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

Part Ten

by Ikonopeiston 1 review

They continue the trek through the desert. Nooj tries to die.

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Baralai, Gippal, Nooj, Paine - Published: 2005-07-07 - Updated: 2005-07-07 - 2333 words

The Confessional

Part Ten:
It is nearly impossible to use the cane in loose sand. There is nothing to press against so I lurch even more awkwardly than usual and my pace is slowed. Nowhere to make a proper camp so we pitch the tent on the sand and try to sleep during the heat of the day and ration our water.

The killing of random groupings of fiends has become so common-place as to be tedious. Most of the ones we encounter are the poison breath lizards. We have worked out a routine - Gippal and I do the exterminating with Baralai as the back-up to catch any which threaten to get past us. Paine records - as is her duty. She has not needed to join the fighting since the first night. Another advantage to traveling by moonlight - there are almost no flying monsters which attack in the dark. Not even the leather-winged blood suckers I was familiar with before my injuries.

With no place to process the materials he collects, Baralai is a walking bundle of leaves and mineral chunks, bulging like a gourmand on a tasting tour. We are all tired and dirty; my arm and leg feel sticky and the precise grip of my left hand is compromised. I can smell myself and the others. I hate the desert with its heat and unchanging vista.

Paine got her required recordings two mornings ago. We were exploring some steep dunes, trying to find a way around rather than climb and descend them. When she called to me, I just turned my head and spoke my name. The others did much the same with a short identifying tag. It will have to do. Not as though it were important. They'll be edited anyway so why bother?

That same morning we made passing connection with another of the teams landed on this shore along with us. Team Three, as Paine identified it, was nearby and peppered our position with projectiles. Had they been better shots, whey would have gained an advantage before we knew they were there. As it was, we sent a few shots in their direction and they scurried away like the vermin they are. Thus alerted, we scanned the surrounding area and saw a number of dust clouds in the distance. It appears we are coming back together as we follow our crude maps. Interesting.

Since the water is running perilously low, I have issued survival orders to my group. I have told them to resist urination since the waste water will be reabsorbed into the body after a period of time. Of course, to recycle the moisture too often would be fatal but it is a useful thing to know in order to prolong the time before one dies of dehydration. I'm surprised Gippal did not know this. It is a basic skill taught to Warriors who must be prepared for anything. I have also told them each to find a small pebble to suck on. That will help stimulate the flow of saliva in the mouth and ease the worst of the thirst. It is becoming difficult for me to speak into this device because of the dryness of my tongue.

This has been an eventful day. We have managed to replenish our water to some extent and are more comfortable as a result. The others are inside the tent, sleeping I hope. They now know more about me than I wanted them to know just yet. I suppose I should record the event myself since I am sure Paine's camera does not give the whole story.

We, half conscious, bleary-eyed from exhaustion and dehydration, had stumbled into a nest of fiends both larger and more numerous than the usual collection. Our immediate ammunition was soon spent and Gippal had turned to his side arms and Baralai was relying more than usual on his staff. I found myself facing a sand-bear with my weapon empty and it came to me this would be an ideal time to step into Nothingness. The team was well trained and almost half-way through the trek. They could get the remainder of the way without me. My machina limbs were choked with sand and becoming increasingly burdensome. I had been hunting my dying place long enough and had postponed the decision again and again. All these thoughts swept through my mind in a flash and I realized this was my chance. The others were shouting and attempting to save themselves, so I stepped toward the beast and let the useless gun slip out of my hand. I could hardly grip it anyway with the sand clogging the mechanisms of my fingers. As I walked into the reach of the massive paws and the fanged mouth, I was serene - this was the right time and the right place. I would be free.

Then there came confusion with noise and lights. I thought I had made the transition. Damn! Damn! Damn!

I screamed at Paine. She had no right to kill the monster. It was my life and my death which were at stake there. It was my choice! I do not want to live. Why can't she understand that? Sharing my bed does not give her permission to interfere in my decisions. I should never have permitted her to get so close, to take such liberties. I could be dead and at peace now were it not for her interference. Damn!

Gippal caught on to my purpose at once and quickly explained it to Baralai. Now they all look at me as though I am some sort of greater freak than even my misshapen body makes me. They move around me carefully as if I might lash out at a touch. Well, I might. I hunger for death as I once hungered for glory.

Immediately after the event, we were all too tired to react much. That had to wait until we had dug more ammunition out of our packs, reloaded our weapons and tried to forget about our thirst. It is probably as well none of us had the spit to grease the words we might have said.

We went on another few hours, dragging ourselves over dunes and sliding down sand chutes, when Gippal claimed to scent water. The rest of us were too far gone to argue and just waited like so many dumb animals as he sniffled and snorted his way to a small defile under a ridge of rock. He did some scraping away of the surface material and unearthed a small basin into which water slowly seeped. We spent enough time there to fill as many of our canteens as we could and to lie on our stomachs lapping up the warm liquid like a pack of dogs. There wasn't enough to wash but at least we can now expel the thick and stinking urine from our bladders and avoid the risk of self poisoning.

Still later, when we had paused for the afternoon heat and pitched the tent, Gippal did the best he could with lubricating and cleaning the moving potions of my limbs. I had fallen down so often the knee would no longer bend. As usual, he did an excellent job - given the conditions under which he was forced to work - and I can move more easily. I expressed my thanks and that was the end of it. We did not talk as we usually do when he is performing that service. There seems nothing to say.

The basic problem is that none of the others understand the concept of Deathseeker. They were not reared in the Warrior tradition and do not accept it is better to hunt Death than to dishonor one's name.

I was a Warrior of note when I fell to the Sin spawn. By all rights, I should have died from my injuries. But those vivisectionists who thought themselves the arbiters of life and death patched me together with their vile machinery and made me what I am now - neither human nor machina but an unholy merging of the two disparate creations. I am something alien to all other beings on Spira. The Al Bhed renegade engineers have condemned me to a twilight existence on the edge of reality where I am isolated from the world and its inhabitants. ... I am so utterly lonely.

And I am no longer fit for the only profession I have ever known. My eyes are damaged, my gait uncertain, my mechanical limbs subject to constant failure - I, once a great swordsman, can no longer even swing a blade without falling on my arse. I am useless and haunted by what I was - all of what I was. I am a disgrace to my lineage and have no recourse other than to seek my quietus. Damn Paine! She should have let it work out as I set it in motion. Why did she interfere?

What is worse is the dread my hidden history in the Crusaders may surface and I will be brought up on charges. With no longer the ability to physically defend myself, I would be summarily executed were that to happen. The nightmares are the memories of actual events - I can no longer doubt that. All I can do is to sink them as deeply as possible and hope I can die before they become...


Paine interrupted me a few moments ago. I was propped against the back of the tent, in the meager shade afforded by the canvas when she suddenly appeared. I have not been very observant the past few days; she looks thin and drawn, not like her normal vibrant self. This damnable desert has sucked the youth out of us leaving us prematurely aged husks of what we were when we started.

Paine wanted to try to justify her actions anent the sand-bear. She seems to feel a sense of both pride and guilt that she frustrated my plans and as she so foolishly says, saved my life. I am thankful she did not try to touch me. I feel so filthy I can hardly stand to be near myself. I assured her nothing important need change between us and send her away before I said anything I might regret. I am in no mood for companionship.

In her apology - I suppose it can be called that - Paine did reveal something which horrifies me. I have taken to talking in my sleep, or at least muttering. She had heard enough to make her alert to the possibility I might decide to die soon. That is why she was so quick with her defense. So, now I must be careful not to sleep in her arms when I am again clean enough to do so. Another consolation lost.

She did not say if I had spoken of my nightmares - those recurrent memories of dark acts I committed whilst in the Crusaders. I am foolish to continue to worry about events which are now in a past so distant as to be remembered only by me. Besides, all men do things in war which they would not do in a more peaceful world. I have done nothing to soil my name. I have fought the designated enemy with all my powers. There is no need to be worried or to care if my former behavior sees the light of day. That was another man, one vastly different from this half-human who lumbers over this battlefield. I have no reason to fear the lex talionis. I am becoming a poltroon, brooding on these things. Where is my mental discipline? Those acts are forgotten! And they were never criminal in the first place. Ah!

Still I hope she did not hear me whine about my sins. I should not like to put her in the position of being either a traitor or an abettor of my actions. I have lived too damn long. Things are becoming too complicated for me to reconcile with my honour. I should have died with my arm and leg. Those who saved me did me no favor, forcing me to live without the means to survive in my most private self. I should stand up now and walk into the desert alone while the other three are sleeping. But I will not do that. I will play the fool and wait for another chance to go down fighting - that is my creed.


Still no relief. We drag ourselves through these endless, unvarying, hideous heaps of sand like maggots crawling over a giant's corpse. From time to time, Gippal starts sniffing and uncovers another seepage hollow and we obediently flop down on our bellies and lap like the brute beasts we have become and wait forever for our pitiful canteens to fill with the hot, flat, foul-tasting liquid. We have been reduced to unthinking animals - killing the fiends we cannot avoid like a band of automatons, then lurching on, heads down and speechless. This desert is an outpost of Hell. Why in the name of the Eldest Gods would anyone want this place and call it Home? The Al Bhed are well rid of it.


As we make our tedious way though this unbearably boring terrain, I can occasionally hear the faint sounds of other parties, a clank or a muffled curse. I think we are coming together again. As Baralai and I separately read the stars and confirm our conclusions, we are within a day or so of ending this trek. I wonder if the other teams have fared better than we, if they have taken any losses. At least I will be able to say I brought this Group Five intact through the trial. We are four unspeakably dirty, shriveled and exhausted candidates for whatever lies in the labyrinthine minds of the Maesters but we are alive. I am too tired even to appreciate the irony of that last statement.
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