"You've doomed us all, Cid!" shouted the grief-stricken man high into the heavens. "You cowardly cur! Show yourself dammit! Show yourself!" Thunder rumbled like a war drum and lightning flashed to light the dark, morbid sky. But nothing could deter the man who lost so much in so little time. Even when the rain shot down like bullets and flooded at his feet, the man refused to budge without seeing face-to-face the monster that ruined his life.
Another clap of thunder rumbled, and when it came and left, the angry shouts persisted all throughout the cycle. His face went red and his throat ached, but he continued to yell with increasing ferocity despite the pain. "Damn you Cid of the Lufaine! Damn you to Hell and beyond!"
"My, my. Such hatred."
Lightning struck the ground, knocking the man off his feet into a puddle of muddied water. "You devil…!"
"What have I done to merit such ill will from you—I, who have lost more than a pawn could ever hope to know, yet alone cherish."
"You've robbed me of everything!" cried the man, who stumbled to his feet. Mud dripped from his body and caked his face enough to hide the stream of angry tears. "You've destroyed my home—my sanctuary! You've imprisoned my family, of whom you've turned into puppets to enact your abominable fantasies! You've enslaved us all, damning us to a fate with no future and an ever-waning past! "
"And you with your swords and your arrows and your cannons and your warships—what homes and sanctuaries have you destroyed?" disembodied Cid thundered from his throne amongst the heavens. "What are families to barbarians bred for nothing but war? What past or future do warmongers need know other than war itself?"
"You speak as if my life were so simplistic as to be recited from a child's painting on a wall!" The man spat a wad mud to the ground, cleaning his mouth of the dirt once lodged between his teeth. "I fight only to protect—never to kill for want of blood. Your story is a sad one, but why must you repeat it for another innocent family? By committing this atrocity, you've become like the barbarians you so despise!"
The wind howled, and with it, Cid's fury. "You have no right to come here and plead innocence, seed of chaos! You are a soldier—a murderer! Any pain of yours isn't worth an ounce of sympathy!" Multiple bolts of lightning shot through the sky and surged towards the ground, all aimed at the muddied, sorrowful man. Most missed him, striking the flooded earth instead. But one managed to find its target, jolting him through the chest. He collapsed flat on his back into the electrified water where his body received further shock.
"Heed my…words…Cid," the man heaved with his dying breath, "you… you have…made a… pow…erful e-enemy…"
"Pawns have no power." With his final words said, the watchful eye of Cid turned its gaze away from the lifeless body to focus on more pressing matters. The heavy rain tapered off to a light drizzle until it halted altogether, and the pitch-black clouds above softened in color to a dismal grey.
All remained still, even the flow and ebb of the flooded water. Cid's storm of destruction sucked the life out of the valley until a new arrival walked across the land. The brush of her white dress whisked away the overabundant water, returning the mud to soil. Each footprint she impressed upon the earth sprouted new lush, green vegetation. First came the grass, then the flowers, the shrubbery, and finally the trees. Order returned to the chaotic valley, and life was once again allowed to flourish.
When she reached the cold and still body of the fallen man, she kneeled beside him in the now solid earth. With mournful eyes, she looked upon his charcoaled and dirtied face, and brushed a gentle hand along his disfigured cheek. She held him close to her, hugging his head to her chest. A single tear streaked down her cheek as she leaned forward and touched her lips to his where they lingered until the man's body twitched back to life.
"Did you hear what I said?"
Tidus folded his arms. "Well…what do you think?" he asked, but he received no answer. The goddess merely closed her eyes and turned her back to him. The action worried him. "Cosmos? Are you okay?"
"This is…difficult," she said after a while.
"What is?" Silence again met his question. Something was wrong, and the longer Cosmos stayed silent, the more concerned Tidus grew until he couldn't take it anymore. "These aren't normal dreams, are they? Just what's going on with me?"
"It is best for you, Tidus, to forget what you have experienced."
"How can you say that?"
"Tell me, Tidus: why do you fight?" Cosmos asked, still not looking at him.
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"It is imperative you answer me."
Tidus punched a fist into his open hand. "I'm here to beat Chaos and his army! Not to mention smack my old man around some after everything he's done."
"Is that the real reason?"
"Well, yeah. Why wouldn't it be? Heck, why would I lie about it?"
"Have you nothing you wish to protect—nothing you cherish enough to give your life for the sake of its survival?"
"When you put it that way…" Tidus trailed off and craned his head back to look up at the stars. He saw in the nighttime sky not just a starlit scene, but a memory—a memory of a warm, almost sad, smile of a special young woman. "I promised to be her Guardian—that I'd always be there for her."
"Then your memories of her are what drive you."
"Yeah," Tidus nodded. "If Chaos wins here, that means I failed my job and I'll never get to go home…"
Now Cosmos turned to look at him—dead in the eyes with her sorrowful gaze that paralyzed him on the spot. "The Warrior of Light has no such memories."
"He knows nothing of his name, his home, or his loved ones. He has no recollection of the place he left or where he must return after this war ends."
"Are you serious?"
"All the Warrior knows is that he must protect the Order of this world. He is nothing without this mission."
"So he has amnesia?"
Cosmos shook her head. "His memories were sealed away in a place he can never reach."
"You're kidding!" Tidus cupped his fingers around his chest and furrowed his brows in thought. "You mean the Warrior of Light is like a zombie?"
"That's insane! How could you allow something like that to happen?"
"It is beyond my power to control..." The sadness weighing down the goddess' words pierced straight through Tidus' heart until he could feel her despair.
"But you're the Goddess of Harmony," he said softly. "There isn't anything you can do?"
Cosmos did not answer.
"So...you're saying his memories were sealed in a place he can't reach? What does that have to do with my dreams?"
"Your dreams are not of average origin, Tidus."
"I figured that was the case. So what are they?"
"Your power has allowed you full access to the area of subconscious housing the Warrior's Truth."
"Well there's something you don't hear everyday..." Tidus took a moment to digest the new information and that's when he conceived of a plan to help the Warrior. "Hey, that's it! What if I dive into his subconscious again and try to pull the real Warrior out of—huh? You don't like the idea?"
The goddess had once again turned her back to the athlete, concealing her pensive expression. "Even if you were to probe the Warrior's psyche, that does not guarantee resolution."
"Maybe not, but it's a start."
"You would again subject yourself to the Warrior's agony despite the low probability of success?"
"That guy hears screams of pain ringing in his ears that shiver me to the bone, but he can still carry on as our leader against the forces of Chaos. He's led us to numerous victory and chances are more than good that we'll win the war. The least I can do as both his comrade and friend is help him remember what it is he's fighting for, and it's worth a shot trying to use this new power of mine."
"Then you are committed to undertaking this task?
Tidus smirked. "Hey, I'm a star player! Once I've got the ball, all I can do is shoot a goal!"
"There is no dissuading you?"
"I'm starting to get the feeling you don't want me to do this. I don't understand, Cosmos; don't you want the Warrior to regain his memories?"
There was a long pause and then Cosmos disappeared from the field in a burst of light, leaving only her melancholy echo. "Do what you must, Tidus."
The star athlete stood befuddled, gawking at the empty space in front of him and wondered the reason for the goddess' obvious reluctance towards his plan.