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Renay ([personal profile] renay) wrote2008-01-29 23:16

(fic) (ffx-2) the damages of loss - 29

Thing I am most horrible at: endings. Odds that I will be able to finish this story in two more scenes: UNLIKELY. So either I write a hell of a lot more and cram it into two days or carry the project to February. Maybe there should be a vote.

Someone punch me in the face and make sure I never do this again.

The Damages of Loss (29)
(Baralai/Gippal, 1,193 words, G)
"Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29



"I was right." Baralai pressed his palms to the glass of the bridge window.

"Your locations were completely wrong," Nooj said.

Baralai glared back at him, the early morning sun making his tousled hair shine. Paine had set them down in a field, as close to the huge towers as she could in the dark, and now that it was morning, they could see them rising up into the air, lost in early-morning fog. Gippal had waited until the sun was up to pounce him, shake him out of bed and drag him down to see.

"We should go."

"We don't know what's out there," Yuna said. She perched on the edge of the co-pilot's seat.

"You guys slept the whole night while we did all the debating," Rikku said. "Weapons, dressspheres, sleep, we've all got it so let's get to it."

"It's probably abandoned, anyway," Gippal said. "We would've noticed ships in the water, we have divers out all the time."

"Maybe they didn't leave." Yuna's eyes were worried. "They just stayed."

"We have to go. We followed their message." Baralai arched his neck to follow the rise of the southern tower.

Gippal and Rikku ha been wrong—it did look like Home, sprawling and reaching high into the sky, but it was much more than Home had been. It spread over way more land, almost exactly in the center of the island. The towers were the highest and easiest to see, but there were more, smaller, sprinkled through the whole city. That's what it was, an entire city, hidden from Spira for thousands of years. Gippal itched to run out right now.

"They wouldn't have left it if they didn't want to be followed," Nooj said. "Leaving messages in places where only summoners would see it—clever. How many pilgrimages ended when summoners found the text and left their journey?"

"You can't think—" Paine paused. "Really?"

"It's an interesting theory." Nooj tapped his cane on the floor. "We shouldn't split up. Can we secure the ship?"

"Already done!" Rikku saluted. "Remote activation via radio."

"Provided the radio works and doesn't lock us out," Tidus said. "You sure all that badness scrambling us is gone?"

"Yeah, as soon as we were off the water," Paine said. "Anyone's guess to why is as good as mine."

Baralai didn't contribute anything else to the conversation. As Yuna and Rikku started arguing over packing food, Gippal watched Baralai stare out the window, eyes taking in everything. He turned to catch Gippal's gaze after a moment.

"This a good enough treasure for you?"

"Only if there's tons of gil to roll in." He took two steps, wrapped his arm around Baralai's shoulders. "We have records of Home. I wanted to show you one day, but this is better."

"If you want to stay and make out, be my guest, but we're leaving," Rikku said. "Adventure time!"

It felt weird to leave the ship behind, but Rikku seemed to know what she was doing as she produced a remote from her pouch and hit a button. The ramp closed slowly as they walked away through the high grass, the Celsius a shocking red in the bright green of the field. The ground was soggy under Gippal's feet as they headed toward the towers.

Baralai walked beside him, but he was quiet; didn't respond to Gippal's comments so he left him alone. Nooj and Paine led them to the edge of the field, under trees with branches sweeping like whips to brush the ground, full of a fruit Gippal had never seen before. Rikku poked at one when thaey passed, but dropped away when Paine glared at her.

"I don't hear any animals," Gippal said. "So I'll just be honest, I'm a little creeped out."

"It's going to rain." Nooj pointed up, but now the sky was obscured by thick trees. He fell silent again, the only noise was their steps, sucking, wet noises as they walked over the damp ground, the smell of morning heavy in the air. "Again, it would seem."

None of them talked about what they wanted to find, if they wanted to find anything. Gippal brushed some limbs out of his way and barely kept from tripping over a root. He hadn't thought out it—he had just wanted to find something, and something was in front of them. The idea about finding more was strange. Treasure hunting was turning out to be more stress than it was worth. They were always looking to top themselves, find the biggest collection of buried history.

Gippal wasn't sure anyone else would be able to top this.

A sharp clunk startled him, and they jumped. Nooj snorted. "So here we are."

"Uh, where?" Rikku looked around. "I see, trees, bushes, some grass, and oh look, more trees."

Nooj raised his cane and drove it toward the ground. The drag across the cracked stone was unmistakable as he continued on. "A street; we've passed the edge of the forest."

Gippal walked on, stared at the ground; paved stones were littered in patterns, but broken in places, married with grass and completely missing in others.

"This is it?" Yuna looked around.

"Well, there goes any theory people still live here," Paine said. "If they're letting the forest take the city."

Above them, thunder clapped. The sun that had been out a few minutes earlier was gone, coloring everything a dark shade of gray. The towers straight ahead were still huge, jabbing into the sky so high the tops couldn't be seen from the ground.

"We need to keep going," Baralai said. "There has to be shelter ahead." He had reached out to twist his fingers with Gippal's, so he pulled him along as Rikku darted ahead. Paine followed, yelled something that was drowned out by more thunder. They were soon out of sight, their voices bouncing off the stone around them.

Gippal laughed as his heart pounded. "I'm terrified right now," he said. "You?"

Baralai grinned. "I keep expecting spears to fly out and stab me."

The farther they went the more crumbling buildings they found along the street, the windows black eyes that followed them. They finally turned a corner—blocked from going straight by a structure that had finally given in and fallen down—and stumbled straight into the most massive city square Gippal had ever seen.

It was deserted, vine covered, as large as the Luca stadium and completely flat, straight across. Beyond it, the rise of larger buildings started, streets that curved inwards, all heading to the same massive center tower, the one that had reminded Gippal so much of Home.

"Rikku and Paine just came this way," Yuna said. "Rikku! Check in!" Yuna's radio buzzed back at her, full of static. No response.

Beside him, Nooj let out a breath. Gippal could feel him tense. "Paine!" His voice mixed with the echo of Yuna's.

The city was silent.

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