Prologue

Life’s Little Triumphs—Prologue
a mini-series by Dot

(Game dialogue paraphrased from http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps/562865-final-fantasy-vi/faqs/22693)


Terra shuddered as she recognized the hair-raising sound as Kefka’s signature cackle. This was it, the final battle.

“Welcome, friends!” Kefka appeared encased in a field of energy. Around him, the land was so swollen with magical power that bits of it would condense and drip off, sparkling, into the oblivion below. “I knew you’d make it here, so I’ve prepared some suitable entertainment for you!” He pointed at the group. “I’ve tapped into the ultimate power. Observe!”

“Locke!” Celes screamed as the young man was lifted into the air by some invisible force and dangled over the precipice.

“Such magnificent power!” Kekfa gloated. “Compared to me, you’re nothing but insects!” At another wave of his hand, Celes joined Locke. “I’ll exterminate everyone and everything!” With that declaration, he let them drop back onto the platform.

“Dammit, that bastard’s just playing with us,” Locke growled, helping Celes to her feet.

“People will keep rebuilding the things you take from them!” Terra shouted.

Kefka shrugged. “Then I’ll smash those, too.” Scenes of the burning of Vector, the apocalypse after the Unbalance, and the various towns hit by the Light of Judgement appeared before him. “Why do people rebuild things they know are going to be destroyed?” Terra recognized Albrook, Moblitz, and Jidoor in the images that flashed by. “Why do people cling to life when they know they can’t live forever?” Kefka gestured towards the group. “Think how meaningless each of your lives is!”

“I have, every single day since I’ve had my own mind back. And I’ve realized something.” Terra clenched her fists. “It’s not just the net result of one’s life that’s important. It’s the day-to-day concerns, the personal victories, and the celebration of life! It’s enough if people are able to experience the joy that each day can bring.”

Kefka sneered at Terra’s words. “And have you found your ‘joy’ in this nearly dead world of ours?”

Terra nodded. “Yes!” She thought of the children in Moblitz. “I know what it means to be precious.”

Locke stepped forward to stand next to Terra. “And I’ve learned to celebrate life—and the living.”

Cyan, brandishing the Aura, spoke up next. “My family lives on inside of me.”

Edgar, too, added his voice to the group. “I’m building a kingdom where I can guarantee freedom and dignity to everyone.”

Sabin placed a hand on Edgar’s shoulder. “And I’m gonna help my brother any way I can!”

Celes reached out, took Locke’s hand and gave it a small squeeze. “I’ve met someone who can accept me for what I am.”

Strago pulled Relm close to his side. “I have a special little Granddaughter.”

Relm gave Strago a hug in return. “And I’ve got a brave Grandpa who’ll stand by me through it all!”

Setzer pointed upwards. “The Falcon carries my hopes and dreams—and those of the woman I love.”

“I have my friends here!” Mog declared.

Gau grinned. “You my friends too! Me AWOOO all of you!”

Kefka turned away as if to contemplate these words. A breathless silence hung over the group as they waited, watching, almost daring to hope. “This—” Then Kefka faced forward again, disgust written all over his gnarled features. “This is sickening! You sound like chapters from a self-help booklet!” Magic began to swirl around him. “It’s my turn!” Kefka raised his arms, and the entire mountain began to glow. “Now, for my next trick, I’ll make you all disappear!”

Terra felt her heart sink as the glow grew brighter. “Kefka, you don’t know what you’re doing! Stop!”

“Stop? Why should I?” Kefka raised a fist. “I command the greatest power in the universe! You are all helpless before me!” The entire land mass burst apart, leaving a single fire-dotted peak at the top of which Kefka stood sneering. He raised his other fist. “I’ll obliterate everything! I’ll create a monument to nothingness!”

Terra saw another rising pillar and took the chance to jump onto it. “Life will go on, and so will people, as long as they have hope! Just you watch!”

“No!” Kefka stamped his foot like a petulant child throwing a temper tantrum. “Whoever’s left, I’ll hunt them down. I’ll destroy it all! Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!”

Locke, too, rode a pillar to the top. “You think we’ll let you do that?”

“Hee, hee, hee!” Kefka bared his teeth in a wolfish grin. “How amusing! Go ahead and try to protect those ‘precious’ lives! In the end, it’ll all come to naught!” With that, he released another blast.

Prologue

“All right, on three.” Shadow didn’t wait for a confirmation from Umaro. “One—two—THREE!”

They charged forward, Shadow letting out a shout of frustration as they hit the barrier again. Umaro grunted as well and pressed forward, using his larger bulk as leverage.

I’m a coward. A fucking coward! Shadow tightened his grip on the Zoneseek magicite and forced every ounce of his will into it. I should be there with her right now, not stuck on the outside like this! He slammed his sore fist towards the barrier. “RELM!”

Umaro reacted before Shadow did, catching the ninja by his collar as the barrier vanished to keep him from stumbling forward. At the same time, a scream of pain and disbelief echoed from the battleground, a noise so piercing that both Umaro and Shadow covered their ears.

“NO!” Kefka screamed again, sending shock-waves that could be felt even at this distance. “I can’t lose! I’m invincible!”

With nothing blocking his way Shadow now rushed through the doors—and pulled up short, staring, as he saw Kefka’s final form. Kefka’s body had ballooned to the size of the tower itself, his skin purple and mottled from the infusion of magic. Wrapped in blood red cloth, with three misshaped wings growing out of his back, he looked at once frightening and beautiful.

Terra landed next to Shadow in Esper form, flicking discolored blood from the Atma Weapon, its blade glowing with power. “It’s over.”

Kefka continued to wail, his form disintegrating as the wound Terra gave him spread. “You can’t do this to me! I’m the god of this world!”

Once again, it was Umaro who moved first, enveloping the exhausted group in protective magic as Kefka lashed out in his death throes, scattering lancets of energy outward until all of him vanished.

Shadow reinforced the bubble as well. “With Kefka gone, the tower won’t last long, either. We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Yes, we haven’t any time to waste.” Terra began walking forward, but she hadn’t gone more than a few steps when her legs gave out beneath her.

Locke rushed forward to support her. “Terra! What’s happening?”

“The Magicite!” Edgar gasped, pointing behind Terra.

One by one, several shards of the magical substance rose out of Terra’s pouch and into the air, hovering for a moment before shattering in a burst of light and color.

“What’s going on?” Sabin demanded as another shard of Magicite eluded his grasp.

“Of course,” mumbled Strago. “Magic is disappearing from this world. The Espers can no longer exist.”

Locke looked up, alarmed. “You mean Terra, too?”

“I—” Strago looked away. “I wish I knew.”

Terra forced herself to stand. “Don’t worry about me. I won’t go down that easily.” At her words, the tower began to shake. “Come on!”

Prologue

CYAN as Cyan Garamonde

Cyan hit the ground rolling, coming to a stop when he hit the opposite wall. Damn, didn’t expect the floor to give out like that. He rubbed his shoulder. I’m getting to old for this. “Hey!” He called out, peering into the darkening room. “You guys okay?”

“Cyan!” Edgar called back, holding on for dear life from a ledge high in the air. “There’s got to be something that controls the stairs!”

“Machines; I hate machines!” Cyan muttered, scanning the area. He bit back an exclamation of dismay when he saw the number of switches, buttons, and levers. “This might take a while.”

“Look for a label! Even evil minions need instructions!” Edgar squeezed his eyes shut. “Hurry, Cyan! It’s a long way down from here!”

Cyan forced himself to stay calm. Edgar’s words made sense; after all, the waves of sentries they had encountered on the way in had to move around the tower somehow. He examined each panel until he found one that bore a ramp-shaped symbol. He pressed that switch as hard as he could, praying that he got the right one.

To his (and Edgar’s, no doubt) immense relief, the stairs did reappear, and Edgar was able to make his way back down without further incident. “Woo! Way to show technology who’s boss!”

Prologue

SETZER as Setzer Gabbiani

“Uh-oh.” Celes paused before the two sets of doors. “I don’t remember passing this on the way in.”

“Me neither; we’ll just have to try them both, I guess.” Edgar turned to Setzer. “Would you do the honors, Setzer?”

Setzer fished a coin from his pocket. “Same as before—heads right, tails left?”

Celes rolled her eyes and started forward. “Whatever.”

“Wait!” Seized by an explicable sense of foreboding, Setzer let the coin fall to the ground and tackled Celes away from the door she had intended to open; moments later, an explosion rendered that very passage inaccessible.

Edgar picked up the coin Setzer had dropped, showing him that it had landed on heads—meaning they would have walked straight to their deaths. “Still believe in the luck of the draw?”

Setzer checked his belongings. “Oh, that’s the limited release double-headed Figaro! I’ve been meaning to put it in my collection, but I guess I never got around to it.” He pointed to the other door. “What say we go this way instead?”

Prologue

EDGAR as Edgar Roni Figaro and SABIN as Sabin Rene Figaro

“EDGAR!”

Edgar made the mistake of looking up and realized that he had wasted his chance to escape being crushed by the immense metal beam that had been knocked loose by that last tremor. He pressed himself against the door frame, bracing for the worst.

When he opened his eyes again, he was looking up into the eyes of his brother, who had one arm around him and the other bracing against the beam; one corner landed straight on the back of Sabin’s head, opening a nasty gash. “You dumb ass—” Edgar pressed his handkerchief there. “You could have gotten yourself killed!”

Sabin grinned back, shifting his weight to catch the beam in both arms. “That’s what all the training was for—so I could put these stupid muscles to use.” He grunted and tossed the beam aside. “Besides, if you died I’d have to be king, and I don’t know a thing about running a country.”

Edgar removed his jacket and began tearing strips out of it. “You dumb ass,” he repeated as he doted on the injury. “If you get yourself killed on my account, I’d never forgive you!”

Sabin chuckled. “Duly noted.”

Prologue

MOG as Mog

Déjà vu, Edgar thought as he looked for a way to get Mog across the chasm that had opened between them.

“I’m falling!” Mog panicked as he began slipping towards edge. “Help!”

“Coming!” Edgar shouted back as he found the controls to the hook he’d spotted. In no time at all he’d manipulated it towards Mog.

“Watch it!” Mog cried as the hook swung a bit too close for comfort. “Watch the hair!”

Edgar hid a snicker behind his hand. “Sorry, I’m still getting a hang of these controls.” He tested the handles at a less intense pace now. “I don’t think the hook goes quite that far, so you’ll have to jump!”

“Fine! Just watch the hair!”

“Don’t you think trying to save your life is a bit more important?”

“Yes, but so is not going bald!”

At this, Edgar couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Prologue

UMARO as Umaro

“Dammit, locked!” Celes kicked the door. “If it’s not one thing, it’s another!”

“If we had a crowbar or something we might have some way to force it open—” Setzer began and was about to start looking among the debris around them when Umaro interrupted him with a loud roar and slammed against the narrowest point in the obstruction, creating a significant dent. “Well, that works too.”

Celes just stared as Umaro kept pressing forward until he had carved a path with his own body. “Um—thanks,” she managed as she continued forward.

Umaro raised his arms into the air and gave a roar of victory.

Prologue

GOGO as Gogo

Celes tried the switches that she had spotted. “They’re not working.” She wrung her hands. “What do we do now? If we don’t stick together, who knows if we’ll be able to meet up again?”

“There’s another set of switches on this end,” Gogo reported, having made a similar sweep of the section he was trapped on.

Edgar gained a thoughtful look. “I wonder—”

“Way ahead of you, bro.” Sabin called up to Gogo. “Hey, Gogo! Watch Celes and do exactly what she does!”

Gogo nodded, and a moment later the mimic was even breathing and blinking at the same time as Celes. They tried the sequence again, moving in perfect synchronization. It wasn’t before long that the turning table reactivated, reconnecting the three sections of the room together.

That was amazing! Celes thought, following behind Edgar and Sabin as they scouted ahead to check the footing. She stopped short when she found herself almost bumping noses with Gogo. “Um—” She tried to sidestep him, but found her movements being matched. “Oh, you don’t have to copy me any more.”

“Of course.” Gogo chuckled, letting her pass. “My apologies.”

Prologue

GAU as Gau

Gau’s eyes lit up and his mouth spread into a wide grin. “Gau find short cut!”

“Gau, I don’t think your idea of a shortcut is—” Before Celes could finish voicing her objections, Gau picked her up by the waist. She couldn’t help letting out a small scream as Gau tossed her onto a rock, the force of her landing causing a minor landslide. She squeezed her eyes shut and clung on as she rode the rock all the way to the bottom of the long slope. The moment she was on her feet again, she looked up the hill intending to give Gau a piece of her mind but found herself gaping instead as she watched Edgar being tossed in a similar manner, followed by the wild boy.

She helped Edgar up, dusting off his bedraggled clothes. “Are you all right?”

“I’ve lived through worse,” Edgar glanced over to Gau, who was looking quite pleased with himself and waiting for the praise he thought he deserved. He patted the lad on the head. “Thanks, Gau, but I think both of us would rather walk from now on.”

“No more shortcuts?” Gau asked, his countenance more muted.

“Not ones that involve falling,” Celes clarified, adding: “Please.”

Prologue

LOCKE as Locke Cole and CELES as Celes Chere

Stupid, stupid, stupid! Was Celes’ singular coherent thought as she lost her footing and slid towards the darkness below. She’d spent most of her life cutting herself from any kind of relationship but now she would plunge to her death over a minuscule object of mere sentimentality.

“Celes!” Locke’s cry sounded above her head just as his hand caught hers. Now both of them dangled over the edge, and if another tremor shook, he would join her. He reached down his other hand, keeping his eyes fixed on hers. “Grab on! Hurry!”

“You should just let me fall,” Celes muttered, obeying him nonetheless. Why was it that he was always running to her rescue when she never did a thing to deserve it?

Locke must have heard her, for he gripped her even tighter. “Never. I made a promise.”

“That was way too close!” Edgar remarked, having doubled back to help. Between him and Setzer, she and Locke was pulled to safety.

“What were you thinking?” Locke yelled the moment they reached safe ground, his voice fraught with worry. “You almost ate it trying to pick up that silly trinket!”

“Not now,” Celes hissed, fighting the urge to blush. “Not another word,” she warned Edgar and Setzer when she caught them making faces at her.

“Maybe we ought to leave you two lovebirds alone,” Setzer snickered.

Edgar managed to keep his composure a bit better. “This is no time to joke. If the floor shakes again, we’re all toast.”

As soon as he said this, a low rumbling began in the distance. Everyone scrambled forward, Locke stopping just long enough to take Celes into his arms.

Prologue

TERRA as Terra Branford
Terra slowed to a stop before the ominous-looking glass tubes that towered above her, recognizing them for the remains of the Magitek factory where many Espers had been taken to and experimented on as if they were just objects to be studied. The Magicite she had been holding onto flew out of her hands and hovered in the air. Terra.

“Father,” she whispered, the aura she felt at once familiar and alien.

Terra, without the Goddesses we Espers will no longer be able to keep a physical form in this world. But maybe if your heart still has something to hold onto, then maybe—

Maduin, too, vanished in a spray of stone.

“Terra?” Cyan prompted.

Terra shook her head. “I’m all right. Let’s go.”

Prologue

RELM as Relm Arrowny

“Grandpa!” Relm chided as she helped Strago up, thinking that he was being his usual mischievous self. “Cut it out!”

“Sorry, dear.” Strago took a tentative step forward, being careful to not catch his shoes against the conveyor belt again.

With some effort, Relm supported Strago with her small body and continued walking. “If I hear another peep out of you, I’m gonna draw your portrait!”

Strago gasped. “No! Anything but that!”

Relm sighed. “But, really. I’d like to do a painting of you for once.” She smiled. “On canvas, of course!”

“Relm!” Strago groaned. “How could you be thinking about pictures at a time like this?”

Prologue

SHADOW as Shadow
Shadow’s body moved before his mind could react, pushing Interceptor out of the way of the falling debris. He bit back a grunt as it landed on him instead, feeling a sharp pain rise in his leg. Interceptor gave a worried bark, tugging at Shadow’s sleeve.

“Don’t worry about me.” Shadow commanded the dog. “Go on!”

Interceptor just kept on tugging, as if it were intent to drag Shadow out like this if he had to.

Shadow stroked his beloved pet on the head. “Guess there isn’t any arguing with you, hm?” Grasping Interceptor’s collar, he made the motion for the dog to go forward.

Dying now would be no different than running away, wouldn’t it, Baram? He thought, limping to his feet. But as long as I’m still alive, then maybe I’ll be able to start all over again.

Prologue

STRAGO as Strago Magus

By the time they reached the point where they entered into Kefka’s tower, Strago felt like his old self again. Above them, the lifeline into the Falcon dangled just out of reach.

“No! NO!” Strago stamped his foot. “A ‘kid’ like me doesn’t know the meaning of defeat!”

Racing up the rocks, Strago reached the top of the peak where he could have a chance at the hook. After a few false starts, he caught it with one mighty leap.

“Gotcha!” He gloated as he and the hook lowered.

Prologue

And

Everyone scrambled aboard the Falcon, with Terra in the lead and Strago taking up the rear.

“This way!” Terra shouted, leaping into the air as Setzer took the helm.

“The last piece of Magicite!” Edgar noted as he saw the green shard crack and shatter.

Celes rushed to the bow of the Falcon, and sighed in relief to see that Terra was still airborne. “Terra! You’re okay!”

Strago, however, could sense that Terra’s aura was diminishing. “No, Terra! Get back on board, NOW! You’re powers are failing!”

Setzer, also realizing that Terra was beginning to drop, set the Falcon to go at its highest speed. Weaving through the disintegrating remains, the Falcon broke free of Kefka’s Tower towards the falling girl.

Prologue
In Moblitz, two children standing watch wondered what the sparkling light in the distance could be, as it was still too soon for any stars to shine. Before they could figure out, though, another child ran up to them.

“The baby’s coming!” The boy shouted. “The baby’s coming!”

Hurrying back into the house where Katarin lived, the three joined the other children in their vigil around the bed.

Do it right, Katarin!

Everyone looked around.

“Did you hear that?” Duane asked.

“Mama?” One of the children piped up, eyes full of wonder.

I’ve got to hang in there for a little while longer, Terra thought as she fell. Just a little longer.

Prologue

Celes opened her eyes and struggled to her feet; around her, the other members of the group lay sprawled in various states of consciousness.

“Terra?!?” Panicking, Celes’ eyes darted all over the deck. Finally, just as she was beginning to lose hope, she caught a glimpse of green. “Terra!”

Celes caught Terra in a joyful hug; the rest surrounded them, sharing in the exultation of victory.

“Thank you, Setzer!” Terra said, smiling at the gambler.

Setzer puffed out his chest. “Didn’t I tell you before that this was the world’s fastest airship?” Going to the helm, he proved this by taking the Falcon on a tour of the world.

“Hey, look!” Relm shouted, pointing. “There’s Moblitz!”

Terra rushed to the railing and saw the children—’her’ children, who had rescued her from the edge of despair—running out of one of the houses and waving at her, jumping up and down with excitement. Terra waved back, hoping that they could see her, and shared in the happiness that they showed.

The house which had burnt down in Thamasa was also being restored to its former splendor. Under the command of an enthusiastic Gung-Ho, the great building rose from its ashes. Relm saluted her grandfather’s hunting buddy, and he returned the gesture.

The Falcon passed over Kolinghen next, and the little girl—the one who had been tending the seed which wouldn’t sprout—waved at them, pointing at something beneath her feet, a proud grin on her face.

“Well, what do you know? She was right after all.” Remarked Sabin.

In Figaro Castle, Chocobo riding troops were once again on the march, and the Chancellor stood proud at the top of the castle, raising his arms in a salute as the Falcon soared overhead.

In South Figaro, the man who had boasted he would rebuild a hundred times times if Kefka burnt the town a hundred times was making good his promise with the help of the other townsfolk, as well as those who took refuge in the city. Brick by brick, plank by plank, and tile by tile, the scars of war were fading.

“Way to go, Figaro!” Edgar cheered, waving at his people.

Relm pointed towards the now bright blue sky. “Look, everyone! Birds!”

Terra raced to the bulkhead, drawing in a breath of amazement. Indeed, a flock of birds joined the Falcon in triumphant flight as the land itself, free of Kefka’s infectious evil, was also springing back to life. On impulse, Terra reached up and pulled off the band that held her hair in a ponytail. Spreading
her arms wide apart, Terra closed her eyes as the wind raced by.

At long last, their struggle had drawn to an end.


Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
Didn’t make too many changes, just streamlined some scenes and dialogue to fit my new style. The actual battle with Kefka was cut, though, since this is supposed to be an “aftermath” story.

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