Fandom: Guilty Gear
Warnings: Alternate Timeline beginning around GGX
Summary: After the war, Ky finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy of unprecedented magnitude, with secrets that threaten to change his world forever.
Notes: This fic grabs canon by the throat and shakes it until all the shiny things come tumbling out. Including Sin. Somewhere along the line, the world gets saved. Go figure.
I | II | III | IV | V | Interlude I | VI | Interlude II | VII | Interlude III | VIII (First Half, Second Half) | IX | X (First Half, Second Half)
Going off the Record
You always knew that there was something not right with the world, some deep-seated wrongness just waiting to be exposed.
You just thought that when the time came... you could get him to explain it to you.
The edge of the hole was smooth, a bulge of melted plating that steadily evened out like the cooling trails around a lava geyser. Inside, everything was an indistinguishable mess of black, the blast cutting a swath through tissue and brain deep into the body, the stench of burnt flesh slowly rising to the surface. Outside, not a sign that it had been wounded at all, except for the hole. A lucky shot, too, two minutes of concentrated fire in the same spot, and even then the creature hadn't stopped running, plowing into the rock wall where it had finally come to a stop.
Ky stepped back, his reflection catching in one of the graying pupils — the size of a cart wheel, and protected by a dome of the same material, only clear and see-through. Resting a hand against it, it felt like glass, polished and cool, and impossible to injure. The Gear was no less than a moving fortress, and he would have dearly liked to find a way to cut a piece of its armor and send it back to Headquarters, the labs, the testing facilities, anybody who might wake up and realize just what they were dealing with, and turn it into something useful. He would have, too, if there had been time and he hadn't tried the same thing a dozen times before, only to see it go nowhere.
There was no sense in wasting time on anger or disappointment, though, not when he knew, had always known because Kliff had made sure he understood perfectly how the world worked, the myriad small ways survival was sacrificed to fear and profit. No sense in wasting the breath to rage, when the same energy could be used for so many more important, immediate things.
To his left, one of the boulders shifted, slowly capsizing to crush a few carcasses under its weight and sending a rain of pebbles skittering down the slope. A moment later, Sol came into view, clambering over the mounds of bodies in his way with barely any effort. His uniform was torn in more than one place, the fabric shredded by a claw swipe that must have struck true, but Ky knew better than to wonder how much of the blood was his. All of that seemed to matter little to the child in his arms, her tiny white-knuckled fists tangled so tightly in his hair that they wouldn't be removed, though he'd most likely tried.
At the sound of his voice, the little girl shivered, clutching harder at Sol's neck and making him grunt. Wordlessly, he reached up to coax her into loosening her death-grip, one of her arms so thin that it easily fit between his thumb and forefinger.
Futilely wiping at the mud on his cheeks, Ky left the giant's bulk behind and strode up to meet them.
"Wedged in a cave back there." Sol jerked his chin as much as the little girl allowed. "Guess someone brought them up here before shit started going down. Sealed the entrances, but kinda forgot the bare essentials."
He shrugged, the motion flicking bits of tissue off his blade and allowing Ky to catch a glimpse of the half-dozen small ghosts huddling in his shadow, obviously longing to press closer but not quite daring. All of them dead on their feet and clinging to each other, flinching when he knelt to determine whether they were injured beyond bone-deep terror and the first signs of starvation. He smiled, or tried to, pretty sure the various streaks of fluid on his uniform weren't helping any, and reached into the pack on his belt to grope around for the tangle of ration bars. All of them had been alternately soaked and dried so many times that they were glued together like pieces of wet clay, and about as appetizing, but it was better than nothing.
Peeling off the bits of foil from the sticky outer layer, he crumbled up the rock-solid bars, trying not to wince at the incredulous adoration dawning on the children's faces as if he were something sent from heaven, bearing glorious gifts. They didn't so much step forward as lunge, darting from the protection of one adult into the arms of the next, latching onto his coat and legs and grabbing greedily for the poor offering. He barely even had the time to crumble new chunks, the children snatching them from his fingers and trying to swallow them whole in their haste.
"Easy there, easy," Ky said, though it hardly seemed to slow them down. "Are they...?"
"All that's left," Sol growled, trying to figure out how to shift the girl without making her crush his windpipe. "These caves are death traps, and they locked them in a dozen at a time. Couple of the fucking ratholes were practically airtight."
Ky shook his head. Suffocation was by far one of the most painless ways to die, certainly preferable to slow and painful dehydration, but he could all too easily imagine the children waiting, convinced that it wouldn't take long, hanging on to the dwindling hope that their parents would come for them. "How long?"
"Hard to say. A week, maybe more. The rains probably saved this batch."
"And their parents?"
"No adults in there," Sol said, frowning so deeply that the headband was slipping to the bridge of his nose. "Just sealed off the caves and left. Didn't look like they thought they'd be gone long, either."
"Maybe hoping to distract the Gears," Ky said, sighing. "People don't tend to make rational decisions in a war."
The children had made short work of the rations, but hadn't really moved away, two of them already nestling into the crook of his arm. Ky reached out, patting their heads and murmuring encouragements that rang hollow to his own ears, knowing that there would be no way past the destroyed village, past the tatters of their lives. There would be no choice other than to take the children along with the assault squads when they moved to rejoin the main army, and most likely headlong into another battle. No way to leave them out here, or send them anywhere else, nothing left to do but hoping to get them to safety along with the civilians in the capital down south.
Carefully, he picked up a small boy who seemed just about ready to slump forward against his knee, and turned to Sol. "Let's get them to the infirmary. The Lord knows what they were drinking before the rains set in."
A nod, and they began their trek down the slope, winding their way between bodies and jagged outcroppings. The town at its foot couldn't even be described as a ruin, a hamlet of no strategic significance at all, and yet a host of Gears three times greater than necessary had descended upon it, crushing buildings to dust and razing pastures until even the earth was gone, leaving only the naked rock. The strew of carcasses extended beyond the first slope, and against the darkening sky, he could see the torches moving, soldiers seeking to burn the bodies of their fallen comrades because there was no time for a proper burial.
It wasn't unlike Justice to send more than it took — after all, she had the forces to spare, and knew how to win battles in ways that had nothing to do with death tolls. Even if the Order managed to prevail, she won anyway, consuming the spirits of the survivors to leave behind dead-eyed shells. And she tended to waste no time when carrying out a strike, her forces immediately on the move again after a kill, searching for the next target. This time, though, the Gears had stayed despite succeeding in complete annihilation, raging mindlessly in the destroyed town.
"I wonder what she wanted here," Ky said quietly, surveying the damage. Only here and there, something stuck out of the expanse of molten rock, something that might have been part of a gable or a barn, charred beyond recognition.
Sol glanced at him, but said nothing.
The cry sent the children skittering against both of them, three pairs of hands scrambling for the tails of his coat. A soldier was running towards them, her scabbard striking against her legs. She skidded to a halt in front of them, so out of breath that it took her three tries to snap a proper salute, even though Ky had already dismissed her.
"Commander, sir. There's something..." She broke off, still trying to catch her breath. "Beyond the town square. We found it when we moved— well, there were Gears stuck in it, sir. We thought there might be survivors, but it's.... you better come see for yourself, sir. We have no idea what it is."
Exchanging a look with Sol, Ky nodded. "Alright, Sergeant. I have a new task for you. Waylay the next medic and ask them to treat these children. Dehydration, shock, possibly hypothermia."
"Understood. Are they... are they the only ones, sir?"
"I'm afraid so," Ky said, kneeling again to set the boy down, who was very reluctant to let go. He smiled, gently plucking his fingers from his collar. "You're safe now, I promise. Sergeant Alessandra will look after you, alright?"
"Of course, sir." The soldier stepped forward, holding out her arms to take the boy from Ky, and quickly found herself surrounded by the rest, the children desperate enough to recognize a mother or a father in any protective embrace. The only one who wouldn't budge was the little girl still hanging onto Sol's neck, who whimpered and held on tighter when he attempted to extricate his hair from her grasp.
Eventually, he heaved a sigh, and started off in the direction the sergeant had pointed out. "You coming or what?"
With one last look at the children, Ky hurried after him.
The only way to distinguish the location from the rest of the wasteland was a squad of soldiers, waving and pointing in agitation, even though it wasn't really necessary. Past a mound of Gear bodies, the ground opened up, torn open by shovel-like claws to reveal a ravine so wide and deep it could have comfortably swallowed several of the farming barns. Along its edge, shreds of burnt metal were twisting in all directions, remnants of a cover plate that couldn't have been moved there by anything in this town.
Ky crouched down to peer inside, taking note of the melted plating along the walls and the Gear bodies still clustered over the rim on the other side, hanging down like a string of grotesque beads. Further down, a platform that might have been a means to descend had been torn off its hinges on one side, creaking as it slowly swung over the abyss. More Gears around and beyond it, impaled on what seemed to be support struts, long, massive beams crisscrossing and losing themselves in the darkness, and Ky realized with a start that whatever had killed the creatures, it had to have come from the inside.
"Well," Sol said, a note of chilling coldness in his voice that he'd never heard before. "Now we know where the adults went."
Ky inhaled, searching for the words to even begin formulating a coherent question, but nothing would come to him.
"Main host is still moving." Sol was staring straight ahead, towards the inky press of clouds and fading light on the horizon, as if the crater in front of him simply wasn't there.
"Where to?" Ky murmured.
"South, south-west. Not like we expected any different."
Long before he had ever entered a battle, Kliff had taken him aside to explain the importance of choice.
Save a village of civilians or a caravan of supplies that will ensure the survival of half your troops. A hospice filled with the sick and dying, or those that can still walk on their own two legs. A bunch of frightened children, or a handful of adults that might be able to use weapons. Just a group of people, and the resources to rescue only one person.
Ky had never been able to find an answer to any of them, but Kliff hadn't expected him to. Understanding was all it took, the knowledge that the field would force him eventually, and demand his decisions in a heartbeat. No time to deliberate, no time to weigh options, no room to breathe, and he had to be glad for the times when the choices were simple, when one of them meant wasting time he didn't have and the other meant saving lives. And it was that which made it easy to turn now, which made him leave behind the gaping maw and push the snarl of thoughts into the back of his mind, a corner reserved for stuff to wonder about when things weren't marching to hell in a handbasket.
If Sol was surprised at his decision, he didn't show it, his footsteps as heavy as the certainty that the shaft in the earth wasn't nearly as unexpected to him as it was to Ky. He never had the chance to ask about it, though, to find the perfect question that would unravel the mystery, because soon after that, Sol was gone.
He had never meant to leave the Order.
Meaning to would have implied something like a plan, a conscious decision where in reality, there had only been white noise, his mind in that special state of serenity that came with a fifty-four hour shift and the end of the world. In retrospect, all his actions seemed so stunningly deliberate that it was no wonder why people would assume, but in truth, all Ky had meant to do that night was to go for a walk.
They'd shoved him into a carriage bound for Headquarters first thing after confirmation went out — hell's forces vanquished, the devil slain, and the messiah on his way to parades and toasts — and so he had ample time to watch the scenery speeding past, desert wasteland changing into rolling hills changing into towns with laughing, screaming people, the first street parties getting started as the coach rolled by. Outside his window, everything was blurring together in joyful abandonment, but the inside of the carriage was quiet, just him and his empty thoughts sitting in the same spot for the entire duration of the ride, past caring and nearly past comprehension.
Headquarters was in the same state of blissful euphoria, people whooping and embracing complete strangers, bottles of alcohol materializing from nowhere. Nobody at their post, nobody sent to greet him, and Ky figured he had to be suffering from some kind of shell-shock himself because the first thing that popped into his head at the realization was that it would be nice to use these few minutes of non-recognition for himself, and go for a walk.
It was almost funny, making his way to his room in the officers' wing without being interrupted, without running into some kind of aide or assistant ready to drag him off to a ballroom with a podium, when for years on end, he'd barely been able to take two steps without someone needing him to put out a fire. His room was the same as he'd left it months ago for what seemed like the last time then, neatly folded sheets and his old leather-bound copy of the Bible resting on the nightstand — part of the bundle any recruit got upon conscription; his with the name 'Castillo' scrawled at the bottom of the inside flap, a soldier nobody seemed to know, no matter how much he'd asked. A stack of stationery on the desk along with a cup and saucer, the porcelain so fine it was almost translucent, with a design of golden leaves curling along the rim — a gift from Kliff when they'd officially made him High Commander, and he hadn't had the heart to take it with him, knowing full well it wouldn't survive a day at the front lines.
Someone must have been coming in to air the place because the sheets smelled fresh and the furniture wasn't collecting dust. It made him conscious of his own appearance again, sweaty and disheveled with his uniform in various colors of gore, and since there was still nobody knocking on his door for a speech, he thought he might be able to delay the walk for a shower.
Even years later, he could still recall the feeling of standing under that spray, his mind blank but strangely clear, fixed on nothing but the pure bodily relief of hot water pounding on his sore muscles. A million questions hovering just out of reach, stowed away for a time when he could consider them, for a time when he could stop probing the tiles underfoot with his toes, trying to make sure they were real.
A clean uniform would be nice, he realized, absentmindedly rubbing his hair dry and noticing that the towel was coming away slightly pink, some kind of scratch reopening under the treatment. The closet yielded four spares, all spotlessly pressed, but for one reason or another he didn't really stop rummaging around after that, just folding things and placing them in the torn duffel bag he'd brought with him, everything he owned able to fit in next to a half-empty thermos and several envelopes stuffed with reports.
Nobody arrived to stop him, though he couldn't have said from what, his feet pointing him out the door and past the celebrating people, through the streets and the city gates, and down thirty-five miles of open forests and fields.
Kliff would joke about it later, about what he looked like curled up on the cabin doorstep, pale as death and fast asleep, but that was when Ky could stay awake for longer than five minutes at a time, long enough to realize that the reason Kliff's eyes were swimming wasn't due to his own sleep-blurred vision.
They didn't speak much, partly because Ky was still trying to adjust to having thoughts with substance again, and partly because the preparation of breakfast was a craft that demanded silence, Kliff shuffling back and forth in front of a banged-up stove, hunting through cabinets for honey and jam and flipping what looked like an old soldier's attempt at crêpes, two fingers thick and bloating at the center.
Ky could do little apart from keeping out of the way and watching, allowed to feel utterly useless for the first time in his life. There was mild wonder in the thought that someone was preparing breakfast for him, something that made him feel about four feet tall again, and when he finally remembered his manners and thought to help with setting the table, Kliff just grabbed his arm and drew him into a bearhug. They kept standing there, Ky's mind stupidly latching onto the thought of whether there were any rules for hugging a superior officer, and Kliff happily squeezing the air out of his lungs and muttering, "Deal with it," in an attempt to still a protest that never came.
The crêpes almost burned.
"She's not dead, Justice."
They were sitting at the table, him sopping up the jam with the last flap of slightly blackened crêpe and Kliff watching him with an indecipherable gaze, barely touching the food on his plate. There was something mildly absurd about discussing humanity's last stand between brioche and tea, real tea served in real cups with small engraved spoons, that part of Ky almost wanted to give into the urge to laugh.
"No," Kliff said, shaking his head ruefully.
Ky continued to swirl a piece of crêpe, leaving trails of apricot despite his best efforts. If Kliff knew, then he was either not as retired as he claimed to be, or this particular plan had existed for much longer than he was comfortable imagining.
"We were so close. So damn close," he whispered, jabbing the fork into the dough a bit more viciously than was proper, anger dangerously close to bubbling to the surface again. Seal the harbinger of destruction, imprison her in a neat little glass cage, to... what? To be kept safe for the rest of eternity?
Let the key guns be mounted, make a brave show of waging war, and pry off the lid of Pandora's Box once more.
His gut twisted, a remarkable amount of room for fury inside him now, without Sol to be angry in his stead. He impaled the crêpe and chewed, glad to give his teeth something else to do except grinding.
A new cavity ready to be flooded with anger, now that the relief was draining away. All this time he'd worried about having to face Sol on the battlefield, completely changed; constantly wondering what had happened, fearing that Justice had managed to find a way after all, and remembering the look he'd seen in the eyes of dying Gears from time to time, the fading impression of another presence looking out at him as the creature drew its last breath. And now, to think that Sol had simply left, had slipped out without so much as a hint or a goodbye, leaving him stranded in the middle of the apocalypse and trying to calculate whether he'd have to sacrifice another five battalions to an attempt at taking Sol down.
Don't forget what he took, something you didn't even know was there, or you would've—
Taken it for the cause.
Given it to Sol, even, because if there had ever been a man who would have been able to use it, it was him. But Sol had known or found out about the existence of another sword like the Furaiken, and hadn't thought to tell him. Hadn't trusted him enough to tell him, despite all the secrets he had grown to keep.
A part of Ky knew that it was stupid to be angry just because it was a personal matter, just because he'd been foolish enough to believe they had an understanding past any disagreements they might have had. Stupid, when Sol was far from the only guilty party. That sword had been hidden in the Order vaults, after all, kept a secret for reasons he couldn't even begin to fathom, when it could have been easily entrusted to a pair of capable hands to try and make a difference.
Then again, the Furaiken had been a secret in much the same way. Wrapped in silk and locked in a casing like an object of worship, to be transported from the ruins of Rome to the next safe location, and he'd had no idea what it was until the Gears had broken through their defenses to attack the caravan, and sent the sword spilling right into his lap. Ky had realized what it was the moment his fingers had wrapped around the hilt, had felt the thrum of power running through the length of the blade.
Even if he didn't comprehend the hows and whys, in that moment he had known he was holding an anti-Gear weapon in hand, an anti-Gear weapon someone upstairs had deliberately chosen not to make use of. Hadn't wanted to make use of, judging by the immediate demands for him to return it, and the pomp and ceremony that accompanied their change of heart. He suspected Kliff had more to do with him being allowed to keep the sword than he was letting on.
Briefly, his eyes strayed over to where the Furaiken was leaning against the wall, a memory of the caverns under Moscow rising unbidden in his mind.
/Have you never thought about what's powering your fancy toothpick?/
Sol had known, known what the Furaiken was without ever touching it, and now, Ky couldn't help the feeling that he knew about everything else, too, how to align all the tiny bits of wrongness that lay scattered, pieces of a disturbing mosaic that just wouldn't add up. So much room for questions now that he had the time to ask them, and even more room for doubt, thoughts that would come back to haunt his sleepless nights. Had Sol known about the plan to seal Justice, too, or simply been so certain that Ky would fail?
Kliff had reached across the table, laying a reassuring hand on his forearm. He was smiling wanly, and Ky tried to smile in return, found that he couldn't.
"We could've taken her down. We could have, but they sent in that team to seal her, and I couldn't—" He drew a breath, pressed his lips together. "I'm sorry for disappointing you, sir."
Kliff stared at him, incredulity and a startling amount of pain lingering in his gaze. When Ky said nothing more, he shook his head, fingers squeezing his arm. "You've done more than enough, dear boy. More than enough."
Another smile, this one faint and weighted by a lifetime of love and loss. "The only thing I ever wanted you to do, you already did."
Ky kept the uniform.
It went into his closet as soon as he had a closet and a few spare sets of clothing, the small house much too big for someone whose whole life could comfortably fit into a weather-worn duffel bag with room to spare. There was something strange about thinking of this as his own space, a place with four solid walls and a front door he could close on the world if he felt so inclined, though he never did. The sense of unreality stayed with him for a good long while, permeating even the smallest of tasks, like the fact that he could now go through an entire meal without interruption, or drift off to sleep regularly within a twenty-four-hour period and doze until dawn.
He woke up a lot, sometimes two or three times within the same hour, convinced it was time for his watch, and there were always those odd five minutes in the morning where the realization had to sink in that he was lying in bed, an actual bed with an actual mattress that he'd slept in while not injured and that he wouldn't have to roll up and carry a hundred miles. Sometimes, he ended up wasting a couple of moments just burrowing into the pillow, stretching until his toes curled and the sleepy satisfaction went spilling over into laughter. Sometimes, his feet still ended up feeling like blocks of ice, something not even three blankets and a woolen pair of socks could fix, and in those moments he missed the stupid quips and complaints about his frozen extremities as he wedged them between Sol's calves.
A lot of the empty space soon became populated by gifts people were leaving on his doorstep, gifts like a hand-embroidered table cloth or bunches of flowers, and if he strolled through the neighborhood, he was pretty certain he could have picked out the gardens they'd come from. Occasionally, there was a basket of 'testing samples' from the baker's daughter, and he still flushed at the thought that he must have seemed a tad too happy to discover their selection of fruit tartlets. At other times, he opened the door to the grandmotherly smile of a nun from the village convent, stopping by to deliver a crate of homegrown vegetables which, in her words, they couldn't possibly fit into the pantry.
He began to fill the rest of the space with books, still not entirely used to something as mundane as shopping, uninterrupted, ducking into a bookshop and scanning the cramped shelves for titles with the quickness of someone who expected not to be able to pick one up without a medium explosion getting in the way. Most of them were books he'd always wanted to read but had never had the time for, things like Milton and Rabelais and Camões, and some that simply looked interesting. Many were histories and etymologies, and the more he started digging through them, the more it became apparent that someone had ripped more than two hundred years from the memory of the world, and the only person who could conceivably tell him why was anywhere between here and half a globe away, and possibly in the process of getting himself blown to bits.
For the longest time, he was opening the paper expecting to read about a giant fireball going up in the middle of a desert somewhere, and that'd be the end of that because if there was one thing Sol had always been good at, it was never doing things by halves.
Rumors were all he had to go by, rumors and the entry on a special wanted list with the sum of half a million saints and the words "dead or alive" attached to Sol's name, and Ky realized the only reason he had ever been able to walk out of the Order halls with the Furaiken strapped to his belt was that they hadn't deemed him a risk — pious, beloved, and entirely too visible to be of any concern. He started paying close attention to the bounty records after that, scanning the reports and soon noticing the patterns in the sea of claims, the kinds of marks that would have taken a couple of platoons to bring down. Never filed in the same spot, and that convinced him that something was going on more than anything, something beyond his reach or understanding. On some days, thoughts of the glass prison would rise to the forefront again and settle heavily in his stomach, watching people walking through the streets in the sunshine and thinking about the million possibilities to make the newfound lightness in their step disappear.
In a way, it was almost a relief to finally find some leads pointing towards Justice's revival, to be able to chase down her faithful general instead of being faced with his worst nightmare, that a bunch of idiots drunk on power or ambition or arrogance had thought to try and release her, hoping to use her as the gun trained on the temple of humanity. He'd thought being allowed to end it would take a load off his mind, to accomplish what should have happened years ago, sweat and blood soaking the old uniform once again, listening to the staccato of their breaths in the settling dust, one ragged with exhaustion, the other with the pulse of life fading from the body.
Then, she looked at him, and everything changed.
One great hand curling to push herself up, to be able to fix him with those golden cat-slit eyes in a way she hadn't regarded him during the entire battle, and Ky knew then that she had no idea who he was, that nothing he had ever done meant the slightest thing to her, except that he was the person to witness her final moments.
"Come to gloat, little human?"
Her voice was like nothing he'd ever heard in his life, deep and high all at once, resonating inside his chest.
"No. To mourn."
A flicker in those eyes, and then, the air was filled with a low rumbling like stones rattling inside a metal box, a sound that built until it was reverberating through the ruined hall of the Gear plant, and it took Ky a moment to realize— Justice was laughing.
He stared, couldn't help himself, watching as her entire frame shook, spasms wracking her outburst of merriment. Of all the things he had expected from a conversation with the devil, this wasn't it, and past anything he'd heard or read or thought about Justice, he couldn't help but wonder what lay beyond that shell-like armor, whether there wasn't something that could have been brought out with the quiet hum of a cracked, red headband.
"...Where did they breed you, child, that you can still speak of honor and..." She drew a shuddering breath, amusement evaporating, a sharp curiosity lighting in her gaze. "...and mean it."
"It's how it should be," he said softly, not quite sure why he felt the need to explain himself and yet unable to shake the feeling that beyond anything she had done, she could still understand.
Justice shook her head, a motion that formerly would have sent the great mane of hair swaying from side to side, but barely stirred it now. "You should triumph while you can. It's a victory you've won, but it's a small victory indeed."
Ky narrowed his eyes, unsettled. "What are you talking about?"
"Don't tell me your kind still believe in those... silly stories." A pause, and he couldn't tell whether she was deliberating or struggling to form the words. "...You really think... this is all about you, don't you. What if I told you... I couldn't care less about your race?"
"Then I would have to ask what it is you care about," he said, amazed at the steadiness in his own voice, when his fingers were gripping the hilt of his sword like a vise.
"...Have you ever dreamed of sleeping, and when you woke you were still... trapped in the nightmare?"
For a moment, Ky was certain that if she could have, she would have been smiling, a small, pitying smile. "Tell me, child... if you had to choose... be a slave to a mirage, or shatter Heaven and Earth to get to the truth... would you?"
He swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry at the implications, lips moving of their own accord. "...not like this."
"You will know... soon enough... what it takes. I'm not the worst that could have happened to the world... I never was."
"Then what is?!"
He couldn't help the edge of desperation creeping into his tone, something in him clenching at the thought of more than a century of war being a mere means to an end, an end preferable to whatever would come in its stead.
"It will continue unhindered now... always... as long as That Man still lives." A breathy chuckle, her voice little more than a whisper now. "I hope you don't mind losing sleep, little boy."
Ky wasn't sure how long he stood there, gazing down at Justice's prone body, unable to think and unable to speak, the only movement the gusts of wind, scattering flakes of dust and ash. His hand rose, searching for the outline of the golden cross beneath his coat, not quite steady enough to pull out the necklace, squeezing the pendant through the folds of fabric. And it was then that he knew, as he was groping through his mind for the first lines of a prayer, that the uniform would stay where it was, waiting for the day he would have to wear it once again.
A/N: So yeah, when I said asskick would be happening now? Ky had other ideas, apparently. Next chapter, promise. XD
Thanks go to Twig, who knows exactly why, and raging_tofu for keeping me in line. Thoughts and comments are appreciated, as always.
Now, for the small stuff:
- Should be pretty obvious that I'm twisting a few things. XD
- Saints are the colloquial term for the official Order currency (multinational armies want to be paid) that sort of works across borders. I know the dramas have the World Dollar, but that kind of requires the world to be not nearly as broken as it would be after almost two hundred years of global warfare.
- "Let the key guns be mounted" is a line from a poem by Amy Lowell. Don't ask me how Ky knows 20th century poetry when they erased the records. *shrug* It's pretty.
- "Weapons are the tools of fear; a decent man will avoid them, except in direst necessity, and, if compelled, will use them only with the utmost restraint. [...] He enters a battle gravely, with sorrow and with great compassion, as if he were attending a funeral," from the Tao Te Ching. It struck me as very Ky.
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