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Dissidia: Second String, Bonus Round

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:  And that's a wrap for this series of ficlets. These are all the ones that didn't quite fit in with the rest of the flow and found themselves homeless at the end.  This whole affair was the epitome of lazy writing, but it was fun and scratched the plot bunny's ears satisfactorily.  Thanks for reading!

Previous Round

 



3, 13

 

 

“Hey,” Snow greeted, slumping down next to Arc.  “What’s happening?”

 

Arc held up a book.  “Just reading.”

 

“Nice.  Where did you get that?  The moogles?”  He had no idea where they got some of that stuff.  Was there a secret moogle warehouse somewhere?  Or did they just scavenge it all from the gateways before anyone else had the chance to?

 

Arc nodded.  “Faris traded for it.”

 

Cute.  Snow grinned and ruffled his hair.  “Lucky you.”  Arc started to protest, but Snow barrelled on to a new topic before he could get any traction.  “How are you holding up?  That last set of manikins was pretty tough.”  Snow, Auron and Rydia had come across the other trio under attack on the road, outnumbered three-to-one.  Rinoa’s magic had gone on the fritz, blasting Faris out of the fight right alongside four of their opponents, and then fizzling to useless sparks, leaving Arc attempting to hold back the surviving tide on his own. 

 

“I’m fine,” Arc said in a small voice, hunching his shoulders.  “Thanks, you know.  For coming along when you did.”

 

“Ah, it was no trouble.”  Snow brushed it off.  “I’m sure you coulda handled it, but why not let big brother Snow take care of it, huh?”

 

“Um, I meant more… you know.  For sticking around after,” Arc muttered.

 

Right.  Snow glanced over at the still-ongoing fallout.  Rydia snapped at Faris to stay still as she attempted to heal the pirate’s injuries.  Arc probably could have done it better, but Faris was too proud to accept the help and the young mage too timid to push the issue.  Luckily ‘timid’ wasn’t something Rydia had any problem with.

 

Off to the side, too, Auron was doing his whole wise mentor bit and smoothing things over with Rinoa, who was obviously feeling pretty bad about the whole thing and had been talking about doing something stupid like running off on her own.  And Snow was…

 

Well, Snow didn’t really need to be here, trying to cheer the kid up or distract him from his dysfunctional team’s little mishap.  Arc had been perfectly happy reading his book.  But the kid was just so little.  Couldn’t have been older than fourteen.  Brilliant with magic, one of the best with it – and that was saying something with folks like Black Mage and Rinoa and Aeris kicking around – but there was something familiar about it that made him feel as though he had to protect him.  Look out for him.  Coddle him a bit.

 

Of course, Faris seemed to have that fairly well covered already, and even that was probably unnecessary.  The kid knew more about outdoors survival than the rest of them combined, and obviously could take care of himself.  His magic wasn’t just for show – and it wasn’t even just the magic, the kid was like one of those utility army knives, he pulled out all sorts of weird skills whenever he got backed into a corner.

 

Didn’t make the instinct go away, though.  “Ah, don’t worry about that either.  It’s a good to see a new face every now and again.  Gives Auron and Rydia someone else to lecture.”

 

Arc gave him a small smile, chancing a glance at his comrades.  He cleared his throat.  “Stops them arguing with each other, at least.”

 

“You know, if it gets rough on you, you can come travel with us any time, right?”  Snow couldn’t tell for sure, but sometimes it seemed like Arc didn’t have a lot of say in his travelling arrangements.  Not that Rinoa and Faris’s hearts weren’t in the right place, but, well, if they were looking out for their youngest comrade, maybe leaving him in the company of an unreliable sorceress and a prideful pirate wasn’t the best of all possible choices.

 

“Um, thanks.  But it’s fine,” Arc said.  At Snow’s doubtful look, he added, “Really.”  In a lower voice he continued, “Someone has to look out for them, right?”

 

Snow let out a bark of laughter.  “You’re something else, kiddo.”

 

Yeah, Arc would be just fine.

 



 

 



4, 7

 

As the dark knight retreated, Rydia whirled on Aeris.

 

“You didn’t need to interfere!  I had him!”

 

Aeris blinked at her, seeming surprised.  “I didn’t need to, but there’s no reason not to help, is there?”

 

Rydia scowled, brushing the dirt from her long green sleeves.  There was no reasonable reply to that, and the summoner was in no mood to admit it.  “It was a personal matter.”

 

“I see.”  That tone of voice made Rydia prickle defensively, but Aeris merely cocked her head and studied her, green eyes curious.  “…Did you want to talk about it?”

 

“There’s nothing to talk about.  I hate him,” she hissed.  Of the few memories she retained, that one burned the brightest, scorched against her consciousness, a festering wound that would only be soothed by the dark knight’s complete and utter defeat.

 

“Hate is a very strong word.”

 

“What can you understand?  You’re just a flower girl!” Rydia lashed out, spinning on her heel.  Ifrit’s fiery claws made short work of the boulder unfortunate enough to bear her wrath.

 

The destruction lingered in the following silence.  “…You’re very angry,” Aeris eventually said.  “But maybe, more than that, you’re just scared.”

 

Scared?!  “I’m not scared!  I’m stronger than he is!”

 

Aeris didn’t back down in the face of her temper though.  It frustrated Rydia, how she remained so serene against all odds.  Sometimes it was like she wasn’t even fighting the same battle they were.

 

 “You’ve become very strong,” she agreed.  “…But I don’t think that’s what you’re scared of.”

 

Rydia responded only with silence.  She’d been prepared for a sermon like Auron’s – about keeping one’s wits and the dangers of hubris and of letting go of old grudges in the face of the bigger picture.  This new angle of attack left her off-balance.

 

“I think,” Aeris said, spacing the words carefully as she picked her way across the lunar landscape.  “That what you’re scared of is what happens afterward.”  She turned soulful green eyes on the summoner.  “What will you fill yourself with, once you’ve spent all your hate?”

 

Rydia scowled, and turned away.  “You don’t understand.  Don’t interfere.  This is my battle.”

 

They would never see eye to eye.  The flower girl seemed nice enough, but their viewpoints were too different.

 

It wasn’t hate.  It wasn’t fear. 

 

It was the only way to purge herself of that memory of weakness.

 



 

 



4, 13

 

 

The shifting on his shoulder alerted Cecil that his cargo had finally awoken.  He started counting in his head.  He only made it to three before-

 

“Put me down!”

 

Cecil slowed his steps, crouching and letting Hope slide from his shoulder to the rocky ground of the northern continent.  It wasn’t the most hospitable of environments, but it was quiet and deserted, which was more important.

 

Hope glanced around briefly, noting the change in location and checking for hostiles.  “What happened?” There was a bitter sound to his words.  Before Cecil could answer, he cut him off.  “Forget it.  I already know what happened.”

 

“And what’s that?” Cecil asked mildly.

 

“I wasn’t strong enough.  Again.”

 

Cecil turned that thought over for a moment. Hope obviously wasn’t quite in his right mind currently – normally he kept to himself, doing as little to bring the attention of the other members of Chaos to him as possible, and certainly avoided displaying even the slightest hint of weakness.  With the sort of characters they could count as allies, it was wise.  Cecil had taken it upon himself to look out for the youth, and he knew Celes kept an eye on him too, but there were plenty among their ranks who would use the boy for their own ends and put him in harm’s way.  Both Jenova and Yunalesca had been caught prowling nearby more than once.

 

“I think you do yourself a disservice,” Cecil eventually said.  “Your magic is strong.  Easily a match for any mage on either side of this conflict.”  Indeed, the only one he suspected could match his spells for strength were ExDeath and Xande – and on Cosmos’s side, perhaps only Black Mage and the sorceress.  More importantly, though, Hope could cast with breath-taking speed, creating devastating combos of magic that left no place to hide. 

 

Cecil looked out for him, but in all honesty, should they ever be forced to fight, he wasn’t so sure he would win.

 

“It wasn’t enough.”  Hope seethed, disappointment and desolation giving way to anger.  “Why didn’t he just finish me off?  He didn’t even take me seriously!  Is he making fun of me?”

 

Cecil remained quiet for a moment, wondering if there was any point in saying anything.  “I can understand his point of view.”  The young summoner in green, who held such rage and hatred in her heart… for a transgression he could not even recall.  “If he can’t remember, then to fight with the conviction such a battle deserves would be… difficult.”

 

His words barely seemed to reach the boy at all.  “I need to get stronger,” Hope muttered.  “I have to… for her.”

 

Cecil wisely didn’t ask.

 

They were all on Chaos’s side, after all.  Some just wore their darkness more visibly than others.

 



 

 



6, 13

 

 

Snow checked the tattoo on his arm, rubbing his thumb across it thoughtfully.  He couldn’t help but check it – the habit was compulsive.  It never changed, though, so he didn’t know why he felt such relief every time the black arrows remained as they were, or why the sight of it made him feel so uneasy.

 

Or why every time the power of the crystals wavered, he’d clutch at the brand first, as though somehow that might quell the pain.

 

“What’s up with you?” Locke asked.  “You keep rubbing that thing.  Does it hurt or something?”

 

Snow grinned, sheepish at being caught out.  “Heh, you noticed?  I don’t know, it’s a nervous habit or something.”

 

Locke nodded knowingly.  “One of those things you can’t remember, huh?”

 

Snow shrugged it off.  “What about you?  Holding up okay?”  They were all upset about Cosmos, but Locke had been particularly distraught for some reason.

 

The following silence answered him clearly.  Locke was a chatty guy, and anything that could make him clam up had to be serious.  “That bad, huh?”

 

The thief shook his head.  “It’s stupid.  It’s just… I made a promise, you know?  And Cosmos died anyway.”

 

“Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself,” Snow counselled.  “We all failed.”

 

“I just wonder why I keep on trying,” he muttered, kicking a stone on the ground.  It skittered ahead of them, disappearing into the withered grass.

 

“You don’t give up,” Snow said.  “You never give up.  If you screw up, then you just gotta do better next time.”

 

Locke scowled.  “But what if there isn’t a next time?”

 

“Nothing’s certain.  The only thing that’s certain is that if you give up, nothing’s gonna change.”  Snow nodded to himself.  “Even if Cosmos was turned to stone, maybe there’s a way to change her back.  If she’s fallen asleep, maybe there’s a way to wake her up.  If we defeat Chaos, maybe she’ll return.  She’s a goddess, right?”

 

Locke’s step faltered.  “You think she’s just asleep?”

 

Snow grinned.  “I have no idea.  But I know one thing.”  He tapped his crystal.  “She’s here, too.  And that’s enough, you know?  There’s a part of her that’s still alive.  And I can’t give up until I’ve got nothing left to give.”

 

Locke was quiet again after that, but it was a thoughtful quiet now.  One of those ones full of forgotten memories and promises.

 

Snow couldn’t remember much, but he knew exactly what that felt like.

 



 



1, 3

 

 

The journey was not a short one, and however urgent their plight, the time would come when they needed rest.  They took shifts, two awake at a time while the rest slept.

 

Arc was standing watch with Black Mage – the first of the break.  Arc noticed he tended to get the first or last watches, and suspected Faris or somebody was rigging the draw to make sure he had the longest period of uninterrupted rest.  He could have made a fuss about it, but he couldn’t prove anything, and Arc suspected making a fuss would just make him look more immature than accepting the special treatment, however aggravating it could be.

 

He frowned and scanned the horizon carefully.  The sands of the Mirage Desert surrounded them, and manikins were known to prowl the edges.  Arc rubbed at his eyes.  The uniformity of the landscape made paying attention tiring, but the watch had barely begun. 

 

“How did you learn your magic?”

 

The question startled him, and Arc nearly dropped his staff in surprise.  Black Mage was standing next to him.  Underneath the shadow of his wide-brimmed hat, it was hard to tell where he was looking, but presumably he was scanning the horizon too.

 

“W-why ask me?” Arc stuttered, caught off-guard.  He wasn’t used to being singled out by anyone, much less such an impressive warrior.  At least, not for anything other than his age.

 

“Your magic is the closest to my own,” Black Mage explained.  “You were the most logical choice.”

 

“But why?”  It confused Arc, why Black Mage of all people was asking – even among the collection of talented mages gathered by Cosmos, his magic stood out, strong and ancient and somehow more pure than all the rest.

 

The wide-brimmed hat tilted down, hiding even the glowing eyes – a sign of Black Mage’s immense magical power – from sight.  “As time passes, still I remember nothing.  All I have to define myself are my abilities.”  He held aloft a hand, his dark blue cloak hanging heavily from it.  A small orb of fire danced above his palm briefly, casting an odd orange glow over their immediate surrounds.  “And yet, even those I cannot explain, cannot recall learning.”

 

Arc’s stomach churned in sympathy.  He’d forgotten that Black Mage didn’t have any memories – not even of his name.  As much as they’d all forgotten of their lives, none of them had been left so completely a blank slate – and they’d all regained a little over the course of the conflict.

 

He didn’t know if it would help, but if there were even the chance that he could do something to fill that void, Arc would try it.

 

“I learned from books, mostly,” he said.  “I don’t remember all the details, but I’ll tell you everything I can.”

 

Arc talked for the next two hours, soft voice recanting all he could – even the small, seemingly irrelevant details.  His eyes lit up as he described some of the ancient tomes he’d come across – some hidden, dusty and neglected, in the libraries of remote towns halfway across the world, others scavenged from treasure chests, pages almost ruined with mildew.  Others yet crisp and clean with their newness, the spells untested but for a few specialist crafters.

 

In the end, nothing seemed to jog Black Mage’s memories, but those bright eyes, glowing with power under the darkness of his wide-brimmed hat, grew a little softer.

 

Old memories were important, but new ones were even more precious.

 



 

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
ratzels
May. 10th, 2012 03:45 am (UTC)
I mostly want to echo a previous comment:

Oh, Arc! *melts*

Typo alert: you have titled rather than tilted in the last bit.
sinnatious
May. 10th, 2012 09:39 am (UTC)
<3

Ah, good eyes! Thanks!
piekage
May. 24th, 2012 01:09 am (UTC)
That was lovely. I love the concept, which is sadly underutilized thus far in the Dissidia fandom, from what I've seen.
sinnatious
May. 24th, 2012 09:18 am (UTC)
Thank you for reading! Yeah, I was pretty surprised someone hadn't beaten me to it (that I know of), but I guess perhaps not that many fans have played all of the FF games?
piekage
May. 26th, 2012 02:29 am (UTC)
Sounds about right. There are a few ideas I'd like to do but I don't know some of the characters well enough.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )