The fourth chapter of my Xenoblade novelisation. What is the Monado truly capable of…?
Shulk was still trying to remember what Fiora had said to him as a child when they entered the lab and her voice interrupted his thoughts.
Shulk looked up, and was horrified to see his best friend reaching for the Monado. “Reyn!!” Shulk was furious. “What are you doing!?”
“Sh – Shulk!” Reyn stammered. “I – I’m – No, I – I – I’m just…” His voice trailed off as the Monado began to glow. He stared at the blade, unable to stop it seizing control of him. He felt a sense of detachment from his own body, only able to look on in terror as his arm brought the sword down on Shulk, who thankfully managed to sidestep the blow.
Fiora and Shulk cried out as the Monado activated in Reyn’s hands. He staggered towards one of the gas tanks and sliced it cleanly open, twirling around the room. He then made a clean cut in Shulk’s other gas tank, before slamming into it on his back. The Monado waved through the air, forcing Reyn towards the corner where Fiora was standing.
“Fiora!” Reyn cried, helpless. The Monado cut straight through the machine Fiora was hiding behind. She cringed as the weapon hit her leg – and bounced right off it.
Reyn whirled around as the Monado flicked out of his hands. He fell on to his back and the Monado clattered to the floor. Deprived of a wielder, the pale blue blade disappeared as the main part of the Monado closed itself and the blue symbol slowly faded.
“Reyn!” Shulk ran towards him.
Fiora came out from behind her broken hiding place, looking down at her hands in shock. “Goodness!” She watched Reyn get to his feet, shaking his head.
“Fiora!” Reyn spun around to face her. “Are you OK?”
“Uhh…” Fiora looked up, unsure. “I’m fine.” Somehow.
“Ahh…” Shulk sounded frustrated, “It’s broken!” He turned away from his gas tank and bent down beside the Monado.
“What do you mean it’s broken?!” Fiora was indignant. “Don’t you care about me?! I could have died!”
“You’re not hurt, are you?” said Shulk, unconcerned. “The Monado can’t cut people. More importantly,” Shulk glared at Reyn over his shoulder, “What were you thinking, Reyn?!”
“S – Sorry.” Reyn felt uncomfortable. “I came to ask a favour but you weren’t here.” Reyn knew it sounded stupid even as he started saying it. “And I saw the Monado and –“
“I know I’m here a lot,” Shulk interrupted rudely. “But even I need fresh air sometimes.”
He ran a hand over the sword as his anger and shock slowly faded. “Is your body still feeling numb?” he asked.
Reyn opened his mouth to speak, but decided against it and returned his attention to the floor.
“We have to be very careful with the Monado.” Shulk straightened up. “It’s not a toy.”
“I know, man,” Reyn said quickly, “I just wanted to touch it. I didn’t know it would do that.” He raised a hand to his head, feeling ashamed. “Sorry.” He looked back down at the sword. Hoping to change the subject, he asked “But is it true? The Monado really can’t cut people?”
“The pattern in that circle…” Shulk stared at it, entranced. “Or, maybe it’s a symbol?” The sword appeared to be quivering as he bent down to pick it up. “I think it shows which power the Monado has at the moment.”
“You think it’s… a symbol?” Reyn turned as his friend walked past him, treading carefully so as not to make him angry again.
“Well…” Shulk gazed down at the sword in his hands, his mind on his recent research, “if I can find a way to increase the number of symbols,” he raised his head, thinking aloud, “I should…”
“I’m sure that’s all very clever,” Fiora broke in angrily, “But!” She folded her arms, fixing Shulk with an icy glare, “Why were you more worried about a machine than me, Shulk?!”
“Well, I just…” Shulk began to back away from Fiora, “I just explained why.”
“That’s not the point!” Fiora exclaimed, taking a threatening step towards Shulk.
“S – Sorry!” Shulk stuttered. He backed into the Monado’s pedestal, accidentally bumping the sword into it. It sprang to life, and Shulk immediately felt the pull on his mind.
Fiora watched, terrified, as Shulk doubled over and let out a low groan, clutching the Monado tightly. Electricity of a colour matching the blade of the Monado danced across both the sword and Shulk’s body as he struggled to regain control. He let out another groan as foreign images and sounds invaded his mind, each seeming to stack on top of the rest.
“Look at you!” Shulk saw himself, using the Monado to block someone else’s blade. The voice sounded somewhat familiar, and it filled him with a sense of anger. “Worthless without the Monado!” The images changed, and Shulk was standing before a giant with red eyes and purple skin, looking down at him and covered in a yellow-orange light.
The voice changed with his vision, and he saw a raven-haired woman aiming a rifle at an unseen target. She was yelling, and her voice was full of fury and desperation. “Until I’ve scrapped each and every one of you!” For a moment he saw a grey-coloured man who looked as if he were part machine. The vision changed again, and he saw a brown-skinned man with a white beard shouting as he piloted what looked like a mobile artillery.
As this vision appeared the voice changed, and Shulk realised it was his own. “So, of course I want to get my revenge!” He saw a beautiful girl, standing in the middle of a large forest. There was a huge ether deposit behind her.
“Your blade…” A deep voice interrupted and Shulk saw an ancient-looking man who appeared to have wings sprouting from the top of his head. The man turned away as the image changed and the voice continued. “It did not cut deep enough.”
He saw himself yelling, and watched as a huge Mechon sank its claws into Colony 9’s mobile artillery. “NOOOOOO!” The claws of the Mechon dripped with blood as it stared down at him with contempt.
“Shulk!” Fiora watched as Shulk dropped the Monado and stood doubled over, panting. “Shulk!”
“What on Bionis happened there?!” Reyn demanded, panicking.
“Reyn,” Shulk mumbled, “Fiora…”
“Are you OK?” Fiora asked, relaxing a little as Shulk righted himself. “Does it hurt?”
“No.” Shulk shook his head, thinking. After a moment, he looked up at Reyn. “Reyn, when you held the Monado, did you see anything?”
“You know…” Reyn wasn’t sure what Shulk was asking. “Like, a blue blade of light came out. Same as just now.”
“I don’t mean that…” Shulk paused as he tried to find a way to describe it. “A feeling like time had stopped. And then…”
“Time had stopped?” Reyn repeated, confused.
“So…” Shulk looked over at Fiora, “was it only me who saw that?”
Fiora frowned. “That sounds strange. Is it another Monado thing?”
“Who knows?” said Reyn dismissively. “Anyway, no matter how good a sword it is, if that’s what happened when you hold it…” Reyn looked down at Shulk. “Looks like Dunban really is the only one who can use it.”
Fiora rounded on Reyn, furious. “I won’t let my brother use it ever again!” She looked down at the floor. “Not after what it did to him.”
“Oh, sorry…” Reyn felt embarrassed. “I didn’t mean it like that…”
“Anyway,” Shulk said in a weak voice, “the point is, I’m fine. To be honest, this has happened a few times before. I’ve been researching the Monado for a long time.”
“Shulk!” Fiora exclaimed. “Don’t act as is this is nothing!”
“Look, don’t worry about it.” Shulk turned to Reyn. “Anyway, Reyn, what did you want to ask me about?”
“Ah, yeah. Uhh…” Reyn tried to remember. “Old Square-tache has gone and put me on punishment duty. Fancy tagging along?”
“Punishment?” Shulk repeated. “The colonel was pretty angry today. Did he hit you?” Shulk suppressed a grin.
“Well, whether he hit me is neither here nor there, really…” Reyn raised a hand to his head as he added, “Although actually he did end up hitting me. And that ain’t all. He made me do a thousand squats and sit-ups.”
“Yeah. And now I have to go all the way to the Mag Mell Ruins and back.”
“So you have to go and collect the Ether Cylinders?” Shulk guessed.
“That’s the one!” said Reyn. “They’re used to power the mobile artillery. It looks like the damage has been repaired. But it can’t move without the ether energy. And it seems like the fuelling station’s all out of stock.”
“Is the mobile artillery that big machine that crashed in the Residential District?” Fiora asked.
“Yeah, probably,” said Shulk with a nod.
“You know your way around there, right?” Reyn asked.
“Yeah,” replied Shulk. “Okay, I’ll go with you.”
“Yeah!” Reyn grinned. “Knew you would!”
“Hold on.” Fiora placed her hands on her hips, eyeing the boys. “The Mag Mell Ruins are in Tephra Cave, right? I heard that there’s a Mell Lizard nest there.” Fiora shivered at the thought of it. “I couldn’t take it if anything happened to Shulk. He’s delicate – not like you, Reyn.”
“What are you on about?” Reyn was quick to jump to his friend’s defence.
“I’ll be fine,” said Shulk, annoyed. “I can take care of myself.”
“But…” Fiora hesitated.
“OK, I got it. I’ll make you a promise.” Reyn held a hand over his heart and pledged, “Shulk won’t even get a scratch.”
“A promise doesn’t mean much coming from you!” Fiora exclaimed, and left.
Reyn watched her go. “Hmph. She don’t trust me at all.”
“Nah, she doesn’t mean it,” Shulk assured him. The two friends left the lab to go prepare for their trip.
Fiora watched from behind a stack of crates as Shulk and Reyn left the Military District empty-handed. I knew it! They forgot the transport cases! Giggling to herself, Fiora waited until the boys had left the district before skipping over to Colonel Vangarre.
“Excuse me, Colonel?” said Fiora politely.
He turned. “What can I help you with, young lady?” He asked cheerfully.
“Um, I heard you asked Reyn to go into the Mag Mell Ruins to get some ether cylinders, but it looks like he forgot the transport cases…”
The colonel snorted. “That sounds about right! He’s about as bright as a bunnit, that one.”
“Well,” said Fiora eagerly, “I could catch him on his way out of the colony and give them to him.”
“Why, that would be most helpful, young lady!” exclaimed the colonel. “Go talk to old Jan over there by the fence, he’ll get them for you.” He pointed out an old man standing by the eastern fence who was watching a group of soldiers performing fitness routines.
Fiora walked over to the man and asked for some transport cases. He sighed.
“Why would they send a pretty lady such as yourself out to the ruins, when there are so many men here who can do it?” He gestured at the soldiers doing press-ups behind him.
“Actually, a friend of mine is going, but he… forgot them.” Fiora smiled. “He’s very thick-headed. He never thinks things through.”
Jan chuckled. “All right then.” He reached into a crate beside him and pulled out three transport cases before handing them to Fiora. “Be careful, and don’t push yourself too hard!”
Fiora slung them over her back. “I won’t! Thank you!” She hurried off.
Fiora thought that Reyn and Shulk would have gone back to Reyn’s place in the Residential District to pick up a few things. This, she figured, should buy her enough time to beat the boys to Tephra Cave, and then tag along with them to the ruins. After all, if they got attacked by that lizard, they were going to need her help.
Fiora chuckled to herself as she took off through the central plaza and the commercial district. Just before leaving the colony she dashed back into her home.
Dunban looked up from the kitchen as she entered. “Fiora! Woah, slow down. What’s the big hurry?”
“No time to explain!” Fiora picked up her twin knives off the table and slid them in her belt. “See you later Dunban!” And she ran back out again.
Dunban shook his head. That girl… I bet Shulk is involved in this somehow. He went back to cleaning the dishes.
Fiora left the colony and headed up Tephra Hill at a cracking pace. Oh, I hope they’re not there already… The bunnits watched as she flew past them.
Fiora stopped at the top of the hill, panting heavily. The two soldiers on guard looked startled to see her.
“Have… two boys… come up here… A thick-headed redhead and a blonde?”
“Uhh… no.” The soldier moved towards her. “Do you want me to take those cases off your back?”
Fiora shook her head and straightened up, clutching the transport cases closer to her. “I’m fine, thank you!” She walked straight past the soldier and leaned on the stone just inside the cave mouth, placing the cases on the ground beside her.
“Hey! It’s dangerous in there!” The soldier protested.
“I’m waiting for a couple of friends, and one of them is in the defence force,” Fiora answered coolly. “I won’t go in without them.”
The soldier hesitated, and then resumed his post outside the cave.
Fiora had not been waiting long when she heard Shulk’s and Reyn’s loud voices coming up the hill. They stopped when they came around the corner and saw her. Reyn looked at Shulk with a worried expression on his face.
Fiora picked up the transport cases and strolled towards the boys. “You forgot something,” she chimed. “You will be needing the transport cases, right?” She held them up, smiling.
“Fiora!” Shulk was surprised to see her. Reyn reached for the cases, but Fiora pulled them away from him.
“Uh-uh! I’m coming along as well,” Fiora informed them. “I’d feel better going with you boys than sitting at home worrying about you. So,” she skulked into the cave, “let’s get moving.”
Reyn sighed. “I knew she didn’t trust me.”
“Looks like it,” grinned Shulk. Reyn placed his hands behind his head and followed Fiora with Shulk.
Images taken using Scalz311‘s YouTube channel.