Disclaimer: I do not own Dissidia. Or Kain, though I wish.

Please note that this story is experimental. I want to try this out; instead of going for a cohesive story I'm writing a bunch of loosely connected one-shots. I'm leaving out a lot of details and explanation on purpose, so bear with me.

Where were they?

Not in any world they recognized, for sure.

It was not even a single world, instead being a montage of ruins, echoes of a foreign land that had been shredded to pieces but hadn't quite realized it. Little shards of the worlds they once were, gleaming brittle-bright. They called it, fittingly, Pandemonium, all twenty or thirty-some of them, and there was no exact number because who knows how many people they had yet to meet?

Kain Highwind, he called himself, and you could tell by the way he looked at this strange not-world that he knew of another world, one he could call home. Perhaps the sun shone there. Perhaps it was peaceful there.

Perhaps there was someone he loved, there.

Lightning, she called herself, and she knew of no other names or worlds. Her only home was the battlefield; the only world she belonged was Pandemonium. She had awoken at the feet of Cosmos and known—

My name is Lightning. … I am… a soldier.

And Cosmos had told her she was to fight. So fight she did.

She wasn't certain how or why, but the first person she met was Kain. Lightning had, apparently, been among the last to coalesce at Sanctuary, and the others had already gone to do Cosmos' bidding. So she'd left the arctic wasteland of Sanctuary alone, with its cold, grounded aurora borealis and found herself in a huge, sprawling impossibility. A slice of Pandemonium: desert melting into a frozen lake that abruptly transforms into a grassy plain, and a shifting, volatile sea always in contrast with fire-tinged clouds reflecting the light of a sun that refused to set. It's beautiful, in a bloody sort of way, she thought, and didn't realize what she meant until she stumbled into a tainted portal and found a bleeding and battered man in midnight-hued armor facing off with, of all things, a frail-looking and thin girl.

Needless to say, Lightning's first impression of the dragoon was not a good one.

Quicker than she can blink, the wounded warrior had her pinned to the ground, the razor-sharp blade of his spear resting gently on her throat.

"Another of Chaos'—" he began, but cuts himself off. "No. I feel Cosmos' blessing upon you."

Her mind hardly finished processing his words before he leaps away in a rush of air and a jagged shard of ice shatters in the place he was kneeling. If nothing else, shards of magical ice flying in one's face certainly wakes a person up. Lightning was on her feet with her gunblade drawn in an instant.

It comes as a bit of a shock to see the willowy girl with her hands outstretched and glowing with magical fire, but Lightning was a soldier if nothing else and reacted almost automatically. In a single smooth movement she unfolds the scissor-like half of the grip – click – locks it in place, raises the newly-configured gun and fires. The mage flinches in surprise and vanishes, her spell becoming nothing more than a few embers suffocating in the stagnant air. In moments there's nothing left of the conflict but a few shards of ice melting beneath her feet and a bright splash of blood marking the tiles.

Speaking of the tiles, Lightning could see clouds quite clearly underneath them. Which meant she and the building were above the clouds. This realization did not sit well with her, and she immediately retreated from the edge of the platform. The armored man was suddenly next to her again and she reached for her gunblade, stepping back involuntarily—

And fell.