Death Beyond Death by LunarCry
I have watched them.
They generally come in droves, tiny little soldier ants scrambling up the Chain. How many more of them could be left?
I laugh. The sound is bitter. It doesn’t matter how many more they send, for I have reached my goal. Ellone’s power is mine, and I can have what I desire.
Finally . . . after centuries of that eternal agony, I can free myself, and free these pitiful mortals from their pathetic little lives. There will be screams, and then there will be silence, and then I will be free.
I stand on the bridge before my antechamber, and if I look down I can see the corpses of those I have killed. Strewn along the Chain, along the bloodstained ground it is bolted to, where there is a place that once meant so much to me . . .
Stars. There are stars above me, floating in an endless vista of black. They mock me, for they once meant something, too. If I could wave a hand and send them all crashing to the ocean, I would, because they are lies and I hate them. I hate them almost as much as I hate SeeD. They have fought for centuries and yet they have not won, but still they fling themselves relentlessly at me.
There are some now, ascending the Chain. I consider sending Tiamat down to rend them asunder and spread them across the heavy iron links, just like all the others who have attempted to get this far, but I reject the pleasant idea.
Let them try and get me before I initiate Time Compression. One last fight. I won’t have to wait long for it to begin, so what does it matter?
So I will humour them.
And then they will die.
Six of them?
What good would six SeeDs do, even if they made it to my Castle?
And then something registers as I observe their speedy progress.
“It’s them!” I shriek, and blast the walls with my anger, scrawling with fire across the Castle, screaming my fury.
The seals have already been broken; my guardians destroyed. As a team the SeeDs are efficient and they are strong. They search for me, and even now they climb the clock tower, seeking vengeance, seeking justice, seeking redemption. I have killed so many, and they alone have shared the beginning. The rookie sorceress, the rookie SeeDs . . . I will KILL them. They will DIE and they will SCREAM.
And they are HERE.
All six of them. I look at them all in turn, scornfully, hatefully. My worn black wings twitch in annoyance.
“SeeD,” I hiss, and then laugh bitterly. “SeeD . . . SeeD . . . SeeD, SeeD, SeeD! Curse all SeeDs! Swarming like locusts across generations.”
My gaze fixes on the woman in blue, the sorceress of their time. Something within me stirs – memories rouse in my mind, covered for so long by my pain and my fury. And . . . the SeeD in black, with the greyish-brown hair and the greyish-blue eyes . . .
Unlike anything before!
It streaks through me, and my heart seems to burst inside my chest and fill my body with blood and fire. I grimace, gripping the arms of my throne tighter with my gnarled, clawing fingers.
It’s him. I cannot harm him now! But . . . he left me alone. He promised.
And then left me!
“The world is on the brink of that ever-elusive Time Compression.” I smile crookedly, and pant raggedly. I have not heard my own voice for so long, and it sounds crabbed and wicked, hollow, inhuman. What has happened to me? This is his fault!
“Insolent fools! The price of your meddling will be death beyond death! Your vain crusade ends here, SeeDs.”
I rise, and we fight. I haven’t much longer to wait. Time Compression is arriving in this time. No doubt that’s how these creatures found their way here. Well, soon, everything will be simple.
But they are strong! Him in particular. His gunblade scores my flesh, and the physical pain feels strange. When his eyes focus on my contorted face, on my spiteful form, I see hatred, and it is akin to him plunging a brand into my haggard soul. I fight because I hate him. I hate him because he hates me, because he . . . does . . . not . . . know . . . me . . .
My hand flies to the silver ring locked on the middle finger of my left hand.
“The most powerful GF . . .” I rasp. “You shall suffer!”
As I have done for so long . . .
“Griever! Make them bleed!” I howl, and they do not see, but tears spill from my wild eyes, tumbling down my twisted face.
As Griever makes his appearance, I stumble back, hands clawing at my body. The magic has warped it so. I know that I am old, very old. I don’t know a number, but I’m old in more than years. I was not like this once. I was young, and I was beautiful, and I was sincere. But age has increased my power tenfold . . . or is that hatred? So much hate did this to me . . .
Griever is falling. I call to him. We cannot fail! We are nearly there. It is coming. Even now it consumes the edges of the fabric of this time period, and I feel its presence. Time Compression . . . I must end this before it devours everything.
I junction myself unto Griever. With his strength, I am renewed. My body twists even more, but it is a price that must be paid. I must win. I must win.
We fight. We endure. But the SeeDs will not give up. I knock one down, spirit them away into the ever-increasing folds of time that weigh down upon this last safe place like a thousand eternities. I laugh, but the others just become more determined, more enraged.
He tears through me once more with his weapon, and Griever, wounded, flees my body. It is now no more than a shattered shell containing my tortured soul, so I leave it behind, I release it, and burst from above in the hollow, faceless, inhuman body that is what I have become. Time Compression merges with me, drowning me. But I join with it, I use it, I slow it down, make it wait. This must be savoured.
“I am Ultimecia.”
My previous body swinging like a corpse below me, I try to shed tears, but I have no eyes anymore. There is a gaping hole where they should be, my mind laid bare before them.
“Time shall compress. All existence denied.”
I expect them to give in, to cease this futile battle. It is already over for them. But no . . . they have to continue, and in a way I understand. While there is strength left in them, they will not quit.
I summon the Apocalypse. Fire rains and sears the void that is all that is left of this time. My very presence here is saving their lives right now. I wonder if they know that.
He fights on. By now I know that it is not going to end the way I had planned.
I want him to remember what he did to me. I want to remember what he did to me.
“Reflect on your . . . childhood,” I tell them. Another blow is struck against my weakening shell. “Your sensation . . .” Another. “Your words . . . Your emotions . . .”
I am bleeding.
I am dying.
“Time . . .” Now I am crying, sobbing tearlessly, because I can remember. My memories fill my empty soul and scald it. “It will not wait.”
And another blow.
“No matter . . . how hard you hold on . . . it escapes you . . .”
I want to tell him. I plan to tell him. I look down at the SeeD who means more than everything to me . . .
“And . . .”
He strikes, and I suddenly cannot finish the sentence. I lose my grip on the Time Compression as I die, and we are consumed. Everything turns white.
I am drifting.
I know . . . I know I am dead.
And I think I finally understand why I wanted this so much.
There is nothing here. Nothing. Only I could ever have existed freely in the sparse nothingness, bolstered by the compressed power of every other sorceress before me, but now I am dead, so Time Compression has occurred and it is empty.
But . . . no. I hear echoes of their voices. They survived, and they are still here.
He never did anything to me, I know that now. He left me alone, but it was not his fault. He hung on as long as he could. I was a burden to him, in the end. He probably never rested, even in death, knowing that I was still out here, suffering endlessly. My sorceress powers never did let me go. They purged me of my humanity and turned me into a monster. The theory of a Sorceress’ Knight sounds good . . . but it’s too impractical to work. A Knight could never outlast his Sorceress. I remember . . . when I first saw . . . Edea? I thought: How young she looks! And I was surprised when I found out how old she really was . . . and noticed how the years seemed to pile back on her mere months after the incident . . . an incident I caused! It’s all my fault . . . but if I had not done this, then I would never have met him in the first place . . . Why must I be tormented this way? My hands are so stained with the blood of the innocent that I hate myself, and what I have become. Death is too kind for me!
I can see The End, but I cannot reach it. It is as if a tether is holding me back, pinning me to the pain-filled world of the living. Oh yes, there is something I must do . . .
I hear his voice.
I seek it out.
I open my eyes. I’m back here, back at the site of that ill-fated Promise. He is here. Edea is here.
He sees me, and he draws his weapon.
God, that hurts. So much more than anything else.
I can barely hear their words with my battered, human body, so I simply stagger forward. Edea watches me thoughtfully. His eyes are filled with hatred.
“I . . . can’t . . . disappear yet,” I whisper, and the heavy burden that weighs me down suddenly bursts from my decrepit body. Edea gasps, receiving that load, and I try to tell her that I am sorry for doing this to her, but of course, she cannot hear me.
I am finally dying. It’s funny . . . I’ve waited so long for this day, and yet, now that it has arrived, I wish I had a few more moments. But I’m falling. It’s getting darker. I can see The End.
He is tending to Edea. Not me, the person he once loved. Still loves. I think I’m confused. The happy ending that awaits him after this doesn’t last nearly long enough . . .
For one breathtaking second, he looks me straight in the eye. Did he hear? The ground is getting closer.
Squall, I’m sorry.
I never meant for it to be this way. I caused so much pain, so much death.
I did it . . . I did it because . . .
Because you left me.
Because I was lonely.
Because I always made someone else take the blame.
Because . . .
Because I love you.
And everything gets dark. I offer one final excuse. Or, maybe, one final explanation. My love, you can decide which.
And for me . . .
This is . . .