Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy IX or Fullmetal Alchemist. They belong to Square Enix, Hiromu Arakawa, and Hironobu Sakaguchi, among others whom I cannot remember at the time. The title is derived from the song "The Messenger," which is composed of one of the main melodies of Dissidia.
"I'm useless to this world."
The words stung Zidane. No one was useless. Not even Kuja. He must have had several useful skills. "No one's useless," He said. "Y-you helped us escape, remember?"
Kuja's eyes were glazed. It took a long pause for him to register something was said. "After you and your friends beat me, I had nothing left." He managed to rearrange his face to express discomfort with what he said. "Nothing more to lose. Then." He reached one of his hands out above him weakly. "I finally realized what it means to live." His head rolled to the side. "I guess I was too late." His eyes closed and hand dropped limp onto Zidane's lap.
He almost jumped back in shock. "Hey!" He lightly slapped Kuja's face. "Don't go dying on me, alright? Kuja! Wake up. Tell me you're fine."
"Get out," Kuja said, his eyes bursting to life briefly.
Zidane tried to get out "What's going on?" But he realized what was occurring. The remaining life of the Iifa tree was collapsing in on the spot where he was sitting. There was no way he could escape it now.
He felt Kuja grab onto his waist and then there was nothing.
Were they dead? He never expected death to feel like this. It would have felt more like what happened earlier. But this? This was different. All around him were… things he couldn't quite decipher. He could still feel the weight of Kuja on his lap. The further he went, the more he could understand, and the lighter the weight was. He could stand up, and move towards the exit, where Kuja stood, hand extended, with a cocky smile on his face.
Kuja must have helped him again. He took the hand and found himself in a dirty alleyway. Was he back home in Lindblum?
Couldn't get you there, it seems. Kuja's voice rang in his head.
"Kuja! What did you do?"
The face flashed for a moment with shame. Just tried to get you out of the way, about halfway to Black Mage Village. I don't know where we are either.
Zidane shivered. "Where are you?"
I'm in you, I think. Just my soul, or the soul I took as my own, though. The body is most definitely gone. Zidane went to protest. I didn't plan this. I just wanted to… be the hero for once. I don't want this any more than you do. I want to just rest in peace, finally.
Zidane shook his head. No use getting angry at Kuja for something he – allegedly – didn't control. He'll get mad at him when he had proof. He took steps out to exit the alleyway only to return to hiding in the shadows. People dressed differently in this place. He would stick out dressed as he was. Many of the people were dressed in blue suits, some sort of military?
Some moved towards the alleyway itself. He just got here, didn't he? He scrambled to find a place to remain out of sight.
A blond woman – or he assumed she was, despite the very short hair – and a dark-haired man walked in, the man somehow holding a flame close to his fingers. They spoke among themselves in a language he couldn't understand. Some terms were repeated, but they seemed to be little more than personal names. However, one word both used, especially when studying a crater near where he was sitting, was "Alchemy." Could it mean magic?
He watched intently as the two left the alleyway. He wasn't certain it was safe any longer. He looked for a fine, a grate, something that would allow him to reach the roof tops and find a new place that was safe for him to hide. He found a large covered bin he could jump on. From there, it was easy to reach the roof of one of the buildings that lined the alley.
He was alone in a strange world where he couldn't speak the language. The first was bad enough. He was always scared when he was alone, even in his dreams. He once dreamt that he was alone after falling into a trap. That had to have been the worst time.
You're not alone. Kuja's voice echoed in his head. You never will be again. I'm here.
"I know," Zidane said. "And that means I'd probably be better off alone." He saw a small shop closing for the night. A general store. He waited for the man to leave and the street to empty. It wasn't that long.
He broke in and grabbed some food. He wouldn't starve. A rack with simple quilts stood in a corner near the counter. Taking one would be a good idea as well. He wouldn't freeze either. Something to cover his out-of-place clothes could wait for another day. He left the building, frowning at how obvious he felt it was he got there. With the food wrapped in the blanket, he climbed back onto the strange maze of rooftops, finding a place to spend the night, away from the store. It didn't take too long to find one he considered perfect for hiding in.
He wrapped himself in the blanket and started eating the loaf he recognized as bread that he had stolen. If only he could find a way home.
"Sir!" Sergant Major Kain Fuery ran in to Mustang's office. "Sir! Urgent news." Hawkeye, sitting at a desk to one side, looked at him, then over to Mustang
Mustang stopped his inattentive stare and looked at Fuery. "What is it Fuery?"
"During a communications relay from central, the coding stopped. It was only a moment, but there was a clear static."
Mustang shook his head in disbelief. "Are you sure it had nothing to do with the lines?"
"Breda and I checked them. They're perfectly fine, sir."
"Show Hawkeye and me where you were when you heard this static." He pulled on his coat. Hawkeye gave a stern look at him, but put on her overcoat as well.
Fuery nodded and walked out, walking through the plain halls of the headquarters to the communications room. Hawkeye looked over to a window. "It seems that you were not the only one who recognized the strangeness of what occurred."
"Other troops are scattered, aren't they?" Mustang said.
Hawkeye nodded. "Yes sir."
Mustang turned to Fuery. "Just which line were you receiving a transmission from, Fuery?"
"It was from Central, sir."
Mustang nodded and walked out the door. "Are you two coming?"
Fuery looked at Hawkeye. "Don't think I should," he said.
Hawkeye nodded and followed Mustang.
"Sir, where are we heading?"
"To where the cable where a transmission from Central would come from," Mustang said. "It is likely the best place to look for an answer."
Hawkeye wasn't certain what he expected to find where he was going. It surely could have just been an electrical storm. The chill of the evening air hit her in full force as they left the building, making a tight turn and staying close to the wall of Central.
"What brings Mustang out?" One of the men nearby said.
Mustang gave a smile and a nod passing on. He turned into a corner at the end of the building, where it met the housing of civilians. He started a small fire. Even though the sun was only in the later phases of setting, he felt he needed it.
She was shocked by what she saw, a large crater was in a wall. At the same time, it looked like someone simultaneously was breaking out and coming in. "Do you think it's Alchemy, sir?" She asked.
He shook his head. "It's almost like it, but something's wrong. It's like someone tried to fix what occurred, but had no understanding of the laws."
"But wouldn't he still be held by the laws, even if he didn't know?"
"That's what scares me about this Alchemist, Hawkeye. Whoever this is happens to not be using Alchemy."
Clang. She looked over to where the noise was. A long, thin tail pulled into the darkness.
"Was that him?" Mustang asked.
"Just a stray dog," She said. "Or perhaps a large cat. I don't see much here, sir, to lead us to the alchemist that did this."
He nodded. "He's probably gone by now, anyway," Mustang said. "You're dismissed, Lieutenant."
She saluted. "Sir."
The fuss about the strange occurrence would likely be gone by morning.