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

Part Eight

by Ikonopeiston 1 review

Destination reached, the four prepare for the training mission.

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Baralai, Gippal, Nooj, Paine - Published: 2005-06-25 - Updated: 2005-06-25 - 2970 words

The Confessional

Part Eight:
Finally, we are on land again. It is an odd feeling to have my prosthetic leg the more stable of the two. My right leg is still trying to compensate for the roll and pitch of the deck. These days just past are amongst the most hellish I have ever endured and that includes the sessions with the vivisectionists. Why do men become sailors? They cannot possibly enjoy the constant movement of what should be steady ground. It has to be a sort of elaborate masochistic ritual designed to gain points in some celestial game. Feh! Rather than sail to another venue, I will make my grave on this barren shore.

I think it was two or maybe three days ago we boarded that stinking vessel and placed our fates in the unworthy hands of the Maesters and their confederates. It seems like a lifetime and I am no longer sure I trust the date stamp. I have spent my life at warfare and have done things which would give most men horrors for the rest of their lives. However, my stomach has stayed steady and my mind clear throughout my career. Until I boarded that ship. In the interests of honesty and completeness and because this journal has become - faut de mieux - my confessional, I must admit I have been hopelessly, violently ill since the beginning of this voyage. I have never sailed before, save for brief excursions near the shore line, and did not expect to be so affected by the movement of the open sea. I still cannot bear the thought or smell of food and have eaten nothing since this began. Au contraire! I would have permitted myself to die had it not been such a death would yield no honor and is thus beneath me.

I think I must have been delirious much of the time because I have little memory of anything except the hard deck against my back and fleeting images of the other three hovering over me when I dared to peek through my slitted lids. It seemed marginally better with my eyes closed. The others must have shielded me from the gaze of the ruffians who make up the other teams because I have heard no mockery such as I would have expected had they seen me helpless and retching. I have a faint recollection of a green robe near me and a sound of muffled chanting. Then sleep. That might have been Baralai and his magic. I must remember to ask if he attempted to help me. I will do so when the vertigo passes and I can walk straight again. Damn this wobbly leg. It's not enough I have to have a permanent limp - now I have to teeter on the other leg? If I believed in religion I would think I had committed a terrible sin to be so tormented.


For the first time in my professional life, I am grateful for the military habit of procrastination. If we had been immediately marched off this beach, I would have been left behind. The traditional hurry/wait is giving me time to recover and whip myself into proper form. I think I must have twisted my left thigh sometime during my sickness. I am having considerable pain in the area where the prothesis is attached. Damn all this mess!

I asked Paine if Baralai used his healing magic on me - she being the least embarrassing to query. She confirmed my suspicions and told me that after casting the spell, the boy continued to keep watch and renew it when necessary as I slept for nearly twenty hours. That spared me the nausea and dehydration which would have otherwise been inevitable. Now that I know, I must find an opportunity to express my gratitude. I have nothing but contempt for a commander who will not properly appreciate extraordinary services done by his troops. I have always been respected by my men because I respect them.

Normally, I would tell Baralai of my gratitude for his help in private, but given the shaky self-esteem of the lad, I shall consider commending him before the others. It will help bind us together as a unit to see the leader willing to openly state the value of the lowliest member. Yes, I think that is the way to go. With my experience and reputation, I need not shore up my pride by hiding a passing weakness from the others. As if this one could be hidden after the other three have watched me puke up my guts.

Sitting here, recovering my strength and balance, I can see the terrain away from this shore. It looks dry and barren all the way to the horizon. There are no real trees, just clumps of small dusty shrubs. I don't know whether to call it desert or wilderness. It is an ugly land. The landscape appears to grow flatter and less varied as it fades into the distance. I have never seen this place before; it is not one of the sections of the planet where I have fought. After a little while, I shall assemble the team and question them about their own observations. That will be an excellent time to thank Baralai for his good offices. Now, I shall sleep a little more. I am still weaker than I like.


We are now officially Squadron Number Five. Shortly after I woke and before I could convene the others, a runner from headquarters came by with a sealed envelope telling me our designation. There was a notice that further instructions and orders would be forthcoming soon. Try as I may, I cannot see the reason to waste the time and breath of a runner to hand out numbers when the same runner could have waited for an hour or so and carried a message which had some meaning in a real world. Or the leaders could have given so simple a message via the communicators. We each have one now; they were issued just before we sailed. These Maesters have no military minds at all. They are playing at being commanders of an army, little boys in a sand-box with toy soldiers. And they will kill us for their sport! I did not survive all the perils I have faced to perish ignobly for the entertainment of priests. These men are vile upwellings from the primeval ooze. I shall take particular pleasure in killing any who come to my hand. Especially if what I suspect of them is true.

It turns out that Gippal can cook. What odd talents turn up in random selections of human beings. While I was resting, he went out into the surrounding area and managed to catch a fellant - one of the more edible rodents on Spira. A big one too, ample to feed the four of us. Baralai gathered driftwood and cast a fire to roast the flesh and we dined well. It even tasted good to me. If my appetite is returning, I must be getting over the sickness of the sea. Paine had found some sea-weed which she wrapped around the meat and which supplied some of the other nutrients we need at this time. I feel as though I am being supported by the others and it should be the other way about. Time for me to stir and take up my duties. Oh, I praised the others highly for preparing the meal. ... I am spending too much time building up their egos. Tomorrow I must start tearing them down again so that they will be able to learn how to survive real struggles, with real weapons.

When we finished eating, I called Squadron Five together to learn what they have discovered since we disembarked - and for other reasons. After addressing them at length about the necessity to be mutually supportive in strange territory and to proceed with due caution, always protecting the weakest of the team and avoiding careless injury whenever possible, I turned my attention to my recent indisposition and singled out Baralai for his meritorious service not only to me but, through me, to the group. He blushed more ruddily than I would have thought possible for one of his skin color but seemed pleased to have his talents publicly acknowledged. So that's over and done with, thank Ixion.

The reports from the others were not helpful until Gippal spoke up. He swears we are on Bikanel, the place the Al Bhed had made their Home until it was destroyed not many years ago. It was the destruction of Home which drove Gippal into this adventure or so he insists. He says he is entirely certain of the location, claiming all of his blood have a sort of homing instinct which lets them know when they are near their ancestral lands. I'm not sure I can believe that completely but since I have no reason to dispute his identification of our position, I will accept it for the time being or until something occurs to make me think otherwise. It doesn't matter in the long run where we are, just how we are to maneuver in this landscape which is alien to me.

According to Gippal, once past the littoral, we will encounter a land of sand and rocks pock-marked with caves and with scant resources or refuges. There are some springs deep in the recesses of the stony pits but these are mostly guarded by fiends who have made them their gathering places. We will have to fight for water and food against an astonishing variety of monstrous creatures. And against our fellow candidates for positions in the Crimson Squad. (I can hardly bring myself to speak that ridiculous name. The morale of this so-called elite squad is unlikely in the extreme to survive being called that. Crimson? For blood, for courage, for a fashion statement? Absurd!)

So now we wait for the final orders, the sun is dropping and I doubt we will be moving from this location before the morrow. I have directed the others to go ahead and pitch our tent and anchor it as well as possible in the loose sand here. Baralai has wandered away toward the edges of the beach and is fussing around some of the scrubby plants scattered about. I wonder what he is up to.

Gippal has kept his promise and replaced the thick, sticky water-proof lubricant in my limbs with the thinner substance I had been using before. The joints are moving more easily without the grains of sand which had adhered to the pulleys, as he predicted. I cannot understand what he does when he makes the adjustments and so forth. There is always a double handful of bits left over - springs, screws, little rods and other oddities. Why were they there in the first place if the protheses can operate better without them? I have to admit my leg feels less heavy with some of those parts removed. But can I be sure the Al Bhed is not doing away with necessary components? It would be inconvenient were the leg to collapse suddenly. I suppose I should ask him but I do not like to imply he is less than competent at his job since he is so eager to be of help. It would be nice if I had more skill in dealing with individuals as persons instead of as cogs in the machinery of war. I hope Gippal is as able at his task as I am at mine. I know instinctively how to distribute troops on the battlefield whether the number be four or four hundred. Maybe he knows which parts are needed in a machina arm or leg as well. In any event, the left hand is so precise now that I can pick up the fine sand between two fingers. It would be better than the original flesh one if I only had feeling in it. Stop! I must be content with what I have now and not long after what was and will never be again.

I was overly sensitive as Gippal worked today. The bruising of my thigh made the area of attachment very painful and it was difficult not to jerk away from even the most delicate touch there. I fear I made a few sounds as well. I hope Gippal does not think I am becoming a whiner and complainer. The past several days have been difficult and I am uncommonly tired. No more excuses. I must remember I am a seasoned Warrior and hardship is no stranger.


The messenger has been here again, panting and puffing as though he had just completed a marathon. This time he dropped off a somewhat thicker envelope with what looks like a short novel inside.

Just as I thought, we are to leave as soon as possible once the day begins tomorrow. Our mission is to traverse a slice of this desert terrain to another beach where we will find - oh hell - another boat to carry us to our next destination. A rough map is enclosed with directions clearly marked and we are expected to use this scrap of paper and the stars to set our course. I am an adequate navigator and will need to see who else in my team can take a heading from the stars to double-check me. We are expected to take a week to ten days to make the journey. Hmmm. It is not as bad as I had expected.

There is an addendum for squadron leaders only, pointing out that each team is expected to engage in competition with the others for food, water and extra weapons. And a warning the Maesters will not intercede in any internecine struggles. I have long suspected this was their intent - to face us off against one another and cherry-pick the best with no effort on their own part. I had thought it would be less lethal but now I see they are fully prepared to have ninety per cent of the recruits die to achieve their end. Shall I reveal this to my troops or keep it to myself? I must decide.

Upon reflection, I think I shall keep the full extent of this villainy to myself. I shall simply inform the others they are to behave aggressively if challenged by any of the the other teams and give up nothing without a fight. My wisdom in choosing to scavenge in the camps of those who left before us is confirmed. We do not need to seize our side arms from the hands of others. I have assured us an ample supply of pistols, knives and ammunition. Experience is the most valuable resource a Warrior can have. And I am thoroughly experienced.

Baralai is still bent over the bushes in the twilight; I do wonder .... No! I shall not question him. He is finally beginning to play the man and he is going to be a useful member of Squadron Five. Nothing will be gained by even suggesting a lack of trust in him. I don't see Gippal about anywhere. He is probably gossiping with anybody he can find to talk to him. That lad is the most prolix male I have ever met. It's not that he says much; it is that he says little at such great length. Paine is nearby, she watched me read the official message but asked no questions. I shall send her to gather the others so that I can bring them up to date on our training mission.


This must be my last entry of this very long day. The others were interested but not dismayed by the information I gave them. I am not sure they understand we are to come into conflict with various unpleasant fiends during our pilgrimage. Fiends that will wish to make a meal off our flesh. Baralai asked if he could use magic to fight them. I told him he could use anything which might prove effective. Gippal wanted to know if we could kill our human competition. I told him if there was no other way to resolve a problem, yes. Paine, as usual, was silent and listened with such intensity it seemed to draw the words from my lips to her mind. I advised everyone to sleep as soundly as possible and conserve both energy and strength.

Gippal and Baralai are sharing a sleeping bag. It seems to have become habitual. I am guessing they shared one on the boat. I was in no condition to check and it's none of my business anyway. Just so long as they do not exhaust one another and make themselves unfit to fight. Paine is lying in her place, waiting for me. She nuzzled my ear and bestowed an unequivocal caress on a sensitive area before slipping into her sleeping bag and settling down far to one side, leaving ample room for me. I shall join her with delight, grateful that no further deception is necessary. The tent is dark and no one can see me using this device, nor can I see the others now that the second moon has set. The first will be up soon and there will be sufficient illumination to do what one is inclined to do. The boys are not waiting for more light. I can hear little giggles and squeals from their location already. Well, I shall not let it bother me. They have the right to their pleasure and comfort. What a disaster it would have been for all the males on this team to lust after Paine. Hah! ... And so to bed. Naked would be best but one must adapt.
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