Entire Fiction (2006)
The Final Battle
"Welcome, friends! I knew you'd make it here, so I've prepared some suitable entertainment for you!"
They had arrived.
From out of thin air, Kefka seemed to materialize on the rocky ledge just above them. There was a strange, eerie aura about him the magic of the three statutes. The enigmatic power that was itself the source of all magic, the power he had stolen and absorbed into himself.
Terra had wondered many times what she was going to say when this time would finally come. She had wondered if she would be afraid. Now that it had come, she realized that she was terrified not only out of fear for Kefka's awesome power, but fear of her own past as well. She was glad she wasn't alone; her friends gave her strength.
She had realized long ago that she loved them. After having fought alongside them, gotten to know them, coming to understand each one of them personally how could she not love them? That love, she was beginning to realize, was a more sustaining motivator than fear.
Terra stepped forward.
"How long are you going to let the destruction continue?" she yelled.
Kefka laughed. It was... that laugh! That insidious, hair raising, ominous laugh! It made Terra feel as if she were becoming smaller.
"I've tapped into the ultimate power!" he said. "Observe..."
Suddenly Terra was lifted up, floating through the air, carried by the invisible hand of Kefka's magic. She tried to counter his magic, and then realized that she wasn't having any effect on him. None of her magic was working. She kicked and squirmed frantically as she sailed through the air, over her friends, past Kefka and into the hillside.
"Such magnificent power! You are like insects to me!"
It wasn't working! She couldn't stop it! Her magical abilities had ceased to work! Kefka had done something that had completely nullified her magical abilities! Terra felt as if Kefka had tied her with strong cords so tightly that she couldn't move. In terms of her magical abilities, it was no different than this.
And, up on the hillside where she had landed, he had separated her from her friends. She stumbled to her knees and looked all around her, trying to regain her bearings. Terra was beginning to become very frightened.
The strange aura around Kefka glowed brighter.
"I will exterminate everyone and everything!"
From down below, Terra could hear a voice. It was Shadow.
"People will keep rebuilding the things you take from them!"
Kefka only laughed.
"Then I'll destroy those things too! Why do people rebuild things when they know they're going to be destroyed? Why do people cling to life when they know they can't live forever? Think how meaningless each of your lives is!"
"You, Shadow! Look at you! Abandoning your friends, abandoning your family! Your greatest success was that million dollar train robbery and what did it bring you? The loss of your best friend and a lifetime of emptiness! The treasures of this world are utter emptiness! And then, on the flying continent, you, alone, were there when I took the ultimate power and yet you were powerless to stop me! Destiny left you behind, and gave you a lifetime to ponder the meaninglessness!"
"And you, Cyan! Think about how fragile is everything that you care about! Your wife, your child, your liege, all within the walls of the mighty Doma castle...wiped out and destroyed in less than a few hours! Lost! That's what you were. Only now, in a dying world, have you managed to come rebuild your life how long will it take me to destroy it once again? Nothing has changed!"
"And you, Locke! Think of the years and years you spent on your quest to revive your precious Rachel what came of it? How great was the cost for a measly little conversation with your last love? Was it not a life of haunting memories? How does it feel like to fail the ones you love? To feel that you can never believe in yourself? I see that you've finally learned to love again and for what? Are you any match for my power? How deliciously fun it will be to squeeze the life out of your love while you watch in powerless horror!"
"And Celes, my onetime comrade, my fellow general from that foolish little Empire of our late friend Gestahl! All your life you've been used by someone else and when you finally began to act for yourself, what happened then? Think of it how utterly alone you felt! Think of how awkward you felt as you adjusted to normal life! You began having thoughts and emotions that you didn't understand! You were bred as a warrior a machine life and love were things that had long ago left you behind! If you weren't being used by someone else, you had to be dependant on others to live like they lived! Think about it! What's the use? What's the purpose? You're useless unless you're dominated by someone else!"
"And you, the brothers, the proud sons of Figaro! Do you know how easy it was for me to poison your father? Something over which you had no control! And ten years of separation...for what? Do you think that you're in a better position now? What happened to the kingdom you left behind, Edgar? You abandoned your realm to fight me were you able to stop me from raining desolation on your beloved countryside?"
"And lets not forget you, Sabin you thought you'd find some peace and quiet by running away from politics, did you not? Did you ever really escape? Wasn't it politics that led to the showdown between you and Vargas? Politics that brought you in with the Returners? You can't escape! And your life is all the more pointless for trying!"
"All of you! What has come of your lives? What will you finally leave behind in the end? What power do you have to create something that won't one day be utterly forgotten and ruined! MEANINGLESS!"
Terra could see her friends below her. She could see, from their faces, that they were as powerless and terrified as her. Kefka had all power now and he was crushing them! She could see Sabin and Cyan trying to be strong, Celes and Locke trying to reach out to each other, Gau trying with all his might to fight his way out of Kefka's magic, but it was all too much. The burden was beginning to break them all. And Terra felt it, not only for herself, but she felt a little bit of the pain everyone else was beginning to feel.
Then, she heard something unexpected. Something out of the ordinary that was totally random. From behind Mog and Gau, Setzer had started to laugh.
It wasn't much goodness knows how many times Terra had heard it before. It was just a part of who he was carefree, optimistic, and, despite his gambling personality, totally honest. And the honesty of this laugh shone clear like the sun. What, in this pit of powerless agony, did Setzer have to be happy for? And then, Terra began to think about it, and as she did, she began to take courage.
"You're wrong, Kefka!" she shouted from the hillside. She was standing behind Kefka, and at her voice he turned around quickly.
"It's not the net result of one's life that's important!" she continued, "It's the day to day concerns, the personal victories, and the celebration of life...and love!"
For a moment, he just looked surprised. Then, for only a fragment of a second...what was it? Did he look wounded? And then, Terra could see his anger, an anger that terrified her, but the anger soon transformed as he began to utter his piercing, high pitched laughter. The awful, sinister laughter grew louder and louder, and drowned out Setzer's.
Then, with awful suddenness, Terra was flung backwards into the mountainside. The rock and gravel felt mercilessly hard against her skin, and her body was bent over backwards by the strong magic force that had thrown her. She began to fall down the mountainside, and felt each rock as it hit her, battered her.
Suddenly, she stopped rolling and came to a rest lying on her back. She looked up and saw the face of Kefka leaning uncomfortably close over her. His eyes were bright like fire. His skin was pale and looked more like painted leather than skin. His grin was wide, his teeth inhumanly white. And the expression on his face looked...pained. Hurt with a constant, ceaseless pain that he had long learned to ignore, to live with. Pained with a pain that wasn't so much a sensation by now as it was a part of his very being.
Even if he didn't have control over her, it would have frightened her just as bad to find herself looking up at that twisted, contorted face.
"Terra," he said in a voice that only she could hear. "Terra, what about you? Terra, my precious, my onetime student!"
What was he getting at? Her friends seemed far distant from them now.
"Terra, daughter of Maduin, child of Madonna! Born with the power of an Esper and a human! Inheritor of both worlds! You were always different from the others!"
Terra tried to edge away from him, but he seemed to be getting closer. And what was that strange new expression on his face?
"Terra, do you know the meaning of greatness? Of destiny? But of course you do, I can see it. Your greatest fear is not of your weaknesses, but of your superhuman abilities, your power, the very thing that makes you different from all the rest. I can see it, Terra, I can feel it in you."
A strong feeling of disgust and revulsion began to overcome Terra's fear.
"Terra, think how pointless that fear is! How pointless it is to hold yourself back! Think of what we could accomplish together! Of the power we could have! Together, we could transcend this menial existence and triumph over all that is fragile and unworthy!"
Terra shook her head.
No, she mouthed, then said it.
"No, Kefka," she uttered. "I could never be together with you."
He looked down at her, the pain of his old wounds growing more and more visible across his face, as his smile turned into a twisted, unreadable frown.
Then, for a moment, she was taken in her thoughts back to Mobliz. The light of judgment had ruined the city, leaving precious little to live for, and yet Terra remembered the children how they used to run from house to ruined house, building little forts and playing with each other. How they had learned to find simple joy in the face of the terrible destruction through which they had all passed.
"Life isn't meaningless," said Terra, "even if it doesn't last forever. It's enough if people are able to experience the joy that each day can bring!"
Kefka snickered like a child with a wounded ego.
"And have you found your joy' in this nearly dead world of ours?"
"YES!" said Terra, and she felt a little bit of release from Kefka's magic. "Yes, we have!" she shouted, so everyone could hear. "We have! All of us!"
Then she was flying again, flying down the hillside, rolling down painfully across rocks and gravel, then stopping, and hands reaching out to help her, lift her up, support her. Her friends.
But Terra was hardly mindful of that now. Instead, she was taken in her mind to another place. She was taken back to Thamasa, where Gestahl had betrayed them, and Kefka turned the last of the Espers into magicite. Where he had faced off against his old rival, Leo, and killed him.
Now, it was as if Terra could hear Leo's voice. He could hear him speaking to her, speaking to his men, telling them not to spend their lives needlessly, not to take life without necessity. How the true way of the warrior was to avoid conflict and win without ever drawing his blade.
"Leo," whispered Terra, "I think I know what you're saying."
She stood up tall and spoke in a loud voice.
"There's more to this world than living and dying," said Terra. "We aren't just machines, just puppets in a play. Every life is precious, every spirit is eternal. And you can't destroy that, Kefka. No matter how hard you try, how much power you use, you can't undo that! Life will go on! There will always be people and dreams!"
Kefka screamed. It was a shrill, high pitched shriek that sounded even worse than his laugh. Terra and all of the friends rushed to shield their ears.
"Prepare yourselves!" shrieked Kefka. "Now for my next trick, I will make you all...disappear!"
"Kefka," shouted Locke, "you don't know what you're doing! Stop!"
"I command the greatest power in the universe! You are all helpless before me!"
The light of judgment fell down and began to slice a path that stretched across miles and miles of the world's surface. The ground opened up, just as it had on that fateful day, and the mountain Kefka stood on began to rise higher and higher. And with it, Kefka's scream transformed into his awful, sinister laugh.
"I will destroy everything!" laughed Kefka. "I will create a monument to non-existence!"
"No!" yelled Terra. She wasn't afraid anymore. More than ever before in her life, she was absolutely sure of herself.
"Life will go on, Kefka!" she shouted. "There will always be people there will always be dreams!"
"No!" screamed Kefka again. "I will hunt them down. I will destroy it all! Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!"
"We will not allow you to harm another living thing!" replied Locke.
Then, the feeling of powerlessness came back as Kefka seized them with his magic.
"Hee, hee, hee!! But what fun is destruction if no precious' lives are lost!"
And, in reply, Setzer laughed once again. His clear, cheerful laughter cut Kefka off suddenly and attracted his unfriendly attention.
"When death comes, it comes!" said Setzer. "But there are worse things to lose than one's life!" And with that, he kept on laughing.
But underneath the laughter, Terra suddenly saw his purpose. It was more than hope Setzer was offering he was using his laughter to goad Kefka into making a mistake.
"Why," said Kefka, "you're right my friend, you're quite right. There ARE worse things to lose than life!"
Then, with a sudden, lurching feeling, Terra felt her power come back to her. She looked around at all her friends, and could tell that they felt the same thing. It was a release Kefka had withdrawn his magic. They were free again free to move, free to use magic.
Free to fight.
"In that case, Gambler," laughed Kefka, "I'll take you on your wager life for life. All of your hopes and dreams and the very existence of this world are at stake!"
Already, Terra's friends were in action. Cyan was leaping in the air, sword drawn and swinging. Gau was leaping and shrieking like a dragon. Celes had her eyes closed as she concentrated on a powerful magic attack. Umaro was rushing forward in full rage. Edgar was revving up his chainsaw. Setzer had already drawn his magical cards, and Sabin gave a powerful kiai as he leapt into his most deadly assault.
"it's over, Kefka!" shouted Locke, and with that he leapt forward, joining the forward thrust.
The final battle had begun. Terra stayed back, her body cut and bruised, her spirit at peace, and began casting the spells of life that would revive and sustain her friends.