Disclaimer: The characters in this fic, such as Johnny, Shania, etc. don't belong to me; they are property of Sacnoth and Midway, so don't sue! ;.;
Dedications: God, my friends, my readers, my RP buddies, Aruze for gracing this magnificent RPG with yet another installment, X-SEED for localizing this game, and finally, all the fans that are still devoted to this series after so long.
Shadow Hearts III: 20 Hidden Files
(20 Truths About Johnny Garland)
Theme #1 – Mom
Johnny doesn't remember anything about his mom.
Like all curious children, he asks his dad, but to his surprise, receives disgruntlement instead of a real answer. So the next person he goes to is his sister, who gives him a little more information.
"Mom died in the hospital," Grace reveals, looking sad.
She doesn't tell him the reason.
It isn't until many years later, when Johnny prods Lenny after he wakes up in the hospital, that he finally realizes the full truth.
"Master, your mother died in childbirth."
He quickly ducks his head down to hide the tears.
Theme #2 – Dad
Their dad is always busy with work, and doesn't seem to realize that their pranks are a cry for attention.
In the few times that he does show some affection toward them, Johnny feels oddly unsettled. He doesn't know how to explain where the thought came from, but their dad seems to like Grace more. He gets hugs and kisses and presents too, and yet, there's an extra layer of tension between them.
After learning several revelations, Johnny wonders if his dad blamed him for causing his mom's death.
Yet another lost life to add to his list of sins.
Theme #3 – Sister
"If you keep playin' with girls, you're gonna get cooties! And she's your sister, so you'll get double cooties!"
Johnny scrunches up his face, and then sticks his tongue out at the other boy. "My sister doesn't have cooties! You're stupid!"
Grace shows up in the nick of time, before things can get worse. The small blond just stares on in awe while his sister shakes her fist at his would-be bully. "Hey, you leave him alone!"
"Cootie-lover!" He screams one last time, and runs off.
"…Let's go put bugs in his lunchbox."
Johnny's bright green eyes widen with shock.
Theme #4 – Lenny
Despite his young age, he doesn't feel any fear upon seeing the large man. Only curiosity and mild concern.
"You dunno if he's a bad guy. Maybe he's thirsty," Johnny insists stubbornly, and then immediately trots forward, against the protests of his dad and sister.
The man lifts his head up when he approaches. Although the rest of his skin is dark, his face looks pale. Johnny wonders how long he has been out under the sun.
"Hi there, Mister," he waves a small hand in greeting, "You want some water?"
He holds out the canteen, presenting it to him.
Theme #5 – Loneliness
After taking a swig, Johnny sets the soda can down on his knee and looks up at the sky, wondering when, if ever, he would stop feeling this way.
He isn't completely alone – he has Lenny to take care of him.
But Lenny is his butler, and assumes the role of a subordinate, rather than a friend of equal status. While some of the neighborhood residents can be friendly at times, Johnny considers them acquaintances and clients.
He stands and bravely shakes off the melancholy. He has to keep searching.
The answers are out there. He is sure of it.
Theme #6 – Natan
He looks at Natan, and one certain line immediately comes to mind: "Still waters run deep."
On the surface, he is so guarded and reserved that Johnny can never tell what he's really thinking. Natan is definitely smart and observational, from all the times he got their party out of a jam.
In spite of their generational difference, they share one common goal: protecting Shania.
And when the stoic guardian entrusts her safety to him before leaving for Gada Village, Johnny accepts the responsibility with confidence.
"Come to New York sometime, okay?" He invites, "I'm sure Shania'd wanna see you."
Theme #7 – Frank
From the very first moment they meet, Johnny suspects that the so-called ninja is crazy.
His suspicions get confirmed, over and over, as they continue traveling and Frank keeps turning random items into swords. Not to mention his reactions to most of the events that take place.
When the boisterous ninja bids the group farewell and drops off the airship into the South American village, Johnny still thinks he's crazy.
But by that point, he has also realized Frank is a good man. Even though his mind is somewhere up there with aliens, his heart is in the right place.
Theme #8 – Malice
The curious teenager waits until his companions have gone to sleep for the night, and then he furtively sneaks away from their tent.
Out on his own, he searches through the area for random targets, and uses them to test his newfound power. He makes sure there are plenty of restorative items in his pockets, and keeps his spiritual energy replenished.
He feels himself getting stronger after each fight, and slowly learns how to control the flow of Malice.
Grinning with pride, Johnny absorbs the deadly red light back into his hands before returning his knife to his jacket.
Theme #9 – Mao
The first time he calls her "Master Meow," he thinks for a fleeting moment, that she just might pivot and deliver the same roundhouse kick to him.
For some reason, the tough mafia cat lets him get away with it, and every instance after. Considering how she regarded him when they met back in Chicago, he really didn't expect her to warm up to him.
Before long, Master Meow is acting like a big sister, teaching him the proper way to hold a knife, and demonstrating her Drunken Fist techniques to show how to better dodge enemy attacks in battle.
Theme #10 – Hilda
They look the closest in age, so everyone expects them to get along very well.
Except Hilda is a vampire, centuries much older than him, and has three different personalities. None of which appeal to him, even though admittedly, her gentle persona is a lot easier to deal with, compared to her usual bratty antics.
When strangers ask if she is his little girlfriend, Johnny doesn't hesitate to deny it. Just the thought itself is absurd, really.
He will provide her with support as best he can, because they are comrades, but he doesn't feel any romantic inclination toward her.
Theme #11 – Ricardo
On some nights, while the rest of the party is asleep, Johnny stays up to listen to the tune of guitar music.
The ballads are usually sad; he guesses Ricardo is thinking of Edna while he plays.
"You don't need to hide in the shadows, amigo."
Johnny steps forward with a sheepish grin, and from then on, they sit together.
The blond teen always watches with keen interest as Ricardo strums his strings.
"Hey Ricardo," he pipes up one night; "the next time we're in New York… you think you can teach me how to play one of your songs?"
Theme #12 – Lady
She wears a face of innocence even as she slaughters people with crimson red light.
The same light that empowers his own knife blade. It makes him wonder once again: just what is the connection between their powers? Why are they both able to control this ability?
Johnny glances at her blank expression with a wary eye, frowning in unease when something discreetly prods his mind. For all he knows, she was involved with his memory loss somehow. Not that he thinks she would tell him.
Had she infected him with Malice somehow? Like she did to Edna and Shania?
Theme #13 – Killer
Very rarely does Johnny harbor real hatred toward anyone, but Killer is right at the top of his list.
He feels a twinge of guilt in Uyuni Salt Lake, when the foe collapses after their fight. Guilt because Killer is still human, not yet a monster completely taken over by Malice.
And then Killer stabs him, awakening his own malicious counterpart.
Johnny regards the other without a single ounce of sympathy at their confrontation in the Gate.
He thinks he might pity Killer, and the way his life ended.
But he can't forgive him for everything else he has done.
Theme #14 – Awaker
Creatures of Malice don't have names. Johnny decides to call his vicious counterpart "Awaker" – because of how he was discovered.
Awaker doesn't ever talk, not even to him. But being the host, he can sense what urges and instincts and desires come from the malicious entity. He is the embodiment of pure evil, and only seeks to expand and destroy, like a virus.
Johnny knows he needs to learn how to control this forbidden side of himself. He doesn't want to become like his… like Lady.
And considering their difference in strength, he may need to borrow his power again…
Theme #15 – Decision
Beneath the superficial layer of doubts, Johnny feels terrified.
He almost wishes Roger didn't tell him the truth after all. It was easier to hunt down Lady when he didn't know her real identity.
Kill his sister to save the world, or leave her alone and let her destroy it. Easy choice to make, right?
So this is what adults have to go through: finding a way to crawl out after getting stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Johnny has never liked being regarded as a little kid, but all of a sudden, he feels very, very old.
Theme #16 – Leader
Even with the healthy supply of Pure items spread out between them, the party doesn't seem to know how to deal with the Malice resonating all around.
Whenever they show any signs of faltering, he prods them to keep going. Everyone in the world is relying on them to fight Lady and win.
Shania gives him her steadfast support, matching his every step and staying right by his side.
It's his responsibility to see things through to the end.
Grace sacrificed her life for him. He has to accomplish this important goal, to prove that he is worthy.
Theme #17 – Endgame
The group separates after the world has been saved.
Johnny makes sure to say good-bye to each one of them. Before long, only he and Shania remain on the airship.
He knows where his home is: back in New York City, with his detective agency and Lenny. He will likely return to the same life he had, prior to his unexpected adventures.
…But that isn't enough. Not after everything he has experienced and learned.
Chasing. Fighting. Bonding. Growing.
Falling in love.
Most importantly, Johnny doesn't want to be alone anymore.
With determination set in stone, he starts searching for Shania.
Theme #18 – Shania
Contrary to his own open nature, Shania has a peculiar way of holding herself back. It keeps Johnny continuously guessing on the depths of her feelings toward him, even after they have been in a relationship for over a year.
No relationship is perfect, and theirs is certainly no exception. They bump heads, disagree on things, and sometimes fight out of pure stubbornness.
But whenever Johnny feels lonely, she is all the company he needs to ease that deep hollow ache, and he is the first one to rush to her side at any sign of distress on her face.
Theme #19 – Faith
The most important lesson he has learned from their journey is, to not take life for granted.
He has already died and been revived twice – once by Will, and another time by Malice. The woman he loves was tainted by the same evil entity, and if her spiritual powers hadn't purged it, she would eventually gone crazy and died.
As they stay in a dangerous line of work after the Gate's destruction, Johnny isn't sure what each new day will bring.
He might be considered young, but that doesn't stop him from loving and wanting to be with Shania forever.
Theme #20 – Future
His wife is breathing heavily as she moans in pain, but she barely screams. Man or woman, she really is the strongest person he knows.
Johnny grips her hand tighter and echoes the doctor in encouraging her to keep pushing. Seeing her like this makes him tense with worry.
When it's finally over and Shania blessedly rests, he doesn't feel like freaking out anymore.
If it hadn't been for his father's final redemption, and his sister's selfless sacrifice, Johnny knows that he wouldn't be here today, holding his newborn daughter in his arms.
Dad, Grace… Thank you. Rest in peace.
Author's Note: It's funny, the first time I played FTNW, I was completely enamored with Shania, flaws and all. I'm replaying the game right now, and I find myself falling in complete adoration of Johnny. XD That's not to say I dislike Shania now, or prefer Johnny over her, but I'm really happy to give him his rightful chance to shine. I hope my fellow FTNW fans can see Johnny for who he is, and not just as Yuri's replacement. (Really, who can replace a man like Yuri Hyuga, right?)
Have a very gluttonous Happy Thanksgiving, my dear readers. Thank you so much for your time, and please leave a review to tell me your thoughts!
With love for my fans,