The Game of Gods Chapter 1
By The Ionic Butterfly
At first, his heart skipped a beat when he noticed that Kuja had fallen silent with his head turned away. Damn you, dont die! he cried out in his mind, leaping over Kuja. Then he noticed the faint rise and fall of Kujas chest telling him that his brother had merely fainted from exhaustion. Short-lived relief washed over him as he noticed the extensions were heading for him again, this time more quickly and with more aggression.
Time slowed as he realized he was going to die. Not only was he going to die, but the now defenseless Kuja would be coming with him. He wasnt afraid of it, it was just that there were too many things left undone. He had too many memories to make, too much to stay alive for. After all he had just been through, there was no way in hell he was going to just accept death and no way in hell that hed allow the now disillusioned Kuja to take that journey either. A voice from the past singing his and Garnets song rose up. Garnets face, no, Daggers face, flashed in his mind. The desperation of wanting to hear her again, to see her again, to try to charm her with his ways once more rose up. Then he felt the anger rise up in him that something would dare try to stand in his way of seeing his Dagger again. After everything he hed done and everything he planned to do, he simply refused to die.
So then, Zidane tranced.
Idiot, why are you stopping yet again? Mikoto chided, hands firmly on her hips.
Zidane lifted his head to look at her. He had fallen to his knees again under the weight of Kuja upon his back. Im just a little tired, okay? Think you can deal? He lowered Kuja carefully off of his back and placed him on the ground. He sat down on his bottom and lifted his knees to his chest.
Mikoto looked at the two men, both beaten to hell and back. Zidanes head lowered onto his knees as she knelt down to check Kujas pulse rate. Hes gonna need some medical attention very soon.
Zidane groaned. No kidding. Im about to keel over as well.
Mikotos glare turned to him. Its not my fault you didnt see me before you decided to do that trancing trick of yours.
Zidane groaned. There was no use in getting upset. If he could only lay down and sleep hed be okay, he was sure. But Kuja, on the other hand, was barely holding on to his life. How are we even going to get anywhere? We dont have an airship. We cant walk.
Mikotos hand brushed some of the hair off of Kujas forehead. I dont know.
Then why dont we just stay put until we figure something out?
Mikoto sighed. He may die if we dont move.
And maybe sitting still and not moving will let his body rest and heal itself, Zidane said. I dont know that I can carry him much further.
Then Ill have to, Mikoto said.
Zidane nodded and closed his eyes, hoping Mikoto would let him nap for just a few minutes. When he felt hands under his arms lifting him up he felt like screaming. His eyes opened as he was lifted to his feet and saw Black Mages around him, pulling him up. They were also carefully lifting Kuja. His eyes shifted and he saw three silver dragons. He yelped and fell on top of a Mage as he tried to back away from the creatures. Then he saw they all seemed intent on Kujas welfare. A slow sense came into his mind. Hes not alone. Those are his friends. They mustve felt him he muttered aloud.
Umph! the Mage under him bellowed.
Uh, sorry! Zidane said and stood up. He offered a hand and pulled the Mage up as well. His arm hurt with the effort and he realized that he really was in need of rest. Why did you come here?
The entire village had the same dream, Genomes and Mages alike. It showed you three to us and we knew somehow we had to get here. Then the dragons just showed up. We panicked at first, but then we understood that maybe theyd dreamed it too, the Mage said.
Zidane looked at Kuja. The man was so closely related to the Genomes, Mages, and dragons Did he have the power and strength to actually do something like that? Deciding he was too tired to do much more thinking, he let himself be led onto the back of a silver dragon. Once in the sky and leaning in the arms of a Black Mage, he passed out.
The next morning, Zidane sat up in his bed and stretched. All his muscles screamed out in pain from being so overused and nearly every bone in his body decided to pop. He found that all of his wounds had been tended to, bandages covering the bad ones. He even smelled like soap so he figured they had bathed him somehow as well. He cocked his head to the side with one eye closed as he tried to figure that one out. He finally shook the thought from his head and slowly climbed out of the bed.
From the looks of the room he was in, they had been taken to the Black Mage Village. Idle thoughts of Dagger crossed his mind as he pulled on his still bloodstained shirt and boots. Then the thought of Kuja not surviving the night hit him. Man! he muttered aloud as he hurried to finish dressing. He hopped on one foot out the door, still trying to pull on a shoe. He realized he was in the inn, and saw No. 234 behind the desk. Wheres Kuja? he asked, running over.
Relax, hes okay. They have him in a house near Bobby Corwins house. Its quiet back there and he needs that, No. 234 said.
Zidane nodded as a Genome stepped up to question No. 234 as to why when people were sick they needed quiet. He ran out of the inn and to the house that Kuja was in.
Mikoto was leaning on side of the house beside the door, staring up into the patch of heaven she could see through the trees. Zidane looked at her and realized that she seemed as if she were going to cry. How is he? he asked quietly, almost afraid of the answer.
Mikoto looked down and shifted her eyes to him. Hes weak. Really really weak.
Has he woken up yet? Zidane asked.
Mikoto nodded. Just once. He said some things to me and passed right back out.
Zidane squinted. What did he say?
Mikotos lip began to quiver. I cant She shook her head as her eyes filled with tears. Zidanes arms were quick to surround her. At first she just stood there but then she realized how comforting the hug was and she hugged him back, crying into his shoulder.
Zidane held her, smoothing her hair a bit. Ill make him tell me when he wakes up again, Mikoto. Just calm down.
Mikoto realized what she was doing and pushed Zidane away. She wiped at her tears, angry with herself. You talk to him then. Ill be somewhere. Before Zidane could say anything else, she was gone.
He put his hand on the door, wondering what Kuja had told her that would make her cry. Damn, he hated seeing women cry. Tears just seemed out of place for them. He pushed the door open and stepped inside. A Black Mage sat in a chair near the bed. Kuja lay sleeping on the bed, shirtless and covered in bandages. Zidane realized that he had been the one that had done that to him, but at least he was alive now. He folded his arms and took a backwards seat in a chair beside the bed.
Hes weak, but if he sleeps a day or so more, hell be doing all right. Hes not fevered at all and his wounds cleaned up as nicely as yours did, No. 219 said.
Zidane nodded, just staring at his brother.
If you could look after him for a little while and let me get some lunch, Id be forever grateful, No. 219 said.
No problem, Zidane said as the Black Mage stood up and left. He folded his arms atop the chairs back and laid his chin on them. His mind began reliving the hell he and his friends had went through as he watched Kuja sleep. So it was all over. The world was safe and two new races existed. He was in love with a queen and had a lot of new friends that would not desert him. He scratched his head. Was it really an ending, or was it a beginning?
It wasnt much longer before Kujas eyelids clenched shut and then carefully blinked open. He raised a hand slowly to shield his eyes as he looked to Zidane. You, he muttered.
Me? No. You. You made Mikoto cry. What did you tell her? Zidane asked.
Kuja rolled his head back while rolling his eyes at Zidane.
I see that youre not as weak as youre having people think you are if you can keep up that attitude.
Kujas gaze shifted sharply back to Zidane. Why didnt you just let me die?
Do what?! Zidane exclaimed.
I could have died a peaceful death back there. I wouldnt have to conquer all this guilt that is laid before me now. I was wrong, my dear little brother. I was wrong and you were right. You won. Hooray. What is even worse is that you have granted me back my life in which I can wallow in my shame and guilt. Dont expect me to thank you.
Zidane gritted his teeth. Youre kidding, right?
The look in Kujas eyes told him he wasnt. Im quite serious.
I didnt save you because I wanted to laugh in your face about being right. I never chose to be in competition with you anyway and you know that. I saved you because you were about to die, Kuja. Im not gonna ignore anyone in who is defenseless in that situation.
Hmm. I suppose it wasnt your idea to have the very things I created and took idle care of for so long take idle care of me, either.
I didnt summon the dragons, Kuja. That had to have been you.
Kuja turned his head to the other wall. You shouldve just let me die there. I havent the will to even lift myself from this bed because I realize how utterly ignorant Ive been.
Not ignorant, just selfish. Thats a trait you can overcome.
Easy for you to say. How can I live in a world that I tried to destroy? How will that world ever let me live in it?
Zidane scratched his head. Okay, now youre getting too philosophical for me. We all have a lot we need to reflect on. This world can forgive.
Zidane. Do you even remember what Ive done?
Yes, very well so. But your life is important.
Kuja laughed quietly. Is it? Who is it important to? Name one person that even cares, Zidane.
Easy. Besides myself, the Mages all worked together to take care of you here. Apparently you told Mikoto you wanted to die which even made her cry. The dragons came for your ass and Im sure all the Genomes here are wondering about you as well.
As the rest of the world prays that I truly am dead.
Dammit, Kuja, would you quit that?! Zidane was ready to punch him.
Yes. I will for now. My head is clouding up again. I believe Ill just Kuja didnt get to finish as he slipped back into unconsciousness.
Zidane stared at him until No. 219 returned with a sandwich in hand. He left without a word to the Black Mage. He set out to try to find Mikoto. As he passed all the Mages, he remembered that they were all just waiting to stop. As he passed all the Genomes, he began to wonder if Kuja was right. They were looking after him for now, but did they really want to? It was at the cemetery that he ran into Mikoto again.
She was seated on the ground, drawing in the dirt with a stick. She didnt look up as Zidane approached and sat down in front of her. Hes so weak, Zidane.
Suddenly he realized what she meant. Kujas body was not what she was referring to. His mind itself had been broken, his soul twisted, leaving everything that was the essence of Kuja weak and in pain. Yeah. He told me.
Will this world really forsake him, Zidane? Will they understand that hes changed?
Its doubtful. Unless he can redeem himself, its highly doubtful. I think hes just really scared.
Even if he did do something to redeem himself, thered always be people saying that he was just trying to lure us into false securities.
Yeah, youre right, Zidane muttered.
You shouldve let us all die on Terra too, Mikoto whispered.
What!? Dont you start now!
No, its not that, Zidane. I dont know. Its me, you, Kuja, and the Genomes. Only the three of us even have a sex. Were gonna die off, as will the Mages. Life isnt worth it.
Life is worth all the memories you can make in it, Mikoto. Even if there is no hope for our future generations, we still have ourselves, right?
Mikoto just kept drawing in the dirt.
Dammit. Zidane stood up and headed back to Kujas side. So now both his brother and sister were suicidal guilt driven idiots. Didnt anyone know how to just smile and be glad they were alive? So many dead people out there probably would love the chance to do so, so it made no sense that any living creature shouldnt. As he sat back down in his chair beside Kuja, he realized that Mikoto was right.
As cynical as it seemed, within another year, all the Black Mages will have stopped. The Genomes had a greater life span, surely, but they were still asexual creatures. Zidane had no want to have children with his sister and would beat the hell out of Kuja for even thinking of that. So, the two new races were on a path to destruction slowly. He folded his arms atop the chair again and lowered his face into his arms.
Now whats the matter with you? he heard a voice ask. He looked up to see Kuja was once again awake.
Its not fair that any of them have to live. They wont last at all, Zidane said.
As their creator, how do you think I feel? Kuja asked.
I meant the Genomes.
Oh. Well, its the same principle. Theyre all going to die while those who were created properly will live. You, Mikoto, Vivi did you call him? And myself. Now you know my shame.
Kuja, what do you mean created properly? We were created the same way the others were!
Yes but you see Genomes need souls to have sexes. Our bodies are created so that male or female can adapt to them. We all get the wide child-birthing hips, yet I still dont know why the devil Garland gave us tails. Mikotos flat chest will never fill out. And the Mages They are even trickier. I didnt even create females for them, Kuja started.
You know how to fix it. Zidanes voice rang out in the room as he and his brother stared at each other.
Just because I know how doesnt mean I should do it. Its best that we all just die quietly. Were mortals, arent we? Havent you spent a good deal of your time lately trying to educate me of that fact? Kuja asked.
If you refuse to help now, it is because you are truly a coward that just wants to sulk in his guilt because he got his ass kicked by someone he believed to be under him. If you know a way to end this genocide, Kuja, youre gonna do it or I really am going to kill you, Mikoto said, suddenly appearing in the doorway.
Then do it. Your words dont hurt me, Kuja said, looking away from her.
Kuja Zidane started.
Leave me. Everyone, just leave me be. Let me think. Come back at sundown. Ill have answers then.
Zidane held Kujas gaze for a moment, trying to see if Kuja would find a way to kill himself. When Zidane was satisfied that his words earlier had only been said in fear, he nodded. Lets go. Come on, No. 219. You too.
Outside, No. 219 looked at Zidane. When he looks at me Its different, isnt it? Hes changed so much, hasnt he? Theres no contempt for me in his eyes anymore, nor does he spit out the word Mages.
Hes become sympathetic. Hes never had that emotion before since his selfishness has driven him so hard, Zidane said.
No. 219, tell me. You said earlier you used to work directly with him. He treated you horribly and didnt care at all about you. Is there any way that you could ever forgive him if he has changed? Mikoto asked.
No. 219 stood in thought. Actually, Ive held no grudge towards him. He created me to do his bidding. Life was gift enough. Sure, Im glad that I dont have to listen to him constantly complain about how things are not good enough anymore, but if I had to do it, I would. So yes. Id forgive him.
Zidane, if hed do that If hed find a way to help our kind and the Mages, then that will be redemption enough, Mikoto said.
Yes, but its up to him. We have to let him be for now. Zidane sighed and stared around at all the Mages and Genomes around him. I just hope he decides to help.
After sundown, Zidane held off going back to see Kuja as long as Mikoto would let him. He had little faith that Kuja would agree to find a way to do such things. Mikoto was rather impatient though and she drug Zidane by the arm back to the house that Kuja was in. As they stepped inside, they found Kuja sitting up in his bed, wearing a tunic, eating his supper. No. 219 was still there, also eating from his own bowl of stew.
Have you decided? Mikoto blurted.
Dear lady, can you see that I am eating? Must you ask such things at a time like this? Kuja asked, smirk upon his lips.
Zidane scratched his head. Was Kuja being playful?
I never meant to make you cry earlier, my sister. This is the first of my many apologies.
Hope rose in Zidanes chest as Mikoto just stared at Kuja.
Mikoto. You lived at Garlands side. You know a lot yourself, do you not? Kuja asked, sipping his stew.
Yes. But since Terra is destroyed, I dont know where the souls would come from, she answered.
Kuja nodded. Dont worry about that. I will just need help. Zidane, youre coming as well.
I cant get anything done here in this village. Well go back to my Desert Palace. And once Ive done this said deed, I want to live there for the rest of my life quietly, do you understand? I will not take a place in this world that Ive hated so much for so long, he said.
Okay, Im sure that can be arranged, Zidane said.
Wonderful. Ill arrange for the dragons, you arrange for 10 Genomes and 10 Mages that are willing to help with this cause to be ready by in the morning. Oh. Well need that Vivi Mage as well. By tomorrow night, well be playing the game, Kuja said.
Game? What game? Zidane asked.
Kuja looked up at him and smirked. Why, dear brother, were going to play the game of gods.
This Page © Copyright 1997, Brian Work. All rights reserved. Thanks to Sax for his help with the layout. Do not take anything from this page without my consent. If you wish to contact an author, artist, reviewer, or any other contributor to the site, their email address can be found on their index page. This site is link-free, meaning you don't need to ask me if you'd like to link to it. Best viewed in 1024x768.