Semper Nox

Odin leaned back in his throne, listening silently to the sounds of the Centra ruins around him. He could hear the sounds of his old rival--Tonberry--leading his minions about their business, crawling about to and fro. Odin didn't know what they were doing, nor did he want to. To him, Tonberries were a lower form of life. He was content to simply stay in this secluded part of the Tower, waiting for a challenge.

Triumph over my sword, and I shall grant it to thee....'

The last master he had had must have been one hundred forty-two years ago--a mercenary, he believed. He had survived for a long time, even with Odin's curse on him. It must have been that sorceress he stayed with--even if it had been her influence which kept him alive, he had earned Odin's grudging respect.

Not bad... for a human.

Calmly, the legendary GF's hand fell to rest on the hilt of his blade. The humans were getting to be a problem. He could practically feel their incessant expansion creeping towards him. Soon they would be here as well, and the Centra ruins would be either swallowed up in urban sprawl or demolished. The Tonberries were frightened; that was why they scurried about like they did, always preparing for a fight they believed was just over the horizon. Odin did not worry. There was no need for him to. The Centra ruins meant nothing to him. True, they had been his home for centuries, but he felt no affinity to it.

The Tonberries are fools. They believe that by killing a few humans here they will drive back their growth. The humans are tenacious. If you kill one, they will come back in greater numbers. The only way to defeat them is to ally yourself with them.

There was a soft whinny from beside him, and one gauntleted hand moved to pat the nose of his horse, Sleipnir. The stallion snorted, but no air was expelled. Fitting for those both more and less than alive.

I shall wait, Odin thought. I shall defeat them. I shall avenge my kind, vindicate their deaths. I do not need to seek the humans. The humans will come seeking me.

----== ==----


Majeil looked up at the tower, clutching the ankh hanging from his neck cautiously. The novice didn't like this place. Is stunk of evil and decay. But the records had said that there were GFs here, GFs which had not yet been seized and refined into weapons by the Estharan MegaCorps. GFs that he could use to stop the corruption spreading through the world like a slow poison. that was why he had undergone this pilgrimage--alone, impoverished, and completely without aid. As weapons went, he had only a small ritual knife strapped to his lower leg, sharp as a razor but not nearly long enough to inflict any significant damage. He knew that the monsters inhabiting this place were intelligent, and he believed that if he showed that he was not a threat they would not hurt him. It was a risk--some would say, a stupid one--but Majeil thought he could take it.

If I fail here, then it will not matter if I am dead or alive. For if I return without Odin, the Patriarch will have me killed anyway.

Gathering his resolve about him, Majeil stepped onto the stairs of the Ruins. As he laid a hand on the railing it glowed a sullen blue, a blue that progressed up the rail sluggishly in the darkness of midnight. The records said that a long time ago the rails would sparkle in prismatic brilliance, lighting the Centra ruins like a giant ornament. The ancient magic was fading, however; the ruins crumbling from their former glory. Within a few more decades they would be nothing more than a pile of dust--that was, if the MegaCorps didn't get them first.

Pushing such somber thoughts out of his head, Majeil began climbing the stairs. Pulling his worn cloak tighter around him, he tried to see to the top of the stairs in the light of the stars. He could make out a spire silhouetted against the thin sliver of the crescent moon, and he almost believed he saw something moving on it. Shaking his head, he returned his attention to keeping his footing on the dark stairway.

It seemed as if hours passed before he finally reached the top. Twice he had been stopped by sounds of movement above him, and once he had even considered going back and waiting until morning. But no, by morning the first scouts from TrabiCorp would be here, and the Patriarch would definitely not like that. Now, all he had to do was find Odin and convince him to join him.

The records had spoken of a great voice that welcomed people to the Ruins, but that voice was conspicuously absent. Taking a moment to review all the information he had studied, Majeil headed across the edge of what had once been a circular platform and headed up another flight of stairs. Pulling off the ankh and wrapping the leather thong around his palm, he prayed to every god the Patriarch worshipped to bring him safely from this place.

The GFs will be the least of my worries. I am more afraid that this place will collapse before I have finished my task.

A shadow--visible even in the darkness of night--fell across his path, and he shrank back against the railing. Looking up, he could see the form of a massive winged creature gliding across the sky. he could only hope that if if was a GF, it was not one of TrabiCorp's mindless, refined zombies. Daring not to move until the dread shadow was out of his sight, he continued on.

Who hath sought enter my domain?

Gasping in sudden terror, Majeil cowered back again. Taking a moment to calm his heartrate, he wondered if he should respond.

I am... my name is Majeil Lance, Majeil whispered into the darkness. Who are you?

The path is cleared. Come, and converse.

The voice trailed off, and Majeil closed his eyes. Odin, he realized. Pushing himself up the stairs, he headed towards the chamber where the records had all said Odin resided. Trembling, he moved through the shadows into the even darker doorway.

As if triggered by his presence two torches flared up, casting their ghastly, wavering illumination on the armored figure sitting on his throne. A six-legged horse stood regally by his side, and Majeil went to one knee. He couldn't stand to look at the great being. It went against all the teachings of humility the Patriarch had beat into him so many times over.

Rise, knight errant, Odin said. His voice was deep, rich, overpowering. Majeil felt himself pulling himself to his feet. For what reason art thou here?

Majeil stared at Odin for a long time before he could think of anything to say. To seek your aid, Great One, he said at last.

And for what boon does a human, whose kind defile ours, seek aid? Odin questioned coldly. Majeil fell to both knees again.

No, great one! It is not we who defile your name. We stand against those who do!

And what proof can be given, that your word is not a lie?

Majeil fumbled for a moment, then thrust one hand towards Odin. he exclaimed. The holy ankh. Your kind and mine are brothers! It is as the Patriarch wishes it!

Ahh, the Patriarch, Odin sighed deeply. If you are truly of the Patriarch, you will tell me his name.

Majeil faltered. That is sacrosanct, he whispered. It is not allowed to speak the name of the Patriarch.

Speak it, or feel the wrath of my blade, Odin said flatly. Majeil wavered.

The legends say that once, his name was Gilgamesh. Born out of your death that you could live again.

Odin nodded. You have proved your truth. Now prove your worth.

Majeil was confused. Great lord?

Go to the peak of the tower. There you will find those of your blood, but not of your kind. Take my lance, and wield it against them. Should you succeed, my powers are yours.

Majeil looked sideways as a massive lance seemed to materialize out of thin air, and looked at it dubiously. It was half again as tall as he was, glowing a pale silver in the night. Veins of red traced their way through the tip just under the surface. Nervously, he moved to pick it up.

Odin watched in grim amusement as the man took hold of the lance. It would weigh nothing to him; that was the virtue of its magical nature. The boys eyes shone with awe as he admired the contours of the spearhead. Odin's callous gaze could detect something more in his eyes, as well. Power.

Majeil moved out the door, heading with all the haste he could to the top of the tower. To one side, Sleipnir snorted as King Tonberry appeared beside him.

You have given him Gunge Lance, Tonberry thought at Odin, his words tinged with disapproval. He is human. He deserves no aid.

Nor will he receive any--at least, none in the form he anticipates, Odin said. The boy shall be our avatar in the realms of the humans. Gilgamesh will not understand. But I have seen the end of all humankind, and I shalt not waver from my destined path.

Tonberry wrinkled his nose, obviously not content with Odin's answer but unwilling to carry the argument further. Odin paid no heed. He was sure that this, this would finally be the man he sought for....

----== ==----


Keila Garai of TrabiCorp watched the figure with the glowing weapon scurrying up towards her, a smile winding its way onto her face. Patting her newest investment, the Tiamat 45X, she wondered what he thought he was doing. As he came close enough to make out his attire, she snorted in derision as she saw the robes of one of the gods-be-damned extremist groups out for the preservation of the GFs. Whatever he was here for, he wouldn't be able to get away with her newest model, though. She was sure of that. She had an auto-suicide program implanted into the Quasi-GF's brain for that very reason--so that the GF-huggers wouldn't be able to get their hands on any more GFs. It took a lot of work to de-condition them, but once they had been they were brutal. She could remember a time when a deconditioned Cerberus 23 had taken out an entire manufacturing plant before they had terminated it.

Tiamat, destroy, Keila whispered. Tiamat's proudly arched neck swung to look at the insignificant morsel below her, and she launched herself into the air. Keila smiled. Preserve the building, she whispered, and there was an answering shriek from above as the majestic dragon swooped. The fanatic hesitated for a moment, unsure of attaching one of the GFs he so venerated, but swung upwards with the lance anyway. Tiamat powered up out of the way of the strike with a single wingbeat, lashing out with her tail. The man ducked, jabbing and ripping a few scales from the tip. Tiamat hissed, pulling back up into the air again.

The man turned to Keila, who smiled at him broadly. At this range all he would be able to do would be throw the lance, and she was confident she could dodge it. And if he did, Tiamat would take him out easily.

The dragon dove at the man, who only barely fended off an attack of the creature's hindfeet. Tiamat beat her wings, sending a miniature whirlwind ripping through the ruins around him. Struggling to keep his balance, the man thrust the blade towards the serpentine beast. There was a shower of sparks as it embedded itself in the chest muscles, and Keila only smiled. It would take more than that to defeat her masterpiece.

Tiamat fell backwards, the lance pulling out of her chest. With a flick of her tail she bowled the man over, and he only barely managed to keep himself and the weapon from hurtling off into the dizzying darkness. Tiamat swooped in for the kill.

The man, with a shout of some ancient-Centran ritualistic nonsense, did the completely unexpected. Yelling chants and curses at the top of his lungs, he leapt at Tiamat as she dove towards him. Using the lance like a pole vault, he embedded it in the bone just in front of Tiamat's eyes. The dragon let out a long moan, eyes going completely blank as the man swung himself up to rest on the broad neck. Reaching forward and grasping the lance, he turned the great dragon to face Keila. The wings beat sporadically, and Keila found herself suddenly very worried. The man pulled the lance out of Tiamat's face, and Keila gasped as the now-lifeless eyes of her construct turned on her. The reptilian face dropped into a hellish grin as it bore down on her.

In a second, she knew that it would do no good to run. She was dead, anything she did. Spreading her arms wide, she watched the dragon coming for her.

The last thing she ever felt was the Gunge Lance, tinged with the caustic poison of dragon's blood, slipping into her chest as over a metric ton of dragon flesh crushed every bone in her body.

----== ==----


Odin watched silently as Majeil entered the throne room again, holding the lance in trembling hands. His face was alight with something that he had never experienced before--the pleasure of the kill. He looked at Tonberry for a moment, then laid the lance at Odin's feet.

Will you join me, then? he asked eagerly. To defy the MegaCorps that defile your kind, to stand against their exploits, to aid others like you? Will you join me?

Odin smiled slowly. Tonberry shall junction himself to you, he said, and the other GF nodded sullenly and disappeared. Majeil's eyes widened as power he had never imagined flooded through him.

And you? he asked, power craving more power. Odin nodded, and vanished from inside his armor. Majeil stepped forward with a look of dismay.

You have proved your bravery. Put on my armor and take my horse and weapons, Odin's voice commanded. Majeil looked around, then hurried to obey. The helm and armor seemed to shrink to fit him as he put it on, and he felt it against his skin as if it had been cast solely for him. Taking the lance and sword, he swung himself up on Sleipnir.

His vision went dark momentarily, then returned tinged with red. Hatred filled him as a greater force took over his body, urging the steed out of the material realm and into the spectral one of the Guardian Forces. He could see the mutilated Guardian energy around him as it was twisted and duplicated, could even recognize some of the ones being tortured into their newest shapes. There was Kjata, there Atomos, there Bahamut. Silently, he swore to avenge them all.

Sleipnir jumped, and Majeil found himself outside TrabiCorp's main building in Trabia. The sun beat down on the snowy landscape in a way that would have been blinding if he relied on normal eyesight anymore. The air was frigid, but it didn't register as cold anymore. He was beyond such physical discomforts.

I will never return to the Patriarch, Majeil realized as the urge to kill rose in him. I am too strong now to be confined by His morals. I will end the reign of the MegaCorps, and I will not leave any left standing. Thus is my power.

Sleipnir pawed the ground below him, and Majeil could feel muscles rippling in the great steed. Pulling out Odin's--his--legendary sword, Zantetsuken, he looked at the MegaCorp again.

Then, with an inhuman smile, he spurred Sleipnir into a charge.


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(A/N:
This was written for a competition on one of the Forums that I used to frequent a loooong time ago. Our assignment was (and this is a direct quote) the following:

topic:
a man entered the centra ruins to recieve odin and tonberry GFs, only that a new thrill has entered the
ruins... the brave warior will defeat the enemy and odin with king tonberry will join him for his bravery.

knowledge:
the centra ruins and it's monsters.

what you shouldn't do:
don't use characters from the game. you can remind them, but not use them and that includes the NPCs (non playeble characters) too!

The result is what you see here. It's quite old, and it hasn't been edited, so consider this a chance to see what my writing was like a couple years ago....

Semper Nox is Latin, and translates into Always Night.)