Blessings of Eos
Summary: It was not by mortal hands that Prompto came to be in Insomnia. Or: The stars have a stake in the prophecy. Why shouldn't the Planet? Vague Final Fantasy VII crossover.
Disclaimer: Don't own Final Fantasy XV.
She wandered the cold metal halls in what appeared to be an aimless fashion. At least, it would appear aimless had She been visible to anyone. She let Her feet lead Her where ever they will, while Her mind wandered elsewhere.
The Crystal had chosen its King.
Events would be coming to a head within the next twenty years. A long time for some, a blink of an eye for others.
She had kept out of the conflict between the Astrals. The King, the Oracle, and the Corrupted just pawns in the Astrals's squabbles. She had little stomach for those.
She couldn't deny that infection rates were increasing. A large part was due to the Corrupted manipulating Niflheim. First into refining a way to control infection into order to get humanoid daemons that could be placed in metal suits and enhanced with magitek. Then by the mass production of these 'magitek troopers'. Also the daemons were evolving, becoming harder to kill while at the same time more capable of spreading their poison.
It was only a matter of time before the infection began tainting Her.
A large part of Her motivation for finally entering the fray was undoubtedly self-preservation, fueled by ancient memories of another plague that fell from the stars to wreak havoc and was subsequently militarized by men who did not realize the folly until it was far too late.
An equal part, however, was out of pity. Pity for the King, destined to die. Pity for the Oracle, whose sacrifice was deemed necessary for the King to realize his destiny. Pity for the Corrupted, who had long since stopped caring about anything, even his revenge.
A tiny part raged at the unfairness of the situation. It was not beyond the Astrals' abilities to have ended this before it reached this point. It was not beyond their ability to provide greater help then has been given, or would be given. In the end, the Astrals have forgotten that they are not truly gods; that they are playing with lives that are not much different from those they once led.
She had never let Herself forget, clinging to the form She had known first, not presenting Herself for worship. She was worshiped, yes, but not in the same sense as the Astrals. Acknowledged as responsible for life, but absent since.
The King would need companions for his journey. Two were already set. The Body, shield and guardian, the one to push past physical limits. The Mind, advisor and strategist, the one to seek mental limits. The King himself was the Heart, the motivation, the reason driving the Body and Mind.
But these would be useless without a Soul, without someone to remind the other three of things outside duty, outside destiny. To make the journey as much one of laughter as of tears. One who stands by the King not out of duty or family loyalties, but out of friendship. Out of love.
Such would not be absent from the other two, but duty and oaths would always shade it.
She started Her trek in Insomnia, with no destination other than what would lead to the best outcome. She was not precognitive, not truly, but She could read the patterns of life, see what choices lead most strongly to Her image of the King and his men on their journey.
Four men. The King, the clearest, firmly decided. Mind and Body less defined, blurrier. The Soul, starting as a vague silhouette, gaining definition as She traveled across Lucis, through Tenebrae, into the heart of Niflheim.
Entering a room marked 'Production Year M.E. 736', She is jotted from Her thoughts by a voice.
"Are you Death?"
Blinking, She turned to the source. A small, blond boy, blue eyes vivid in the dim light. Wondering why he can see Her, She asks, "Do I look like Death?"
"No…" the boy admits. "But you don't look like the people who are always here, and every time someone different comes, one of the units disappears, and the rest are told its dead."
Ignoring the implications of his phrasing for now, along with the memories raised, She walked over to him, kneeling down next to his cot. "What's your name?"
He rattles off a string of numbers too fast for Her to follow (and frankly meaningless), ending with the letters 'PA'.
A name crystallizes.
She realizes She has spoken out loud when he asked, "Who's that?"
"That's your name." She tells him. "Not that string of numbers."
He looks down at his lap when She says this, saying "But only people have names."
"The humans. They're the only ones who are people." He elaborates. "What does that make you and the others in here?" She asks, dreading the answer.
"Units." Comes the answer, with the unspoken implication that such should be obvious.
She frowns, "Well, I'm not human, and I say we're people."
His eyes widen. "But you're too pretty to not be human. Are you sure?"
"If anyone came in, they would think you're talking to air. Plus I've made it all the way in here without setting off any alarms."
He didn't look very convinced.
Leaving that matter aside for now, She Looks.
Two paths have crystallized. In one, he is the Heart She seeks. In the other…She turns Her Gaze from that one, parallels to another 'soldier' painfully clear.
"Would you like to come with me?" She asked, mind made up.
If his eyes were wide before, they became saucers at that question. "With you? Do you mean Outside?" She could practically hear the capital letter at the word 'outside'. She nodded.
"But none of the units can go Outside. The sun would burn us up." He says, a trace of terror in his voice.
"Do you know why?" She prods gently, sensing the grave importance attaching itself to the conversation.
"None of the units are human. Only people can go Outside."
"They tell you that you're not human?" At that, he looks at her funny. "Nothing that has a trace of blackness is human. So as long as the units aren't irreparably damaged, the people can do what they want." His tone told Her that for him, this was as basic as the sky being blue.
It was also the biggest pile of chocobo dung She had heard in a very long while.
To create the base for a magitek trooper, the fetus is exposed to traces of Scourge in utero. Once born, exposure is gradually increased, until around puberty infection hits 50%. At that point, it becomes self-sustaining in the body, and the transformation into a daemon fully occurs. The result tended to resemble the Yojimbo class of daemons, but capable of following directions. The result is then encased in metal armor and fitted with magitek to keep it from turning on its masters.
The only mercy is that the result cannot remember a time before. Most daemons retain some memories of Before, when they were human. Not the results of gradual exposure. Skills (like marksmanship), muscle memory and language are retained, but nothing about a time before being a daemon, as from the body's perspective, there never was a time it was anything else. It was like a lobotomy, but far, far more through.
Looking at the boy-Prompto-She could see his infection rate was around 15%. Keener eyesight, sharper hearing, better night vision, and slight light sensitivity (but not much greater than it would have been as a result of his coloring). The best counter to infection was sunlight, and at Prompto's infection level, it would take less than ten years for him to register no different than someone who survived a daemon attack. The changes would remain, having occurred at the genetic level, and he would be capable of passing the changes on to his children.
Prompto was far too young for Her to be thinking about his children, but there was a hint of something, too far out to make out clearly…
She was jolted from her thoughts with a question. "What do I have to do to go with you?" Prompto asked. "You always have to do something in order to get anything."
Heart aching for a boy who had never known of people who did things for others for no other reason than because they can, She answered, "You don't have to do anything to come with me. I was looking for someone, and I think I've found them."
"Do you mean me?" Prompto turned his head away. "I'm just a unit, and not even the best in my production batch."
Standing, a bittersweet smile on her lips, She said, "Oh Prompto…" Leaning down to be face to face with him, She continued. "I wasn't looking for the best unit…I was looking for the best person." She kissed him on his forehead, and whisked him away.
In the blink of an eye, the pair went from that cold dark base to the haven on the shore by Cape Caem. It was dark still, with just the barest hint of dawn on the horizon.
She wanted his first dawn to be magical, and dawn over the ocean never failed to amaze Her, for all the dawns She had seen.
Looking around, Prompto took in the new sites. "This is…Outside?" There was no trace of the terror that was in his voice before. "This is so cool!" He exclaimed, seemingly not knowing where to look other than everywhere.
Sitting on a convenient boulder, She smiled at him, and began to tell Prompto about the wide world he was now in. "We are at a haven on the shore of Cape Caem, in the southwest of the kingdom of Lucis."
"We're in Lucis now? That's nowhere near where we were! How did you do it?" He ran over to where She was sitting, and She noted that he would need more clothes than the basic (and oversized) shirt and pants he was currently wearing. "It's a secret~" She told him in a singsong voice, smiling.
Prompto pouted, but with the new surroundings, it soon disappeared. "Are we here for a reason?" He asked, nearly vibrating in place.
"It's nearly dawn, and nothing is more magical than watching it at the seashore."
"Dawn…?" Prompto whispered. "The people back there talked about it, mostly to complain that they were still on duty. It didn't seem like anything special."
"Trust me, it is. Your eyes aren't used to sunlight, and it will hurt much less to gradually get used to it by watching the sunrise rather than suddenly seeing it full on." She explained. "Its's one of the most special things there is."
"'cause it makes the blackness go away?"
She nodded. "The daemons the blackness creates don't like sunlight, and hide until sunset, meaning people are safe for another day."
"Is that what happens when a unit has enough blackness? It becomes a 'daemon'?" Prompto had never heard of daemons and the Star Scourge discussed in plain terms, only the clinical terms used by the people at the base. They only could only function if they didn't regard the children as humans, as people.
"Yes." She pats the rock next to Her. "Sit next to me, and I'll answer any questions you have while dawn approaches."
Prompto does as She asks, stiffing when She puts an arm around him, gradually relaxing as he grows used to Her presence.
"Can I ask questions later? I have too many to think of right now." He asks Her.
"Of course. Questions are the way to expand your knowledge."
The pair sat in silence as the sky grew lighter, pinks and yellows brightening the horizon.
"So if I'm human, and the other units are human, just like the people back there, then why do they tell us that we're not? If we're all people, why treat us differently?" Prompto finally asks.
She sighed. "I'm afraid that there is no good answer for that. People treat others differently, for various reasons. As for why they treat the units the way they do…" She paused here, considering. "Do you know what happens to the units? Eventually?" She finally asks, dreading the answer yet needing to hear it.
"The blackness changes them, and they get covered in metal. There was one unit, in production year M.E. 729, who was nice to the other production years…after the blackness changed her, before they took her away to get covered in metal…she looked at me like she had never seen me before, and her eyes and mouth were leaking the blackness." He trembled at the memory. "They put in isolation for a while, until I stopped waking up screaming." Prompto looked up at Her, eyes watering. "Is that why? Because when the blackness takes over you stop being whoever you were?"
She could only nod. "The only way they can do what they are doing, is to not picture their children undergoing that, and the way to do that is to think of the units as not human." She hugged him close. "If I could save all of them I would, but…it's beyond Me."
With the process refined, saving the existing units who had not yet changed would scarcely change anything. The only way to save them now was for the prophecy to come to pass.
She turned back to the horizon. "Look, the sun is starting to rise."
Prompto turned his head to look in the same direction as Her, and as the sun rose, wonder replaced the tears on his face. "Pretty…Is it always so sparkly?"
"Water always sparkles when light hits it. But nothing quite like the sparkle of dawn." They sat in a more companionable silence now, as the sun fully crested the horizon.
Finally, when the sun had rose high enough for it to officially be called day, Prompto spoke again. "So what do I call you?"
She smiled. "You can call me Aerith."