Disclaimer : I do not own Final Fantasy VIII, nor any of the associated characters.
With a Whimper
'The world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.' - TS Eliot
With a disbelieving scream, the warped form of Ultimecia twisted in upon herself and vanished. Exhausted, the SeeDs who had fought against her faded away into endless light, ripping through the time stream back to when they belonged.
All but one.
He fell into darkness and lost himself in the ripping tides of time, alone and lost. There were no answers to his calls for aid, no responses to the yelled names of comrades. Nothing.
Until he found himself on the path to a place he once called home.
There, a woman approached him, looking for a boy gone by. He answered her queries, knowing who she was, and sought to change the future with his words. Upon her realization that he did not belong in her time, she readied to send him on his way. This was not to be however. The future Sorceress Ultimecia had also become lost herself, and latched onto one who could have been her Knight. He pulled her from the darkness with him, and with mounting horror, he watched her advance on the woman he saw as mother. He saw Ultimecia pass on her sorceress powers to another, and watched as, with a last bitter laugh, she shoved him back into the time stream.
He was lost again, and with no idea of how he had managed to escape the first time, he drifted, alone.
Then he landed on a dead and ravaged world.
There was nothing there. Sound died in the air, fell flat upon the ground. Nothing moved. There was no wind, no dust. Just barren, cracked earth as far as he could see. He wandered for an eternity, with no reprieve in sight. There were neither replies to his questions, nor any response to his cries for his comrades. Hadn't they promised to answer him? That he wasn't alone?
He hoped they made it back safe.
He continued to periodically call for his friends, his comrades-in-arms, hoping for a response that wasn't coming. Soon, their faces grew blurry in his mind. Had this one had long hair? Was this one's hair black or brown? Did this one have green eyes, or blue?
He grew terrified at the loss of memory, the inability to recall the faces of those most important to him. He vowed he wouldn't forget anything else of them, to keep them in his mind, to recite their names and carve their essence into his heart. He recited them, one after another, flaws and virtues, likes and dislikes. A repeating cycle, aloud and in his head.
But was she the one who liked to read? He wasn't sure. And wasn't his favorite food… hamburgers? Or was it something else? He couldn't be certain. But she liked explosions… right? Maybe not… Wasn't he the quiet one? Or was it the other? He started to panic as he realized he couldn't remember who liked what, couldn't remember who they were.
So he started to recite facts, told himself they were true, of course he remembered. He liked hamburgers, she liked explosions, and they were both quiet. Of course he remembered. He could do aught else but remember.
Next to go were the names.
Soon he remembered nothing of them at all. No image of what they may have looked like, not even a shape. The only thing that remained of them was the vague feeling of wrongness, the empty feeling that told him something should be there.
Time passed, warped and spinning, ripping away more and more of what he was.
He whispered to the emptiness around him, trying to find what he had lost. All he had left now was that he was SeeD, with no knowledge of what SeeD was, what a SeeD did. No remembrance of his own name, nothing of before the void. He knew he had a name once, long ago, but wasn't able to think of what it was. He knew he was there for some reason, but he couldn't recall it.
So, he whispered to the darkness to fill the silence, still waiting for a response to a call he couldn't remember.
All he knew was the cracked and barren ground. The sound of the stifling silence and the taste of the heavy air. There was nothing but this never ending plain. He had never done anything but walk through it. His whole existence was darkness and silence.
He was so very tired.
Suddenly, he came to a stop. The dead land had ended. It dropped off into a steep cliff, falling away into nothingness. Ahead, there was only darkness. He could no longer go forward. There was no path to follow, no more land to tread. And so, he turned around for the first time in his existence.
Behind him, there was nothing. The land had fallen away. He was on an island surrounded by nothing. There was nowhere for him to go.
He fell to the ground, despairing.
A quiet voice he had never heard before (although he thought he should know it) whispered to him in his despair. It offered a way out of this nowhere land, an escape from the surrounding silence. It spoke of a great sacrifice, a last resort.
The land continued to deteriorate around him.
He awoke in darkness. Slowly, lights began to flicker into existence. He reached out for one and knew it. She was Shiva, Queen of Ice and Snow, another, Ifrit, Lord of Hell. Each star was something, someone he knew. They were all connected in the darkness, never alone.
He was a Guardian Force, and he knew his name.
They all were born under extreme circumstances, where becoming a GF was the only option left. Shiva was abandoned in the tundra, Leviathan, lost at sea. Few of them remembered life before their trial. Many of them were forgotten by man as time went on, and then rediscovered.
He was special.
He was forgotten by man in every time, but stories remained. Because of his trial, his testing ground, his birthplace, he was not bound to a linear time. He did not have a time limit to his existence on the material plane. As long as he lived, he stayed there. He existed in every and all times simultaneously.
Past, present, and future.
The first time someone managed to summon him, he sank a whole civilization into the sea, sealing a monster that would end the world if free.
When he arrived, he remembered this city, already in ruins, filled with monsters. Poisonous beasts with three heads, behemoths, dragons and giants ruled the remains of this city. He remembered a fight that was almost lost and brothers trapped inside. A giant lab built on a ship. A research station.
He was summoned to keep the monster from burning the world by any means necessary, but, unused to his power and floundering in memories, he sank a city instead of sealing a beast.
The one who summoned him didn't.
The next time he was summoned by a child. She was a young child, a budding sorceress. She was captured and experimented upon, brought to the brink and healed, only for the cycle to repeat. The scientists experimenting on her were attempting to summon monsters, trying to see if different types of pain drew different monsters.
She asked him for and end.
He gave it.
He pulled from the moon the monsters that the scientists so desperately wanted, called a variety as wide as they could hope for. He drew them from everywhere and brought them to the scientists. The monsters crashed down from the sky and flooded in from the surrounding lands. He watched as the scientists died. He sealed the stronger monsters on two separate islands, forever to remind him of man's cruelty.
And when it was done, he made sure nothing remained but a crater, rife with magic in the center of the continent.
After the second summon, he was overwhelmed with memories that he hadn't had before. There had been a school on that continent, ruined and smoking. A courtyard and family. A village filled with peace. The crater, just starting to heal. Mountains covered in snow, icebergs, snowfields. Islands with monsters that pushed to the brink.
When he asked Odin if this was normal, all he received in answer was a wistful smile and a cryptic sentence.
He was remembering.
He was summoned during a war by a man who wanted his family to survive. He was told to end the war as quickly as possible. The man brought him into battle and summoned him.
He eliminated everything.
He was tired of human hate and pettiness. All of his summoners called him to end the mistakes of other men, the results of their idiocy and hubris. He would make sure these men were unable to repeat their mistakes.
This was the first of his summoners to survive. He stayed with the man for a while before the man died, his lifespan so very short. During his life, the man built a castle shaped as a diamond, spread word of a wondrous and terrible Guardian across the world and founded a new nation.
The castle brought forth the images of tonberries and Odin, a cracked statue and gargoyles without eyes.
He was the least summoned of all the Guardian Forces, but caused the most change and chaos. Once, he leveled a mountain range, turning it all to sand. A giant desert where before there had been forest. Another war, resulting in three shelters for all men being built. An archipelago where once had been a small continent.
A few of these brought memories with them. The deserts, one filled with cactuars, the other holding a prison where rival became enemy and strength of will was tested. The shelters, one a ruin, the other two at war. At peace. A home and school. An order to kill a sorceress, and a corrupt shumi. Friend fighting friend, faculty against staff. A dance in the ballroom. A talk on a balcony.
He was flooded with memories, but never a face or name.
His last summon. A battle against mortals able to hold their own against a god. Images slamming into his mind as he follows the summoner's orders. He twists time around one, shoving his magic into another time, blowing it away. He disconnects another from a GF, unhappy fighting against those who know him. He fights while trying to keep from drowning in newly restored memories. He knows these people.
He knows these people!
Sensitive Irvine, energetic Zell. Clever Quistis and cheerful Selphie. He knows them! And the child leading them, the scarred boy in black…
Shock runs through his system as all of his memories are returned to him. Matron, Cid, why he fought.
In his shock, he does not feel the fatal blow dealt him, does not realize he is fading. Not until She junctions herself to him. It is dangerous and irreversible to junction yourself to a GF, but they both know this, they both share knowledge as their minds meld.
She summoned him to keep him from existing. He wipes out her people, her family in the future, summoned by a woman who feared a nation of magic users. To keep him from wiping out nation after nation, destroying civilizations in response to the wishes of the summoners.
He fought her to keep her from taking his family, ending his world. He founded SeeD to keep her from sending a nation to ruin and starting a world war.
She is a sorceress of Time, and he a Guardian created by her.
They return to the cycle with despair in their hearts and defeat in their eyes, a disbelieving scream tearing from their throat.
As Ultimecia's twisted form vanished, the exhausted SeeDs faded away into endless light and fell back through time to when they belonged.
All but one.
He fell into darkness with a whimper.
AN: So, this just kinda popped into my head while playing Final Fantasy VIII the other day, and I was like 'Holy shit, no way.' But, I tried. No idea how well I conveyed it, but I tried.