The Essence of Mimicryby Mr Thou
Entire Fiction (2004)
"Shrouded in odd clothing, ...is this a man...? ...a woman...? ...or should we ask...?"
The wind was blowing fast, too fast even for her. Though it was her goal to be the fastest person in the world, the airship was now steadily getting out of hand : speed was blocked at the highest, and she had lost altitude control five minutes ago. Now, the stunningly pretty blond woman was hanging down a rope, gripping it tightly with one hand and walking on the side of the hull towards the back of the airship.
-You will not bail on me now, Falcon!
With that shout, she seized the rope with both hands, and slammed her feet against the rudder. A little crack and the wood gave in. Then the airship suddenly dived. Watching the deck going down before her, she entwined her arms and the rope, getting ready for pull.
The shock was terrible. She thought that her arms were being torn from her body. The pain nearly made her pass out : she was saved from slumber by the passing of a grey cloud, which completely wet her and kept her awake. Gathering her strength, she slowly crept back down to the deck, with tears in her eyes. Each pull triggered a horrible pain, but she finally made it : upon reaching the deck, she glanced at the sea below her, getting nearer and nearer. She hurried to the steering wheel, grabbed the altitude control, and put all her weight on it. With a loud creak the control responded and the Falcon rose up again, only brushing the surface of the sea with her rear end.
Although it made her whole body ache, Daryl laughed her lungs out. Slowly, wearing a wide grin on her face, she got up and looked forward. Her grin suddenly vanished : she was looking at a huge dark shape, a high mountain with a lone summit, blocking all her horizon. The last thing she saw was a flash of red and yellow, like a flame coming from the mountain. Then she closed her eyes, and whispered to herself :
-Looks like I'm not going to make it, my love...
She woke up in her bed, feeling both dizzy and sweaty. Her little room was dimly lit with two candles, one on her desk and the other on her shelf. The little flames were flickering, casting long moving shadows of the airship model her father bought to her for her 8th birthday.
The door slowly opened, and her mom came in. She was carrying a bowl of cold water and a towel. Gently passing her hand on Daryl's brow :
-You're still a little hot, dear girl.
Her voice was clear and comforting, as she passed the cool towel on her daughter's forehead...
...Waking from her dream, Daryl felt a coolness on her head, and someone beside her.
-Mom, is that you?
A deep, old voice of a man responded :
-You're still a little hot, dear girl...now sleep.
The man started muttering some strange words, and finally repeated "Sleep". Instantly, Daryl felt a great weariness, and fell once more into slumber.
Another dream, but the same place : she was 8 years old again, and still sick. She was doing better though, and her mother had prepared her favourite meal. She lifted up Daryl's cushion, made her sit, and began humming a little song while she was cutting the meatloaf. With a weak breath, Daryl started humming the song too...
...Daryl woke up once more, still in a blur but feeling a little better. She looked around, and saw that she was in a large bed, placed in one corner of a strange room : it looked like a cave, but for the wooden floor and the little window shut by red and yellow patchworked drapes. Despite the buzzing in her head, she could hear someone in another room, and it looked to her that this person was cooking. She tried to move out of the bed, but found out that her legs were heavy, and her shoulders ached. The pain made her growl, and the crash suddenly came back to her as the blur was lifted from her eyes.
She heard footsteps approaching. Through an opening came the strangest person she ever laid eyes on : all clad with a great number of layers of clothes, he looked like a big red and yellow flame frozen in time. Every part of his body was covered with his strange garment : only his eyes could be seen under his hood, his piercing yet gentle blue eyes.
-Where am I?
The strange man stepped in the room, leaned a little towards Daryl and said with a deep old voice :
-Where I am...
-Who are you?
- I am who you are...
-Stop doing that! What is your name?
The man approached a little more, and sat on a chair not far from the bed.
-I am sorry. It's been a long time, ere I met anyone : you are the first person I spoke to in years...
He paused a little, and then simply said :
-I am Gogo.
-Stop speaking nonsense! Nobody would call a child like that. What is your real name?
-It is Gogo. Gogo is the name of the Master of Mimicry, and since I am the last Master it is mine by right.
-Master of mimicry...what is that?
-It means I can become anyone, or do anything as long as someone has done it before...
He got up, and went back to the other room, and left Daryl to wonder about him. As she decided that the old man, if indeed he was a man, was a lunatic, and that she'd better find a way out of here, he came back bringing a hot dish.
-Here. I made your favourite meal.
-How do you know that this is my favourite meal?
He cut a piece of the meatloaf he brought with him.
-I just do. Now eat.
After a few bites, Gogo asked her :
-Is it good?
-Just like my mother used to make...
-Of course. I shall let you eat now.
He stepped away out of the room, humming a little tune, which Daryl instantly recognised as the one her mother used to sing.
-Master of Mimicry...
As the days passed, Daryl realised that Gogo was not mad, and that he was indeed a master of mimicry. Everything he did while he took care of her was in the manner of someone she had known : her mother, her father or a good friend. Sometimes, he even acted like Setzer...
When that happened, it made her full of despair : according to Gogo, she had been asleep for "almost a fortnight". And worst, the wreck of her beloved airship was gone : she asked Gogo to look for it, and he came back saying that none of it was here anymore. Evidently, Setzer, worrying about her when she didn't show up at their date, had been searching for her. Who knows what he thought when he found the remains of the Falcon, and no sign of Daryl? The thought that her love could think she was dead was unbearable to her, and she was impatient to step out of the bed and find him.
In the meantime, she was learning a good deal about Gogo. According to him, there has always been a Gogo in the world, each one passing the name to the next one, like an inheritance. And with the name, came what Gogo called the "Essence of Simulacrum". Apparently, it came from a crystal shard, but about that Gogo wouldn't tell more. It was this essence that allowed him to perfectly mimic someone, as long as he or any Gogo before him had seen the person in question. He also said that he could find the memory of people in certain objects, when they had been treasured or frequently used by someone.
There seemed to be no limit to Gogo's power : he even could do magic, despite the fact that it had disappeared from the world for a thousand years. In fact, a lot of his life wouldn't be possible if he couldn't do magic : his house was inside the mountain she crashed on, and only accessible by flight. There was a great number of tunnels, and Gogo spent most of his time away, dwelling deep into the roots of the mountain.
From time to time, when she was looking at the window, Daryl could see huge shapes moving in the little square shaped forest below. One day, she saw what it was : an enormous worm, the size of a house, crawled its way out of the ground at the border of the forest. It was like an earth whale, swimming back out of the earth to take a deep breath.
-It is a Zone Eater.
Gogo had come back silently, and was now just a step behind her.
-It is because of one of these that I got here in the first place. And it suited me well : I was looking for a quiet place, out of reach from mankind...
-Why were you looking for a quiet place? Don't you have some family, or friends?
Gogo turned to face her. At this moment, he looked old : his eyes were cold, without the sparkle he used to have...
-I am tired. Being Gogo is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. But it cut me off my friends and siblings. You see, the more people there is around me, and the less my personality is my own : I slowly faded away from my relatives, since they would not have me act like themselves all the time.
He walked away from the window, and sat near the bed.
-As Gogo, I can be anyone, but I am no one at the same time. Not even the man I used to be...That's why I went away, out of civilisation : to try to be me again, when time would come that I should die. And to cut the line forever, so that nobody would be forced to live as I did.
-So, you'll be the last one. The last Gogo.
-I shall indeed. But before I pass away, I must see that you are healed, and back in the world. I found a passage deep underground that leads into the east : I believe it goes all the way under the ocean to the shores of Kohligen, or somewhere nearby. I will explore it, and see for myself if it goes that way. I may be gone for a few days, but do not worry : I will check on you every now and then.
He put a crystal ball on the bedside, and began to mutter strange words : after a little while, the ball gave a bright flash of light, and then turned all black.
-There. With this, I will be able to speak to you, and you to me. All you have to do is take it in your hands, and speak my name.
He took an identical crystal ball from under his clothes.
-I have its twin sister in my keeping : they are now connected to each other. I will contact you later tonight, to tell you how things are going.
During the next days, Daryl's life turned a little more exciting : Gogo would use the sphere to tell her about his progress twice a day. At some point, he came to the conclusion that the tunnel he was exploring did in fact lead towards Kohligen. When absolutely sure, he decided to come back.
When he did, Daryl was in good shape : she could walk without any help, and her shoulders weren't in any pain at all. They decided to rest one more day, and then packed up : the journey was about 3 days long, from what Gogo guessed, so they had to take food supply for at least a week, to be sure.
While Gogo was carrying most of the food and water, Daryl was in charge of lighting up the way, carrying a staff, which Gogo magically lit every time it went out with a gentle touch and a soft word.
The path they took underground wasn't easy : there were a lot of cracks, stalagmites and stalactites, which sometimes joined to form huge pillars of stone. At some point, they came across a crack a lot larger than the others, so large that even with the light of the staff they couldn't the other side of it.
-How are we supposed to cross that?
Gogo approached the dark hole, and leaned over it :
-There is a passage. I discovered it last week. Apparently, these tunnels were used by man before : they built a passage.
He took a step in the void, and Daryl froze. But then, she realised that he wasn't falling : he was standing in the dark, over the gap. As she approached, she expected to see some stone bridge. But instead, she saw nothing : Gogo was apparently floating in the air.
-Very funny, old man. You're using your magic.
-I am not using my magic. I am standing on a stone pillar, but it is almost invisible. The ones that built it must have possessed great craft : this is apparently a former secret entrance to the place I use as my home now. And it is the only way.
-But I can't see it! How am I supposed to cross it?
-You will have to trust me, and do exactly like me. Now, watch me closely, and step like me.
He got back near Daryl and took two steps, while she was looking intensely at him, apparently skipping in the air.
-Now, it is your turn.
Daryl stretched her leg across the void, right where Gogo had landed the first time...and felt solid rock. She breathed again, and finished getting on the little platform, amazed at the fact that she seemed stopped in mid air. She started feeling a little dizzy about it, when the deep voice of Gogo echoed loudly in the cavern :
-Focus, dear girl. There are forty of these pillars to step on, ere we want to cross the gap. Now, concentrate on my moves, and repeat them with accuracy.
And so, the journey in mid air continued. After a dozen steps, Daryl felt a little more comfortable : all she had to do was mimic Gogo, and it wasn't that hard. She had counted the steps in her head, and when she reached forty, Gogo turned toward her.
-Now is the hardest part : the last three steps are not meant to let a man stand on it. They are too small. You will have to skip from one to another without pausing. Now, watch me closely.
He turned his back to her, and jumped right, then ahead, ahead, and right again.
-I can't do it! You're mad! You knew that there was this passage, and you led me right to it without telling me?!! Now I'm stuck in mid-air, and I have no other choice but to jump to my doom...
-This is not your doom. You already died once : you are not ready to die another time. Just focus on my moves, and repeat them.
Daryl kneeled down, and put her arms around her legs, rocking a little. She was afraid, afraid to fall, afraid to get lost in the dark forever. She knew she wasn't able to repeat the moves Gogo just made.
Gogo sighed, and began to search something under his layers of clothes.
-I was afraid I might use that, but I thought I would not have to.
He took out a small pendant, with a thin silver chain and a glimmering crystal, the size of a finger. It reflected the light of the staff Daryl was holding, lightening up the cave a lot more than it was before.
-Here. Look at me. I am going to throw it to you. Do not let it fall : it is my most precious possession.
Daryl got up, and looked with wonder to the crystal. Despite the distance and the size of it, she could almost see herself in it, a tiny figure standing in the dark.
-Yes. Now, focus on it and catch it.
He throw the pendant in the air, which made it give away more light beams as it was getting closer to Daryl. When she grabbed it, it was like a beacon, shining in every direction. Suddenly, Daryl was overcome by a rush of thoughts, memories of old past, strange litanies from before the war of the Magi. She saw armies going at war, women tending beds for their husbands. She saw a young man on a chocobo, and rocks coming down from the sky. She heard a voice, deep in her head, saying words she couldn't get. As she focused on it, they became clearer, and she recognised the voice shouting her name.
-Daryl! Daryl! Can you hear me?
-Come join me. It should be easy now.
She put on the pendant, and looked at the gap between her and the old man. Now she could see the steps. In four little jumps, identical to Gogo's, she was there. She looked at him, with wonder in her eyes.
-This is amazing...I had no idea...
-Do not get used to it : now give me back the Essence.
Reluctantly, still exhilarated from the bearing of the essence, Daryl took off the pendant and gave it back to Gogo.
-Why do you want to end it? It's such a marvellous gift...
-It is the most wonderful of gifts indeed. But it is the saddest of all : it condemns the bearer to never act again like himself, but like anyone else but him. Therefore, no Gogo has ever given the Essence to someone.
After regaining her breath, Daryl asked :
-But if it's never given, how can the next Gogo obtain the Essence?
Gogo remained silent for a long time, and then pointed to a place above.
-Over there is a place where I slept on my previous journey : we shall rest here for a while, since it is almost night over the mountain.
He began to climb. After a while, Daryl followed him, wondering why he didn't want to answer her question.
The next day, Daryl decided that she wouldn't ask again her question. After all, if the old man wanted to keep his secrets, that was fine : she couldn't care less. By the end of the day, she would be in Kohligen, and from there she could reach Setzer. The thought of seeing him again made her more happy than she had ever been in over a month now.
She was deep in her thoughts when she realised she could hear some voices. At first they were very faint, but they were getting clearer with each step. At some point, she understood that she was hearing a lament.
-What are these voices?
Gogo answered in a hushed voice :
-These are undead voices. Zombies and ghosts haunt the last part of our journey.
-I thought undead were just a scary tale for children...
-They are not : undead are remaining corpses and spirits, doomed to stay in our world. They mostly linger in old houses or cemeteries, where they are more eager to find what they look for.
-What do they look for?
Gogo leaned closer to her, and whispered :
-They look for a place where sorrow and grief are directed to nothing real. They are drawn to places where the living grieve, and where there's nothing to respond to it. They look for children's rooms, after their disappearance from their parents' houses. And they look for tombs without a corpse...
With this last sentence, Daryl felt a cold shiver going down her spine. She was about to say something, when Gogo turned and said :
-Come : there is something you must see.
He led her in a dark tunnel, in the direction of the voices. When they reached a dead-end, he touched the wall on three locations, and it opened like a simple door, with no effort at all.
They entered in a room, lit with a pale luminescence. On the ground before them was an old tombstone. As she slowly walked to see what was written on it, Daryl began to sweat. But the tombstone was too old : if there ever was something written on it, it was long gone now.
Daryl turned toward Gogo :
-Where are we?
-An ancient tomb. It is more than a thousand years old. Now, listen carefully.
Daryl held her breath. Behind the laments, she began to hear a different sound, a regular thumping, like a machine sound.
-What is that sound?
-You will soon find out. But first, you must promise me something. You must promise that you will only observe, not intervene.
Daryl thought about it for a second, and then answered :
-Alright. After all, I'm almost out of here anyway. I suppose that I can promise you that much.
She followed him, while he led them deeper underground. As they dwelled deeper in a narrow stair, Daryl recognised the sound as coming from a hammer. As they approached a door, the sound became clearer and clearer. Gogo stood aside, and Daryl opened the door.
And she fell on her knees.
With tears in her eyes, she gazed at her beloved Falcon. She was magnificent, like a new airship just finished. With wonder, Daryl looked at the deck, and saw that a man was working on the deck, nailing a brand new wooden floor.
She opened her mouth to speak to him, but no sound came from it. She heard a voice inside her head
Remember your promise : you can not intervene.
Daryl looked at Gogo, and then back at the man below. And suddenly, she recognised him : it was Setzer.
She hurled herself down the stairs, with tears in her eyes. But then she was stopped, and flatten against the wall.
You promised not to intervene. Now watch.
Feeling nothing but pure hatred for the old man, Daryl looked at her beloved one, while he was finishing his work. Some moment later, he was done, and gathered his tools. He headed for the stairs.
Daryl held her breath : he was looking at her, but it looked like he wasn't seeing her. She looked down on her body, and realised she was invisible. Gogo couldn't be seen either.
As he was coming near her, Setzer stopped and looked down at the airship.
-Now it's done.
His voice was heavy, and he had tears in his eyes.
-I miss you.
Even though she couldn't be heard, Daryl said :
I miss you.
-But I can't live in memories. You wouldn't have me too anyway : you were so full of life. You were all my life...
You were all my life...
-I love you. And I always will. But I'm not ready to die yet. When I will be, I'll come back here, and join you with your Falcon. I promise. Yes, I promise.
For some time, Daryl stayed there, sitting on the stairs. At some point, Gogo put his hand on her shoulder, and said softly :
-The undead are coming. We ought to go.
-What good is it for me to live, now that my love has buried me?
Her voice sounded like a coffin being closed. She cast away Gogo's hand, and grabbed her legs with her arms once more, continuing with her icy cold voice.
-No, I think I'll stay here, thanks...
Gogo moved himself in front of her, and tried to make eye contact with her. But she was looking through him.
-I did not bring you here to die, but to live. To live on, as a matter of fact.
-...I mean, it can't be worse than how I feel now, so maybe I'll be an undead too...
-He had already moved on when I found him. If you come back to him, you will wreck his life. And he will not be able to love you like he did.
-...it seems like a good condition, they all get together and lament...
-You can still live a life. A good life.
He got up, and sighed.
-But I can not do it for you. I already have my share to bear, for the little bit of what is left of my life. I have foreseen a battle for me in the years to come. That is really why I moved away from the people I loved : I could not bear to see them die in what is to come.
Gogo started to climb up the stairs.
-You decide what to do for your own life : whatever the outcome, mine is ending.
And with that final say, Daryl was left alone, in the dark, with the laments of the dead.
As he was about to go back by the tunnels, Gogo had a hesitation. It had been so long since he saw someone else : now he was feeling like he had lost a good friend. On an impulse, he decided to go to the surface, and watch over Kohlingen.
He got out of the tomb, and looked at the far town, while the rays of the sinking sun over the sea casted great long shadows. After a moment, he had made up his mind.
-Daryl sleeps here.
Gogo turned around, only to find Daryl watching at the tombstone. Her fingers ran over the writings, and stopped on the last word.
-Yes, Daryl sleeps here. Forever.
She walked aside from the tomb, and turned to the sea. The sun was glimmering in her blond hair. Then, she turned to face Gogo, and in her eyes flickered a new light. Not as bright as the one she had before, but still retaining the same determination.
-You still have something to live for : I don't. Please, let me be the next Gogo.
As the sun sank under the horizon, a bright light came out of Gogo's chest. The Essence of Mimicry, the last remaining piece of Crystal on Earth, flew out of the layers of clothes, and sped toward Daryl. As it placed itself on her neck, her clothes were torn off, and Gogo's started to as well. While the remains of her clothes were floating above her, all the pieces of garment from all the previous Gogos wrapped Daryl up. Finally, when the former Gogo was naked, the pieces of her own garment were added, forming a more reddish hide than the previous.
The old man was exhausted. He began to shiver, as the night was creeping on the land. With an incantation, Gogo summoned a blanket.
-Now I know why you said the Essence can't be given : it's too much of a burden, for someone who already has a reason to live. You should never have asked for it in the first place.
-I was young, and careless. I did not know that you only needed to ask for it with all your heart. All I wanted at that time was power, and Gogo seemed so powerful...but I was wrong. And so, I tried to continue my life, but it failed. But why do I explain it to you : you already know...
-I'm glad I do. And now, I know one thing for sure : Daryl may be gone, but I'll have the pleasure of seeing my love one last time.
-Why do you say that? You know what is coming...do you expect him to survive the destruction of our world?
Gogo looked at the old man, with her bright eyes smiling :
-He will. Or at the very least, he'll come to keep his promise, and try to gamble with death.
Gogo passed her hand softly on the old man's brow.
-Now, get inside the house, silly boy.
And with that, Gogo was gone, back in her tomb and going toward the Triangle Island. Slowly, the old man raised his hand on his brow, touching the spot where Gogo had passed her hand.
-Just what my mom used to say to me...
This person was the oddest person Setzer had ever met. Still, if he or she could join them...
-So will you help us?
The strange person in red garment got up and said :
-Yes... I have been idle for too long.