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02 September 2010 @ 04:55 am
Laocoön and His Daughters  
Title: Laocoön and His Daughters
Character: Fang, Vanille, Lightning (Éclair), Snow/Serah, Sazh, Hope, Noctis
Fandom: Final Fantasy XIII & Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Genre: Futurefic, massive speculation, IDEK
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,805

A/N: I know FFXIII and FF Versus XIII are not related but it'd be so cool if they were. This might be continued, but I doubt it. It was such a cool idea in my head...

           

 

Laocoön and His Daughters


I.

 

Annoyed and depleted of rage and vitality, the Doctor pauses in the middle of chapter thirteen, verse thirteen. He delicately removes his glasses and polishes them with a moistened scrap of silk. Sighs once and gulps down a swallow of tea, and now, he is ready to recommence. Reinvigorated, he picks up a red pen and scribbles a note on the margins.

 

The book (tattered and worn at the corner with yellowed edges) is old, excavated from the dig site, and written in esoteric text. The Doctor skims past the first few paragraphs. He has practised this sanctified, slightly modified nightly ritual for the past week or so. Hurry now, it is time. Hurry now, here it comes.

 

Someone knocks at the door (spineless wooden frame, guarding the entrance to the dilapidated hut). The Doctor diverts his attention from the porcelain cup.

 

“Yes?” he says.

 

“Doctor, we found it.”

 

He smiles. Lips peel and nose blisters. Skeletal and pale, whiskery chin and sunken chest, he makes a divinely ideal devil. Happiness is found in hell, he stops reading.

 

Miracles do happen, even at world’s end in the abyss of aeons gone.

 

II.

 

Éclair Farron gingerly stepped out of the shower. Her bad leg was acting up again. And no matter how many various ointments and medicines she tried, it still hurt terribly. She dried her hair and combed it through, wincing as she tore a tangle accidentally. There, all better now.

 

Wiping the mirror clean of steam, she briefly examined herself. It’s weird, like staring at your own ghost and not even dead. This was a woman with gauzy pink hair, blue eyes and a thin-lined mouth. This was a woman with a serious mind who didn’t like nonsense and hated pretence. This was –

 

“Éclair,” she said firmly, “not Lightning,” not anymore.

 

III.

 

The city is old, and there are god-bones littered on the outskirts. In the mountains, the god-hides (excoriated rubbish) loom piled alone and abandoned. Their hacked organs churn into debris and float along ocean foam.

 

Between two rivers, hidden in the valley, an excavation team unearths a millennial-aged crystal capsule. The workmen hoist the colossal mass onto a surrogate dais. It starts to rain. Droplets soak their clothes and skinny bodies, cooling their heated cores. Faces streaked with crimson (that’s the blood) and ashes clogging nostrils and choking windpipes.

 

“Quickly!” orders a tall man in white. He pushes up his glasses, splattered wet, and frantically directs the behemoth placement.

 

Fortified for the crackle of thunder and sizzle of lightning. The sky darkens and clouds brew for an impending storm. The crystal glows and shatters, sweeping them in a flurry of ambushing cinders. They ignite and flare in the air and hail down torrents.

 

The white man clasps his hands together, giddy and feverish (his head is burning), and walks toward the stone platform and the dead workers.

 

IV.

 

Serah married Snow like he promised and she prophesied. They married despite all her sister’s grudging reluctance and formidable determents. It’s not as if Éclair (rinse and repeat again) disliked Snow (well, perhaps a little, but only when he was being so stubbornly stupid). She simply had her justified reservations (any sane person would). But Serah loved him, and that’s the important fact.

 

Except (here it went), so started the litany:

 

She was far too young to consider marriage. He was too rash to even have a steady girlfriend. And besides, they were still supposed to be in mourning. Because (because what?) – because Fang and Vanille had long transformed to crystal and dust. And that was also fact.

 

V.

 

“They are intact.”

 

“Are you sure, Doctor? Did you examine them thoroughly?”

 

“Not a scratch.”

 

“And the king, he knows nothing of this, right?”

 

“Of course not. But the prince...”

 

“What about him?”

 

“You should keep an eye on him, that’s all.”

 

VI.

 

In early June, Hope turned seventeen. His father threw a smashing bash, inviting everyone and anyone (those who survived). Hope stared awkwardly into the guests’ eyes, hundreds and counting, all gazing eagerly back. He cleared his throat and attempted to say something clever or profound or at least coherent.

 

“I –”

 

Across the room, Éclair gave him a slight and encouraging smile. He gathered courage and plunged ahead. He made his little speech and didn’t falter, not even once.

 

For a second, flashing by in a stream of iridescence, he thought he saw his mother. There, again, he looked up. And nothing. It was a banner caught in moonlight.

 

VII.

 

Of the one hundred and twenty days spent in perdition, the last three climax in an unpoetic, nonprosaic state of despair and disrepair. The second batch of workmen, cheap labourers without a home, exhausts their flesh and guillotines their minds. They obediently resurrect the girls.

 

“Where are they? Are you done yet?” the Doctor asks, waving his cigar impatiently.

 

“They’re here. They’re ready.”

 

VIII.

 

Every weekday morning, Sazh dropped his son off at school. Dahj was growing so big, big and strong, lean and muscled. And all the while, Sazh was growing older at a steady rate. He felt it now, down weary in his corroded soul. The skin had gone to rust, faded gray and deader by the day.

 

He thought of moving to a different town, perhaps on the border of the sea. Then, remembered what happened before.

 

“Daddy?”

 

“Yeah, what is it?” Sazh buttoned up his son’s yellow jacket.

 

“What was mommy like?”

 

His fingers froze. “She was kind. And brave. She was very brave.”

 

He didn’t have the heart to tell the truth. It stung, lodged in the back of his throat like a poisoned needle.

 

IX.

 

“Vanille?”

 

“Fang...are you all right?”

 

“I’m fine. How about you?”

 

“Okay, I think. Where are we?”

 

“Don’t know. It’s dark – and damp. I smell...roses.”

 

Roses hovering unreal. Their petals are torn and shredded, tarnished with the umber varnish of laymen waste. Shovelled aside, whisked thin and queerly bright in the centres, they struggle to move against the oleaginous current.

 

“Hello,” someone answers, “I suppose you’re wondering why you’re here.”

 

Fang tries to stand. Her feet lose purchase and slide down the tank’s slippery side. “Who are you?” she sounds hollow, like stretching across from the opposite shore of the galaxy.    

 

“I’m the Doctor. I revived you. You are alive, a thousand years later.”

 

The news sinks in slow and sinister. Vanille opens her eyes, blurry and teary. They see a man in white with no hair, eyebrows, or lashes. His skin is smooth and taut, supple and young. He wears gold-wired glasses and calmly smokes from a fat platinum pipe.

 

“The gods – fal’cie, you called them – are dead. We slaughtered them all and imprisoned their souls in crystal forms to fuel our cities. Now, we are dying from the sickness.”

 

Outside the glass chamber, fog engulfs the towering buildings. Fang squints to discern the shadows yawning beyond the pale sun. Barbed vines with claws at the ends, they stretch wide to descend upon them. The black mist is approaching fast.

 

“It’s the sickness,” the Doctor explains, gesturing casually, “It’ll be here soon. And we will all die.”

 

Fang feels a throbbing at the base of her neck. She collapses, head-first while Vanille searches anxiously for a door.

 

X.

 

Pulse was an immense, uncharted world to be explored. They’d been living, sheltered (preparing for slaughter) on Cocoon for too long. They brought down the salvaged machines and automata, and carefully altered them for their new home.

 

In the year 30 after the Cocoon diaspora, there was a water shortage. Desperate, the citizens dried up the rivers and the lakes, siphoned off branches and into aqueducts. It wasn’t enough. Soon, the cisterns were caked with residual salt again – thicker and more abundant than the last.

 

Let us kill the fal’cie and harvest their parts.

 

Éclair (Major General) vetoed against the idea.

 

No, we must.

 

She shook her head adamantly.

 

It’s the only way. We kill the fal’cie (kill the gods).

 

The meeting adjourned. The populace wallowed and swayed in the oncoming waves of dangerous discontent.


 

 XI.

“I know what you’re doing, Doctor. You conjure hope for the people, to quiet them before they die.”

 

The Doctor sits down and crosses his legs. He rests his head on the chair’s high back. His nephew is angry (nothing surprising), and his eyes have turned reddish (the bloody rogue).

 

“Noctis, you are a smart boy. I’ve watched you grow up, and I’ve always known you’d become a great ruler. Effective and wise, unlike my brother. But there are many things you do not understand yet. The world functions, thrives, and depends on public ignorance. If we do not act promptly, then the heretics will destroy the city. Is that what you want?”

 

“No, but what you’re doing won’t solve anything.”

 

“Trust me. I’m old. I will die nonetheless. What could I gain from malevolence?”

 

“There is no sickness, is there?”

 

The Doctor laughs. “There is a sickness. It’s stupidity.”

 

“So everything you said about the crystals diminishing, they’re all lies?”

 

Oh, the kid is furious now.

 

“That was true too. The crystals are deteriorating. It’s to be expected from something so old. Even gods are made of organic material, Noctis. Never forget that. Not even gods are invincible.”

 

As for everything else...

 

There will be a grand sacrifice, and the Doctor will heroically save the world. He has perfected the recipe for immortality (two girls and a boy). And he’s taking it to the grave.

 

XII.

 

They stood together with toes entrenched in sand, and brackish wind blew through their hair. There was a low rumble rising from the tempest roots. They wait out the silence afterwards.

 

Serah entwines her hand with Snows. He looks startled but pleased. Éclair, shaking hands and infinitely resolute in courage, unconsciously unsheathes her gun. Hope clings to her (she allows him this, just one time). Sazh lingered in the background. His son was absent (safe). They braced themselves.

 

“It’s begun.”

 

“Here and now.”

 

The war

 

XIII.

 

All the gods died, and their carcasses were preserved and enslaved. Which – the Doctor flipped the page – resulted in humanity’s salvation.

 

“That’s a fine story, but what’s it to do with us?”

 

“Fang, don’t...”

 

“Vanille, we have a right to know.”

 

“So you do,” said the Doctor pleasantly, “In due time.”

 

There are no roads left, only bitten gravel. There are no crops, save for the final fields in the west. There is only the arid fissure of earth hairline-splintered. There is only the ruin relinquished by the plague.

 

The stars will explode one by one. And they will scream.

 

The Doctor winces from the surging pain and gently presses down on the ouroboros tattooed over his chest. Fang and Vanille observe him with sickly smiles and vapid eyes.



 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Y U no auto-translate?lye_tea on September 4th, 2010 06:20 am (UTC)
Cos they be so hottt! xD

Prolly not cos Versus is supposed to be entirely independent. Meh, whatevs.