Perceptions of Last Yesterday Chapter 1
By Malice Shaw
I drank a sip of my fermented concoction, enjoying the burning sensation it left my mouth, and soon my body as it coursed through my veins. The time had come for this, and almost immediately I regretted obeying a promise to a dying friend. Braska was a good man, a wonderful human being who wished to sacrifice himself in the name of his land, so how could I not? Through ravaged lands we traveled, scoping bit by bit any lance of atrophy in each other, to attempt to save a ravaged land from the likes of Sin. Our troubles and our pains caused that massive destruction every ten years, and every ten years our sacrifice brings us a mere wrinkle in time of a moment's peace. I protected the temple, Yevon being my God in every way possible. I worshiped the Lord of a man, yet could not bring myself to commit an a sacred marriage between I and another woman. I could not marry a woman I cared nothing for, nevertheless never even met.
So as childish as it seems, I ran away.
Ran away to join Lord Braska, a high Summoner in his own regard who was shunned by many for marrying, and having the ill mind to conceive a child with an Al Bhed, and Jecht, a raunchy, filthy drunk with a mouth as wide as his own ego, which, I must add, wasn't exactly the most pleasant experience. His breath smelled of rotting carcasses, of decay and rancid meat due to all the drinking he would do. At first I did not understand Braska's intent with the scoundrel. I wondered if the Summoner was in his right mind to take this, thing on our travels. The very thought of Jecht with us while we were to pertain a great honor caused a gnawing feeling of anger to coil in my gut.
"Excuse me." Braska's voice sounded. "Are you Jecht, of Zanarkand?"
"Yeah." A gruff, grizzly sounding voice chimed from the man who lay on the bed. "What of it?"
"My Lord," I murmured to Braska, keeping a keen eye on the man behind the bars. "Why on earth would we want to taint ourselves with this, this drunkard of sorts? He'll more than likely drink his way through our money!"
"HEY!" Jecht's gravely voice shouted at me. He was suffering from a hangover from the night before, and his temper left a lot to be desired. "You wanna come in here and say that, you long haired freak?!"
I rested my hand on the hilt of my blade, snarling, about to pull it out of it's holder until Braska's large hand covered my shoulder, gripping hard. "Auron," he began, the tone of his voice both cheerful, and laden with a warning. "We would make quite a trio, wouldn't we? A fallen Summoner, shunned for marrying an Al Bhed, and an excommunicated monk, who refused the hand of a high priests' daughter? Along with this drunken fellow who claims to be of Zanarkand, we are destined to fail, as they would say. Wouldn't you just adore laughing at them when we return victorious?"
"Don't talk like I ain't here!" Jecht shouted again. He began to clink a metal cup against the bars, pounding on them in a furious pace. "What makes you think I'll even go with you? Huh?"
Braska turned to him and smiled warmly. To this day I still remember that smile, even though so many years have passed. A clever curve would always perch itself on his lips as he spoke, in an all knowing voice to Jecht, ignoring my grunts of disapproval. "Simple. We'll pay your fines, and your bail. And until my pilgrimage is over, you will work your due off with us."
"And if I say no?" The man's voice was beginning to irritate me enough to thrust my blade into his chest and pull out his heart.
"Then you stay in this.." Braska fought for the correct words. I was about to provide them when he finally said "...charming establishment."
With a sneer Jecht agreed, looking away until the bars were undone. He stepped out of his cell with a swagger, an all too knowing sneer plastered on his face like a mask, hiding his true feelings. Yet no matter how much one can smile, they can never hide their eyes. The eyes, they tell truths beyond all that is knowledgeable. For years I perfected reading eyes, reading the sins behind the pretty lies that have been told. I read his then, and saw what I least expected. Knowledge of confusion, anger over being bought over so easily. Fear as well, it tore through his skin and pores like a knife, cutting deep into my senses harsh enough to send an icy chill down my spine, as if Death's own grip was touching the marrow in my bones. All of the emotions mixed together were a raunchy taste, a foul odor that at first glance would deem fit for him, but a second glance would prove you wrong.
Yet most of all, I saw understanding, compassion. Jecht was a man I immediately saw as trouble, and yet my second glance scared me. He held human emotion, good emotions, pleasant kinds, and yet the vile fear was still there. He did not know what to do, nor how to do it. He was an expert in many things, and yet this was not one of them. I wondered, in that tiny wrinkle in time about who he was before he was captured.
As he walked ahead of me, with Braska by his side I slipped into my gil bag and paid his due. Public drunkenness, obscurity, lewd conduct. My thoughts of him as I saw him stalking out the door, his arms crossed and his head down aside the high Summoner Braska were that he was a simpleton, a fool, and how stupid I was to allow Lord Braska to even begin to think of bartering with the county for this man's release.
I thought of him as no more than a mere waste of flesh, a nothing to no one for the longest time.
I could never have been more wrong in my life.
Despite my contradictions, Jecht was the man who opened my eyes to a world in his own heart that I had never thought possible. The world of a married man with a child, whom he did love yet could never find the words to say it. I did not understand it until much later, when in the end, everything changed.
I laugh now, when I see it. I laugh, when so long ago I feared. For I know who it is. I know who is encased in that shell, that last hurrah living reminants of a torturing soul.
I can see it now. It's coming, waiting, speaking directly into my mind. I can feel the familiar pain of heartache from him, the sense of loss is so great it nearly overpowers my own. Raising my jug to greet him, I nearly laughed when the waves crashed and tore, breaking down numerous structures of machina that must have taken years on end to build in a matter of seconds. It was, in my eyes, fascinating as the others around me, friends that had become close over the years ran from it as if the world was coming to an end.
In many ways, I must admit, they were right.
With a smirk, I raised my jug once more, giving a salute. I knew where this would be going, and yet, now how it would end. I'll tell this through my own eye, or eye, as I should say, whisper it on how it should have been, and what might be. This is how it should be, and no matter how much one would beg to differ, I will tell it how I see it should fit.
This is the beginning.
This, is my story.
He couldn't help it. He loved it all.
Everyone, coming to him, worshipping him for the skill he played, comparing him to another man long since gone. The feel of the ball hitting hard against leather soled shoes, the sight of the competition, the enemy, being thrown from the ring into the audience in a mangled, watery mess. The sense of someone near, as they quench the thirst for your blood and continuously ram their body into yours, painfully, enjoying each scream you emit, and then the taste of victory, the sense of battle done when your body's adrenaline surge begins to scream in your veins, and then as quickly as they came, they ebb away. tiny sparks of what you think Life is made up of still sift through your veins, awaiting, hibernating, resting up for the next big burst of liquid ice to surge through your system and start the whole electrifying process all over again.
That was Blitzball.
Of course it wasn't only felt by those in the water filled arena. It was felt by all. Those in the stands who chanted his name, hollered at his rivals, they all helped in creating the atmosphere of creation, the power of their voiced urging them all on. He didn't think it was a game, no, not at all. It was more along the lines of it being his life, his whole being. His reason for living, as it were. It gave him a chance to show them all, prove to them all that simply because of his bloodline, simply because of who he was born of, that he could be better. Better, and much more popular. More refined, sophisticated, giving a great name to a great sport. It was his life, after all, his life, his very meaning of existence.
In it he was a God.
"One at a time, one at a time.." He smirked, plucking up a Blitzball and spinning it on his finger. Languidly he reached into the parade of hands and plucked out a marker, scribbling his name in black ink. "Here."
"Thanks Tidus!" The young boy gleamed. His friends surrounded him, thrusting their own balls into the Blitzer's face. "Hey, after the game tonight, can you show us how to Blitz?"
"You can't. No time." A small, inquiring voice was heard from behind them. Tidus turned to see a tiny robed figure standing, his face encased in a hood while his uncovered arms held clenching and unclenching fists, and a pert rounded mouth that seemed to be in a constant frown. His elegantly designed robe was trimmed in silver ribbon, and an intricate design of flashing lights, trailing multicolored tails behind each thread of fabric they touched. When the young child turned his back, Tidus admired the halo of a wheel on his back that seemed to reflect the light that surrounded them form the arena above. It glowed, shining brightly against the dark blue material of the robe, languid designs tracing inside of the golden circle. Tidus snapped himself from the trance that the design inflicted, and shook his head slowly, turning his back to the boy to his awaiting fans.
"Yeah, sure! I'll show you how to blitz after the show." He chimed, ignoring the other's scowling growl. The children shouted with joy, bending one knee and folding their hand in front of them in the traditional Blitzball cheer. Turning to a bevy of female fans, Tidus flirted a bit, and laughed as one of the females tentatively asked if she could ruffle his hair, while another warned him of his competition's ploy to play dirty. As he walked down the road, lavishing in the lights and the screams from afar, he took note of a familiar billboard with an even more familiar picture painted across it's wooden back. Giving it a sarcastic smile, and a thumbs up, Tidus hissed slightly, the feelings of nostalgia leaving him as soon as they had entered his mind. Afterwards, he was livid in their cheers, feeling the vibrance of all as he pushed through the crowd, smelling sweat and the musky scent of power. Climbing carefully into the rigged sphere, he cast a calm look behind him at the crowds once more, taking note of their calm exterior, yet he knew, raging beneath their skins was the urge to scream.
Smiling, he dipped his golden tresses into the water, combing his fingers through. It would begin soon enough.
And when it did, as always, he would be ready.
It was his life. His true love.
And he wouldn't give it up for the world.
Crimson cloaked into the night, Auron could hear the crowds cheering, and if his eye could let him see, he saw the boy he had come to raise laying down in the tank. A shot of light, stunning his vision only momentarily, and soon the light turns on into liquid clarity, filling itself over and over into a sphere of large proportions. The flocks of people in the stadium run and jump, screaming, their voices drowned out only momentarily by one another, as the flaxen haired boy stands, holding his prized weapon of Blitz. Once again they scream and cheer, oblivious to the outside danger that awaits them.
The ball screamed in the water, thrown hard and fast. His eyes set towards the competition, the enemy, as a hard body smashed into his own, full well knowing the bruising that would occur within a few days due to the brunt force of his body, used as a weapon. Tidus shrieked in pain, not expecting it to cause so much agony on his side and hip, yet the adrenaline rush he always counted on never failed him then. turning sharply, he grabbed his enemy and slammed his elbow into the opposition's ribs, grunting as he did so, and the other player flew into the crowds, screaming along the way and falling into the laps of an old lady and what was presumably her son. Lacing his arms across his chest Tidus smirked at his handy work, and resuming his game.
A goal hit for his team, a small celebration of clapping hands, and the ball thrown into the air once more. The teams rush towards it, shoving each other aside to grasp the loose object before another could. It slips hard, and is thrown clear out of the dome, cutting the air with slick ease. Tidus smiled to himself, seeing his chance, and swims up towards it, thrusting his body like a torpedo from the hilt and cuts through the water after the ball, the air freezing him almost instantly. Twisting his form he shut his eyes and almost laughed as the simplicity of the action, and yet taking note as they roared for more. Spreading his arms he prepared for yet another goal getting kick, and he opened his eyes, jus slightly, before they widened again, this time in fear.
"The hell...?" He said, watching another huge sphere of water form.
A sudden burst of light and flame, all too quick for him to prepare and the stadium is destroyed, a mass of twisted metal and crunching electronics, sparks flying every where. As he fell, Tidus reached to grab a bended mass of steel and grip it tightly in his gloved hand, screaming. They weren't watching him anymore. They were running for their lives as the town flooded with water, drowning those who never saw the destruction happening. Screams and howls of those in pain, and those who were blessed to lose their lives instantly filled the air, drowning out the crashing sounds of the liquid turmoil that ravaged the streets and pathways. Houses fell with a crash, more screaming of frustrated and confused bystanders rioted again towards freedom and safety, away from their inevitable death under gallons of water laced with evil.
His grip loosening, Tidus let out one howl of fear before his fingers gave way, and he fell, hitting the floor with a devastating impact that caused his surroundings to encase in black.
The crimson figure smiled grimly as he stepped towards the soaked, out-cold young man. Sipping from his jug, he deftly reached downwards to grip him by the hair and throw his face into another puddle of ice cold water, immediately snapping the boy out of his induced sleep. Sputtering, Tidus rolled onto his backside, his eyes blurry yet not blind, sneering up angrily at the man to whom had awoken him.
"What're you doing here?!" Tidus snapped, his voice shrill with panic. "Did you do this?!"
"I can't say for certain." The man briskly retorted back. With steady, even steps he walked past the boy, narrowing his eye around him at the rushing of people.
"Auron? Auron!" Tidus' steps were blatant, tripping, and he fell to his knees. The wind in his lungs felt as if it were betraying him, gushing outwards as fast as he could take it in, never giving him a chance to catch a sweet breath. "Auron, wait!"
Auron turned his back to the crowd and watched him. Tidus crawled slowly, pressing a hand to his chest and gritting his teeth, desperately trying to keep the tears that formed in his eyes in their place. Gingerly, Auron stepped back to him and pressed a hand towards him, distain tearing daggers in his eyes. "Hurry!" He barked. "We don't have much time!"
Tidus groaned and pressed his hands to the disturbed ground, moaning. "I can't breathe!" He shouted, and then lapsed into convulsions of gasps and struggles for air.
Growling, Auron raised a stiff palm, waving sharply at the surroundings. Almost instantly they were crossed and stopped in time, the pounding of feet like the hooves of elephants ceasing to exist, only suspended in midair. Panicked expressions frozen, mouths hung wide open in fear and shame all around them, the only movement were their own chests rising and caving in with each lungful of air. Turning back to Tidus, Auron secretly reveled in the boy's shocked expression of wonder, awe, and fear before wincing slightly when he rose painfully to his feet, stumbling in his steps. When he finally pulled himself into a decent position, he glared up at Auron with a hated look, snarling a curse from his throat.
"You did do this!" He snarled. Bunching a fist he lunged at Auron, who sidestepped carefully and reached out to snatch Tidus by his shirt. Pulling the boy close, he gripped him with a forearm around his neck, crushing Tidus' windpipe to derive him of the already needed air.
"We called it Sin." Auron snarled, throwing Tidus from his grasps. The youth looked up at Auron angrily, flinching slightly. "Sin. Can you not feel him? Can you not feel Sin?"
"You'e crazy, old man." Tidus mumbled under his breath. "We have to get outta here!"
He felt a calming presence, a soothing soul step into the dank remains. The boy, the child from before came into view, and he stepped in front of Tidus with a stiff exterior. "It begins." He said, sounding unusually calm. Tidus looked up at him in confusion, and before he disappeared into the air he murmured, "Don't cry."
"I'm not going to freakin' cry!" Tidus shouted, rubbing the palm of his hand against his eye. "How could this have happened.."
Auron glared at him, his eye narrowing in distaste. The boy was speaking to voices. He must have hit his head on the fall.
Crashing from above them, and Auron gasped. Tentacles from a source unseen smashed into a nearby building, shedding debris and twisted steel to rain down upon them. Auron flung his body against Tidus, shielding him from the sharp slap of a large piece of stone from the gargoyle statue that was torn apart as if it were weak paper. The stone slab rushed downwards against his back and he let out a stiff grunt, wincing in pain as it tore into the delicate tissue of his skin. Pulling away, he ignored Tidus' questioning gaze and looked ahead of him, silently pointing to a swarm of larvae that began to surround them. Shouting a mock war cry, Tidus ran towards them, arms extended and slapped rapidly against the wings, howling and stumbling backwards when a filtered needle hit his hand, tearing his glove but thankfully not the skin.
Auron reached underneath his coat and threw handle first a sword to the youth, snarling. "Take it."
"What? Why?!" Tidus shouted above the hissing of the beasts' wings. Raising the sword, he fell backwards under it's weight, cringing when the blade narrowly missed when landing between his legs.
"A gift from your father." Auron swung his unusually large blade towards the beasts, lavishing in their screams as they dissipated into pyre flies. "I hope you know how to use it with out taking your head off."
Stumbling in his steps, Tidus gave the blade a decent crescent moon swing as Auron's lips twitched into a half smile. The spawn of the tentacle screamed, its wings hissing brightly while fluttering at high speeds. Auron cast a look towards Tidus and shouted something unintelligible, rushing towards the spawn to bring the heavy blade of his own to rain down upon it's head. Its scream hissed through a malformed beak as it died, melting into the ground and dying as another fiend replaced its position, rushing forward to smash into Tidus' legs. Tidus shrieked and fell to his knees, supporting himself on his blade as he pressed his gloved hand to his legs, only to pull his hand away and see blood. His cyan eyes widened in fear and he nearly retched, instead opting to pull himself to a decent fighting stand and guard himself with his loose arm.
"My old man, huh." He grumbled, gripping the handle knuckle white. "Jecht.. He'd think I couldn't handle it."
"I just need to get through." Auron murmured as he lashed into a seething scale. Once again it was replaced by another electrified jolt of Sinspawn, and Auron grimaced. He gazed towards the right, watching as small power bursts exploded in subtle spurts. "That power generator!" He shouted. "Destroy it!"
Tidus winced, gazing at the metal reactor with a relish. Rushing in, he pushed past a Sinscale and drove the pointed end of his broadsword into the machine, feeling a few sparks cut into his arm. Growling in pain, he yanked the sword out and once again drove it in, over and over until the generator screamed and crunched inside it self, it's last life essences falling into nothing. Behind him the last of the Sin Spawn fell victim to Auron's blade, screaming in pain as they fell into a mix of acid and pyre flies. Tidus watched for only a split moment, wondering silently how something so beautiful can occur from something so dastardly ugly when Auron barked another command, rushing through the path he created with the brute force of his blade.
"The bridge is collapsing! Get out of here!" He shouted, and scrambled across an incoming gap. Tidus gasped, halting in his tracks for a few moments before breathing deep and running like mad as the bridge faced upwards. Auron stopped suddenly, and Tidus slammed into his back, falling backwards as his blade fell down the side of the erupted bridge. Auron turned around and snarled at him, obviously disturbed. "What do you think you're doing?"
"What's it look like?" Tidus shouted, shielding his eyes. "I'm going with you!"
Tidus opened his mouth to speak but a rumbling in the ground began to overrule his voice, crushing together in a grinding motion that caused dust and debris to soar above them, covering his hair with dirt and grime, and roughly pressing into his eyes. Scrambling on his feet as the tears sprung, Tidus stumbling backwards, rubbing the dirt from his eyes. Another rush of rumbling, and the ground spread open, a large split that resembled a crooked knife slash parting it's ways right under his feet. Losing his balance Tidus screamed again, stumbling backwards into the gap, clawing at the air until his fingers finally grasped the jagged edges of the broken bridge, cutting into his skin as he pushed himself upwards to find some setting in which to find safety. It wasn't until he looked into the skies behind his mentor, his surrogate father figure, did he finally scream out of fear.
A wormhole had spread the skies apart as if it were merely sliced skin, spreading wide open in a nauseating color scheme of oranges and yellows. The hole spun around, fast, and licked the remaining skies that were untainted by it's presence with yellow flame like fingers, trailing and tearing new lines into the clearing. To Tidus, it looked as if the sky were bleeding, and Auron was simply content with watching it die.
"Auron!" He screamed, grasping at the broken remains of the bridge. "Help me!"
Auron looked at him, his eye narrowing in partial defeat, partial defiance. "You can't come!" He barked angrily. Then he resumed his stare at the wormhole. "Auron!" Tidus screamed again. He felt a suction around him, a sharp gust of wind beneath his feet, thrusting him upwards. "Damn you old man, what have you done?!"
Auron pulled the edge of his coat tighter around himself, still gazing up at the sky with a longing in his features. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure that I'm going to fall and die because you won't lend me a stinkin' hand!" His fingers slipped again, and soon he was hanging on the ledge with only one hand. Carefully, he managed to pull himself upwards onto the ledge, throwing a leg over to steady himself. Bringing his face upwards he once again overheard Auron converse with the tear, yet he could not make out the words they spoke to one another. Tidus shook his head again, suddenly feeling disorientated before he lunged forward and grabbed the flowing end of Auron's crimson coat, sneering up at him. "Thanks for your help, you old jerk."
Auron turned back towards him, his eyes closed, seemingly not have heard a thing from the boy's mouth. When he opened his eye again, shock and anger swam around in circles, and he thrust his arm downwards to grab the boy, shaking him with force. "Why are you doing this? It has to be done!" He shouted. With that he threw the youth down next to him and looked back up towards the wormhole once again, as if waiting?
Another scream, and a fiery hot blast seemed to scorch the skin and sinew from his bones. Tidus barely managed to open his eyes to see Auron's form, the back of him, stretch from the ground to the opening of the hole painfully, the older man screaming in agony as he was torn from the ground into the upper regions of the unknown. The air grew heavy, and hard to breath then, and Tidus felt himself being drawn to inside the wormhole the sky had accumulated, and with out thinking, he jumped.
Fire tore into his system, and as he closed his eyes when darkness surrounded him completely, that was the last time Tidus ever thought he could feel pain again.
I thought about many things, as I passed through Sin's portal.
I thought of the boy. I thought that if I kept him in his quiet utopia, then it would simply be alright.
Yet that was not the case.
Since he had inadvertently followed me into my realm, my home, I knew then and there that things were not going according to a plan I had formulated over the years. I had grown to accept the boy as something of my own prodigal son in a ways, and yet like any parent I did not want him to have part in this masquerade. I did not want him to know the truth.
As fire burned through me I began to think of a lot of things. Of my life, or lack there of. Of how even though I had the boy, I was still alone on my next quest unless..
Even the ones who die have dreams. Mine, at the time, were to protect the boy, save him from knowing the truth.
I wanted my story to have the ending I wanted. Where the boy could fade into obscurity, with out me to watch him.
But I could not.
I knew he jumped with me. I felt his essence through Sin. The life force of the boy was entrapped by Sin, no matter what I did to prevent it. This knowledge that he wouldn't listen when I said to stay away should have been common. I raised him since he was seven, I should have known..
I should have stopped him..
Yet there was nothing I could do. Like his father before him, he had the tyrading temper of the drunken man I had come to know as friend.
Never have I known true fear until that moment.
My ending was never going to change in accordance to me. There would be no way, now that Tidus had flown into the well of Sin along with me. I was content with letting him live a dream, in more ways than one. Rebuild this Zanarkand in his own way. Yet now, I knew I could not. The chapters in this tale were rearranged, fixated into a different assortment of what they should have been. Pages upon pages, mixed and mismatched, I knew now with this slight change in the well of Sin would have many problems along the way.
Yet it was too late to go back now.
Too late to take the boy, kicking and screaming if I must have, back to the remaining ruins of his home.
I rode Sin into Zanarkand, Jecht's home, years ago, to fulfill a promise to a man facing certain death, sacrificing his life to bring a soothing Calm to a land he had no business being of. If that does not prove that a failure of a man can still attempt to create a difference, some how change himself with one good deed, than my mind fails to comprehend any other instances where it would be possible to some how.. redeem one self, for a lifetime of treachery and hazard in one fell swoop.
All Jecht wished to give was his life for all of those in Spira. One life of sin for many lives. A fair trade, or so he thought.
At the time..
At the time..
Damn him! The boy should never have crossed through! If he knew the truth about Jecht, about Sin I.. I don't know what to do...
My story. I will end my story the way I want it to. No one will stop me.
The promise to a dying friend, who coincidently saved your life by forfeiting his own rights to live could never be ignored.
Final Fantasy 10 Fanfic