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Syncopation

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“...”

Who was there?

“...!”

What was this voice? Where had he heard it before? For that matter, when was the last time he heard anything? Where was he? It was all so dark, he couldn’t see.

“Sync.”

His name, but who was that? He tried to move his body, and could feel his limbs waking up from a slumber, pins prickling his skin as blood pumped through his arms and legs. It hurt, but it was bearable, and he could soon begin to see again, stars and glitter the only thing he could see. That is, until the figure emerged from the shadows, a faint light illuminating their features.

It was that replica, except, he was so different. Long hair, long white cloak, and a sad gaze that seemed lifeless in nature.

“Who… What?” Sync’s voice faltered in his own throat, like he hadn’t spoke in forever.

“You’re actually awake… I’m so glad…” The man’s voice was like something of a combination of Luke and Asch. He wasn’t one or the other it seemed… though it seemed like there was more to it then just that. Sync could hardly even process what he was seeing, or rather hearing. It seemed like a strange dream rather than reality, but the more he spoke the less of a dream it seemed to be.

“Where… am I?” This attempt at a sentence was a little bit better. More cognizant.

“Your eyes don’t seem to be working yet, but we’re in Tataroo Valley, it’s currently night time.” Luke’s voice comes through more openly, and Sync picks up on it. “It’s been a long time since you’ve been awake, last. In fact, it’s been several years.”

Several years?

“I don’t… remember when I was last awake. Wait…” The memories were starting to come back once his eyes seemed to be working better. Seeing this man’s face up close, seeing how the flowers bloomed, seeing his own body covered in blood. Everything was starting to make sense.

“I… I died, didn’t I?”

The thought hurts him. And it hurts him even more to know that this was the third time being given a life he never wanted, never asked to be burdened with. It hurt so much.

“...Yes.”

Nothing made sense. Even as he looked upon this person for answers, all he could see was sadness mirroring right back at him. Clearly, there was no answer to be given, and yet he couldn’t stop from asking. There had to be more to this than surface value. There had to be a reason. There had to be!

“But… I’m alive again. How am I alive? Was I brought back to life?”

“Yes. I took your body from the planet storm and was able to piece it back together. It took a long time but you seemed the most receptive to the process.” Sync could barely understand what he was hearing. How had he even done that? Who was this man? What did any of this mean? It didn’t make sense.

All he knew was that he was alive again, through the meddling of this person , and he was furious.

“Why was I brought back? Why only me?!” Dread poured into Sync’s gut, his heart dropping and his eyes wide in bewilderment. To think, another chance at a life he never wanted, when there were so many of his comrades who would have given anything for a second chance. “This isn’t fair .” He could only scream in frustration, agony wailing into the night sky. It echoed into the valley.

“You were the only one I could save! The rest perished too long ago or were simply too exhausted to be saved. I’m sorry.” He can hear Asch’s angry growl mixed with Luke’s desperate plea. It’s horrifying to listen to and he can only look on, enraged and horrified. To think, this thing, this creature, would be the thing to revive him - disgusting.

“That doesn’t make it better! ‘I’m sorry’ doesn’t cut it !” Sync is now sitting up fully, hands grasping at the man’s collar of his shirt. He pleads, angry, sobbing, upset. “I don’t deserve to live, and yet you couldn’t save Arietta…? Legretta …? Van ?!” He’s red hot by the end, knuckles white around the man’s collar. He’s so infuriated, yet so very empty. It hurts.

Even with the wind howling through the valley, Sync can still hear his own teeth chattering in rage, his heart pulsing in his ears.

“...It’s… I’m sorry, Sync.”

“...What a fucking joke.” Sync laughs to himself, a broken chuckle escaping his lips. “This is all too funny and yet I can’t even laugh… Pathetic.” He hangs his head low, eyes shut tight, fists tighter.

“...At least you can return.” The man offers, as if it’s some kind of consolation prize.

“Return to what? A world I was never invited into? A society that undoubtedly hates my very existence? Is that my reward for being brought back? Am I supposed to be happy ?” Sync can feel himself starting to lose his breath from yelling, voice choking from holding back tears. He can’t stand it. This is such an absolute joke, and yet there’s no punch line. Nothing truly funny. Except here he is, forced to live the same misery again and again because the gift of life is something the Gods want to keep regifting him.

“It’s… a world of your own making.” Is all the man says before standing up, a look of scorn on his face, or possibly jealousy. “A world without a true Score, a world with no set destiny. If that was your true goal, then… yes. I would say you should be happy.”

The thought made Sync’s mind go blank. His entire life’s mission… it had succeeded, regardless of his own failure.

“A world without a Score…? We won? Van was victorious?”

“...He perished, as well as your comrades. But just by us existing, the Score has been undone.” His head turns towards the sky and Sync can no longer see his face. “2 years ago, I emerged from the planet’s core. I was no longer just myself, or rather, I was all of myself. I am both Luke and Asch, combined into one using the power of Lorelei.” He spoke quietly. “I am Lusch, a product of all three entities.”

“Lusch…?” It barely made sense, and even speaking the word made Sync’s head spin.

It was absolutely ridiculous, and yet none of it contradicted itself yet.

“I was in the planet storm…? I died…? And yet somehow after all this time you’ve revived me?” Speaking slowly, if only to try and piece everything together in a way that made sense. “I died again , and yet somehow I’m still a living, walking corpse. Again . How fucking fitting.” He laughed lazily into his own hand, finally starting to find the morbid humor in the situation. Lusch couldn’t share his sentiment but said nothing to dissuade his thoughts.

“I don’t know what I can do for you, but I know that your brethren are waiting for you to return home in Daath.” Sync looks up only to see a sympathetic smile on Lusch’s sad-eyed face. “Anise and Florian are both waiting for you to come home. I can feel it, in their thoughts, in their hopes. I can tell, they want to see you again.”

The thought alone makes Sync’s stomach churn. Seeing either of them after everything he had done? A terrible idea.

“Is this a game you want me to play? Is that it?” Green eyes pierce Lusch’s soul, fire burning bright beneath them. “You want me to play this game of life and try to make something of myself, only for you to take it away again, is that it? You want to play God this badly? Well then, fine. I’ll go along. Except next time I die I better stay dead.”

“I-I accept. I won’t use my powers to interfere with you anymore.” His reply is sheepish, as if he wasn’t expecting this sort of response. Typical.

“...Good. I don’t need your help and I don’t want it.”

“At the very least, let me get you going in the right direction.” He hands Sync a small satchel full of what sounds like Gald. Sync looks at him with distaste but take it regardless.

“Tch.”

Despite the pain in his gut, Sync stands. Lusch extends a hand to help him to his feet but Sync refuses it, pushing him to the side as he gets up. It hurts, it hurts so damn much, but he pushes through it like some kind of masochistic idiot.

Lusch only stands to the side as he walks away, thinking aloud to himself, to the planet. He makes no effort to give chase, which Sync can only give the smallest of gratitude for.

“So here I am again, Auldrant. Unwanted, unneeded, and alive against my own will. What a joke.” He would have laughed at his own misery if not for the pain in his gut. “Do to me what you will.”

Truly, this was a cruel prank.