Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X-2 > As Flies to Wanton Boys

Chapter Ten

by Ikonopeiston 0 reviews

This follows Nooj into the Crusaders. It will be multi-chapter. The first chapter is, of necessity, expository. It sets the scene for what is to come.

Category: Final Fantasy X-2 - Rating: R - Genres: Drama - Characters: Nooj - Published: 2005-12-31 - Updated: 2005-12-31 - 3023 words

Chapter Ten

The clear white light illuminating the operating table revealed a scene of organized chaos. Figures in the pale yellow overalls of the surgical staff bustled around with mysterious instruments and devices. Low voices hissed urgent demands into impatient ears. At the center of the turmoil, bent over the draped figure under the focus of the light, the Al Bhed surgeon Kalek lifted his head for a nurse to wipe the beads of sweat which threatened to drip into his eyes.

"Forceps." He requested. When the handles were slapped into his waiting palm, he gingerly teased out a long sliver of bone from the oozing wound before him. "That should do it. I don't see any more fragments. Anybody?"

There was a general shaking of heads as numerous expert observers scanned the site.

"OK. I'm going to close now. How's his breathing? Any anomalies in the vital signs?"

The head nurse responded after checking his instruments. "No. For a moment, I thought he was going to wake up but he slipped back and there's no reaction. All signs still strong. Breathing steady. Heart steady. Pressure normal."

"I'm glad to get this done while he's still under. It's better to keep spells and all that at a minimum if we can. He'll wake up when he's ready, I suppose. I don't see any reason for concern yet." Kalek almost absent-mindedly inserted the sutures with a practiced hand. "All right, you can do the bandaging now. I'm finished. Make sure you keep me informed if there are any changes." He stripped off his gloves and wiped his sleeve across his forehead on his way out of the close room. He was tired; he had been removing bits of splintered bone from the ruin of the man's shoulder for what seemed like hours.

Nooj - yes, that was the name - was a problem. He was healing as well as could be expected after his cataclysmic encounter with Sin. Everything in his body was functioning as it should, so far as could be told. But he remained unconscious and deeply immersed in his own world. Kalek, in spite of his declaration, was beginning to feel a stirring of worry in the back of his mind. It was not normal for a man, no matter how badly injured, to remain comatose for so long. A retreat from such a mauling was not unexpected but the man should be surfacing by now. He sat down behind his desk and proceeded to brood until he was distracted by the presence of Lume.

"Greetings, Kalek. If you're ready to start your grand experiment, I've finally got the parts for you."

"That was fast. I've just finished taking out what I hope are the last bone fragments working their way toward the surface at the sites." The surgeon said with a twisted smile. "How did you get them done so quickly?"

"I convinced the others in the design shop we'd better grab this chance. May be our best one ever to sway these people to the virtues of machina. Have you heard what the street is saying about this Nooj?"

"No, I haven't had time to leave the hospital lately. What's going on?"

"They're making a real hero of him and I think it's due to Aquelev who has been getting drunk in every tavern in town and telling his version of the story. The one where Nooj throws himself at Sin and, single-handedly, drives him away while standing over the helpless masses of the rest of the army." Lume laughed at the credulity of the Spirans.

"That's not all that far off what I've heard from other witnesses. There's generally a grain of truth in legends. What harm does it do to celebrate the poor bastard?"

"Not a bit! And it's going to be a big plus for us if you can get the machina limbs stitched on and working like they should. We can advertise as much as we want and be as extravagant as we like if you can get him up and walking around again." Lume made expansive gestures.

"Yes, that's the problem. I've got to wake him up before any of this can happen." Kalek was pensive.

"You're going to insist on getting his permission? Won't it be easier to do the work while he's unconscious? Why not do it the easy way?"

"Doesn't seem ethical. But I may have to. It would be easier and no man in his right mind would turn down the chance to walk and have two arms again. I'll see. Two more days and I'll see." Kalek's tone indicated that part of the conversation was closed. "Now, show me these prostheses you've brought."


The pain had found a center - in his left shoulder. This, more than anything else convinced him it was a dream. He could remember nightmares like this, many of them. That meant he could wake up if it got too bad. He was not yet sure he wanted to wake. To do so would be to leave the presence of Kaith. Since she was long dead, she could not be with him in the waking world and he was comforted by her touch and the knowledge she was near him. But the pain was growing worse by the moment; he was not sure how much longer he could tolerate it. There seemed to be thin spots in the dream, places where he could see through into the other side.

His eyes flickered and he thought he was awake. The first action he attempted, as always when rousing from one of these nightmares, was to reach over and reassure himself he was still intact. He tried to move his right hand to the opposite shoulder but found he could not. Something was restraining him. And the pain had not stopped. It blazed and flared, making him moan at the intensity. Still focused in the left shoulder, yet spreading throughout his body, the agony was a living presence, an inhabitant of his skin and the master of every nerve. Stoicism dissolved in the increasing ferocity of the pain and he would have called for help, for some anodyne, had he been able to do so. He could taste blood filling his mouth and running down his throat as he tried to shout then darkness absorbed him again and he felt no more.


"When did you notice the blood on his face?" The floor supervision was not happy.

"When I came in just now to check his vitals." The probationary nurse was hesitant and shame-faced.

"Don't worry. You didn't do anything wrong. I just need to chart this. I don't see how it happened." His voice trailed off as he gently opened his patient's mouth and used a small torch to peer into the throat. "I'll just check this. Ah ... I see. Just press that call button and summon a Healer." The supervision straightened up. "He's got lacerations in his throat. We missed that somehow. Probably not serious but uncomfortable for him."

The nurse looked with round impressed eyes from the inhabitant of the bed to the superior. "I thought we checked for everything when we admitted someone."

"This was such an emergency and we were in such a rush to stabilize him, I guess we cut some corners. Oh, Dr. Zontus, it's good of you to come so quickly. Could you just take a glance here and see what you can do?"

The Healer did his own inspection and, then with a confident air, placed one hand on the neck of the unconscious man and waving his staff with the other, mumbled an incantation. "That should do it. A simple repair job. But I wonder how the membranes got torn like that. It'll be all right now." Like the quasi-royalty he was, the doctor left the room.

The supervisor gave a sigh of relief. "We've been lucky. Mustn't take any more chances. We'll need to have someone in here with him now. You take the first shift." He looked pointedly at the probationer.

"Wh-what do I do if he wakes up?" The voice of the young woman trembled.

The supervisor looked at the girl with exasperation, "Call for assistance, you ninny. You have your communicator?" At the nod, "Use it and call for backup if he begins stirring. This is an important patient."


He thought he had almost drowned and emerged from the darkness with a pressing need for air, gasping and struggling. He had been fighting again - the same old dream. Fighting and falling and losing himself in the battle. He could not bring the air into his lungs. Had the inevitable finally happened and was he to die in this dream? What would it mean if he died here? Would he die in the real world as well? He had heard that was so and had dismissed it as speculation and rumor since by its nature such a belief was not testable. His mind spun on itself, throwing out more and more questionable ideas. He should have strangled by now but there was the thinnest possible thread of air penetrating the thick blockages between his chest and the flooding oxygen in which he floated. His feet touched the base of the darkness and he pushed upward with all the strength he could call upon. His senses fading, he fell toward the surface, knowing Kaith would be waiting for him when he found the air.

There it was - that thinning of the darkness in which he was lost. He turned his vision as far as possible, looking for Kaith. He must find her or sink to the depths again. He stretched his hands as far as he could and reached for her. Her clasp would save him. A shadow moved on the edge of his eye, a graceful feminine shape. Kaith? He tried to say her name and, to his astonishment, heard it vibrate against the inside of his ear. "Kaith?" Again.


In the room, the young nurse heard a sound from her charge and saw, or thought she saw, a flicker of the eyelids. Hastily, she bent over the face of her patient, searching for some sign of returning awareness.


The nurse did not know what it meant, but it was a sound. There was no doubt about that. She convulsively pressed her communicator button and gasped, "He's trying to talk. Come here. Oh, please, somebody come here." Knowing nothing else to do, she placed her palm on his forehead and prayed this was not a sign he was dying. An eternity passed before the door of the room filled with an assortment of medical personnel, some pushing mysterious machines, most merely looking important.

Dr. Zontus, who had been the last to administer treatment was the designated physician in charge. He was immediately seconded by Kalek, who as the principal surgeon, was prepared to fight for the privilege of primacy. The two jostled in an unbecoming manner at the bedside. The sudden opening of Nooj's eyes, like the blare of a trumpet, quieted them. The eyes stared up, dark and oblivious, brilliant and unfocused.

"Kaith." The Healers had to bend low to catch the word.

Kalek took advantage of the confusion to brush back the others. "Yes, you are alive and doing well. You are Nooj. You are alive. You are safe. Be at ease." He was of the school which believing in talking simply to the ill and injured.

Nooj turned his head slightly and his eyes became less vacant. "Where is Kaith?" Only when he had said it did he realize the absurdity of the question. She was a part of the other world, or so he thought. It was all very confusing.

"Kaith will be here soon. Don't worry." Kalek spun around and whispered to the group at large. "Find out who this Kaith is and where he or she is. Quick." There was a rapid scurry as underlings sped on their way.

The man on the bed willed his right arm to move. If the dream was over, he needed to check himself to be sure it had been only a dream. Kaith was gone and there were other people around so he must be awake. It was strange but the arm still would not respond; was he still in the dream? He had never had this sort of experience in which he both dreamt and woke. Which was it? Where was he? They said he lived but he lay as though dead.

"He's trying to move his arm." Zontus observed.

"I can see that." Kalek answered. "Loosen the sheet. He's still very weak."

One of the nurses gently drew the tucked-in sheet away from the remaining arm. "There, sir. You can move now."

Nooj felt the constriction ease but he was still unsure as to the state of his awareness. The pain in the left side of his body should have dissipated if he had emerged from the dream. If he was still sleeping, what was the meaning of the crowd around his bed? And Aquelev - that was who he had been protecting. Was he alive? Where was he? All other thoughts immediately fled. He tried to turn his head to search the room. "Aquelev?" he whispered, glad to be able to form the name.

"Aquelev, isn't that one of the junior staff? Get him here at once." Kalek ordered.

There was a general stir and upheaval in the mass of on-lookers. To the satisfaction of them all, the Al Bhed healer was discovered amongst those crowded into the corridor and was quickly passed like a baton to the bedside of the wounded man.

Aquelev was almost unable to speak in his joy at seeing his friend alive and conscious. He had nearly lost hope during the days of waiting. "Nooj, I'm here. It's all right."

"You survived? Good." Nooj squinted in an effort to make out the features of the man leaning over him. The voice was familiar but he could not clearly see the face. "Are you hurt?"

"No, I'm safe and well. You're in the hospital at Luca. How do you feel?"

"Hurt. Am I awake? I can't be sure."

"You're awake. Are you in much pain?" Aquelev gently extended his receptors to scan the broken man. "I'll help you now." He cast a palliative spell to ease the torture he felt scourging the other.

Nooj closed his eyes and breathed more deeply. "Better. Thank you. And Sin? Did I kill him? Only a Summoner..." He slipped into a light doze, exhausted from the efforts he had made.

Aquelev turned to the others. "I am asserting my authority here. I was the original medical attendant to this man and I will resume my care of him with the assistance of Dr. Kalek who will be the surgical consultant. The rest of you can go now. The patient will sleep naturally until he wakes again and then we will take the necessary decisions." His voice trembled a little at the end of his brave speech. It was not usual for a junior to so address his superiors even when he was in the right of it.

When the area had been reluctantly cleared by the curious and the putative helpers, he turned to the surgeon and said, "I think we had better have a talk."

Kalek nodded, "Yes, by the way, I'm on your side. He obviously has confidence in you and will accept treatment more easily if you advise it. What can I tell you?"

"Everything you know. I last saw him in a field hospital and expected him to die."

Kalek carefully and thoroughly briefed Aquelev, showing him the charts and recommendations which had accumulated during the hospital stay.

"So, the triage team missed the throat injury? I guess that's understandable given the circumstances. And the prostheses are ready to implant? What do you suggest?" The Healer looked deeply into the eyes of his fellow Al Bhed.

"I'd like to go ahead and implant them. He's too weak to saddle with all our ethical problems. And I doubt he's thinking clearly. The longer we wait for implantation the less chance of successful nerve connections. You do understand these limbs are meant to be operated by his mind just like the original ones?"

"Yes, I know about that. But I didn't know there was a time frame."

"Nerves don't last forever. The fact he's hurting means the nerves are still firing. We should take advantage of that. I'd like to schedule surgery for tomorrow on the arm. It's going to be the more tricky one and I'll be glad to get it over with. If it looks like things are going well, I'll do the leg too."

Aquelev considered for a moment and agreed, "All right. Schedule it. I'll try to talk to him later today and explain what we're doing and why." He cupped his palm about the face of his friend and murmured, "Nooj, I'll try to take as much care of you as you did of me. Trust me, please."


He floated on the membrane between waking and sleep. The pain was still there but only as a dimly perceived beast gnawing but not immediately felt. There was something he had forgotten; he would not be able to rest until he remembered it. Yes, there is was - why did his left arm and leg feel so strange? His hand and foot were numb and unfeeling yet burning as with a distant fire. He could not move them nor could he bend the wrist or ankle. He thought he must be injured on that side. Perhaps the bones were broken. He was not greatly concerned because he could sense the limbs throughout their length. He was not caught in the dream of loss and mutilation, only still groping toward full consciousness. He was weak, not maimed. His body could not deceive him so completely. Satisfied with his reasoning, he let himself drift back into sleep itself in the direction of the quiet and away from the pain.
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