Just banged this out to make me feel better :T
Just banged this out to make me feel better :T
I haven’t actually drawn anything if for-fucking-ever ahahaha…ha…
I’m so out of practice why do I do this to myself…Sketch thing for Nai out of our current RP where Asch sorta becomes the miasma incarnate (and clothes were optional).
It’s incredibly undignified, but that ends the moment Shadow intrudes - the relaxed atmosphere is gone, every tendril of mist instead hovering like a blade hanging in the air.
"Get out,” Asch hisses, practically spitting, and he’s nearly as fast as Luke in snapping to his feet, still standing in the pool of mud. It twists and expands, widening over the floor, although it avoids Luke’s feet and doesn’t go beyond the invisible line that forms behind him. Asch steps up behind Luke, in the shallower part of the mud but never leaving it, his relatively tiny place of power.
"You’ve all made your position damn clear," he continues, "so whatever your reason for being here is - I don’t care. Luke is the only one welcome here.” And the mist closes tighter around them, just as ready to defend the Seventh Fonon as its proper master. Only Luke has the right to be here, as his replica and his opposite, and if any of the others tries to interfere with that, he will drive them off.
"He’ll come to no harm on my watch and he’s the only one capable of doing any harm to me anyway, so you can just slink back to Rem like the trash you are." He’s vicious and angry and hateful, and his power swells a little - that’s what the miasma is, after all, hatred made solid. But this is his place, his last hideaway, and he won’t let them take it from him.
Oh, if only Shadow were capable of smirking. The sixth sentience observed the two of them for a few moments longer, quietly moving backwards and away from them. “I sssee, ssso that’sss how it isss. Very well, Sssylph and I await your return.” it said before melding back onto the wall and disappearing into the shadows. Luke could feel its’ presence fading, and then turned his attention back to Asch.
“Shadow is gone-” he then noticed that the mud had expanded. He jumped up into the air and distanced himself quite a bit, hovering rather high up to keep himself from being anywhere near it. “C-can you please make that go away?” he was shaking.
"I still would have been able to claim a good portion of them," he mutters, folding his arms. His shoulders tense when Luke begins gathering fonons - he trusts Luke, but it’s hard not to be paranoid in his circumstances.
His eyes, no longer green but a dark purple, are locked onto the crystal even before Luke tosses it his way. There’s no way he could miss catching it, and the shock on his face is quickly overwritten by pleasure once it’s in his hands. For a long moment he presses it to his lips, looking like a man trying to breathe warmth back into his fingers, but the crystal is a little too large to actually swallow, so he licks some of the surface layer of fonons off and tucks the rest of the crystal into his tunic to digest later.
It’s only at that point that he remembers Luke is still there, and that’s enough to jerk him back to himself, looking a bit embarrassed about what just happened. The look on Asch’s face is a mix of grateful, mortified, and sulky. “You didn’t have to do that.”
Well that was certainly undignified. That was probably the first time Luke had ever seen Asch lose his composure like that… he almost wanted to laugh. Instead he gave him a lighthearted smile and shook his head. “It wasn’t out of obligation, I wanted to help you. You said that you’re managing the miasma, and your word is more than enough for me. If you can keep it contained to just this area and not let it spread out, I’ll be able to get the other Six off of your case. I know that you can do it.”
“You’re too trusssting.” Shadow hissed, peeling off of the far wall and entering the enclosed space. “How can you be ssso incredibly naive, Lorelei?” Luke moved fast, dispersing and then reappearing in between Shadow and Asch as a physical barrier.
“You were told to wait outside. What are you doing in here?”
“Sssylph heard the commotion and asssked me to check on thingsss.”
“Leave, right now.” he demanded.
He curses under his breath, the extra venom in it visibly apparent in the form of purple, toxic smoke. Not much he can do, though. “Fine, eleven days.”
He doesn’t like the idea of the others knowing where he is, doesn’t like the idea of anyone but Luke in his sanctuary until he recovers his power, and the part of him that’s still human isn’t very pleased at the other sentiences seeing him naked, either. The mud slathered in his hair drips onto his shoulder, flowing into a thin layer that isn’t quite fabric but isn’t far from it.
If Luke thinks he has control, though, that’s good. He’s not going to let on to how tenuous that control is, not while there’s anyone but them who might overhear. He’s got enough control, and he’s still learning, so it’s only going to get better, right? Right.
"I’m managing," is what he settles on, as the mud wraps him to make a tunic, an undershirt, gloves and boots. The clothes aren’t so different from the Oracle Knights’ uniform he used to wear, which makes them easy to conjure, but instead of the black and grey with red lines, there’s only deep shades of purple. He hauls himself up to sit on the edge of the pool, still dangling his feet in the mud.
"I’m still weak, comparatively; it will be a while before I have the strength to do much more than this." He makes an annoyed little noise, a "tch" that’s practically the same as their old interactions. "You didn’t do me any favors by taking all the fonons from my body before."
“What fonons you wouldn’t have been able to corrupt would have returned to me anyways. Fonons are attracted to their like type, you know this.” he sighed rather heavily, shaking his head. Though it was true, he did steal quite a bit from Asch which was probably why he was reduced to that grotesque puddle when it first happened. It was kind of pathetic to watch him scrounge for survival and see him be so… so small. It was weird seeing him so weak. But, Asch was managing to keep the miasma in check, and he didn’t exactly enjoy watching him struggle so… perhaps he could part with a few extra fonons.
He held out his hand, seventh fonons gathering into it to form a tight golden ball, compressing and becoming dense until it turned into a fonon crystal. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was highly concentrated and would give Asch a significant portion of his strength back. Luke then proceeded to toss it over towards Asch. “Here, this should help you. Don’t tell the others though, they’d kill me if they knew that I helped you like that.”
To be fair, reconciling the concept he has of Lorelei with the replica in front of him is next to impossible. Lorelei is near all-powerful, filled with opaque motivations and ancient mysteries.
Luke is Luke. Even if Asch doesn’t always understand him, he’ll never be a mystery to his original to anything near the same level. He couldn’t imagine that changing, even centuries down the line.
As Luke draws back, he does the same, shifting and sinking a little further into his mud. He nearly lost control, just that fast, although he’s sure a part of it was that Luke had been reaching for him just as uncontrollably. Something of that panic had jumped over their connection; it’s different, now, but still present, and Asch hasn’t been as rigorous about keeping it closed as he was when he was alive.
(It doesn’t seem to be hurting either of them right now, though, so he lets it be. As pitiful as it is, he’s desperate for the contact.)
"A week already?" He drags a hand through his bangs, either not noticing the mud still coating it or not caring. It helps hold the strands in place when he slicks it away from his forehead, though. "Damn, I really lost track of time."
“Actually, it’s been a week and four days.” Luke clarified. “I had to suffer through a week of the other Six breathing down my neck for letting you escape- and then the other four were a combination of finding you and convincing them to let me come here. I’m not entirely alone, though… Sylph and Shadow are close by, in case anything goes awry.” He warned. “They’re… hesitant to trust you. The last Miasma sentience lost total control and nearly destroyed the planet. They fear that the same will happen to you.” he fidgeted slightly.
Truth be told, Luke had no idea if that would happen or not. Asch had always been strong, even till the very end, but the Miasma was… something else. It was weird to think that Asch could somehow tame and fully control it with ease. Then again, he himself turned into the damn sentient being of the seventh fonon, so who knows. Asch seemed to have a good grasp of control now. Maybe it’ll stay that way. “You seem to be holding your own. That’s definitely positive.”
He’s somewhat aware of Luke’s “visit,” but it only really registers with him as an increase in Seventh Fonons before his replica rounds the corner and lunges for him. His brain stops somewhere between fight and flight; he’s staring, wide-eyed, at Luke from the pool, with his hands in the air and this close to pulling Luke into the muck with him.
They freeze at the same time, just hairs from touching, and both of them are shaking. Slowly, Asch pulls his hands back, sinking them back into the mud. He’s just as spooked as Luke is, from his own near loss of control.
"Alright," he mutters. "New rule. No surprising each other." He shifts so that he’s actually sitting upright in the mud - it clings to him, dripping from his hair, but it’s the best he can do. It’s still not very deep, anyway, only coming up to about his navel. "I’m fine, Luke, really."
He knew Luke had nightmares about this kind of thing, but seeing him break down like this is something else. Asch can’t provide any kind of comforting touch, but he still uses Luke’s name so rarely that hopefully it will have some effect.
He withdrew his hand back to his chest, clutching onto it tightly as he gave the man an uneasy smile. “I-I’m sorry about that,” he replied a bit softly, forcing himself to relax, though he did toss a grateful expression his way at the use of his name. He hadn’t exactly been called Luke in a while and he missed the name.
Yes, the miasma was scary. It was a powerful force to be reckoned with- he experienced the damage that it could do first hand with the liquefaction of the crust and the damage that it had done to Tear. But it couldn’t hurt Asch, the mud WAS Asch (which was a bit of a creepy thought) so there was no reason for him to be so jumpy around him like that. He wasn’t in any danger, he wasn’t going to drown, he was going to be okay.
It still made him extremely uncomfortable though.
Luke backed up a bit and increased the distance between them. “I hope you appreciate what I did for you- I had to endure a week of the Six chewing me out for helping you escape.”
It’s hours, if not days, before he has enough strength to do much of anything but sit in a puddle and regain his energy. It was hard to keep track of his sense of time when he visited the Radiation Gate as a human, and now that he barely knows his own senses, it’s even worse.
Texture and vibration are the most immediate senses he has; his sense of the types of fonons in the area has grown exponentially more sensitive, as well. His vision is completely gone, in contrast, and so is his sense of temperature. He can still tell how his body is oriented and what part of it is where, but it feels like a moot point. The thick mud of the miasma is fairly uniform in composition, and it’s instinct to keep mixing it and rolling the outsides in to keep it even. Going still is hard, but he can manage it.
When he can make himself human again - when there’s enough fonons in the mud to link them together correctly, to pull flesh from the ooze of the mud - he’s terrified, at first, that he still won’t be able to see. As relieving as it is to feel the muck clinging to his skin the way he expects it to, it’s infinitely more relieving to open his eyes and see the familiar, jagged bones that form the pathways of the Radiation Gate outside the passage ring itself.
Asch sighs with relief and leans back, sinking into the foot-deep, thick mud around him. It’s him, too, and rather comfortable if he’s being honest, cool without being cold. For the first time since the sentiences started hunting him, he’s not in pain; the body he’s made for himself now doesn’t reject the poison. It’s welcome, a part of him; he can rest.
For however long it lasts, anyway.
There was nothing inherently good about the Radiation Gate; it was a place that screamed out ‘death and decay’ at the top of its lungs. Most likely that was in part by the giant, piled up skeletons everywhere (one of which you actually had to walk across if you even wanted to get in to the damn sephiroth). Luke had only ever come here once before, but either way, it always gave him the creeps. At the very least, this place didn’t have any negative ties to him like the Absorption Gate did.
Just beyond the chasm that was the front entry way, Luke appeared in a cloud of seventh fonons, hovering just a few feet above the ground. He was hesitant to really touch anything, though that didn’t stop the the noxious gasses that clung to the air to start pulling at his spare seventh fonons. Without a second thought he casted a miniature hyperesonnance to clear out his immediate area, summoning forth a protective barrier to keep himself from harms’ way. It took days of the other Six yelling at him and calling him dumb before he could convince them to let him come here, he was not about to prove them right that Asch was a lost cause by allowing himself to become contaminated.
Now the question was, where was he going to find him? If memory serves, this place was quite expansive and Asch had been… well, disgusting, but quite small. Relying on their connection to help find him had only proven so useful as to getting him here, beyond that it was essentially useless. “Asch!” he called out, voice echoing off into the distance. When there was no immediate response he ventured further inside.
He turned a corner a damn near screamed.
Memories of Akzeriuth and all of the horrific nightmares he had suffered as a result flooded into his head as he saw Asch within that same purple muck. A knee jerk reaction caused him to lunge forwards but- he was able to regain himself and halt his actions right before he would have touched him. His hands were shaking, and he looked like he was about to be sick. All he could do was stare uneasily at him, his voice wasn’t coming to him.
The conflict between sentiences is a new experience, and part of him enjoys it immensely even if he can’t exactly tell what’s going on. It’s like highly sugared water, though - he can’t get any nourishment from it, it won’t help him grow, and he needs to grow if he’s going to survive.
Fortunately, there’s a way to sneak past the lot of them; Choral Castle’s basement has an outlet directly into the sea, and it’s not like he has to worry about drowning anymore. Undine’s wave unknowingly helps, washing him quickly into the trough of seawater surrounding the machine platform. After a brief period of orienting himself, he slips out unnoticed.
He’s hungry, and little spouts of fonons he finds along the sea floor aren’t going to do the job. He’s getting the hang of moving, at least, and the creatures down here in the deeps don’t seem as sensitive to his toxins as those up above. It’s something to ponder later, when he can concentrate on something other than the need to consume fonons for any length of time.
Even with the Planet Storm gone, the Radiation Gate is practically swimming in Seventh Fonons - Asch feels the pull, the demands of his new nature, and he obeys them without question. There’s not much in the way of anything that can be called a beach here, which makes it hard to enter the gate itself, but he manages.
And there he can relax; a bubbling, disgusting puddle of mud still leaking deadly gases, but he’s feeding, growing stronger, and he can be relatively content with that. He’s not completely safe, but safe enough. The only one who could outright destroy him at this point is Luke, and Luke won’t raise a hand against him unless that is the only option left.
It’s up to him to make sure that that never happens. Every moment brings him more Seventh Fonons, and every fonon restores a little of his self, a little of his control. He’s still fluid, still filled with revulsion at his own nature, but he can survive it. He can adapt.
He won’t lose himself. Not to this.
The fon belt was… unnerving, if Luke had to find a way to describe it. When he was a little kid he used to dream of having adventures far out into space among all of the stars and alien planets (really just dreaming to get as far away from the manor as possible in hindsight). It was much different to /actually/ be amongst the cosmos, completely surrounded in all directions by space as far as the eye could see. And although he now had the power to physically be larger than all of Auldrant should he so choose, he still felt so incredibly damn small and insignificant when compared to the rest of the universe.
He was slowly adjusting to it, though.
“-Lorelei! Yo, Lorelei, you even listening?” Sylph asked as Luke snapped back to the conversation at hand.
“We wanted to ask you why you did what you did back at Choral Castle.” Undine supplied gently. Luke paused for a moment, wondering if the other Six would even understand his reasons for his actions. Mostly it was… it was because he felt like he owed it to Asch. That after everything that happened in their lives, it was his responsibility to help him. The Six were… adamant that he give up his human mentality- they wouldn’t understand the irrational thoughts or behaviors.
“Human reasons.” he muttered as Eefreet shook his head, letting out an annoyed groan. “Hey, I’m being honest. Why did you all decide to keep me out of the loop for that spectacular little plan of yours?”
“Because you refuse to give up your last shred of humanity.” Undine closed her eyes. “We knew that if we had told you, you would have been against our plan. Now, the miasma is free in this world again, and it won’t be long before it consumes everything in it’s path.”
“Asch is not like tha-”
“How can you be so confident in him? The last miasma sentience spiraled out of control and devoured everything. Our world was so close to death and there was nothing that we could do about it.” Gnome finally spoke up.
“…Has there ever been a Miasma being that could control itself?” there was no immediate reply, and Luke felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. No… no, Asch was strong, and he was not like that. If anyone could bring that poison under control, it would be him. He managed to stave off the transformation for more than two years, that had to count for something!
He catches Luke’s eye, just briefly - and he already knows what’s going to happen. He would have done it himself if Luke hadn’t; he has no intention of going quietly to some lonely, dead world to spend eternity.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It’s agony, an ecstatic kind of agony as the poison trapped within his skin all flows out at once, and his scream is a kind of laughter as he flows over the edge of the platform to pool on the ground and the part of him that is still himself really, really hopes Luke moved.
He’s free. Weak - Luke consuming and purifying the fonons that composed his body sapped a good deal of his strength - but gloriously, painfully free.
Adjusting to a semi-liquid body is going to take some time. The mist goes still, no longer breathing with him because he doesn’t breathe, and the small pool of mud curls in itself and seeps under the machinery. It’s a completely foreign sensation, but if he doesn’t move now, he might not get the chance to adjust to the rest of it.
Only Luke will see the slip of mist that wraps briefly around him, the motion of a caress across his replica’s cheek that is very careful to not touch him, and then is gone.
“Lorelei, what are you-?!” Rem was cut off as the hyperesonnance was cast and Asch was released from his prison of flesh. It was startling, to see the pure essence of the miasma and what it had done to him, but just as soon as he saw it- it had slipped away and disappeared. It was probably for the best, Luke was at his very core connected to Asch and could still feel just how weakened he was. The least he could do was buy him some time.
What came next was a screech that made his ears ring. The Lady of Light was clearly unhappy with both his actions and how this had finally come to an end, to the point where she grabbed hold of his collar and practically shook him. “Do you have any idea what you have just done?!”
Luke slapped her hands away and scoffed at her. “Made an executive decision without consulting you. It is not your place to order me around, Rem. And you dare have the gal to be upset with me when you consciously chose to keep me in the dark about your true intentions?” Gnome hid behind Undine and peered out cautiously.
“Lorelei’s mad…” he whispered.
“You dashed our chances to rid this world of the Miasma for the next three thousand years!”
“-And then what? Do the exact same thing to the next host? Repeat this silly little cycle for the rest of eternity and never actually solving the problem? Asch is smart and he’s strong, allowing him an undisturbed space where he can control-”
“Control?!” Rem balked, “That is the opposite of the Miasma’s very nature. It’s goal is to spread and poison everything in it’s-” a massive (but gentle) wave washed over the both of them, causing them to spin and face Undine.
“My, my, everyone’s so hot headed. I figured you both should cool off.” Luke pulled at his now completely drenched jacket. “Fighting is pointless, what’s done is done.”
“For once, I agree with Undine.” Eefreet stated, “We should reconvene in the fon belt and properly discuss a course of action, with everyone.” Luke half smiled and Rem could only scowl.