Chapter 1: Cycle
There are many worlds. Countless, infinite worlds. But even among such vastness, some worlds share similar traits and themes. These worlds are categorized to make them easier to understand for outsiders. One such category exists not simply because of its recurring traits and themes, but also of one defining link: that of a single Creator. And like worlds, many Creators exist. This is a record of the worlds made by one particular Creator, or more accurately, the hand-picked inhabitants of them.
The world they reside in now, a planet called Xineerauqs, is not one of their own, but of another's making. A paradise. Though rebellious at first, its unwilling guests have accepted their sugar-coated imprisonment, for try as they might, they cannot hope to fight against its ruler and his insurmountable army.
In the planet's only town, Domus Facina, do these complacent prisoners reside. Only their Creator's most villainous beings were brought here, yet with their various schemes on indeterminate hiatus, they rarely cause any problems. They are forced to live amongst one another under the watchful eye of a single man. The creator of this new world. The Landlord.
Despite the excitement, it was a day like any other. The villains, often referred to by the Landlord as “Final Fantasy villains” for reasons unknown to them, were enjoying a warm day at the public swimming pool. Knights from a land known as Ivalice conversed, while a former member of a military faction called SOLDIER reclined on the roof, reading his favorite epic, “LOVELESS”. A short, portly man chased a pair of twin jesters who had just stolen his hat, while an enormous man with blue hair and glowing tattoos glared at their recklessness. A former student of Balamb Garden tried to hit on a lovely General from the Avalonian Empire, while the Zanarkand Abes' former star player performed his daily swimming exercises.
Yes, the world's many inhabitants have taken a liking to their new, temporary home, though every once in a while, a homesick villain will lash out and need to be dealt with by the Landlord's army of female clones, one of whom was acting as a lifeguard this day. Unlike their respective worlds, this planet did not have a Lifestream, therefore making death impossible. This allowed them to do whatever they wanted, including dismembering one another, without fear. Domus Facina and its surrounding landscape provided every need the villains could desire. A bowling alley, a movie theater, an opera house, several restaurants and cafes, a museum, a library, a laboratory for its many resident mad scientists, a coliseum, an arcade in the mall... There are too many to list, so its inhabitants weren't likely to get bored anytime soon.
But sometimes, the excitement is a bit much to bear, and it's more fun to just relax at home, maybe with a quiet card game. Ten such people, not content with calling each other “friends”, had gathered together to play a custom, multiplayer version of “Tetra Master”, a card game from the planet Gaia. As they sat in the chairs at the round, wooden table, it didn't take long for the bickering to begin.
“Is it set up yet?” the impatient knight Garland inquired.
“It hasn't been that long,” replied another armored guest named Golbez.
“This had better not be a waste of valuable time, Kuja,” said an unconvinced ExDeath who, like the two before him, wore a full suit of armor.
“Don't be so ungrateful,” the elegant Kuja advised as he passed five cards to each player. “It wasn't easy adapting this game for group play.”
“This would never work with Triple Triad,” noted the sorceress Ultimecia, as she remembered a similar card game from her home planet.
“How about we make this more interesting?” Garland suggested. “Everyone who loses will have to fight me, one versus the rest in battle royale!” Garland wore a full suit of armor that covered all of his skin. His helmet looked like a metal skull, and had two enormous horns stretching out from either side. The helmet's eye-holes were pitch black, and only Garland's mysteriously glowing yellow eyes could be seen through them. He wore a long, purple cape, and wielded an enormous sword that could split into smaller swords connected by chains, as well as assume other shapes.
Garland was from an unnamed planet that the Landlord referred to as “Final Fantasy – World A”. He was the strongest knight in the kingdom of Cornelia, until one day when he decided to kidnap its princess, holding her for ransom in exchange for the kingdom. After being defeated by four mysterious warriors, Garland almost died, but four powerful creatures known as the Fiends sent him back in time, so that he might send them forward into the future and start the cycle over again, creating a loop that rendered all five of them immortal at the cost of the world's safety. Cocky and restless, Garland spends every day in Domus Facina fighting anyone that's willing to challenge him.
“Is that all you think about is fighting?” Mateus asked. “You shouldst find a more intellectual hobby.” Mateus wore a skin-tight, purple suit that covered everything from the neck down, while his breast, abdomen, and thighs were lined with golden armor. He wore golden high heels, large striped pauldrons that fanned out like wings, and a long, purple cape. His face was pale and elegant, decorated with colored jewels and purple makeup. His long, blonde hair was spiked around his head to resemble the shape of a radiant sun, while two horns made of gold were attached to either side. When in public, he was always seen holding his golden scepter, decorated with an amber jewel and silver dragon on top and three claws at the base.
Emperor Mateus Palamecia was from what the Landlord called “Final Fantasy II”, which is presumably how the Creator categorized their worlds, he thought. He was the ruler of the Palamecian Empire, and after making a deal with the devil, received the power and resources he needed to conquer the world. He was eventually struck down, but as he died, his soul split in two, and each one took over a different afterlife. With Heaven and Hell both under his command, it would only be a matter of time before the mortal realm was also his. Arrogant and conceited, Mateus feels he is above all others, and anything that exists should belong to him.
“Bah! Let him do as he pleases,” Xande advised. “None of us can die while we're on this planet, so why not take advantage of it?” Xande had blue-gray skin and blank, white eyes, though his lack of irises did not make it difficult to discern his expression. His long, white hair was spiky on the top, and long in the back, like a mullet. He went shirtless, only wearing baggy, yellow pants, like that of a djinn, and a long, blue cape. Though he carried a magical red staff, he preferred to fight with his fists, which were noticeably stained with blood.
Master Xande, from “Final Fantasy III”, was once one of three immortal students of the Great Magus Noah. When Noah had nothing left to teach, each of his three students were given parting gifts. While the other two received great powers and dominion over different realms, Xande received the gift of mortality, so he might one day die as a human. Shocked and unappreciative of his gift, Xande immediately sought a method of preventing his demise, going so far as to taint the world's Crystals, flood the planet, and freeze time. Xande is terrified of death and will do anything to prevent it, so Xineerauqs is precisely where he wants to be right now.
“Indeed,” Golbez agreed. “A lack of death means a lack of consequence. We have no reason to fight one another apart from the sheer thrill.” Golbez, like Garland, wore a full suit of armor that showed no flesh, though not even Golbez's eyes were visible through the horizontal slit in his helmet. His armor was all dark blue in color, including the cape that hung from beneath his enormous pauldrons, and the horns on his helmet were shaped like curly antlers.
Harking from “Final Fantasy IV”, Golbez was born the son of a Lunarian and a human. After the prejudiced execution of his father, and his mother's death shortly after giving birth to his younger brother Cecil, he was taken in by another Lunarian named Zemus, and raised to be his loyal minion. Manipulated from a young age, Golbez committed many atrocities to see Zemus's plans to completion, but when the spell was finally broken, he turned on Zemus, though he was never able to forgive himself. Golbez is quiet, polite, and wise, and does not succumb to his desires like the others.
“Haha! Count me in, then!” ExDeath complied. “Whether I win or lose matters not to me; I'll still join in the fight!” ExDeath, much like Garland and Golbez, wore a full suit of armor that almost completely covered his body, save for his fingers and some parts around his elbows, which revealed his skin to be gray in color. His azure-colored armor looked very organic, as though it grew to fit his body, and his light-blue cape dragged on the floor as he walked. He often was seen holding an amber-colored, twig-like shortsword, though he preferred to fight with his magic.
ExDeath was from the Planet R, in the world of “Final Fantasy V”. When the world's inhabitants could no longer use the Void to seal away evil beings, after dividing the world in half to keep anyone from using it for evil, they instead starting using a large tree. When that tree, filled with evil power, gained sentience, it assumed humanoid form and wreaked havoc, re-integrating the planet to attain the Void's power. ExDeath seems obsessed with ending his own existence, as living is too painful for him to bear, but he believes ending all of existence is the only way to achieve this.
“PASS,” Kefka obnoxiously refused. “As much as I'd love to pummel someone into the ground, not being able to enjoy every blow's not quite as... INVIGORATING.” Kefka resembled a clown in his appearance, wearing white makeup on his skin, purple lipstick, and red, haphazard eyeshadow. Though his blonde hair was short, it was still tied up in a tiny ponytail, the band of which also held a huge peacock feather, several assorted cloths, and colored beads. His outfit was a mishmash of reds, yellows, and other colors in stripes and polka dots, with a frilly, striped collar, puffy sleeves, long cape, and mismatched boots.
Kefka Palazzo was from “Final Fantasy VI”, and acted as a general in the Gestahlian Empire until Magitek experiments drove him insane. Though he was allowed to remain in the Empire as court mage, he never recovered from the experiments that gave him magical powers, and he gained a penchant for murder and treachery. After disrupting the balance between three, petrified goddesses, Kefka absorbed their powers as well and became the God of Magic, causing global ruin in the process. Nihilistic and sadistic, Kefka's love for death and destruction cannot be sated.
“I don't remember ever agreeing to such terms,” said Sephiroth with his arms crossed. “I have no interest in fighting unnecessary battles.” Sephiroth had long, silver hair, and bright, green eyes. He wore a black, leather trenchcoat with no shirt underneath, only a leather abdomen guard bearing the logo of SOLDIER. He wore black pants with thigh-high black boots, and metal pauldrons on each shoulder. His weapon of choice was the Masamune, a seven-foot long katana, though its length could vary each time he summoned it.
Sephiroth, from “Final Fantasy VII”, was born as an experiment by Professor Hojo, in which the cells of an alien called Jenova were injected into him whilst he was still in the womb. Having never known his true parents, he was raised by the Shinra military force, and had always displayed immeasurable strength. When he eventually learned of Jenova's existence, he decided to continue the work of his lone parent-figure, seeking to absorb the planet's Lifestream and migrate to a new one. Calm and taciturn, Sephiroth is single-minded in his goals, but patient in their execution.
“You boys can do what you want in the future,” Ultimecia advised. “I'm more interested in our present task. Kuja, what do the symbols on these cards mean again?” Ultimecia, the only woman at the table, had long silver hair, most of which was put in two horn shapes. Her face and body were covered with colored markings, though whether these were makeup, tattoos, or a result of the mutation caused by her sorceress powers were unknown. Her hands had turned purple with tapered fingers, and her bare feet clawed and blackened. She wore a long, red dress with a black, fur collar, and had large, black wings on her back.
Sorceress Ultimecia, from “Final Fantasy VIII”, was a witch from the distant future. Having been hunted and despised her entire life for what she was, she plotted to use the powers of a young girl named Ellone to cast a spell known as Time Compression. With it, she could cause all of time and space to converge at a single point in an era before her own, rendering her the only living being left in the universe and absorbing all of it unto herself. She is calm and observant, cunning and manipulative.
“It's really quite simple,” Kuja explained. “The first digit is Attack, the second is its Type, and the last two are Physical and Magical defenses. It's easiest if you just remember the phrase 'All Taciturn Phantasms Mourn'.” Kuja was quite effeminate, having pale skin with red lipstick and eyeshadow. He wore red nail polish, and his long, silver-blue hair seemed to to be made of feathers. He wore a purple jacket with no undershirt, exposing his midriff, as well as long, purple boots, and a white cape on his hips. His leather codpiece conceals the monkey-like tail he is so ashamed of.
Kuja was a Genome from the planet Terra, in the realm of “Final Fantasy IX”. He was created to cause wars on another planet called Gaia, in order to eliminate its life and gather soul energy. Once the planet was barren, the inhabitants of Terra would use that energy to resurrect themselves in the bodies of soulless Genomes. The jealous Kuja turned against his creator when another Genome was made with a soul, but when his revenge was near completion, he learned how limited his lifespan was. Terrified of death and facing his mortality for the first time, Kuja used the soul energy for himself to travel back in time, and attempted to destroy the Mother Crystal that birthed the world. Kuja is narcissistic and arrogant, though poetic and somber.
“Whether it's spent battling,” Seymour began, “or having a friendly card match, the time we have to enjoy these things seems almost... limitless.” Seymour had long blue hair, which draped behind him in the shape of two antler-like horns. His face was covered in visible vein patterns, and his fingers were tapered, giving them a sharp appearance. He wore a thick, black robe with black pants and shoes, and wore a green, cloth belt. He wielded a blue staff with a red, ornately-patterned head.
Maester Seymour Guado was from the planet Spira in “Final Fantasy X”, and made up one of several members of its ruling religious faction, the Yevonites. The world had been ravaged by a monstrous beast known as Sin, that had always returned from the dead for the prior millennium, no matter how many times it was defeated. With no known way to kill it, and the peoples' sorrow a never-ending factor of daily life, Seymour came up with a rather extreme plan. Each time Sin is killed, the creature that kills it becomes Sin in its place. Seymour planned to become Sin intentionally, and use its power to kill everyone in Spira. He himself had already died, but because his soul was never sent to the Farplane, he remains among the living, immortal. If it happened to him, the same could for everyone else, he thought, and no one would fear death again. Seymour is ruthless, yet eerily kind, genuinely caring for the well-being of others.
The term “limitless” sparked a thought in Garland's mind that day, for he knew something the rest of them did not. Having experienced it consciously countless times himself, he knew that each and every world looped at their end back to their beginning, to repeat every event once more. Sometimes the means were slightly different, but the ends were always the same. From creation to destruction, all births and deaths happen again and again. When they inevitably returned to their own worlds, he thought, everything would resume as it always had, and nothing would change.
Only a handful of beings knew this harsh truth, and Garland wished he were not among them. What meaning does his existence have if he is doomed to live and die repeatedly? He gave up trying to find an answer eons ago. Now, the only thing that makes him feel alive is combat. Never-ending, limitless battle. If he is doomed to never die, to never find inner peace, or to never make any permanent changes to the world, then this is the existence he wants.
And Xineerauqs, a planet filled with worthy opponents who never died, was the perfect place for that.
Chapter 2: Scheme
Though Xineerauqs was a small planet, with its only city taking up about one percent of its total surface area, it still maintained the usual day/night cycle its residents were used to. The days were bright and cloudy with blue skies, while the nights were dark and starry, its sole moon radiant. That night, in the huge, black castle in the center of town, the Landlord was hard at work in his tower. His was one of three small towers that surrounded the enormous, central one.
In his room at the top of his tower, the Landlord's keyboard clacked and his mouse clicked, as he hurriedly looked over his status reports so he could get to bed as early as possible. “Everything seems to be running smoothly,” he noted to himself. “The residents have been mostly docile of late.” The Landlord had chin-length, brown hair and wore dark sunglasses to conceal his eyes. He wore a long, black coat decorated in belts and chains, and from his shoulders grew two, gold-colored horns.
Nothing was really known about the Landlord, only that he was working together with the Final Fantasy villains' Creator. He had brought them all here under the pretense of studying them, claiming to be interested in how they'd socialize in an artificial environment. Finding themselves unable to fight back due to the Landlord's infinite army of clones, the villains conceded and settled in.
Another clacking sound, more ceramic than plastic, could be heard coming from the tower's spiral staircase. One of the clones, one of the Maenads, had arrived with a tray full of hot tea. “Your evening tea, sir,” she offered as she arrived. The Maenads were an army of all-female clones, each with long, cyan hair and light brown eyes. The standard attire was a flowing, white dress, but this often changed depending on the individual's job. They were mass-produced by the Creator, and can send and receive messages to and from him telepathically.
“My thanks,” thanked the Landlord as the Maenad approached. “Tell me, has your master sent you any messages that I should hear?”
“If he had, I would have already reported it.” The Maenad carefully set the tea tray on the Landlord's desk, next to where he was seated.
“He hasn't been very talkative lately. Do I need to go upstairs and speak with him in-person?”
“The Creator isn't very happy with you right now. In fact, he's growing quite impatient. You've failed this mission four times so far, and he's beginning to think a fifth attempt won't be enough.” An image of four small, destroyed planets crossed the Landlord's mind, a reminder of his past failures. “He's losing faith in your abilities.”
“Is THAT a message from him?”
“It's a message from US,” she replied, referring to the Maenad army as a whole. “He's growing weak. If this mission lasts any longer than it already has... soon, he'll have no more use for you.” Without another word, or even a farewell, the Maenad climbed back down the stairs, her task for the evening complete.
The Landlord sat alone at his desk, contemplating what he was just told and tapping his fingers. “Yeah...” he mumbled to himself. “We wouldn't want our friend the Creator to get upset... Now, would we?”
Morning dawned, and the sun rose over the great wall that divided Domus Facina from the forested regions to the east, while the moon disappeared over the horizon closest to the ocean. Some villains never slept, others lived their lives in the dark, preferring the night life, and others were just waking up.
In his tiny, makeshift castle, Mateus was greeted to a new day by the beams of sunlight shining through his bedroom window. As he arose in his king-sized bed, complete with silk drapes, he yawned deeply and groaned, never really being a morning person, but knowing that a good emperor always rises as the sun does. Having collected his thoughts, Mateus placed his hands together and lightly clapped twice.
As though he had gotten up much earlier and waited outside his master's door for the sound of clapping, a short, portly man came barging into the room, carrying in a breakfast tray. “C-coming, Your Majesty!” Borghen was only about four feet tall, though he often seemed shorter due to his rotund appearance. His hideously disfigured face had no eyebrows, a bright red nose, huge moles, and terrible teeth. He wore a red and black general's uniform, complete with black cape and a plumed hat.
Borghen placed the breakfast tray over Mateus's lap as he laid in bed. Today's breakfast was the standard, consisting of two eggs, two strips of bacon, one apple, and coffee. The tray also had a small flower vase for atmosphere. Borghen stood straight and still, doing his best not to move nor glance at his master while he ate. Borghen himself had, of course, not eaten yet, for nobody eats before their emperor does.
The rest of the morning was the standard routine. Borghen helped Mateus brush his teeth, get dressed, and applied his makeup, all in a timespan of fifteen minutes. Any longer, and Borghen would pay for it. His beauty reclaimed on yet another morning, Mateus stood in front of his window and looked down on the town, glaring at the sunrise as Borghen knelt behind him in his shadow. “Blasted sun...” he cursed. “If any entity is fit to shine, it is I.”
“Of... of course, Your Excellency!” Borghen reluctantly flattered as he winced, taking the opportunity with his master not looking. “Your brilliance should be what awakens these peasants each day!” Borghen, also from “Final Fantasy II”, was once a general in the kingdom of Fynn. When he saw how powerful Mateus was, he betrayed his homeland and shared its military secrets with the Palamecian Empire. He turns on those who trust him in favor of getting on the winning team's good side, caring for naught but his own welfare.
“Such a small planet,” Mateus observed. “It must rotate very slowly to maintain 24-hour days. A result of its artificial nature, no doubt. It almost makes me wonder if its even worth conquering. Speaking of which...” Mateus paused, having faintly noticed the near-silent sound of slithering in the shadows behind him. “Do you have anything to report?”
Not knowing what Mateus meant, Borghen looked about to see if he might be speaking to anyone else. Sure enough, Borghen jumped slightly at the rare presence of the Lamia Queen, but remained silent. A lamia is a creature with the upper body of a beautiful woman, and the lower body of a snake. Their queen, having been in the employ of Mateus since before their arrival, had bronze, tanned skin, hair that was purple and wild, and blue, snake-like eyes. She wore no clothing other than various accessories in her hair, including her insect-like crown.
“Forgive me, master,” she apologized in a seductive voice, as lamiae were wont to do. “The other residents waste their time with daily recreation, and the Landlord rarely shows his face.” The Lamia Queen, as well as her sistren, swore loyalty to the Emperor, along with several other demons and monsters, when he made his pact with the devil. Being a Palamecian spy, as well as an undercover agent, she once disguised herself as the princess of Fynn so that the real princess could be kidnapped. She consumes those too weak-willed to resist her sexual charm.
“You'd think after spending so long here,” Mateus deduced, impatient for results, “that the other residents would start to feel homesick. Mayhaps I shouldst do some personal reconnaissance.” Mateus approached the door to his bedroom, planning to leave and make progress in his secret mission himself. Waiting for him by the door was a knight, holding Mateus's scepter.
As his emperor approached, the knight knelt and offered the rod. “Your scepter, my lord,” said the knight. The Dark Knight wore a full suit of dark purple armor that covered nearly everything, save for his ankles and wrists, likely for mobility's sake. He wore a red cape, and his horned helmet showed two glowing, red eyes through its slit., though unlike with Garland, this was just an illusion.
The Dark Knight was formerly a POW from the siege of Fynn. After his capture, he shifted his loyalty to the empire and quickly climbed its ranks. He now serves as the emperor's right-hand man, firm in the knowledge that his new master cannot be defeated. Though he will carry out any order given to him by his superior, he is kind and merciful when he can be.
Without saying a word of thanks, Mateus took the scepter in his hand, and the Dark Knight opened the doors for him. As Mateus went downstairs, past his personal throne room and out the exit, he muttered, “I'll free all of these fools from their fantasy.”
Chapter 3: Life
A beautiful day at the local beach, which on Xineerauqs, was always nice and warm. The sun was not too harsh, and the water was not too cold. Situated just northwest of town, it was not too far to walk, so it could easily be visited every day. Reno and Rude, two members of a spy group called the Turks, threw a volleyball back and forth in the shallow water. Gigameth, the royal advisor from the kingdom of Salonia, sat at the outdoor bar, drinking margaritas from coconut shells that the local Maenad served to him.
This Maenad, wearing nothing but a grass skirt and a flower necklace that covered her chest, had prepared yet another margarita tray for one of the beach's guests. Barefoot as usual, she walked across the sandy beach to the parasol-shaded chair in which the recipient had been waiting. “Your margarita, Master Xande,” she offered.
Xande was reclining in his beach chair, hands behind his head and sunglasses covering his eyes. He had been here for hours, and had told the Maenad on duty to bring him a new margarita every hour. “I can't reach it from here,” Xande lied, scheming. “You'll have to come closer...”
The Maenad rolled her eyes, because she knew exactly what was coming. Nevertheless, it was her job to do as he said, so she politely complied. “Here's your mar--” she was interrupted by the sharp sting of her rear being smacked hard by Xande, who had slipped his hand there when she wasn't paying attention. Angry, but trying to maintain her composure, she finished her task. “MARGARITA. SIR.” she growled through her teeth.
“Thanks, toots.” Xande disrespectfully quipped as he took the glass from the tray. As he chuckled to himself, the Maenad angrily stormed away, glaring back at him.
Hours passed, and as each one did, the Maenad brought him another margarita, and suffered each time she did. Late into the afternoon, it was just about time for another one to be delivered. Xande had almost fallen asleep, when a shadow loomed over him.
“Ah, there you are,” Xande said to the shadow, keeping his eyes closed. “Brought me another drink, have you? Just come a little bit clos--” Xande had reached his hand out to molest his server once more, but it was stopped by a yellow tentacle wrapping around his wrist. Unsure what was happening, Xande removed his sunglasses to get a better look.
As he opened his eyes, the first thing that greeted him was a glowing fingertip, charging a spell. Its owner, a woman other than a Maenad, glared at him, displeased with how she was about to be treated. “Wrong ass, asshole.”
Those words were followed by a loud boom, caused by the explosive laser-blast fired by the angered woman. A dusty pillar of sand rose above the pit where Xande's beach chair once was. As the explosion subsided, and the sand slowly fell from the sky like rain, the Maenad that brought him drinks finally arrived. Seeing the mangled Xande in the newly-formed pit, the Maenad decided it wasn't worth the extra effort and just dropped the tray in. As the tray hit his head, Xande weakly called out, “Thank you...”
“Why is it that every time we find you,” Xande's attacker scolded, “you're either gorging yourself or terrorizing the Maenads?” The Cloud of Darkness is what this woman called herself, though Famfrit was its real name. In reality, it wasn't a woman at all – it only assumes the form of one for unknown reasons, but it was nevertheless considered female by its peers. She had long, silver hair that seemed to float, ignoring gravity, with red eyes and lips. Her body looked as though it was partially-clothed with a random assortment of red and black material, but this was in fact part of her skin, for she had no need of clothing. From her back grew four yellow tentacles, two of which had sentient heads, though they did not speak. It was presumed that the presence of these two tentacles was why Famfrit referred to itself as “we”. Famfrit never walked, and constantly floated above the ground, very much like a cloud.
Famfrit is a being that sleeps between worlds, waiting for the balance of light and darkness to tip in either's favor. Once, when the power of light grew too strong, she emerged as the Cloud of Light, intent on consuming the remaining darkness, but she was defeated, and balance was restored. For a thousand years she slept, until the day came when Xande corrupted the Crystals to achieve his goal of freezing time. With darkness overtaking the realm of light, she emerged once more as the Cloud of Darkness. Famfrit is an instinctual being, wanting to return the world to the nothingness from whence it came, only because it is what she exists to do.
“Why not?” Xande coughed as he climbed out of his sandy tomb. “I think I deserve to.”
“Oh, this should be rich,” Famfrit said sarcastically. “Enlighten us, then. WHY do you think you deserve to act like a glutton and mistreat everyone around you?”
“Just look around! This planet is inhabited by nothing but evil beings! And yet I see no fire nor brimstone! My plan back home was simple: freeze time, don't die. But if I froze time, I wouldn't be able to enjoy my immortality. It would effectively be the same as dying, right? Yet I still caused lots of death and destruction to get as far as I did.
“And after all the atrocities I committed, where did I eventually end up? Hell? No. THIS wonderful place! Clearly, this planet is some kind of 'evil heaven'. Why else would only villains be brought here? Why else would they be waiting on our every beck and call? Our every need and desire? Why else would we be unable to die here? If we ARE villains, then where is our eternal punishment?
“If this is Hell, then it's MY kind of Hell! And in my mind, when Hell treats you like a king, you had better keep up your reputation!”
“Xande...” Famfrit began, exasperated. “You are a fool. Do you honestly think you can stay here forever? Has the objective ephemeralness of this planet not crossed your puny mind?”
“You talk like this planet is anything like our own. For all we know, this planet WILL be here forever. And I'll tell you one thing. One thing that I know for certain. If this world DOES have an end, I'm not leaving until it's here!”
Just east of the beach was the Coliseum, the northernmost point of the Domus Facina proper. Traditional in shape and design, it resembled a cylinder of stone bricks, with the upper rim lined with various colored flags. Open-roofed and uncushioned, merely sitting in the audience would require braving the elements. The circular stadium suspended above the ground surrounded a deep pit with a sandy floor. On either side of the pit was an adamantine portcullis, the only material that could keep monsters, or rambunctious contestants, from breaking in or out of the arena.
Today, like most days, Garland was fighting. His opponent was a huge, green crab called an Acrophies, from the world of “Final Fantasy V”. In the audience to Garland's left, Razfahd, royal vizier of Aht Urhgan, and Baugauven, Fire General of Avalon, cheered and screamed in support of the oncoming bloodbath. At the top of the stairs sat the Maenad on duty, refereeing the match. And to Garland's right, Douglas Hein, a general of the US Army, sat waiting for his friend to arrive.
Garland and the giant crab had a long stare-down, each waiting for the other to become distracted so they could launch a sneak attack. Several minutes passed, and their gazes never parted. Finally deciding it was time to take action, Garland leapt at his target, and the Acrophies followed suit. As the sounds of steel and shell clashed, a new spectator arrived to meet with his friend Hein.
“Sorry I'm late,” Julius apologized. “Did I miss any of the bloodshed?” Julius's blonde hair was short on top and long in the back, tied into a ponytail. He had yellow eyes and wore a red veil to cover half of his face, as well as a long, red cape. Underneath, he wore a blue tunic, white skirt, and purple pants, and had a single large pauldron that covered both shoulders.
Julius, from “Final Fantasy Adventure”, was born the son of the Vandole Empire's ruler. When his homeland was destroyed, he was left as a baby in a nearby cave, where he was found and raised by Dark Lord, of the Glaive Empire. After growing up under Dark Lord's wicked care, Julius eventually learned of his origins and secretly plotted to revive his homeland. To this end, he needed the power that only the Mana Tree, source of all life in the world, could give. Stealing the tree's power would threaten the world's continuation, but Julius's ambition blinded him. Julius is quiet and deceiving, being a master of disguise, but he appreciates strong intellect.
“Nah, just started,” Hein answered. “Even after all this time, it amazes me how strong most of these people are. Puts my soldiers back home to shame...” Hein was a normal human without any magical powers. He wore a long, black coat, with casual black clothing underneath. He had slicked back, black hair and gray eyes, and he wore his USMF badge on his left breast.
Douglas Hein was from the planet Earth in “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”. He was a general in the the United States Military Force, accompanied by his associate, Major Elliot. Having lost his wife and child to the Phantoms, a race of invisible aliens that kill on touch, Hein swore vengeance on his planet's invaders and oversaw construction of the Zeus Cannon, a giant, orbital weapon that would fire upon their nest and eliminate them. Against the wishes of two doctors, infamous for believing their planet was alive and that firing on the nest could kill it, Hein completed the cannon anyway, single-minded in his revenge. Hein is brutally honest and firm in his beliefs, refusing to accept what's in front of him if it will hinder his plans.
The fight between Garland and the Acrophies raged on. While Garland blocked a giant claw with one half of his sword, he chopped off the other claw by firing the front of the other half of the sword at it. Even in the face of mortal danger, Garland remained calm and had not a scratch on him. “The knights of my world are nothing to scoff at, either,” Julius observed. “But Garland in particular... He is... unreal.”
“Or maybe he can only fight this well now that he's here with the rest of us,” Hein deduced, refusing to believe anyone could be this strong under normal circumstances. “In a world where you can't die, courage and recklessness go hand in hand. Speaking of which, I did have a reason for calling you here.”
“What is it?” Julius asked as he took his seat.
“I seem to recall you having a similar reaction as me when the others spoke of some... 'Lifestream' business? What do you know about all that?”
“The others describe at as an invisible 'river of life' that flows through our planets, giving life at birth and taking it back after death, like a pool of spirit energy. They seemed shocked when they found out that this planet didn't have one, but moreso when you told them yours had none, either.”
“What about you? When they spoke of it, you scoffed.”
“My world has something... similar. While the others call it a 'river of life' strictly as a metaphor, my world's river is much more literal, though it has a relatively fragile catalyst. Is there a particular reason you brought up this subject?”
General Hein looked away from his friend, trying his best to piece something together. “Don't you think it's odd... that out of all the worlds the Landlord pulled from, mine is the only one without this crazy 'river'? Or magic, for that matter?”
Julius considered the question. It was an odd scenario, given that Lifestreams and magic were the main similarity between every other world involved. “Is it possible you are... mistaken?” Julius asked.
“I don't even want to consider that...” said Hein, knowing that if a Lifestream did exist in his world, it would mean his plans to fire the Zeus Cannon would've failed after all. Having heard enough, the white-haired individual who had been secretly listening in on their conversation slipped back into the shadows, his new knowledge requiring some thought.
Chapter 4: Inclusion
As the sun neared the horizon, Makenshi left the coliseum and walked down the northern road, between the stadium and chocobo ranch, as he headed back to the residential district. He crossed his arms and held his head down, deep in thought about what he'd just heard Hein and Julius discussing. Eyes closed, he heard a voice calling to him from his left.
“Well, that was fast,” Vata noted as he leaned on the ranch's fence. “I just saw you enter the coliseum like, fifteen minutes ago. Was Garland not as entertaining today?” Vata had slicked back, light brown hair, and wore a long, green and white coat with no undershirt, baring his torso. He also wore red pants, red shoes, and white gloves.
Vata of the Wind, from “Final Fantasy Dimensions”, was one of the Avalonian Empire's generals. His village was destroyed by the Empire when they stole its Crystal, so he joined them in the hopes of one day exacting vengeance. Such an opportunity never arose, even after attaining the highest rank, so he spends his days slacking off and relaxing, screwing over his superiors in secret whenever possible. Vata is brash and unpredictable, often appearing lax and overly friendly.
“No, he's fighting just as hard as he always does,” Makenshi answered. “He never tires out, that one.” Makenshi had spiky, white hair and bright green eyes, wearing a steel veil to filter the Mist he exhaled. He was very thin and wore an all-white suit with a white cape. Around his waist was a belt carrying a few clear, plastic bottles, each containing some of his breath. He wielded a white longsword called the Maken, which could transform into a greatsword when needed.
Makenshi hailed from a world called “Misteria”, one of the worlds that made up “Final Fantasy: Unlimited”, where he was one of two princes, the other being his older brother Madoushi. His world, along with several others, was one of many that were destroyed by Chaos and absorbed into Wonderland. With the hope of finding a weakness in Chaos, Makenshi swore allegiance to Earl Tyrant and his forces, and later was promoted to one of the Four Lords of Gaudium. His race, the Misterians, exhale Mist, the gaseous form of spirit energy that can produce monsters when left unchecked, requiring him to wear a steel veil that filters it. Near silent, Makenshi is apathetic about most things, caring only about information that interests him.
“So what's the deal?” Vata asked. “Even Garland can't entertain you now?”
Makenshi crossed his arms and closed his eyes again. “I... overheard Hein and Julius talking about something.”
“Hm? Oh, THOSE two. Mr. 'I-Don't-Believe-In-Spirits' and Sir 'Spirits-Are-Actually-Water'. It figures those two would get along. Couple of kooks, if you ask me.”
“I'm not so sure.” Makenshi turned away from Vata to face the sunset. “I am personally responsible for the deaths of numerous worlds. In figuring out how to destroy them, I had to learn a lot about how they worked. In one world I destroyed, spirits were most commonly found in the soil... and in many others, spirits not being utilized existed only in parallel dimensions."
“Woah, really?” Vata stood up from the fence and placed a hand on his chin. He never had the open mind to consider other methods of spiritual physics. “Maybe they're not so weird, after all.”
“No, that's precisely what's so strange. All of us that were brought here have some kind of Lifestream in our homeworlds. I even sense spirit energy in Hein; he just isn't aware of it. But the planet we're on now has absolutely no such thing. The trees, the soil, none of them have any detectable energy. So, why were we brought here?"
"Didn't that Landlord guy say we were just here to be studied? What does it matter? Just kick back, relax, and he'll return us when we're done. That's what he said, right?”
Later that evening, Golbez arrived at the local seafood restaurant, Gizamaluke's Grotto. Being a themed restaurant, the building was made to look like a cave, and the front entrance had a gold bell hanging above the door. The interior was fancy and spacious, with small, automated waterfalls lining each side of the dining area, and tables of blue-tinted glass. The Maenad behind the lobby's counter acted as hostess.
“Dining in or picking up?” asked the Maenad.
“Actually,” Golbez corrected as he examined the anonymous note he had brought with him, “someone asked to meet with me here. I don't know who.”
The Maenad flipped through a small notepad she had tucked into her shirt pocket. "Ah yes, he is expecting you. Follow me, please,” she beckoned as she grabbed a menu from the counter.
As Golbez followed her, he felt inclined to ask, "So, do you Maenads not know all of our names?"
“We're supposed to know,” she answered. “But we really couldn't care less.” The restaurant was relatively busy, as every business in town tended to be. Their guests never had to pay, so there was no reason for them to cook for themselves. Ra Devil, an alien that once tried to take over Planet R, and Nag'molada, a Kuluu bent on ridding himself of the Emptiness, were among tonight's guests. As they slipped between the tables, Golbez and his hostess very quickly reached where his anonymous summoner was already seated. “Here's your seat, sir,” said the Maenad as Golbez looked on in disappointment.
“Ah, Golbez. There you are,” greeted Zemus. “I'm glad to see you showed up. Truly, I am.” Zemus was a Lunarian, the same race as Golbez's father, though he looked drastically different from his kin. He had blue skin and glowing, yellow eyes. He was bald, and wore a long, black robe that tapered off at the bottom. He had no visible feet, instead floating like a ghost.
When the dying Lunarian race sought a new planet using their moon as a vessel, they found one already inhabited by humans. Deciding humans were not yet advanced enough to live alongside of, they opted to wait until that day arrived. But Zemus grew tired of waiting, and used his psychic powers to manipulate the planet's inhabitants, causing wars that would free up the land for its alien occupants. Zemus feels that sympathizing with an enemy is foolish, and although his own kind will hate him for it, he has no qualms with killing the innocent to protect his race.
“Would you like anything to drink, sir?” The Maenad asked Golbez as she offered the menu she was holding.
“No, thanks,” Golbez declined as he turned away. “I will not be staying.”
“Wait!” Zemus cried as he reached his hand out. “You know my mind control powers are ineffective on this planet, don't you? We have no reason to argue. Please, I just want to talk. It's important.”
Golbez quietly looked back. He didn't trust Zemus with the time of day, let alone a conversation. But he had a point. Mind control powers were suppressed here. Several other villains had tried to use them before, only to fail. Golbez sat down, but he remained wary.
Many moments of awkward silence passed. Neither side said a word until their wine was finally served to them. As the Maenad waitress left, Zemus rotated his glass in his hand. “I couldn't help but notice,” Zemus began, breaking the tension, “that you've kept the name 'Golbez', even after spending so long here. Does 'Theodor Harvey' just not have the same ring to it?”
“I...” Golbez stuttered. “When I was under your control, I committed countless atrocities. But, when I myself manipulated Kain Highwind, it became clear that those powers don't completely overwrite their victim's mind. No, a part of them has to WANT to be controlled, to be freed from responsibility. When I finally regained my senses, I was initially just filled with hatred toward you. But at some point, I realized I was partially to blame for all that transpired. So I decided I would remain on the moon, with the other Lunarians, hiding from those I wronged."
"Do you think that's why the Landlord saw fit to bring you here?"
"I've actually thought about this a lot myself, and that's the only conclusion I can come to. It was always lurking in the back of my mind; I just refused to accept it. I am a villain... because I gave in to temptation and never paid for it."
"Hmm... You have learned much in your time here. I see this will be easier than I anticipated."
"What will be easier?" Golbez asked, looking up and tensing his fingers. "Do you think I'll join your side again? Do you think I have a penchant for evil?!"
"Evil? You may call it evil, but I call it taking action to preserve my species. And besides, that has nothing to do with why I asked you here. Golbez,” Zemus paused as he pointed upward, “have you ever taken a good, hard look at this planet's moon? Surely, you must have noticed more than a few similarities..."