A/N: I really had nothing specified for this in mind, except for keeping chess as a theme, it being a one-shot, and drabbles from Ada/Nirvana's pov. Well, okay, mostly Ada's actually in the first half. I apologize if I made anybody a tad bit ooc, but I tried to keep to their characters as best as I could.
That aside, enjoy!
The earliest memory in which she can gather is that of not too long ago- on a warm, calm day.
Father and Carl are sitting on opposite sides of a table; in front of them is a fancy albeit worn-out chess set to which their eyes were plastered to. The white set that the younger Clover commanded was more plentiful in terms of pieces; few pawns, but the rooks were there, and a knight. The bishops had been wiped out early, and the queen was removed from the board just in the last turn.
Meanwhile, Relius's black set was less plentiful. Much of the main pieces-a bishop, the rooks, and the knights had been taken away. Only the second bishop, the queen, and a small handful of pawns remained on the board. Ada had seen them play before-Father had always won, but today it seemed only faintly, that Carl would for once win.
"Check," Carl announced, breaking the silence as he moved a knight in place. Despite the bland tone in which the boy spoke, underneath it she could tell that there was a childlike happiness within it. Father too noticed- but only gave a mere nod as he scanned the board.
Finally, after what seemed about 5 minutes, he reached a hand- making the bishop take the knight in which Carl had used to place the black king in check. Ada couldn't help but laugh slightly at the expression that formed on her brother's face as he moved forth another piece. Once again, he made the same announcement, but with less confidence as last time. "…Check."
This time, the queen intercepted, and Relius himself had his own announcement, "Checkmate."
"What?" Carl's exclamation was nowhere near graceful or refined as how he'd looked before. "But how- When-"
"Calm down, my boy," Relius chuckled underneath his breath, pointing to the white king. While Ada herself had never played chess, she'd observed the two well enough to know where the checkmate came from. The queen hit a diagonal in which Carl's king laid- and the bishop covered the other. On the opposite sides was the edge of the board, and a rook. Her brother had been focused on checking their father's king that he never even noticed the leads to his own demise.
"No need to pout, you did well," She comforted, patting Carl on the back as he sighed and nodded.
"One of these days…" He muttered, and Father chuckled.
"Perhaps…one of these days."
The second memory was that of a warm, summer day. Not too hot yet not too cold. A perfect day to return home from the Military Academy for the summer vacation.
"Look, Sis!" Her brother cheerfully called out to her, twirling slightly in his somewhat worn uniform. "It's a lot more comfortable than I thought it would be, and it has a nice airflow!"
"Is that so?" Ada found herself replying, with one of her usual smiles. When it had first been decided that Carl would attend the academy, she was nowhere near thrilled. If it wasn't for her frail health that was parallel to her own mother's, then she would've joined her younger brother. Perhaps it was sisterly devotion; or maybe a motherly sense of worry.
"Of course!" Carl beamed, giving a warm grin that brightened up her thoughts a bit. "Oh! And I have a lot of friends there, too! There's Miss Noel, who's really kind, and Miss Tsubaki. Oh, and Miss Makoto, but…she always seems to be clinging to someone…"
Ada listened as her brother rambled on and on about his new life at the academy. How hard the homework was yet easy, how just days before he and his friends had gone on a mission to find the truth behind the secrets of the school and other adventures. She felt a slight bit of envy growing within her; but she couldn't tell why.
It faded though, when he began to start crying and crashed onto her in a tight embrace, murmuring, "But most of all, I've missed you Sis…"
The next memory wasn't too long after his return home, but yet was over another round of chess. Father had wanted to see how well Carl had improved, and in order to do that, a match of the strategic game it was. As always, Ada sat down nearby to observe, occasionally tracing some invisible pattern on the skirt of her navy dress whenever not much of action was taking place.
This time, her brother was nowhere close to winning. Only his king remained, and the best he could do was perhaps set up a stalemate. Relius, on the other hand, had his king and rook alone. The events leading up to this final predicament was filled with just as much tension as now. Time seemed to have slowed greatly, and the time taken to make a decision to move a piece seemed to take up to hours.
The gentle clicking of the pieces against the board seemed to be loud in the silence, and Father's voice of "check" sounded even louder. Eventually, he managed to corner Carl into a checkmate despite the younger one's attempts to reach the stalemate.
"You have gotten better," Relius commented, rubbing the stubble of his chin with an impressed look on his face. "You think your moves thoroughly this time."
"Haste always makes waste, and planning ahead also helps," Carl replied, a slight smile forming on his lips. Ada could see how he had changed- despite the fact that before leaving he was mature, he seemed even more so now.
"Indeed it does." Relius rose from his seat, turning to Ada. "Don't you agree?"
She looked up at her father, and with an honest smile, nodded. "I do. Carl, you keep getting better and better each time."
"Thank you." The response was warm, and it was enough to make Ada smile a little more, as she rose from her own seat.
"Okay, now who wants some tea and cookies?"
The time had flown by quickly, and winter had soon arrived, nearly packing the ground with a bit of snow. Ada could only shiver at the sight itself, being sensitive to the cold season. But there was good news that could be brought with this. 'Only a few days more… A few days more and Carl will be back home again.'
The reminder helped her smile again-only faintly. Only seeing her brother for such short intervals every so often wasn't very helpful. Even the letters did no justice-both brother and sister had agreed long ago that explaining everything in person was much more different, and a lot more fun.
Unexpectedly, a warm hand placed itself upon her shoulder and she jumped, turning slightly to face Relius. The look on his face was stern, serious-rarely did he ever give such a look, even during the chess matches. Ada shivered slightly once more at the look- something was amiss here, more or less. It was a frightening feeling, enough that when she opened her mouth to speak, her voice was weak. "Do you need something, Father?"
"Yes," He responded, and amazingly his tone of voice was different from his expression much to her relief. "I have something I would like to ask of you, regarding one of my…previous trips."
She perked up a bit, hoping that what he was about to say didn't require another long period of time with him gone. "Of course. What is it that you need?"
"I need a little help with one of my experiments," He began, and turned to face the window as he removed his hand from her shoulder. "There is something I would like to test…and I need… an assistant of sorts."
"An assistant…?" Ada repeated, watching Relius as he nodded his head in confirmation. "Why not ask Carl for help, though? He looks up to you plenty, Father."
He gave an odd, chuckle- a laugh that sounded like it belonged to a madman. "But my dear Ada, you'll be a much more proficient assistant, I promise you."
The meeting within the following few days was something that was not planned for.
Relius had said that he wanted to begin his experiments a few days into Carl's return home so that way he could observe and take notes. All while she assisted him, helping with what needed to be helped with and other sorts of things. It was a little unnerving that he never mentioned it, but he said that she would soon see.
However, as luck would have it, she had a fever of all things. On the day that Carl was to return. Upon the orders of Relius- and a few, rarely seen, other assistants of his for the other projects- Ada had stayed within bed for the whole day, slipping in and out of consciousness. Multiple times she had tried to leave, to find something about her brother's whereabouts, asking in a daze, "Is he here yet?", and attempted to find him while under the effects of a lucid dream. Each time, she was either greeted by one of the assistants standing outside of her door or even lost consciousness before getting far.
It was annoying to no end. The first day within a few months her beloved little brother was to return, and here she was, bedridden and nearly just as sick as her mother. Each time she woke up from one of her small, feverish dreams she hoped that she had regained more strength and that the medicine would work. Yet each time, the fever made it difficult to stay awake.
Finally, in the middle of the night, the fever had left her, and Ada was more than pleased. Perhaps now, Carl was home and patiently waiting for her in the living room. Perhaps Father was there too- and the two were playing a game of chess as always to pass by the time.
Gently, Ada began to push herself up-until she heard and felt a slight rustling. Part of her still felt strangely warm- was it due to the fever? But hearing the rustling again, she leaned back down again, and turned to face the side of her bed with a slight gasp.
There was a chair pulled up next to her, and a coat hung gracefully from there. Yet it's occupant was not within the seat, and nuzzling close by to his favorite sister was Carl. Ada blinked once-twice, before giving a small smile. Reaching out an arm, she hugged her brother close, quickly pausing when he shifted. After a moment's peace, she whispered, "Welcome home."
The words slipped out of her mouth as she saw the giant puppet on the table clothed in a purple dress. A white porcelain mask with a crack on it, and similar blonde hair to her own graced the puppet's features. Briefly, Ada wondered just where her father had gotten such a puppet- but decided to not question it further as she went back to admiring it.
"Haha, isn't she?" Relius asked, as he walked calmly up to Ada's side. "Her name is Deus Machina: Nirvana. She's what we'll be using for the experiment later today."
"Of course," Ada nodded, and turned to face her father. "What sort of experiment are we going to do today?"
Her father didn't reply immediately with the answer, and when she raised her head to look at him she could tell that he was trying to word it carefully. Finally, after what seemed like a long time of silence, "We are going to try to 'bring her to life'."
" 'Bring her to life?' Is it not possible to control her like the other puppets you have, though?" She found herself asking, as the sounds of the other assistants preparing the room began to reach her ears. Equipment was being pulled up, and the sounds of the wheels was somewhat painful for her ears.
"No…" The response was slowly spoken. Suddenly, Ada didn't feel too good about what was going to happen.
"A special way," Relius responded, placing his arm around Ada's shoulders. "In fact, you'll assist me by bringing her to life."
"Me…?" She asked, edging away to get away from her father's grasp. "W-What exactly do you mean by that…?"
Yet his grip was firm. "You're going to assist by being the other experimental subject required to bring the Nox Nyctores Deus Machina operational. She needs a soul…and we have a good one right here."
Ada's eyes widened, and she began to struggle to get out of his grasp. "No…NO! I'm not going to be part of your experiments! Father!"
"But didn't you agree, that she was beautiful?" Relius responded, but sighed at her continued attempts to break free. He turned and nodded to one nearby assistant, who handed him an oxygen mask of sorts. She could feel warm tears streaming down her cheeks while trying to break free, but was unsuccessful as the mask was placed on her. Everything was blacking out and becoming numb… Anesthesia?
"Let's begin the operation!" She could hear her father's voice call out. "We'll give Deus Machina the soul she's been waiting for…"
"…No, no, no!" Her thoughts, in their fainting way, flowed through her mind as she tried to resist sleep. "No…I don't want to do this…not at all… No, no, no! Carl…Carl, Carl! Help…"
'Wake up, Nirvana.'
A flatline. And sobbing.
That's how Ada could remember waking up as a puppet. Hearing those two noises while trying to reach a good grasp on the world around her. Everything was so dark…and so much of her was numb. It felt like a pain just to raise any simple part of her body. Had…had everything gone well? Perhaps not-given her current state, that is.
Slowly, her sight begun to return, and a bit of feeling. Everything was extremely dark, save for a few faint, distant lights that were blocked by blue fabric that was faintly bloodstained. A pair of small arms was holding her close, and she realized soon that it was Carl holding her so close.
"Carl…?" She tried to call out, but she still felt weak and heavy. It felt like as if she wasn't even speaking at all… but the boy's reaction said otherwise, as he sobbing calmed slightly and he raised his head.
"S-Sis…?" His voice was light, and broken from the sobbing. Gently, she felt herself being released from the tight embrace, and was able to see her brother's face for once. But something was…off. Highly off. The innocent, blue eyes Ada once knew-they were no longer innocent, but belonged to that of someone who wanted to kill… And he too, was covered in a little bit of blood…
"What happened…?" She tried to ask, but once again her lips didn't feel like they were moving. Carl's eyes narrowed sadly, his hand moving as to gently hold her cheek.
"Father… he did this to you. That bastard did this to you… But no worries. You're here again, and I'm no longer alone…" His voice was still broken in that melancholic state, and it worried her more. "I promise…I'll turn you back to how you were. I'll turn you back into a human…"
"How I was- Carl, wait-" Ada tried to speak up, but was interrupted as once again she was locked into a tight, sobbing embrace by her brother.
Then she saw the scene behind him.
The source of a flatline was on a hospital-like monitor, wires connecting to a long mass covered in a black cloth on a table. Poking from underneath and hanging over the edge was a limp, bloodied arm. Traces of long, nicely-kept and even more bloodstained blonde hair was also limp nearby. Looking up, she finally saw the name on the monitor.
She would've screamed if she could.
Underneath her-no, Nirvana's arms- was the pinned-down figure of Relius Clover, who held a mechanically insane grin. Behind them was Carl, smirking at how well his plans had gone over. Ignis was unfortunately nowhere to be found, but Ada was trying her best to make sure that her mother- now a fellow puppet- would not be summoned.
It had taken a bit to get use to the newfound heavy weight of Nirvana's, and the way that the headdress weighed down on her. The one miracle was that it felt nice to not get sick so often, and to be able to do things that she previously was not able to do. The downside to it all was that Carl could control her movements at times- but as long as she was with him, Ada didn't mind.
"I am impressed, Ada," Relius chuckled underneath his breath. "You've done very well in your new form, haven't you?"
"How many times have I told you to never say her name…?" Carl growled underneath his breath, stepping up closer to the two. "…Sis, let's finish him off."
"Not so fast, my boy," Relius chuckled, and Ada looked at him. Even through the mask-she could tell, something was going to happen.
"Carl-" She shouted, releasing her grip on Relius in desperation. Turning around, she saw Carl, who was wide-eyed and trying to process everything- but behind him was Ignis, an arm thrown behind her in preparation to kill Carl. To kill her own son, and against her own will at that.
"I'm sorry, Carl- Ada!"
Despite being a puppet, Ada could feel the pain coming within her torso. Ignis withdrew her claw-like hand from within her body, a glimpse of pain within her own eyes that could not be seen so easily. Unable to keep the strength to stand, Ada fell forward to the ground, near where she'd pushed Carl moments before.
"Sis? Sis, Sis! Are you okay? Answer me! Sis! Ada? Ada? ADA!" Carl's cries of desperation were clear within her mind, and it wasn't long before she felt herself being picked up again. As with always, in the previous events where she had been destroyed. In previous timelines which Carl could not remember.
The slow, heavy footsteps of Relius approached the two. Despite the encroaching darkness that was appearing in her eyes, she could still manage to look up to see the man grinning down at the two with a solemn, "Checkmate."
Then everything went black.
Ada's mind went back to the days of chess, tea, cookies, and then strategy that barely she or her brother could follow. Ignis would join them with a weak smile, approving and taking a seat next to her. They would watch, while the two Clover men would play chess. Everybody was happy and content.
Ah… those long days from ago that've passed… What ever happened to them…?
But surely...now she would see a beautiful dream.