that would later be used.
My view of the mountain was suddenly obstructed when the train pulled up alongside the boarding platform, the conductor's announcing "Figaro-bound train" through the train's loudspeaker system. I stepped aboard and took a seat next to the window. Yes, Edgar was a technical genius. It was under his guidance that Figaro had become the leading country of the world, at least machinery and technology wise. Once magic left this world and the shattered continents began to mend the damage caused by magical beams from the Warring Triad, Edgar oversaw the revitalization of many towns in his kingdom, Narshe and South Figaro being a few. With his down-to-earth personality, all-around optimism, and magnificent engineering skills, Edgar was a man full of surprises.
But the biggest surprise was that he'd finally found a woman who took to him, and he did his best to keep her interested. No more stupid flattery and empty compliments exchanged for a one-night stand. No more cow-towing to any young woman he came across. It was amazing that he'd finally found someone special.
Found someone special. Suddenly my thoughts were torn away from Edgar's accomplishments and refocused on a subject of which I knew absolutely nothing. Most everyone I knew closely was involved, or had at some point been, in one way or another. Locke and Celes had each other, and from the looks of things, so did Gau and Relm. Setzer once had Daryl, and now he had numerous flings. Cyan and Clyde, who still insisted on using his alias of Shadow, had both been involved at some point in their lives, despite both respective marriages ending tragically. Edgar even managed to hook his brother up with a woman involved in spiritual studies, and she and Sabin were happy. Mog had other moogles who'd returned to Narshe from their hidden exile, Umaro most likely didn't have the intelligence level to understand intimate relationships, and Gogo vanished before even revealing…its true gender identity.
I still felt like I was left out of something, as if I weren't already. Setzer often called this 'little girl naivety', and while he wasn't totally serious, I understood all to well his point. In some ways I felt like a little girl, even younger than some of the orphans I once took care of. It can get so depressing when someone half your age or less knows more about life than yourself.
Cut the shit Terra. Moping got you nothing back than and will get you nothing now. I mentally snapped myself out of self-sympathy. I have gown tried of feeling sorry for myself, tired of pleading to others, even to my own friends, to find answers that I should be able to find on my own, tired of getting emotional and crying enough tears to fill the oceans. When that man arrived in Mobliz and we had that talk, I learned just how much I didn't know about life. I knew that if I were to experience life and discover all its facets and dimensions, I had best leave the depression and dependency behind.
The train finally came to my destination and I stepped off, Sabin waving to me in the distance. I was discovering what it truly meant to live, slowly but surely. I allowed myself one last thought on the subject. I know what love is, but knowing this is only one piece of the puzzle.
change in s & n
Up, down, up, down.
I gazed at the motions of the newly modified ore crusher as it rose and fell upon the raw materials piled beneath. This was a benefit of working in this relatively new mining facility. I got to work with all the 'big toys'. True, I no longer had the recreation of chewing the fat with the moogles like I did back when I worked at the mines in the city, but that also meant that I no longer had to put on those thick, hefty boots and wade through the 'dung caves', ankle deep in moogles feces. Still, there was something about this new position that didn't make it feel like an equal tradeoff.
Tossing my hair over my shoulder, I switched off the ore crusher and switched on the louder sifting mechanisms to separate the good materials from the useless crap. I was still jubilant from my recent personal victory a few days prior, and wondered how this much time had passed without me hearing any word of it from the talking heads. I considered myself lucky this much time had passed already.
No sooner had this crossed my mind then a Private or some other low-level grunt from Narshe's army appeared next to me, yelling something that sounded like a mumble over the sifting machine. I turned off the sifter and removed my safety goggles and ear plugs as the noise died down and the back-and-fourth motions of the sifter came to a halt.
"Leonard Gurosawn?" asked the soldier.
"That's right," I replied. That's me, Leonard Gurosawn. A skilled mining field technician. What else is there to say? The world sees me as nothing but, at least objectively speaking. I won't comment on their opinions when their emotions do the talking.
"The Major would like to speak with you, immediately". The man stressed the last word with a foreboding tone. I knew what was coming, even before he added, "Find a stand-in. This could take you a while."
Word had gotten out regarding my demonstration of fighting for oneself by any means necessary after all. The voice in the back of my head began a common sense lecture. You knew that Major Blockhead would find out eventually Leonard. No good deed goes unpunished. I found another miner to operate the sifter and followed the soldier out of the room, into a larger chamber within the complex.
Welcome to Shedairah Mining Facility. It's a bunch of tunnels and chambers under the jurisdiction of the Narshean military. Of course that makes sense, as it's directly underneath Shedairah Military Base, which is nestled in the Hyaxulan Mountains northwest of the town. After the world became rebalanced and the monsters that plagued the town either left or were driven off, this military installation went back into business just like the rest of Narshe. Then came the 'odd, accidental discovery', as it was often called. Military scouts found what appeared to be an oil well deep under the ground in the mountain caves, and before long, several other valuable minerals like copper, diamond, quartz, and other assets were discovered. They soon converted the caverns into a mining colony. Figaro has been our biggest supplier, since they manufactured much of the heavy machines used in the mining work. In return, the people stationed here have sporadic communication with Figaro, and a good amount of what we dig up and refine here is sent there. With all these technological breakthroughs, what reason would you have not to live in the Figaroan Monarchy? Well, nasty taxes, I guess. But that's just standard procedures. I'm not complaining.
After a series of stairwells, the man led me to a lift that went above the mining area and into the actual military base. A few more corners and doorways later, he took me to another lift that went to the upper levels of the base. Normally, I wouldn't be allowed in this restricted area, seeing how it was only for classified military staff. Still, I hardly felt elite considering the reason I was here. Major Blockhead was not my C.O., but he was my boss all the same. I couldn't help but wonder how he'd reprimand me for my act of justified aggression. Certainly not a Captain's Mast or a court-martial. I'm not military personnel, at least not on paper.
Moments later, I was led the Major's office. Major Blockhead was sitting at his desk pulling a wad of chewing tobacco out of a small canister.
"Major. Here he is," said the grunt.
The Major looked up and put the shit-like wad in his mouth. "Thank you , Private. Leave us." he answered. The soldier saluted, palm to his forehead, and walked out, shutting the office door and leaving me alone with Major Blockhead.
The Major's name was actually Major Adin Bozwensc. I just called him Major Blockhead on account of the exaggerated squared shape of his face, and for another less humorous, more personal reason.
After some loud chews, he made eye contact. "Care for a seat?" he asked, pointing to the chair in front of his desk.
"No thanks." I wasn't in the mood to relax. I wondered if the Major would tear me a new asshole during this meeting. I had to be ready for his abrasiveness.
After more sloppy chews, he began. "Leonard, a few days ago, a civilian tech like yourself was found battered in the lower section of the refinery. Once coherent, he claimed that you were responsible for his injuries."
So the gates of conflict have opened, I thought to myself. I took a deep breath and stared out the office window to collect my bearings. The mountains of Narshe are typically brown in color, but on this day the overhang of dense white fog made them look more gray. There were several patches of green on some of them. I looked beyond the mountain gorge to the southeast, the direction of Narshe, though it was impossible to see any part of the town from this angle or distance, even without the fog.
I turned back to the Major. "You must be referring to Quentir Braslino". Now there was no turning back. The Major eyed me coldly as I continued. "Well, there was an incident between him and myself, that part is true. But what I did was above and beyond justifiable. Putting it mildly, he crossed the line. He made some screwy remakes, ranting all this shit about how 'I was horny' and that he'd 'get me off' or 'make me enjoy such and such'." I used my index and middle fingers to emphasize that I was quoting. They weren't my words after all. "After this drivel he crossed the line, putting his hand on my stomach and rubbing it up to my chest. He did not touch the 'spot' at least, but I presumed he was trying to grab at my nipple. I don't know if this was the case because I didn't give him a chance after a split second of his…contact. I grabbed his offending hand, bend a few fingers backwards, and, well I'm sure you know the rest."
The Major's face contorted as he stopped chewing and squinted his eyes. "So you admit to assaulting him?"
"I admit to the act, but there was no wrong doing. He asked for it."
Major Blockhead cringed again, and his voice became sharper and more serious. "He's the medical ward Leonard. Did you know that?"
"No I didn't. That would explain why I haven't seen him around since." I did my best to conceal my contentment, but the Major noticed anyway. Quentir's broken jaw had healed. He was now able to speak and antagonize me. That would explain the amount of time passing between the incident and this interrogation.
The Major's face appeared to soften a bit. "Leonard, you know that when bad feelings emerge between those who work at this facility, there are people like me to help." He was just saying these words to be systematic. I knew they were empty words. "Why did you not inform me of this conflict, but instead take matters into your own hands?"
It was the question of questions, and had two sufficient answers. I gave off the most obvious one. "I'm a grown man. I fight my own battles. This is not grade school. That means doing whatever is necessary. There's no point in burdening others with my personal affairs." I kept the other reason to myself.
The Major was out of questions. My answers were not his preferred answers. Every single attempt to make me to second-guess myself or feel some kind of regret over what I'd done had failed. He spit out his tobacco wad and stood up. "You should be ashamed of yourself!" He was nearly shouting. "Your father was one of Narshe's finest. Don't you know how much he did for the town?" His lips curled back, revealing teeth stained brown from constant tobacco chewing.
"I know how much his actions cost people who had no say and weren't willing to pay that price." I kept my composure. This was going exactly as I expected, and would most likely get worse before this one-on-one concluded.
"Your father would be ashamed of you Leonard." Now he was shouting, his eyes burning with rage and contempt as he pointed squarely at me from over his desk.
"I know that," was my matter-of-fact reply. I did not have to say 'I'm glad'. The Major already knew my feelings about my old man.
His square face loosened up. His voice was quieter now but still plenty hostile. "I'm putting you on restroom watch until further notice".
Great, I thought. Now I get to clean the restrooms after a bunch of grunts conclude their 'chugging competitions'. I get to scrape a quarter- inch thick layer of secreted G. I. vomit off the bathroom floor. Then I do the same to walls in the mess hall, only to slap on an equally thick layer of low grade coating that will fade after a few weeks anyway. Jobs like those are usually reserved for first month new recruits. Here I am just defending myself against some shit head who thinks he can waltz right up to someone and get all touchy feely after making sexual 'jokes', and now I get reprimanded like a common thug, the EXACT KIND OF PERSON HE IS.
The Major opened the office door and called to one of the soldiers outside. "Nesh! Take this insubordinate to the restrooms. He'll be doing RW now. I don't want those dishonest hands anywhere near our mining equipment or valuable materials." The soldier motioned and I followed.
Dishonest? Of all the fucking people to use that word on someone else. Major Blockhead should look in the mirror. He'd been looking to reprimand me for a while now, and my 'wrong doing' gave him the perfect chance. Damn my father's influence. I was not my father's son by any means, and his lapdogs like the Major would be sure that I'd regret it. I chose not be like Dad, and now I suffered the consequences. 'Major Blockhead' was the perfect insult. He wasn't someone that any right-minded person would trust at all.
People didn't learn anything. After the Empire and its renegade General were officially destroyed, life started getting back to normal. Greed, disloyalty, and all-around power-mongering came back with the everyday dealings of life. The great collapse taught so many people nothing.
There were some good people in this world. Who was that rag-tag motley crew of war heroes and heroines from all walks of life and all corners of the world? Right, the Returners. Damn my forgetfulness. They fought the Empire and all it symbolized, tried to right its wrongs even with limited strength and manpower. Even after the great collapse,they fought its warlord general who single handedly reshaped the face of the planet with magic. At least there are some worthy people in the world like the Returners. But I'd never met them in person. And given my meager life, damned if I ever would.
Correction. I did see the King of Figaro once, during a seminar when he unveiled the latest development of radio communications equipment. Maybe his sister was present as well, but I was just a simple face in a huge crowd. There had been the well-publicized Returners' Victory Feast at Figaro Castle once, but I missed that, having been doped up on painkillers after an on-the-job accident the day before (speaking of which, you never forget the smell of burning flesh, especially when it's your own).
The soldier led me to the restrooms in the army barracks. He went to the supply closet and took what I'd need. Time for a grunt's work. Oh well, at least I got to be the karmic punishment that spoiled, over-glorified rich fucks like Quentir Braslino often deserve but never receive. I'd taught him a lesson about invincibility, being that he didn't possess it. If it weren't for his money and his family's connection to my own, he'd have been sentenced to execution a long time ago. His crime carried that kind of sentence. I could almost envision myself on the firing squad. In so many ways he was just like my brother….
As I looked a huge dried vomit stain in front of the urinals, I curled my lip. Thinking along these lines had only put me in a foul mood. I decided to change my focus. Given my current work state, I chose to think about being alone. I grabbed the chisel and began scraping the crusted puke stain.
People will often talk about living and dying alone like it's a bad thing. I must ask, why? After all, those who live and die alone have something; freedom. They are free of prejudice and persecution. Ask yourself this; would you rather be alone, or tormented?