Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of the Abyss. You can tell by the Miyazaki-style ending.
Aaaand yet another random AU. The premise for this one is that, after doing a little more thinking about the capabilities and nature of the seventh fonon, in particular the entire time/memory combination and then taking a look at how teleportation by hyperresonance would work. Resonance is when a frequency makes matter vibrate at a frequency where the vibration is natural to it and gets stronger, and stronger… It can make a suspension bridge buckle and twist in waves like it's the surface of the freaking ocean. I'm not kidding, go look it up. I saw a video of people going across it while it was like that, and the waves kept getting more and more violent until it finally broke. And I'm talking a real bridge, with asphalt and so on. In the US. Made for cars. And all it took for that to happen was the freaking wind.
On the most basic level, hyperresonance disassembles & reassembles matter in another form. The best example of that is Eldrant itself. Given that the seventh fonon is the fonon of time and as we all know time is just another dimension of space, disassembling Tear and Luke and one place and then reassembling them in another is easy peasy. However, what would it use as a template? Seventh fonons contain memory of past, present, and future. So how did it know to have Tear be 16 and Luke 17?
Clones will be the age of the DNA's source, because DNA ages as cells divide. The cells used to make children divide once per generation, and thus we don't look 60 when we're 16. If the hyperresonance had used the 'we are here in time' marker on Luke's body shape memory fonons, which via replica data extraction are the same as Asch's, then he would indeed come out 17. However, personal memories are clearly not stored in the same fonons, otherwise Luke would have Asch's memories. According to the 'we are here in time' marker on his memories, Luke is seven. Imagine if he'd come out of that hyperresonance with the memories he would possess as a seventeen year old.
…which makes for an entire different breed of plotrappig.
In any case, the premise of this fic is that the hyperresonance used the 'we are here in time' marker on Luke's personal memory fonons only. Meaning that the shape he would be reassembled in would be the shape his body fonons say he should be at the time Luke is as old as he personally is.
Armed with an excuse to turn Luke chibi, I turned him loose, made popcorn, and watched the fireworks.
"Hey, wake up." He was shaken gently by the woman with the gentle voice.
He sat up, rubbing his eyes and yawned. "Where's Guy?" Normally the maids would only knock on the door, Guy was the only one who would come into his room.
"Probably back in Baticul."
"Huh?" Luke opened his eyes to see the assassin lady looming over him threateningly. "Gah!" He scrambled back holding up a sword that suddenly seemed heavy and awkward. And when had the assassin gotten so big? "Stay back!"
"It's okay, little boy, I'm not going to hurt you."
"Who are you calling little boy!"
"I'm sorry. Uh, little man?"
"I'm not a little anything! I'll have reached my majority in three years, you know!" He hated being called young master by Ramdas and the servants.
"Are you sure? You can't be more than eight." She frowned.
"I'm not eight! I'm seventeen!" Wait a minute… "I'm short!" He had never seen anyone who was this small, but he'd gotten taller as he got older, Guy and Master Van told him, so… "I'm eight?" That meant he wouldn't be twenty for another twelve years! They'd never let him out of the manor! "I can't be eight! I want to be twenty already so I can get out of… I'm outside the manor?" There were flowers and a whole lot of water in the distance and…
"You're not supposed to look this way?" Now that Tear thought about it, he had seemed taller and older when they crossed weapons, but hyperresonance could have tricky effects on memory, according to Major Legretta. Since it could reshape matter and the seventh fonon affected time and memory, turning someone into a younger version of themselves wasn't impossible.
"No, of course I'm not! I'm Luke fon Fabre, and I'm seventeen! Who are you?" The cute wide-eyed amazement at where he was vanished and was replaced by a bratty pout that was somehow also cute, since it was clear he was scared underneath it and those hard lips were trying not to wibble.
"I'm Tear Grants," she began.
"Master Van's sister? Then why would you attack Master Van? I don't believe you."
"Well, regardless of whether you believe me or not, someone who looks like an eight year old, even if they aren't one, won't be able to get home to Baticul on their own. I owe you for dragging you into this, and what's happened to you, so I'll get you home, don't worry."
"Hey! Don't ruffle my hair like that!" His head squirmed to get out from under her hand.
"You'd better be."
Tear closed her eyes and ducked her head, whispering, "Sorry," to the little boy who was going to be eaten by the monster after it finished her. She couldn't handle them by herself, and now he was never going to get home and it was all her fault…
She heard a grunt of effort and the sound of tusk hitting hardwood. "Get up, idiot!"
Tear opened her eyes again to see Luke grunting with the effort of holding back something several times his weight, feet braced and body at an angle. "Right!" She sprang to her feet and, worriedly took out the last apple gel.
"Don't be stupid, do your healing thing! I can hold him!"
"Are you sure?"
"Hurry up and cast! I'm not Master Van's student for nothing!" The monster backed off for another charge, and even with a body nine years younger than he was used to with none of the height, a different center of balance, less muscle… Sheer bloody-minded determination let Luke keep it away from her, although Tear winced every time he wasn't able to dodge fast enough and a tusk managed to hit him.
Once the arte finished she ordered Luke, "Get away from it!"
"No! I may be a little kid because of you and your stupid hyperresonance, but I'm not useless! You need to be able to hold still to do those fonic things, and without them you suck! If I want to get home I'm going to have to keep you alive, and that's that! And evil assassin or not you're Master Van's sister."
Children around this age could begin Oracle Knight training, but… "It looks like we don't have any other choice."
After the battle Luke stood there and panted. "Man, are all eight year olds this weak?"
"Actually, you're pretty strong for an eight year old noble. Don't you remember what it was like at that age?" She was sixteen, and she remembered it.
"No. I don't. I was kidnapped when I was ten and I don't remember anything from before then. And since then I've been kept in the manor so something like this wouldn't happen again. So shut up about me not knowing stuff like about the ocean and fonic artes and borders. I had to spend three years learning how to walk and talk and read and write again and it gets really old, everyone expecting me to catch up with those stupid people with ten more years to learn stuff in than me overnight." That destroyed any camraderie they had, Luke walking ahead despite her orders to stay behind her because of monsters.
He wasn't only suddenly eight and nearly helpless but he didn't have any idea what it was like to be a normal eight-year-old. "I'm sorry," she apologized to him, catching up.
"You should be." He was still clearly mad at her. "I hate it when people do that, and they do it all the time. Don't talk to me unless we get in another fight. And don't call me stupid for not knowing things when I can't help it! I've got lot of things to learn and how am I supposed to know what a river looks like if they never let me outside…" He started walking faster again to get away from her, so she slowed down again so that they wouldn't tire themselves out.
They managed to find a coachman, but, "Sorry, kid. I need payment in advance, that's how the coaches work."
"Really? You can't wait until we get to the capital and my dad can pay you?"
"No, that's not how most things work, actually. Parents might just give you stuff, but if you're running a business you need people to give you the money in advance. Your parents might know where you live, so if you skip out on chores you'll get in trouble for it, but I don't have the time to bother with that sort of thing."
"Will you take this?" Tear asked him, and her mother's pendant was accepted. She hated giving it up, but she had to get this almost-child home. This was all her fault.
And they were in Malkuth. She had taken the son of Duke Fabre, one of Malkuth's enemies, into the territory of the people who had kidnapped him and caused him to lose his memories. And turned him into a nearly-helpless eight year old, couldn't forget that.
Letting him run around the market at Engave entranced by the idea of buying things was the least she could do under the circumstances, even though she found out afterwards that he'd replaced all his equipment (which was a very good idea: his house garb had sold for a lot and he was young, he did need the best stuff he could get to stand a chance) and hadn't bought a thing for her. At least he'd gotten a few healing items, and he was willing to share the strawberries with her after she asked a few times, although the apples were his.
"They grow food in Engave," she told him. "The apples are from here and have to go a long way to Baticul, so it makes sense that they're fresher and taste better here."
"Mmm." He munched on another as he carried the ingredients she'd asked him to fetch back to the cooking woman. "I know, they told me." Tear'd been very surprised when he told her he'd agreed to help out. He was very sullen when it came to anything she asked him to do, but then she had kidnapped him and tried to kill his teacher in front of him, so he didn't have any reason to like her.
"You like Van a lot, don't you?"
"Of course I do. He's the only one who actually teaches me instead of just trying to get me to remember stuff I can't remember. He tells me what I'm doing wrong instead of just expecting me to know already and giving me one of those stupid looks I get when I ask people what the problem is instead of an actual answer. How am I supposed to stop doing things wrong if people never tell me anything!" Aargh! "Of course, if you need a little kid to save you then Master Van will be able to beat you with one hand tied behind his back, so I don't need to worry. Now go to the stupid inn and stop following me!"
Remembering how he was treated seemed to have ruined the good mood learning about bargaining and buying things from the coachman and the shopkeepers had put him in.
"Hey, you!" After Tear left Luke she was accosted by an angry man, then others. "This is the woman that came into town today!"
"You're coming with us!"
"What is this about?" Tear protested.
"Someone stole everything from our storehouse."
"Wait, wasn't she with that kid?" And therefore a decent person by association.
"He said that she was a crook, and they're only traveling together because he's making her take him back home after she kidnapped him by accident."
"What?!" At first Tear was outraged Luke had said that, but then she realized that invading fon Fabre manor, putting the guards to sleep, trying to kill his teacher and kidnapping him qualified as a crook.
"Where is Luke, anyway?"
"Don't tell me she!"
"I didn't do anything to him! He said that he was taking some woman some ingredients she asked for!"
Luke was very annoyed to be dragged away from helping this woman make pasta (apparently he'd never been allowed into the kitchens unless he snuck in, and this gave cooking the allure of the forbidden instead of the dreariness of a chore), to defend Tear. "Well, she is a crook, so I don't know. She might have."
"How did you meet her?"
"She broke into my parent's house and attacked her brother, who is my teacher."
"Luke!" There was an officer of the Malkuth military present, and was Luke stupid? He might give away his identity and end up in Malkuth's hands. Only he didn't know any better and there was no way she could clue him in with so many listeners present.
"That was… that was grown-up stuff! I'm not a crook, I'm a member of the Oracle Knights! I swear I didn't have anything to do with the theft, and I'm just trying to return Luke to his family."
"Grown-up stuff?! Why you!" If the officer hadn't flung out an arm and grabbed him easily Luke might have lunged at her. "Let me go!"
"Now now…" The door opened. "Fon Master Ion?"
"I found cheagle fur in the storehouse. I think they're the culprits."
"It could be a ruse," the officer pointed out. "The only way to prove it would be to recover our supplies from Cheagle Woods. They can't have eaten all of it, cheagles are herbivores."
"I agree. If the sacred cheagles are responsible, then this is an Order of Lorelei matter."
"Fon Master Ion? Wait, weren't you kidnapped? What are you doing here?"
"Kidnapped?" Everyone looked at Luke.
"My teacher said he wouldn't be able to train me anymore because Fon Master Ion had been kidnapped and he was going to have to go look for him." That clearly sucked, and it was Ion's fault for getting kidnapped.
"I wasn't kidnapped, I came to Malkuth on my own. Who is your teacher?"
"Master Van. You know him, right?"
"God-general Van Grants?" The officer's attention was now focused on the boy he hadn't yet released. "And what might your name be?"
Luke looked away. "Luke." Why wasn't he declaring himself to be Luke fon Fabre? Oh, he was probably worried about his outward age, that they wouldn't believe him. Thank goodness!
"Luke what?" Rose the headwoman asked kindly.
"None of your business."
"Oh, I think it is my business when it's involved in a theft investigation. Also, Ion's presence here is important to the peace effort. If someone is going around spreading rumors he was kidnapped by Malkuth we need to know who, who has heard them, and why."
"You really weren't kidnapped?" Luke asked Ion.
"No." He shook his head.
"Oh. Maybe Master Van heard you had gone to Malkuth and thought you'd been kidnapped. I mean, Malkuth kidnaps people all the time."
"What?" Everyone stared at him.
"Well, I mean, I was kidnapped by Malkuth, and then I was kidnapped to Malkuth by her. I guess I don't know anyone else, though." Luke sighed, folding his arms. "Not that anyone tells me anything…"
"You were kidnapped by Malkuth?"
"Yeah, when…" When he was ten. Only he looked eight. Which, Tear realized, was about how long it had been since he was kidnapped. Maybe the hyperresonance had put him in that form because it was how old he should be from the memories he had. "I don't remember it, it was seven years ago."
"Where are you from? Not Malkuth, obviously."
"How did you end up here?"
"Luke!" Tear tried to keep him from answering the officer's questions.
"Everything started being all glowy, she said it was a hyperresonance afterwards, when I tried to keep her from attacking Master Van. We ended up someplace called Tataroo Valley, and she tried to get me on a coach home, only she was an idiot and forgot to find out what capital the coach was going to. And then the bridge got blown up so we couldn't go back and try to find a coach going the right way. You know, Tear's really stupid. I don't think she could have managed to pull off stealing everything in a store."
Tear groaned, hanging her head.
"So you two were the cause of the hyperresonance we detected. I would arrest you both for illegal border crossing, but as it seems it was just an accident and we're headed to Baticul in any case I suppose I could bring the two of you along, especially as it was my ship that failed to prevent the Dark Wings from blowing up the bridge."
"Really? Thanks!" Luke grinned. "She's pretty weak, and I had to keep saving her from monsters, and it was really annoying."
He seemed a lot more like a seven year old than a seventeen year old. Perhaps the transformation had affected his brain?
"Why don't we all rest up in the inn before heading to Cheagle Woods tomorrow? I'm afraid you will have to remain in my custody until this matter is cleared up."
"Sure… Uh, who are you?"
"Colonel Jade Curtiss, Third Division, Malkuth Imperial Forces."
By the time they were at the inn Luke had become friends with the kindly Ion and his Fon Master Guardian Anise, who shared Luke's immaturity. The topic had somehow become Tear's alleged shoplifting exploits, and Anise seemed to be scarily knowledgeable in the field.
Tear trailed along behind with Colonel Curtiss feeling extremely embarrassed.
"Care to tell me why according to my magic lenses an eight year old is equally leveled with a sixteen year old full-fledged Oracle Knight?"
And just when she thought she couldn't get any more embarrassed. "Well, he is my brother's student. And I only just completed my training."
"What did he mean by saying Malkuth kidnapped him?"
"I'm really not clear on all the details. My brother hasn't been telling me much for years." Tear looked away. "Yes, I didn't do my research and I'm way too underleveled to even think about taking Van on by myself. Don't rub it in."
"Rub it in? Oh, you mean the comment about the lenses? No no no, I was simply impressed with Luke's progress. He's very advanced for someone of that age. A credit to your brother." Unlike someone else present, but he didn't say it outright, so she couldn't get away with pointing it out without underlining the fact that… Aargh! This guy!
At least they roomed away from him, even though Luke had wanted to spend the night with Ion and his new friend Anise instead of with Tear 'the crook.' "Luke, what were you thinking?"
"Malkuth and Kimlasca are enemies! There's about to be a war, don't you get it! And…" From his glare, she knew that no, he hadn't known. "I'm sorry. Look, it's turned out okay but whatever you do don't let them find out who your father is. He's one of Malkuth's enemies."
"I'm not going to tell them. They won't believe me anyway." He rolled over, looking away from her. "Now be quiet and let me go to sleep. I've had a long day."
There seemed to be something more to that. "Luke, are you okay?"
"You made me a decade younger and they might not even recognize me or believe me when I go home, if I ever do get home. Do you think I'm okay? Stupid Tear."
"You should be."