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

Part Twelve

by Ikonopeiston 0 reviews

The aftermath of the duel.

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Baralai, Gippal, Nooj, Paine - Warnings: [X] - Published: 2005-07-15 - Updated: 2005-07-15 - 2477 words

The Confessional

Part Twelve:
The day drags on. Paine was entirely agreeable to a bit of togetherness and we took pleasure in one another while the others occupied themselves in their own pursuits. Since we have become lovers she has never denied me. Nor has she shown any reluctance to engage in the activities I find most arousing. Sometimes I wonder about that. Is it natural for a woman of her desirability to be so amenable to the demands of a grotesque creature such as I? Mostly, I am grateful for her compliance and the fact she seems not to find me repellant.

I have issued orders that only Group Five may use this cave until the encampment is broken. The ten other recruits had sufficient time to replenish their water supplies yesterday and can claim the spring again once we have left this place during the coming night. I do not want some vulgar commoner tromping through while I am memorizing the exact curve of my lady's hip. Paine is young again, as are we all. The ample water has plumped us up, smoothed our wrinkles and restored our youth. What the desert takes, the fountain returns. That sounds like the sort of saying Gippal would recite. I wonder if I heard it from him and stowed it away in my mind at some time. It is not my sort of aphorism. What did I know of deserts before this hell?

From what my crew of excellent eavesdroppers tell me, everyone who was present at the duel has been questioned at least once. The focus of the interrogations is - naturally enough - the case of pistols. They must be of even more value than I had thought if the Maesters are willing to upset their careful time-table of events in order to recover them. They are so foolish. All this excitement only makes the weapons loom more desirable in the eyes of those who hear of them. If I did not know them to be safely stowed away in a place known only to Gippal, I would have my team out hunting them as all the others are doing. Our excuse is that we are obedient to the will of our overlords. Hah!

While I was otherwise occupied, Baralai was sent for again and more closely queried by the solemn imbeciles. He assures me he continued to play the part of the innocent who lost sight of his own weapon as soon as he realized he had killed his man. When he opens those pellucid eyes and droops that girlish mouth, he is utterly convincing. I almost laughed at his recreation of his second go before the panel.

Now the three junior members are amusing themselves by telling lies to one another. It seems to be some sort of game in which the most elaborate and incredible story takes the prize. The prize? That would be a drubbing from the two losers. They are so young and so carefree. I envy them. I am not that much older in years but I am much taller and heavier - even without the machina attachments to me I would be heavier. And I feel aeons older. As I watch them play, I think I was never as young as they, not when I was still damp from my mother's womb was I so young.

I seem to be coming to terms with the loss of my honor. There are entire minutes when I do not think about it. I keep telling myself I spent the currency of my probity in a good cause. Looking at Baralai, I can almost believe that. Again and again, I revisit my dilemma and can find no better answer than the one I gave. It need not be fatal ... There I go again, confusing matters and making a mockery of my most deeply held beliefs. I have confirmed it is only the proximity of my death which justifies my action. That and the immorality of imposing my standards on another to his disservice. Enough! I will not climb on that round-about for another ride. Until some new data is available, there is no point in raking through the ashes of my decision. It is time I did something positive during this period of rest.


I have, myself, gone amongst the tents of the other teams, talking to their leaders and assessing their strengths. To my astonishment, we have fared the best of this lot. Of course, Group Three is in dire conditions having lost half its numbers. They are a down in the mouth pair and hinted they would like to join my team. I do not want them. They are not suitable material even for cannon fodder. That unfit Captain of theirs so thoroughly destroyed any spirit they might have had they are little more than servant stuff now and I will not burden my agile well-trained crew with sniveling ne'er do wells. Let the Maesters find a place for them; they created them.

It was the other two groups which surprised me - although I should have expected what I found. The eight who make up the teams are exhausted, dehydrated - in spite of the water we have shared with them - and discouraged. They are suffering from dysentery, assorted insect bites and sand blindness. It is apparent their respective commanders knew nothing about how to prepare them for the ordeal or to impose any sort of discipline upon them. If the others landed on this shore have fared as badly and the the ones sent to other areas are equally misled, we shall have no difficulty winning our places in the front rank of the recruits. Indeed, we will be the only ones who actually survive the training intact. I do not know whether to curse the careless wasting of men by those who designed this exercise or to sneer at the ignorance of the so-called Maester class. It is sickening to a man of my experience to see such wholesale misuse of potential fighters.

So far as I have been able to learn both from my own interviewing and the prying of my crew, I am the only man of formal military training in this misbegotten desert. Ixion knows the Maesters have none and if the dead leader of Group Three is a fair example of what the other teams are stuck with, it is a miracle any of those involved have survived. I wonder just how many individuals our lords need that they are so profligate with their volunteers.

All the others in this encampment have also been closely interrogated about what happened to the pistols once the duel was over. That seems to be worrying the idiots to an uncommon degree. It gives me intense pleasure to know I have troubled them so much. It is yet another assurance I made the right choice no matter the price to me.

It has occurred to me if I am ever to use this journal to document charges against our leaders, I will have to trust Gippal to help me purify the pages. I have set down too many purely personal comments in here. On the other hand, I do not think I want Gippal to read these at all. I shall probably bury this damned instrument somewhere in the wilderness and simply kill the worst of the Maesters. I cannot be sure charges against them would be heard in any case. And killing men is no novelty to me.


When I returned from my turn around the camp, my brats were still engaged in story telling. Since I have nothing more important to do at the moment, I listened.

Gippal was talking about Home, that fabled metropolis of the Al Bhed which was long ago destroyed by Sin and never re-built. He spoke of it as if it still stood. His words were eloquent and so convincing I found myself wondering if he was that excellent a story-teller or if the city might not be hidden somewhere in this endless waste of sand. It is not likely; with even the most casual survey something so large as Home was said to be would be quickly located. I do not believe there is a magic great enough and so universally effective as to be able to screen a city.

Still there remains the fact Gippal is a tale-spinner of considerable talent and might describe the loss of his birthplace with persuasive detail. But why would he choose to lie to us - his battle mates - about something so innocuous? No harm would come if the world knew Home had been rebuilt or never destroyed at all. In fact, I rather think the pressure on the scattered Al Bhed to assimilate would be eased were it known they had an actual place to go back to. It is my feeling the prejudice against that race is principally due to the fact they are rootless and hence inclined to move into other societies and, like cuckoos, edge out the natives in those professions they favor. Take the engineering world. It is virtually inaccessible to anyone save an Al Bhed these days. If they still had the refuge of their Home, they could make it into the center of advances in machina and open up the less advanced portions of that field to those of other races who wished to study with the experts. They might even become a creditable counter balance to the Yevonite diktat against the physical sciences. There would be much for the Al Bhed to gain were Home still intact.

No, I do not believe Home is still there, no matter how convincingly our Gippal describes it or with what longing his voice resonates. He is dreaming, wishing, inventing. Were he not a mechanic, he would be a prosodist, traveling the world rhyming his stories to large audiences for his living. He is skilled and he has entertained me. Taken my mind off more unpleasant thoughts.


We have all dozed for a while and were awakened by a stir outside. Baralai, being restless, went to see what had happened. He reports the rest of the six groups landed on this shore have turned up. Well, not exactly the rest. Those of us already here accounted for four of the teams which left only two still in the interior. Now of those eight individuals, three have straggled into the encampment. Let me count: Group One is intact but exhausted; the same is true of Group Two. They and Group Three, which has lost two of its members, have been here for the past day. Group Four has only its Recorder left, the one who can't stop crying; Group Five - our group - is intact and strong. Group Six has two still alive. That is seven gone out of twenty-four and only four still capable of fighting or making it on to the the destination without help. If the Maesters wanted a winnowing program, they got it. I am curious to know if the others who were deposited on other shores fared as badly. Maybe we were given the most taxing of the trials, the hardest training. I may drop by the tent of the Gormless Ones and see what they are saying. I must inform them of our intention to leave at twilight anyway.

In the meantime, since there is not now any reason to impose privacy on the cave, I shall issue orders to permit the thirteen remaining recruits to wash and drink from the fountain I control. I am not a monster, after all.


It has occurred to me that I have not seen the other women who sailed with us. They were obviously parts of other Groups and now they are gone. I was fully aware they played the whore at least during the first part of the voyage, while I was still competent to observe, but that is a normal role for some female participants in warfare and came as no surprise to one of my experience. I have used such myself upon occasion when nothing better offered itself. But now they are missing. Can it be only Paine of her sex has survived this training? Thank Ixion she was under my care. As I watch the desert desiccated ones drag themselves to the back of this cave to the spring, I cannot help but compare them to my Group. A thorough grounding in the ways of behaving under stress is always useful.

This day has gone on much too long. With nothing of importance to occupy me, my brain is thrashing about like a caged beast. I know better than to revisit old choices and, yet, I keep doing it. All the old choices, not just the most recent. Had I been less foolhardy in my Crusader days, I might well be a whole man today, fighting at the head of my professional unit and not pinned down by this absurd gaming of the Maesters. Had that been true, these three who I have led thus far would probably be dead. Well, not the Al Bhed, maybe, but certainly the priestling and the woman. It would have made no difference to me and ultimately in the way of the world had they died for I would not have known them had I not become a freak. Thinking of their useless deaths drives me wild. I hate waste, especially the senseless waste of useful beings.

This is precisely the sort of brooding I have been taught to avoid. Hypothesis contrary to fact! Nothing is to be found in such ridiculous circular non-reasoning. I no longer seem to be master of my own mind. And I hurt! The constant stress of trying to keep my balance with the cane which is of slight use on this shifting terrain, the repeated falls when the sand-clogged leg has collapsed beneath me, the pull on the remaining muscles to do the work of those I no longer have - all this has aggravated the areas where the damned machina have been inserted into or bolted onto me and I cannot move without pain. Naturally, I do not permit any manifestation of this to show upon my countenance but I feel I am screaming inside. Here, in this journal, I will admit that if only because I am being honest here, totally honest.

The sun is approaching the horizon. Soon Group Five must start out on the last leg of this illogical trek. I need to go inform the Maesters of our intent and set the other three to packing. When I have done that, I think I may ask Baralai if he has any medications for pain. If I can think of a way to ask without admitting I am suffering.
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