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Dissidia: Second String, Round 3

Title: Dissidia: Second String

Rating: PG, mostly for violence.

Summary: What if the heroes of Dissidia and Duodecim were replaced with their supporting cast instead?

Author’s Note:  There isn't much to say really. I'm wondering how many of these to write, trying to find a natural stopping point.  Any suggestions?


Previous Round



10

Auron adjusted his grip on his sword minutely, considering his options with a patience and calm born of experience.

Fortunate he’d come across them in time.  Two against one was not favourable odds, not for the young girl he’d rescued.  Her magic was too volatile, too prone to tiring her out, or abandoning her at the wrong moment.

“So, the coward and failure comes crawling before me,” Yunalesca mocked.  “You are not worthy of what you seek.  You cannot protect your comrades.  You are a mere shadow of a man.”

“Yunalesca,” was all Auron said in reply.

Her presence came as no surprise to him – he’d been in the cycle long enough to scrape together some memories of his home world.  Enough to remember Jecht, and the boy, Tidus, and the tragic events that had twisted their lives – events set in motion by the white-haired summoner before him.  To remember the pale, dead-eyed temptress, who wielded such terrible magic, whose vicious cycle, however well-intentioned, had condemned Spira to an eternity of endless struggle and false hopes.

Truly, she was right at home in this world.

“I shall put you out of your misery, guardian.”  She raised her hand, the sigil of a summoning circle beginning to form.  “And spare you the pain of seeing your comrades fall.”







9, 12

She called herself ‘Dagger’, but Balthier preferred to call her by her other name, ‘Garnet’.

“A fitting name for such a treasure,” he’d gallantly explained.

It was her own fault, really, for introducing both names in the first place.  And later it seemed like poor tact indeed, when she discovered that Black Mage didn’t even have one name to call his own.

They were skirting the calm coastline of the southern edge of the island, heading vaguely in the direction of the teleport stone.  Black Mage had already left them, chasing down a ‘hunch’ in the north.  Even so deep within Cosmos’s territory they had been coming across Chaos’s forces, and manikins were spread far and wide.  The waters were a dull blue-grey, to match the endless clouds overhead.  The sand underfoot, though, was fine and soft and her feet sunk halfway into it with every step.

“Far be it from me to question her highness, but where exactly are we going?”  Balthier plodded along beside her.  She eyed his vest – embroidery elaborate enough for a king – in silent envy.  Her orange silk coveralls and puffy white shirt might have been practical, but the exotic clothes she’d seen in this world made her feel less like a princess and a summoner and more like peasant.

“To the next gateway,” she replied.  “Unless you have a better idea.”

“My ideas largely involve a bottle of Bhujerban Madhu and an airship to save us walking everywhere on this world.”

Dagger could agree to that.  She had the notion that her world – or at least, what she could remember of it – wasn’t so advanced as Balthier’s, but the utter lack of any sort of civilisation or technology grew trying at times.  “Why precisely are you travelling with me, anyway?”

“The leading man always travels with the princess,” Balthier replied easily.

“You are not getting my pendant.”  Her expression was, as always, wary, though of late she’d grown to find the man more amusing.

“Tempting a treasure though it might be, I doubt it would have any use for me in this world.”

“So says the man who bought fifty pebbles simply to see if the moogle would give you a treasure for it.”

“Ah, my dear, you fail to understand how shopkeepers work.  They reward loyalty in ways you don’t always expect.”  He tapped the side of his head knowingly. 

“You do not-” she cut herself off at the sight of crystalline bodies ahead.  Balthier let out a curse.

Manikins.  Dagger dropped into a ready stance, knives at the ready.  Her mouth turned dry as they approached.  There were a lot of them.  More than she’d ever seen in one place before.

“This is unusual.  On your guard!” Balthier warned.

Then they were upon them.

Garnet reached out, and Shiva’s icy touch froze one.  She dashed forward, and Ifrit roared.  Quartz smashed, littering the ground with glittering pebbles, but yet more of the copies raced forward to take their place.  One came in close, and Dagger recoiled, knives brandished, but the report of a gun cracked the air, and the manikin staggered back, arm shattered.

“Thank you!” she called to Balthier.

He gestured in response, and turned to cut down a crystal version of Black Mage with his spear.

That was when Dagger caught a glimpse of an unexpectedly familiar form retreating from the battle.  One of Chaos’s had laid a trap for them, then?  But that was… “Mother?” Dagger gasped.

Gunshots cracked in the background.  “Garnet!” Balthier called out.

She didn’t hear.  She pushed through, slipping between the manikins, scrambling after the bloated, regal form she recognised so well.  “Mother!”






10

“You’ve been leaning on that guardian of yours too long,” Auron murmured.  Yunalesca hissed at him, soundly defeated, and teleported away.

That was when the sphere appeared before him. 

Auron stared at it for a long, distrustful moment.

He may have won, but he was not worthy of the crystal.  Every word Yunalesca had spoken was true.

Cautiously, he reached for it, suspecting a trap.  Yet it floated serenely into his outstretched hand, warm against his calloused fingers.

Cosmos’s light flared, and the visage of the goddess shimmered into view. 

“You have found your resolve,” she observed.

“Resolve,” he rumbled, “Was never something I lacked.”

 “You still lacked faith in yourself.  To do justice to your resolve.  To forgive yourself in the light of failure,” Cosmos intoned.  “Acceptance.”  Her glow brightened momentarily.  “I am pleased for you.”

Auron just grunted, and carefully stowed the crystal away.

Had he ever really doubted his resolve to protect his comrades?  It didn’t seem likely.  Gods and deities, in his mind, were far too full of tricks and riddles and lies. 

His resolve hadn’t been any such thing.  His resolve had been to ignore those riddles, and trust in himself, first.

Auron hefted his sword onto his shoulder.  By the looks of the softly glowing light at the other end of the ruins, Rinoa had sorted out her issues as well.

Best they started heading back to Sanctuary, then.  Auron wasn’t keen on leaving that angry summoner or that kid full of hot air alone for too long.






4

Rydia brushed the ash from her long green sleeves, and then spent a moment combing her fingers through her equally green hair.  She didn’t see why Auron always insisted on guarding her.  These manikins were absolutely no match for her summons.  Finding her crystal would be a piece of cake.

Overconfidence will be your downfall,” Rydia mocked in the deep tones of the guardian swordsman.  “Stupid old man.  I can take care of myself!”

She spied a crimson gateway ahead, and strode towards it.  She would conquer every gateway she came across until she found her crystal – and she didn’t need any babysitters to do it!

Manikins shattered underneath her summons as she strode across a lunar landscape.  Motes of magic danced from her fingertips, the very elements dancing to her control, resonating with the bond she shared with the espers.

Her steps grew hesitant, though, when the lunar landscape began to give way to a perpetually burning village.

And standing there, amidst the flames, was a single silhouette.

Fear struck her heart – shivered its way to her bones, freezing her feet in place.

Rydia carried only one memory of her home world.

The dark knight.  The monster of her nightmares.

He had followed her here.

“You…” she whispered, voice trembling.

The dark knight turned to her, black armour and lance glinting in the orange firelight.  Compared to some of Chaos’s champions, he was almost ordinary – of average height and build.  His face was concealed behind the black helmet, but even his voice didn’t sound as deep or foreboding as she imagined.  It sounded young, with the cultured tones of a man raised in a castle town… and heavy with responsibility.

“I regret that we must battle, but it is my duty.  Give up on your search.  It will only lead you to pain and suffering.”

And with those words, the fear vanished.

Hatred and anger burned in her breast instead.

This time, she shrieked with rage.  “You!” 

Leviathan burst forth in a tidal wave of water.

She would conquer her fears, and destroy them.


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