THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Birth of a Hero

By: Dan Hurley
Windlenot@aol.com


Seventeen years before the world's ruin...

Janis walked toward her small cottage. It had been a tough day for her, and she was ready to relax in the comfort of her own home. The flowershop had been packed with people from all over Maranda, all demanding types of flowers she hadn't even heard of. She had tried to calm the crowd down, but it only seemed to make matters worse. But now, her shift was over, and it was time for the next girl to suffer the wrath of an angry mob.

The gardener still hadn't arrived yet. The yard was overgrown with weeds and grass, and it was time for it to be trimmed. The weeds alone rose to her waist, and the grass... well, she wouldn't worry about that yet. She had more important business: Sleep. After having something to eat, of course. As she entered her home, she stopped dead in her tracks. Her husband had forgotten to clean house like she asked him to, and it looked messier than ever. Chairs were laying about, papers scattered across the floor. The city of Maranda was known for its cleanliness, and this was considered an outrage by the city's standards.

As Janis picked up what little mail was on the floor, she suddenly heard a loud noise coming from her bedroom. No wonder the house wasn't clean- her husband had slept all day! She climbed over the garbage to the bedroom door, and threw it open, screaming at the top of her lungs, "You better get your butt out of bed right now and start cleaning house, or I'll..."

"OK, OK, I'm up, I'm up," interrupted Milo.

"Why isn't the house clean?" She began to rush toward him.

"Wait, I have good news. Honest. I bought a new house today, and also got a job." That stopped her advancement.

"Wha... what??"

"You know that house in Vector I promised I'd buy last year for our anniversary? Well, I saved some money by firing the gardener, and I bought it."

So that explained why the yard was turning into a jungle. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I wanted it to be a surprise." He grinned.

"Oh my... and you got a job? Doing what?"

"Bartending. Our house is right next door to the bar, but that's OK. The bar's a part of the Imperial Academy, so it's not gonna get rowdy at all. Look, I know you love working at the flowershop, and it'll be hard leaving the friends we've made here, but..."

What was he talking about? She hated the people here. They were all a bunch of rich snobs.

"When do we leave?"

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Davan West was very excited about the new science Emperor Gestahl was forming. But that wasn't the only reason. He had been chosen by the Emperor out of hundreds of volunteers to be "augmented". Though he had heard nasty rumors about the process from various soldiers, he regarded them as false.

As Davan wandered into the small group of soldiers volunteering for tests of Cid's new invention, he felt a tap on his shoulder. His friend, Leo, was standing right behind him. He had risen quickly in the ranks, and was now a Lieutenant, but Davan was still a Sergeant.

"You can't be willing to try this new 'technology' out on yourself, can you?" asked Leo.

"Oh, c'mon. It'll be fun. Besides, Cid knows what he's doing. He's never failed, has he?"

Leo thought about it. "Well, I refuse to be a part of Gestahl's new group of soldiers. We shouldn't rely on technology. We should rely on our strength, and our cunning. If you really want to be 'enteched', it's fine by me. If you think that you're that weak..."

"HEY!"

"...then you should do what you think is best. Look, have I ever been wrong?"

"No," Davan admitted. He and Leo had been friends since they were kids, and Leo's advice had never steered him in the wrong direction. But this was different. He had been allowed to witness a new power, and he wasn't about to pass it up, "Look, I'll tell you what happens, OK?"

Leo sighed, and rubbed his moustache, which was a habit he had developed in the Academy, "Fine. Just make sure you stay in one piece, all right?"

"I promise. Say, you remember Janis?"

"Of course. How is your sister?"

"Fine. She just arrived with Milo today. He got a job bartending at the bar, and they're moving into the house next door. There's a small party going on there tonight. Do you wanna come?"

" Nah, I have to go to Albrook later today. Gestahl wants me to go to South Figaro and talk funding with some rich old man. Well, I'll be seeing ya."

"See you later."

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Finally. Davan had waited long enough, and now was the time. Cid was going to choose someone to be the first to receive this new gift.

"Let's see, how about... that young man, in the back."

"Who, me?" said the private next to Davan.

"Yes. Why don't you come up to the front?"

"Sure!" The kid weaved his way through the crowd.

"What's your name, son?" Cid picked up a pencil and notepad off of the desk next to him.

"My name is Kefka, sir. This is really an honor."

"Don't mention it. It's my pleasure. Now step through this door here... the rest of you, you can watch the process in the room to my left." Cid quickly turned and wandered into the lab.

Davan was surprised that Kefka, the most shy of the seven people in the group, and also the dumbest, had been chosen by Cid. Maybe the process hadn't been perfected yet. He sat down in the chair closest to the window, and watched.

Though the window, Davan noticed a strange monster floating around inside a transparent tube. He didn't recognize its species, but it looked very dragon-like in appearance, except that it obviously wasn't a dragon. It was too small to be one, and its eyes looked very human, and they seemed to stare right at him. The eyes suddenly blinked. That gave Davan an unsteady feeling. The creature was still alive... but it was frozen in place somehow. Cid was truly a genius.

Now was the time for the invention to do its job. Kefka was lead into a cylindrical chamber, which sealed shut after he entered. There was a square window in the chamber that Kefka looked out of. Now was the monster's turn to be moved. It was sucked downward and around, to a larger chamber, with another square window. Kefka looked very nervous. Then again, so did the monster, which seemed to be waking from his trance. Cid walked over to a large breaker switch, and pulled it downward- and all hell seemed to break loose.

There was a bright yellow light, and an inhuman screeching as the monster thrashed about in its cylinder. Kefka was also in great pain, and was screaming. The cause of his pain was obvious- his clothes were on fire, as was his flesh. Kefka's bloody face was pressed against the window, which then smashed, as did the dragon's. The dragon seemed uninjured, but still feeling pain. The monster thrashed against the window hole, and shot out of the cylinder completely. Among shouts of, "The esper's free, the esper's free!", Cid pulled the breaker upward against great resistance. Kefka's cylinder opened, and his burning body fell out. Davan felt nauseated as he realized that Kefka was still alive, and was no longer screaming, but grinning and laughing insanely.

As the other technicians quickly doused the flames in the cylinder and on Kefka, the esper, as they had called it, rushed toward the window Davan and the other soldiers were peering out of. Davan threw himself on the ground as the window shattered. Then the esper vanished in a blinding explosion.

As the chaos settled down, Davan opened his eyes and looked around. He seemed to be the lone survivor in this room. He had been protected from the explosion by the chairs on top of him. Davan dizzily stood up, tossing the chairs to one side. The other soldiers were very dead. Looking about the room, an arm fell on his head. He fell to his knees, and vomited. Coughing and gagging on smoke from charred flesh, he spotted a strange object that seemed to have survived the explosion intact. He slowly picked up the object. It was warm to the touch, and had a strange power emanating from it. A voice filled his head.

"Go ahead. Keep the stone. You will soon know what it is used for." Davan obeyed the voice, and placed the rock in his pocket.

"Hey," called another voice, "we could use some help here."

Davan looked toward the source of this new sound. It was Cid. He was clutching his arm.

"What happened?"

"I think the windows were a bad idea. And, clothing shouldn't be worn inside the cylinders."

"Gee, ya think so?" Davan growled, "Five people just died thanks to your invention, Cid."

Cid looked at the ground for a few minutes, then answered.

"You're right. I have to convince Gestahl to shut down the Magitek Research Facility. The lives of the people are more important than this facility. He probably won't close up the lab, but I have to try."

Saying that, Cid left the ruins of the laboratory.

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Watching the destruction from a hidden room above the soldiers's, Gestahl had seen everything. Cid's machine really worked. He now knew what kinks to work out of the project, at the cost of a few petty soldier's lives. He had told him to pick Kefka, and it looked as though Kefka made a good guinea pig, plus he had survived the process, though he was potentially useless now. Unless magic had really been fused into his body.

He turned his attention back to his bodyguard, a mysterious woman skilled in the art of murder and torture. She charmed most of her victims into her death trap. She was nearly unstoppable as well, because she was only part human. She was a cyborg. And she was going to be infused with magic by one of the strongest espers, one that called itself Palidor. But that was beside the point. Gestahl had other business to attend to.

"It worked." She stated. The young lady could be so simple-minded sometimes. But that was just a part of her programming.

"So it has. And you will be next to receive the gift. It will be perfected now. Metal doesn't seem to have a reaction like clothing does. And I know the perfect esper for you."

"Good. Are you sure this won't interfere with my computer?"

"Positive," he turned his attention toward his true concern, "You see that man down there?" He asked the woman.

"The survivor?"

"Yes. I want you to follow him. Make sure he tells this to no one. Understand?"

"And if he does?"

"Kill him."

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Janis was almost done arranging the furniture in their new home. Milo had been gone all afternoon. He would have to return before six o'clock, or he would miss her brother's visit. She checked the clock. It was five o'clock now. And she had one chair left to put at the table.

She jumped in surprise as there was a knocking at the door. Davan couldn't be here already, could he? It was still five! she opened the door, and Davan barged into the house, obviously very upset.

"What's wrong?"

"I quit the army today. I'm gonna be discharged tomorrow morning."

That was a shocker. Janis stood there, her mouth hanging open. "But being in the army was something you really wanted. Why would you want to quit now while you're ahead?" <

"Ahead? I was just a Sergeant! If you want to talk about being ahead of everyone else, talk to Leo."

"Leo has nothing to do with this. What happened?" Her voice had become demanding. She would've been better in the army than he had.

"I saw something awful today. I don't really wanna talk about it. All I can tell you is that when I signed up for receiving magic, I didn't plan on going nuts."

"What??" She looked very confused. It was for the better, though. He would keep what he saw his own little secret, "Look, Davan, you were supposed to get here in an hour. It's only five."

"What are you talking about? It's six," he showed her his watch, " that clock of yours is too slow."

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That night, after Davan left, Janis and Milo were laying in bed. They couldn't sleep. The bed was too creaky.

"I met an old friend of mine at the bar today," started Milo. <

"Really? Who was it?"

"Arvis. One of my former teachers."

"I remember Arvis. What's new with him?"

"He was passing through Vector today to meet with an friend of his. Arvis sure did ask a lot of questions about some invention made by a guy named Cid. I don't know anything about that, though."

"Davan wrote to us saying that he had been chosen by Cid to test the new invention."

"Oh, yeah. I forgot. My memory ain't what it used to be. When did he say he was gonna meet up with him?"

"I think it was today." Then it hit her. That must have been what Davan was upset about. Something about the invention. She would have to look into it.

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"All he did was quit the army, then visited his sister. They didn't talk about what happened at all, though she tried to get information from him concerning why he left the army."

"Good job," Gestahl grinned, "was anyone else mentioned?"

"Just one of your Lieutenants. A man named Leo."

"Leo, huh? Well, I'll keep on eye on him myself. He was opposed to MagiTek."

"Now what do we do, sir?"

"I don't think you need to worry too much about Mr. West for now. At least not daily. Just check up on him every other day. Same basis. He mentions anything, kill him. In fact, I have an even better idea..."

Gestahl quickly disclosed his plan to her. 127 smiled when he was through.

"I will follow your orders to the word, Emperor."

"Good. You may go now."

127 walked slowly through the large double doors. Gestahl turned to one of his Special Forces officers.

"Let Mr. & Mrs. Chere in now. I have a deal for them regarding their daughter."

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Four years later...

Janis's pregnancy was a pleasant surprise to both Milo and Davan. An add-on was being constructed to their home for the arriving child. Davan was perhaps the happiest, though. He was engaged to be married to a young lady by the name of Sylvia. They seemed perfect for each other. Both had brown hair, and were opposed to MagiTek. They did everything together. Mountaineering had become one of their interests, and had braved the large mountainous region to the east. It was a time for celebration, but some believed it was just a phase, and would end soon.

One man who felt strongly about this was Arvis's, now Milo's, friend, Terry Gunther. He seemed to despise anything involving Gestahl and Kefka, who was now Gestahl's right-hand man and one of the best magic-users in Gestahl's army. Terry claimed that one of Kefka's personal experiments was involving a young girl, but Milo seemed to regard this as entirely fictional. Janis, Davan, and Sylvia, however, believed every word of it.

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Janis couldn't believe she was doing this. She had snuck so for into Cid's lab, it didn't seem funny anymore. The security around the MagiTek Research Facility was surprisingly scarce. Cid's office had to be somewhere. Something had happened that day, four years ago, that hurt her brother. She was determined to find out just what it was.

Several of the rooms she had searched had been unhelpful. She wandered down the long corridor, looking very lost. She was opening the doors methodically, trying each one as she passed down the hall. The next door she opened made her freeze in her tracks. It was a bedroom. A little girl's room, to be more precise. And the little girl wasn't asleep. She was playing with her toys. WAS playing with her toys. The girl was staring at Janis now.

"Uh, uh, uh," stuttered Janis.

"Hello," said the girl. She started playing with her toys again, "are you here to see my magic, like the others?"

"What? Your magic? No, I'm, uh, I'm here to look for... uh....... Cid."

"I like Cid. He's the only person who cares about me here. He gave me these pretty dolls. Do you have any toys?"

"No, I'm afraid not. I just need to know where Cid is. If I come back, though, I'll give you a new doll."

"Cid is probably in his office. It's where he goes to talk to the strange clown."

That was Kefka. He wore paint for some odd reason. It suited him, though. He always seemed to be laughing, "Well, do you know what room Cid's office is in?"

"509. Will you come back, lady?"

"Uh...." If Janis could get this girl out of this place, she would. But... "Yeah, you bet I will. What's your name, little one?"

"Celes. What's yours?"

"Janis."

"What's wrong with you? Why is your belly swollen?"

"I'm pregnant. I'm going to have a child."

"Really? How very fascinating!!" the new sound made Janis spin around. Celes was screaming.

"Make it go away Janis! Make it go away!"

Kefka was standing directly behind her. He was laughing his head off, as usual. Janis quickly punched the smile off his face, revealing the nasty-looking scars underneath his make-up. Janis gasped.

Davan was the first name to pop into her head. Did he know how Kefka became like this? He had appeared a few days after Davan quit the army. That meant...

"You really shouldn't have done that," Kefka looked pissed. He closed his eyes, and began to mutter something.

"Look out Janis he's gonna use magic!"

"What?"

Kefka's eyes opened, and he shouted, "And now, my pretty, why don't you take a nice, long, SLEEP!"

The last thing Janis saw was Kefka, cackling his insane laughter.

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In her mind, everything had become clear for Janis. Davan's strange behavior, Kefka's sudden appearance as Gestahl's right-hand, and Terry's beliefs. Davan must have witnessed Kefka's awful ordeal into insanity. Cid was just a pawn in Gestahl's game. The true prize was the world. Davan was a threat, as was herself. What were they going to do to her? How would she even escape? Suddenly, her head was filled with a strange sensation.

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"Are you sure this is a good idea? This woman is pregnant."

"Just do it, you old fool. If a pregnant woman is infused, her child may be more powerful than the mother herself. The Emperor must know."

"But the process may have profound effects on the child. He could become deformed," Cid worried.

Kefka's patience was narrowing. "Pull that switch or else, old man."

"But..."

"You imbecile! If you want things done right, you gotta do it yourself. Now, let's see... what esper wants to have a shot at MagiTek history?" He laughed, "Now, don't you look like you wanna be transferred?"

His gaze wandered to an angel-like esper. The name on the tube was Seraphim. Kefka grinned, and pulled the switch. Seraphim was sucked into the windowless cylinder. The process had begun.

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Seraphim saw the woman she was to be transferred to. She had a kind face, and was showing signs of pregnancy. She remembered when Madonna had been pregnant with Terra, and the love Maduin had for her. Now, her power would be moved to this young lady and her child. They would welcome the magical power.

Janis woke up from her sleep to see a floating essence coming toward her. Her black hair was disheveled, and her clothing was gone. She was alone in a large cylinder with something she didn't want, but it seemed as though the essence was harmless. Her vision was filled with a picture of a beautiful angel. Magic was becoming a part of her body. She opened her mind and allowed it to enter.

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It was over. Janis was sent back to her room, escorted by guards. Her head was still very cloudy, and she couldn't see very well. A woman was walking directly ahead of her. She couldn't see very well, but the woman was very familiar. Wait... was Janis herself walking? No... she was still unconscious. How could she even see? Maybe the angel gave her limited vision. Oh, well. It didn't really matter. Darkness soon surrounded her once more.

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One month later...

The local authorities had given up on Janis. Davan and Milo had no idea where she had gone for one whole month. Now, Davan decided, it was time to find her. Milo, Terry, and Sylvia would have to help.

"Wait... are you suggesting we break into the MagiTek research facility?" At least Sylvia understood, in her own way.

"Yeah. They have her, I just now it. He was fiddling with the strange stone necklace he had made for himself. It seemed to give him confidence, but in fact, Davan was turning to it for help. The stone's voice had told him plenty over the four years it had been talking to him, and it seemed positive that the Facility was behind Janis's disappearance.

Terry seemed elated that someone was taking a stand against Gestahl. "You know, I have some connections I can talk to. My friend Arvis is a member of a group a people called the Returners. If I can get him to contact them, they could be a big help."

"Look, are you sure this is a good idea? If we fail..."

"We can't fail, Milo. The Returners know they're business. In fact, Arvis asked me to find a way to enter the facility unnoticed. And I know how."

Davan whispered, "We must purchase some weapons. The security there will be very tight. I can use a sword, and Sylvia had to train to use daggers on our mountaineering trip. Does anyone else know how to use a sword? Milo?"

"I used to take a fencing class when I was growing up."

"And how about you, Terry?"

Terry shook his head.

"Ok. Then, Terry, you meet us outside of Vector after we save Janis."

"IF we save Janis," muttered Sylvia.

"We'll save her. We have to."

"What about my bartending job?"

"We have to leave Vector. There's a bar in South Figaro, which is where we'll go after reaching Albrook. My friend, Leo, has arranged a boat for us."

Sylvia frowned, "Leo is helping us? Isn't he a General in Gestahl's army?"

"Friendship is more important to him than Gestahl."

"I see..."

"Well, let's do it."

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The next day, everything was ready. Milo sold his house, and quit his job. Terry and Davan wandered Vector, preparing for the raid by purchasing armor and supplies. When all was ready, they all met by some crates.

"Ok, get on the crates. I'll provide a distraction," Terry wandered over to the guards posted at the entrance, and began his performance. He clutched his stomach, and moaned.

"Ohhh, my stomach...." Terry was stumbling over toward the guards.

"Get away from us, old man," one guard warned, "we don't want your illness."

"Ohhhh, I can't take this much longer... I think I'm gonna...." Terry hurled himself at one of the guards, knocking him down.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?? Get off of me!" He pushed Terry off, but his aim wasn't very sharp. Terry slammed into the second guard. He also fell with ease. This wasn't part of his plan, but both guards were down for the moment. Terry looked upward to see Davan, Milo, and Sylvia as they walked along the overhead beams, and into the facility.

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Leo walked down the corridor, searching for the right number. Finally, he found it. The door was thrown open, and he saw Janis, laying in bed. She looked worn out, being the only person who excelled at healing. Every day, wounded soldiers were shown to her room. Leo had just heard about this, and was outraged at Kefka for not telling him sooner. He felt the same way when he learned of that poor little girl with the slave crown, but he couldn't do anything about that. At least, not yet. What he could do, however, was save Janis. She was his best friend's sister, for heaven's sake. He was obligated to get her out of here.

"Leo? Is that you?" Janis sounded very tired.

"Yes, it's me. Are you feeling OK?"

"Yeah, but I was asleep when you barged in here. What's going on?"

"Well..." Leo explained what had been going on the past month.

"All of them have been searching for me?"

"Exactly. And now, it's time to go home. I need to get you to Albrook, but we need to get to your house first, and get everyone together. Vector's not a safe place anymore."

"What about you? You're a General. You can't just pack up and leave."

"I'm gonna stay behind. What's more important is getting the four of you out of Vector."

"Four? What about Terry?"

"Who?"

"Terry. He has to come with us. He's one of Milo's friends. He can get in contact with the Returners."

"The Returners? Who're they?"

"It's not important now. We have to leave immediately."

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Milo couldn't believe they have come this far. The security was amazingly tight in the MagiTek Factory, but they had made it through it all. It was a good thing Davan had brought those tonics.

"It should be right... here." Davan turned the corner, and he quickly spotted the room where Kefka had gone nuts, "we just need to open this door, and...," he took a step forward.

...... And a laser stuck the wall where Davan was just standing, "Oh, great. Don't these guys give up?" He rushed forward, sword drawn. The MagiTek armored unit swung its fist at him, and connected at his side.

"Damn! That hurt... Now you've made me mad." He swung his sword at the next swinging fist, and sliced it off. The next fist, however, was bearing down toward Davan's head.

"Look out!" Sylvia shouted, and threw her dagger at the vehicle's domed top. It pierced the glass, but that wasn't all it pierced. The armor fell to the floor, its fist flailing about wildly.

"The think you need to remember about these things," Sylvia walked over to the machine, and pulled her bloody knife out of the dome, "is that they're man operated." She daintily wiped the knife clean on a towel she had the foresight to bring with her.

"Thanks. That almost got me."

"Don't mention it."

They entered the infusement room, walking silently on the steel floor. Milo was impressed by the sight. "This is Cid's invention? Amazing!" It looked more complicated than the bartending machine.

"Hmmm.... now where do we go?" Davan looked at the many doors.

"How about over here?" In a collective gasp, the three saw a figure approaching them. Another one followed it.

"Milo? Is that you?"

"Janis! Oh my goodness! You're alive!" They ran to each other, and kissed passionately. Davan looked at Sylvia, and saw that, quite to his surprise, she seemed bored. It wasn't like her to act like that when she saw someone show emotion.

"Is everything OK?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. Shall we be off?"

"Wait," said Janis. She let go of Milo, and strolled over to Davan, "there's something different about you."

Davan looked startled. "What do you mean? I feel fine."

"No, there is something wrong. The power of magic is strong in you."

"What do you mean? I was never infused."

"Davan, when did you find this stone?"

"Whe... The day Kefka went nuts. I found it after... after..." Davan quickly relayed the events that occurred four years earlier.

Janis nodded, "That explains it. The stone must be what's left of an esper when it dies."

"WHAT?? You've gotta be kidding. This stone is a good luck charm I found. At least, That's what it says to me."

Milo's mouth dropped. "The stone talks to you? You're nuttier than Kefka!"

"No, it really does. If this is what she claims it to be, then... The esper's soul is also in the stone."

Leo wasn't paying attention. He never did on matters concerning magic. "Look, can we be off now?"

Davan was still transfixed on his new knowledge. "Does this mean I know magic?"

Janis thought about it. "Well, maybe. Or you can just use magic when it's around your neck."

"Maybe. I wish I could test it." Davan looked up at the others. The stone in his hand was glowing softly. "We gotta get out of here. Is Gestahl finds out... Who knows how many senseless deaths there'll be. Especially esper deaths."

Leo sighed. "Thank goodness we can finally leave."

They turned toward the exit. Sylvia seemed frozen in place. Did this new revelation affect her that much? Davan tugged on her arm.

"C.mon, Sylvia. We have to leave." He looked into her eyes. And immediately turned pale.

It wasn't Sylvia anymore. She had somehow changed. She looked dangerous. Not a trait Davan could easily apply to her.

"Uh........Oh........" Milo stuttered.

127 grinned evilly. "YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN!" She slammed her fist into Davan, and he went flying against the wall. He groaned in pain. 127 turned her attention to Milo, and threw her dagger at him. It hit him square in the chest.

"NO!" Janis screamed, and rushed to her husband's side.

127 had more up her sleeve. Literally. Another dagger appeared in her hand, and threw it at Janis. Leo ran between Janis and the blade, and drew his sword. The knife struck the crystal, and it clattered to the ground.

"Take that, you fiend!" Leo spun his sword around, and swung it upward. 127 raised her hands in defense as a red beam slammed up out of the ground underneath her. As the beam cleared, 127 was gone.

Leo sheathed his sword. "Well, that finished her."

There was a banshee-like screech as 127 let loose her grip in the ceiling, and let loose on Leo. Her fists slammed into his armor, but it still shuttered, and Leo fell to his knees. 127 lifted him up over her head.

"You fool! What did you think you could do to me with such a pitiful attack? Now you will die!"

There was a sharp pain in 127's arm as one of her own daggers hit her arm, disabling it. She dropped Leo, clutching the handle, and it was ripped it out of her flesh. Janis stood directly behind her, anger flashing in her once-happy face.

"That was for Milo. Your dagger took his life, and now it will take yours!" Janis stabbed 127 in the belly, pulled out the knife, and stabbed again, and again, and again. When she was through, 127 was on the ground, leaking blood and circuitry.

Leo carefully got up, and looked at the twisted body on the floor, then at the body of his friend. Janis noticed Davan as well.

"Is he alive?" she asked.

"Yeah, he's just unconscious. He'll be OK. Is Milo..."

"Yes. He's dead."

"Damn. He was a good person."

"He still is. I can revive him."

"How?"

"With magic, anything is possible." She knelt down over her dead spouse, and chanted softly.

A yellow light shined down on Milo's body, and a glowing star slowly fell onto him. The light then vanished, and his eyes opened.

"Where am I?"

"Relax. You're going to be OK." Janis looked back at Leo. "The light was his soul returning from the land of the dead."

"Why do I still hurt?"

"Your wound remains. I can heal it, though."

Before she could heal him, Leo fell to the ground beside her, unconscious. Janis screamed.

"You...bzt.....little.......whirrrrr-click.......bitchchchchch........."

Janis felt a pair of hands clutched around her neck. "How...?"

127 threw Janis off to the side. The child in her womb kicked as it, too, felt pain.

"Easy. C-c-c-cid gave me magic, including....bzzzzzt...the ability to h-h-h-heal myself. Whatever you do, I can rep-rep-repair." She laughed maniacally. "N-n-now, do you mind as I...............clickclick..............kill your chchchchild?"

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The last thing Davan remembered before being slammed into a wall and slipping onto darkness was the look of evil on his lover's face. In that moment, his heart was broken, and his stomach turned. Sylvia wasn't at all what she had been to him. He thought she cared about him, and his family... but it had all been an act. And it destroyed him. All he had ever wanted was lost in an instant. Sylvia had been loyal to Gestahl the entire time, planning for their demise. Memories flooded Davan's head. Three days after he found that odd stone was the day they met. Their hike up the Eastern Mountains. She had seemed so gifted, using the knives as protection. Now he knew why.

Suddenly, a new, forgotten memory came to him. They had just reached the summit of the mountain when he fell through a hole in the ground. He remembered landing at the foot of three statues. And they spoke to him...

"Who are you, who has the soul of an esper around your neck?" the large, demon-like statue had said. He was so paralyzed with fear, he couldn't remember his name. He just lay there, looking up at the statues, which seemed to be staring down at him. But how could that be? They were statues, they couldn't talk, they couldn't move. They weren't alive. But he could tell that something lived down here...

"You fool! How dare you disturb us while we rest," the skeleton statue seemed to say, "Now, who are you!? Are you a soldier!? Don't tell me that war is still going on."

War? What war? "I...I...I have no idea what you are talking about..." He had managed to say.

"We don't believe you. You have magicite! How did you get hold of that?" The female statue challenged him.

"I...I found it..." He slowly explained how, answering questions from the statues when prompted.

"And this man, Kefka, went insane?" the demon-statue asked.

"Yes... he was laughing his head off."

"Hmmm." The immobile stones seemed to be thinking.

Finally, the female voice filled his head once more. "The stone around your neck can give you power. Whether or not you find how to use it, is up to you. This human Kefka sounds like a dangerous person. You can use the power to your advantage... or you can get rid of it. Toss it into the sea, and we'll deal with it. Now leave! And if you come back, you will be killed!"

Davan had ran from the cave as fast as he could. He couldn't remember how, but he had somehow left the cavern alive. Then he heard the voice, the same voice that had spoken to him for the past four years, explaining how to use it's power...

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Janis screamed. Leo was unconscious, Milo was badly injured, and 127 was going to rid o hole through her and her child. And there was nothing she could do about it. The creature grinned through its bleeding lips, glad to have the chance to kill in a new way. To kill what was not yet in the world, that would be a real pleasure. It pulled its arm back...

"LET HER GO!"

It cocked its head toward the voice. "Such a nuisance. Oh well, I was supposed to kill him first anyway..." It thought, then dropped Janis to the ground.

Davan was wide awake, but his leg was hurt. He was stumbling over toward 127, vengeance in his eyes. Davan drew his sword out, ready for the kill. The creature that had been Sylvia walked over to the man in a casual manner, as if it was used to the pointless display. He grinned.

"Now, just come quietly, and I'll make your death as painless as possible." It said. The human seemed to think about the offer for a little bit, then spoke.

"Nah, I think you deserve a painful one." He said. Davan raised his sword into the air. 127 immediately sprung into action, rushing at the human with its knife slashing wildly. It was a program it knew, and was almost fail-safe. Almost.

Davan had seen it do this enough times on the climb to know just where the weakness was in the attack. He Spotted it, and tossed the sword in its direction. His aim was true. It plunged straight into the middle of 127. It halted its attack in pure surprise. It looked down at the sword. Then it gripped the hilt, and pulled it out of its body.

Now it was Davan's turn for surprise. "Thank you for the fine new weapon, sweetie. Now your death will be much more painful." It raised the sword in the air, ready to throw it in the same manner he had, "Look at me when I speak to you!" He had his head down, and was muttering something to himself. It looked like he was praying, "Oh well, one last prayer before death!"

Davan shouted at the top of his lungs, "The one thing I never liked about you, Sylvia. You never had any FLARE!!!"

A burning sensation filled 127. Heat from some unnatural source was pushing itself into its body, pressure building every second. Then, 127's entire body was on fire, the flame bursting around it. But it didn't end there. The heat and pressure left 127 at an alarming rate, quickening as milliseconds passed until finally, metal parts melted, and what didn't melt, suddenly burst. When the smoke cleared, all that was left was a waxy, cherry-red glob.

Davan sighed, then collapsed under the strain of the powerful spell. Sitting up, he muttered, "She always did want to go out with a bang. Or in a blaze of glory."

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Four months later...

The escape from the facility was uneventful. Leo helped immensely when it involved avoiding security. Leo stayed at Vector, and blamed the escape on 127, who had "mysteriously disappeared". Terry stayed in Vector, refusing to leave, just in case Returners arrived to destroy the facility. The act he had put on had given him an idea, and decided to try again to see if it would work. Janis, Davan, and Milo left Vector, and, with the help of Terry, made their way to a secluded and abandoned cottage in the northern continent of Doma. An important event to all the world was about to occur, though, at the time, it seemed insignificant.

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Janis's water broke while she was tending to the flowers in the garden. Her natural healing ability made them strong, and full of life. Davan was trying to get the stove to work so he could make his favorite tea. As usual, it wouldn't work. Milo's nerves were shot. He was still frightened at the thought of death since he had actually died during the struggle with 127. The poor man couldn't stand another shock.

"Damn it, I'll make this stove hot! Take that!" Davan began to cast Flare on the stove, and Milo tried to intervene. "No! That's the only stove we've got! It'll be hot forever if you do that..." But it was too late. Flare had been cast, and the tea was ready in an instant.

Janis entered the cottage slowly. "Boys.. I think something's wrong..." She fell to the floor.

"What the...? Janis! Davan! She's gonna have the child! Get ready!" Milo helped his wife onto the bed. "Hurry! Something's wrong..."

Janis looked at her husband affectionately. "I'm sorry Milo. I don't know if I can make it. Davan... thank you for helping us..."

"Don't talk like that, Janis. You'll make it. After all we've been through, you've got to."

"C'mon, c'mon... now, push!" Milo took over the birth. He told her to push when she had, to, and, finally, the child's head came out. Janis looked weak. She was very pale by now.

"C'mon Janis, one more time... push!"

She pushed, and at last, the child was born. But with the child, blood flowed out of her.

"I'm sorry my love, but I cannot possibly... go... on... ohhh... the pain..."

"No... no! What're you saying? Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

"I... just... wanted... you... and... our... child... to... be... h..a..p..p..y...." With those parting words, her body fell limp.

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Davan wandered out of the cottage. Janis was dead. Milo was starting to babble. The magicite had fallen silent. He pulled the stone off of his neck, and looked at it. He knew what had to be done. Milo was in no state to raise a child. Davan would have to take care of the baby. And with magicite, that could never be done. The child might learn how to use it as well, and he didn't want that at all. If he used it for the wrong purposes...

Davan kept walking to the beach. Here, the stone would never be found. He tossed it out into the sea. It landed gently in the ocean, and he could still see it there, floating in the sea. Stones don't float, do they? He thought to himself. Suddenly, A large, fish-like monster swam out into the air, and landed, with a gulp, mouth-first onto the magicite. The sight was fascinating.

He stood there for several hours, watching for the creature to return. He had never seen a fish like that, and wondered if it would come back at all. Finally, he gave up, and walked back to the house.

Inside, Milo was curled up in a corner, giggling. The child was no where to be found. In a rage, he grabbed Milo by the shirt and lifted him up.

"What did you do with the child, you bastard!?"

"Child?? What child?? All there was was a tiny monster! He... he killed my wife mister, but I took him to the Veldt, and left him there. It didn't take me long to get there, though, 'cause I know my way through the forest, I do!"

Davan looked around the room. Janis's body was no where to be found. The blood on the bed was still there, though. "Where's Janis? What did you do with her?"

"Buried her right when I got back! Didn't take me long, either! Nope, yessir!"

"You stupid son of a bitch!" Davan punched Milo across the face, then left the cottage.

Then he noticed a large hole in the garden. It must have been where Janis was buried. That idiot Milo hadn't even buried her properly. Sobbing, Davan finished the burial, knowing it would be the last time he would ever get a chance to pay his respects. He bowed his head, and prayed for his sister. Then he left, never to return to the small cottage.

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Davan made his way to Doma castle, and when he explained what had happened to the guards, they allowed him a chance to speak to the king. King Doma was still young for his age, and standing by his side was his most loyal knight, Cyan. Doma sympathized with him, and allowed him to travel safely to Mobliz to search for the child. Doma's troops helped him in his search, but the baby was never found. In despair, Davan returned to Vector, and where he took up residence in Janis's former home. He spent the majority of his time at Milo's old bar, where he eventually won the title of "Town Drunk".

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Epilogue

Thirteen years later...

The hunter wandered the Veldt with his loyal canine retriever. He had been told that a pack of red wolves were out somewhere near the town, and it seemed the perfect chance to get a new trophy for his wall.

At last, he found the pack, laying on their backs, tusker bones near them. Another wolf seemed to be scavenging for any leftover meat, which there was none of. It seemed a perfect chance to lay his bait. He tossed over the dried meat, hoping for it to stray from the pack, and it did.

He aimed the bow and arrow, but, seconds before he fired, he saw what the "other wolf" really was. It was a young man, probably about twelve or thirteen years of age, munching on the meat. He lowered the bow, and shouted at the boy. He could get hurt, wandering the Veldt alone. The boy didn't notice. The hunter's dog barked at him, and this caught the boy's attention. He scurried back off into the pack, and seemed to vanish into thin air. 
 
 

THE END
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