Meltdown – Part 3

This chapter was written in collaboration with Scylla.

“Judging your intentions?  That was long ago, Amon.”  Scylla gave a laugh. “Judgement was already passed when you sewed my remains to the hellhounds and left me to bitter anguish in Syrcus.”

“And they still are there…”  She tapped at her head looking through Amon with tired, haunted eyes. “Almost every night, they still are there in my nightmares…”

The white mage’s countenance returned to the mix of weariness and disbelief.

“I’m not these people, Amon.  I know what evil you are truly capable of…  enough that you could single-handedly demolish an empire through your actions.”

Scylla began to gather the node, and turned to move towards the exit.

“You’re right.  This was a huge mistake… I’ll tell Benjamin in the morning, and he can help me with this.”

Usually, Amon was very capable of shielding himself against the words of others. But he found himself unable to deflect the things Scylla said… Partially because she was painfully correct. Partially because a stab of guilt jarred him in a way he didn’t expect. It had been so long since he’d felt truly… remorseful… that it left him befuddled.

His hands shook against his will, more than they usually did, and the Elezen grasped for the nearby desk to steady himself. There was no covering it up. It was a weak motion. He hated showing weakness. But it was as if something deep inside physically responded to Scylla’s accusations in ways he could not control.

“Wait…” Amon’s voice rasped as his hair dripped in front of his eyes. He struggled to lift his head – it was impossible to put on the proud act. At a loss for words, he inwardly chided himself as he foolishly stammered. “I… …I…”

So much for the great actor, Amon of Allag.

Scylla stopped at Amon’s voice, closing her eyes as she held the node tight.  She hadn’t heard Amon stammer like this since they were in their youth.  As much as she hated to admit it, there was a tinge of something… almost genuine.

Authentic remorse… coming from Amon? Impossible!

The silence was incredibly awkward, because she really didn’t want to believe it.  Amon had never shown the slightest bit of tenderness or vulnerability to her. Over and over again, her conscience told her to simply continue on and go back to bed.

But something in her – perhaps sheer curiosity- stopped her from high-stepping it back to her quarters. She instead found herself peering behind his white locks, trying to look up into his eyes.  Deliberate, soft-spoken words parted from her lips.

“You what, Amon?”

Amon tried to measure the words in his mind before he spoke. He wasn’t used to openly sharing thoughts or feelings… it was extremely awkward for him. Especially in the face of his rival.

But he didn’t see any other way to convince her… Of what? What was there to convince her of that she didn’t already know?

She was right. There was little he’d said or done that ever amounted to anything but the destruction of the very home he sought to save.

“I… never wanted… this.”  

“You never wanted what?  You mean turning me into your personal chimerical nightmare? Or perhaps watching Clio march to her death in a biomass reclamation center?” Scylla threw the node forward. “Or waking up eons later in a world that doesn’t know who you are?”

Scylla made a sulky face.

“You could have left me alone, and everything would have faded… all of the memories and nightmares of the past were better left long dead!”

The white mage’s voice began to rise. “But you had to go and make that choice for me!   You tricked me, and led me along in a false friendship, and woke up the Allagan that should be dead!”

“Stop lying to yourself!  You wanted something, and you were willing to just stomp through people’s lives again to get your way!” Scylla grabbed him by the collar, temper flaring. “Just like Xande, you didn’t grant me the death I should ha—“

“That will be enough!”  The node flared red, uprighting itself.   It spoke with her father’s voice, though with glitches and the tinny distortion that came from age. Even Allagan inventions were not immune from the corrosion that occurred over time.

Scylla jumped forward in surprise letting out a squeak, shielding herself behind Amon.  “It’s talking again!”

The small construct rotated around scanning the room, confirming the presence of the two Allagans, before letting off a few static charges.

“Amon… and Scylla, dear daughter….”

The node paused, seeming to struggle to access the long lost data structures. The words were in her father’s voice, but poorly synthesized together, with incorrect inflections, as if trying to piece together words and syllables from different sources.

“The world is crumbling around you both, and you still insist on antagonizing each other.”

The voice popped and buzzed through sentences, pausing once again.

“Nothing ever changes with you two, does it?”

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