THE GREATER DESERT
Ideas / Production / General Creation by Shadsie and Sailor_Lilithchan
Written out by Shadsie
Disclaimer: The Legend of Zelda belongs to Nintendo. Related extra-canon sources referenced belong to Akira Himekawa, Valiant Comics, and etc. This is fan work for enjoyment and the sheer exercise of writing, not for profit.
Notes: This story is a remake of an earlier novel-length fan fiction, The Great Desert. This tale is meant to be an expansion upon the earlier alternate universe work, incorporating such things as the mythologies of games that had barely come out or had not existed at the time the original Great Desert was written. We also plan to expand upon the framework of TGD in general, to flesh out the oddball alternate Hyrule we created in the first place. No knowledge of the first fic will be required to understand this one. For readers of the first, we plan surprises for this reboot.
This story is Alternate Universe. It takes place upon a converged / linear Timeline and involves (in the main body after the prologue) a Hyrule that exists after the invention of firearms and rapid desertification. While there is a "Wild West" aesthetic and gimmick, the story is truly a Legend of Zelda science-fiction western with heavy emphasis on the science-fiction. For those reading for the "western" aspects – don't expect this to be like a typical western film. The Great/Greater Desert world is much more like Trigun or Firefly.
The Greater Desert
Prologue: The Threads of Time
They had not set out to become gods.
What was the definition of a "god," anyway? If it was the infinite and transcendent "All," the very Ground of Being, or something that was supposed to have lived outside-of-time-before-time-existed, then the being that had come to call herself Farore definitely did not consider herself divine. She found it impossible to be all-loving, too, or all-hating, or all of anything. Perhaps that was why she had "sisters" in her "divinity," to take up the slack.
The true reason that they held this position was simply that they had been a part of the same project. If "creating a world" was the definition of godhood, then, yes, she and her colleagues really were rightly called "goddesses."
How many thousands of years had it been since they had begun shaping this planet? Farore had lost track. When one had been made subject to a form of biological immortality, the years blurred, decades blinked by and even a century felt like little more than a week. Farore worked hard to keep a handle on human-style time, however – and she was just a bit better at it than Din and Nayru were. She'd had to keep her mind in a "mortal" phase, remembering what she had once been because she worked with mortal creations directly and often. Most of the sapient species she had engineered had a general lifespan encompassing years just shy of a century for those that stayed the healthiest, with a few wizened centenarians here and there.
She and her compatriots had come from a distant nebula upon a ship that shined like silver, with others in tow. Every one of those magnificent craft had ploughed into the dust of a small world that the three project-heads had worked hard to make viable. Din's seismic reconstructions made an increasingly beautiful world possible. Nayru's working with the chemistry in the soil and the air to fill it with water and watercourses furthered the project. Farore, of course, managed the organic material samples they'd brought from home.
Of course, she couldn't help but tamper with them a bit. The original mission was to terraform reasonably-usable planets to make way for mortal colonists. Somehow, they'd been detained here in this one place for millennia – what with being wrapped up in their "crashland" project, too fascinated to leave.
There was also the fact that the Three had discovered magic to be real. It lived here. There was an energy that resided upon this world that had existed long before they'd arrived and it begged a trio of inquisitive scientists to figure out just what it was made of. This was how the three women had become gods. They'd tried to capture the magic only for it to develop a will of its own. It had used their technology to crystallize itself into a form that those of another world that were blessed and cursed with biological immortality were unable to fully command. Furthermore, that magic had decided to associate itself with them, and they in turn with the things that it valued, all to be found in the hearts of mortals. Thus the "Golden Goddesses" had become entwined with a world that was only meant to be a simple and temporary project.
They had become gods completely by accident.
And Farore knew that the golden magic was laughing at them.
The patter of tiny bare feet took her attention off the golden triangles kept in a suspension field in the center portion of the Abode. She turned her attention away from the "Captured Magic Force."
"Check it out, Aunt Farore! I made another robot! It's working really well this time!"
Farore smiled down at the little girl in the loose white dress who absolutely *refused* to wear shoes. She'd kick them off whenever her mother or father tried to put her in them. A metal, vaguely humanoid figure floated beside her on jets of air. It had a quizzical look in its one open-looking "eye." The other was merely an undressed optical sensor.
"It can carry stuff!" The girl explained, "Like, really, really heavy stuff! I thought it could help out you and Din when you re-'range mountains."
Farore laughed. "We'll have to test it. Remember the rule of experiments – test everything."
"And hold fast to what is good!" the girl chimed, "Or at least to what doesn't explode in your face!"
Farore was genuinely proud of little Hylia. She was actually the granddaughter of another experiment she'd named "Hylia," a male with long, pointed ears and an ability to channel the magical energies she, as a once human not native to this world, could not touch. The original Hylia had been the first being she'd tampered with the coding of to make him responsive and adaptable to this world. He'd been a success and had bred well. Farore mentally huffed when she recalled how Din and Nayru had wanted him sterilized. No… it was Nayru who pressed the sterilization option. Din had wanted him killed in his fetal tank before he developed consciousness. Drastic alterations were against the rules, but Farore had decided that the "rules" didn't matter when life needed to find a way. Since then, she'd created many drastic alterations to help life along on their adopted-and-created world.
And now, they were injecting that man's granddaughter with the elements necessary to give her "godhood." Young Hylia had all of the qualities the Three were looking for in a partner in furthering their ever-evolving project. Nayru had especially high hopes that the child might be able to wield and study the "Captured Force" in ways that were not accessible to them someday. For now, the girl soaked up any knowledge her "aunts" had to share with her and had developed a robotics hobby.
"What are you calling this one?" Farore asked, looking at the floating machine.
"Oh, it doesn't have a name," Hylia answered, "If this one works out, I'll have a whole line of them made to help Miss Nayru harvest the chornolite she's interested in. They'll be 'Lanayru Designation' with numbers - to work in her land."
Ah, yes, there were certain territories within a span of land that the "Golden Three" had claimed as principal workspaces for quite sometime. Din was doing experiments in geothermics and minerals in one area, Nayru was doing all kinds of strange things in another, and Farore, of course, had a running forestry-project. The many peoples that had sprung up as descendants of the sleepers on the ships and Farore's experiments were thriving – and much to the Three's chagrin, beginning to worship them and to associate them with certain terrains.
"Ooh! That's the Triforce!" Hylia chimed, looking up at the crystallized magic that was floating on the suspension-platform.
"Triforce?" Farore asked. "Why do you call it that? It's the captured-force."
"It's in three parts," Hylia said pointing. "It's got magic holding it together in the middle and outside it, but the captured stuff is in three parts and it looks like triangles so it makes sense to call it that, don't you think?"
Farore tousled her hair. "Right you are, kiddo," she agreed. "It's a more poetic name than 'captured force' or 'experimental subatomic suspension.' You're going to help us use it someday, to make the world a better place."
"Really?" Hylia gasped.
"Yes," Farore answered. "We don't exactly understand the Force within it, the 'magic.' Din, Nayru and I don't seem to be able to touch it, but we think you might, since the magic is part of your genetic makeup."
"Cause of Grandpa, right? You made him that way."
"Yep. All we know about the triangles is that the power within them has the potential to do wonderful things. With it, we might even be able to understand Everything, or to create a universe without suffering."
"You're darn right, 'wow.' This power can be yours, just for agreeing to help us."
"And live forever, right?"
"Right. It won't be easy. You'll part with all of your mortal family and friends. When we were made ageless back on our home, we were an experiment. We had to leave everything we knew behind as Time swallowed it up around us. There is a great blessing to being like us, but there is also a great price."
"I know," Hylia said somewhat distantly. "I understand that, but if the Triforce can make all wishes come true, I can bring everyone back if I wanna. I can make the world all-good."
"We can, together."
Farore was taken aback when she saw Hylia stiffen. The girl stared at the suspended Captured Magic like she saw something that Farore couldn't see. She reached out to it, but did not touch it, her hand stopping as if held back by the object itself.
"It's warning me," she whispered. "The top-part is Power…if I crave it too much, I will lose myself…"
"What are you talking about, Hylia," Farore said, crouching down, worry lacing her voice.
"I understand…" Hylia said, still staring ahead. "It's like a soul. There are three main parts to the soul – one part 'head,' one part 'heart' and one part… 'stomach.' One part of this is like a mind…logic, reason… one is emotion, morality…one is impulse, hunger, strength…"
"I see…" Farore said dully.
Hylia turned to her and grinned. "I think I understand it better 'cause I'm closer to still bein' mortal."
The ages rolled on. Hylia grew up. Just as planned, her aging stopped. She lost her family and her friends, save for her special "three aunts" and quickly lost any sense of sorrow, for years blinked by in days and minutes. Unlike the Three, who retreated to a private and distant existence, Hylia chose to walk through Farore's forests, to take ships maintained by her robots across Nayru's seas and to visit the mines where the mole-people and rock-folk made their nests.
She engaged in her own projects, echoing the pursuits of women who'd raised her. She busied herself creating springs and watercourses in honor of Nayru. She'd also created a temple with a budding library for the mortals because Aunt Nayru had told her all about data-management and information libraries. She refined metals for the creation of temples and developed a system of gem-cutting that people adopted for use in creating currency. She knew that Din would be proud. Her biological experimentation led to the creation of three great dragons, which she named for her aunts and for the lands they resided in. In a land of mortals, these immortal beasts became her dearest friends.
Hylia could never remain too sad; however, for the "Force" within the land ensured that she knew that spirits could live on. They could even come back into mortal forms again. She found herself controlling this for some people whom she felt deserved chances at better lives. It was in this way that Hylia found herself directing the aetheric magic. It was always gently, "do as you will" rather than a forced will.
There was an unfortunate side to the magic she's found. The peoples of the land lived mostly peaceful lives, in harmony with each other and with the world at large mainly because negative aspects of their souls were made manifest in physical forms. The magic that lived on this planet had a strange way of separating out some of the more malicious parts of sentient beings and giving them shape as shadows and literal monsters. Ghosts called "Poes" by the humans in the land were created by their own anger over divisions and hatreds that never seemed to manifest as badly as they could have within themselves. People were far from perfect, with theft, occasional murder and general vices, but the presences of Poes and other monsters told Hylia that the state of the world could be a lot worse if they did not exist. People could conquer their dark sides with swords in her world.
Hylia had read history books from the Abode of the Three once, when she was still young. Worlds that did not have this energy separation could, indeed, be much worse than the world she knew. The magic could never be controlled completely. Perhaps, when the day came that the Triforce would let her touch it - that would change.
Instead, enhancements of mind and magic brought her the gift and the curse of seeing through Time.
Hylia found herself back at the Abode when a vision prompted her not to try to wield the Triforce, but to take it, in its suspension-field, to her own temple in the forest to ask it about Time. She sat before an altar meditating upon it for what may have been moments or may have been years.
She found the visions the "mind" portion of the object gave her to be terrifying and heartbreaking.
"How do I prevent the Evil from rending the land?" was her first question. The answer she received was "You cannot." In her mind, the world before her rifted, the darkness of people's souls forming a power-seeking creature that loved causing pain… The creature, at points, seemed to be Oblivion manifest, having taken on a sort of anti-magic from the "Force" magic Hylia knew so well. After that, Hylia sensed a mortal with a strong heart. The part of the Triforce that corresponded to "emotion and morality" seemed to beat like a living vein when this mortal entered her mind. Courage – that person was filled with a kind of courage more pure than she'd thought possible of a mortal… yet it was the kind of quality that only a creature that knew it was capable of experiencing pain and dying could possess.
As she sat before the Triforce, Hylia decided the mortal's fate. She directed magic toward him, but not all of the vision or his life was under her control. That beautiful soul had a hard life, a life of hardship to temper him into an unbreakable spirit. The Triforce told her that his spirit would live after he died. Hylia begged with all her will that the next life for him would be kinder. It was – a life filled with friends and the freedom of flight, but with a price that she would pay. The Goddess sighed in relief when she knew that "cost." She looked forward to becoming a mortal again, even though she knew it would mean that she would start to forget her days of walking barefoot on the grass through endless days bringing springs into being and bringing life to dragons. The high science would leave her, even if the magic never would.
She found the thought strange that the person the visions showed her to be her future selves would beseech her "Aunt Nayru" most of all.
She saw herself and the boy she'd come to know through many lifetimes. Every life was an adventure for the boy, but some lives were harder than others. The lives seemed to alternate between those that were especially difficult followed by ones that were slightly easier, for a given measure of "easy." The life of the Hero's Spirit was destined to follow blood and darkness – but that boy smiled often in the glimpses Hylia got as she pulled the threads of Time.
"Oh, oh please no…" Hylia gasped upon watching Time fragment into three distinct divergent universes, all hinged upon the Hero's Life that she was tempted to dub "The Hero of Rotten Luck." She'd pulled the thread and saw the fragments and could not weave them back together.
Tears stained the stone by her knees as that one's life swept over her. Hylia hated her mortal self in that life. She felt like she had not done enough, not that she could have. The Hero of Time, as she knew his proper title would come to be, had the kind of "tempering of spirit" that twisted her guts. She wanted to shout at her future incarnation that no amount of "giving Time back" was going to restore the boy's childhood. Whatever form one's body took, once one had been through the battles he'd faced, there was no such thing as a restoration of innocence. In one fragment, she watched one half-mad boy become more than half-mad under a full moon in a world on another plane of existence that the Force-magic had bled into. He'd returned and made the best of his life, fractured and torn.
Another fragment was awash in ocean. The world suffered for the Hero's absence, with the Evil beginning to swell and break over the hearts of the people and their land. Nayru and Din were experimenting… and it went wrong. The survivors progressed and developed inventions of steam and iron.
The fragment of Time from this split that caused Hylia to make up her mind was one that saw her people in decline and the most tragic of her Heroes slain before he could finish his task as a Hero. A child's soul cut free from a man's body.
"I can't!" Hylia shouted to the Triforce before her. She clenched her fists against the stone at the foot of the altar and scraped her knuckles. "I can't let this happen!"
She stood up. "It's what I get for peering through Time," she said, talking to herself, perhaps hoping the magic was listening. "My spirit fragmented, his as well… it just doesn't make sense!"
She reached out for the space surrounding the Triforce and pulled a transparent figure out of it. The young man in green blinked, confused. "Zelda?" he asked. "But you're shining…"
"Yes and no," Hylia answered him. She opened her arms and embraced him, rubbing his back, holding him close. "I am… a Goddess… I guess you could call me the Goddess of Time. You are slated to meet with a terrible fate."
"This is a dream, isn't it?" the young man asked. "Navi told me not to drink that sour milk before sleeping."
"Yes, honey, it's a dream," Hylia soothed. "But this is very important. I need you to remember this sequence to play on your blue ocarina when you wake up." She took his left hand, held it out so that the palm faced up and placed a shining thread of Time into it. She took the flute from his pocket and bound the thread to it. The thread of Time absorbed into his spirit. "When you play the Lullaby and the Song of Time, this will set things right. This will set things right."
The boy shook his head. "I don't understand. Why are you doing this? Not that I should question the logic of dreams because they almost never make sense, but…"
"I want to save you," Hylia sighed. "It is time for you to wake up."
She sent the bewildered ghost back to his era as she touched the Triforce. She knew that she'd just thrown away all the plans her aunts once had for her and her wielding of the Triforce. She didn't care. Hylia decided she had made no finer wish. If she'd given that poor "Hero of Rotten Luck" a better go of it, she was pleased.
She felt within her spirit and saw visions of all the eras of her spirit and the Hero's converging. The threads of Time wound themselves back together. The Hero of Time was not slain by the Evil he faced. He also created a time-loop that ensured merely a delay in Din and Nayru's terraforming mistakes, made under different circumstances. His soul remained un-fragmented. To her sorrow, Hylia saw that his life was still quite tragic, but he was able to keep more of his mind together. He left a strong impression in the realm of spirit that following incarnations would learn from.
Hylia was satisfied that she had saved him – and them – although nothing was perfect. She knew that she could never use the Triforce now, despite being in tune with the world's magic. It had accepted her single wish. As Hylia, she would not be able to ask it another favor after having asked it to alter the flow of Time itself. The Goddess knew, to her grief, that it was not long before she would forget that she had ever touched the object and made a wish.
She would forget the circumstances of her "godhood." Time and the Triforce had shown her that she would become convinced that she had never been a mortal, never had parents or grandparents, or had seen the Golden Three in forms that looked very human.
She would, in time, become convinced that she truly deserved to be worshipped. In time, that one species of bird that her Aunt Farore had created on a whim would become a race of sacred steeds for her. She would preside over wars.
Later, she would become convinced that she never deserved to be worshipped. She was to become a girl that lived on an island in the sky, who loved giant birds and wondered what the Surface world was.
After that, the lifetimes tied to the wheel of mortals would bring her many positions. She'd decided already that she was looking forward to her days as Empress more than her days as Princess and desired the time when she'd become a pirate captain most of all.
Hylia decided upon one very necessary project before she began to forget. She turned her back on the Triforce to get her old robotics and coding equipment together. She knew that the Eternal Hero to come would have need of a powerful weapon. She wanted to give it an interface, a program that would help him. She would imbue it with as much of a spirit drawn from magic as she could.
The Triforce remained upon the altar. One of the bottom triangles glowed just a little bit less. The power to bring Time into her submission had started something even the "Goddess of Time" had not foreseen…