The Ruloi Collective
Sweet Seraphim, where are you now?
Sweet Seraphim, where have you gone?
Away from the roses that bloom so red
In the garden of your home
He got asked a lot of questions.
They were mainly from children; adults had the sort of curiosity that bordered on discrimination, and with all the uproar about Realian rights and whatnot, they had to concentrate on not being discriminatory. Adults were funny like that sometimes.
"Are you a Realian?" was probably the most common question he encountered. The children would stare up at him, wide and bright-eyed, and ask that question with such an incorruptible state of wonder that all he could do was smile gently and shake his head. He assumed they asked the question because of his unusual hair color; the only other people he'd seen such a color on were Realians.
"Are you human?" would quickly follow, their voices just a little quieter, just a little less curious, just a little less awe-stricken than before. But again he would simply smile and shake his head, and then their eyes would widen less with curiosity and more with fear, and then they'd scamper off; assuming, of course, that their parents didn't grasp them tightly by the wrist and drag them away first, muttering something about not bothering the nice man with their questions, because he surely didn't like it (when in reality they thought he was just a Realian and decided to lie about it and there's no clue as to what those unpredictable Realians were up to, talking to their children like that).
He didn't get asked "Are you an angel?" anymore.
A long time ago, children believed in that stuff. Angels and demons, gods and devils, heaven and hell. The possibility that angels existed amongst the humans wasn't too much for a child to believe. In fact, they were brought up believing it, and they clung to it for dear life until they were old enough to let it go. It was almost like a security blanket. Eventually, the child would simply outgrow the belief. The human culture went like this, as well. Eventually, everyone outgrew religion, and turned to technology for all they needed.
And so those questions faded, replaced by new ones.
"Did your parents pick out your specs?"
"Did you get gene-modded?"
"Did you get DNA surgery?"
"Are you an android?"
"…Are you a Realian?"
But never, ever was he asked, "Are you an angel?"
And in a way, he was glad. He wasn't sure if he could even answer that question anymore.
It'd been awhile since he noticed it; a gradual change, like a slow-acting poison or disease. Everything was slipping through his fingers like water, falling into oblivion where it was hard - if not impossible - to bring back. Information that once took almost no thought to recall now required him to sit and actually think about it. Sometimes he remembered it within a few minutes; other times, it took him hours. And still others, he couldn't remember it at all. And that worried him. If the trend continued, would he forget who he was? Would he forget what he was?
He never knew it was possible. In the years that he'd been around, he never heard of such a thing happening. But maybe it did happen to others and he never realized it until it started happening to him. He'd noticed that it got harder and harder to find those of his own kind, until he wasn't even able to find any at all. Had they forgotten, and eventually assimilated into the human culture? Was it possible for an immortal to become mortal?
Maybe the disappearing faith was the cause for it. He himself hadn't stepped into a real church in many, many years; they simply didn't exist anymore, except perhaps in some of the more "rural" planets and colonies, where traditions had been carried on for millennia. So…if they didn't believe, would all traces of it eventually disappear? Did his very existence depend on the faith of others?
If that was the case, he might as well start counting down the days to his ultimate demise. Faith was hard to come by in this day and age. He'd seen it slip away. The human race had started depending less on deities and devils to govern their lives and more on themselves. Their prayers were now directed to gods of metal and wormholes and universal corporations and corrupted politics and gambling and decadence. They didn't have time in their busy lives to listen to the word of the church. So they simply got rid of it.
That thought brought an ironic smirk to his lips. Humans were interesting creatures; thousands of years ago, they'd killed people who didn't believe in religion. Now, they were unknowingly killing those who did.
As soon as he did his duty, would he, too, vanish?
He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair to get it out of his face. Thinking like that would be his undoing; he had to keep hold just a little longer.
"Hey Mister, why do you look so sad?"
Arching an eyebrow, he opened a blue-green eye that drifted to the source of the innocent voice that blissfully pulled him from his thoughts. It was a child, which was to be expected. She looked maybe six years old at most, though she could've been older, as pigtails made any child look younger than they really were. Her dress was wrinkled from hard use and stained with dirt; she must've been playing with her friends earlier, either on the Foundation or even on the Durandal itself. In the crook of her left arm rested a ragtag doll that had obviously seen better days, judging by the loose stitching and dirty cloth.
"You look really lonely. Can I sit with you?"
His lips curved into a gentle smile and he nodded slightly. The girl grinned like only a child could and plopped down next to him on the park bench.
"My name's Della. What's yours?" She looked up at him with bright brown eyes filled with boldness, unafraid to meet his gaze.
She scrunched her nose, as if contemplating something terribly important. "chaos? That's a weird name."
He laughed lightly. "I suppose it is."
"So, are you a Realian?"
And there came the questions, like they came every day. chaos simply smiled and shook his head.
"Are you human?" The luster in her voice was fading, just like it faded in every child as they continued to interrogate him. Being human wasn't nearly as interesting as being Realian. chaos again said nothing and shook his head.
"What are you, then?" Della asked, skeptical; if he wasn't Realian and he wasn't human, he couldn't be anything, right? Her right hand reached for his face without hesitation, and her small fingers rubbed the tanned skin on his cheek. "You feel human."
chaos took her small hand in his own and drew it slowly away from his face. Della gazed up at him, baffled, yet she remained silent. Only when he turned her hand palm-up and opened his free hand over her own did she tear her gaze away from his visage. A single white downy feather drifted from his hand and into hers. She picked it up with the utmost care, afraid that it was going to disintegrate between her fingers, and examined it with a mix between skepticism and absolute wonder.
"It can't be a bird feather…these kinds don't exist anymore..."
"You're right, it's not a bird feather."
She clenched the feather tightly in her fist, and turned her eyes back up to meet his own again, this time with a bit more hesitation. "Are you…an angel?" she asked, her voice barely an uncertain whisper compared to how confident it'd been before.
He didn't do anything. He didn't smile, he didn't laugh, he didn't nod, he didn't shake his head. In fact, he wasn't even sure he'd heard her right.
Della, however, didn't even wait for his answer before she had found her voice again. "I'll bet you are, aren't you? That'd explain your hair. I wish I had silver hair like yours." Her hand again came up to his face, but this time, she drifted over to the hair framing it. She touched it lightly; perhaps that was her way of being more reverent and respectful. "It's really pretty."
"If you're an angel, then how 'come you don't have wings?"
"Then where are they?"
"I'm hiding them."
"…Oh," she said quietly, drawing her knees up to her chest and holding her doll out in front of her. They both sat like that for awhile, in complete silence, neither one looking at the other. Both were lost in their own little worlds of thought.
"Deyja used to have wings, you know," the small brunette finally piped up, her voice soft and quiet, tinged with sadness. She gestured to her doll as an afterthought. "…Mommy tore them off."
"Why'd she do that?" chaos asked, even though he already knew the answer. He watched with a twinge of sadness as the girl wrapped her arms around her legs and rested her chin on her knees.
"Well…daddy got me Deyja a long time ago. She was really pretty then, too. Her dress was red and green and blue and gold, and her wings were white, and her hair was silver..." Her eyes drifted back over to chaos. "...Just like yours."
"And did your mother not like it that your father bought you a doll?"
"Well, she didn't really know…he never told her. And then, a few days after he gave Deyja to me, he died…mommy got really sad and started drinking some stuff that made her even sadder. And then she started to cry, and I told her not to be sad anymore. I showed her Deyja, and told her that daddy got it for me, and she started crying even harder...and then she took her and ripped her wings off."
"I see...May I look at Deyja?" chaos asked the quiet girl, who nodded and gently placed the doll in his slender outstretched hand. He grasped it loosely, and looked at it to ascertain the damage. She'd been done a number, without a doubt. Her hair had turned a sick yellowish-grey from the years; her dress was ripped and torn and woefully stained beyond repair; and sure enough, he saw the careless stitches on her back, right under her shoulder blades where the wings used to be. Della inspected chaos' face, curious for his reactions.
"Can you make her better...?" she asked meekly, twirling a pigtail with a small finger.
"I can try."
The fact of the matter was, even chaos wasn't sure if he could do it anymore. Had the little girl asked about a hundred years ago, it wouldn't even be a question. But his magic didn't come to him quite so easily anymore…
The words slowly passed from his lips, and the results were coming just as slowly; slower than what it used to be. But the doll was changing, nonetheless. The sallow hair crept back along to the grey side of the color spectrum; the dress knitted itself, the stains disappearing like they'd never been there in the first place; and finally, the frames of the wings extended, and with some extra effort on chaos' part, the material melted down like candle wax, hardening and sprouting feathers. She was as good as new...no, she was better than new.
Della was enthralled. "You really are an angel...!" she squealed, snatching back her beloved Deyja and hugging her close. chaos couldn't help but smile.
"Della? Sweetheart, I've been looking all over for you..."
The young girl's excitement dropped off suddenly as she turned her head, looking for the voice that called her.
"...Sorry...I was just playing."
"Don't run off like that again; I've been practically tearing the Durandal apart looking for you..."
"I'm fine...I met a new friend! His name's chaos and he's really nice! He fixed Deyja for me, too," she said, proud of her new friend. chaos noticed that she conveniently forgot to mention that he was an angel.
Her mother simply grabbed the outheld Deyja in one hand, not even bothering to look. She merely stared at chaos with cold, unforgiving eyes of steel. "I'm sure the nice man doesn't want you to bother him anymore, Della." Her eyes snapped away from his face and turned their attention on her daughter, and she wrapped her hand around the young girl's wrist and began to tug her away.
"'Bye, chaos! Do you think we'll meet again sometime?"
"...I hope so," he replied quietly, not sure if she could hear him. Her mother was already dragging her off somewhere.
"That was a really nice thing you did for that girl, chaos."
chaos didn't bother looking to see who it was; he already knew. "I did what I always do...I get asked a lot of questions..."
"I imagine." Allen Ridgeley sat down next to him on the bench, almost right where Della had been sitting. "You know, I never realized that Ether could work like that. Repairing the doll, that is."
"You'd be surprised."
"Or maybe not." Allen gave him a sideways grin. "Maybe you really are an angel."
chaos did nothing but catch a firefly on the palm of his hand and smile.
He'd gotten there just a few minutes too late.
He'd tried to hurry, but the Gnosis were just too organized, too prepared for the counterattack that was going to come. Every corner he turned, there was another great, slobbering beast to block his way. He'd dispatched them as quickly as possible, but with each second lost came the realization that he might not make it...
...and he hadn't.
Her hair was still in pigtails, just like when they'd met, except this time, they weren't dangling at the sides of cheeks flushed with color and energy. Now, they were curled limp on the floor, matted and sticky with blood. Her eyes were glazed over, dead; her lips, painted with fresh crimson liquid, were formed in a silent scream, dead; curled around her doll were tiny fingers, dead; her skin was pallid and white, dead. She was no longer Della. She was simply...dead.
It hadn't taken much to kill her. A punch from a goblin-type Gnosis would've been enough to make her bleed to death internally. Anything more than that was overkill.
A small puddle of blood had pooled where her head met the floor, and spidery tendrils of vermeil stretched out in the general direction of downhill. Most of it had dribbled from her mouth, a little from her nostrils. The blood that flowed from her ears never met the floor. A lot of the runoff had been caught by her doll. At least Deyja had a purely red dress this time around.
chaos grimaced and used two thin fingers to shut her eyes, and his other hand lifted the doll from her gory resting place. He tried to call up the words that it would take to fix her again, but they wouldn't come. Sighing, he conceded defeat for that battle, and stood from his crouching position.
He wasn't an angel. Not anymore. He was just a lonely seraphim, fallen from God's good graces.
He recalled Della's last words to him. "Do you think we'll meet again sometime?"
He smiled ruefully.
'Sooner than you'd think...'
Author's Notes: A friend of mine made a good point when he was reading the beginnings of this fanfic:
"Is there any reason you didn't capitalize 'heaven' and 'hell'? Do you just write it that way, or are you being symbolic?"
Honestly, I usually just write them that way, but I guess they have a symbolic meaning, as well. Things that are capitalized generally hold some kind of importance. However, things that don't remain uncapitalized. That could be said for religion in the Xenosaga world. Even though many things have religious connotations, there is never a defined religion. It's like it had disappeared. And so heaven and hell, which have no importance to that world, remain uncapitalized. The same can be said for chaos. His name remains uncapitalized in the game, even though he's still an important character. I guess it could to be to show that angels have little or no place left in a world where technology thrives.
And I mainly wrote this because chaos honestly didn't have a whole lot to be melancholy about in the game, despite the fact that the manual said that he had a "melancholy expression" all the time (if smiling's melancholy, then I'm the Vice Admiral of Sock Monkeys). So I gave him a problem. I'm probably going to look back and laugh when the later episodes come out and I turn out completely wrong.
The name of the story and the lyrics at the beginning were taken from the song "Seraphim" by the Road Dog Divas. Seemed fitting.