FF9:CN chapter 3
Chapter 3: Change
“Hey there, Dagger!” Eiko bounced cheerfully up to the queen as she found her on the balcony. Garnet didn't mind Eiko calling her by that name, since it was the first name she knew her as.
“Hi, Eiko,” she greeted quietly, looking briefly at her, and then over at the town again.
“I take it there's still no sign of him then?” Eiko asked sadly, “It's been nearly two weeks, hasn't it?” Garnet nodded, sighing.
“We asked the moogles to search wherever they could, and I asked Uncle Cid and everyone I could think of if they had seen him, but it feels like nothing has happened.” Eiko spun around as she heard a thud. Kain had tried to run towards her to greet her, but fell over in the process. The girl laughed and helped him up as he straightened his hat.
“You're too much like Vivi, y'know that?” She said, grinning. Kain laughed nervously.
“It's been a while since I last saw you. I just wanted to say 'hi',” he replied, avoiding the last comment. Eiko looked over to the lone figure that stood on the balcony, then grabbed Kain's hand and pulled him indoors along with her.
“It's best to leave her alone right now,” she said, almost dragging him through the corridors before he eventually pulled away from her, falling backwards. Eiko turned to him, hands on hips. “You haven't heard anything?” Kain shook his head. “This isn't like Zidane. I know he'd at least send us a letter or tell us where he's going.” She looked around irritably, and then leaned closer towards Kain, her hand up by her mouth as if telling a secret. “Have you heard what Dagger and Father were talking about the other day? They say Mikoto's disappeared, and so has Bobby Corwen.” The little mage shook his head again as Eiko folded her arms. “I think it's a conspiracy,” she added, Kain curious to know where she learnt that word, and more importantly, what it meant. “The only two people from Terra who can give you a somewhat straight answer and they both disappear.” She grabbed the mage's hand and pulled him along after her to the castle entrance. “Come on, we're searching Alexandria again!”
“D-do I even have a choice?” He stuttered as he tried to keep his balance.
Meanwhile, in Lindblum, the locals were still trying to get used to the new temporary arrivals, while trying to be as helpful as possible. The newly created black mages that were the bravest of the bunch constantly explored the area while trying to get the other mages to join them. Due to lack of time giving them proper names, Vivi had decided to name some of them after the mages he met in the Black Mage Village. As for anyone deciding names for the genomes? Zidane decided that it would be best for them to name themselves...to an extent, of course. None of them seemed to care for names, however.
“Um, excuse me,” 288 said hesitantly to one of the men at the market stalls. He looks down at him and smiled.
“And what can I do for you?” He asked cheerfully. 288 twiddled his thumbs nervously.
“I'm, um, looking for Mikoto. Have you seen her?” The man thought for a while.
“Can't say I have,” he replied. “She normally walks by here at least once a day, and you can't really miss her. To be honest, I haven't seen her for about a week.”
“Oh...Thank you.” He headed off in the other direction. Mikoto looked different to the other genomes now, mainly because she grew her hair longer and changed her outfit. Everyone found it strange that she wanted to make herself different, when she had spent so many years being content with looking the same as those around her.
“Hey, 288!” He looked around to see another mage running up to him.
“H-hello, 33,” he greeted. 33 laughed.
“You've still got that nervous stutter?” He asked.
“It's going away a little...”
“Come on, 163 found something!” 33 said as 288 nodded and followed. They arrived at the outskirts of the city, were a small group of miniature Vivi's were crowded around something. 33 squeezed his way through them to the middle with 288 following, apologising for being rude.
“W-what is it, 163?” 288 asked curiously. The mage held up a long shard of what looked like glass.
“I found this in the ground and tried pulling it up. What do you think it is?” he asked.
“Hey, didn't Kain mention something about growing crystals in a letter the other day?” 33 suggested.
“I think so,” Lune, another one of the mages there, replied. “Do you think we should tell Regent Cid? He told us to tell him if anything strange happens.” The other mages nodded in unison and headed towards the castle, a couple of them tripping over themselves and needing to catch up on the way.
“I'm sorry, Your Majesty, but there is still no sign of him from where we have checked,” Steiner told her. “I don't want to believe that he would leave you to worry, but there is no other explanation.”
“Thanks, Steiner,” Garnet mumbled, disheartened. Beatrix stepped forward.
“We shall inform you immediately if there is any news. No area of the Mist Continent is being ignored at this moment,” she added, trying to reassure her.
“But that's the problem,” the young queen stood up from her seat. “He might not be on the Mist Continent! There are many other places we have visited outside of this land that he could've gone to!” Beatrix glanced at Steiner for a second, then back at Garnet.
“We have taken that into account, Your Majesty. But...” she hesitated.
“'But' what?” Garnet asked suspiciously.
“Is it really wise to use so much effort to look for him? I know you love him, but with the soldiers searching away from the town, something may occur that means we cannot help the people of Alexandria.” Beatrix waited for her to be scolded like a child for saying such things, but it didn't happen.
“I understand what you mean,” she said, defeated. “Zidane thanked me for not being so selfish before he left. Please, call the soldiers back. If Zidane wants us to know where he is, he'll tell us in his own time.” They both saluted, and then left. Garnet knew she had made the best choice, but the sick feeling in her stomach told her otherwise.
Zidane finally stopped walking, looking at the entrance to the ancient settlement, Oeilvert. It had taken him two weeks to get there, fighting various monsters on the way, yet he didn't feel tired or feel much pain from the injuries he'd sustained. Walking up the path through the entrance of the complex, he looked at his surroundings. Parts of the walls had crumbled away as they weakened, making the floor dusty and uneven. He made his way across the area until he stopped before a large blue door. Taking a deep breath, he forced it open and headed inside.
The room he entered was cold and dark, lit only by the now open door. He took a few more steps deeper into it and jumped as the room suddenly lit up with pure white emanating from the floor, revealing a central green platform with a stone walkway leading up to it. Walking up to stand on it, he stumbled as it lifted into the air. He looked all around him to see the eerily lit stone faces, some of them badly damaged.
“Welcome, Zidane Tribal,” he spun around as one of the faces had lit up and moved forwards to speak with him. “We have been waiting for you.”
“What am I doing here?” Zidane demanded. “I know I had to come here, but why?”
“That is not a necessary question,” the head explained in a deep emotionless voice. “I believe you know the answer, but are questioning why the answer is as it is.” Zidane thought for a moment, and then shook his head.
“I still don't understand,” he said. “Why wasn't I called here like this the first time I came here?” The head's light faded and sunk back into the wall, with a different head on the other side of the room taking its place.
“Before you lacked any symbol of who you really were,” it explained. “Now, you are in possession of it.” Zidane looked down and pulled the crystal from under his shirt.
“You mean this?” He asked, holding it up to the head.
“Yes,” it replied. “It called you here to serve its purpose. Now, enter through.” Zidane looked down as he heard a rumbling sound, seeing a dark hole there. The face went dark again and receded into the wall. The platform jolted and began to lower as small stones rose up from the floor in the direction of the newly opened entrance. He jumped onto each of them, but stopped on the last stone and turned around.
“Wait, I wanna ask you something.” A few seconds later, the head lit up and rose out of the wall again. “Do you know where this crystal came from?”
“That, I can assure you, is the question for an answer you've known since you were given it.” Zidane looked at the face suspiciously, then turned and leapt off the last stone and ducked to get through to the next room.
The room was lit by pale blue light rippling off the walls of the room from an unknown source, but Zidane did not bother to look around. He instead walked up towards the middle of the room, looking curiously at the statue that stood before him. “This is...Garland,” he said quietly, looking up at the statue's stern features looking directly onwards. The statue itself was life-size and much taller than Zidane due to the pedestal it stood on.
"You know nothing, and that is all.
Come and see for yourself...See what
Terra is, and what you are...”
Zidane spun around, surprised. “Who said that?!” he yelled, drawing his Ultima Weapon and glancing around the room tensely. 'It sounded like Garland...'
“Boy, you have been bewitched by the
light of the blue moon.”
“Show yourself!!” Zidane got a sick feeling in his stomach as he tried to figure out what was going on. Was it like when Garland spoke to him in Memoria? He dropped his weapon when he saw the crystal around his neck begin to glow and float a little away from his chest.
"Not just them, but you and me, too.
It is the name of the seed given to
all of us. Its name is Genome."
"The light is unpleasant to us..."
"Why are you not happy? You have
returned to the place of your birth."
“What..? Mikoto?” He couldn't understand what was happening. His head was swimming from the painful light pouring from the crystal and the voices that seemed to be directly in his mind, getting louder and louder as they layered on top of each other. “It's... all of the people in Terra...” he gasped, unable to think anything. The voices suddenly seemed quieter as he clutched is back, a searing pain shooting along it. He tore his jacket off just in time as two graphite coloured wings burst from his back, blood splattering everywhere. He screamed in pain as the glow of the crystal faded and fell back to his chest. His mind went numb and all noise became incoherent as he collapsed forward to the ground, silent, the wings twitching as they lay on top of him, soaked in blood.