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Deja Vu


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Déjà vu

Once again, I find myself floating in a dark void. No light, no ground, no anything. It’s just me, myself and the guy with the creepy glowing red eyes. He shares my face, my hair, and my outfit. In fact, he is me. Well, technically he’s me from a bad future, and I’m him but he’s also a dark dragon god and...
Look, it’s complicated, all right? The important thing is that I’m stuck here again. What gives?
A scream escapes from my doppelganger, “No! Not this again! Not this prison!”
“Oh for god’s sake Grima, shut up! You lost. You keep losing. Accept it and move on with your damn life!” I pause, letting the silence add weight to my sarcasm. “Oh right, we don’t exist anymore! And why’s that, I wonder? Because you keep doing your whole ‘I’m going to end the world’ thing! You know, maybe if you didn’t try to kill everyone, maybe we wouldn’t be dead! Ever considered that?”
That got a blank stare from him. “Not kill everyone? How foolish are you, mortal?”
“Not as foolish as you, asshole.”
A silence passed between us. Grima might be a one-dimensional asshole of a god, but at least he was a predicable one-dimensional asshole. His strategy didn’t change, his tactics didn’t change; he always did the exact same things every single time. It was almost as if he wasn’t even trying. At first I thought he was trying to lure me into a false sense of security, but after the third time through I stopped worrying. Apparently, the god of destruction is not the best at strategy.
“Hey, you think Naga’s going to show up anytime soon? I’d like to get back to kicking your ass.”
“I am here,” says an angelic voice; the voice of a god. A woman with flowing green hair approaches us in the void. “You’re here again, Robin?” the woman asks, cocking her eyebrows.
“Obviously!” I respond, not bothering to keep my voice down, “I keep stabbing Grima in the face and I keep coming back here. What gives, Naga?”
“You didn’t form any bonds, did you?” She said in a voice of weary resignation.
“I did! Everyone got happily married and had a bunch of crazy kids who came from the future who also got happily married! I don’t know what else I can do.”
“Robin,” Naga says, “when I said ‘bonds’ I meant bonds with you.”
“Wait, what do you mean?”
Naga sighed and caressed her face with her palm, “I need you to make friends. No not just that, I need you to get married; have children. Have a life beyond that war.”
“What?” I sputtered, “Have a family? Kids? Naga, why the hell would that matter?”
“Did you not listen to anything I said?” Naga’s voice was seeped with frustration, “We’ve gone through this seven times already and you haven’t figured this out? Not once out of all those times did you make a single friend. You didn’t even talk to most of your army.”
“I figured they didn’t need my…” I tried to protest.
“NO,” said the goddess, “No excuses. I send you back in time, again and again and you learn nothing! For all your smarts you are a very foolish and stupid mortal.”
“I’m getting real tired of being called that. Aren’t I part god or something?”
“No god worthy of the title would act like you. You might be a brilliant strategist, but for all your smarts, you are lacking in one key area.”
“And what area is that, huh?”
“Compassion, empathy, understanding your fellow man. Don’t argue with me on this. Either you do this, or we keep doing this until we all go crazy.” She raised her hands, “Now go. You too, Grima, I haven’t forgotten the rules. He goes back, you go back, same as always.”
And with that, we faded away. Naga’s words echoed in my mind as I closed my eyes. I have to make friends. No, I have to have a family if I want to survive. I have to make friends with people I barely know. I’ve always been a strategist, always looking for the best possible outcome; growing up I would always win at games of chess. That same strategic thinking extends to everyone in my life: they’re statistics, data, and tools I manipulate to beat my enemies and save the world. But now I have to think of them as people? That’s like asking me to fall in love with a sword; it’s a gross violation of both our purposes. Naga’s crazy if she thinks I’ll do what she says.
At least, that’s what I told myself.
It grew dark once again. It always starts out like this. Just wait a second aaaand….
“Chrom, we have to do something,” Says a girlish voice.
A different, deeper voice responds “Well what do you propose we do?”
“I… I dunno.”
I smile. And it begins anew.
“…so we’ll have Vaike hold the chokepoint while Lissa keeps him healed. Any questions?” I said, looking out over the assembled troops. I had settled into my role as Chrom’s tactician with practiced ease. Already, I was thinking who to pair up together, and how best to deploy them. Of course, explaining my strategies to the very people I was trying to pair together while not revealing my hidden motives is tricky at the best of times.
“Robin,” said Chrom, “Why are me and Sumia working together again? Wouldn’t it be better to have Kellam watch her back?”
Why? Because you and Sumia make for one hell of a Lucina; I love seeing your embarrassment when you call Cynthia a “pega-pony princess;” and Kellam doesn’t want to talk to Sumia for some strange reason. That’s what I think, what I actually say is this: “Kellam is needed to protect Miriel, and you two make for an excellent team.” He nodded, apparently satisfied.
A hand was raised in the back of the room and Ricken stepped forward through the crowd, “Excuse me, but why haven’t you sent me out on a mission yet?”
Because you are annoying, Miriel does your job better, and your genes are shit. You are never getting a chance to breed, you stupid benchwarmer. “I’m saving you.” I say, “Right now you’re way too powerful; I need to give everyone else a chance to catch up.” Ricken beamed with pleasure. Too easy.
Vaike shouldered his way up, “Hey man, The Vaike just wanted to let you know that he appreciates what you do.” He gave me the thumbs up, for some reason.
Vaike, you might be nothing but a pile of muscle fit to be a meatshield, but you will make up for Lissa’s crippling strength deficiency and make Owain a lot stronger. That is the only reason why I tolerate you. “Uh, thanks for you input Vaike.”
“Any more questions?” I asked. No one said anything, so I continued, “alright everyone, dismissed!” Everyone made their way out of the tent, all except for Chrom. “Need something?” I asked.
“I just wanted to agree with Vaike,” he said.
“Well, that’s a first.”
He smiled, “Indeed. But it’s true. I appreciate what you’re doing here. I don’t know how you do it, but without you, I don’t think half of us would be alive right now.”
You have no idea. If I die, all of you start dropping like flies. “Uh, thanks,” I said.
“I mean it.” He clapped me on the shoulder, “You’re an amazing tactician, and someone I’m glad to call my friend.”
“Friend? You think of me as a friend?”
“Of course! I don’t think we could’ve survived this without being friends. After all that fighting and watching each other’s backs I don’t think we could not be friends. And I’m glad of that. Anyway, I’m sure you’re busy preparing for the fight, so I’ll leave you to it.” And with that, he left as abruptly as he came.
I stood there staring off into space for a while, pondering; thinking. One little change I had made this time was having me fight in the battles next to them. I always knew I could fight, and did so often, but I never fought next to anyone. I was always alone. I told myself that I was mixing things up, seeing if this led to any more interesting tactical developments. What I hadn’t counted on was me growing closer to everyone. Without even realizing it, I had made friends with Chrom, when I usually kept my distance.
This had improved my combat performance, but it also made me confused. It was statements like his that raised questions; questions I didn’t know the answers to. If I am the tactician and he’s my sword, what changes if the sword can talk back? My numbers were talking back to me, taking shapes in addition to their roles. Chrom wasn’t just a solid, reliable number to me anymore. I knew him as a person, knew his struggles and his clumsy way of being friendly. I knew Vaike not only as a trustworthy meat shield, but I recognized him as the braggart and idiot that he was. I still hated Rickens guts, but that hate was fueled by much more than just distaste for his genes.
There were so many questions to think about, but I had a world to save, so I left those questions for later and tried to get back to business.
It was a cloudless night the night before the battle and I couldn’t sleep. We were at the cusp overthrowing the Mad King; tomorrow would decide his fate. I went to bed early as I usually do before a big battle, but something was different tonight. After hours of tossing and turning, I decided to go for a walk around the camp. Despite the late hour, I could hear plenty of noise coming from everyone’s tents. I could hear Lissa fussing over Vaike while he gently tried to reassure her; the sounds of slurping and eating coming from Stahl and Panne’s tent; and the sounds of an upset Pegasus and the gentle voice of Sumia trying to comfort it. My walking took me away from all the people I had grown to know over these past months as I walked to the edge of camp. There, I saw a quiet, heavily armored figure standing watch.
“Hey there, Kellam,” I said as I approached.
“Oh, you saw me,” he said, sounding a little surprised.
“Of course I did, you can’t keep up that vanishing act forever, you know.”
He didn’t respond, so we just stood there looking at the stars.
“Er,” he said, breaking the silence, “what brings you out here?”
“Couldn’t sleep.”
“Why’s that?”
“I’m worried about tomorrow. It’s going to be a tough fight. I don’t know if everyone will make it through.”
“I’m not,” he said with certainty.
I looked at him and cocked my eyebrow, “why not?”
His face remained impassive, but I thought I saw a ghost of a smile on his face, “Because you haven’t let us down yet.”
“I suppose.” That fact was true, but he didn’t know how many close calls we’ve had; how many times someone’s fate came down to the roll of the dice.
“I… uh, look. I’m not the best at this kind of thing, but I wanted to say ‘thank you’ for what you’ve done. I know you set me up with Cordelia. I doubt she would’ve even noticed me without your help.”
Ok Robin, calm down, he might’ve just made a lucky guess. Play it cool. “Why do you think I set you two up?” I said, “From my perspective you’re the one who did all the work.”
“I guess, but you’re the one who introduced us. You told me to protect her with my life.”
“That’s because she can’t take a hit and you can. It made sense to have you protect one of our most vulnerable people.”
He sighed, “I guess you’re right. But... even so, I like to think that my friend helped me meet the woman of my dreams.”
Another silence passed between us. He was right, of course, I had set them up. Cordelia needed someone to watch her back while she destroyed everything and Kellam was the right man for the job. Plus, I thought that Cordia could use someone reliable in her life and Kellam… well, Kellam wasn’t going to attract anyone’s attention unless drastic measures were taken. A reliable guy like him deserved someone like her.
A shiver ran through my spine as I realized something. I wasn’t thinking of these people as numbers any more. They were people. I cared about them. When did that happen? How had this happened? Was it the conversations I had been having with everyone? Was it fighting in battle alongside them? “Dammit Naga,” I muttered under my breath.
“What was that?” asked Kellam.
“Nothing. I had better be going back to my tent, and you had better be going back to your fiancé. I bet she’s looking for you.” With that, I turned and left. I didn’t get much sleep that night; I was too busy worrying and cursing Naga.
“Come on, think of something!” I mutter under my breath, slamming my hand against the table. I’m looking at a collection of maps with scribbles all over them, marking the location of enemy positons and fortifications; trying to figure out the best strategy to overcome this obstacle. But nothing comes to me, nothing at all. My head, usually abuzz with the numbers and calculations, is only thinking about one thing. The very thing I’m trying to avoid thinking about.
My shoulder’s slump and I cradle my head in my hands. I don’t know how long I sat there before someone came into my tent. “Robin?” I hear Lissa ask, “you in here?” I hear her footsteps as she approaches me, “We’re waiting on you.”
“Go away.” I say through my hands, “A tactician should never get too close to his troops.”
A snort from the princess, “Well, it’s a little too late for that, isn’t it? Come on, she’s out there waiting for you.”
That sent my heart pounding. Today is the day I am supposed to marry my fiancé, Cherche. If you had told me that I would get married I would’ve laughed. If you had told me that it would start with me trying to find a mate for her wyvern, I would’ve thought you were insane. But that’s exactly what happened. The wyvern also tried to set me on fire when I proposed, but I suppose that’s the danger of dating a woman who rides that giant scaly beast around all day.
I look up from my hands. Lissa is standing there with her hands on her hips and the biggest grin on her face. “Can I ask you something?” I say, “Were you this nervous on the day you got married to Vaike?”
She thinks for a moment before responding, “Can’t say I was. I was worried that he’d make an oaf of himself.”
“Which he did.”
She nodded, “But I was expecting that. Kinda. But it was a small goof in an otherwise wonderful day.”
“I... guess it was.” I sighed.
“What, didn’t think you would get married?” She said, sticking her tongue out.
“In all honesty, no I didn’t.”
“Really? Everyone else has been getting married, especially that whole thing with the Mad King. It’s easier to list off the people who aren’t married in this army. And today, we’re taking two off that list!” She puts her hand on my shoulder and leaned in, “You’ll be fine, silly. You’re just worrying over nothing.” She grabbed my hand, pulling me forward. “Come on. Your blushing bride awaits!”
She led me out of my tent with me dragging my feet. All I could think when walking down the aisle was simply “Naga, you clever, clever god. You finally got me to do it.”
It was supposed to be a routine monster clearing mission; nothing too bad. What worried me about it was that it was something completely new. Besides my whole “getting married” thing, this cycle had had no surprises, so I was on edge the entire march to the ruins. By this time, Lucina had showed up and we picked up a few of our sons and daughters.
I looked out over the ruins, besides the hoard of undead monstrosities infesting them, it was rather beautiful. The place seemed to be partial submerged. But there was also something strange about them. I have never seen anything quite like them in all my travels. My moment of contemplation was ended by a slap on the back.
“You ready to kick some ass?” Vaike said, hefting his axe.
I grinned, “You know it, just watch your back, ok? I can’t keep saving it all the time.”
He grinned, “The Vaike always remembers!”
“Except when you don’t!” Lissa chimed in.
I turned to my assembled team, “alright everyone, you know the drill. Stick together and stay alive!”
We made quick progress through the ruins until we hit the central chamber. There, across the water, was someone. Whoever it was, she was fighting off the undead creatures like us. I pointed to the figure, “Cherche, can you get me over there? We need to help whoever’s that is; it might be another lost child.” She nodded and I mounted her wyvern with practiced ease. In a blink of an eye we were across the water and the undead were dispatched.
The figure, a small woman with short red hair and bright eyes, looked at me and smiled. “There you are, father!” she said, “I was beginning to think we got separated.”
“…I’m sorry, what?” I said, dumbfounded.
“Well, no harm done.” She continued, oblivious to my hesitation. “At least we can head home now. Goodness, the air here agrees with you! You look a decade younger, at least."
“Wait. Let's go back to the "Father" thing. You mean I’m your father?”
“Of course! Hello? It's me! Morgan! Your daughter? Love of your life and Daddy's little girl and all that?”
I stared at her, completely oblivious to the undead approaching.
“Dear,” said Cherche, “there’s still fighting to be done. You can look dumbfounded all you want later.”
“Ok,” I said, shaking my head to try to clear the shock. “Morgan, was it?” she nodded, “come with us. After we clear this place out you, your mother, and I are going to have a long conversation.”
“Yes sir!” She said.
We quickly rejoined the fight and moved to hit the main hoard. Despite the threat of death, all I could think of was one single thing:
I have a daughter.
I have a daughter. And she’s going to join up and probably fall in love with one of the guys. It’s how it works. I’ve done it a dozen times before.
I have a daughter; like hell she is going to marry one of those idiots!
“No, not Yarne, he’s way too neurotic. Hmmm, Inigo? Might be hilarious to see, but no; way too much of a flirt for his own good.”
“Dear, what are you doing?” said the gentle sound of Cherche. I was sitting at my desk where I usually plot out the army’s next move, except this time I was plotting out something much more important: who Morgan would end up with.
“Oh, nothing important,” I said.
My wife frowned, “You’re up to something, aren’t you?”
I grinned, “maaaaybe.” She just gave me a look, which only made me grin even more. “Ok, so I might be trying to pair up our daughter with someone.”
“Oh, like you did with everyone else?”
I sighed, “Does everyone know about that?”
“Yes.” she said with one of her cheerful-yet-sarcastic smiles.
Another sigh, “Ok then, there goes my grand reveal.” I shook my head, “Anyway, I was trying to figure out who to pair our daughter with. She’s going to be fighting with us and you apparently know what’ll happen.”
She sat down next to me, “Mind if I help?”
“Uh, sure,” I said, not sure where this was going.
“So what about Brady? He seems like a nice guy.”
“What, Brady? The spineless priest? She’ll eat him alive. That poor sap won’t know what hit him.”
“Ok, so what about Owain? He could handle her and he’s pretty good in a fight.”
I gave a deadpan stare “Do you really want someone like that as our son-in-law?”
She paused for a second, “No, no I do not.”
“So who will it be?”
“What about Laurent? He looks like he could use someone as lively as Morgan in his life.”
I thought for a moment, “You know, that’s a pretty good idea. He can handle her for sure, and I would love to see his reaction to her antics.”
“So it’s decided then?”
“Yes.” I said, grinning from ear to ear. “This is going to be fun to watch.”
In ever cycle, no matter how many times I did it, I was always giddy during the final battle. It isn’t every day you get to fight on the back of an evil dragon god while facing down the possessed version of yourself from the future. It’s insane and I love it.
The small army in our way didn’t give us any trouble. Nothing could stand in our way. Our army of couples smashed their forces until only Grima was left. As I did every cycle, I stepped forward alone to face him. It was only fitting.
“Mortal,” he said in his usual hammy voice, “you will not foil my plans again!”
“You know, Grima,” I said, ignoring his threats. “I’ve been wondering something. Did ever get laid before you went into your slumber?” He stared at me, as if he didn’t know how to respond. “I mean, obviously you have thing for Naga. Did she reject you or something? Is that why you’re trying to destroy the world?”
“Mortal, what games are you playing?”
“Cause it’s remarkable what having a beautiful woman at your back will do to you. It can change your whole perspective on life. I think I’ve learned something this time.”
“And what is that?” He said, breathing in deep to roast me with his breath.
In the span of a second, I closed the gap on us and sunk my blade deep into his chest. I leaned in, and whispered into his ear: “Love is completely over powered.”
I left my blade in his chest as he slumped backwards. For the seventh time I felt myself fading away. But this time, I looked back to see my friends and family. I gave them a grin and a wave while my eyes watered up. “See you on the next go around,” I said as I faded away. I’m glad I didn’t see their faces.
Once again, I found myself floating in a dark void. No light, no ground, no anything. It’s just me, myself, and… I? I looked around. Where was Grima? It wasn’t long before the angelic figure of Naga appeared, grinning from ear to ear.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said, “you don’t need to rub it in.”
“I didn’t say anything,” she said, still smiling.
“So… is this it? Is this how it ends? I did what you asked.”
“Indeed you did! And what did you think of the experience?”
“Aren’t you a god or something?” I asked back, avoiding the question. “Didn’t you just see the whole thing? You know how I feel.”
“Indeed I do,” she said, still smiling that damn smile.
“Look, I don’t know how to ask this, but I want to go back to my family. There are people who care about me, and I care about them. And you did promise me I could go back.”
“That I did, didn’t I?” She put her finger across her mouth and looked upward in an exaggerated thinking pose. “Well, I think you deserve this, after all you’ve been through.” She raised her hands, “Goodbye Robin, it has been both a frustration and a pleasure to have you.”
With that, I faded away like I did usually. All was quiet until…
“Chrom, we have to do something,” Says a girlish voice.
A different, deeper voice responded “Well what do you propose we do?”
“I… I dunno.”
I opened my eyes to see Lissa and Chrom standing over me.
“I see you’re awake now,” said Chrom.
“Hey there,” Lissa said.
“There're better places to take a nap than on the ground, you know. Give me your hand.” I took it and Chrom pulled me up. “Welcome back. It's over now.”

Edited by Tangerine
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Hi all! I'm the writer of this little piece. Looks like only the first half got posted (dunno what happened there, probably something on my end cause I had to convert the word document to a text file. Is it ok if I post the rest?)

Anyway, fun fact: this story was written for a Cultural Anthropology class I took last semester. I was doing a research paper on Shipping in Video Games (using Fire Emblem as an example of all the wonderfully weird things that happen when you attach mechanics to things like shipping), and I needed a creative piece to go along with my paper. I wanted to show off the kind of mindset that goes into mechanics-focused shipping. It was also an excuse to use the phrase "eugenics for fun and profit" in a serious discussion and have my professor compliment me.

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Reply to the PM with the rest of the story and I'll edit it in.

Edit: That's curious, the download gave me the complete story this time. It should be fixed now, I think?

Edited by Tangerine
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I really enjoyed this. It was an interesting sorta commentary on the marriage mechanics in the game, while also being kinda sweet and charming. Despite dealing with a topic that sorta plays with your suspension of disbelief, the story and perspective on the game's world seems natural. It made me laugh, too!

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This is really good and funny. Great job, Meatshield!

Because you are annoying, Miriel does your job better, and your genes are shit. You are never getting a chance to breed, you stupid benchwarmer.

This is an excellent line. Probably one of my favorite parts of the story.

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It's hard to put my finger on exactly what it is about this piece that doesn't quite do it for me. Part of it might be that it feels like it's trying to be funny, but falling flat, another part might be that it's full of a lot of just really small chunks of stuff and doesn't really develop anything adequately for my liking. I'm really not quite sure.

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