[Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for the game.]
“A deal, huh? I’m too nice.” Rygdea thought to himself as he walked the road from Bodhum Station to the shopping mall quarter. They wouldn’t get anything in return for this deal.
Fang had said herself that she was a “broken l’Cie”, but even if that wasn’t the case she wouldn’t break so easily. They might not get any information on Pulse out of her, but it was true that they couldn’t let her fall into PSICOM’s hands. Searching for her friend wouldn’t be a waste of effort.
And, if they could get her to join them, she would be a nice addition to their forces. When they had brought her in Rygdea had felt her strength and skill, but what was even more surprising was when they let her use the training simulator. He had thought she might be getting bored just waiting around, and had brought her to the training room.
While it might be true that there is a world of different between a real fight and a simulated program, Fang managed to grab the high score on a machine she had never even seen before. It was no wonder she was able to escape from enemies so easily in unfamiliar territory.
She had not only strength, but luck on her side. That she got tickets to Euride with an overwritten ID card, and that she overwrote the card by accident, was nearly impossible to imagine.
And then the airbike she used after her escape from the plant. It must have been left with the engine running, because there was no way she could have found a way to turn it on and make it run without knowing what she was doing. The owner of that bike must have left it on, planning on returning immediately. In fact, PSICOM had locked down the plant shortly after the accident. The owner might not have been able to return.
Fang had said she had seen an unusual owl on Cocoon three times. An owl that had a human-like face and legs like those of a raptor. She had never seen one, other than in a book, she had said. Rygdea himself had only seen one once. That she had seen one three times in only a few days showed how luck seemed to follow her.
Fang’s friend was still running from PSICOM, and without the help of the Cavalry. Her luck must be even greater than Fang’s. Perhaps all l’Cie from Pulse had such luck.
“But where should I begin looking for her?”
The fireworks festival was in a couple of days, and Bodhum was already filled with tourists. It would waste too much time and effort to look for her in this crowd. Fang had said that she wouldn’t have gone far. Unless something had happened, she would be somewhere in Bodhum. But the problem was, Rygdea didn’t know much about the area.
Which meant, he would have no choice but to search at random. Or so he thought, when he heard a voice calling out his name. It was one of the officers from the Bodhum security force. Rygdea had spoken with her a bit the other day when he had come to investigate.
“You’re... Sergeant Farron, right?”
“Sir!” She said, saluting, a perfect textbook example. Her movements were tight and efficient. If given the chance, she could become very strong. Though he knew this already from the information he had seen on the troops, this was something he could tell just by looking at her.
“Don’t be so formal, relax already.” He said to her. That’s when he had an idea. He might not know the area, but he could ask someone who did.
“Do you know of any places where young people go to hang out? Anything is fine.”
It wasn’t widely known that their suspect was a young girl. Fang’s friend may have decided to hide herself with others her age so as not to raise suspicion.
“Does this have something to do with the accident in Euride?” Sergeant Farron’s eyes lit up. Her intuition was sharp.
“Is there a rumor going around?” Though she was trying to get information out of him, he decided to turn it back on her, hopefully to find out how the troops are feeling about the accident.
“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a rumor.”
“Our orders are to hand over the suspect. That is all. But, PSICOM is here. They arrived here just after the accident. That’s enough to raise anyone’s suspicions.” She said it casually, but was clearly waiting to see his reaction.
“Well, soldiers in the lower ranks like us can’t understand what those higher-ups think anyway.”
“Excuse me, sir, but I don’t believe Captain Rygdea of the Cavalry can be considered a part of the lower ranks.”
She could see right through him. Her eyes sharpened. The eyes of someone who knew exactly what he was about. If he tried to get any more information out of her, he would be digging his own grave.
“In any case, that’s not it. I’m just being used by a friend to find someone, that’s all.” He made a show of sighing and looking resigned. Not that he thought she’d buy it, but she was the type would was not only sharp, but would know when to leave well enough alone.
“I’m just having trouble searching for her, since I don’t know the area. But you’ve come at the perfect time to help me.”
Just as he expected, Sergeant Farron didn’t ask any more about Euride.
“If you give me her ID number, I can tell it to soldiers who are on patrol.”
“No no, there’s a reason we can’t really have this known publicly.” He explained that it was a girl who had run away from home. Sergeant Farron nodded, understanding.
“So a girl... how often has she been in Bodhum?”
“No, she doesn’t really know the area either. She’s from very far away.” He wasn’t lying, it was just farther away than Sergeant Farron could imagine.
“Anything you can tell me about her?”
“She has her hair done up in two pigtails. Apparently she laughs and cries a lot. She’s not shy at all...”
“Is this a little girl?”
“No... she’s around seventeen or eighteen...” Rygdea started to say, then burst into laughter. “You’re right, it does sound like a little girl.”
“No, I understand. I have a little sister about that age.” Sergeant Farron smiled softly when she said that. It was the same expression Fang had when talking about her friend.
“And she likes to take care of livesto--, er she likes to take care of animals. Are there any places in Bodhum where there are animals she could pet?”
“As far as I know, there are only pet shops.”
The only place in Cocoon where there were really animals you could pet was Nautilus Park, but he couldn’t imagine she would hang out there to pet sheep while she was on the run. No reason to continue this line of investigation further.
“Well it’s not a place with animals, but there is a cafe where a lot of young people go...”
“Yes, it’s close to the beach. I hear that both locals and tourists go there often. Not that I ever go there.” Her expression grew grim. It seemed she didn’t have a very good opinion of the cafe.
“Wow, you know a lot about it even though you never go there. Now that’s a good member of the security force.”
“Oh, no... it’s something that my little sister has talked about.”
“I see, well it’s definitely worth checking out.”
That would be the perfect place for her to have gone. Lots of people her age there, so she wouldn’t stand out, and since locals were there too she could become friends with one of them and have a place to stay.
“Alright, I’m going to try it. Thanks for your help.”
As always, Sergeant Farron made a perfect salute before departing.
The cafe was just as Sergeant Farron said it was. There was a good mix of both locals and tourists, and all were young. But the face he was looking for was nowhere to be seen.
“Welcome! I’m sorry, but currently our tables are all full. But if you’d like to sit at the counter...?”
Rygdea had seen the blue-haired waiter before. The other day when he was off on investigation the boy had been arrested and searched. It seemed PSICOM had noticed a package he had been protecting. But after they searched it, it turned out there was nothing important inside.
“What would you like?” A bright voice asked as he sat down at the counter. A small woman stood behind the counter, shaking up drinks. She had black hair like Fang’s, but there was a sweetness about her eyes that gave her a soft appearance.
“I am a bit hungry. You can make me anything you think is good.”
“Any foods you don’t like?”
Rygdea told her that he didn’t, and she smiled. The way she turned on the fire and handled the frying pan made it obvious she was a pro. She mixed up drinks, sliced up fruit, her hands a blur.
“Snow? Hey, is Snow here?” A boy of about sixteen or seventeen broke through the thick crowd in front of the counter. The scent of oil and grease lingered about him, perhaps he was a mechanic.
“I’ve told you not to run inside the cafe.”
“I know, I know. But Lebreau, where is Snow?”
Lebreau must have been the name of the woman behind the counter. Her and the boy almost acted like mother and son, if you ignored their ages.
“He said he had to go meet Serah. You just missed him. But never mind that Maqui, can you help me? I need you to pick up some vegetables from the back.”
The boy named Maqui looked disappointed, but sighed and turned right back around and left the way he came. Rygdea took another look around the cafe, but Fang’s friend was still no where to be seen. Or at least, there was no one who seemed to be on the run. Everyone in the room was talking and smiling, all without a care in the world.
PSICOM sure has shut up the news about the accident, Rygdea thought, even though Euride is only a stone throw away from Bodhum no one seems to be worried about what happened. Even the soldiers who were there don’t know the whole story, and only those with a good head on her shoulders like Sergeant Farron knew that PSICOM moving in meant something big. Even so, they didn’t know the truth.
“Sir? Is there someone you’re waiting for?”
Her voice brought him back to the present. The way he was looking for Fang’s friend must have made her think he was waiting for someone. He shook his head.
“I’m searching for someone. Have you seen a girl who is about seventeen or eighteen years old?”
“About three come every hour. Is there anything else you can tell me about her?”
“She wears her hair in two pigtails.” Rygdea balled his hands in two fists by his head, indicating the style.
“Is that all?”
“Well, she has bracelets on both arms. Lots of thin ones. And I believe she had on necklaces too.”
“I don’t think she came here. Is she your girlfriend? No wait, you said she was eighteen... daughter maybe?”
“I’m just playing with you. But you said she was eighteen had two pigtails, and had lots of bracelets and necklaces?”
She had a good memory. It probably came from working at a cafe.
“Apparently she laughs a lot, and is always smiling. She also said she was careless, but liked to take care of others and is quite kind.”
“Hmm.... that’s not much to go on.”
“Yeah I guess.” It’s true that she probably wouldn’t break into laughter like Fang said she did at a place she had never been before. And it’s doubtful that she would be taking care of other people when she needed to be taken care of herself. He forgot to mention that she cried a lot, but that would probably help about as much as the rest of the information did.
“Well, if you see her, can you let me know? Though, I can’t let her find out about it.”
“What do you mean by that? That sounds awfully suspicious.”
“She ran away from home. It would be dangerous if she ran too far, and her parents are counting on me to find her.”
She gave him a suspicious look, but then shrugged.
“Fine then. If a girl matching that description comes, I’ll let you know.”
“Thanks, I owe you one.”
“If you could just write down where I can contact you at here... And here’s your meal.”
The plateful of food appeared before his eyes. She had been working all that time she had been talking to him. Quite impressive.
“So don’t bring attention to yourself, or we’ll smack you upside the head. A lot of us are stronger than any soldiers.” Rygdea heard a voice say. There was no way any of them were stronger than a soldier, but he didn’t want to cause any trouble. He wondered if he should carry something of Fang’s around with him. If he had something of hers with him it might be easier to get in contact with her friend. He thought about talking with Fang about it as he ate his meal.
Eating better food than he had expected to get was the best thing that came out of the whole day. After leaving the cafe, he made another turn around the shopping mall, but it was wasted effort.
“I see you couldn’t find her.” Fang said to him when he arrived back on the Lindblum. She sighed in mock frustration.
“Do you have any idea where she might be? Anywhere she could have gone?”
“Yeah, but I already looked there.”
“Of course, right...”
Fang must have been wandering around town looking for her friend when they found her. She had probably searched all the places she expected her to be and had come up with nothing. Then she was panicking so much she didn’t notice she was being followed.
“Oh hey!” Fang said, slapping her knee. “She might be in the forests or ocean or something.”
“Why would she be there?”
“For food. I mean she had a card, but I doubt she got it to work.”
Rygdea looked shocked at the idea of catching fish and trapping birds to eat.
“Is that so surprising?”
“Well, I mean going into the ocean to catch fish...”
“How can you live not knowing how to get food for yourself?”
It seemed the l’Cie of Pulse were not only lucky, but tough as well.
“She really likes cooking you know. Makes up her own meals. She’s made some pretty terrible stuff though.” Fang smiled as she remembered her friend. Rygdea thought about Sergeant Farron talking about her sister. Fang’s friend must be like a little sister to her.
“When we find her, she’ll have to treat me to some Pulse cooking. But... hold off on the salt.”
It seemed the food on Cocoon was tasteless to those from Pulse, and Fang was always dumping salt on her meals.
“I’ll tell her to make invalid food.” Fang said, grinning. Then she asked, “Why are you with a guy like Raines?”
“And why are you asking? Trying to get my secrets?”
Fang mumbled that it was partly true.
“I don’t really understand him at all. I don’t know what he’s thinking.”
“Well he’s an important man in the Sanctum. And considering how many lives he has under his charge, it would be a problem if he were that easily read.”
“Is he really all that great?”
If you can’t tell what sort of man he is just from looking at him, Rygdea thought, then maybe you need to get your eyes checked. But no, he realized, that wasn’t what she meant. She could at least tell that he was no simple man, he could see that.
“So he’s a... ‘Brigadier General’ right? And you’re a captain. What’s the difference?”
“Well a captain is just a company officer. A brigadier general is one of the lowest ranks of generals. Between the two there is one other rank of field officer. Within that there are colonels, lieutenant colonels, and lieutenant commanders. So there is quite a wide gap between his rank and mine.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Well, let’s just say he’s one of the higher-ups.”
Fang made a face. Rygdea thought it was so hilarious, he decided to keep pushing it.
“And after those three ranks there are military officers, and even further below them there are non-commissioned officers. Sergeant Majors, sergeants and corporals...”
“Enough! Enough already. You’re making my head hurt.” Fang said while holding her head and sighing. “The army on Cocoon is complicated. Do you guys have fun making all those ranks?”
“Well, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s fun...”
Fang had never been persuaded to talk more about Pulse, but he now knew they didn’t have an army.
“Well it’s true that the strict rules about ranks are kind of a pain.”
Rygdea himself hated the stiff rules of the army, and had once tried to quit. He had joined the military academy because he wanted to fly an airship. After graduation, he had entered into the army, but not because he wanted to become a soldier. If it weren’t for his wanting to fly an airship, he would have had nothing to do with it.
It wasn’t too long after that when Raines invited him to join the Cavalry. Though he wasn’t too much older than himself, he had already been promoted to the rank of brigadier general. For a failed soldier like himself, he thought he wouldn’t have much in common with him, and had only half listened to his request.
But eventually their talks became serious, and he could no longer ignore him. Their ideals matched, and he liked how Raines didn’t treat those ideals as just an abstract theory. Rygdea thought that so long as it was under this man, he would have a reason to stay in the army...
“Even though you think it’s a pain, you still stay under Raines? Did something about him appeal to you?”
There wasn’t any deep meaning behind Fang’s question, but it would be dangerous for him to answer it. Answering it would expose too much of their hand.
“Sorry, but I’m not a man who relies on his feelings.”
“Then what do you rely on?”
“I guess... whether something makes sense or not.”
“So it makes sense for you to work under Raines then?”
“Oh, and also...” It wouldn’t hurt to show just a card or two. “I always bet on the one who looks likeliest to win. I don’t fight if I don’t think I’m going to win.”
“I see...” Fang said, with an odd look in her eyes.
“It’s just strange. I would have thought you’d be someone who relies more on their feelings.”
“I think you’ve overestimated me.”
“I’m not. I thought you were some idiot who lets his feelings get the best of him.”
“Well, I’m glad we’ve cleared up that misunderstanding.” Rygdea said as he exited the room. He couldn’t let himself get caught in Fang’s traps.
Just a moment ago there had been an announcement from PSICOM. They were taking down their blockade around Euride and letting tourists back into the plant. Too many things were happening at once. He had to find Fang’s friend soon, before she fell into PSICOM’s hands.
He hurried to the bridge.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
[Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for the game.]