[Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for the game.]
It wasn’t long before Fang realized why they had blindfolded her. The airship they pushed her into was so narrow they wouldn’t have been able to use their guns on her. If she hadn’t been blindfolded and bound, she could have fought back and escaped.
But she wasn’t bound for long, as Rygdea had promised. They hadn’t been in the air for long when she felt the rumble of the airship landing. She felt hands on her back, directing her to move, but it wasn’t long before she had to stop again.
There was a low noise. It sounded vaguely familiar to her, and she soon realized it was the sound of doors opening and closing. All the doors at the shopping mall and energy plant had made the same sound.
A voice started speaking, but it was one she didn’t recognize. Perhaps this was the man Rygdea had wanted her to meet.
It seemed Rygdea was a “captain”. She had heard the word often during her escape. From what she had learned from other soldiers, they added these words to names depending on their rank.
The blindfold fell from her face, and Fang squinted in the bright light of the cabin. She scanned the area, finding that all the soldiers were gone. There were only two in the room besides herself: Rygdea, and one other man. He had black hair, and a cool expression on his face that showed he was no push over.
“Take off the binds.”
“Are you sure about that General Raines? This girl shouldn’t be taken lightly...”
“I don’t care.”
Just what could this man be thinking? Fang wasn’t happy about being bound like this, but she knew she would do the same if she were in their shoes. He must have some sort of plan already in place if he was going to unbind her. Their eyes met and he smiled.
“This is what you are thinking right now. You are a l’Cie of Pulse, and all of Cocoon is your enemy. But there are exceptions to anything, you know.”
Fang stood wordlessly, staring into the man’s eyes. She tried to read something of his thoughts, anything, but they were unreadable as the writing of Cocoon. His eyes were as cold and dark as midwinter, and had unknown depths.
“I am Cid Raines. I may control the Cavalry fleet, but I am not your enemy.”
Fang wasn’t stupid enough to take those words at face value. She snorted.
“Don’t be an idiot. When it comes to my enemies there are no exceptions.”
“Of course our charge is to protect the people of Cocoon. But just because that which we want to protect is different, does that really make us enemies?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
No, Fang thought, I don’t even want to understand. Raines took out a small device and placed it to his ear. It was hard for Fang to believe, since it was so small, but that machine was a wireless communicator on Cocoon.
“Ah, Lieutenant Nabaat. What’s your status?”
She wondered who he was talking to. Raines looked up at met her eyes. A woman’s voice crackled from the device. Fang looked around, startled.
“The perpetrator is still on the run. We haven’t been able to locate her.”
“It’s the same on this end. We do plan on searching from the air between Euride and Bodhum, however.”
Fang couldn’t figure out how it worked, but it seemed that with that device you could hear the voices of other people. Raines smiled faintly, perhaps finding her reaction amusing.
“We believe that she is hiding somewhere in the gorge, so before we...”
“Ah, you believe we would have a higher chance of finding her from the air? Understood. Anything else?”
“Once she is captured, she must be handed over to PSICOM headquarters immediately.”
“Is that our orders?” Raines glanced at Fang. She wondered if he was telling her that if ordered he would send her over to them.
“It is a request.”
“PSICOM’s ‘requests’ are the same as orders from the Sanctum, of course.”
It didn’t take long for Fang to figure out that the relationship between these two was not particularly friendly.
“Though I am amazed that it has been a full day since the accident, and I have yet to be told the details. Though if it involves you then it must be something very important. That, at least, is plain to see.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t answer that.” The woman replied sarcastically. “That information is classified and under control of PSICOM.”
“Oh, you’re always like this.” Raines sighed and switched off the communicator. The smile fell from his face as he looked at Fang. “And so now you know. The army of the Sanctum is not one-sided.”
“Yes. There are two arms to the army of Sanctum. The Wide-area Response Brigade, also known as the Cavalry--that’s us, who protect the people--and PSICOM, Sanctum’s special forces.”
“What does that matter? You’re all enemies to me.”
Raines ignored that, and continued: “The reason I ordered Rygdea to bring you here is not so that we could hand you over to PSICOM. In fact, just the opposite.”
What did it matter? Either way the armies of Cocoon wanted to capture l’Cie. Fang couldn’t understand what he was trying to say.
“We do not agree with the actions of PSICOM, and do not align ourselves with them.”
“So you think that means you aren’t my enemy? Yeah right.” It was likely that they really were against PSICOM, if that conversation they had a minute ago was any indication. But that didn’t mean they were Fang’s allies. “You just think that by capturing me, you’ll be the first one to get information on Pulse.” It was a common scenario, getting one up on your enemies to make them look bad. “But unfortunately for you, I’m a broken l’Cie.” She looked down at the mark on her arm. When she had awoken it had been burned white, as though a scorch mark left from when everything had been burned clean from her mind. “I can’t remember my Focus or my memories. I don’t have any information you could want. And...”
She wasn’t sure if she should tell this to the enemy.
“I’m looking for a friend. I don’t have time to help you.” Fang hadn’t been sure she should say anything, but she needed information about Vanille. She wondered what reaction the two men would make on hearing the word ‘friend’.
But they were silent, their faces told her nothing.
“I understand. It’s up to you whether you want to help us or not. But in the mean time, you’ll be staying with us.”
Of course, Fang thought. Whatever they’ve been saying, all they’ve really wanted to do was lock me up and keep an eye on me. If that’s the case, then my only choice is escape.
“Captain, take her to the residential area.”
From how they spoke to one another, Fang could tell that Raines was ranked higher than Rygdea. But despite that, they seemed far closer than it would appear at first glance. She wondered if maybe they were close in age. No, she had no time or reason to be thinking about that. There were more important things to think about...
“Hey girly, don’t try to fight you’re way out of here eh?” Rygdea said, slapping her on the back. He is strong, Fang thought. “Though you’re not much of a ‘girl’ are you?” He let go of her. “But you know, if we really got into a fight one of us probably wouldn’t make it out alive. So hey, let’s be friends.”
Fang had no interest in being friends with him, but it was true that if they got into a fight there would be some serious injury. She raised both her hands up in truce.
Just beyond the door lay a narrow hall. Because the previous room had been so low and wide, Fang had thought that all of Cocoon’s buildings were built like that, but it seems that this wasn’t the case.
“What? You don’t even have windows around here?” The tight quarters made it hard for her to breathe, making her even more irritable.
“I doubt you’d find much use for windows in the middle of an airship.”
“An air... ship?”
“You’re inside The Lindblum, an airship.”
She touched the walls of the ship. If this were really a ship she should have been able to feel it’s movement. At least it was that way with ships on Gran Pulse. But she felt no rumbling beneath her fingertips. Which must mean they were docked.
“What, you didn’t know? Well we are currently in flight.”
“It’s.. it’s flying?” She couldn’t believe it. The ship wasn’t shaking or vibrating at all. No, she could feel the slightest tremble in the floor beneath her feet, but it was so faint she could hardly tell. She had been surprised at the speed which the train going from Bodhum to Euride had moved, but this ship was clearly even more powerful. Fang relaxed.
“So... this is a ship?” Fang looked down the hall stretching far behind her, and looked back to see how far it continued forward. It went farther than she could see in either direction.
“It can’t...” When she thought that this was a building, she had felt the hallway was horribly narrow and tight, and that the room she was in before had an oddly low ceiling. But if this were an airship...
“Yeah, I was just thinking this is one damn big ship.”
“Really? Well the Sanctum Skyfleet’s Palamecia is even bigger.”
“I think my head hurts...” Fang could hardly imagine it. These ships were on an entirely different scale from what they had on Gran Pulse. Not just the ships, but the guns the soldiers carried were more powerful than any she had seen before.
The beasts and the birds, and more over the humans of Cocoon were very weak in comparison to Gran Pulse. Of course there were a few like Rygdea who she could see were “strong”, but most of the soldiers she ahd seen on Cocoon were weak.
But Cocoon had technology. Fang didn’t know what other sorts of technology they had, but what if all of these people could use it? They may be surrounded by a worse enemy than they had imagined.
Once they made it to the end of the hall, there was a staircase. Fang wondered just how much further they had to go, especially since they had already walked a considerable ways. How long would it take you to walk from one end to the other?
“Well you’ve sure gotten quiet. It wasn’t too long ago that you were barking like a feral dog.”
“Well I’m not a dog, don’t treat me like one. I was just thinking of a way to get out of here.”
“Well don’t do that!” Rygdea’s face grew serious. “PSICOM has set up barricades all around Bodhum. I’d like to see you try and escape from there.”
“I’m not so stupid that I’d get caught by those assholes.”
“... I don’t think you quite get it.”
“Don’t get what?”
Rygdea sighed. “You managed to get through the barricade around the plant on your own, I’ll give you that. But do you know how hard we worked to get you free?”
“Well we couldn’t just capture you right in front of PSICOM, they would have told us to hand you over. You heard them right? We couldn’t let that happen, so we were busy overwriting their surveillance system and sending false info over their wireless.”
Fang didn’t really know what exactly they had done with the surveillance system and wireless, but it seems that Raines and Rygdea had helped her escape.
“I don’t get it. Why do this if we’re enemies?”
“It’s like General Raines said, it’s in our interest to help you. The enemy of our enemy is our friend.”
“The enemy of our enemy is our friend... huh.” Fang could understand that better than just saying they weren’t enemies. Even though they were enemies, joining forces under those circumstances wasn’t something completely unheard of.
“Here’s your room, girly.”
Rygdea stopped in front of several doors. Fang had no idea where they were or where they had come from. Even if she wanted to escape, she wouldn’t be able to.
“Sorry it’s so small.”
Even though it didn’t have much, just a bed and a small table, it was a real room. Fang would have no problem staying here.
“You can call me Fang.”
“Stop calling me girly.”
Rygdea smiled. “I knew you didn’t like being called that, but I didn’t know what else to call you.”
“So you should have asked my name.”
“If I had asked, would you have told me?”
“No... no, probably not.” Until a little while ago, she had no intention of telling him her name. Rygdea was strong. While people might tell lies, there were no lies in strength.
“You said you were looking for your friend, right?” Rygdea asked, as if just remembering. “Are they strong like you?”
“Stronger than any soldier on Cocoon.”
“Are all women on Pulse so strong?”
She had told them that she was looking for a friend, but she hadn’t told them she was a girl. Fang narrowed her eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that. We looked at the surveillance cameras from Euride. The picture wasn’t too clear, but we could at least see that much.”
Fang breathed a sigh of relief. Vanille hadn’t been captured.
“Are you worried? Well of course you are. Doesn’t matter how strong she is, she’s still all alone.”
“And she cries all the time.”
Vanille would always cry, waking up from a bad dream, holding on to Fang and begging her not to leave her alone. She had always been like that, since they were children.
“And sometimes she laughs at the strangest things.”
When was the last time she had seen Vanille laugh? In the train to Euride? No... she had been surprised at everything, but she hadn’t laughed. Had she even laughed since they had woken up...
“Should I look for her?”
Fang wouldn’t have expected him to make such an offer. Rygdea seemed like a nice enough guy, but he was still the enemy.
“I mean right now you can’t leave here, can you? If you went out there, it would be suicide. But I understand you’re worried about her. I have friends myself.” Rygdea said with a smile, he didn’t seem as though he was lying.
“I don’t... I don’t want to owe you anything.”
“Well then, how about this: we make a deal.”
“We can’t let you fall into PSICOM's hands, so I’ll search for you friend. In return, you guys cannot let yourself get captured by PSICOM.”
Cocoon’s soldiers weren’t that strong by themselves, but they had technology, and even within those soldiers there were a few strong ones like Rygdea. Surrounded by soldiers like these, there wasn’t much she could do right now.
“I... yes...” She didn’t know what Raines was planning, but she felt she could trust Rygdea. “Please.”
Once he found Vanille, Fang would return what she owed him. He could count on that.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
[Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for the game.]