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Dissidia One-shot

Title: Growing Old In Chaos

Rating: PG, I guess.  There's not really anything offensive in here.

Words: 1,749

Summary: Dissidia thought piece, based on the first game. Onion Knight develops dark ideas about growing up, as he contemplates the youth of Cosmos's champions.  Luneth and Cloud-centric.  Gen.

Author's Note:  This is essentially Dissidia rambling I wrote in the throes of exhausted delirium last night, moulded into something vaguely related to 'HOLY CRAP CLOUD'S GONE TO CHAOS SIDE IN DISSIDIA 012'?  So really, this is just wordspew as a side effect of my impatient excitement for the new Dissidia to hurry up and arrive in the mail (why oh why did I not choose express postage?! D:)  So, um, it's maybe a bit scattered and probably has more than a few errors, and Squall also probably gets the short end of the characterisation stick.  Consider that fair warning.
 

 

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Luneth introduces himself to his allies only as ‘Onion Knight’, because he knows they’ll take him more seriously with a title and he doesn’t want to give them any excuse not to use it. He’s aware he's small, and not particularly powerful compared to a lot of Cosmos's other warriors. He makes up for it by being smart, and quick, and ducking under people’s guards.

But when he meets the rest of Cosmos’s surviving champions, he starts to think that maybe he won’t have to worry about being looked down on for being a kid after all.

"You might be older, but I've been in training as a mercenary since I was a kid." Squall crosses his arms, somehow managing to look threatening even halfway in a slouch. Luneth rolls his eyes. The seventeen-year-old broods a lot, and talks the talk of a mercenary trained from childhood, but even Bartz thinks he needs a reality check. He takes foolish risks, striking out on his own and jumping into fights without a second thought. Teenage bravado, wrapped in black and hidden under an indifferent exterior.

Normally, the Warrior of Light would step in here - drag him back to the group and his senses.

Since he’s not present, it falls to Cloud.

"Garden, right?" Cloud asks. "Taking orders, doing as you're told - that's easy." He rests that enormous sword on his shoulder like it doesn't weigh anything more than a rapier. "Try living the life of a terrorist or rebel, trying to save the very people who’ll turn on you the first chance they get. One month of that was worth more than two years of training. Firion will tell you the same."

Cloud's apparently the oldest remaining, and he's only 22. He's quiet and talks carefully, and painful experience shines from his eyes.

It occurs to Luneth that maybe Cosmos's champions are so young because they haven't had to endure so many years, and maybe once you're a certain age, power begins to corrupt. All of Chaos’s champions are old, and that can’t possibly be a coincidence.

There’s a metallic hiss as Squall draws his gunblade. “I don’t care. Don’t get in my way.”

Time to break his silence.

Luneth hops down and darts between them, hands on his hips. “You’re right! Age doesn't matter!” He draws his dirk, twirling it jauntily between his fingers. “We’ll prove it!”

Squall’s glare could freeze lava. “I work alone.”

Cloud, for his part, just looks curiously impassive at the new development, content to stay silent and let it play out.

Nodding, Luneth puts his hands on his hips. “Right. Of course.” He spins on the spot to face Cloud. “I’m heading out on my own too!” He injects as much boyish enthusiasm and childish pride into his voice as he can muster.

Terra lets out a squeak of dismay behind him, but before she can offer to come along, he sends her a warning look.

It’s a bluff, of course. Luneth doesn’t have the same problems with pride and bravado – he’ll only fight the necessary fights. He wouldn’t risk tilting the tenuous balance on Cosmos’s side to prove a point.

An awkward silence follows his pronouncement. For a second, he worries that Squall will forge ahead anyway, make him lose face – sometimes he really doesn't seem to care about what the rest of them do.

The moment passes, and Squall puts his gunblade away. “Tch. Probably better off waiting until we have more intelligence anyway.”

For all his standoffishness, apparently being the catalyst for a fourteen-year-old shrimp striking out on his own to near-certain death doesn’t sit easily with the mercenary. As second-youngest there, Squall obviously hasn’t had much experience with being a role model, and almost looks spooked by the possibility.

Score one for Luneth. He mentally pats himself on the back. He’s such an awesome actor.

“It’s the smart choice,” Cloud agrees softly, glowing blue eyes resting on the young Knight in quiet thanks.

The mercenary stuffs his hands in his pockets and slinks back to stand on the edges of the small group. “Whatever.”

Foolhardiness temporarily averted.

“Thank goodness,” Terra sighs, hand pressed softly over her heart. Then bends to whisper in his ear, “That was clever.”

He beams at her. “Of course!” Clever is what he does best.

She just smiles, and continues in a slightly louder voice, “We really shouldn’t split up until we get everyone together to meet Cosmos.”

That makes Luneth frown, as his thoughts abruptly start running in another direction. “Don’t you think it’s strange, that the ones who’ve survived so far all come from the same worlds as Chaos’s new champions?” He pauses a beat, then answers his own question. “I guess those from softer worlds with weaker threats might have been at a disadvantage.” Ingus was always saying that strength is bred in adversity.

Squall drawls, “There’s no room in this world for the weak. It’s survival of the fittest.” He crosses his arms again, sending a vague sort of glare in Cloud’s direction. “We are the fittest.”

For his part, Cloud just looks tired.

Later that evening, Warrior of Light, Firion and Bartz bring in a new face – a short, cheeky blond with a bright grin and a monkey’s tail. Luneth’s hopes of no longer being the baby of the group are dashed when Zidane turns out to be 16, but he quietly takes solace in the smug knowledge that he is at least more mature than Zidane, if the blond’s antics are anything to go by.

Outside, he makes small talk, exchanging stories with the newcomer, keeping an ear on proceedings. Inside, as always, his brain is a million leagues away, busy turning over new ideas.

It keeps coming back to one – why Cosmos chooses such young and inexperienced champions, and why there’s not one on Chaos’s side under thirty.

Cloud wanders off after a while, muttering about keeping a lookout. Luneth waits until Terra’s distracted by Zidane’s brash attempts at flirting, then skips after him, driven by curiosity and the nagging questions filling his brain. He’s oldest, after all – he’ll have the best perspective.

Cloud's obviously a survivor. He's got this haggard look about him sometimes, as though he really doesn't want to fight anymore, because he's been doing it too long already.

“Hey Cloud!”

The older fighter slows his steps as Luneth catches up. He nods in greeting, but doesn’t offer anything else.

Luneth is used to it by now – Cloud is friendly enough, and contributes when asked, but he isn’t a small talk kind of guy.

Fortunately, Luneth is the master of being whatever he wants to be.

He folds his arms behind his helmet, bells on his bright red armour jingling with the movement. “What do you think of the new guy?”

Cloud stares into the distance as a small eternity crawls by. Eventually, he replies, “He’s survived this long.”

“…But you’re worried he doesn’t have any training, right?” Luneth finishes. Even he had been a little concerned when Zidane admitted he belonged to a thieving theatre troupe.

Cloud shrugs. “…Neither does Bartz.”

But Bartz is prodigious to a degree that makes Luneth jealous. He’s as a dumb as a rock, but he learns and copies new spells and techniques the same way most people learn names.

“What about you, Cloud?” Squall has been in some kind of mercenary university, Firion’s a rebel fighter, and Warrior of Light, for all his lack of memories, was probably born with a shield and armour. Cloud, on the other hand, has been fairly reticent on his experiences.

“…Joined the army when I was fourteen.”

“My age!” Luneth can’t help it – he feels a little smug. He’s achieved the rank of Onion Knight at the age Cloud started out at.

“Yeah.”

He doesn’t volunteer anything more, and Luneth is savvy enough to recognise a sensitive issue.

It gives him an excuse to change the subject to what he really wants to talk about. “Did you hear? Apparently Tidus’s father used to fight on Cosmos’s side.” A grunt of affirmation. “I ran into him once, back when there were more of us around. He refused to fight me because he didn’t think it would be ‘sporting’.” In other words, not challenging enough. It grated a little – he’s an Onion Knight, after all – but it got him out of a risky match. Zecht’s sword looks even heavier than Cloud’s. One unlucky hit and he’d be a goner.

Cloud doesn’t comment.

“What do you think made him change?” Luneth presses.

“…I’m sure he has his reasons. Maybe he didn’t have a choice.”

Luneth puckers his brow, thinking it through. It’s a hard concept to grasp – in his World, the whole concept of good and evil is much more cut and dried. For all his smarts, he can’t imagine Cloud of Darkness once being known as the Cloud of Light. “Dooming many to protect a few?”

Glowing blue eyes turn on him. “Or maybe sacrificing a few, for the good of many.”

Luneth thinks on that for a long moment, before declaring, “That doesn’t make any sense.” There’s nothing noble or sacrificial in what Chaos’s champions are doing.

“…Maybe we just don’t have all the information.”

That makes sense, although the idea that there might be more to the picture they haven’t seen yet makes Luneth uncomfortable.

They walk in a silence for a little longer, before he finally says, “I’d better head back to the others.” Terra will have noticed his absence by now, and he doesn’t want to leave her alone with the new guy for too long, lest he start getting ideas that the half-esper needs more protection than just Onion Knight.

Cloud inclines his head in acknowledgement, and keeps plodding along, massive sword propped against his back.

At the last minute, though, Luneth lingers, turning back indecisively, sure somehow that the conversation remains unfinished.

So the mutter barely reaches his ears.

“I’m tired of fighting. I don’t even know what I’m fighting for, anymore.”

Luneth’s fairly sure the words aren’t meant for him – Cloud doesn’t show any sign of knowing he’s still there. Or maybe he knows – not a whole lot slips past Cloud – but maybe he doesn’t care.

Cloud keeps moving, disappearing into the shadows as he scouts the perimeter for manikins.

Idly, Luneth wonders how many years they have left on the same side.

Then he wonders how many years more until he suffers the same fate.

 

 

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
croix_souillees
Mar. 26th, 2011 09:38 am (UTC)
THIS FOREVER AND EVER.

Poignant and ominous as always, bringing to light the sheer hopelessness of the cycles they go through.

... ee <3
sinnatious
Mar. 26th, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you~

I actually indulged in a bit of a dark laugh when I heard about Dissidia Duodecim - 'Surprise! The eternal conflict you thought you ended forever GOES ON. Oh, and by the way, Terra and Cloud are your enemies now too, SUCKER PUNCH.'

...But then I thought about it some more, and instead of being morbidly hilarious, it actually made me horribly sad for them. ;__;
croix_souillees
Mar. 27th, 2011 02:44 am (UTC)
Poor Luneth. :< I'm sure it'll hit him hard. If it doesn't, argh continuity.

I wonder, though. How would you interpret Sephiroth going over to the forces of light? XD
sinnatious
Mar. 27th, 2011 04:42 am (UTC)
:( Yes, I'm very curious about how much continuity they'll maintain, or if they'll just conveniently wipe everyone's memories. Tidus is gone and they get Shuyin instead, too. (Yet somehow, KAIN gets to be on Cosmos's side?)

XD I could see prequel!Sephiroth being on the side of Cosmos. Elsewise... well, you also can't put it past Sephiroth to join up with Cosmos just to keep messing with Cloud. And didn't he go a bit rogue in the first Dissidia anyway? Something about killing himself just to test out how the cycle works?
(Anonymous)
Mar. 30th, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
Dissida
Amazing one-shot your stories are always a great read :) oh yeah some advice for duodecim make sure to do the reports or you'll miss things from the story
sinnatious
Apr. 1st, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
Re: Dissida
Thank you for the tip kind stranger! :D
teekoness
Apr. 3rd, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
I can't say I'm particularly familiar with FFs other than 4-7 and a bit of 8, but I really enjoy your portrayal of the various characters.

I love Luneth's combination of common sense, mixed with obvious teenageness. No Luneth, refusing to be called your proper name does not make you seem more mature than you really are.

Meanwhile I love how you actually gave Bartz a personality. Maybe he was like this in Dissidia, but in the original game the entire cast really lacked personality. Bartz seemed to just do whatever he was told. I'm convinced Boko's the only reason he survived all those years on his own.

And the portrayal of Cloud's slide into indifference and possibly other things, or the idea that he'll get to the point where he just doesn't care anymore. It isn't too surprising considering the people that inspired him to keep going are stripped from his very memories. Nice.

I really hope they play with concept of evil Cloud and Terra a fair. Really explore what that would entail. Unfortunately I suspect they won't. Hopefully fandom with make up for this.
sinnatious
Apr. 3rd, 2011 10:55 am (UTC)
Thank you!

Luneth's imbalance in maturity makes him surprisingly fun to write. I have to say, though, his character is quite different in Dissidia compared to the original FF3... although characterisation in the earlier FF's is thin enough that it's easy to make whatever interpretation you like, I guess.

I agree with you about FF5, though. After finishing the game I went tromping through the internet looking for any kind of fic that explored the characters more fully, and was shocked at how little fanfic there is of that game. About the only memorable bits about his personality I took away were Guido mocking his intelligence, his abiding love of chocobos, and that his first thought was to look up 'ass' in the library. Oh, and that he learns piano at a prodigious rate, especially for someone seemingly self-taught.

...I suppose fanfic has been constructed off less. FF5 had some amazing plot holes, too. (Like, for instance, Lenna's complete lack of regard for ruling her country, especially when she is effectively Queen, and how accepting everyone seems to be of this gross neglect of responsibility.)

DID Cloud lose all of his memories, though? I know Warrior of Light couldn't remember anything, but everyone seemed to have varying degrees of recollection. (Cecil remembered Golbez as his brother, for instance, and Tidus seemed to remember everything just fine, and Cloud remembered that his sword belonged to Zack.) That was one area the game seemed a little grey on. I never liked the idea, since doesn't giving everyone amnesia essentially strip them of all their personality, their history, their motives, everything that makes them tick?

Wise to hold our hopes in check there, yes. But fandom will certainly look after us in this respect. And you never know, Square surprises its fans in weird and wonderful ways sometimes.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 7th, 2011 10:30 am (UTC)
BunnyFarmer
*takes break from studying to read your newest fanfic*
+u+
...?
What did you mean by the last line? D:?
It would make sense if Duodecim was a sequel sequel, but Duodecim is a sequel prequel....if that makes any sense.
OTL
Maybe it's just me being weird, but I get the feeling that you're writing this from the perspective that Duodecim happened after the original game. >m<????? Please correct me if I'm wrong. ;3;
sinnatious
Apr. 7th, 2011 11:27 am (UTC)
Re: BunnyFarmer
At the time I certainly was! Although really, with the cyclical nature of Dissidia, does it matter? (And can we PROVE it's a prologue? :D) Either way, the main theme of the one-shot still stands - all the villains are old, all of Cosmos's champions are young!
(Anonymous)
Apr. 9th, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
BunnyFarmer
No, not really. I still heart this story anyways. <3
(Actually, I believe it was officially stated somewhere.)
BUT IT MATTERS NOT!d(*⌒▽⌒*)b
I think this is one of the first things I'd noticed about all the FF villains. Perhaps it's a side effect of Logan's Run Rule, but most villains ages tend to range from old to ooooooooooold. (Though, that never seems to stop most from being hot. >3> *shot*)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )