Summary: The Creator has been defeated, and the Eternal Sphere is relatively still in one piece, except in the places where it isn't. Albel journeys with the crew of The Diplo to find out the fate of one of their own, Fayt Leingod, said to have disappeared in the Arcturus system or somewhere close to it.
Pairing: Albel x Fayt
Characters: Blair Lansfeld, Maria Traydor, Mirage Koas, Cliff Fittir, Albel Nox, Fayt Leingod, Azazer, Berial, Adray Lasbard, Claire Lasbard, Tynave, Farleen, Nel Zelpher, Ryoko Leingod
Rating: PG13, borderline R
Rated for: Albel
Written for: Zenphoenixa
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, and I do not profit financially from writing this story.
Author's Notes: I'd originally contacted Zen about doing some original art for me on my paperbacks, but, given real life situations, she had to decline. (Completely understandable, too! No worries, Zen!) All she asked for in return if she had said yes was an Albel/Fayt one-shot. As I was originally an AlFay gal before finding Luther/Fayt material, this is actually not that hard to oblige! My challenge is to leave out Luther. Because. I love Luther, and I inherently pair him and Fayt together as much as possible.
Oh, and she's getting a chaptered piece, too! Hope you enjoy, love! Consider the first chapter the giftfic in response to the Fayt vs Luther comic page you did for me! 3 you! I would say sorry that I don't do crack!fic but yeah. #sorry #notsorry
Finally, there will be a slight blast from the SO4 past! Just a small one, though.
Addendum: Deleted the story to get rid of a very spammy review. Said review is now blocked, but, in the event said reviewer circumvents the system, leave me another preachy review, and I'm kicking this story up to an R-rating with some raunchy scenes tossed in for good measure.
To those who enjoyed the story and favorited, I apologize. The site wasn't doing anything about the review to get rid of it. Here it is again. Thanks for reading and being supportive!
His heart's rate sped up with every passing second he dangled over the side. Small scrapes and cuts covered his face along with dirt, blood, and sweat. Parts of his suit were torn open, revealing more superficial injuries. His fingers ached from holding on to the rocks keeping him from plummeting to certain death, but even that hold was becoming more and more precarious.
Fayt scrabbled to get a foothold in somewhere, anywhere so he could at least try to climb his way to safety, but all he managed to do was send more rocks and dirt tumbling underneath him.
"I can do this," he muttered to himself, a hint desperate to haul himself to safety. "Maybe I shouldn't have wandered off on my own . . . I doubt anyone knows where I'm at. Gotta . . ."
He lifted his head and noticed some more rocks jutting forward. A small surge of hope swelled within him. Fayt grunted a little and tried to haul himself up in an effort to reach something a little more firmly lodged into place. He reached for the rock above him with one hand . . .
The ground next to him shook and shuddered, finally dislodging his handhold. Fayt barely had time to register that he was supposed to scream. The darkness swallowed him whole.
Albel's eyes flew open. For a moment, he lay still, numb and confused, before a scream tore itself from his throat. He bolted forward, gasping for air. He held his right hand over his racing heart. Frantic, he searched his surroundings, relieved to be somewhat safe in his bed on The Diplo. No dirt hit him in the face. No wind rushed past him. Yet he recalled nothing of his dream that even indicated he'd been falling.
'What . . .' He shook his head. 'Nothing. Nothing at all. Why?'
He scowled and shoved his blankets off of him, fighting them a little where they'd tangled around his ankles. With a growl, he stalked to where he bathed – showered; he needed to remember that term; only people on luxury spaceships got to bathe, or so Maria told him when he'd insisted upon joining Quark – and fed into his frustrations.
Nightmares were a normal part of his nightly routine. Still he detested them, viewed them as a sign of his inherent weakness, and he had plenty of bad memories to fuel his dreams for years to come.
'Never had this much of a problem with Leingod around,' he groused to himself. 'Why didn't he join the wench and her crew after defeating the Creator? Would make my life so much simpler.'
According to some, because Fayt never told anyone, not even Albel, why he chose to return to his home planet, the young blue-haired man did so because both his parents were dead, and Fayt needed to make arrangements of some kind. In similar customs on Elicoor II, the children of the deceased were responsible for seeing to funeral preparations and handling estate affairs. As his parents' only child, Fayt couldn't shirk those responsibilities, and Albel would have mocked him if he had. And, also according to the same people and to Fayt himself, the Leingods had accumulated a great deal of wealth and fame for their research.
Still, that had been months ago, and the lack of word from Fayt left everyone on The Diplo on edge. Maria constantly hounded the Pangalactic Federation on the young man's whereabouts, though she never relayed what they told her to anyone, not even Cliff and Mirage. With Fayt's powers, the young captain grew more convinced the Federation had tucked Fayt away somewhere, were conducting experiments on him, and were planning on using his powers to eliminate their enemies.
Though he belonged to Quark, Albel found her musings and fears to be rather ridiculous and unfounded. The Pangalactic Federation had always known about Fayt's powers and could have used them at any given time, with or without the dead professors' permission.
He stripped his clothing off and turned the water to scalding. Albel hissed as he stepped under the water, which did wonders to ease the knots in his neck and shoulders.
'Perhaps he's taking the time to mourn their losses,' Albel mused. 'The Gods only know that wench never allowed him the chance. Yet, why does it seem like we should have heard from him by now? Is it because he belongs to a different political group than these maggots? I don't understand. And why am I even thinking about Fayt? It isn't like I haven't dealt with my nightmares on my own before . . . yet I wasn't having a nightmare. I don't even remember what I was dreaming about.'
Albel allowed the water to roll over him. He closed his eyes.
Truth was, he missed Fayt. He missed Fayt more than he thought he would, and a nagging guilt insisted he shouldn't have joined up with Quark, should have followed Fayt to Earth instead. Yet, he (and Nel, Claire, Tynave, Farleen, and Adray) had not, though they had been welcomed to do so when Fayt and Sophia decided they were going home.
'Maybe I should just ask that wench to take me to the nearest Federation outpost,' he groused, shutting the water off. His hair clung to his back and shoulders, annoying him even further. 'At least someone there might tell me what's happened to Fayt.'
In truth, Fayt was the only one out of the whole war that Albel respected. Well, Fayt and Mirage. Both had this ability to give him, Albel, this look in particular that said, 'Keep it up, and I'll knock more than just your teeth out', and Albel found himself more than a little frightened by those looks, especially when the two gave him said look at the same time. Fayt, he respected for the obvious reason the young man could destroy an entire battleship if one angered him enough. Mirage? Well, let's just say Albel learned to not mess with her after Cliff had tried to demonstrate to everyone on why one didn't mess with Klausian women. To see a woman her size drop a man as big as that buffoon onto his head after holding him on her shoulder for close to a minute? Albel knew then he liked his skull intact.
He dried himself off and dressed, still grumbling to himself as he did.
Albel resisted the urge to toss a dagger at the buffoon's throat. Killer reflexes were hard to contain. Instead, he glared and hissed, "What are you doing in here? I thought I told you I'd kill you if you entered in here again without my permission."
"Normally, I'd take you at your word," Cliff said. He sat in one of the chairs closest to the door. His normally jovial expression wasn't there. Albel blinked. This was the buffoon serious.
"What is it?" he asked, tempering his voice a little and his urge to kill the man.
"Two things," came the reply, and Cliff held up two fingers. "One, we're heading to the Arcturus system. It seems there's a bit of a conflict going on between the Federation and two different new species, one called the Cardianon and the other called the Morphus. Both, from what we're hearing in the scuttlebutt, are highly advanced civilizations yet the Federation is claiming that the one has attacked them and tried to steal their tech as well. We're going to investigate and to mediate."
"And what's the other?"
"It's about Fayt." Here, Cliff paused and fidgeted. "We heard from his mother, Ryoko. Seems she's still alive, which is a good thing for Fayt. He at least has one parent left."
"And? What did she have to say?"
"It isn't good. Seems he disappeared around the same time the Morphus and the Cardianon started their squabble with the Federation."
"Did Maria tell you this?"
"No." The buffoon shook his head. "Though Maria was present, Ryoko specifically requested to talk to me and to Mirage. Apparently, Fayt told her he was going to help with an expedition of some kind in the Arcturus system, that he needed a little more time to process everything he'd learned and experienced, but, if she didn't hear back from him within a certain amount of time, she was to contact me, you, and Mirage directly. She took a chance, Ryoko did, we're sure, and we didn't have time to get you. Anyway, she hasn't heard from him in far longer than just a few weeks. In fact, the research team had been reduced to two survivors, and they'd arrived to Earth twelve hours before."
"So what are we doing then? Investigating and mediating? Or looking for Fayt?"
"Maria, Lieber, Steeg, and Lancar will be investigating and mediating," the buffoon answered, standing up. "You, me, and Mirage? We'll be looking for Fayt."
"All right then." Albel nodded, flexing his right hand. "How long before we get there?"
"Another day. Maria set the course two hours before Ryoko contacted us. I just thought you should know since Fayt had asked that you be informed."
Azazer ducked behind a tree just as a laser blast whizzed by him, nicking the flesh of his upper arm. Silently, he cursed under his breath. He dared to peek from around the tree at his attackers.
How he ended up stuck in the Eternal Sphere, he didn't know. The last thing he recalled was waking up in Sphere 211's hospital area, nursing injuries from the errant data from the Eternal Sphere and marveling at their capabilities, specifically their leader's abilities.
'What was his name again?' he mused. He searched for the creatures hunting him. 'Or did I never learn it? How odd. Perhaps I should have. He was rather . . . exquisite in appearance. Almost like the Owner himself.'
Azazer almost laughed at himself. A life and death situation – the graze to his arm brought into stark reality his situation and the fact he could very be killed by these creatures – and he marveled over an AI and his appearance.
'Such a fool I am. No matter. Perhaps I will find him here, again, in the Eternal Sphere. After all, I probably am a God all the same.'
Another blast flew past him, several meters away from his face, the lizard creature chasing after him being rather lousy with its mechanical device. Azazer ducked behind the tree again and closed his eyes.
'A weapon. I need a weapon. Think. I would prefer a blaster, but that would keep me out of true killing range of this confounded beast. Think. What would the Owner prefer? What did that AI have?
"Inferior being!" the lizard creature shouted. "Come out now, and I will make your death less painful. It is the will of the Gods!"
"I am a God," Azazer muttered, frustrated. "A sword? That's what the AI had. Then that's what I shall use since I can't remember what the Owner preferred."
He tried to call up the computer to replicate him a weapon and fast. Nothing beeped at him. His right hand remained empty.
"Dammit all," he cursed, glancing around wildly. "I can't stay here and let this thing kill me!"
A glimmer in the dirt to his left, and in the path of fire, caught Azazer's attention. The hilt of a sword, or possibly what remained of a sword, jutted up from the ground. He gazed at it for a long second or two, his thoughts cold and calculating.
'Here goes nothing.'
He drew in a deep breath and made a dash for the weapon . . .