We, That Suggest Ourselves

An FFT/A/2/XII/VS Fanfic

By Liam Greenough aka Beacon515L

Foreword

To everyone:

I hereby denounce any claim to the intellectual property of Square Enix, being their games (FFT, FFTA, FFXII, FFXII:RW, FFTA2, Vagrant Story et al.), characters and settings. I do, however, assert my claim to the intellectual property of my original characters, my writing and my own treatment of their ideas. I also feel that such disclaimers on this site are somewhat redundant, being that the subject matter is implicitly derived from intellectual property not belonging to you, but I will put one here anyway so that there can be no confusion.

To the moderators, or anyone else who cares:

In my opinion, it is something of an oversight on the part of to lack a category for the Ivalice Alliance. I don't doubt the value of seperate categories - most people write to them anyways - nor do I lay blame. Trouble is, what I'm about to write isn't going to sit in any one of them neatly. The issue I have is that we have one world running through over seven games, which could mean I could pick any one of them to write about. Except I'm not writing about a game. I'm writing about that world, and to do that, I must approach the entire Alliance as a whole, for we must remember, there is no Ivalice without an Alliance.

This poses me a heirarchial quandary - I have a piece that that will, by its conclusion, have dealt with as many as four or more categories in the Games section, yet does not satisfactorily fit in any one of them. Having two categories is no more satisfactory than one, as neither sufficiently covers the scope of the fic, meaning whether or not I put it in the crossover section is of academic importance. Strictly speaking, the extent to which one could call this a crossover is limited anyway - it's about one world, one universe, all spread over several games.

So I've decided to compromise - as the major driving force behind the plot is based on concepts mostly from FFTA, I have decided to put it in there. Hopefully this will not offend anyone, but I am quite willing to recategorize if need be.

At this point, it is suggested that if you do not enjoy long, self-justifying, mostly pointless rants, you should skip to the first chapter (though as much of the fic tends towards rant, this is probably not much better an idea X3). What immediately follows is not actually a part of the fic itself and can be ignored if desired, it is merely here for reader interest.

To the reader who enjoys long, self-justifying, mostly pointless rants:

At first, this was never intended as a serious fanfic. The ideas it exposits originally started to take shape as plot directions for an FFTA2 fan-sequel, and its protagonist was originally supposed to simply be my dev-team cameo in the game as the composer. Of course, this meant anvillicious self-references; like a background in engineering and music, specifically, an interest in theatre organ.

Having come from a roleplaying background, it was not long before I stared seriously thinking about how my character might actually behave and what he might be like. These ruminations eventually led to questions, such as where he had come from, why he was there, why he built and played tremendous theatre pipe organs the likes of which Ivalice had never seen before.

I gradually became aware of the fact that I was writing a textbook self-insert. To an extent, this is to be expected of a cameo character, whose purpose is to represent a real person behind the making of a work, but the essential difference between a cameo and a self-insert is that the former is more usually just a representation of that person, intended to simply reinforce the contribution that person made to a project, whereas the latter goes on further to state that they are that person, and further acts as that person would in the fictional universe. It is a characteristic of those belonging to the latter that they tend to be shallow, omnipotent, and capable of working every little detail of the universe single-handedly into a vision the author finds appealing, however degrading to canon.

I knew the risks. If I proceeded with this line of writing, it could well be that I would write a Gary Stu, which would be an inexcusable abuse of my creative powers. Worse, by writing a Stu as a self-insert, I was systematically tarnishing my own reputation as a writer by equating myself with the Stu, making myself as a writer and a person equally deserving of its inevitable revulsion.

But of course, I suffer from that condition most any fanfic writer does, which is their primary motivation to write – sentimental attachment to my characters. Simply refusing to write them up isn't an option. In my own mind, that reminded me of a friend, who swore to me that she would be chaste just to spite her own children who would never be born. Her defence was, of course, that we who do exist have no real reason to respect the rights of those who don't.

What she failed to mention was that while this was true, we also have no real reason to not respect them. A close look at her statement will show that it implies present tense, that is, we should only respect the rights of those whom we know currently exist. Leaving aside the whole question of even determining who exists at any given moment, and even if we can ever actually be sure that anyone other than oneself does in fact exist, her premise in and of itself becomes quite questionable if you define "existence" in practical terms, that is, the state of being able to interact with other extant agents. This working definition allows us to draw a distinction between people that exist and people that do not; namely, the living and the dead. Leaving aside the whole question of afterlife, we notice that the respect people have for others is not limited to whether they live or die. Quite prominently, we notice that people harbour a different kind of respect for the dead rather than the living, but not a lack of it. Additionally, it is observed that responsible, expectant mothers ensure that their home and livelihoods are, as much as possible, ready for the burden of children long before birth. In this case, we see respect for those that do not yet exist, despite having no real reason to (discounting the high, though not certain probability that the child will complete the transition from physical nonexistence to existence).

Perhaps political correctness is to blame, but it would seem that today, people are inclined to respect the rights of strangers more so than not, whether or not they have any real reason to, because it seems like the right thing to do (where I here use "stranger" in the abstract sense, where I here mean "one who cannot be conclusively asserted to exist on the same level as oneself"). Perhaps this uncertainty, this lack of reason, is the driving force behind it – as long as the possibility is perceived for something to exist, we choose to respect it, as it is considered a lesser sin to respect in vain than to not respect where it is due.

While I acknowledge the likelihood of my writing ever actually becoming physically real is astronomically small, that does not preclude my characters from potentially attaining some vestigial sort of existence. Fictional characters reside in the hearts and minds of their readers and writers. They are a metaphysical quandary – a person sometimes considered as 'real' as any other, yet abstracted in unreality, or more correctly, a different kind of reality. This reality is known as fiction, and currently all known fiction functions by stimulating the imagination to abstract the concepts and figures present in a fictional universe. It follows therefore that the existence of fictional characters is sustained by the reader's desire to allow them headspace, that is, to give them room in their imagination to live and breathe, as it were.

In this way, particularly sensitive writers such as myself can feel quite conflicted about writing in general. On the one hand, one realizes that one has a power far greater than life or death over their characters – every writer can, through action or inaction, choose whether or not a fictional character gets to exist or not. Further, as fictional characters are almost always representations of people, it is usual for a writer to ascribe them the same, or at least as many rights as possible as a real person. This then begs the question – would it ever be morally defensible for a person to decide whether or not another may or may not exist? How then does a writer sit idly by and allow his characters no exposition, no evolution, not even an assertion of their existence, simply allowing them to fester away in the nether-regions of the brain?

A writer is a god. A writer is a god of their own imagination, of their writing, of the universes of which they conceive – universes which they have absolute power over, and universes which have no power over them. In this universe, a writer is omnipotent, for what cannot a writer write? A writer, however, is an imperfect god, susceptible to forgetting, mistakes and even losing interest. What recourse has his characters, then, when he turns away from them? If I may now, without offending people, use my own religion as an example (and the point I make should hold at least for monotheists; everyone else, I'm afraid, is on their own), where would we be if God turned away from the world, and simply refused to sustain our existence? With a word, He could simply blot us out, and we would be no more.

Why does God not do this? Because He loves us, and respects our rights as human beings, rights He Himself directed and ascribes. God does this because it is good, for God is good. However loose an argument theologically justifying morals may be, it may not empirically follow but the reader would probably agree that it would be morally wrong for God to turn away from us (notwithstanding the fact that since we define Him as good, anything He does is considered unquestionably good, as the definition of good is dependent on his actions). By analogy, it is therefore morally wrong for a writer to turn his back on his characters, for the relationship one has with one's own characters is akin to that God has with us.

It has taken me over a thousand words to say it, for I am an imperfect god who has little to no conception of succinctness, but this is the reason behind my continuing compulsion to write this fic – because I couldn't live with myself if I knowingly refused to. My characters deserve better than that and I will give it to them, come what may – even if I write crap, even if I estrange the fanbase, even if I get flamed, my characters will have an existence. And I will publish it, because when I cease to exist, as I inevitably will, I do not want my own mortal fallibility to get in the way of my characters' chance at existence. And for that reason, I share them with you, the readers, that they may exist in your heads also, and live long after I am gone in your hearts and minds, and perhaps your childrens' hearts and minds, and your childrens' childrens', and...

You get the picture. I feel bad that my characters have such a fallible deity to worship and depend on as their creator, so I wish to share that burden with you all. Call me a madman, tell me I need to get out more, but that's my primary motivation for publishing my writing at all. These are my beliefs, and I would have them respected, as I would have my characters respected, as I would respect other people, as you would respect other people. Because, as far as I'm concerned, that's the best course of action.

If you have actually read this far, I congratulate you for making it and thank you for persisting with me. If you considered it worth the time you spent wading through it, then you are definitely worth my time and are welcome to contact me, I should be happy to have some decent, intellectual conversation.

And if you did not, and just don't care for the way I write, at least be nice - this is my first fanfic, after all. Criticism I like, encouragement I love, but flames can only burn. And frankly no-one wants that, and I'm not going to pay attention if you do.

Saavy? XD

-Liam Greenough

aka Beacon515L

Arguably a nutter, but a lovable one nonetheless. What, you disagree? Well, I'm flattered you think I'm sane. X3