Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X-2 > The Confessional - Continued

Part Six

by Ikonopeiston 1 review

The squad prepares to embark.

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Baralai, Gippal, Nooj, Paine - Warnings: [X] - Published: 2005-06-17 - Updated: 2005-06-17 - 2918 words

The Confessional

Part Six:
I am not sure why I started this journal. I think it was because I was bored and later justified my action by saying to myself I was keeping it to record evidence of incompetence by those governing this endeavor. Now, upon reviewing my entries, it would seem I have let it slip into less of a formal record than a personal diary. This was not my intention. I have no reason to record my own affairs unless they are concerned with the ineptitude of those Maesters who are so mangling this force. All the self pity and worse should be expunged, especially those parts where I talk about my relationships with the others in the squad. I wish I had paid more attention to the use of mechanical devices when I had the chance. I cannot work out how to erase selected portions of this collection without erasing it all. None of the controls seems to be marked with a symbol relating to selective excision. I'm sure Gippal could figure it out but I do not trust him not to listen and talk about some of the information I have recorded for my ears alone. Until I can decide how to handle this appropriately, I will simply have to keep this toy safe from the notice of the others and never far from my person. Maybe I can have Gippal construct a locked container for it inside the leg. There should be plenty of room and the Al Bhed doesn't have to know what I want to keep there. Hah!


Something is changing. Since my liaisons with Paine and the satisfying of my most urgent physical needs, my mind has turned - without my will or consent - to memories of my time in the Crusaders. Those were days of phantasms, darkness and confusion. I can recall certain events which seem almost alien now, things I did without thought, like an automaton. Remembering them is a waking nightmare and yet the memories are strangely appealing. I shall not set them down here because I am not sure of their validity and they limn a portrait of me which is far from acceptable in any way. Was the figure doing those things me or is it some artifact of my mind conjured up by the delirium and dreams in the hospital when I thought I was dying and welcomed the gift? Without testimony of some who knew me in those days, I cannot be sure of the truth so better it remain unsaid. It is always harder to retract a lie than to not tell a questionable story in the first place. Silence. But I still remember.

Note to self: keep tight rein on temper. No more slapping Baralai, no matter how provoked. It might lead to something worse.

The first contingents move out tomorrow. I must not neglect to scan their deserted camps for useful items they may have forgotten or dropped. This team needs all the armaments it can get.


Another session of working on marksmanship is scheduled for the morning. I shall check out the main camp in the afternoon. I am improving. My sword is another thing I must stop thinking about. There are more forbidden thoughts than acceptable ones in my catalogue now. It is a good thing I am well schooled in mental discipline.


I have been watching the other three as they relax in the heat of the afternoon. They remind me of a litter of coeurl kits, tumbling over and wrestling with one another. They suggested, hesitantly, that I join them but a moment's reflection made all of us realize how absurd that idea was. I am the largest of us all and, with my 'special' advantages, could crush any of them with a touch. It is another reminder of my basic difference. As if I needed one. I am set apart by more than the physical anomalies. I carry with me the aura of death, the inescapable cloud of nothingness. They have not articulated it yet but I have no doubt all three are well aware I am not to survive, that I do not hunt survival. We shall see how they deal with that knowledge when it becomes too evident to ignore.

Now, they are tired and the Al Bhed is teaching them his barbaric language. I think I shall go down to the pool and wash, then take a nap.


The first group of teams has been marched in their irregular and straggling lines down to the make-shift docks and loaded onto the ships waiting there. That has emptied a little less than half the camp. Another contingent will go tomorrow and then it is our turn. I shall not drill the squad tomorrow; they can set their own pace in order to get their affairs in order for embarking. I still do not know where they are sending us for the serious training and testing. Apparently the surprise is part of the work. Typical Maester thinking. There is something about pervasive religiosity which rots a military mind. I think that is what is wrong with the priestling. He has spent too much time on his knees and not enough on top.

When I look at the other teams, I am less bothered by ours. We may be riddled with handicaps but we have a more professional bearing when we march (even with my limp) and we hold our arms with some indication we know what they are for. Unlike all too many of those I watched proceeding to the boats earlier. They looked like farm-boys on their way to the fields, laughing and punching one another. The fiends will dine well where they are stationed. Were I a gambler, I would be inclined to wager each of us - including Paine - will be given command of a unit when all this is shaken out. If we can't beat out the ones I saw this morning, we do not deserve to survive.

Paine joined me in our secluded place yesterday afternoon as I had more than half-expected her to. We took our pleasure in the light of the sun for the first time and, again, she showed no reluctance to look at or touch the scarred parts of my body. She likes the feel of the machina hand, I think, better than my real one. It makes her gasp and moan when I stroke her with the gloved mechanism. Since I have no sense of touch in that limb, I am very careful not to be too rough but she likes a little roughness, so it is a constant balancing act - which adds to the enjoyment for us both. Danger has always heightened passion for me and she has told me it is so with her. We are very well matched. We embraced, dozed, bathed, lay together again and finally fell asleep on the mossy grass by the pool, not waking until the night was well advanced and the chill made covers desirable if not mandatory. When we returned to the camp, the other two were sharing a single sleeping bag so I suppose we can now consider all secrets revealed. Just as well, I am not sure it would have been possible to dissemble on the ship anyway. We are all adults and there is no germane reason to pretend we are not engaged in physical unions so long as there is no jealousy or competition. This is what I tell myself. But I know in my obsession with the red-eyed woman, I have been careless and indiscreet. I wonder if I would have responded in this way to any woman who crossed my path after so long - that is any one who did not fight me off. I prefer to think I would be as discriminating as I have always been but it is hard to know when so many things have changed.


Gippal has just presented me with one of the fruits of his foraging in the abandoned parts of the main camp. He found some tubes of a water-resistant lubricant which he suggests I use for the machina while we are in an area where water is available for washing and save the supply I have been using for areas where water is not a factor. This seems an excellent idea to me. He has also volunteered to do the final adjusting and greasing of both limbs this afternoon in order to have everything ready for our departure on the eighth day of this month. In his opinion, the material he found will be better to protect my prostheses during a sea voyage. Salt spray might well be a problem.

He is a strange one. He has not shown by so much as the lift of an eyebrow that he is aware Paine and I are sleeping together. I think he simply does not give a damn so long as he and Baralai are undisturbed in their bliss. Ixion knows I do not care what he does in his off time if it doesn't affect unit cohesion.

So far the scavenging has been going well. I have found a number of small knives and daggers left lying about, enough to supply the four of us with all we need and to have some extras in reserve. Pistols are another matter. Not too many of them forgotten. That is understandable; it takes more skill to use a blade than a firearm. I remember I used to be able to take a poniard with a fine sharp point and ... No! I will not think about that! We have found enough pistols to supply each of us with one and I have two more squirreled away in case of need. Doubtless, we will find more tomorrow after the next crew leaves.

I will not think about those things. I will not. They are probably not true - just fever dreams from my journey to the edge of death. I will not think about them.


The second set of would-be warriors marched off to their ships this morning. Again I watched and wondered at how the Maesters could ever think this motley accumulation of has-beens and want-to-bes could ever be turned into real soldiers. They are, by and large, the hapless results of inferior blood-lines. They can't keep cadence, they can't shoulder their weapons, they are not clean. If I met them on a battlefield, I would think them the enemy and slaughter them to a man.

Speaking of marching, I have been trying to dispense with the cane and to overcome the limp. My success is very limited. It is too tiring to try to walk far without the help of that damned stick and the effort to smooth my gait requires so much concentration I am unable to do much of anything else. It seems I must wait for more healing or better prostheses before I can expect improvement. Hah! By the time either of those desiradatum comes to pass, I will be dead. I hope and expect.

Gippal has performed the promised servicing of my arm and leg. The new lubricating substance seems to be thicker than the old and is making the cables run with less friction. We talked while he worked since he was in an expansive mood. He still has not told me how he lost his eye even though he is eager for any scrap of information I am willing to give him about how I came by the machina parts of my body. It appears to confuse him that I, not a member of his race, should have been offered these innovative devices before they have become readily available. He has obviously never heard of me and my earlier career. Just as well, I have little suitable to share about those days even if I were inclined to do so. Instead, I ferreted out his war stories. He has seen his share of fighting in the irregular forces of the Al Bhed. Has been a leader of men too. He will make a useful addition to the number who qualify to take command of a group of former Crusaders. Had he not been Al Bhed born, he would have made an excellent member of the original body. I would have welcomed him into the officers' corps.

While Gippal and I have been occupied, Paine and Baralai have gone over to the main camp, now nearly emptied, to see what they can find. I am eager for them to return, hoping they will bring more pistols and some ammunition. Not being a gunner, I had neglected to remember that these inefficient projectile weapons need projectiles to be usable.


Baralai, of all people, discovered the most interesting artifact yet left in the debris of the main camp. He was poking around on the lowest level, where all the caves are, beneath the level of the road, and found a wooden box holding two hand guns. He hid it under that ridiculous green robe he swishes around in and brought it back here. I have handed it over to our resident expert to examine. I can think of only one purpose for a matched pair of long-barreled pistols, lying on form-fitting velvet inside a polished box with a lockable catch. But it is possible I am mistaken.

Gippal has promised to check the guns out carefully and report to me as soon as he has more information. Who would have thought the priestling would have had the balls to go down to that area and search? There may be more in him than I thought. He has stopping avoiding my glance and sulking when he is around me. I think the slap did him good; it got his attention anyway.

Paine managed to find a fairly good stock of ammunition. I had told her that was what she was to look for. She follows orders well, a good sign. She brought us two hefty knapsacks full of projectiles - I do not know their proper names - for both rifles and side arms. Some appear to be producers of explosions, some of piercing ability. Here again Gippal must sort them out. We are finally becoming a team of specialists. I have no doubt we will be the most effective of the products of this absurd game the Maesters are playing.

With the squad together again and with the image of the second mob of competitors fresh in my mind, I have looked closely at the three I command. They have shaped up better than might have been expected. Baralai is holding himself less tentatively. He is also managing to stand a little apart from Gippal for a change. I wonder if the Al Bhed had been telling him not to cleave so closely. I think I will not interfere in that interaction until it becomes necessary. Gippal himself is a compact man with the energy of youth and the courage of one who has never been badly hurt. I wish I knew how he lost the eye but I do not think it would be wise or productive to pry into that just now. I shall use him on the other point to balance me and protect, to some degree, the other two who are less experienced and able. Paine remains the enigma. In her silence and behind her shuttered eyes, she is inscrutable. I know her strength and indifference to pain. Both will serve her well when the fiends are gathering for the attack. I must warn her to keep her distance from me. If I find my death place, I do not want her to join me in Nothingness. ... And if I were apart from myself observing me with a commander's care? I don't know. I am still a cripple, still limping and halting and still no expert with a gun. I will do what I can. At least I am not a coward and experience counts for something. I know my way around a battlefield.


It is as I thought. The matched pistols are intended for dueling. Gippal confirmed that by investigation and comparison to other such sets he has seen. But there is something odd about this pair. One of them is a Judas pistol. It is designed so that the barrel is blocked and the working mechanism is such that when the gun is used as designed - that is, held at arm's length and at eye level - the ball is projected through the rear of the pistol and will most likely enter the eye socket of the shooter, killing him. It is a masterpiece of treachery, made to turn a duel into a murder. I had heard of such things but never thought to see one. The box was found near the depths of the campsite of the Maesters and is typical of their way of thinking. It is no surprise to anyone who has kept an eye on these fanatics that honor is not a part of their thought processes. I must give this considerably more attention. I do not intend to tell any of the so-called leaders of this absurd project we found their toys. I wonder if they have missed them and what they were doing out where Baralai found them. He did not report the presence of any of the Ruling Class. Hmmmm.

Sign up to rate and review this story