Thursday, February 18, 2010

Episode Zero: Stranger Chapter Four

[Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for the game.]

The overwhelming number of people did not bother her as much as it had the previous day, and Vanille felt calm and relaxed as she walked through the streets.
Not wanting to run into those two men they had met the other day, Vanille suggested they walk in an area slightly apart from the place they had been the day before. Fang insisted that if they saw them again it would be easy for her to take them out, but she agreed to the plan anyway.
The street they had seen yesterday had been lined with clothing and accessory shops, but today the place they found themselves in had an abundance of both food and drink.
“Look look, they’re selling vegetables!”
The stalls were bursting with colors of bright green, yellow and red. On closer inspection they saw that each was large and looked fresh.
“Nothing like those vegetables from the garden we saw the other day.”
“But don’t these look, I don’t know, artificial? Like someone made them. I wonder if you can even eat them.”
The vegetables were unnaturally matched in size and shape, like each was a replica of another. The ones they had picked from the garden were scrawny and tasteless, but you could tell they were meant to be eaten.
“Maybe they have some strange way of making them.”
“Well, it is Cocoon.” Vanille imagined them pressing colored liquid into the shape of vegetables. Surely not, she thought, shaking her head.
“They can’t support this many people with a little pathetic garden like the one we saw.”
“Cocoon is pretty big...”
“... maybe if we go somewhere else I’ll be able to get my memory back.”
Vanille didn’t answer, looking off into the crowd. Fang was getting impatient, Vanille understood that. She looked at Fang, knowing what she was thinking. That girl had been turned into a l’Cie because of them. Because they were taking so long to complete their Focus.
But that was wrong, Vanille knew that was wrong. Fang wasn’t the one who had screwed up. That blame was all Vanille’s. She sighed, then looked up as she felt Fang turn around beside her.
“Wait over there.”
“Wait!” But Vanille didn’t stop her in time. She could only watch as Fang disappeared into the crowd. It seemed she would have no choice but to wait for Fang’s return. She leaned against the nearest wall.
Most of the shoppers walking in and out of the shops were women, and many of them had children tagging along with them. Perhaps because the shops here sold food stuffs, and the women were buying dinner for their families. But there was something strange about them, as she watched Vanille thought there was something unnatural in what they were doing. Then she realized: most of the people coming out of the grocery were empty-handed. While some of the might have simply not bought anything, it was unthinkable that it would be true for all of them.
“Maybe they get it delivered?” Vanille thought. On Gran Pulse you could pay to get things delivered that were bulky or heavy, but something small like food was something you took home yourself. So maybe... but there could be another reason entirely.
Vanille just shook her head, confused.
“Did you wait long?”
Suddenly Vanille felt something cold pressing up against her forehead. She screamed and jumped.
“Haha, sorry about that.” Fang smiled, and held out a can of some sort of drink. “You’re so jumpy.”
“I can’t help it...” Vanille said, pouting, but she took the can. “Where did you get this?”
“Bought it.”
Vanille looked at the can, then looked up at Fang. Where did she get the money? They didn’t even know if cash was used on Cocoon.
“I used this.” Fang said, pulling out the card they had taken yesterday. “Cocoon’s such a weird place. I can’t believe you can get anything with something like this.” She opened up her can and took a drink, motioning for Vanille to do the same. The can was a little strange, but it wasn’t difficult to figure out how to open it.
“Oh! It’s good.”
“I told them to give me the sweetest drink they had.”
After the watery, tasteless stuff they had been eating recently, it was amazing drinking something where you could actually taste the sweetness. It was wonderful.
“So how do you buy stuff with this?”
“I don’t know how it works. I just copied what everyone else was doing. Like them.” Fang said, pointing to the people in the shop nearby. Vanille could see that the woman there had a card like the one they carried.
“I watched the people in a store I passed by, and I thought hey, maybe that’s how it works.”
“So then those two men from yesterday really didn’t have any money.”
“But they actually do have some cash on Cocoon.” Fang looked over to a different store. It was pink and white with cute decorations hung on the story front. A candy store. There were children running in and out of it, holding candy. Apparently taking your allowance to the candy store to buy some sweets was something children on both Cocoon and Gran Pulse enjoyed. “Kids use cash.” Fang said.
They could see that all of the adults used cards. Sometimes the owner of the card would press something on the card, or put something on the card. Then sometimes the store clerk would run the card through a strangely shaped machine. It seemed there were many ways to use the card.
“I saw a shop where they were selling weapons. So long as we have this we can buy some.” Fang grinned. “We can fight.”
“But...” Those two men had been shockingly weak. Fang could defeat them bare-handed. Even the fish and the birds had been pathetic. Probably all the creatures on Cocoon, including humans, did not know how to fight.
“Weren’t we chosen as l’Cie to fight Cocoon?”
“Yes but... right now there would be no reason...”
“Yeah... it’s so peaceful here. We probably don’t even have to fight.”
“Yes. Let’s not fight.” Vanille nodded. Her voice sounded strange to her ears, she wondered if Fang noticed.
“Even if we won’t be fighting, what is our Focus? If we don’t find out...”
That again. It always comes back around to that, Vanille thought, sighing. A loud voice intruded on her thoughts.
“Before we do that, why don’t we go on the fal’Cie tour?”
Vanille and Fang glanced at each other.
“We could just go to Euride on our last day.”
“But the closer it gets to the fireworks festival, the more crowded it will be.”
“That’s true.”
A group of older women passed by, talking in high spirits. What had they meant by “fal’Cie tour”? And Euride? Perhaps that was a place where the Cocoon fal’Cie was enshrined. Fang and Vanille snuck in behind the women, trying to remain unobtrusive, to listen for more important information.
“Why don’t we get a private car? With all of us together the price shouldn’t be too high.”
“No, no. Going by regular train should be just fine.”
The fal’Cie in Euride must be far if they were planning on taking a train there.
“I wonder how often the train comes? It should be fine if we don’t have to wait too long.”
“Why don’t we ask at Bodhum Station?”
“Then we’re agreed? Alright, my daughter asked me to pick up something at this shopping mall...”
That was all they had to say about the fal’Cie. Now their conversation slipped into what they were going to buy or what they should plan to eat. Just when they realized they weren’t going to get any more out of the women, the group went into a shop. Fang and Vanille walked passed the shop’s door without stopping.
“It was ‘Euride’ that they said, right?”
“Yes, the leader of these thieves...”
They couldn’t say for certain whether or not it was the same one who had stolen from them, but all the fal’Cie of Cocoon were the same to them.
“Then we must go and pay our respects.”
“We’re going to go and see it!?”
“If we go and see the fal’Cie of the enemy then maybe we’ll understand what our Focus is. Or maybe I’ll get my memory back... something will happen.”
“But Euride must be far. They said they were taking a train there.”
Neither Fang nor Vanille had ever ridden on a train. The train that ran by their home was something that ran all the way to the ends of the earth. They weren’t unusual in this. No one in their village had ever ridden on a train. People just didn’t ride on trains, not usually.
That’s why they had been surprised to hear a couple of old ladies talking so casually about riding on a train. It made them question their initial opinion that Cocoon was a pathetic sort of place.
“I’ll go any distance if I can get my memory back.”
“But we might not have enough money. I mean, we might not be able to ride with this card alone.” She didn’t want to go to Euride. She didn’t want to face a fal’Cie of Cocoon.
“Is that all?” Fang said, laughing. “We can go to the station and check. There are lots of ways we can get money. It will be fine. Let’s just go.” Fang turned on her heel. Once she made up her mind, that was the end of it. There was no way to stop her now. Vanille would just have to be prepared for whatever would come. She sighed, and followed after Fang’s footsteps.

Before they could find out more on how to get to Euride, they had to find out where Bodhum station was first. They had thought if they had just walked a bit they would find it, but that was not the case. So, while buying ingredients for dinner, they asked where they could find it. They thought people might look at them oddly if they started asking where the station was, but they needn’t have worried.
It seemed there were quite a lot of travelers who came here, and so strangers were quite common. They would say, “Oh, are you on vacation? Well where are you from?” In fact, Fang and Vanille thought they were being a little too friendly.
They were told that any shop in the city carries maps for travelers, which can be taken for free. They were put there so that travelers unused to the city would not get lost.
“Putting up maps for travelers? That seems dangerous.”
A map like that, one that could show you every place in the city at a glance, would become a weakness in the hands of the enemy. A map was an important document meant to be kept secret. Vanille couldn’t help but think badly of people who didn’t even know something as simple as that. But the clerk looked at her oddly when she mentioned this. Apparently people on Cocoon didn’t think that way.
They left as soon as the clerk marked the station on the map for them. If they had stayed any longer they might have given themselves away. They were more worried about their words or actions making them seem suspicious than they were of the clothing they wore.
Fortunately, the station wasn’t to far off. It was about fifteen minutes walk from the shopping mall, and very close to the temple. But if they hadn’t been given this map, they weren’t sure they would have realized this was a station. The station at Bodhum looked familiar and yet very different from the station they were familiar with on Gran Pulse.
“It doesn’t look anything like a station. It looks more like a... store or something.”
“And look at that train.” Fang pointed as they got closer to the station. “It doesn’t look like it would stay on the track.”
The train had a very rounded design. Saying it couldn’t stay on the track was not quite correct, but it did seem to be lacking something.
“If a monster attacked it, it would go flying right off.”
Trains on Gran Pulse were made large and sturdy to withstand attacks by large monsters. Both the window frames and the roofs were made of a thick material to avoid being smashed in.
“I wonder if it will even make it to Euride okay.” Vanille said. Fang shrugged.
“No use worrying. First we’ve got to find out when the train leaves. Then we’ve got to know how much it costs and how many days it will take.”
They thought just by going into the station that they’d be able to find out all the answers, but they were wrong. They didn’t know how to search for anything. First of all, there were so many different platforms that they didn’t know where to go. On Gran Pulse there was only one, but here in Bodhum there were several, and it seemed that each had a train that was going to a different place.
Even more surprising were how many trains were arriving. In their hometown the train only came in the morning and in the evening.
“What... what should we do?”
They wandered around the inside of the building, but still couldn’t figure any of it out.
“Are you alright? Can I help you?”
It was a young mother with a small child She must have seen that they were confused.
“Um... well, we want to go to Euride, but...”
“To visit the fal’Cie? The train to Euride leaves from platform number one.”
Vanille and Fang exchanged glances and breathed a sigh of relief. Saved!
“Have a good trip.” The young woman said, turning.
“Um, wait please! Can I ask you one more question?” There were still more things they had to ask.
“How much does it cost to get to Euride? Can we get there with this?” Vanille said, pulling out the card. The young woman laughed.
“Well, I don’t know what your credit limit is, but I can tell you it will definitely be enough, so long as you don’t get a special car.”
The women they had seen before had talked of something like that too, though they mentioned a “private car”. It seemed there were many different ways to get to Euride.
“And, um... how many trains go each day to Euride?”
“How many? Hmm... well...” She cocked her head to the side to think. That must mean there weren’t very many.
“Oh, please don’t tell me there is only one every couple of days.”
“Oh no, will we have to wait several days before one comes?” Vanille began to worry. What would they do if they had to wait that long? But the young woman’s laughter cut across her panic like a knife.
“Oh dear, you girls are so funny. It will be alright. Just go to the station and wait a bit, one should come soon enough.”
“It’s just you asked me how many come in one day, and I’ve never really counted them before. There are just so many.”
It seemed they had said another strange thing. But fortunately this time they had no need to apologize. This time the young woman just laughed.
“If you don’t want to wait for the train, you can always take an airbike. There is a place where you can rent them just outside the station. The price to rent a two-seater isn’t too much different from the cost of a train ticket.”
“Um, no... no, I like trains.”
Actually, neither one of them knew how to drive an airbike, but she decided not to say so. If airbikes were something that even children on Cocoon knew how to use, they’d be thought of as suspicious again.
“Alright then, be careful and have a good trip.” The young woman took the child’s hand and walked over to another platform, a different one from the train that goes to Euride.
“Oh no! I forgot to ask...”
“How many days it will take to get to Euride.”
But it really didn’t matter. They knew they would be able to cover the price of the ticket, and they knew where to get on the train. That was all the information they needed.
“I hope if we leave tomorrow we can at least arrive by the day after that...”
“It doesn’t matter how long it will take, so long as we can meet this fal’Cie.”
Vanille’s heart grew heavy when she heard the word fal’Cie. Just when she had managed to forget it, Fang had reminded her once again.
“Are you tired?” Fang looked at her, worried.
“Well, just a little.” Vanille replied, and tried her best to smile.


Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for new chapters! ^^

jenova said...

Lovely translation! I hope it didn't boring you as much. I always enjoy reading Fang and Vanille's amazement of Coccoon.

Kei said...

I really couldn't help but think that Fang and Vanille are like country bumpkins. Lol.

Much appreciation for translating!

Anonymous said...

Haha, it's great to see Fang and Vanille, and it's hilarious how they're going about everything all furtive and infiltration-like.

This adds so much more depth and everything, letting us see how this all started, and the cultural differences of Pulse and Cocoon... again, thanks so much for translating!

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