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PostPosted: Sat Jan 2, '10, 6:31 am
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Ripple Effect: A Phantasy Star III Alternate Universe


Prologue: Titans

(AW 2294 - The throne room of Cille Castle)

For four long months, the image remained painfully clear in the young prince's head, spurring him ever onward: The image of a young woman standing next to him, nothing but love in her sky blue eyes, a serene smile upon ruby-red lips as they stood before the priest of the Church. She had that smile as she was about to read her vows- before the dragon tore through the skylight of the Orakian stronghold.

For four months, Rhys Landen had searched for his blue-haired angel, Maia. At long last, he had found her- but like any knight rescuing his fair maiden, there were complications. Complication Number One, Maia told him, was that she was a hated Layan- and not just any hated Layan, but the crown princess of the Kingdom of Cille.

Rhys was perfectly willing to overlook that in the name of true love, if it weren't for Complication Number Two: Lord Orin Cille, Maia's father, who wasn't quite as accepting of Rhys's sudden change of heart about Orakians and Layans.

Complication Number Three was that Rhys was dying on the floor of Cille Castle's throne room, his armor covered in scorch marks from numerous Foi blasts, his skin sliced into by Orin's repeated use of Zan and Gra. He could hear voices, he thought- his companions, his lovely angel- calling for him, begging him to get up and fight, but he was too battered.

"You want to rescue Maia, right?" Lena asked, holding out the massive Moonstone to the prince. "This should sync up with that Lunar Tear Lyle has... it's a worthwhile sacrifice, Rhys. C'mon. Let's go save Maia..."

-=-

"I know, I know. I'm a Layan, you're all Orakians, but..." Lyle sighed, then glanced upward, locking eyes with Rhys. "I need your help. Aquatica needs your help. If we can't fix the weather, then everyone will die- Layans and Orakians alike. I don't want that, and I know you don't want that, Rhys. You're a decent man, I know that much..."

-=-

"I'm afraid I'm somewhat specialized, My Prince- most SIREN-386 units are."

"Specialized?" Rhys asked, watching as Mieu made some final adjustments to the android's protective plating. "What do you mean? What makes you so different from Mieu?"

"Mieu was born as a human, just like you were, Prince Rhys, and thus has natural intuition and free will- she only came into her cybernetic augmentation due to life-threatening injuries. On the other hand, I was specifically designed to specialize in three forms of combat: Hand-to-hand, firearms, and emulation of Melee and Time Techs. It is an honor to serve you in any fashion I can, as your militaries would say."

Grinning, Mieu turned to Rhys. Batting her eyelashes, she asked, "Can we keep him, My Prince?!"

"He's not a pet, Mieu..."

-=-

Mieu sniffled, tears running down her cheeks as she grasped at Rhys's cape. "Please, My Prince!" she said. "My family, my friends... everyone I ever knew died hundreds of years ago! My Prince, I beg you... take me with you. I don't have anywhere else to go."

He tensed, considering the redhead's story. After what seemed to be an eternity to Mieu, Rhys placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Don't cry," he said, his voice gentle. "I don't like seeing beautiful women cry."

"But-"

"I'll be honest, it was kinda stupid of me to try to find Maia on my own. I'll need all the help I can get."

"You'll take me with you?" Mieu asked.

"Of course. And, Mieu, when it's all over, and Maia and I return to Landen... we can set you up with a nice job. A decent place to live." Rhys smiled as he removed his hand. "I can't bring your old life back, Mieu, but at least I can help you start a new one."

-=-

"Do you think I'll remember one day?"

Rhys shrugged, an awkward gesture with his arm around Maia's shoulder. "I hope so, one day," he decided. "Do you want to?"

"I don't know. My love, you see me as this perfect woman, but... what if the real me isn't me? What if I turn out to be everything you hate? What if I was a murderess in my past? A thief who would irritate the merchants? Rhys... what if I were just a common prostitute, selling my body for Meseta every night?"

Rhys sweatdropped. "Well, that... that's quite a vivid imagination, Maia," he managed after a few uncomfortable seconds. "I'm sure you're none of that. You're the same sweet, caring woman I fell in love with."

He moved his arm, taking Maia's hands into his. "I love you, Maia. And memories or no, that will never change."

"Thank you, dear, dear, Rhys."

-=-


"C'mon," Lyle whispered, watching Rhys lie painfully on the floor, trying to tune out Maia's sobs and cries. "Get up, Rhys. Fight for her."

"And that, Maia, is how all Orakians should be treated: Incinerated like the gutter trash they are," Orin sneered, sending a Foi shot towards Rhys. "How you could love this... thing is beyond me."

"Rhys is a kind man!" Maia pleaded. "Father, please! You don't have to kill him!"

"And what kind of message would that send? 'Orakians, invade here,' that's what." Turning towards the guards surrounding Rhys's companions, Orin continued, "Guards, kill the women. Have the Siren-type disassembled for study."

"Uncle Orin, you can't just order the guards to kill two women- especially an Orakian princess!" Lyle protested. "What the hell happened to the just knight I knew?"

"What the hell happened to the refined gentleman my sister was raising?" Orin countered. "You've been nothing but a skirt-chaser and a shameless flirt for the past few years."

"It's called puberty, you old hacking Bob! And it's not my fault Luna's hot, okay?!" One of the guards chuckled at this, quickly catching himself under the stern glare of his king. "I understand Rhys, Uncle Orin. He's fighting for what he wants- love. If I were in his boots, I'd do the same thing."

"Prince Lyle, quit monologuing and slip Prince Rhys some Monomate already!" Mieu shouted. "He's gonna be a goner at this rate!"

"Monomate? You'll do no such thing. Guards... seize him."

Lena's right, Rhys thought, his senses returning to him. He could hear Lyle shouting profanities at his uncle, blurred afterimages of him punching a soldier ineffectually. If I didn't love Maia, I wouldn't have gone on this quest to find her. And if you didn't think it was worth the effort, none of you would have come to help me. Thank you... all of you... I don't want to let you down. Not here. Not now. Never. Get up, Rhys.

GET UP.


Rhys groaned, his legs twitching, battered body starting to pick itself up.

"C'mon, Rhys!" Lena called to him. "You can do it!"

Slowly, painfully, Rhys brought himself to a kneeling position, his breath heavy, his clothing pitted with burns and blood. His legs shook uncontrollably as he moved to stand upl.

He sagged, weak and delirious with pain. Rhys cried out in agony.

"It's not the size of the man in the fight, My Prince! It's the size of the fight in the man!" Mieu added. "Stand up and show Orin how much fight you have!" Confetti launchers tucked into her combat vest fired their payloads, causing one of the guards covering her to jump in surprise.

He reached for his sword, the four foot long steel blade still miraculously within his reach. He continued to bring himself up, valiantly willing himself to do it.

GET UP!

"Show King Orin your strength, Prince Rhys. Self-assurance is the key to victory."

"Rhys, my love... you can do it. I have faith in you."

The sound of Maia's voice stirred Rhys, and he rose again, this time bracing himself with his sword, teeth gritted in a desperate attempt to block the pain running through his body. For a moment, it looked as though the blue-haired prince would stumble again, but he did not- and he glared at Orin, watching the Layan king's face contort into a distinctive "Oh, crap!!!" look.

"He did it! He did it! ^_^" Mieu cheered. "Now show him what you're made of!"

"Twenty Meseta says he faceplants again!" one of the guards called to another guard.

"Double or nothing says he actually gets ten feet before His Majesty runs him through!" came the response.

Orin remained unable to hide his surprise, nervously raising his scepter again. "Y-you..." he stammered, watching in horror as Rhys slowly dragged himself towards Maia. "Why won't you die, boy!?"

With an agonized grunt, Rhys swung his sword, parrying the Foi blast that fired from the staff. He continued on, his breath ragged and labored, eyes focused on Maia. She returned his determined gaze with a concerned, worried look.

"See, Rhys!?" Lyle shouted. "I knew you were made of stronger stuff!"

"You can do it, Rhys! You're not that far from Maia!" Lena added.

Rhys took several steps forward. With one exerted grunt, he swung his sword, setting the blade's point at Orin's neck. His face contorted in determination and agony as he growled to the king, "Drop... your... staff."

Surprised, and now fearing for his life, Orin did as he was told, watching as Rhys kicked the staff towards Lyle. "I... I yield, Prince Rhys of Landen," he stammered. Dropping to his knees, the sword still at his neck, he continued, "Are you going to kill me?"

"...No." Sheathing his sword with some effort, Rhys added, "'Kill no man of flesh.' That's what Orakio said."

"Laya's Last Wish... it seems we aren't so different after all, Rhys," Orin replied. "Perhaps my nephew was right about you. In that case... it seems we have a dilemma."

"Eh?"

Orin motioned for his soldiers to release Rhys's companions. Immediately, Mieu rushed towards the young prince, the now-familiar light of a Res Tech at her hands. "Maia, please see to his wounds," he said.

"Of course, Father. ...Thank you."

It took some time for the two women to heal Rhys's injuries, but once he was certain that his opponent was all right, Orin continued, his brow furrowed in worry, "Maia told me that you wished for her hand in marriage. Given recent events, I consent to your union, but..."

"'But,' my lord?"

"Father?"

"Lyle's reconnaissance also tells me that you, Prince Rhys, are betrothed to another- a princess of the kingdom of Satera. Her name is Lena, is it not?"

A surprised look crossed both Rhys and Lena's faces, and Lena stammered, "Be-betrothed?! I... I hadn't thought about that in years, Lord Orin..."

"Me? Lena? Married?!"

Lyle slapped his forehead, mumbling, "Thank God you didn't plan my marriage years ago, Uncle... right?"

"Now then, Rhys... this is the twenty-fourth century, after all. Arranged marriages are so old-fashioned, don't you think? Maia cares deeply for you, and I can tell Miss Lena shares the same feelings, so..." Orin clapped his hands. "What do you think?"

Uncomfortably, Rhys looked first to Lena, then to Maia. Then, he turned towards his companions. As usual, Wren maintained his stoic look; Lyle looked like he'd rather be somewhere else; Mieu only sheepishly grinned, giving him a thumbs up.

"Dear Rhys," Maia started, "I know your journey was long. If you no longer wish to marry me, knowing that I'm a Layan, then... I understand."

"Rhys, we're best friends, you and me. You wouldn't have gone across three realms for Maia if you didn't love her," Lena added. "If you would rather marry her, then I'm fine by it. Really."

"Err... uhh...." Rhys stammered, sweatdropping nervously. How can I be expected to choose without hurting one of them!?

"Rhys, my love, I only want you to be happy. Please... marry Miss Lena. I can see she loves you dearly."

Lena is a very dear friend, and uniting Landen and Satera would be very good... but do I want to marry her? Should I ask Lena to be my bride?

"Rhys, I insist. Marry Maia! Killing this blood feud between Orakians and Layans is much more worth it!"

Maia, on the other hand... everything I did, from saving the Aquaticans to exploring Aridia... I did in the hope I would finally hear your voice. At last we're together, but... are we to stay together forever?

An uncomfortable silence hung over the throne room, lasting several minutes, before Rhys finally said, "Maia... I've traveled long to find you... Do you still want to marry me?"

"Of course, my dear. But... what about your homeland? Your family?"

Rhys sucked in his breath. "I'm sure they'll understan-"

"Whoa! Whoa! Waiiiiit a minute!" Lyle shouted, pushing towards Rhys and Maia. "Time out, Rhys. You're just going to abandon Landen and your parents- all for Maia's sake?"

"Anything, Lyle," Rhys replied. "Just to see Maia smile."

"Uh... no, Sire. No, you're not." Lyle stood up straight, posturing before Rhys. Crossing his arms, he continued, "You're a prince, just like me. And that means you have a duty to your kingdom and your subjects to bring prosperity to your kingdom!"

"But-"

"No buts, Rhys!" Fire burned in Lyle's green eyes as he continued, "When I say you're bringing prosperity to your kingdom, that means you're going to do it from your kingdom! Sitting around here with Maia on your lap day in and day out, tempting as that may be-" Maia blushed at this, averting her gaze from Lyle. "-isn't going to help Landen at all!"

"So... you're saying I should marry Lena, then?"

The fire in Lyle's eyes died out, as his eyes shrunk to small dots. Resisting the urge to reach out and strangle Rhys, he said, "No! Marry Maia! Bring her back home to Landen, like you said you would! You made a contract with God by swearing to bring Maia back, and * it, you're going to honor that!"

Orin looked upon his nephew, surprised. "Lyle..." he started. He paused to compose himself, then beamed as he added, "You're actually taking your duties seriously! I'm impressed!"

"Oh, hush, you old fart."

"This seems like a reasonable solution, Prince Rhys," Wren said. "The only problem that arises is this leaves King Orin without an heir to his throne. Cille would be thrown into chaos upon his death."

"Already taken care of," Orin interrupted. "Whether Lyle knows it or not, I'm naming him my successor. Cille and Shusoran's royal families already have a common ancestor, so why not reunite- especially with the sandbar bridging us once again."

"King of Shusoran and Cille... I like that, Uncle." Lyle grinned, then turned back to Rhys. "Rhys! You take good care of my cousin, you hear?!"

"I... I'll miss you, Lyle. And you as well, Father..." Quickly, Maia turned away from the two, burying herself in Rhys's arms, trying to hide her tears. Rhys gently picked her up, giving her a reassuring hug. "Rhys... I love you. Thank you..."

The group left the throne room, considering what had happened during the journey. Most were happy, but Lena's head hung low. "I don't understand," she whispered. "Why didn't Rhys pick me? The fortuneteller told me the royal families of Landen and Satera would be united in holy matrimony. He's always right... why wasn't he now?"

"Y'know, I asked a fortuneteller a long time ago what was in store for me," Mieu replied. "The actual fortune wasn't important, it's what he said to me: 'Mieu, fate is never an ocean current, running true. Fate and destiny are akin to the myriad cracks formed when a hammer strikes ice.'"

The brunette forced a glance up at Rhys and Maia, then turned back to Mieu. "You don't think Rhys would leave Maia for me, do you?"

"I don't know. The point is, Princess Lena, prophecy is deliberately vague. Maybe things might not work out after all. Maybe something might happen to Princess Maia. We don't know for sure."

Lena smiled. "Perhaps you're right," she said. "Hey, Rhys! You've been carrying Maia for the past hour! Carry me!"

Mieu watched as Lena started running around Rhys, begging for him to carry her "at least back to Rysel," then sighed. I think you're looking into this prophecy a bit too much, she thought.

"-est we forget, I'm Lena of the Mighty Earth! Nothing can stop me!"

"Lena, when we get to Agoe, I'll carry you," Rhys bargained. "Fair enough?"

And so it came to pass that Rhys, Crown Prince of Landen, returned home triumphant with his wife and queen, Maia. Despite the fact that Maia was a Layan, Rhys reassured her that she would be accepted.

And he was right- the citizens of Landen, Yaata, and Ilan loved the beautiful queen, and this love only grew stronger when she and King Rhys conceived a child scarcely a year into their reign. Across the river in Satera, Lena ascended the throne and married, soon giving birth to a daughter.

Nineteen years have passed since Rhys's homecoming. Unbeknownst to him, events were unfolding that would quickly decide the fate of Landen, as well as the entire Alisa III system.

Ayn, Prince of Landen, and Sari, Princess of Satera, would soon find themselves drawn into the struggle against an ancient hellish evil...

Last edited by Snorb on Fri Jan 22, '10, 6:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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