Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > The End of Times

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

by DevilishKurumi 0 reviews

It's the end of the world as we know it... [Character Death, Character Mutilation, Character Bad-Stuff-Happens-To. See inside for full warnings.]

Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama, Horror - Characters: Adelbert Steiner, Amarant Coral, Beatrix, Blank, Eiko Carol, Freya Crescent, Garnet Til Alexandros, Marcus - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2006-08-16 - Updated: 2006-08-16 - 3697 words

By the third morning on the Blue Narciss II, everyone's beginning to get a little anxious. For the past two weeks, they haven't been in one definable area for more than a day - even in Lindblum, they were all over the place - and now the severity of their situation is starting to present itself.
Amarant is still talking with Garnet but Eiko has now left them, instead going to the navigation deck to help with directional issues. Eumol is still going towards the shores of the Outer Continent, so they can keep a better view on their location. He tells them all, when they come in at noon for a quick check, that they're nearly there. The ship goes fast, and soon they'll be able to see the shoreline on the starboard side.
Beatrix stays in the navigation room even as the others leave and, after a moment of silence, Eumol speaks up.
"...Is there something I'm doing to make you nervous, ma'am?"
Beatrix focuses back on him and then shakes her head, sighing. "No, it isn't you, Eumol. You're doing fine."
"I'm sorry," he apologizes, "You unnerve me a little, I'm afraid."
"This entire situation doesn't unnerve you as a /whole/?"
The Burmecian shrugs. "Not if I don't think about it."
The General admits defeat and leaves the cabin without another word.
A few weeks ago and she would have argued with the Burmecian, but now it all seems... useless. Everything feels very surreal and almost impossibly complicated, though it's all relatively simple - they are survivors and they are going to die eventually.
She feels the weight of Save The Queen on her hip but it's not the comforting feeling it once was. What good is her blade if her enemies are almost gods?
A look to the starboard side and yes, she can almost make out the heavy cliffs surrounding parts of the Outer Continent. They're slightly wavy in the distance and she wonders if that's from the heat, or if they've simply begun to melt under some Eidolon's force.
She paces along the railing and stays in the shade, watching the others on the open deck. It is almost disturbing how little she really feels when she looks at them - she has already built up walls to protect herself from everyone but her Queen. She has thought of Garnet more than she has thought of her own safety. If she weren't so focused on her surroundings, she might've found that a little disturbing.
Steiner is standing at the bow and she almost goes to him but then realizes he's not alone - he is beside Lani, who is looking apprehensively towards the ocean. She must share Steiner's fear of water; it makes sense for the two to talk if that's the case.
If not...
Eiko stands suddenly and looks to the sky. There's an eerie sense of foreboding as that little girl stares above them and Beatrix feels for Save the Queen.
The ship lurches, and there's a flash of light above them. Her sword is drawn quickly enough but she realizes that the Eidolon above the young summoner is benevolent, so she relaxes even as Eiko exclaims, "Carbuncle!" and holds out her arms in greeting.
The small, almost rabbit-like Eidolon drops with an inhuman grace into the girl's arms, each movement of its head punctuated with the chiming of bells.
"What are you doing here?" the summoner asks.
Carbuncle doesn't speak - it simply tilts its head at Eiko in confusion and then looks towards the bow... towards Lani and Steiner. Its eyes are innocent and it gives them both an utterly confused, completely beguiled stare that makes Steiner frown and Lani fidget.
Before either Beatrix or Eiko can question the two, there is a sudden lurch and the ship tilts sharply portside.
Beatrix, armed as best she can against these godlike creatures, uses the tilt to maximize her speed and slides across the deck in time to see the water rushing away. She steadies herself, but then the starboard side tilts and she is almost thrown into the water. The sound of air being forced downwards draws her gaze - and most likely everyone's - skyward.
The bluesilver scales of Leviathan are both glorious and utterly horrific, and Beatrix finds herself unable to tear her eyes away. The dragon slides out of the water; its wings are huge and seem to almost be sucking the water away from the boat.
Eiko tells them all to get to the navigation cabin but it isn't until she hears Steiner's armor clanking behind her that she turns and glares. He is the only one other than her on deck, and he is looking at her in worry.
"What did you do?" she snarls, not caring that this is her husband, and not caring that it was most likely not his fault at all.
"...We must get to the navigation room," he tells her, voice at a whisper in comparison to Leviathan's wingbeats.
She follows him without word and they enter the now crowded room with trepidation.
Carbuncle is floating outside, almost over the bow, and is looking at Leviathan in surprise. Almost as if asking, "What are you doing here?"
Eumol has the wheel in such a tight grip that Beatrix thinks she can hear the wood splintering.
"He's going to make a wave," Lani tells the Burmecian, eyes as wide as his, "He's going to bring the water up on the... the side he's on. It's going to be big."
"How do you know?" Beatrix asks, but already the Burmecian is turning the wheel hard to starboard, looking around.
"Grab onto something, I'll try to get us out from under the crest if I can-"
Amarant is beside Beatrix and has a hand on her shoulder. "Put your sword away," he growls, and only then does she realize she's holding Save The Queen in a ready position. Lani is looking at her vaguely, as if acknowledging the danger of the other woman but not paying it enough attention.
Beatrix sheathes her sword and steadies herself as the ship rocks violently.
Outside, Carbuncle is floating higher, closer to Leviathan. The dragon god hisses, much more snakelike than Bahamut, and issues a warning all can understand even if there is no voice - "Do not interfere with the destruction of these people."
Carbuncle floats and his wide eyes simple stare in slight comprehension at Leviathan, just as the wave comes over the side and rises above them all.
Chimes fill the air and Eumol's hand slides over a smooth control panel, flipping a single switch. The engine, which has been lying dormant for their trip, now roars to life - they lurch forward and the wave crashes in a spiral, crest meeting base just barely behind them.
Beatrix looks through both port and starboard windows and, though all she can see is water, they are not crushed and there is a delicate tint to the colors outside - they are inside a tunnel of water and Carbuncle is holding it off.
"We need to get out of this!" Lani shouts, but no one's paying that much attention.
Eumol turns the wheel hard towards the crest of the wave and tells them to hold on tight - the tsunami could burst their ship but they are bursting instead through it. The wave crashes behind them but the Burmecian has to force the ship so that it does not sail directly into Leviathan, who has something small and green in his mouth -
"Carbuncle!" Eiko screams as the blue sheen disappears from them and the dragon god's jaws clench down around the small Eidolon. A small struggle and then nothing - legs go limp, head goes limp, and the snake god drops the other from his mouth, blue-green-red blood covering its maw and sliding across silverblue scales.
Carbuncle slides under the waves and Eiko cries out and clutches her chest.
Leviathan twists his head around and exhales loudly, creating huge gusts of wind - His eyes roll back in his head and he rises out of the water, wings pushing water back behind the boat.
Beatrix ignores the summoner girl on the ground and races out of the navigation cabin, getting a good look at the huge wave - much bigger than before - forming behind the stern.
"We can't ride that out," Amarant growls from behind her and turns to Eumol, "We can't ride that out!"
"We can and we will!" the Burmecian growls, forcing the engine and guiding the boat quickly under the Snake.
There's a roar, and the boat lurches forward, and suddenly Beatrix can feel the entire boat start to slide backward on a huge wave -
Amarant shoves her to the side and grabs Eiko, holding her against him and saying, "Swim /up/!"
Beatrix grabs for Garnet just as the water comes crashing down.
The Blue Narciss II is destroyed upon impact.
Steiner vaguely feels pressure in his hand and forces himself to find up, forces his legs to move and then forces himself to feel the hand clenched in his - forces himself to hold his breath just a little longer and forces himself not to let go of whoever it is he has a hand on when that hand goes limp. /Just a bit upward/, he thinks, /Just a bit upward/.
He breaks the surface and forces his legs to move some more. He pulls on the hand and forces Lani's head to the surface and she gasps for air, grabbing at his arms now and kicking him a few times while she gets used to swimming.
"We're alive?" she asks.
He doesn't chance an answer.
Amarant feels very little but he knows that he's got his arms full of Eiko and he can't possibly let her go for anything. His legs are strong enough so he kicks upwards, but everything around him is black and his eye stings - hell both eyes sting but he won't complain.
Eiko shifts and he feels her try to kick and then a glow fills his vision, a big ethereal arrow pointing the opposite direction of the sky, the opposite of safety and she says, somewhere in his head, "I need to find Carbuncle..."
He shakes his head and continues up and even though she struggles a little.... she knows that it doesn't matter now.
They break the surface and look around. In the distance, Amarant can see the beaches of the continent and closer to them he can hear Lani's panicking.
"Lani, shut up!" he shouts hoarsely, forgetting that she can't hear.
"Amarant!" Steiner's voice responds, and then Lani shouts for him as well.
"Carbuncle," Eiko whimpers and Amarant pulls her a little bit closer, just to let her know she can't go down herself.
Nearby, he hears sudden splashing and gasping and sees that Beatrix and Garnet are alive - there is more relief in this revelation than he thought there would be.
Beatrix has a hold of Garnet, who isn't a bad swimmer herself, and after they stop coughing and gasping, they make their way over to Amarant and Eiko.
"We need to get to shore," Beatrix tells them.
"Lani's over there," Amarant responds, waving briefly in a direction, "I guess the knight is too."
He's surprised she doesn't look so relieved at that.
"Steiner!" he shouts instead, "Swim towards shore!" In the distance he can hear Lani and the knight starting for the continent.
"Wait," Eiko rasps, "Where's Eumol....?"
Amarant looks around and shouts the Burmecian's name a few times but gets nothing in response.
"We need to find him," Garnet says, "We need to..."
"We'll find him, your Majesty," Beatrix promises - and with that she can't go back. "Amarant, help the Queen."
He holds out an arm and Beatrix guides the Queen to him - if this were any other time he might...
The General dives underwater and the three are left to tread water.
Eiko's shoulders start shaking but the water is too warm for her to be cold, and Amarant doesn't know how to handle it. So he looks to Garnet and asks, "Are you alright?"
"Carbuncle..." she whispers, "I... I can't feel him anymore. I know I could feel him before."
"He's /gone/!" Eiko sobs into Amarant's shoulder, "He's /gone/...!"
Almost two minutes pass and Amarant is contemplating having the two summoners tread water alone when suddenly there's gasping behind him. He turns his head and sees Beatrix with the wet rag of a Burmecian half over her shoulder.
"We need to get to shore," she rasps, and he doesn't ask if Eumol's alive or not. Instead, he tells Eiko to start kicking and stop crying, and manages to get the two summoners to concentrate on swimming, rather than the very dead Carbuncle.
They reach the shore with no problems. No sharks, no Leviathan, and the only thing they have to face on land is their own exhaustion.
Amarant helps Garnet and Eiko, then turns to find Steiner and Lani some yards away, lying side by side and looking at the sky contently. Beatrix is on the beach with Eumol at her feet, and he can only barely see the Burmecian's chest moving under thick clothing.
He stumbles over to Lani and Steiner and says, "Everyone's here," even before Steiner can ask.
Lani looks to Amarant and asks, "Are we alive?"
He nods in response, and then points in the direction of the others. "Come on," he grumbles, and even as he turns away he can hear them struggling to stand.
They reach the other four to find Eumol vomiting water onto the sand and, in between gags, apologizing for wrecking the ship.
"I thought," he rasps, "That it could handle..."
"It's alright," Eiko tells him softly, "We're all alive, that's all that matters."
Garnet is wiping at her forehead and Amarant wants to help her up but doesn't know what they're doing.
"Where are we?" she asks.
Steiner looks about the dry, ragged land, but he is inevitably drawn back to the sea, looking out over the blue for bluesilver blurs.
"We shouldn't be too far from Conde Petie. An hour's walk, perhaps," he mumbles, though it's more to himself than to everyone else.
Eumol stands shakily and then pulls his shirt off, wringing it out in mild annoyance. "We should try to find somewhere shady," he tells them, ears flattening against his scalp.
"If anything, to hide from Leviathan," Steiner agrees halfheartedly, "Where did that snake go?"
"He's gone," Eiko mumbles, "Don't worry about him..."
She grabs Amarant's hand and whispers, "I want to go home."
The bounty hunter knows what she means and looks in the direction he hopes her home is. "We'll get there," he tells her, "We can just take the path through Conde Petie."
Beatrix makes a noise and then says, calmly, "Supposing it is still there."
"Beatrix?" Garnet prompts, head tilted in the general direction of the woman.
"Your Majesty - if Leviathan was so close to the continent before we even laid eyes on it... would it not be safe to assume that He has already decimated at least the shoreline?"
Amarant looks around. In theory, Beatrix would be right - this entire part of the continent should be ruined. But... "It all looks fine."
The hunter catches a slight nod from Lani - a nod of agreement - and immediately grabs her shoulder. "What are you nodding about, you deaf wench?"
Lani blinks at him in confusion and Garnet exclaims, "Amarant!" in a very put-upon voice.
"She can't hear me," he grumbles, turning away from the huntress and looking towards the valley. "We should start for Conde Petie."
The others agree, and under the blazing hot sun, they set out for the dwarven village.
In the end, Eiko isn't very surprised. She had almost felt it miles offshore - that dull, lifeless feeling she had received from Burmecia before the marsh even began; the same empty ache from Zidane... only this was muffled by distance and lack of knowledge. She had no idea what to expect on this continent.
She realizes now that Leviathan hadn't bothered with the inland, because someone else had already reached it first.
It's interesting to note the precision with which the Eidolon had decimated Conde Petie. The land around the thin strip of valley is fine, with only a few craters from flying stone and wood and bodies.
But the wreckage is too much for her to see. The thick vines that had once held up the heavy dwarven village are now cracked, wrecked, and all nearly torn out from the walls of the valley. They cast their huge, misshapen shadows on the stone rubble and she can almost smell rot.
While the rest look for survivors (/there aren't any/), Eiko skips along the hallways in her memory, bypassing destroyed kitchenware, decimated food stands, and pretending that she can still see the Watchman brothers in the distance, muttering about recent thefts and what thae world's comin' tae (/they always talked funny/). She can hear the dwarves talking even when she sees that they're jaws are slack and they really can't do much talking anymore.
She skips, jumps, leaps, and recalls her old routines to draw attention away from her and Mog (/Mog's gone too, everyone's left me/). When Richard Watchman had eyes they really didn't do him any good, and when Matthew Watchman had ears they really didn't do him any good, so maybe it's best neither of them have those anymore.
Stuck in the past, she collides with Amarant in the present, who grabs her shoulders and then feels her forehead in this weirdly familial way, like he's her big brother or something, and tells her she's got a fever, and they best get into the shade.
"The other's are already on the other side," he tells her.
"No one else to take with us?"
He doesn't respond right away but then, finally, says, "No, no one else."
She sighs and says, "We'll see them in Sanctuary," and skips off without her brother.
She would like to think it was a good thirty paces before she started crying, but she knows it's more like ten. She'd also like to think she was stronger than that, and that Amarant hadn't needed to carry her across stone walls she once climbed and past food carts she once stole from; but she knows better, and Amarant doesn't make any sound to indicate his annoyance with her.
"When we go to Sanctuary," she mumbles, "We'll see them. Right, oniichan?"
In her head, somewhere, she knows he's going to answer "no," but she can't help but try. Maybe he'll...
"...Maybe," he mutters, climbing over a broken table.
She closes her eyes and wishes he would just take her home.
It takes them two days to get around the valley and reach the forest surrounding the plateau of Outer Continent. Eiko demands that they go to see Vivi before they even think of trying for Madain Sari, and though Vivi can't do them shit six feet under - even thinking that makes Amarant feel guilty - they listen to the girl and follow her. Maybe it's her outburst at Conde Petie, or maybe it's just their exhaustion versus her determination, but she's become the unofficial leader. Even Lani listens to her - because she's the only thing the huntress can hear.
The forest is eerily quiet and it sets Amarant's nerves on edge. There were owls in this area - there were hundreds of owls - but now there's not even the distant sound of wings.
However, it's shady and reminds him of the Mist Continent a little so he forces his unease back.
The trees don't even move in the wind.
Eiko is at the head of the group with Garnet, followed by Beatrix - then there's a gap, which is mostly because Steiner is skulking behind his wife rather than marching beside her. Amarant doesn't blame the other man - the woman had seemed incredibly angry at her husband and he would stay away too.
Then it's him, and Lani behind. Lani's been at the back for a while and he has suspicions that maybe -
"Oh, good."
They turn to the left side of the fork and even though her hair is longer than even Garnet's, and even though her face is softer - and cut up a little, scraped like a kid who fell from a chocobo - Zidane's sister still looks like Zidane.
"I had hoped you would be coming," she deadpans. Her voice is still the same. She still has the same knowing look in her eyes - the two things that Amarant had used to distinguish between her and Zidane.
"But..." She trails off and now looks at the group closely. Her eyes change, her mouth moves, and suddenly she just looks like Zidane with long hair. That same clueless gaze and that same confused expression, but -
"Zidane's dead," Amarant mutters and though he means it only to reassure himself everyone hears. And it's the first time any of them have said it.
That one, two word sentence breaks Garnet into pieces and Amarant forces himself to watch what he's done. The queen's knees buckle and she falls to the ground, leaning against Eiko and wrapping her arms around the little summoner and just /wailing/. And the hunter realizes that's one more image he's never going to be able to erase from his head.
But Mikoto doesn't react any more than she already has. She nods once, and then, after looking to Garnet and Eiko for a long moment, turns towards what must be the Village.
"Come on," she tells them. "We were waiting for you."
She stalks towards the Village and though hesitant, Beatrix and Steiner and Lani follow her. Amarant can't pull himself past the queen and he looks at Eiko.
The little girl looks back at him with that "how could you say that" expression.
He feels incredibly selfish and incredibly weak when all he wants to do is sit down and Stop like the mages do.
So he growls, "The truth hurts, princess," and then stalks after the others, determined to keep the queen out of sight, out of mind.

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