Re-uploaded and revised 12/12 2010
This is book four in a series. Books one through three are: Spira's Dream, Spira's Sphere, and Neogenesis. This story is heavily dependent on the concepts originally presented in those.
The setting, characters, and inspiration for the plot all belong to Square Enix. Fans of the game will recognize which content is not mine, so I do not even pretend to take credit for it. My appreciation goes out to Square Enix and their wonderful game designers for giving us such inspiring entertainment.
Any resemblance between my fan-fic and other FFX2 fan-fics is purely unintentional. We are all playing the same game, after all, so it's pretty easy to draw some similar theories out of it. Hopefully, it will pack a few new surprises, though.
Also, please keep in mind this is a revision of an old, previously published story that was written before having a chance to play or see "Last Mission", so those events were not taken into account.
Chapter 1: Spirit of Revenge
The summoner appeared out of thin air amid the dark halls of the Via Infinito. It was a dangerous place, this bottomless gateway into Spira's Hell, and he was overly aware of the fiends that could appear before him and strike him down into the grave with them at any given moment. He had come here only once before, and it had been incredibly risky to come back. The nightmare that haunted him had insisted, though. He was certain this was the place that held the answers to his questions. As his sharp, green eyes darted from side to side in the foul-smelling maze of barely lit tunnels, he angered that he had been chosen to carry out the nightmare's demands. In a cruel twist of misfortune, years of groundwork and planning had been stolen. However, if this plan succeeded, there was the possibility of great reward - revenge and continuance.
As a scream echoed throughout the confined labyrinth, the summoner felt his heart jump into his lungs. Backing into the wall, he hoped to blend with the shadows. From where he stood, he could see a ghostly woman fall to the floor of this level of the pit. Spira, the spirit of eternal life that sustained the bio-mechanics of the planetoid ship, raised her broken body from the floor that broke her fall and ran down the hall in the opposite direction. Though he knew who the ghost was and why she relived the terror of her death countless times in the course of a day so that her life energy could fuel the magical dimensions within the inner ship and the material dimension outside of them, the summoner breathed a sigh of relief anyway when she was gone. She was not the spirit he sought, though he supposed the subjects of his search were more deadly.
When he was certain he was alone again - or at least certain that he could see no other spirits - the summoner brushed a long strand of sand-colored hair behind his jeweled ear and continued his cautious trek down the haunted corridors. The soft soles of his leather boots and the multiple layers of the colorful robes of his profession made only faintest sound against the seamless floor as he walked.
"I know you're here," he softly whispered to the dark shadows creeping in around him. "You're in this place of unrest. You have to be. No one with designs like yours would be content to go to the Farplane for eternity."
His steps came to a sudden halt as he took note of an elder drake crossing the corridor perpendicular to the one in which he stood. He dare not go any further because he could not afford to alert the large fire-breathing beast to his presence. Sweating like an ice cold glass on a hot summer day, he made himself stand perfectly still until the fiend passed. Then, again, the summoner sighed with relief. "My magic is weak from my ordeal, so I cannot defend myself down here!" he hissed. "Please, I beg of you, if you hear me, appear!"
A ghostly form flickered in and out of a mist that appeared before him. "You have the power to summon the dead, yet you resort to cowardly begging?"
The summoner nearly jumped out of his own skin at the apparition's response, then was slightly insulted at its condescending tone. "My magic is weak right now," he repeated with a slight snarl.
"Then you were foolish to come here while you are weak."
"No more foolish than a spirit who chooses eternal unrest," the summoner bitterly answered.
The ghost remained calm, though his brows dipped slightly to match the bitter tone. "I am here to avoid being there. I hope you have something more interesting to offer me in conversation than complaints, or I might decide you should join me."
"I have come to ask a favor. There are those among the dead that seek another spirit, but without living bodies, they cannot enter the Farplane to find him for fear that they will be trapped for eternity."
"Forgive me if I do not sympathize," the ghost stated without emotion.
"My summoning magic is too weak to draw out the spirit they seek, and even if I could summon him, this spirit is far too dangerous for one such as myself to be able to control. The spirits that haunt me told me to seek out a more powerful summoner, such as yourself, for advice."
The ghost softly chuckled. "My dear, Meimo, if I could bring the dead back to life, don't you think I would start with myself?"
"But it IS possible to resurrect the dead," the summoner darkly reminded the apparition that stood before him. "Yevon could do it. He could bring them back and mold them into powerful guardians."
"This is true. However, the souls of the dead could not return to life in the same manner that they left it. The complex and morbid nature of creating aeons from sacrificial deaths had Yu Yevon standing with one foot crossing the boundary between what is holy and what is profane. No one understood this better than me. But like you, I could only summon the aeons; I could not create them. If you wish to bring the dead back to life, you will need the same kind of magic that it takes to create aeons. And for that, you will have to speak with Yevon himself. He is not here, however, so he must be in the Farplane, which means he regrets his former deeds. He will not want to help someone else repeat them. He may even try to stop you. And unless you have the magical strength to command him once you summon him, you cannot make him divulge his most jealously guarded secrets."
Meimo swallowed in nervous acceptance that the spirit was probably right.
"Perhaps, you and I could come to an agreeable arrangement, instead," the spirit suggested as it moved one step closer to the traumatized summoner. "I know for a fact that Yevon's magic regarding the creation of the aeons and Sin was somehow related to the guado magic that helped create this ship. As a former Maester of Yevon, I can tell you that the temples contain evidence among several well-hidden spheres that the founding father of the guado used the same kind of magic to create an aeon and a spirit guardian for all of Spira."
Meimo gave a weary sigh. "I have seen these spheres. I have even seen the spirit of the ship and awakened the aeon he created. They are of no help to us."
The spirit purposefully dampened his genuine surprise. "You awakened Maedra's aeon?"
"I found the hidden tomb and got Yuna to break the seal. Then I petrified both of them to prevent her from commanding it, but she escaped somehow. Yuna now has control of the only aeon left on Spira."
"Yuna ..." The ghost was silent for a moment, as if lost in memories, before speaking again. "But commanding is not creating," he reminded the summoner. "For Yevon to create aeons like Maedra, he must have found some way to tap into the ancient master's Art. And like all good students of the magic arts, Yevon probably kept journals of his studies and accomplishments." The soft-spoken ghost smiled at the living man's predicament and moved around him, stopping behind him to speak over his shoulder. A long tendril of light blue hair slipped between their cheeks. "If you can find Yevon's notes on how he created the aeons and bring them to me, I might be able to give your fiendish friends the new bodies they need to walk the Farplane like the living."
Meimo tilted his chin slightly to look at the dead summoner that he had dared to consult, but instead of a ghostly half-guado, he found himself facing a grinning skeleton. Seymour had faded away without warning, and three liches had closed in on their conversation from behind. Their cold, bony hands immediately grabbed for Meimo's face, hair, robes. He was horrified to find himself so abruptly caught in their grasp. As he struggled to free himself, he remembered his best defense and teleported out of the Via Infinito as easily as he teleported into it.
Behind the cold-hearted fiends, Seymour Guado brooded through the darkness at the space that his former colleague had occupied. Over the years that he had known Meimo as a temple summoner, he had come to learn that the man had many unusual, strong talents. Summoning, oddly enough, wasn't one of them. He would be back, once he regained his defensive strength. Seymour was certain of that. But he was curious about why Meimo had been so weakened in the first place.
The white dragon aeon had grown a little larger than a great dane since the day Yuna opened its seal. It had a tendancy to lope around with the same lack of grace, too. When it was summoned for days at a time for training, it was every bit the proverbial bull in the glass shop, so most of the time it wasn't allowed on board the Celsius. On this particular morning, however, it had an errand.
Arantisu trotted up the stairs to the loft where some of the Gullwings were still sleeping, and sniffed Paine's bed. It was empty and already made, so she moved to Rikku's bed and sniffed the toes of a foot exposed from beneath the covers. The strawberry blond Al-Bhed girl giggled in her sleep at the ticklish sensation. Arantisu immediately drew back when her sensitive snout was kicked. Trotting to the next bed, she placed her chin on the edge and stared hopefully into Yuna's face for a moment. Yuna was still asleep, too. The aeon's bright blue eyes shifted from one side to the other in silent observation, resisting the urge to jump on the bed and snuggle with her summoner, but Yuna was not her mission. With a slight whimper, the little dragon turned away from the bed and shuffled toward the unfolded futon frame at the end of the room. Once she had located the blond young man sprawled in the tangled covers, she sat down on the floor, set her chin on the edge of the futon, and began purring – rather loudly.
Tidus opened one eye and saw nothing but dragon snout, so he groaned and turned his head in the other direction on his pillow.
After a few minutes of being ignored, Arantisu stood on her hind legs and propped her forelegs on his back.
"Go away ...," came the grouchy response, muffled within the pillow. But that only prompted the baby dragon to hop onto the futon – onto his bare back. Tidus's eyes widened and then winced as the weight of each foot pressed down on his spine and sharp talons began to knead his ribs. "Atch-tch-tch! Get off me! And cut your freakin' toenails once in a while!"
Arantisu had circled, settled, and slurped a long, forked tongue across Tidus's face before he could close his mouth.
The blitzball player barely had time to be grossed out before the dragon rolled over in a luxurious, long stretch and pushed him off the futon. "Agh! Barf … Stupid dragon ..."
Yuna heard the complaint and lifted her head to see what the problem was, but then she couldn't help but laugh when she saw what had happened.
"Hey," Rikku complained, lifting her head from her pillow. "Some of us were sleeping, you know."
"No kidding." Tidus freed his feet from the covers that spilled onto the floor with him, then stood and scowled at the baby dragon now sprawled comfortably across his entire bed. "That's the third time this week Paine's sent her in to wake me up like that. It's not funny any more."
"Sure, it is," Yuna disagreed with a sleepy grin. "You just need to see it from this angle."
Tidus gave Yuna a look of impatience, in spite of her amusement.
"Shall I send her away?" she offered, trying not to smile. Banishing the aeon back to the plane of magic was a simple task, but Arantisu really seemed to enjoy being around people.
"Nah, that won't solve anything. I'll handle this." He marched down the stairs into the main part of the cabin.
Arantisu sat up and hopped off of the futon to trot behind him.
Tidus strode through the empty kitchen and down the long hall of the airship to the lift. He touched the control panel that would take him down to the ground level, but then was shoved further into it as the dragon squeezed itself into the lift with him. "Oi, OI!" He bit off his urge to curse as the dragon shifted and turned. Tidus had no choice but to lean over the control panel. The doors had trouble closing, and when they did, the lift gave a peculiar sounding lurch before grinding to a halt. Disgusted, he dropped his chin onto a fist on top of the control panel's screen. "Great. I'm stuck in an elevator with an animal that exceeds the safe weight limit, crammed into the corner so that I can't move, and I didn't even get to use the toilet first."
Fortunately, it was only a matter of seconds before the jerky descent ended and the lift's doors opened again. The dragon uncoiled its bulky body and totted down the steps toward the open ramp out toward the beach. Tidus let out his breath without realizing he'd been holding it, but then headed across the belly of the airship and down the ramp after her. Hooking the top rim of the airship's doorway with his fingertips, he paused a moment to watch Arantisu run to the female warrior with short silver hair and receive a treat for completing her mission. The blitzball player frowned and released his hold on the door to jog along the shore toward them. Under the apricot sunrise, the sand was cool, and the air was crisp and refreshing, because neither had absorbed the day's strongest rays yet. But he wasn't about to let the beauty of the morning distract him from the fact that he had been rolled out of bed early - literally. "What's the big idea sending her after me like that again?" he complained to Paine as he drew near. "I was ready to get up on my own, you know."
Paine glanced at the sun and then glanced over his baggy shorts, bare feet, and messy hair. "Sure you were." The tall, reserved woman with crimson eyes patted the white dragon's supple scales and headed toward the sparring poles she had already set up in the wet sand.
Still protesting, he followed. "You've got to stop sending Arantisu up there to drag me out of bed. She's too big to be on the Celsius now. She nearly collapsed the lift this time."
"Then you need a smaller alarm clock."
"I don't need an alarm clock. I'm always up in time for blitzball training."
"And yet you are always late for your weapons training."
"Because it's too early in the morning," he argued. "Not even the birds are up this early."
As if to purposefully contradict him, a large seagull squawked as it soared low over his head and landed in the ebb seeking little crabs before they could bury themselves in the tide pools.
"We moved your weapons training to sunrise because you said you were too tired in the evenings." Paine pulled her garment grid from her shorts pocket and switched it to retrieve her two-handed sword, then shoved the tip into the sand, so it would stand on its own for a moment. "I don't suppose you remembered to bring your own sword while you were busy getting dressed to come out here?" Without waiting for his answer, she turned her garment grid selection again to find a suitable substitute for him.
Tidus opened his mouth to protest again, but then ate his words and tried to remember where his own garment grid even was.
Paine recognized that look and gave him a flat sigh of disgust in return. "Look, either you need to get serious about these lessons, or you need to drop them. I'm more than willing to train you, but it shouldn't be my responsibility to drag you out here on time."
"Well, I've studied the hand-to-hand techniques with you for about a year now, and I already know how to use a sword, so ... maybe I'll just drop the training," he answered in a somewhat cocky manner, folding his arms at his chest.
"You do not know how to use a sword."
"I may not have had formal lessons, but I can slice and dice whatever gets in my way. I invent my own moves, babe," the blitzball player boasted.
Paine's brow rose at his tone. "Babe?" She drew another sword from her garment grid and pressed the hilt into his forearm.
"Oh, come on!" he complained. "You know my fighting style by now."
Tidus sighed and begrudgingly accepted the challenge. Walking a few paces away from the padded bamboo stick in the sand, he turned to face it and tried hard to gather his combat concentration in spite of the fact that he had just woke up. With a growl, he ran for the stick and began hacking left and right at it. Pieces of the padded stick chipped and flew away until there was nothing left of it except the unprotected stub that remained buried in the sand. When he had finished, he proudly held out a hand and grinned. "Ne? Eh?" He nudged her with his elbow, prompting her for a compliment. "And that was without using magic to speed things up," he breathlessly reminded her. "My sword skills are fine. And now that you've taught me some techniques without swords, as well, there's nothing more to learn."
Paine said nothing as she pulled the used bamboo stick out of the ground and rammed another one down into it, twisting it firmly into place. Then, she turned and paced only a few steps away from the pole before turning, and drawing her blade. Without hesitation she sliced up and back in two oblique arcs from shoulder to hip. The pole seemed untouched, and she had barely moved at all.
Tidus gave a short laugh and stepped forward to touch the pole. "You didn't even hit -" The end slid off right at gut level - one single slice, clean-cut all the way through. The blitzball player faced the warrior with a frown. "Show off."
Paine was about to deliver a sarcastic gem in response when both of them heard someone coughing and sputtering from behind the dunes nearby. The warrior stepped around Tidus and jogged to the dune behind him. Tidus followed. There, they were astonished to find a man drenched with sea water, lying in the sand. He had shoulder-length, razor-cut hair in an unusual blue color, but his eyes were shut tight, as if in pain. He looked as if he'd been washed ashore from some kind of horrible ordeal. Immediately, Paine put away her sword and hurried to his side.
"Is he all right?" Tidus stepped around them into the shallow tide and knelt on the other side to turn him over.
"The fact that he's coughing means he can breathe, but he looks pretty banged up." She indicated the red marks on his arms and legs.
"Tentacle slashes. Looks like something tried to slice and dice him while we were playing with sticks." Tidus looked over his shoulder, but the water behind them looked clear of any natural predators, or unnatural fiends. Regardless of how the stranger came to be in such bad condition, there was no question what needed to be done for him. Tidus passed the borrowed sword back to Paine, who put both weapons back into her result plate. Then, he turned his back toward their castaway and pulled his arms over his shoulders. "Help me take him to Yuna." When Paine had helped position the stranger securely over Tidus's back, the blitzball player stood and walked back toward the ship with his half-drowned burden.
Arantisu sniffed uncertainly at the strange new person carried by her two friends, but Paine issued a firm hand signal that she was not to follow this time. "Stay, Arantisu. This man is wounded. Stay out of the way for now."
Tidus heard a small, throaty whimper, behind him as the little white dragon sat down in the sand and watched the humans hurry to the ship without her.
Fresh from the shower, Yuna wrapped one large, fluffy, blue towel around her body, before wrapping another around her long, unbraided hair. No matter how long the towel, her hair was always longer, and brown ends dripped on the floor behind her anyway. Clearing the steam from the mirror, she studied her own face for a moment. She was still only twenty years old, but she thought she seemed noticeably older than the last time she looked in the mirror yesterday. They had recently celebrated the one year anniversary of Tidus's return to Spira. He was eighteen now, but other than having slightly longer hair, he didn't look a day older than when they first met. She tried not to let this worry her, but sometimes … now and then … it did anyway.
After returning from the opening of the library at Zanarkand last week, Yuna was feeling reluctant to return to her official duties as the official representative of Besaid Island. Part of her wanted to be doing something more exciting – like sphere hunting. Now more than ever she had a reason to keep hunting lost spheres of Spira's history, but Rikku and Paine had been doing all of that legwork lately, so that she could spend time with Tidus and take care of business with the leaders of Spira's various factions. She was grateful, of course, for the time spent with Tidus, but even he had his hands full with blitzball playoffs until recently. Now that his Aurochs had won the championship, he could take a short vacation before helping out with the sphere hunting - if Paine allowed him to sleep in, that is.
Yuna giggled to herself remembering his rude awakening and reached for her face cream to begin smearing it on her cheeks. "There will be plenty of time to worry about official concerns later. We should do something fun for vacation," she told herself and began humming one of the songs she had learned for her last concert.
Suddenly a loud banging on the door startled her. "Yuna! We need some help out here!" Tidus called from the other side.
Yuna looked down at the cream in her hands and scurried to the door. "Right now?" She waited a moment, but heard no response. "But I'm not dressed yet." When there was still no response, she groaned at the inconvenience, but decided it was probably best to see what was going on. As much as she hated to do it, she set down the face cream and opened the door to peek outside. She could see Tidus, Paine, and Rikku, trying to carry someone up the stairs.
"Is he okay? Where did you find him? What's his name?" Rikku bombarded the other two with questions.
"Yuna!" Tidus called once more.
She could hear the urgency in Tidus's tone, so she clutched a hand over the tucked end of her towel and ran up the stairs after them. "I'm here! What's happened? Oh my! He's been attacked by something."
Rikku cleared space on her bed for their unannounced guest, then Tidus turned his back to it and gently lowered the injured young man onto it. As Rikku and Paine balanced him to prevent him from falling, Yuna leaned over the stranger to check his vital signs.
"Aahh!" Tidus jumped back, seeing her face covered in white cream.
"Oh stop it." Yuna lightly smacked his arm, then turned her attention back to her patient to examine the cuts. "He's been poisoned, but hopefully we're not too late."
Tidus leaned forward for another curious look at Yuna as she placed her hands over the wounds, one-by-one, and drew out the poison with her healing magic. "What's ... that stuff on your face?"
"Facial cleanser with moisturizer." She looked at him with a slight frown. "Is there a problem?"
"Ah ... no. Nope. Not at all." He backed away a step. "Just hurry up and take it off. It's … kinda scary," he cautiously, but honestly, admitted.
Rikku cuffed the blitzplayer's arm. "Don't say something like that to a girl when she's trying to look pretty for you."
"That's not what I -"
"Moisturizer helps prevent wrinkles. I have to take care of my skin. I'm not timeless you know." Somewhat insulted and still pouting, Yuna turned her attention back to the stranger that was finally coming into to full awareness. "How do you feel?" she asked him and checked his forehead for signs of fever.
The stranger opened his eyes, finally revealing their crystal blue color that perfectly matched his hair. He sighed with relief that his pain was gone; but then his breath caught in his throat, and he gave pause at the sight of the white-faced woman standing over him.
Yuna immediately recognized his expression and straightened, beet red with embarrassment beneath her white mask. "Fine. I'll go wash my face. But ... but next time I don't want to hear any complaints if it takes me a long time to come running to your aid," she fussed at Tidus as she turned and headed down the stairs.
"I'm ... sorry. I didn't mean to offend her." The stranger slowly pushed himself into a seated position on the bed and examined his healed arms. "I meant to thank her."
"Well, at least you couldn't offend her any worse than her own boyfriend did." Rikku flashed Tidus an unhappy frown and cuffed his arm again for good measure.
"Ow! I didn't say anything about the goop on her face that time." He rubbed his arm.
"Boyfriend ..." The stranger's eyes fell on Tidus with a pause that almost registered astonishment.
"You can thank Yuna when she comes back," Paine assured him.
Rikku gave up on Tidus and sat on the edge of the bed facing the stranger. "What's your name?"
The stranger was quiet for a moment before he answered with a light smile and polite head-bob in greeting her. "Mekoshiko."
"Wow, that's a really tough name - Mekochikochi?"
The stranger chuckled lightly at her attempt to repeat it. "It's an old, unusual name passed down through several generations, I'm afraid. You can call me Meko, if it helps."
"I like Mekochikochi better." Rikku grinned, liking the rhythm of the new word.
Paine popped the back of Rikku's head, causing the younger Al-Bhed to yelp and rub the sore spot. "Now look who's being rude."
"What happened to you back there?" Tidus asked, leaning forward, hands on knees.
"I'm not really sure," Meko answered. "I fell overboard, and the next thing I knew ... Well, ... I was here."
"Overboard? I didn't see any ships out there. Did you?" Tidus turned to Paine.
"I didn't see anything, either." Paine shook her head. "Where was your ship from? We can ask Brother to give you a lift home."
"Oh, thank you. I'm not sure how far I've drifted, but I live in Zanarkand."
Rikku, Paine, and Tidus all stopped breathing at the same instant and exchanged surprised, doubtful looks.
Tidus straightened. "Zanarkand? You mean this Zanarkand, or the old one?"
Mekoshiko grinned as if the question were ludicrous. "Are you kidding? There's only one Zanarkand. Zanarkand's one of the biggest cities on Spira. It also has one of the biggest blitzball arenas around. I know I don't look it, but I'm actually a pretty decent blitzball player. I play for the Duggles." He paused. "How could you not know about Zanarkand?"
Tidus cautiously leaned forward again, studying his face as if trying to judge whether he should recognize him or not. He didn't.
The stranger blinked at their astonished expressions. "Did I … say something wrong?"