This is Chapter 7: Taming a God
Title: Virtually a Princess
Summary: AU Katara is discovering a new virtual reality game that Sokka himself invented. Her relationships with her gaming group is complicated enough already, but with the in-game romance and relationships, reality and the game world is starting to mix. When a rogue hacker invades the system and Sokka disappears, Katara must find a way to seperate the reality from the fiction and find a way rescue her brother with the help of her allies from the game world.
++Level 7: Taming a God++
A swirling ball of electricity blinked into existence and ascended into the sky, an artificial sun to light an artificial night. When Quetzalcoatl came into the light, Katara almost wished for darkness again. On the small screen of her television in the original Final Fantasy 8, he hadn’t really been that ferocious in appearance, but as he hovered in the sky just feet away from her with his wings spread out ominously, he looked every bit an avenging god.
His head and neck was almost serpent-like, and he had a slender body with expansive wings that dominated the sky and moved through the air the way a sting ray’s moved through water. His head was a pale yellow that seeped down his smooth skin and slowly faded into a rich green, and a green tail swung languidly through the air behind him. He had large snake-like black eyes that gazed down at her almost curiously.
The god began to speak in a low, rumbling voice, and a whisper in Katara’s ears informed her that a cut scene was starting.
“You have come here seeking my power, tiny human.” Quetzalcoatl’s lips barely moved as he spoke, and she was given only a glimpse of the row of large white teeth underneath. She was relieved that she couldn’t see more. The god shook his head dolefully. “But, my cute little challenger, you are barely more than a child. What could inspire such a young, delicate girl to seek out my power?”
Katara felt her lip quiver uncertainly before she said, “I want to dethrone the false emperor and restore the balance of this country.”
The god stared at her for a moment and then laughed. His mouth opened wide in his humor, and Katara was given a full view of the god’s sharp fangs. Suddenly, she knew why Sokka sounded scared as he climbed the temple stairs.
He knew how terrifying Quetzalcoatl would be.
The laughter subsided, and large eyes bore into her, appraising. When he spoke, his eyes flickered to Axel.
“An emperor is distracted by his infatuation for a young woman and disappears, leaving his poor kingdom to fend for itself. With such a weak emperor, how can you hope to set things right?” The god continued as though he didn’t expect an answer. “Even if you defeat this false emperor, the Heavens are in such a terrible state that no peace can truly be found on Earth until those Heavenly problems are fixed. Oh such a fragile princess to be overthrown by a pretender to the throne. Do you intend to handle the mistakes of both these ineffectual rulers and overthrow both of the tyrants, tiny girl child? You cannot hide your heritage from me, child of the Moon Kingdom.”
Katara felt anger, frustration, and a suffocating sadness swirl within her. “I will defeat these tyrants, and I will win my throne back.”
He laughed again, but the sound held no humor. “You are trying to solve this kingdom’s problems, but the real trouble is with you. This land can have no peace until you, fated ruler of Heaven, can find strength enough to protect them. My strength shall not be sufficient to do your job for you. I can see no reason to help you unless you can prove that you are looking for your own strength.”
“You shall know my strength, Quetzalcoatl!” Katara shouted, her voice betraying her anger and sadness. “And you will help me!”
“Can you truly tame my lightning, dear child of the Moon? We shall see!”
Katara’s limbs were her own, and the battle started.
Electricity charged the air, and this was undoubtedly the most strenuous fight so far. When she was struck by the god’s lightning, she felt the tingle of energy without feeling the accompanying pain. Axel’s present kept the god’s lightning attacks from dealing to much damage to her HP. His physical attacks did more damage; he would sweep his tail or his wing across the battlefield, taking a sizable bit of health from all of the party members with him.
The fight lasted awhile, but eventually the god laughed. He said, “You are determined, aren’t you, tiny challenger? Where was that determination when you were torn from your throne? Where was your strength when you were left pitiful and helpless on this planet?”
Katara gasped as his tail swept past her, knocking her to the ground. She leapt to her feet and saw her comrades stand from the corner of her eyes.
“Cut scene initiating.”
“Mizu!” Katara shouted, and water appeared under her fingertips. She lashed out, ice and water and angry hands.
Quetzalcoatl’s eyes widened as the whip of water and ice struck his face.
“That’s my determination and my strength. That’s the depths of my courage,” she responded, her voice quieter than ever. She chuckled, soft and humorless. “Stings, doesn’t it?”
Unexpectedly, Quetzalcoatl laughed at her. “Your mother and father would be proud, little Kaguya. You have your father’s courage, and your mother’s big heart.” The great god seemed prone to laughter, and a delighted chuckle rumbled in his throat. “You also have your father’s temper and your mother’s waterbending skills.”
Katara gazed wondrously at him. Her voice was quiet and shy when she said, “You knew my parents?”
He nodded. “They don’t call me a god for nothing, little one.”
Now that the danger had passed, Katara could feel the princess’s nervousness and her shyness coming back. “I don’t understand why you’re here. That’s all.”
The god smiled kindly at the timid princess. “When a god from the upper ring of Heaven dies, they can sometimes make a crucial decision: go on into the next realm of existence or take the form of a creature of their choosing. When I died in the upper realm of Heaven, I was given that choice.”
Katara nodded, but she could feel the confusion on her face.
“All my life, I had watched the struggles of the people of Earth. I saw their violence and their cruelty, but I also saw their kindness and their love. When I died, I lamented that I could no longer help the people of Earth that had believed in me and worshipped me. I saw their depictions of me, and I decided to take that form. In this way, they would know me for who I was, and they would trust me. I came down to Earth in my new form and kept a close eye on the humans that I loved to watch. I created several summoning gems, so they could come and summon me from where I watched over them. I help those who can prove their worth and those who have truly good hearts.” He smiled at her again. “You, my dearest child, meet both requirements. I shall help you.”
The great winged creature bowed his head, and Katara was startled when her body flew forward to hug the god’s neck. She heard his sound of surprise, and she stepped away from him.
For the first time, one of her companions addressed the massive god.
“Do you regret your decision? To protect these imperfect humans?”
All eyes turned towards Axel. Quetzalcoatl considered the question and smiled.
“I do not regret the decision, Emperor Kirin. I truly believe that these flawed humans are worth my protection.”
Axel bowed to him. “I thank you for agreeing to help my people.”
“I do regret, however, that these humans have such a bizarre idea of what I look like. I was once quite handsome, you know.”
Then the great snake god laughed long and loud, his mouth open and his frightening fangs exposed.
“Just summon me when you need me, tiny Moon child.”
Katara took the cool gem and held it in her hand as the cut scene ended.
The journey back to the village was considerably shorter as Sokka had set these monsters not to respawn.
Rei rushed towards them when they were in sight of the village. She had a relieved smile on her face.
“I knew you could do it!” She took Katara’s hands and a cut scene started. “You guys must be tired. I’ve made places for you at the inn. Please come with me.”
The patching chips urged the forward, but Katara wasn’t sure what to expect. Usually staying in an inn in the earlier games meant watching her character walk into a room, darkness with a short jingling tune, and her characters exiting the room.
When she arrived, she was surprised when she approached the bed. She lay down, and after a few short ‘Good nights,’ her world began to be replaced by a sleepy black haze. It wasn’t quite like falling asleep, but it was similar.
Then the dream started. It was the first cut scene Katara watched from the outside, but her emotions were still just as involved as the other cut scenes.
In the dream, she was watching a funeral procession, but it was more like a parade. Mansions with elaborate designs lined the streets, and everything was opulent and bright. People were elbow to elbow on the crowded streets, and banners honoring the deceased were being waved through the air. An open palanquin traveled down the street, and a small teary-eyed girl was perched on top. With a jolt, Katara realized that it was her character on that palanquin, crying softly into a handkerchief.
Her elaborate robes were all black, and her palanquin was guarded by five familiar Knights.
Suddenly a woman in the crowd began to jeer and shriek that the princess was a traitor of the Heavens. The colors of the dream started to blur and whirl as the mourning people around the princess began to riot. Katara felt the intense fear and desperation of the delicate, grieving princess.
“I have often seen her conversing with unclean, lower beings! She is going to betray us all!” came the shriek. “She’s helping them plot to take over our beautiful land!”
There were more shouts and more voices. People began to snatch at the girl on the pedestal, and the Knights struggled against them. They defended the princess’s honor, but their pleas were drown out by the buzz of the angry crowd.
“We have all seen her dashing about with those wretched, impure butterflies!”
“Her father’s ashes just spread too.”
As Katara watched, it became evident that this revolt had been carefully planned, and she could identify all those who had been strategically placed through the crowd. Fear and accusations spread through the multitude like wildfire, and the Five Knights of Heaven couldn’t restrain them for long. Fear attacked Katara, and she knew she was crying. A woman rose up above the rest of the mob, but she was in shadow and blurry as though she was too much of a nightmare and would tarnish the beautiful landscape around her.
The Knights were dragged away from the helpless royal, screaming and fighting the whole way. The palanquin was lowered to the ground, and the crowd descended upon the crying princess.
Her fear overwhelmed her, and Katara screamed. Through the haze of her fake sleep she heard a concerned voice.
“Kaguya, it’s just a dream.” It was Axel’s voice, and Katara realized she was cradled in his arms. He shook her gently. “It’s a dream, dearest love. Wake up.” Another shake, more forceful than the last.
She heard Jet’s voice. It sounded playful but jealous. “I thought you were supposed to kiss princesses to wake them up.”
When Katara opened her eyes, Axel was glaring warily at Jet. Katara wondered if the others had seen the dream. That cut scene couldn’t have been for her benefit alone.
Axel realized she was awake and hugged her tightly. She felt tears on her face, and she sniffled uncertainly.
“The funeral… the wicked fraud… so many people…so much anger,” she gasped between her tears.
Axel’s arms tightened and one of his hands caressed her hair.
“Don’t worry. It’s over now. We’ll set things right.”
Katara’s fear was abating as the golden-eyed emperor stroked her hair, and she found that she was grateful that the cut scene had given her someone to console her. The fear that she had felt was surprisingly real, but she knew that she wouldn’t have been able to seek comfort with anyone after the cut scene without looking silly. As the cut scene ended, she was still cradled in his arms, and for once, she didn’t immediately leap away from him. Axel began to pull away, but she gasped softly and clung to him tighter. She wasn’t quite prepared to face her unnatural fears alone quite yet.
He didn’t argue and allowed her to bury her face into his shoulder.
She stayed in his arms, gasping through her weakening sobs. The fear was still thrumming through her veins, and she needed his comfort.
After a few moments, her breathing finally began to slow, and her tears stopped.
“Thanks,” she breathed in his ear. “The princess’s emotions are just so strong. I just needed… I needed to be held a little longer.”
“I understand. You’re welcome,” he muttered gruffly as he pulled away from her. She was still sitting on the inn’s small bed, and he helped her to her feet.
Suddenly, Tennin was there, and she engulfed Katara in a hug.
“I’m so sorry that they did that to you,” she exclaimed against Katara’s shoulder.
Sokka scoffed. “It’s just a game. It didn’t really happen.”
Tennin glanced at Sokka but didn’t release her hold on Katara. “Well, if I felt Akka’s anger and sadness as she watched her princess being dragged away, I figured Katara’s fear and anger and sadness must be ten times what mine was.” She tightened her hug on Katara.
Katara felt a rush of affection for the unusual girl and hugged her back. Sokka just huffed impatiently at them and left the room. The others followed, and Tennin released her.
“I don’t like feeling so angry and hopeless.” Tennin’s nose crinkled in distaste. “Very negative emotions and not at all good for your aura.”
Tennin took Katara’s hand, and they walked together companionably. They exited the inn and approached the gaming party that stood at the edge of the village. Katara saw a few of them raise their eyebrows at the two girls holding hands.
Katara tried to ignore them, and with her free hand, she scrubbed at her face.
“My character cries so much,” she complained.
Tennin laughed. “Yeah, but she’s getting stronger and braver. She really handled Quetzalcoatl.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“Your brother is really talented though. To feel emotions like that in a game is pretty intense.”
Katara nodded. “Almost too intense for me.”
Tennin’s smile became mischievous. “Think about it this way: if these negative emotions are so strong, the positive ones will be too.” She nodded slightly in Axel’s direction and giggled. “Should be interesting, huh?”
With heat rising in her cheeks, she muttered, “Yeah, I guess.”
More giggles bubbled from Tennin’s lips, and she released Katara’s hand to rush to Sokka’s side.
Sokka had a grumpy look on his face, and after a short whispered conversation between them, Tennin laughed musically and slipped her hand into his.
Katara watched her brother’s face redden happily before turning away from them.
Toph smirked at Katara and walked over to her, Aang only a few steps behind her.
“Get all the tears out of your system, Sugar Queen?”
“Why yes, Toph, I did,” Katara responded sarcastically. “And now I feel tons better.”
“That’s good, because I don’t want to see you cling to Sparky that way again,” Toph responded. She gagged almost convincingly. “I mean, I know it’s an inn, but we were sharing a room.”
Katara blushed angrily, but Aang colored more than she did.
“It was just a cut scene. It’s not like she leapt into his arms or anything like that,” he responded petulantly.
Toph grinned at the furious young monk. “Yeah, Twinkle Toes, but that doesn’t change the fact that she enjoyed it.”
Aang opened his mouth to retort, but he was interrupted.
“Isn’t it about time we headed for the capital?”
Axel was standing at the village exit, his face tense and embarrassed. Katara was thankful that she had one partner working with her against all the teasing
Aang’s face lit up with excitement, anger and embarrassment completely forgotten.
“To the capital!”
--End Level 7--
A/N: To the capital! (Finally!)
“We leave…as soon as Lady Yuna fixes her hair.” For fans of Final Fantasy 10, that’s kinda what this last scene reminds me of. lol
This chapter is a little shorter than usual, but it's one of my favorites so far. I really looked forward to writing it. Which is one of the reasons I posted two chapters this time. I figured I'd write the next chapter since six was kind of a bad place to stop...
Video game references:
-Picture of Quetzalcoatl, anyone? He’s not quite the same here but… oh well. I went with the "winged-serpent" thing because I thought it fit Avatar better. He was prettier in FF8 though. I made him able to talk too. (So I didn't completely steal him from FF8 lol)
Quetzalcoatl on Final Fantasy Shrine
-Summon creatures in Final Fantasy are usually summoned with a gem or the creature was in the gem.