Disclaimer: the Xenosaga series is created and owned by Takahashi Testsuya, Monolith Soft, and Namco. The story is being written for my amusement and not for money purposes.
Note: this has some major spoilers to Xenosaga II. I haven't played the third game, so nothing that takes place here is relevant to that game.
A one-shot by ShaggyDiz
My name is Jan Sauer. I just killed myself.
Why, you ask? That is a long story. I rather not recall it. Besides, in a few short moments, they will all be gone, and I will only be known as Ziggurat 8.
"Hey old man," Jr. said, looking at the cybernetic life form known as Ziggurat 8. He was currently sitting in the repair room reserved for him at the U.M.N Center, preparing to undergo a round of testing and repair. After that, it was life extension. It was something that he was reluctant to go through, but he reconsidered after listening to what the other occupant had said to him upon returning to the Kukai Foundation after the destruction of Omega System.
"What is it?" he asked Jr.
He scratched his head. "You sure you want to do this? I know it's your choice. You could have said no."
Ziggurat 8 shook his head. "It would have been easy to say no. You told me everything that I needed to know."
"You're right, I did."
"I have some unfinished business too. I would like to live long enough to complete this mission and be sure that everyone is safe."
"You could say that again." Jr. walked from the door so that he was standing in front of the chair. "What do you plan to do after this?"
"If I could, I would go through with my original plans."
"Erasing my long term memories." There was no change in his voice, as he was neither happy in the fact that he would finally be rid of his hurtful memories or saddened at the thought that he would never be able to remember the better times of his past.
"You're still so intent on becoming a machine," Jr. said, a little frustrated with Ziggurat 8's insistence on what he wished to become.
"It is because I am one. My body is not mine. I let others do what they wish of it, only to make me truer to the object of perfection they seek with this program."
"You know, Jan… I thought you were getting somewhere. We all saw you get angry when we encountered those masked men. You're still human to us… especially her."
"MOMO is just as much of a machine as I am. She is more human than me though."
Jr. shook his head. "I meant her."
Ziggurat 8 knew who he was talking about then.
"They'll be here today, in less than two hours. I hope you're not in such a somber mood then." Jr. went for the door and paused.
"What is it?"
"Be ready to leave at a moment's notice." And then he was gone.
Leaving Ziggurat 8 to his not-so-human thoughts.
You remain insistent on my past, do you not? It is as tragic as they get. My family was killed, and then I killed myself because I could not save them. And then my body and mind were revived, although not completely human. That happened over a hundred years ago. A hundred years… can you believe that? I have changed a lot, it would seem. I wake up in a body that took some getting used to, but once I accomplished that, everything worked perfectly. Maybe… well, not perfectly. I am the eighth model in this program of theirs. The specifics I don't particularly recall at this moment. I just happen to be the first success of theirs.
And I belong to them, as you may know. They have spent years fine tuning my body, and in return, I fulfill every obligation they give me. Every mission, every sortie… I do it all for them. I make a request every once in a while, mostly pertaining to my memories. And now I can finally rest in the fact that they will all be gone…
The door slid open two hours later. Ziggurat 8 sat in relative silence while he waited for his next visitors to come along. His sensors had picked them up nearly ten minutes ago as they entered the building, and kept track of them as they slowly made their way through the building. He looked over to the door as it opened.
"Ziggy!" MOMO cried out as she crossed the room to stand in front of the cyborg. She had called him by this name since they had first met, emphasizing the fact that it made him sound more human.
"Hello MOMO. How are you today?"
"I'm doing great! Mommy and I had a lot of fun yesterday!" She was bouncing on her feet, and there was a smile that filled her face.
"What did you do?"
"We talked about a lot of things. It was great, wasn't it mommy?" They both turned to the third occupant of the room, still standing by the door.
"Yes… yes it was," Juli Mizrahi said, taking a few steps into the room. She appeared more relaxed than she had before around her Realian daughter. Ziggurat 8 noticed that small fact. "We talked a lot. There was much catching up to do."
"I see," Ziggurat 8 said, nodding in acknowledgement.
"When does your life extension start?" Juli asked.
"Thirty-three minutes. I was informed it wouldn't take too long."
"No, it won't. I'll actually be monitoring the process from the next room."
"I'll be too!" MOMO stated from the cyborg's side. "Mommy said I could help if it was needed."
Ziggurat 8 nodded. "I'm glad."
"MOMO, I think it's time to go. There are a few final things to get ready for," Juli said, motioning towards the door.
"Okay mommy. Bye Ziggy!" She walked out the door. Juli paused a moment at the door.
"What is it?"
"I'll be back soon, probably before the procedure begins." And then she was gone.
Once again, leaving Ziggurat 8 to his not-so-human thoughts.
I remember once before that I only wanted MOMO working on me. Her heart is pure, and it is unfortunate that she has been forced into this needless battle. Well… this battle was needed. There was no need for her to be dragged into it, but because of who she is and what she had… there is your reason. I was quite glad to hear that she was going to be assisting in my life extension procedure. It put my mind at ease.
I feel bad now, even though I shouldn't, or rather, am probably incapable of feeling bad. My mind is only going through the motions as I am referring myself to my original designation, "Ziggurat 8". I think this is necessary, given that I am about to have my past memories wiped, and the remainder of my past human existence removed completely from me.
"Ziggy"… is a name that does not, and should not be associated with a machine. A pet, maybe… but I am not a pet. I am a machine designed to serve the commands given to me by the council.
But maybe I am… it seems contradictory to think that, since a pet serves his master…
And I am as well.
No. My designation is "Ziggurat 8". "Ziggy" will no longer exist once this process is done.
But will I be happy?
Will she be happy…?
The door slid back open five minutes before the life extension began. Ziggurat 8 looked up past the busy work of the scientist to see Juli walking towards him.
"We're all set, doctor," a tech said from his station. "We're just waiting for the designated time."
"Good. Go ahead and take a break for a few minutes. I'll join you in the next room to begin the procedure." The tech nodded, and soon the few people that were in the room left, leaving only her and Ziggurat 8, still in his chair.
"I talked to Jr."
Ziggurat 8 looked up at her. He said nothing, which discouraged Juli slightly.
"You don't have to go through with the erasure process."
"I want to. Once I do, I can finally reach my attained goal."
"Why do you want to?"
"The memories are too painful," he said, clenching his right hand.
She frowned. "We can block them if you wish, and you can still have human attributes."
He shook his head. "I wish to become only a machine, and nothing more."
"You're quite stubborn, Jan. I only wish you would keep your emotions. MOMO would be sad to learn of your decision."
"She does not know?"
"No. And I have no intention of telling her. I'm not the one who is going through the procedure… or the one performing it too. I have all of the information from when I acquired your file a short time ago, when you went and rescued MOMO. Only I can authorize it."
"It has already been authorized. The council granted my request."
"And I can deny it." Juli had been getting angered by Ziggurat's insistence. Her statement brought the end to the discussion. She softened up slightly before speaking again. "Think about it Jan… you've become more human in the past couple of months then you had been the past one hundred years! MOMO has helped you immensely since you came into contact with her. And you've given me more hope than I ever had with her."
Ziggurat knew she was right. The child-like innocence of the Realian had affected him in ways that no human had in a lifetime, and his offered advice to Juli had created a new bond between her and MOMO.
"She sees you as family, you know," Juli said, slowly making her way to the door. "All she wanted to talk about was what I did and what you did and who you were in your past. I left out the bad parts, though she wanted to know who this 'Voyager' was. I didn't know what she was talking about.
"Can you tell me about him after this?"
Ziggurat looked at her. "Yes, I will." Juli nodded and smiled.
"I'm glad." She opened the door and looked back.
"What is it?"
"I'd like to learn more about you too, if I can. Not from the files and all of the data, but I'd like to learn from you." And then she was gone.
Leaving him again… to his thoughts.
I find myself at a loss for words. I helped her once, yes, when she neglected MOMO. I asked her to see her as the daughter she never had, like a twin to Sakura. I have heard the occasional myth about twins being split apart at birth, and the mother only raising the one. They are myths though, as I have never heard of it occurring today, in Second Miltia, or any other civilized planet.
We learned a lot about Sakura when we dove into MOMO. Jr. was affected the most, as he had a sort of affection and longing towards the girl. I think we figured out then why he is protective of MOMO. He is probably more protective of her than me. I would think because he can actually feel, and use his emotions. I, on the other hand, view this as a mission.
One of these days, I will consider using them. Maybe I can use the advice that I gave Juli, and see her as the daughter I never had.
I never had the chance to have one. And I never will. I am simply a machine, and nothing more. I cannot possibly have or want a family in my current state.
Jr. told me personally a lot of things with Sakura besides what we learned in the dive. I can see how they are in MOMO. I asked him if he loved her.
The only thing he said was, "If it were a different time…" and left it at that.
If only it were a different time… maybe I could have a family…
With the two of them…
Some time passed.
The door slid open.
And as that happened, pandemonium ensued.
"Get him on the bed now!"
"Stats! Give me vitals!"
"Vitals? On him? I don't know how to find them!"
"Move! Stop arguing and just get him on the bed!"
"Jr.! What happened out there?" It was Juli's voice asking the question.
"It was an ambush. It was Voyager. Ziggy fought him and forced him away, but he took the brunt of the attack from him. We tried to stabilize him on the way here, but his systems have been crashing left and right."
"Ziggy!" Juli and Jr. turned around, seeing MOMO forcing her way into the room. She watched as the damaged body of Ziggurat 8 was placed on the bed and leveled out. Several doctors and mechanics were moving around as quickly as they could to secure him and prepare operations on him.
"Jr.! Get her out of here!"
"But I want to help mommy! I can help him!" she begged Juli.
"If you want to help, monitor him in the other room. We can't have too many people in here at one time." Juli turned away, moving around Ziggurat 8 and trying to find some way to stabilize him. MOMO looked distraught, and at first took a couple steps further into the room. An arm pulled her back.
"Not here MOMO," Jr. said. "Come on. We'll work on him in the other room."
She was ready to argue, but the stern look on Jr.'s face told her otherwise. She turned back to her protector, barely seeing him in the mass of doctors, scientists and mechanics who were rushing around, trying their hardest to find a way to repair the broken Ziggurat 8.
MOMO caught a glimpse of his face, seeing pieces of his skin that were burned away in the battle to reveal parts of the metallic endoskeleton. His left eye was partially open, and she saw it was scanning the room in slow, unrushed movements. It eventually came to a stop on MOMO, and there was recognition in the eye. The mouth moved slightly upward, as he attempted to smile at her. It didn't work as well as he imagined it, given his failing body.
The Realian girl did see it though, and she smiled. "Hang in there Ziggy," she said, and with Jr., she turned and left the room.
The single working eye of Ziggurat 8 turned back to the ceiling of the room. He ignored as best he could the commotion occurring in the room, and instead tried to find some peace of mind as best he could. He ignored his internal systems trying to shut down his central nervous system and his peripheral nervous system, knowing that losing both would mean the immediate end of his life. He did what he could to keep himself awake and aware.
"Jan," Juli said, laying a hand on his shoulder. Ziggurat 8 looked up at her. His vocal cords had been damaged in the fight, becoming inoperable. "We want you to reroute your main PNS systems to your CNS systems. That will conserve power and allow you to remain stable during the operation. You won't be able to move, but it's better to have a working mind than a working body."
She let her hand linger on his shoulder a few moments more, giving Ziggurat 8 a better sense of reassurance. He closed his eye once and reopened it, and it was his only form of answering at that time. Juli nodded, and looked away to the other scientists.
Ziggurat 8 spent the next few minutes converting his bodily systems to his CNS, taking his time doing so, as any slipup would result in a massive, system wide failure. The people within the room had stabilized him by the time he started rerouting everything, so he was at relative ease in doing so.
Still… there was something off to him as he did this.
He stared at the ceiling again once the rerouting was complete, and as the scientists and doctors worked around him, he slowly tuned them out, returning once again to his thoughts.
Voyager has been my greatest enemy.
And once again, he managed to get me.
The first time occurred all those years ago, when he murdered everyone I knew. The second time occurred at Omega System, when they destroyed the Patriarch and Proto Omega. That was close to six months ago.
But I can't remember too clearly about back then. I remember more about the last one… he came out of nowhere, Voyager did. And I thought, maybe I'll get him this time.
But that I can't remember either.
Am I losing my mind? Unless…
They started the memory erasure process? I was beginning to wonder when they would.
No more human memories, human emotions. It's all a matte of time before I forget my past.
But something is wrong to me.
I see a little girl… MOMO… but I'm beginning to forget her…
And a woman… a doctor… and I'm beginning to forget her as well.
All of the people I know are disappearing. Why? Where are you going to? Why are you leaving me?
I'm… I'm feeling alone… I'm feeling afraid…
I wish they'd hurry up with this damn erasure program. These emotions are driving me crazy.
But they're removing my memories of everything. Why?
Who is this woman?
Juli woke up, picking her head up from where she had rested it on Ziggurat 8's arm. She heard her name called, but didn't recognize the voice.
And then she remembered. The voice box was replaced, but it wasn't the same voice. Ziggurat 8's voice came out as a cold and metallic whisper. She was startled because of it.
"Jan, you're awake. Thank God." A smile came upon her face, but it didn't last for long.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
Juli paused for a moment, looking at his broken face. A tear came down her eye. "There were complications with repairing you. There was damage all over the place, but the most damage came occurred in your memory cells. The doctors got a good hold on it, but they could only stop it from being damaged further. The only way to fix it is to replace it completely."
"And my memories?"
More tears came down her face. She buried her head into his chest. "Gone. All of them would be. Not just your past, but everything that you've experienced with Jr. and MOMO and Shion and everyone else. Your body can be fixed, but you wouldn't exist," she said to him, emphasizing that key point.
"I see." Ziggurat 8 tried to nod, but found his basic motor functions hadn't been returned. He stared at the ceiling with his one good eye, barely registering the fact that Juli was crying in his arm and chest. He couldn't remember her ever crying before. She was a logical woman, never emotional. This troubled him. He tried looking down at her, but he was barely able to see her with his left eye.
Juli looked up. "Yes?"
"I was fooled this whole time. All I wanted was to remove my past, and now I won't have anything at all. I realize now how precious these memories are to me. All of the people I've met are important to me." He set his eye on hers, staring deep into them. "I wished to have been a family. I've been alive for too long to not have one, or how to know to have one."
"You had one though! You had one with everyone that you've met!"
If he could shake his head, Ziggurat 8 would have. "No. They might have been a family, but they were more friends and partners towards the same goals. MOMO saw me as more than a protector. She saw me at times as a father figure. You were right when you mentioned that about her a long time ago. Why I considered removing my emotions, I have no answer."
"Did you want a family with her?" Juli asked, tears coming full down her face.
"I did. And I wanted one with you as well. You two were the closest that I would have had to an actual family. I won't be able to have it now."
"We can try it," Juli said, almost pleading with the cyborg.
She knew what the answer was going to be.
"I won't allow it. My memory will be gone, and my body would be an empty husk. There would be no reason for its continued existence."
Juli nodded sadly. Her tears had all but stopped flowing. She took a couple moments to collect herself fully before asking: "What is it that you want for me to do?"
"I wish to be decommissioned," Ziggurat 8 answered, "and my body to be used for the project no more."
"I understand. Do you wish to see her?"
He stared into the ceiling, thinking about whether or not to see MOMO.
He told her his answer, and Juli nodded. Before she got up, she leaned over and kissed him lightly above his good eye. She smiled at him, albeit a sad one, but Ziggurat 8 saw a look in her face that suggested that she would be fine after a while.
It was what he wanted from her. She had a daughter to raise now, and she needed to be strong for her.
His eye tracked her movements toward the door, watching her as she left. She stopped for a moment before leaving, turning back to Ziggurat 8.
And then she left, leaving Jan Sauer to his thoughts, one last time.
My name is Jan Sauer. Long ago I killed myself, and once again I'll be doing it again, in some sort of fashion. I requested my life to be ended, and for it to be done so by "her". I don't know if she was planning on doing so, and I can't remember who I even suggested, given that these are the last of my memories.
I am glad for the chance to live my life out, regardless of my insistence with removing my human side to become a true machine. It was rewarding.
My one last wish, which I shall put into thoughts, is for those who cared about me to be able to find happiness. I wish for their struggles to end, and for them all to find some sort of peace.
It is something that I've finally found in my last moments of life.
And the memories that...
Note: kioku is Japanese for "memory".
Author's notes: Ziggy has always been my favorite character in Xenosaga, and I really have no idea why. I wanted to write a story using him in some sort of tragic way involving his desire to purge his memories of his past, and this was the result. The ending is left ambiguous for a reason: was it Juli or MOMO that decommissioned him? There is no reason for that to be answered.
I started this story back in July 2006, and worked on it from time to time until I decided to come back and finish it. Here is the finish product. I hope you enjoy it, and I may consider writing another story here again someday, after I clear my backlog.
Pre-reads were done by myself, so expect some minor mistakes.