[Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for the game.]
The search for Vanille continued, but Rygdea came up empty handed. Before Fang realized, the next two days had passed, and the festival was about to begin.
She still had problems with her memory. She had tried to recall things about her childhood, or the names of people she knew... but her mind remained as blank as ever.
As promised, Raines let her go to the surface. Fang was given a small wireless device so that they would be able to contact her at a moments notice. They also gave her a ‘transfer’ device that would allow her to gain access to her weapon quickly.
Thanks, Fang thought. Even though neither of them really gained anything from their ‘deal’, she still felt she owed something to Rygdea.
The temple was the first place she visited. Rygdea hadn’t said anything about the temple. That probably meant neither he, nor anyone else knew you could get into it. As they had searched everywhere else without finding Vanille, it was likely that she had hidden there.
Only a few days had passed since they had left the temple, but the inside of the temple felt comforting and familiar. In all of this strange world it was her last connection to home.
Looking around Fang saw that the priest’s clothes they had slept on were thrown haphazardly on the floor. Vanille had already been here, but now there was no sign of her. They may have just missed each other.
She spotted Vanille’s weapon. It worried Fang that Vanille was walking around unarmed. She must have left it so as not to attract attention to herself. Unfortunately, unlike when they first woke up, the city was dangerous now, with soldiers everywhere.
Fang circled around once more, just in case, before going back outside. Just in case Vanille returned here, she gathered up the clothes on the floor and folded them properly as a sign that Fang had returned.
If only fal’Cie Anima would tell her something. Whether or not Vanille had returned here, or where she had gone. That old man had said the fal’Cie had been ‘angry’ with him. It was possible that Cocoon fal’Cie had a way to communicate with people. Such a thing would never happen with Gran Pulse fal’Cie.
“Though I bet it would be pretty annoying if they did talk.” She thought aloud. They would probably just make orders and ignored what anyone else had to say. That’s how fal’Cie were.
“In the end, you can only count on yourself.” She mused.
Fang walked along the beach where they had fished, and into the forest they had planned to hunt. When she returned to the city, it was already evening. Fang poked around the field where they had stolen vegetables, but Vanille was not there either.
“And there still isn’t anyone looking after this place.” Fang looked at the fenceless, netless field and laughed. Though, and this was probably only because she had been here too long, even this field seemed beautiful to her now. She crouched down and put her hands in the dirt. Vanille had might have come here and done the same. She knew she had.
“But I can’t wait here for her...” Fang clapped her hands together to get rid of the dirt, and stood up. Then she noticed something had fallen on the ground. It was the wireless device. She had forgotten about it completely.
When she picked it up, she noticed a light blinking on and off. It seemed someone had tried to contact her.
“Now how did this work again...” She fiddled around with it like she had the airbike, trying to get it to work, when suddenly it connected. It seemed she was good with this sort of thing.
“Where have you been!?” Rygdea yelled when she held it to her ear. “Why did you keep ignoring me?”
“Sorry, I forgot I had this thing.”
“I can’t believe this...” She heard him sigh.
“Hey, I’m not used to crap like this.”
“Well whatever. I needed to tell you that PSICOM is in the Vestige.”
“Vestige?” Then she remembered: they called the temple the ‘Bodhum Vestige’.
“It seems they’re conducting an investigation.”
“But why?” It was difficult to keep her voice from shaking. “What are they looking for?”
“I don’t know the details. We only received the communication. But I do know they’re using military monsters. Not only the Tsevelk they use for searches, but the Gebalt they use for hunting.”
Fang didn’t know the difference between these monsters, but she could tell from the way Rygdea talked about them that this wasn’t normal.
“They’ve even deployed armored soldiers. Don’t go near them. They aren’t the sort of enemy you can take down by yourself.”
When Fang had returned to the temple she had seen no sign of soldiers or anyone else. Maybe she had just missed them.
“In any case, did you find her?”
“If I had, I would have already returned.”
“I see. Well anyway, it would probably be best if you hid yourself in the crowd so they can’t find you. Oh, wait a moment...”
His voice cut off. He must have received another call. But he didn’t leave her waiting long.
“Don’t go near the security force’s base.” He said when he came back on the line. “We just received video from the security system. There is a company of airships headed this way with all speed, this is no simple investigation.”
I’ll be careful, Fang replied, switching off the wireless device and running towards the temple. She trusted Rygdea, but if Vanille returned there she would be in trouble.
But once she got within sight of the temple, she saw that Rygdea had been right. The temple was surrounded by army vehicles. It was as though the outside of the temple was swarming with insects. As much as she hated to admit it, there was no way she would have a chance against that. She could forget about helping Vanille, she wouldn’t even be able to enter the temple.
This might not even be the first time they had been to the temple. Was it possible that they had come without Rygdea and his crew realizing it? That might explain why Vanille hadn’t been in the temple. She saw the soldiers and ran, leaving her weapon behind. That must be it, Fang said to herself, which means Vanille isn’t in there. I’ll just have to believe that for now, and search somewhere else...
It was growing dark. Soon it would be too dark to search for her. Fang walked quickly to the shopping mall.
“It’s not really dark at all.”
Both the shopping mall and the beach were as light as day, and as filled with people. The fireworks bursting in the sky lit up the whole city.
Sparks exploded in the sky, booming, and lighting up the faces around her. Fang supposed having the light would help her search for Vanille, if she were there. But she wasn’t.
Fang had walked to every crack and corner of the shopping mall. She went to the vending machine where she first bought drinks for them with her card, and to the grocery store where they were given a map, to everywhere the two of them had gone together. But still, no Vanille.
There were too many people. When they come here just after waking up, she couldn’t figure out where all these people had come from. But tonight the mall was even more crowded than before. It was useful for when you wanted to hide, but impossible to find someone in.
Tired of walking, Fang went to rest in the cafe on the beach. She realized this was the same cafe Rygdea had talked about when she saw the woman mixing drinks behind the counter. He had said she was good.
“Welcome! Bar stool okay for you?” She smiled. Yes, he had mentioned how friendly she was. Fang nodded, relaxing. She was even more tired than she had thought. She hadn’t rested since noon, so this was no surprise.
“What’ll it be?”
“A drink... something very sweet.”
She nodded and grabbed a glass.
“You look pretty tired.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Did you go shopping? Find anything good?”
Oddly enough, it didn’t feel strange to have this woman asking her questions. Maybe it was because she was so close in age to Vanille. Fang thought of Vanille’s smile.
“Actually I’m looking for someone.”
“Oh, did they get lost? It is the fireworks festival, stuff like that happens. Your friend?”
“What’s she like?”
Fang was about to answer, when the woman called out to someone behind her.
“You’re late. She said she’d be waiting at the usual place.”
The man she talked to was large and well built. Fang wondered if he was a regular here. He turned around and left quickly, so she didn’t get a good look at his face, only the impression of the frayed sleeves of his long coat and the thick leather gloves he wore remained in her mind. It made him seem hot and sweaty rather than tough.
“I’m sorry for interrupting you. What were you going to say?” She placed the drink in front of her. Fang took a swig, and it was just as sweet as she had hoped. The cool liquid sliding down her throat felt good. All the drinks she’d had in Cocoon were too watery for her taste, but this one was good even if a bit watery. As Rygdea had said, this must be a good restaurant by Cocoon’s standards.
Fang grabbed some fruit slices that had been placed on the counter and took a bite. Tasteless.
“So, this girl you’re looking for. Can you describe her?”
“I would say she’s about as old as... no, probably a bit younger than you are. She’s a scaredy-cat, but curious about everything. She’s careless and naive, but kind to everyone and she laughs a lot...”
“Is she cute?”
“Yeah, but a crybaby.” The woman was a good listener, so Fang continued. “When she’s lonely or worried, she always cries. But if I pat her on the head she’ll forget it all in an instant. She’s just like that...”
“I see... well, I hope you can find her soon so you can pat her on the head.”
“Yeah...” Fang said, nodding. Vanille wasn’t the only one feeling lonely and worried, she thought, surprising herself.
“Have you wished on the fireworks yet?”
“You don’t know? There is a legend that Bodhum’s fireworks can grant wishes.”
“I... heard that story, but...” She had already heard about it several times.
Fang didn’t know whether Cocoon’s fireworks would want to grant her wishes.
“No, never mind.”
“Well if you haven’t wished for anything yet, why not wish that you’ll find her? Or maybe that she isn’t crying?”
Fang agreed, and stood up. She had stayed here longer than she had planned.
“If you still haven’t found her, come around. I’ll tell you if we’ve seen anyone like her.”
After paying with her card, Fang went outside. It had been crowded inside the cafe, but the outside was even worse.
“It’s like looking for a grain of sand in the desert...” She sighed and looked up at the sky. Or perhaps it was like trying to hold the sparks that lit up the sky in her hands. She touched her fingers together. On Gran Pulse this was a prayer, but people on Cocoon would have no idea what she was doing. Was Vanille looking up at this sky?
As she thought that, the wireless device began vibrating. It was Rygdea. She hoped he was calling to tell her they had found her, but no, his voice was urgent.
“Where are you?”
“I’m in front of the cafe you talked about.”
“Alright. Return to the meeting point. We’ll pick you up there.”
They had only planned to have her return to the Lindblum if they found Vanille or when the fireworks festival had ended. But from the tone of his voice she could tell he did not have good news.
“Something terrible. We’ll tell you more about it when you’ve returned.”
Fang said she understood, and switched off the device. She had a bad feeling about this.
Monday, May 31, 2010
[Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for the game.]