Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > Inochi Wa Tsusuku

Chapter Two

by AccountingNinja 0 reviews

There's no more Mist. This is the only way to help my friends.

Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Mikoto,Vivi Ornitier - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2008-07-16 - Updated: 2008-07-17 - 3183 words

Chapter Two~Blue Water


Since his long journey and the battle with Necron, Vivi's normally clumsy gait had gained more purpose and confidence. He glanced over at Mikoto striding beside him down the dusty path. A slight twitch of her thin, elegant eyebrow indicated she was aware of the Mage's gaze, yet she trained her eyes forward. Vivi grinned inwardly, a warm feeling flooding his heart. Being with Mikoto made him feel...nice.

Their stroll remained silent, neither venturing to speak. Perhaps the previous closeness of their conversation in Vivi's modest home settled in between them, making attempts at small talk sound forced and awkward. This was fine by him; true friends need not fill every silent moment.

The Genomes had started expanding the cozy, ramshackle Black Mage Village almost the moment they had arrived. The first month had been unbearable; there simply was not enough room for so many extra guests, so Genomes and Mages had been crammed by the dozens into the modest huts, sleeping and eating wherever they could. The Weapon Shop counter had become a bed, the Synthesis Shop a spare kitchen, and even Bobby Corwen had to share his stable. A new part of the Village emerged, contrasting starkly with the old part. The Genomes' houses were precise, square and utilitarian, though not without occasional creativity. Carvings around the doors and on fences, resembling seashells and otherworldly creatures, appeared thanks to a few budding artisans among the new arrivals. The Dwarves from the neighboring village of Condie Petie had also come to stay and work, helping to cook, clean and build. Most had since gone home, leaving their knowledge with the Genomes.

Vivi gaped in awe at the new development, admiring the Genomes' skill. He had only been to the new part once or twice, and all the bustle and commotion of busy Genomes just made him feel like he was in the way, so he hadn't lingered long. Amazing, how much has been built, he thought. These people sure know how to adapt.

Mikoto placed a hesitant hand on his back, guiding him, lest he lose himself in sightseeing. "This way," she muttered. They headed for a small shed, half-hidden in some trees, away from the center of activity. In front stood a Genome man, arms folded, tail swaying, as if he had been waiting for them.

Vivi blinked. That man...he had seen him around. Unlike most other Genomes, this one had absolutely reveled in his newfound individuality. His bright blue eyes shone with an intensity unbecoming of a vessel. He let his light brown hair grow long in the back and wound it into two whiplike braids. Doffing the bland Terran uniform issued by Garland, he chose instead to wear a dusty tan jacket embroidered with light blue designs at the collar and sleeve, and simple slacks worn out at the knees. He had taken to the Gaian custom of piercing; his ears bore many silver studs. And when the other Genomes had started searching for names for themselves in the Black Mages' musty old books, he merely called himself Blue Water.

Mikoto halted about ten feet from Blue Water, with Vivi lingering shyly behind her. She felt confused by this Genome; sort of a mixture of respect and revulsion. Blue Water had taken over the new construction quite efficiently after the Dwarves had gone, and did his best to keep a productive spirit in his workers. But she could not so easily dismiss all her Terran programming, and a little internal voice nagged about what an impudent vessel he was. Yet Terra was gone, and their mission died with it. Mikoto swallowed hard, feeling uncomfortable. Back then it had been my duty to monitor the vessels closely and make sure they remained fit to take in the dormant souls of Terra. Now, that job is obsolete, and I linger with no true purpose.

Plus, another concern ate at her...

None of the Genomes, save herself, Kuja and Zidane, had been given souls. Blue Water had been no different. He wore the bland garb and the deadpan expression. He spent his waking hours at the Crystal of Knowledge like the others. But this planet-this Gaia-had been a liberating drug, and the former vessels awoke with a childlike joy. Watching them laugh and play and mate with whomever they chose (/unacceptable!/ cried that nagging voice), Mikoto felt an ugly new feeling fill her being. Jealousy. She, the privileged, soul-imbued Genome, seemed the most emotionally stunted of them all.

Was everything Garland told us a lie? Can souls be given? Or taken away? If not, how am I special at all?

She felt Vivi's insistent presence at her side and, with a twinge of embarrassment, realized that she had spaced out a few moments. Blue Water was not concerned. He jauntily raised an eyebrow and gave Vivi a crooked smile. /So much like Zidane's smile/, thought the Mage sadly. The Genomes did not look identical to one another, but they all looked like siblings.

"Miss Mikoto," said Blue Water dryly, as if he knew exactly what she thought of him. He nodded approvingly. "You've brought Master Vivi. We are ready to begin the procedure any-"

"I have not yet given him that information," interrupted Mikoto somewhat harshly. "We are here to see the laboratory."

Amusement danced in Blue Water's eyes. "Indeed. Come with me."

Vivi tilted his head slightly to one side, intrigued. He followed the pair into the small shed expectantly, but stopped just inside the door. He frowned an unseen frown. Empty...? It was a bare, circular room with a dirt floor.

Blue Water sauntered over to the middle of the tiny room, placing his hand above a section of the dirt floor. The dirt disappeared, seemingly a mirage, and a trapdoor revealed itself. He lifted it with a grunt, sending clouds of dust flying. He drew his lips into an apologetic smile. "We mean to build a proper staircase someday."

He went down first, followed by Mikoto. Vivi brought up the rear, his old fear of dark places threatening to grab hold of his imagination. They climbed down a ladder, and into a dim, mildewy-smelling tunnel. Metal supports jutted out of the walls in even intervals. Vivi touched each one while making his way through the tunnel, comforted by the swishing of Mikoto's blonde tail ahead of him. Shortly, the dim light from outside began to fade, and a soft blue haze started to emanate from their destination.

Vivi gasped audibly.

The tunnel had ended, and the trio now stood in a huge room glowing with blue light. Vivi wondered if he was hallucinating. If he hadn't known better, he would think he was back in Bran Bal. This laboratory looked just the same as the one on Terra, complete with those strange, glowing, coffin-like pods. There were two larger pods in front, with six small ones on the back wall. Another Genome, a woman, stood at what appeared to be a console. She turned to face her visitors with a warm smile.

Blue Water went right over to the woman, grinning broadly. He put a gentle arm around her back, nuzzling her lovingly under an ear. Vivi saw Mikoto scowl and shuffle awkwardly at the display. The couple greeted them.

"This is my mate, Dana." Blue Water beamed. He kissed her neck, seeming to forget they had an audience.

Dana giggled softly. "Blue, please. You're embarrassing them." She disconnected herself from her affectionate mate.

Dana wore a comfortable peach colored dress, and Vivi noticed that her stomach bulged out a bit. She had a kind face and a smooth, melodic voice. Vivi immediately liked her.

"You must be the famous Master Vivi," Dana said. "I have seen you here and there, but it is nice to finally meet you."

He tugged his hat bashfully and managed a muffled, "N'ce t' meet you too..."

Dana smiled at her mate. "Aw, he's a shy one. What a sweet boy. And Miss Mikoto, how are you?"

Mikoto had to put a reign on her mounting annoyance. What, were they there for a cup of tea? There is business to attend to! She answered crisply, "I am well. Let us proceed."

"Ever the serious one," said Blue Water, winking, which infuriated Mikoto. He knew when to quit however, and nodded matter-of-factly. "Right then. Dana, perhaps you should start."

"I'm not sure what Miss Mikoto has already told you, so forgive me if I repeat anything. Our plan is to make more of your kind, a second generation, and we have the means to do it right here." She made a sweeping arc with one arm, indicating the pods.

Slowly, as if in a trance, Vivi walked to a pod, touching it gingerly. "Wow...I...I just can't believe this. How did you build this?"

Mikoto interjected, "Some of it we built ourselves, but mostly we used the machine parts from Dali, and some from Lindblum. General Beatrix and Regent Cid were most helpful."

" quickly!" breathed the Mage, still in awe.

Blue shook his head ruefully. "It had to be quick. So many of the Mages have already passed away."

Dana knelt beside Vivi. She took his gloved hand and placed it gently on her pregnant stomach. Vivi shook nervously at such an intimate gesture. "Feel, Master Vivi. Soon our child will be born. This is the Gaian way to make children, the natural way, you see. But on Terra it was much different. This-" She glanced at the pods. "This was the way there, because we were not making children. We were engineering new vessels. We weren't allowed to mate freely and have our own children, because every trait of every child had to be monitored and approved and checked again and again." She let his hand slide off her belly. He gazed in fascination, wanting to hear more.

Dana stood, letting her eyes travel around the room. "A seed from a man, a seed from a woman. Only the best seeds, mind you, from only the best specimens. The resulting life was not allowed to grow in a womb, but in a pod, where it could be watched and cultivated. Rejects were...disposed of. Only on Gaia were we finally free to discover the joys of..." She stopped herself, looking down at the boy who practically stood on his tiptoes in interest. "Well, you will discover that for yourself, when you mature."

He felt the blood pound in his ears. "S-So, can Black Mages be made this way?" stammered Vivi. A slow feeling of dread trickled into his heart, the same feeling he had had in Bran Bal. He hated the thought of bringing life into the world so unnaturally. But at the same time, he longed to see Mages able to live long, normal lives.

"We think they can," answered Blue. "They've never been made like this. Though the processes were similar, the way /vessels/-" he tried to hide the contempt in his voice at that word- "are made is greatly superior to the way the Mages were produced. The Mages were expendable weapons, whereas we had to provide strong, healthy bodies for the dormant souls of Terra."

A long silence passed. Vivi stared at his own hands, then at the luminous pods. I think I understand, /he said to himself/. There's no more mist. This is the only way to help my friends. He had reluctantly accepted that nothing could be done for the ones living now, doomed to insufficient life spans. Then he squarely faced the three Genomes, realizing what Mikoto had told him at home earlier. "We need a mother and a father Mage for this to work. Mikoto said there aren't any girl Mages."

Blue nodded. "True, but worry not. The theory is a little unorthodox, but we think we can engineer Black Mages even if only one parent is Black Mage. According to some studies of magic in general, we have discovered that certain classes of Mage powers do not diminish over generations. The Black Mage is highly likely to be no exception." He smiled at a very confused-looking Vivi. "In other words, say you have a Black Mage father and a human mother. Their child will not be "half" Black Mage. He either is one, or he is not, and his magic would be no lesser than a Mage's from a pure bloodline. Even if you only have one sixty-fourth Black Mage blood in your family, way back on your great-great grandmother's side, there's still a chance a full-blown Mage could be born. It happens nowadays with other Mage classes."

Vivi felt like laughing with joy. This could be the beginning of a natural Black Mage bloodline! It was a rescue from extinction.

He thought of the remaining Mages in the village, and wondered which one of them would be the lucky "father". "So who's the Dad, Mr. Blue Water? I bet it's Mr. 288, huh?"

Blue's face fell, and he rolled his eyes. "Oh, brother. Miss Mikoto! You didn't even tell him that? "

Mikoto furrowed her brow, nostrils flaring delicately. "I thought it was best that he see and hear more before I told him." She felt annoyed with Vivi. Did she not just tell him that regular Black Mages were not functional? He had not fully understood what that meant, apparently.

She and Blue Water poised to argue, and Vivi grew more and more perturbed. Dana saw this as her cue. "Please, you two! This doesn't help. Master Vivi." She knelt before him again, with a curious look in her eyes. "You. It's /you/."

Seldom did Vivi raise his voice, but his sudden cry startled all the Genomes. "What?!? Me? How? I'm just a kid! I can't do that!"

Instinctively, Dana grasped his arms. "Look at me. Calm down. It's all right. Don't worry, you won't have to do what you think. It's all done very neatly, you won't even feel a thing. Trust us. We did this all the time in Bran Bal."

"But I'm only ten," he said, frightened. "D-Do I have to?"

Dana's face radiated understanding. "Of course not. It's up to you in the end. We won't force you. But let me say that you are the best specimen of Black Mage we have. Yes, there are adults here, but they are inferior."

Anger flashed in Vivi's glowing eyes.

"I'm sorry to say that, but it is true," she continued. "Even if it were possible, children made from one of them would most likely have the same problems. They will be weak, sickly and quite possibly die young. That would defeat the whole purpose of this plan. You, on the other hand, have outlived all the others, and you seem to be healthy. We know little about your origins, but you seem to be our only hope. Their only hope."

"And don't worry about your age," said Blue Water. "We can make it work. We did it all the time back home." His face grew somber. "The original stock of Genomes was created by Garland, but we had to make sure there was a sufficient number of...vessels. On Terra, time had slowed to a virtual stop, and our aging had slowed to a crawl. We needed more people, but we could not wait until all of us matured. So we devised a way to create new life from immature seeds...But...Terra's assimilation mission had been unexpectedly delayed...the original Genomes started to age beyond the acceptable limit...They were..." His voice broke off, choked with emotion. Dana embraced him, her eyes clouding over with sympathy.

Vivi never thought he would see Blue Water look so small and defeated. His heart went out to him. He glanced at Mikoto, whose glistening eyes betrayed her stony expression.

Dana said softly, "My mate and I greatly regret the utter lack of respect for life we all had on Terra. We know it wasn't our fault, but still we suffer. That is why we now choose to celebrate life. To atone, I suppose." She stroked her belly lovingly. Turning to Vivi, she added, "And that is why we're doing this for the Black Mages. The sins committed against them have been even greater. We could not stand by while they perished, when we have the means to help. We will use the technology that for so long denigrated life, and give it a new purpose."

Vivi struggled not to cry. He could not begin to express the gratitude he felt. His voice quavered a little, but came out clear as a bell. "I will help, and I don't even care if it hurts a lot."

Joy lit Dana's face, and she hugged Vivi tightly. He stiffened, stomach fluttering wildly. He was quite unused to being hugged by anyone. But after a few seconds, he sank willingly into the softness of Dana's body. I wonder, he thought, if this is what it's like to have a mother...

Mikoto turned from the other three. An uncontrollable jealousy, the like of which she had never experienced, flared up inside her; a hot, all-consuming flame. Her rational brain sought desperately for an explanation for her loss of emotional control, something in which she had always prided herself. In her shame, she turned so the others couldn't see her weakness. This was all because of Vivi, and the past few months they had gotten to know each other, that chipped away at her iron logic and warmed her dormant heart. Mikoto did not want anyone else to touch him! But why? /What was so special about that damned kid? /That the boy so readily accepted Dana's embrace sent her into a fury. He's my friend! Not yours!

And how dare they all? Why can't I feel what they feel? I have the soul! I was one of the special ones. Damn you all!

Blue must have sensed something. He craned his neck around the young girl so he met her eyes. "Miss Mikoto, are you okay?"

/Go away/, she thought. /You failure freak-show of a vessel/.

"I'm fine," she lied flawlessly. She banished her secret feelings into the deepest recesses of her mind, quickly composing herself in a feat of master control.

A few moments had passed, and Vivi had already figured out that the "mother" for their plan was probably in this village. He quietly asked Dana as they separated if it was she who had been chosen.

"I'm already carrying a child, and it has a while yet before it's born. I surely would have liked to volunteer..." Dana shot her mate a cautious look.

There was no need for Blue Water to say anything, however. Mikoto walked over to Vivi, standing above him. He looked up at her, surrounded in angelic blue light. She had that same vulnerable look on her face, and then he knew that he was the only person yet to see that look in her.

"I have volunteered," she simply stated.
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