Fatal Frame belongs to Tecmo. This should be obvious.
Bust The Mirror
They promised to always stay together, but in the end she had to fight alone.
The world spun and blurred and roared.
The static that had tinged Mio's perceptions left as the vision (and that had been all, really, just a vision) ended with Mayu's scream. How her sister had done it Mio didn't know or care, but she was back in control (as much as she had ever been) and she knew what to do. She finally knew what was wrong.
It was just the two of them in the Hellish Abyss again, her and the one in front of her. Mio fumbled for the Camera Obscura as several things connected in her mind.
It had been a lie. All of it, every bit of that vision had been a lie, a filthy, ugly, horrible lie, the same lie that was fed to every pair of twins that had ever walked in All Gods Village. You will live and die separately. You won't be together forever. But you can be. Just do this one thing and you can be together forever. But it was a lie because Mio knew that they never came together, never saw each other again. Dead was dead, and only one half was dead and that half was sealed away forever, separated in half forever, to guard the mouth of a pit and the twins were never reunited and if she had killed Mayu she wouldn't have smiled, she would have run screaming after that butterfly forever and ever, chasing it forever until she had caught it or died trying.
Sae was still around, somehow. Maybe she was directing the malice or the malice was directing her, but Sae tinged everything it touched and warped it to her desires. The evil that had erupted didn't want to be sealed again, even if it was just a temporary thing, but Sae wanted Yae, Sae wanted Yae to come back, Sae wanted to stay with Yae forever, Sae wanted Yae to kill her, and so Sae would have her ritual and the darkness would just have to put up with being locked away for another ten years or so while Sae sat happily in the blackness.
All God's Village was a pit and Mio would do a dance of joy when the dam was built and the whole stupid area was flooded. She really would.
So many people, so many children, had been sacrificed (murdered), not for the sake of the village, but for the sake of the villagers who were too stubborn to move away, to build their homes somewhere else because better someone die so that they could live here then everyone suffer so that someone could live. Stupid people.
Mio knew Sae had been waiting for a long time. Waiting in the abyss. Waiting in the mansion. Waiting in the village. And waiting by the river, in that place where she and Yae had made that promise. In that place Sae had written in her diary that she would stay around as a butterfly, waiting for the day when Yae came back. In that place Mio and Mayu had stopped to rest by. In that place where Mayu had been led away from her by a flutter of scarlet.
She had seen nothing odd about Mayu when she had looked at her through the camera's lens in the Osaka house, in the Kurosawa house, in the Tachibana house, in the old tree. She had seen nothing but Mayu.
She remembered quite clearly the terror she had felt in the tunnel beneath the Kiryu house and the Tachibana house. Of being caged in the rock walls while a demon in blood-stained white had laughed at her imminent death and closed in with hungry eyes and cruel hands. She remembered feeling the sheer and simple disbelief of the situation when she looked through the camera's viewfinder and saw nothing. She saw nothing even as she heard the screaming laughter of Sae as she came closer and then the moment of clarity when the camera was lowered, Sae's face filled her vision and she knew, I'm going to die now.
The twin who was born last was the elder in All Gods. The twin who was born last in Mio's time was the younger. Yae was older by All Gods decree. Mio was younger by modern decree. The elder was the Remaining.
Sae had fallen from the mountain path as she chased after her sister, trying to get away. Except that she hadn't really wanted to get away, so was it really a slip?
"Hurry up or I'll leave you behind!"
And the giggles of childish maliciousness that was not real, because she loved her sister; she just loved to tease her as well.
And then the scream.
And the fear.
And the thought, but I'm way clumsier than Mayu. Why didn't I slip too?
Mio knew everything and she knew what to do.
The camera was raised, the viewfinder lined up for a close core shot, and the face was coming toward her very quickly now as the target realized something was not going the way she had planned.
The feeling was explained. Mio knew why there was a sense of wrongness about her sister. Why she had been afraid when she looked at her through the window in the Kurosawa house cell. Why Mayu kept saying, "No matter what happens, I'll forgive you."
- stop saying that –
Why Mayu kept forcing her to return to the village. Why she kept pleading, "Don't leave me."
- as if I ever would –
Why she felt, over and over again, like the person standing in front of her, staring at her, talking to her, walking with her, holding hands with her, helping her, hindering her, being with her was -
- not her sister at all.
The light from the Zero lens was blinding and the noise from the blast was deafening, but she could still see the girl in front of her stagger back with the vague outline of kimono forming in the glare and she could still hear the ragged, inhuman shriek of pain and rage as something that had been fed and obeyed and unquestioned for hundreds of years found itself defied for the first time.
And then Mio was screaming with so much hate that her voice had become a Jurassic roar.
"Get out of my sister, you bitch!!!"
The thing that was not Mayu flinched back ever so slightly, not from the fury of a teenage girl, but from the one fury of the one who had hurt it. And then it stood straight, stood up in a way that Mayu never would (not with her knee) and it looked at Mio. There was a terrible, evil cunning in its face and it tilted its head and smiled so slightly, so small, more of a smirk, really –
- and then something was coming up from the ground around their feet. Thick, white fog that froze Mio's ankles and seemed to grab at her, weighing her legs down. It coiled around the thing that was not Mayu and covered it, hiding Mayu's body from view. Mio hissed, her grip on the camera tightening. There was something happening in the fog, some great change taking place and Mio remembered watching a butterfly come out of the cocoon when she was seven. The butterflies in the village were dead people and the mist cocoon wasn't an ordinary cocoon, which made Mio very grateful for the bizarre weapon in her hands.
And then the mist around her feet was bleeding away, falling back into the mouth of the abyss at the exact same time that the mist roiling around what was wearing her sister darkened like water with a spoonful of dye stirred in. White became red just as Sae burst out of the fog with a giggling scream and lunged for Mio.
The camera was raised, aimed and used.
The type-91 film sent a surge of heat so intense that Mio was actually in pain for half a second as her fingertips informed her that they were burning. But it was worth it, was more than worth it, was not on the same scale as hearing Sae howl in pain and seeing her fall back.
But then Mio was the one falling back as the ground heaved and bucked like a wild horse at a rodeo. The cavern shook and –
- does hurting her hurt it too –
- Mio fell to the ground, scraping off another seven square inches of her skin. Her eyes had left Sae for not even a second, but when she looked back up the ghost was gone. That was enough to make Mio scramble to her feet with more speed than grace and stagger forward, expecting to feel icy hands closing around her neck from behind.
She was half right. Sae was behind her, but not close enough to be a threat. The ghost was taking her time, walking toward Mio with that same dazed, gleeful expression on her face that she had worn as she calmly stalked Mio through the upper levels of the Tachibana house. Mio raised the Camera Obscura, waited for that obscuring crimson mist to part and then snapped off a photo, wincing a little as Sae's howl rang her eardrums. As the flash faded, so too did Sae, taking her red curtain of fog with her.
Mio knew what was coming even if she didn't know how she knew and so she braced herself as the earth quaked and rumbled. It sounded like the growling of something big and angry that had been locked in a very small cage. It sounded like a monster.
There was a monster coming from the left. Mio ran, swaying back and forth as her feet struggled to find purchase on the moving ground. Sae followed her, not at all bothered by the shifting floor –
- bitch –
- that gave Mio so much difficulty.
The rumbling stopped when Sae was all of six steps away and Mio raised the camera for another shot, lining the viewfinder up with Sae's smiling, happy, ugly face and –
Even past the rumbling of the dying tremors and her own pounding heart, the click of the camera shuttering on an empty roll of film was deafening to Mio's ears.
Sae's hysterical giggle cut through the air like a knife and was it Mio's imagination or was the ghost moving faster?
Mio turned and ran, yanking open the back of the hot camera as she did and throwing the useless film container to the cavern floor. Had she bothered to look, she would have seen it steaming in the cold air. She reached into Miyako's bag for another cartridge of film, any film, and pulled out the first one she touched, slamming it into place, closing the camera and spinning around on one foot to face –
- nothing. Sae was gone again.
- damndamndamndamndamndamn -
"Are you – "
- behind -
" – leaving me – "
- turn around -
- TURN AROUND NOW -
" – agaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHH!!!"
For a moment, Mio honestly thought that the camera was going to explode.
She had felt the power, the heat, soar inside of it, press against the hard metal of the camera's frame and stretch it, like a baby kicking against its mother's womb. Then it passed, Sae was falling back and Mio stared with a stupefied expression at the Camera Obscura scalding her hands that had steam pouring out of its cracks.
- zero film has to be -
If she had known it was capable of that, Mio would never have bothered with type-91 to begin with.
Four shots left, Mio noted and then refocused on Sae.
She was already fading away. Mio turned away and searched the dark, rumbling cavern for the red fog and white kimono.
Sae emerged just in front of the rock altar that Mayu had (would have) died on. Mio moved in even as she sighted Sae within the camera's lens. The camera was burning her hands, destroying layer after layer of skin, but she ignored it as she ran forward and then the viewfinder's circle flashed red and Mio did not think –
- click –
- but to move her finger -
- whirl –
- down against the button -
The camera bucked in her hands like a wild animal and she could feel the heat of it burning against her face as she kept her eye to the viewfinder and moved in, following Sae's movements with the mastery that the long night had given her. The second flash of light, the second buzzer from the camera, and Mio pressed the button down again, feeling the surge of forcepowerheat down to her bones.
Sae shrieked –
- and there was an echo in that shriek, a faint call of "Mio, my leg hurts", but it was twisted with the scream, melded with it, melting with it, so Mio couldn't tell where Mayu was beginning and Sae was ending -
- and Mio pressed it down a third time and -
- that's it I've busted the damn thing bye bye camera and thanks for the memories –
- could not keep her grip on the camera any more. It was literally smoking and she could smell something burning, plastic or metal or something, but it stung her nose. It doesn't matter, she thought.
- please god don't let it matter now three chained shots from type-0 please let her die please –
She did not stop to think about the impossibility of that hope.
Sae was wailing and fading and falling. She disappeared and Mio turned on her heel, the melting Camera Obscura dangling from the cord around her neck. She could feel the horrible heat of it through her shirt. It hurt, but it didn't matter, not compared to the fact that Sae might not be gone, she only had one shot left, the camera might be ruined, there –
She turned around there was SaeMayuSomething standing at the edge of the abyss, of that hellish abyss.
SheIt looked so sad, so lost, so broken, so lonely that for just a second Mio stopped. There was a look in the dark eyes that was not quite sadness, was not quite hunger, was not quite desperation. It was a look of unending hope that dwindled and bled and weakened and failed and cut, but did not die, could not die, no matter how much the girl (the thing) wanted it to, no matter how much better off she (it) (everyone) would be if it was just accepted:
Yae had left Sae to die and she was not coming back.
"We always used to promise each other…."
The same words, spoken over and over again. By her. By her sister. By every twin who had ever walked the world.
"…that we would stay together."
It was Mayu and it was Sae and it was Mutsuki and it was Azami and it was every twin who had ever feared being alone, being separated; it was every twin who had been lied to, who had been told that death was a reunion, that they could save the village and be with their other half; it was every child who had felt the hands of their most beloved person in the entire world wrap around their neck and take their life from them; it was every victim who had been dropped into a cold, hungry mouth and locked away within it to act as a barrier to keep in something unspeakable; it was every lonely soul who just wanted to be whole again and had always been denied by their neighbors, by their priests, by their family, by something without a name.
But Mio had seen the truth of it all, and she knew that she and Mayu would not always be together.
They would go to college and they would graduate and they would grow up. They would discover boys and maybe they would get married. They would have children and they would have husbands and they would have homes that were away from each other. They would write letters every week and make phone calls every day. They would slowly find that they could survive being away from one another. The connection would fade, though the love would remain. They would never be one.
And as she grabbed the camera, its heat sending white hot flashes of fire through her blistering hands, Mio knew she could live with that. It would hurt and she would cry long, agonizing hours over it, but she could live with it. She would live with it, because it would mean that Mayu was there to live it with her. It would mean that Mayu was only a phone call, a train ride, a plane ticket away. It would mean the wonderful news of saying or hearing, "You're going to be an aunt." It would mean having or being a shoulder to cry on when the husband was away or the children were too young to understand. It would mean having her twin, even if they grew apart, even if they lived and died separately. Even then, she would still have Mayu wherever or whomever or however she was.
Mio raised the Camera Obscura, lined up her shot and pushed the shutter button down.
There was, unsurprisingly, a loud, explosive crack! from the camera itself. It smashed into Mio's face from the force of the explosion and she dropped it, her right eye smarting and watering horribly. The camera dragged at her neck for a moment and then she was throwing the strap away from her, hearing the camera clatter against the rock floor, finally ruined after all she had put it through during the night.
But mostly, she heard Sae.
There was a wail that rose and fell ten times in a second, oscillating from a girl in pain to a monster in rage. Mio's good eye saw the flash that slammed Sae back, sending her flying down into the abyss and she saw the second form that was suddenly visible. The small, girlish figure in a dark red dress that was stumbling back towards the lip of the pit.
"Mayu!!!" Mio shrieked and lunged.
Fourteen years of having a living shadow flashed through Mio's mind. Following that came a premonition of what it would be like to go fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty years without that. Without Mayu to wait for, to watch for, to protect. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without Mayu. Without -
- Mio caught her sister's wrist.
Seriously folks, that's it.