Hey there! I wanted to do this sooner, but another project took my attention... And, after that project, Super Mario Galaxy 2 took my attention... That other project should be revealed sometime within the next few weeks. I do hope you like it. I've got my fingers crossed on that one. It's more "high fantasy" than sci-fi. We'll see how it goes, yeah? But for now, I present the next Shinki Short. This comes well before the other two, and kind of sets up the world as seen in the "present." This one also feels more like fantasy than sci-fi, because it focuses on my first Shinki, MMS Type Knight: Xiphos! I hope you enjoy it!
***Xiphos: Weight of the World***
The world contains several legendary weapons. These weapons, hidden away in the most remote reaches of the Earth, have the ability to alter fate itself to find the wielder of their choosing. Many of them are accounted for. Nearly every Master Mage in the Council has one. Veron the Red wields the rapier Lightbringer, Palin the Black holds the Millenium Rod, and Rhys the White uses the Holy Staff. However, the non-mage class weapons have mostly been lost to the ages. Excalibur, the Sword of Promised Victory, disappeared with King Arthur. Arondight has no Dark Knight to use it. No Dragoons exist to wield Abel's Lance.
One sword, however, keeps popping up when it feels the Earth is in need of a strong ruler. Originally forged by a Legendary Smith, this sword seeks out powerful souls to take command of the Earth itself. Its first holder was one of the third age's Light Warriors. Refia, who could naturally change her attributes using the power of the Crystals, taught the sword defensive techniques, so that it could protect its owner. Once the Cloud of Darkness that threatened the world was defeated, Refia led the shattered world in its rebuilding process. After Refia passed, the sword sealed itself away until a powerful madman threatened the planet. The blade sought Celes, a girl who used it to absorb magic. Once the fight was over, Celes's dear friend and companion, Terra, formed a summoning pact with the sword, so that all future wielders could call upon the half-Eidolon for aid. Like Refia before her, Celes would lead the world in the rebuilding process after the madman's defeat using the sword and the influence of the world's other royal figureheads. Finally, the sword came to Beatrix when the planet fell under attack by a parallel version of itself! Beatrix ended up having little to do with the quelling of the threat, but left her position as Queen's Guard to fulfill the sword's wishes of her reigning over the people of a united planet. From Beatrix, already an accomplished knight, the blade learned several techniques that used its wielder's spiritual power. After the passing of Beatrix, the sword slept again.
This is a brief history of Save the Queen, a sword that unites the Earth as one people in times of need. And, on this day, she stirs again. A sentient blade, Save the Queen is keenly aware of the Earth's fate. The Milky Way galaxy houses billions of societies, which have already warred and found peace. That society, as a whole, formed a federation composed of the various planets of sentient life and have decided to expand their territory. This federation, composed of several unified worlds, looks down on species that war amongst themselves. If this group is truly coming towards Earth, then the Earth must bring itself together under one ruler again.
But what happens if, after the one chosen by Save the Queen passes, she finds no worthy successor? To keep the Earth unified, there must always be a Queen. But there isn't always a fit for the hefty title. What if...? What if she could find a new Queen that simply would not pass? A Queen to rule the world for the rest of the foreseeable future? Only the Mages could contrive such a thing. Some sort of potion, perhaps? No. That won't be necessary. A new Mage has joined the Council since the last time she slept. Cid the Yellow: the technomancer. This master of the new magic has unwittingly contrived the perfect solution to Save the Queen's dilemma. They are not human, nor even organic, yet they live. These Busou Shinki function by enchanting an advanced mechanical body with a Fabricated Soul. So, the Mages have done it; they've finally matched God himself and created life. And one such life happens to match Save the Queen's criteria to a tee...
"I just... feel a need to get out for a while." A girl pleads with an elderly man. She stands tall, her blond, shoulder-length hair is held in place by an armored clip in the back, while two thick braids frame her face. Her blue eyes seem to read the soul of the man, who looks back at her with a perplexed look. "Please, Cid, I'm not worried about the Behemoths; they're easy enough to take care of, and the Marlboros' breath has no effect on us. There's nothing to worry about."
"Hmm," the old Mage considers, "Xiphos, you're still relatively new; I haven't had time to configure your armor yet."
"Cid," she persists, "this is important."
"I... I don't know, but it is."
Cid sighs deeply. "Arnval, talk some sense into her."
Arnval, who was listening in, replies, "OK, Xiphos, do you want to go for a walk in the forest?"
"I do," Xiphos answers with militaristic discipline.
"So go," Arnval reasons, "that makes sense to me. Cid, you worry too much. We were built for combat, remember? If she can't take out a Behemoth or two then you did something wrong. You didn't mess up, did you?"
Cid scowls, "Bah! rebellious child! Alright, do as you wish; just be sure to teleport back here immediately if you get in over your head."
Xiphos kneels down on one knee. "Thank you, Cid. I swear on my honor that I shall return immediately should anything go wrong," she looks up at him and smiles wryly, "should anything go wrong with a pleasure walk in the woods."
"Don't get smart with me, young lady," Cid huffs. At that, Xiphos leaves the Mages' Mansion for the surrounding forest. "And you!," he turns on Arnval, "some help you are! Whose side are you on anyway?!"
"Relax, old man," the Angel replies, blowing off Cid's frustration, "you've gotta let us get out sometime; we can't just stay couped up in here all the time."
"Hmph! You don't seem to mind it so much."
"That's because the rest of us never actually come to you for permission."
As Xiphos nears the edge of the forest, she stops. "Benio, as much as I enjoy your company, I feel a need to be alone right now."
A soft rustle indicates Benio's landing. "You're acting strangely today, sister. Is something wrong?"
Xiphos turns to her sister, "Can you feel its pull?"
"I can't, but it's more than obvious that you're out for more than a leisurely stroll."
"Something... calls to me, and I need to find it..."
"Xiphos, it should a least wit until Cid finishes your armor."
"Well, Cid seems to be busy sitting on his hands regarding our armor."
"I can only imagine it's difficult integrating the cybernetics with the traditional styles we chose."
"Right though you may be, Benio, this can't wait."
"Sister, a fell wind blows today."
"That much I see, but something lies interlaced within that wind."
Benio closes her eyes and aims her face to the sky. "...Hope..."
"Hope," Xiphos affirms.
"Did you bring a weapon?"
"Only my wits and the Wind."
"May the Wind guide you, sister. Keep an open line of communication. Call for me if you need anything."
Xiphos nods at Benio and takes off into the dense forest surrounding the Mages' Mansion. She runs. Something pulls at her. It jerks her this way and that, and she follows it through the woods. It is impossible to track her progress; the enchantment on the forest prevents it. There are only two states of being here: in the woods, or out. Now Xiphos is certainly in the woods. If she wanted to, she could close her eyes and make her way back to the Mansion in a near straight line, but still the wordless voice calls to her. And still she follows it. She comes to a deep, wide creek. This poses no threat; the wind aids her momentum. Quite suddenly, the wind gusts up, and she leaps to catch it. The wind takes her into a tree and across the chasm, to land on the other bank. She takes off into these new woods, just as she did before.
Here, she comes to a clearing. Her dash slows to a jog, then a walk as she lets her eyes take in the scenery. In the center of the clearing, a great statue stands ever vigilant. The statue depicts a mighty knight, its zweihander's tip stuck into the ground as its hands rest upon the hilt.
Who are you, to have come all this way?, a feminine voice sounds in her head.
"I am MMS Type Knight: Xiphos," she answers in a clear, disciplined voice, "and to whom do I answer?"
So, you say that you are a knight?, the voice mocks her, then where, child, is your armor?
"That is none of your business. I have asked before and I shall ask again, with whom am I conversing?"
And where is your sword?
"I have already stated that it is none of your concern."
The knight is a defensive class. On a team, a knight must be able to protect herself and her teammates. How can you do that without sword and armor? At this, the trees rustle with the sound of life. Show me, girl. Protect yourself.
A bird of prey swoops from the trees at Xiphos's head. "Zephyr!" A powerful gust of wind deters the fowl's flight path. From behind, a wild cat charges her. In response, she leaps into the air as the cat passes harmlessly under her. In the air, she hears a fierce buzzing; a small cloud of bees makes its way to her. At this, she scoops at the air with her arm, which creates a small whirlwind just strong enough to interrupt the bees' flight. When she lands, the forest is still again.
Parlor tricks and magic? That is not very knightly at all.
"You told me to defend myself and I did. Now, what do you want with me?"
I can sense the power within you. It would've been easy to kill any of those beasts. That would have been the proper approach for a knight.
"...Your definition of a 'knight' could use an update..."
Oh? could it now? Xiphos, there are some adversaries that cannot simply be deterred and left alone.
"I'm well aware, but the creatures of the forest do not fall into this category."
No, perhaps not those creatures, but what of the one you neglected? Xiphos turns to the sound of scraping rock as the statue in the middle of the clearing grabs the hilt of its great sword. You'll need more than what I've seen so far to deter this foe.
"No, I think I have this one covered, as well..." Xiphos swirls the wind about her and concentrates it in her hands. As the golem knight takes a step towards her she releases the gale at it. The concentrated air creates a visible distortion in its path and nails the golem in the head. However, it is grossly unaffected. The golem is too heavy to be knocked off balance by Xiphos's wind. Thinking of the creek, she turns tail and heads back into the forest. Perhaps she can sink it into the soft, wet earth. When she checks her shoulder to see if the golem has followed her though, she notices that it has stopped at the edge of the clearing. Suspicious, she walks back to the clearing. The golem lets her back in and then faces her again. She cannot leave this clearing; the golem demands to be defeated here. It raises its sword and strikes at the ground where Xiphos stood.
Xiphos and the golem play a cat and mouse dodging game for what feels like ages. Her wind has no effect on it, and it is too slow to actually hit her. But, quite suddenly, the golem exhibits a speed that Xiphos could not have anticipated, and it snatches her out of the sky with its free hand. You see?, the voice mocks her again, what is a knight without her sword and armor?
Xiphos glares at the golem. "A knight still," she spits. The golem would have crushed a normal human by now, but Xiphos is a Busou Shinki. And, as such, she posses a strength far beyond that of the humans her design was based off. She clenches her fists together and brings them down on the golem's wrists like a sledgehammer. It cracks and gives way, falling to the ground with Xiphos in tow. The golem recoils from the unexpected pain. "A knight is not her equipment," Xiphos announces, standing tall. "A knight is her honor!" The golem swings its sword again. She leaps over it and delivers another blow to the rock's shoulder, which cracks through. When it raises its blade again, the arm falls. "A knight is her code!" Xiphos rushes the disarmed golem and sends a kick to its knee. It crumbles and the golem falls, its head landing at Xiphos's feet. "A knight," she pauses and clenches her fists together again, "is her soul." She brings her sledgehammer fists down and shatters the golem's head.
Yes, the voice sounds pleased, you'll do quite nicely.
The ground gives way beneath Xiphos and she falls into a deep cavern, landing on her hip joints. "I wonder if this counts as being 'in over my head," she thinks out loud, "Xiphos to Benio, can you hear me, sister?" Static. "Benio, please respond." ... Nothing. "Fine then, are you still here?"
Of course, the voice replies, I'm right over here...
"Over... here...?," Xiphos echoes. She looks around her. Light filters in through the hole in the ceiling. The dust in the air makes the Sun's rays clearly visible in the underground chamber. One ray shines upon a sword in a stone pedestal.
"Whosoever pulleth this sword--
"If you're not going to take this seriously, then I'm out."
Sorry, sometimes it's hard to resist. One must have some form of entertainment when one is buried beneath an enchanted forest.
Take the sword, Xiphos.
Pull it from the pedestal.
"I've no need of it. Cid will have my sword ready within the month."
But it needs you.
No, I should be more accurate. Xiphos, I need you.
"What are you--"
Take hold of my hilt, lady knight.
Xiphos's eyes widen with realization. She nods and approaches the blade. As she reaches out toward it she warns the voice, "If this is a trap or a joke, you will have one very angry android on your proverbial hands." She grips the hilt of the blade and is immediately hit with a rush of information.
The sword is Save the Queen, and she fills Xiphos with the knowledge of the World Queens who have come before. Xiphos, this world will need to come together soon. Out in space, well beyond our Sol System, looms both salvation and dread. You are to take your place as Earth's Queen and bring the people of this planet together as one. But be warned, the humans of today are a racist bunch, and neither you nor your sisters will be accepted readily for a long time.
"But, if the humans won't accept us, then how are we supposed to unite them?"
I will help you as much as I can. The world's population has no choice but to accept my wielder as the supreme ruler here. You have a long road ahead of you, Xiphos, but you also have the best support group of any Queen yet. The Mages and the Busou Shinki will be here to back you through the trials and tribulations. Oh, and one more thing...
A light envelops Xiphos and she feels as if she is being hugged by someone who wants to protect her. When the light fades, she is clad in blue armor trimmed and detailed in gold. She checks her computer systems. All systems green. Armory updated. Check inventory for more information. Armor systems online. Weapon systems online.
This one stumps Cid, so I'll take over for him. For your information, he is panicking as we speak due to your sudden update.
"We should get back then; I do love watching Cid get all flustered."
In the decades to come, Xiphos would unite the Earth under one ruler. She and the Busou Shinki fight an uphill battle in revealing themselves to the world and trying to gain the humans' acceptance as denizens of the planet. She and a select group of Shinki live in the World Castle, set in an unknown location much like the Mage's Mansion. She appoints her highest ranks to govern over each continent, to speak to her for its people. Keeping all of Earth's people happy is a tough balancing act, always about to topple into chaos, but she is determined to be ready for the day the Universal Federation discovers and inspects the Earth. When they come, she will either join them in peace, or crush them in war.
Weapons: -Save the Queen: The broadsword that marks her as Queen of the World, this ancient blade is riddled with enchantments that both protect its wielder and enhance her abilities. Xiphos's favorite weapon, she is quite skilled even without StQ's enhancements. Always by her side, this sword doesn't need to be summoned.
-Ogre Smasher: A single-handed axe made for crushing blows in close-quarters. It has more damage potential than StQ, but less range, and Xiphos handles it with less proficiency. However, it will break most defenses, so skill plays little part.
-Gale Crossbow- Xiphos's only ranged option. Despite its archaic appearance, it fires arrows composed of Xiphos's magical energy and doesn't have the pesky reload time of traditional crossbows. Good for picking off weaker foes at a distance, but Xiphos doesn't pride herself on her marksmanship...
-Aeolus's Lance: An unwieldly weapon of great power, it is impractical to use grounded. When thrown, it creates a powerful cyclone in its wake, then leaves a mighty tornado centered on its landing point. However, Xiphos most commonly uses this to charge opponents in a joust. Since most horses are too slow to be practical, she often uses Ach as a steed. She had Cid build her an armored motorcycle that she calls Shadowfax so that she didn't have to endanger one of her sisters for a jousting setup. This can only be summoned in her heaviest armor.
Type Abilities: -Cover: As a knight, Xiphos's defense is much higher than most others.' Despite being such an important figure, she is best suited for decoy work and covering a retreat from behind.
-Voice of the Queen: When she talks, you listen. No fighting takes place while Xiphos gives a speech, even to an enemy.
Bio: Chosen by Save the Queen to lead the Earth, Xiphos is disciplined, loyal, and charismatic. She occasionally questions and goes against the advice of her sentient sword, but this only applies to matters of relaxation. When it comes to matters of actual ruling, she and StQ often come to the same conclusions. Most humans have a begrudging respect for her as wielder of the Blade of Choosing, but she and her sisters feel the pressure that stems from the general nonacceptance of Shinki into human society. Many question StQ for choosing a non-human Queen for a planet inhabited primarily by humans... Unlike most of her sisters, Xiphos wears an armor forged for her by StQ. It lacks flight capabilities, but the enchantments on it greatly increase her natural abilities. Also unlike the other Shinki, her armor has two stages: one medium setup for general combat, and a heavy configuration for serious tanking. Her heavy armor can take all but the most powerful of hits without missing a beat, but it seriously kills her speed unless she takes a mount. Using her Air attribute, Xiphos can increase her movement capabilities like running speed and jumping height. Additionally, she can call forth gusts of wind and localized cyclones to deter opponents. She can combine this with all of her weapons.