A/N: Yes I'm writing this again. It's been awhile, and this fic should have died considering how long it's been since I've even bothered writing anything for it. Sorry, I suddenly started playing the game again and now my muse will not leave me alone about this fic. So I had to write more. I know this might be kind of a slow chapter, blame my muse who wanted to indulge in a bit of angst today. So yeah it's depressing. The story will most likely heat up a bit in chapter 9, when the survivors tell their story. There might even be a few surprises.
It wasn’t long before Rikku’s father landed the large airship at the Besaid docks and the entire group was well on its way to Besaid. Yuna couldn’t help but feel like she was going backwards, which somehow induced the fear that she was going to have to start her pilgrimage all over again. It was probably just a silly notion, not even one that she should waste time thinking about, but it was still there, nagging her at the back of her mind, and would not leave her alone even as she gazed out of the window at the sky. Serene and beautiful as it was, there was still a feeling of foreboding that she could not dismiss.
But still, she tried to be brave. Yuna tried her best to be strong for the others, though she felt as though they were her pillars of strength. Sometimes she wondered how they would look at her if they knew half the things that went on in her mind. None of her hopes, her fears, and her personal wishes could she ever tell them…except him: her blitzball star from Zanarkand, whose head always seemed to be up in the clouds. His personality fit hers more than any of the others realized. However, she had never had the chance to allow herself to dream of anything other than defeating Sin and bringing peace to Spira…that was really all she wanted.
She never felt compelled to be a summoner merely because her father was. She felt compelled to be a summoner because she loved her father, and she loved the people. And they loved her because she loved them. She only wished for their happiness, because she had been blessed with a happy childhood, despite her father’s absence. He had wanted her to be happy, and because of that she felt that she also needed to repay him in some way. She only hoped that he was proud of her.
Still, she couldn’t help but wonder if something had gone terribly wrong. Why did she feel that way? Sin surely was gone, wasn’t it? And Yevon…Yu Yevon was destroyed. She had been there. And she had sent away the fayth to the Farplane, so that they could finally rest. She had tried…she had done what she only knew to do, in order for Spira to be safe. She had sacrificed her own happiness so many times, and had continued on even though her heart had screamed at her for compromising her own future. Surely Yevon was truly destroyed?
Yuna placed a hand on the cool glass of the window, her eyes scanning the horizon as though somehow she would see a sign, a clue, anything that would tell her otherwise. Even though she felt silly, and that she would always be searching for Sin even though it was destroyed, she could not stop herself.
She was still standing at the window later when Tidus came up beside her and stood without saying a word. He didn’t have to speak…already they were so closely tuned in to each other that she knew what he wanted to say.
“I’ve tried not to worry,” she said, not turning to face him. “I’ve told myself that he can’t return, that Spira is finally safe now. But I can’t believe it. Is that horrible of me? After all that we have witnessed, to not have faith that Yevon is truly gone now…why do I continue to search for him as though he is still out there? Am I just afraid, or is it more?”
He placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Yuna, it’s not horrible of you. Yevon was a terrible force beyond our imagination. It’s a miracle that we survived. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
She buried her face in his chest as he enfolded her in his arms. “I don’t know what I would do without you,” she whispered. “Don’t ever leave me again.”
“I’ll be here,” he replied, and was thankful that she couldn’t see the doubt in his eyes.
Chappu, meanwhile, was taking in as much of the machina airship as he could. Rikku’s father had practically thrown him out of the cockpit for asking him too many questions. Chappu really hadn’t seen the harm in asking a few questions, but he’d also learned quickly that Rikku’s father was not a patient man. Ah, well, perhaps there would be time later for questions.
Talking to either Lulu or Wakka was out of the question. Lulu had that look on her face that he had seen many times before…one that made it obvious to anyone with a brain that it would be wise not to speak to her. He still felt that he knew her well enough to leave her alone for now. Even if his entire soul wanted nothing more than to be near her.
Chappu had actually attempted to talk to Wakka, but had basically been given the cold shoulder. Wakka obviously wasn’t in a good mood, either…but neither should he have been with the destruction of Besaid. Chappu knew that it wasn’t the only reason. Well, he couldn’t really blame his brother for not welcoming him back with open arms. Chappu really didn’t know what to think of this entire situation…putting aside what had happened to Besaid, and the fact that he’d dreamed about it, he had begun to get a pretty good idea of something happening between Lulu and Wakka. Not that he was happy about it…to Chappu, Lulu was still his woman, and would always be his woman. Not even death could change that…or so he had thought.
But dwelling on the whole mess was just too much to bear at this point. He desperately needed something to get it off of his mind. So he decided to go exploring. These sights and sounds of the airship were new to him, and so fascinating. Apparently more had changed while he was gone than he realized. Or perhaps the past was starting to unravel, something that could indeed change the future for the better, what with the reintroduction of machina among other things, including It was an exciting thought.
Eventually he ended up in what looked like an extra control room, with monitors and buttons that looked somewhat similar to sphere monitors. In fact, most of the buttons looked like spheres, which Chappu found amusing. His fingers itched to press one, or perhaps move one of the ones that were attached to a stick. But he wasn’t sure what would happen, and wasn’t too anxious to find out.
Or perhaps he was. He shrugged, and asked himself what was the worst that could happen, and started to press a big red button.
“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you.”
He nearly yelped as he turned around to see Rikku standing there, her arms folded across her chest and a sly smile on her face.
“You just almost pushed the alarm button, you know,” she said. “You know what that would mean, don’t you?”
“It means that you would give everyone on this ship a heart attack, and my father would come down here and kick your ass!” she yelled. “Don’t go around pushing buttons when you don’t know what they’re for! Especially when my father is around! Sheesh…didn’t you learn not to press your luck with him earlier?”
“Hey, I was just curious. Give me a break.”
“I won’t be the one breaking your arm,” she replied. “My father is very protective of his airship.”
“So I noticed. Listen, don’t worry, I won’t touch anything. Promise. I just wanted to look around, you know? This is really fascinating stuff. I’ve always been interested in machina; how it works, what it can do. My brother was always against it, which really never stopped me from being interested in it, but of course I never had the chance to learn anything about it. He is my brother; I tried my best not to upset him. Sometimes…it just didn’t work, though.”
Rikku nodded in understanding. “Believe me, I’ve been around Wakka long enough to find out how he is. He and I got into it a lot because I’m Al Bhed, but eventually he came around, even before we discovered the real truth about Yevon. He’s a good guy. Just…stubborn.”
“Yeah, he is.”
Rikku bit her lip, at a loss as to what to say next, but Chappu solved that for her. “You’ll have to tell me how this thing works sometime.”
“Sure! Well…when Dad isn’t around, I’d be glad to.”
Chappu smiled. “That’s good.”
Another awkward silence. “So tell me,” Rikku started, after some careful deliberation. “Do you…remember being in the Farplane?”
He stared at her, clearly startled by her question. Rikku immediately blushed. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to answer that,” she hurried to add. “It’s a personal subject, I guess…”
“No…it’s a good question,” he replied calmly. “I just never really thought about it. Too much going on, you know.”
“Yeah that’s true.”
He rubbed his chin. “You know…I can’t really remember a whole lot. I just remember thoughts…feelings…a sensation that felt a lot like swimming under water, only I didn’t have to hold my breath…because I had no breath. I just don’t remember what that felt like. It’s weird…hard to explain. I remember feeling sad, but then happy, and yet neither at the same time because emotions just passed so quickly.”
Rikku thought a moment. “Are you sure you were in the Farplane?”
He raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
She fumbled with the braids of her hair, almost nervously. “Well, the Al Bhed believe that when people die, they don’t go to the Farplane. They go somewhere else. We think that the pyreflies are creatures that form images of loved ones from people’s memories. Although…I don’t really know if that’s true anymore, because there was an incident with a maester who had been murdered, and I guess he hadn’t been sent properly because he tried to escape from the Farplane. At least, that’s what it looked like.”
“Those are interesting thoughts,” Chappu mused. “I never really thought of it any other way, but perhaps there are elements of truth in both theories. I always wondered why the pyreflies outside of the Farplane never gave images of the dead.”
“That’s not necessarily true,” Rikku argued. “When we were in Zanarkand during Yunie’s pilgrimage, there were images of past summoners. It was really haunting to see them and hear their last words.”
Rikku nodded. “There’s also something else I’ve been wondering. Why is it that when someone is dead, and unsent, that they sometimes…’give off’ pyreflies? And I’ve noticed that only when they want others to know that they’re dead, that’s when pyreflies appear around them. It’s strange. And confusing. I’d really like to know what pyreflies are, really. I thought about doing research on them someday.”
“Hey, that sounds like a good idea,” Chappu agreed. “They’re pretty interesting.”
Rikku grinned. “You know, you’re easy to talk to. You’re nothing like Wakka…are you sure he’s your brother?”
Chappu laughed. “I’ve often wondered that, myself.”
At that moment, Cid’s voice came over the intercom and announced that they were coming up on Besaid Island. The laughter immediately died, and the light-hearted feel in the air vanished. Chappu hung his head, clenching his eyes shut. “I know I’m not going to want to see this...”
Rikku placed a hand on his shoulder, and found that she could say nothing. He gave her a solemn smile, which she returned, and the two of them walked back to the control room.
Indeed, Besaid was worse than any of them could have imagined. The smoke rolled off the remains of what was once a beautiful, peaceful village, giving it a ghostly, surreal look. The tent-like cabins were gone completely, the only evidence of their existence being black, charred piles of rubble. The grass had been burned, the cobblestone pathways also destroyed beyond recognition. Only the temple remained, and even it was beyond repair. The frame of the building still stood, but the ceiling had caved in. The statues of the past summoners still stood…but they, too, were ruined.
The group stood beneath the airship, where it had landed as close to the village as it had been able to. They stood and stared in a terrifying, awed silence…and could not believe what they saw. Rikku had never seen the village before its destruction, and still she could not believe…she could not fathom that someone other than Sin and Yevon could have been so heartless, so merciless. Whoever had done this had been out for revenge.
Indeed, all of them could smell revenge in the air. This was no accident…this had been done out of cold blood. None of them wanted to voice what they were thinking…but Yuna could stand it no longer.
“We have to find the one who did this,” she said in a quiet voice.
Her small frame shook silently with unshed tears that threatened to spill
over. But she did not cry…she
could not cry. There would be
plenty of time for that later. She wanted nothing more than to find justice for the people
who had raised her since childhood.
“I loved them,” she continued. “Their deaths shall not be in vain. I will see to it.” She then turned to the rest of them, all of whom were regarding her with the utmost attention. “Will you come with me?”
Tidus was the first to speak. “I’m with you no matter where you go or what you do,” he said. “You don’t even have to ask. Just say the word and I’m there.”
“The same goes for me, Yuna,” Lulu added. “You know that.”
Wakka nodded. “And me.”
“Count me in!” Rikku chimed as optimistically as she could.
All five turned to face Chappu, who was still fighting back tears of his own and feeling extremely out of place. He really didn’t know what he could do…but in truth, he knew he couldn’t just stand back and not find out what was going on. Something was up…he could feel it as strongly as the others, and if someone had seen fit for him to return, then they must have had a purpose. He had to find out what that was most of all…and perhaps this was it.
Coming to that conclusion, he offered a crooked smile and nodded. “I’m in, as well.”
That night, Yuna performed the sending. They all had witnessed a sending before, but never was it so powerful as it was then. Powerful, and haunting, to watch the scores of pyreflies rise from the destroyed, smoking remains of the village. It was too much for Lulu; she had to turn away, tears streaming down her cheeks. Wakka wanted nothing more than to turn away, but couldn’t, his gaze transfixed as though he were in a trance.
It was hard for Yuna to send her loved ones away to the Farplane. She had performed several sendings in the past few weeks…but this time was worse than any of them. This was personal…she had felt distant before, separated because she had not known the ones before. Although it was still upsetting to see so much death, and she certainly felt sorrow for those who had died, this time she felt as though she were being ripped apart. The sight before her was tearing her soul. She wanted nothing more than to collapse to her knees and sob on the ground, to mourn their loss instead of performing her duty to send them.
Why? Why did this happen? In anger, someone had destroyed those that she had loved and cared for deeply. In pure fiery rage, someone had killed innocent people. She could not stand for that. Was not her duty as a summoner to bring justice and peace? Even though the aeons were gone, and she could no longer call on their power to help her, she could still be strong and continue to fight for what was right.
Silently, swiftly, the last of the pyreflies disappeared into the night sky, and Yuna’s rod dropped to her side. She stood, her head bowed as though in prayer, while the rest of them watched her. No one said anything…no words were needed. They bowed their heads as well, and each of them said a prayer for the departed souls, and for whatever battles might be ahead.
Finally, after a long moment of silence, Yuna’s gaze rose to meet theirs, determination in her discolored eyes. “There is nothing more that we can do here. These people from Kilika will continue to clean up. They will eventually put a memorial here, which I will personally dedicate. However, we need to rest. It has been a long day for all of us, and a hard one. I am tired…”
“Where to next, Yunie?” Rikku asked. “I mean, I know now might not be a good time, but we can’t stay here…”
“No, you’re right,” Yuna replied. “It is a good time to discuss where we’re going next. The most logical thing to do at this point, I believe, is go to Kilika. There, we can rest and maybe try to recuperate from the effects of this disaster. Also, the survivors of the attack were taken there. They may be able to tell us what happened, if in fact they are in the condition to talk to us.”
“That sounds like a plan,” Tidus agreed. “Yuna…are you ok?”
She nodded. “Yes…I will be fine. I’m sorry I sound bossy…I don’t normally take control like this, do I? I guess I…I just want to find out what happened so badly, I feel like if I don’t do something, I’m going to burst!”
Lulu brushed a strand of hair out of Yuna’s face. “We understand. Come, let’s get back on the airship.”
The rest of them turned to get back on, but Yuna stood still. “I will. Give me a minute…”
Lulu nodded, and followed the group inside. Yuna turned back to the remnants of her once beloved and beautiful childhood home. It was as though she could not tear her eyes away from the scene…but really, her mind began to wander.
She had acquired so many memories there. So many times of laughter, sometimes sadness. Always people who loved her and cared for her. Gentle smiles, faces of friends, adventures and scary stories by the circle fire. If she remembered real hard, she might be able to look past the smoking ashes and see her loved ones still standing there, waving goodbye as she left them on her journey to defeat Sin. A tear rolled down her cheek…if only she’d known that would be the last time she ever saw them. If only…if only she could have hugged them all just one more time.
But they were gone. And she would not let them down even still. She brushed the tear from her cheek and turned away from the sight that would forever be implanted in her mind. With a heavy sigh, she went inside the airship, and was met with a tender hug from Tidus. She pulled him to her.
“Thank you for being here,” she whispered.
He shrugged. “No problem. We can get through this, you know.”
“I know. I’m grateful that I still have you and the others with me. I don’t know what I’d do without you all.”
“You’ll never have to find out,” he said, his mind adding, “I’ll
do my best to see that you won’t.”