Chrono Trigger: What It Is To Lose
The elderly creature sat out in the meager warmth of the sun. Idly, he chipped away at a rock, slowly shaping it into a protective cap about the right size to fit onto a medium-sized human skull. He sat on the ground with his back to the outer wall of his hut, so that he was partially shielded from the wind that grew colder every year. Beside him sat a pile of finished helms, waiting for some human to come by and pick them up.
He chuckled bitterly to himself. It wasn't as if they needed that protection any more, after all. Except, perhaps, in the case of those few hunters daring enough to prey upon the winged apes, there simply wasn't enough danger in everyday life. It was merely a job they gave to him, so that they could all pretend he was doing something useful. So that his existence could be justified...
He snorted. Surviving on the charity of humans. [Why do I even bother?] he wondered. [What could I possibly have left to live for, after everything that's happened?]
Why was he still alive? He had been sent to spy on the humans while the others had been called in to defend the Lair. There had been a feeling of something... *wrong* that day, but he had written the feeling off as concern for his comrades.
When he saw the brilliant streak of red fall across the sky, crashing to the ground in the east, he knew just how mistaken he was. Who would have thought Azala would go so far? What had she been thinking, when she called down the Red Star? Didn't she know that it would wipe out her own kind, leaving only a single survivor who was not even old or distinguished enough to own his own name?
Was that what she'd wanted? No one could tell, now...
He didn't remember much about what followed. He knew he had somehow made it back to the Lair, only to find a gigantic crater where it had been. There couldn't have been any survivors, but that didn't stop him from looking. He didn't remember seeing any bodies-- [As if the whole thing was swallowed up by the ground...]--only some strange blue light. He must have really lost it, to have hallucinated things like that.
The next few (days? months? Who knew?) were mostly blank. Later, he was told that he had been caught in one of the traps the humans set for food animals. He really wished he could remember that. By all rights, he should have been killed.
He remembered one thing, though. That barbarian woman, of such enormous strength that she could terrorize entire bands of Reptites at one time, the woman whose name was spoken only in whispered tones by such as him, the demon that plagued the nightmares of hatchlings, fighters, and elders alike, had been there. And she had looked at him with pity.
And damn, but that still rankled!
So here he was, living on the charity of his former enemies, having survived to old age only to waste it away with no offspring of his own to brighten it... He finished the rock helm he had been shaping, and set it down upon the ground with the others. He lifted another rock from the pile, but refrained from starting in on it. Instead, he stared at it balefully, as if it had personally offended him, then hurled it away from him in despair.
"By the egg my mother hatched from!" he gritted out. "I'm *bored*! Day after day, sitting and brooding on defeat, with nothing to do but pound on worthless lithic objects to create more worthless lithic objects--it's a wonder I've still got my mind!"
He looked around at the surrounding trees, an almost hopeful look on his face. When there was no reaction, he sighed, turning the rock in his hands over and over. Too much to hope for that the young humans would make one of their trips every day... still, they were one of the few things he still looked forward to. Such an outburst from him would have been sure to draw them out.
He grinned. It was a toothy grin, but a pleasant one.
A long time ago, at least by his reckoning, the human spawn had discovered him when their parents warned them away from his small hut in the corner of Ioka village. Way back then, the memory of everyone he'd ever known, wiped out forever by apes who couldn't even speak right, still lay fresh in his mind. And then these small, vulnerable copies of those who had caused such destruction had rudely stumbled upon him as he was licking his wounds. If he hadn't been so cowed by Ayla, he would have killed them all. And while he was at it, eaten them.
But what happened? He'd hidden himself in the tiny hut, which provided very little protection from curious mini-humans.
He leaned back on the ground, staring up at the sky. Such memories... They'd poked a hole in the leather wall of his hut. For a while, they were content to stare through it at him, whispering to one another in that primitive tongue of theirs. Then, when he simply lay there without moving, they got bored with that, and started poking sticks through the wall at him.
It was then that he made that essential connection which changed his entire world and allowed him to live the rest of his days in something approaching peace.
Human children... were exactly like those of the Reptites.
How many times had he seen some wayward hatchling, which had stumbled upon a sleeping, chained winged ape, and just had to see what would happen if it was woken with a thrown rock?
And with that realization, everything seemed to change. He remembered the faces of captured humans, with crystal clarity, staring at him with terrified eyes from behind bars made out of some anonymous creature's ribcage. All of that wailing and cursing when they were first brought in, and then, later, the soft quiet of despair.
[I had never realized it before. We were killing and eating them--it's no wonder they despised us and fought us! They may not have been Reptites, but they weren't stupid. We threatened their survival... but we paid for that mistake with our own.]
He closed his eyes. All in the past. Nothing to be done about it, and some day it would all be forgotten and lost. As would the Reptites...
[But not without a trace!] He smiled again. There was one thing left he could do, even a small and petty thing.
He would teach the humans how to speak.
Most of them already knew pidgin Reptite, from that time in the distant past, before this last survivor was even hatched, when there was still friendly contact between the Reptites and humans. Some of them had even had the good sense to adopt it as a primary language, as it was much older and better constructed than their own primitive tongue. He had learned to befriend the human young, and taught them to speak by example. Now he hardly ever heard a word of the original tongue. There was one habit he had never managed to break them of, though. No matter how many times he tried to correct them, it was always 'La' and 'Vos'...
The Red Star. He tried to ignore the thing, but the knowledge that it was there was constantly, irritatingly, present at the back of his mind. And sometimes, on cold nights, he could swear he felt it slumbering at the center of the Earth. He couldn't forget that it would wake up one day, wiping out the human race, and then even the memory of the Reptites would be gone.
...But they had many millions of years until then. There was no known way to destroy a Red Star, but surely that was long enough for an intelligent species to reach the stars and other, untainted worlds. And meanwhile, what else could he do but help?
And now they didn't need him any more, there was nothing left but to sit in the sun, dreaming of when he was young and the world was still warm. He was a relic. Standing at the back of an evolutionary dead end, with nothing left to give. Soon, he would die, alone in his hut, and perhaps if he was lucky the children he saw these days would remember him to their own. These days, he could do nothing but exist.
Because he was the last one. And every day he lived was one more day for a Reptite to walk the Earth.
Full moon, mysterious and transmutable,
I'm an imaginary living body come to its end
Full moon, mysterious and transmutable,
I'm an imaginary destined body come to its end
Seeking time, without rest
Living on, a creature of rock
--I am an Imaginary Living Body (Revolutionary Girl Utena)
This story is dedicated to my older brother, first for giving me his old copy of Chrono Trigger, indirectly inspiring me to get off my lazy arse and write, and second for not running away screaming when I made him read the results. Thanks, SW!
Seeing how I've incorporated some rather... um... strange plot points into this little tale, I feel I ought to explain myself a little. First of all, there's the language thing. This first started as a prologue for a rather long fanfic which popped into my head, but I knew I shouldn't start because someone got to my idea first. I wrote this lil' nugget of joy to assuage my need to write CT fanfics. Then, since this can stand on its own as a short story, it became a 'fill in the missing plot point' tale.
The plot point is, of course, why the Reptites speak much better English than the humans. My explanation (for those of you who, for some inexplicable reason, skipped the story and went straight for the Author's notes) is that English, or whatever they call it in the world of Chrono Trigger, was originally the language of the Reptites. Now, you could just say that the bad guys are smarter than the prehistoric good guys, and have invented grammar--but when the Red Star falls, Ayla names it using words from an unknown language, possibly the original language of the humans.
You may think me a little pedantic for even bothering to think about this. You'd be right. Besides, I'm ignoring a few other big plot holes when I write this, such as why the language hasn't changed at all over sixty-five million years. If worst comes to worst, one can always blame anything on good ol' Lavos.
This story sort of became rather more than a fill-in-the-blank. So, if nothing else, enjoy the story as an exercise in character developement. Or curse the story and its writer to the blackest pits of hell for unleashing such unimaginably pointless tripe upon the 'Net. Whatever floats your boat.
That said, this is my first attempt at writing a serious story (or any type of fanfic, for that matter), so feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you think. Please? Pretty please? Even if you send a flame, I can always shamelessly mock it and then stick it up on my webpage(just as soon as I get one.) Usually, though, I'm happy enough just to hear that someone has read my story. Help support hopeless fangirls!
I'm...finished? Yay! I feel so...free!