Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X-2 > Necrosis Infinitum

Laid Bare

by cupcakegirl 1 review

Discoveries abound, and even some Gippal!Angst.

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Erotica, Humor, Romance - Characters: Brother, Gippal, Rikku, Tidus, Yuna - Warnings: [X] - Published: 2006-03-21 - Updated: 2006-03-22 - 3177 words

Author's Notes: I like this story. It's not often (ever) that I do an action fic. Unless it's in-bed action. Here we go. This was actually shorter than I planned, I trimmed some things that will be appearing in the next chapter. Hopefully.

Chapter 4: Laid Bare

The Machine Faction Leader was sulking. Or, well, brooding, if you wanted to be nice about it. Yuna watched him as he sat on a stone-outcrop that hadn't yet been worn away by the windstorms., He was staring out at the desert, a moody look on his face. She sighed and pushed away the thoughts of her own love deciding he /needed some time/. That was besides the point right now, though. She walked slowly towards Gippal and took a seat on the smooth rock beside him. He shifted slightly, his head tilting towards her, acknowledging her presence with a slight hitch to his shoulders.

"Have you told her?" Yuna knew the power to unlocking someone as knotted up at Gippal was to dive right in and not let him back out and bluster. Give him an inch and he'd run and hide behind sexy smirks and lowered lashes. And while Yuna was proof against anything he might try to throw her way, it wouldn't actually solve any problems if he decided to get rid of her by flirting and trying to tumble her here in the sand. It definitely wouldn't help when it got back to Rikku that Gippal had tried to seduce beloved Cousin Yunie only a week after she'd left. Even if the two stubborn Al Bhed weren't officially an item.

"No," the answer rumbled out of his chest. He looked over at her, his one eye searching her face. "It has been a tough year, going back and forth from Djose." Yuna put one hand over his and he clenched it into a fist.

"Maybe... you should talk to her."

"Hard to do that when she goes haring off after some sunken treasure. Doesn't Cid know that kinda work is dangerous? I thought he loved his daughter," there was a bitterness in his words and Yuna smiled inwardly.

"I think he does, very much. Rikku..." Yuna sighed as words failed her for a moment, "Rikku is like a river in spring, very unstoppable, almost primal. You need to give her an outlet or she floods over the banks." Her analogy startled a chuckle out of Gippal. He scratched the back of his head idly and then smiled down at her.

"She was always like that... bit of a handful," he said, a grin turning him from a simply attractive man to a gorgeous one. Yuna smiled back.

"So? What then?"

"I'm not sure," he said, his grin slipping off his face and he looked somberly out at the sand. "I haven't been thinking about it much. Been too busy. Just... y'know when you're going outta your mind looking for this one type of a bolt? And you dig through all the boxes in the warehouse and you finally, after hours of searching, find the one that fits the machina properly?"

"Um, no, not really, but continue."

"I kinda feel like that," he said simply, his face without a trace of smug humour despite the rather strange metaphor he'd come up with.

"Oh," Yuna said.



They'd hit a big ol' statue. Knocked off its head too, from what one of the first dive teams had told her. They hadn't figured for bumping into wood, so it hadn't been on the scanners. Normally the previous generations built with stone or metal, or a combination of the two. Rikku just shook her head as she looked at the under-water spheres her team had assembled for her. It was a statue, but of what, they'd never know unless they unearthed the damn thing and brought it to air. The wood had degraded to the point any paint or features it might have had were now gone, according to the flora specialist that had been sent along with the crew. Rikku was a little grateful her father had thought to add him to her team.

Al Bhed didn't normally... look all that closely at things that weren't going whirrr whirrr bang clack bang and Vyhiy was unusual in his love for anything that threw roots down into the ground. Rikku found him a little strange, to be perfectly honest, and she felt such devotion to green things was, well, peculiar/. That aside, he'd been of great help with the samples the divers brought back, tucking them away into sealed plastic bags for further examination when they got back to New Home. But that statue. It presented a sizable puzzle. Rikku felt a mischievous smile start to spread across her face. Nothing was more exciting than a puzzle, nothing more thrilling, not even the time she'd managed to escape Auron's wrath when she accidentally-on-purpose knocked over his sake jug. /That had been a caper she'd be telling her grandchildren about.

"Hey, Rikku, you ready?" Tidus was leaning in the doorway to her tiny office and she jerked up out of her chair in surprise, toppling it over with a loud metal clang. Tidus grinned and picked it off the floor for her as she grumbled and pulled her dry-suit on over her shorts and tank-top. It wasn't fair that 'cause of all that blitzball he happened to be way more graceful than her. Boys weren't supposed to be /graceful/. They were supposed to be all clod and thump and sex and floppy hair. Besides being a girl, she'd have thought having a thief's reflexes would work in her favour more often.

The water was cold and dark green as they swam down towards the statue that they'd beheaded. Rikku got to see it up close, running her gloved fingers over the old scarred wood. Tidus motioned with his hands that he was going down and she nodded, following in the wake of his bubbles. They reached the head that had landed sadly at the stone base, and Rikku moved around to get a closer look at the facial features. There was nothing left of the front, just a large fresh gouge showing bright red flesh where they'd plowed into it. The wood surrounding the gash was dark black with age, speckled with small sea creatures that had made it their home. Tidus shrugged and motioned for her to move on. They followed the water-flares the dive team had left after scouting the cove for the last week. They'd told her they'd found a structure, still intact, and safe to explore.

It loomed out of the murk as they rounded an underwater ridge. The sun was piercing the water in bright long shafts, lighting up the crystal spires that soared upwards towards the surface. They'd found a /crystal palace/, or at least, what looked like one. Rikku felt shivers of excitement pass through her as she followed Tidus through the arched entrance. Rikku paused to look closer at the arch; it glittered with algae-darkened shells that had been crushed and inlaid into the solid stone. She ran her hand down it then chased after Tidus. They went down a long winding tunnel, lit only with the green flares. Shapes and shadows drifted past them as they swam, fish and other mysterious things. Who knew how deep they were below the surface now, and her lungs were starting to burn before she saw the red flares that signaled a breathing point. Using the dregs of her energy she powered forward and up with a great gasp when she broke the surface. Tidus was treading beside her, moving towards the stairs that rose out of the dark waters. The flares lit up the domed ceiling above them, shining on the dripping water that leaked down.

"Wow," he said with a broad smile, "that had to be the coolest thing I've seen in a while." She grinned and pulled her goggles off, tucking them into one of the pouches she had slung around her waist.

"Me too," she replied and then pointed. "I think they said that this leads to some sort of chamber, c'mon." She dragged herself up the stairs and shook the water off, unzipping the suit and leaving it to dry on the rocks. A tunnel stretched on before them, the air fresh, lifting her damp matted hair away from her face slightly. The scent of sky and wind meant it had to be fed by an opening somewhere, possibly up in the cliffs that surrounded the cove they'd anchored in. Tidus shook his head free of water and stood there dripping, waiting for her to set up their tracking equipment before going further. When it was beeping in a soft steady pattern they knew it was working fine. The crew on board the ship would know where they last had been in case something went wrong.

When the path forked they took opposite turns. Rikku was exploring some intricate carvings cut into the stone wall. They looked like fiends, mystical sigils and signs, carved deep into the rock, their eyes given eerie brightness from bits of shell or sparkling stone. Her radio beeped on her hip.

"Whoa, Rikku, you gotta come check this out." Tidus's voice rang out from the speaker. She took one last shot of the carvings with her sphere-cam before heading back the way he'd gone.

"How far are you?" The radio had a little static when he responded.

"Take the first left after the original fork, you'll find me. I set up flares. I think I've found a door. It has got some writing on it that looks Al Bhed, but not any kind of Al Bhed I know." She picked up the pace, trotting down the long hallway, feeling the worn wet stones slick under her boots.

"Oh," she said, the breath leaving her in a soft gasp as she looked up to the full height of the room that Tidus was standing in. The walls were crawling with whorls and incisions lined with metal, glinting against the dull gray stone. The roof peaked high above them, the ceiling hidden in shadow that their flares wouldn't light. "It looks like it goes on forever." A tall metal door stood guard in the wall across from the entrance and she moved past Tidus towards. It was polished smooth, no flecks or dents or rust anywhere on it. A curvy script which did look very similar to Al Bhed... but at the same time different marred the shiny surface. Tidus came up behind her.

"What's it say?" he asked, stretching his arms behind his head as she tried to read the squiggled writing.

"I think... I... hmmm." She frowned and bit her lower lip. "I can't understand it, not really. Do you want to try and open it up?" He looked a little uneasy at this suggestion.

"Don't you think we've done enough exploring for the day? We've been down here for at least an hour or two now. We haven't found anything in particular here that your dad would want to look at closer, and we do have a lot more area to survey before we head back to Bikanel. I think we should leave the indepth exploration to future teams." He took a step back. She looked up at the tall mysterious door. Something niggled at her mind, something familiar about the script on the wall.

"Phonetics," she said.

"Huh?" Tidus stared at her like she'd sprouted a particularly fine Ronso horn.

"It reads, rymu sa su neadanh om, but that doesn't make any sense in Al Bhed. It's just letters... strung together. That's why I didn't get it." She looked at him and shrugged. "But what if it was phonetic? What if they... whoever they were, spelled phonetically? I remember... we found a ruin when I was little, and the people that built it wrote phonetically. You just have to say it out loud in Spiran, that's the trick." Rikku looked back at the letters.

"Then it would say something like halo mem retern yal?" Tidus stumbled over the words. She ran her fingers over the rough script. It came to her, like those number games she'd played with her Pops when she was little.

"I know what this is, Tidus. It's... it's a sphere-vault. The writing, it says that it's called the Hall of Memories Eternal."


The door was stubborn. No, scratch that, the door was devious/. It did not want to open. Not for curse words, not for heated glares, not for Tidus pounding on the console. She really had to get him over this whole "smack the machina until it begs for mercy or works" thing. Brute force was good for certain /types of mechanics, but this type was definitely not submissive. Nope, it was time to break out the big guns. Or grenades, really.

"Fire in the hole!" Rikku yelled and skittered back behind Tidus where he was taking cover around the corner of a cement bulkhead. She plugged her ears as the wind from the blast whipped past her, blowing her hair in her face, the heat from the explosion warming her cheeks. Tidus was coughing when she could hear again and she rubbed the dust out of her eyes, getting to her feet and poking her head out. The sight warmed her heart. The metal door hung off its large hinge lazily, having lodged its point in the wall across the room. That had been a mild concern of hers, that the door would come crashing down and squish them flat like her chest, but she hadn't bothered to tell Tidus. He'd make that funny squeaky noise and try to convince her this was a really bad idea. But it wasn't, it was a brilliant one, clearly; it had worked, right?

"Whoa." Tidus was staring at the big gouge the door had made before resting into the stone easily. He shook his head and walked cautiously up to the opening it had left, peering beyond it into the blackness. He struck a fresh flare and held it above his head to light the newly exposed room. Rikku ducked her head under his arm and into the room to see too. Light refracted off of a hundred spheres, glistening in their racks on the walls of the small circular space. She nipped into the chamber before he could stop her. "Rikku, wait-" he shut up quickly as she picked up a sphere of the nearest rack and peered at it.

"C'mere!" she urged him and twisted the sphere, turning it on. A woman appeared in it, with long curling blonde hair and the look of Al Bhed in her eyes. They both fell quiet and watched as it played. The sphere was scratchy, her image fading in and out, her voice soft and distant, even though she spoke in Spiran.

"...tried... didn't leave any... needed to stop them, no matter what, the betrayal... not enough at this point..." the woman in the sphere continued talking, but her voice was overlaid with static, making it hard to hear everything.. She was looking behind her anxiously as she talked, to a doorway on her right. Rikku turned the sphere off when it became clear that the sound wouldn't play again. She shook her head and put it back on the rack. Tidus set down their packs on the floor close to the entrance, and leaned against one bare wall with a sigh.

"Al Bhed," he said, scratching his neck, "what were the Al Bhed doing here if you're Al Bhed and you guys have never heard of this place before?" Rikku tapped her lower lip and looked around the room. That was the /rub/, wasn't it?

"Y'know... I don't... I'm not sure, but I think we should take a couple of the spheres back up to the ship with us so we can test them in the lab we have on board. Maybe we can dig more information out of them than will play? They seem old, I think they might have degraded a little." Tidus nodded at her suggestion.

"Sure, sounds good to me," he said and opened up one of the sphere-cases they'd brought, settling six of the delicate orbs into the cushion within. Rikku was doing the same, examining them closely before packing them away. At last she stood, tucking the case into her bag, thinking hard about the woman and the Spiran accent she'd had despite her Al Bhed spirals.

"I think the door will hold its place, so we shouldn't have to worry too much about it falling and blocking off access yet. We might want to be careful about any explosions we use down this branch of the hallway until we're done in here," he said as he put the cases of spheres in his pack, hauling it up over his shoulders to get ready for the long swim to the surface.

As if in answer to his statement, the ground trembled softly under their feet, the spheres rattling in the racks all around them. The two exchanged worried looks, Rikku's heart hummed in her throat and she took a step forward. The earth jerked hard underneath her and tossed her to her knees with a painful thud.

"What was that?" Tidus grabbed onto one of the violently shaking racks and stood, walking over to Rikku as she scrambled to her feet. She closed her eyes for a moment and listened, above the clinking of the spheres and the deep moan of earth below them.

"Shhhh," she said quietly as the ground settled. "I think it's over, whatever it was." He took a step forward towards the door.

"We need to get to the surface, now," his voice was understandably anxious and he grabbed her hand to drag her out bodily if he had to, away from the pretties. He needn't have bothered, Rikku was determined to leave and get out from the treasure-hunt-cum-death-trap right away. The sound of a series of muffled grenades detonating far away stopped them short as the walls shook again, raining spheres down on them.

"Ahhh!" Rikku covered her head with her arms and winced as she was pelted with dust and spheres. Tidus pulled her close to him, his eyes wide in his face.

"I don't like that sound," he said. Rikku perked her ears up and listened hard. More sounds of muffled grenades, closer this time, down the hall, one after the other like anvils dropping. Silence. Then... a dull growl that rose into a steady roar as a wall of water gushed past the entrance to the outer chamber and shot into it. It slammed into the huge door, making it screech a metallic death-cry on the wall.

"Tidus-" Rikku choked out as water sprayed around the metal door, making the thick steel tremble before the angry roar came for them and everything went bright red and then black.
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