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11
Chapter 12
Tentative Title: Of Sacrifice
part one of two
---

(A/N): Jesus, this might be the longest chapter, yet! It basically covers the climax of Valm's story, before the final epilogue-y Chapter 14. Two more chapters left to "The Boy's Side!" It was quite a ride, I'm pretty excited to cover it in its entirety. I suppose Valm and Tidus were supposed to parallel each other, and that in itself is pretty foreboding.

Overall, I enjoy Valm's arc. It's very gritty, dark, and enlightening.

*

Sloan and his troops managed to flush four of the enemy out.
   
They slaughtered the first three, but caught the last one alive for interrogation, in which they proceeded to drag him to the east side of the island. On the beach, Sloan and about twenty of his subordinates were surrounding their prisoner, whom they buried in the sand from the neck down. He looked almost comical, shouting up at them in youthful, trembling fury.
   
“Kill me! Just get this over with!”
   
All of the agents of Yevon reacted this way. Whenever a soldier realized only death awaited them, they outright refused to answer any further questions and persisted in demanding to be killed. Sloan sighed, annoyed. He knew he would squeeze nothing out of this one, but the Guard could not leave his post without receiving new instructions. Thus, the long wait.
   
Ever since they moved into this Bevellian outpost, they had been leading their battle in a passive way. For Sloan, who had dedicated his sabre to the Goddess of War and had taken on the name of the God of Vengeance, this situation frustrated him. He had suffered in silence while waiting for his brother to bind him as his first Aeon Core.
   
But Anli died, leaving Sloan behind to stew in his hate. He used to hate his younger brother before, for small, inconsequential things normal between siblings, at times a smooth talker, but also prone to moments of indecisiveness, who bore a brotherly love as great as Sloan harbored for him. When he learned that Anli possessed the gift, he couldn’t have felt more proud…
   
‘Now that he’s not here anymore, whom should I protect?’
   
The Summoner who stood as the head of Bevelle had declared the Mage of Zanarkand, his daughter, and their supporters heretics, but for some reason did not make the official decision to excommunicate them. Why? According to the rumors, Bevelle intended to use them for their own gain by exploiting the two summoners’ charisma to win over Zanarkand and lead the city into abandoning their technological weapons to rely on their own fledgling army of Summoners, which would pave the way for Bevelle’s victory.

Sloan thought the reasoning sounded twisted. He could never spare those who renounced the Gods. Anyone who rejected their faith were to be eliminated as quickly as possible. That had been their goal since the moment their elite unit were stationed to fight on this island. But the father - daughter pair of mages understood the true nature of their enemy’s plan, and sent out their young, delusion hopefuls to carry out mass murder. And then the thought occurred to him: ‘Is my government manipulating me to do the same thing?’

Even children knew that Gods were simply imaginary, an artifice of imagination. Yet, anyone could picture them in whatever image they so wished. This common and widespread illusion tightened the ranks of their army, to the extent that any man loyal enough to the cause were ready to give their very lives for it.

‘Yes, this is brainwashing.’

“Do we begin the questioning?” Kat spoke up, interrupting his musings.

“He won’t answer us.” Sloan scoffed, before reconsidering the idea; perhaps the young man would be more receptive if he opened the subject with his beloved Summoner princess. “Did you meet the Sorceress? People say that she’s in peerless in beauty. Is that right?”

The prisoner remained silent, his eyes lost in the distance while he wore an eerie smile.

“You’re nothing to her, you know that? She’s just using you and your comrades because you’re disposable. Once you’ve outlived your usefulness, she will abandon you! Nobody will come to save you!”

For an instant, the soldier raised his eyes to the Heavens.

‘...what’s this? Why is he doing that? Will reinforcements come from the sky?’

Sloan couldn’t see anything, but he knew that flying apparatuses had joined their ranks. This kind of weapon could turn the tide, he knew this for certain.

“Kill me.” He repeated.

“I see.” Sloan paused for dramatic effect, looking out into the turbulent ocean. “The tide is rising, you know. Soon enough, your head will be submerged in the waves. You won’t be the first one to try breathing underwater, but nobody has managed to do it. Do you think you will succeed where the others have failed?”

“Y-You’re a monster…”

“One of your comrades killed my little brother. I know you didn’t do it; you could have, but you know what, you might as well have. The problem, you see, is that you came here to kill him and the other Summoners. You won’t get off so lightly. You will die… but slowly. You will leave this world while cursing it, suffering from pain. After that, do me the pleasure of turning into a fiend. Then, I want you to come find me. The next time I see you, I promise I’ll tear you into pieces so I can throw them into a fire.”

Sloan hadn’t even finished talking yet when the man burst out into hysterics. A soldier stepped forward to silence him, but then the captive fell silent again, directing his gaze to the sky above, as if following a supersonic sound. Everyone did the same, and then they heard it: an unfathomable, horrendous sound that rumbled the sky. And then a stout, loud whistle rang from the sand, courtesy of their motionless prisoner.

An airship appeared from the opposite coast of the island, looming over the top of the mountain where the Luchera statue resided.

This would be the first time Sloan had ever witnessed an aircraft with his own eyes; a triangular object that soared in the air, very noisy and slow. What it lacked in speed, it definitely made up for in sheer size and the contents of its cargo. Upon arriving at the beach, various bright lights lit up and the machine started its gradual descent, kicking up a whirlwind of sand sharp enough to blind those in proximity.

Sloan and his comrades acted in haste to find shelter behind the cover of vegetation. When the commanding officer risked a look over his shoulder, he saw that a rectangular shell hanging from the underbelly of the craft ejected, and a battalion of soldiers zipped down from the opening on a set of thick, secure ropes.

Gripping his weapon in hand, Sloan turned his back on them and sprinted for the beach.

He noticed the enemy came equipped with bags on their backs, made with a complex net of strings that contained a ball; a bomb like the one Valm had described to him. Fifteen to twenty infantrymen rappelled near their buried comrade; the first one to land on the beach wasted no time to throttle him where he stood, and Sloan watched his head tip over, soaked in blood.

In the face of such brutal interrogation, the prisoner had resisted bravely, like a great warrior. If they had fought in the same camp, they would have gotten along well.

“And yet…”

Sloan murmured, trailing off under the watchful eyes of his men. They were awaiting an order. He must look strong, for them. “The last time I checked, any life worth living could never be as terrible as that.” He laughed in bitter humor, and then he immediately become serious. “Return to base and report to Valm, then place yourself under his orders. Kat will assume command of the group until then.”

Then, Sloan brandished his sabre in direction of the enemy, releasing a wild howl. “After my death, let Valm take over the Sloan name!”

‘After all, he has always been worthier of this name than me.’

*

They were intercepted before they could even reach base. The aircraft had deposited enemies throughout every mile and yard of the island. Exhausted, Kat knew that she would meet her death very soon, but she felt no fear. She had been waiting for this moment ever since her beloved Summoner’s death.

“Kanaela…”

Despite her gift in the Summoning Arts, Kanaela had been killed six months prior, soon after Mikka, before she had the chance to fulfill her objective. And now that she no longer lived, what were the chances for Kat to become an Aeon Core?

Kushu would choose Valm, and the Guard would produce an impressive creature. That left Ifarnal, but who did he have his heart set on? Everyone knew he harbored romantic feelings for his fellow Summoner, Kush, but the young woman always rejected his advances. Besides, Kat doubted a Summoner could produce an adequate Aeon Core. It would be such a huge waste.

She only had one option, then, and yet, even if Ifarnal were to choose Kat, she doubted they would be able to form a genuine soul bond. She had heard the others say that a Summoner and their chosen Aeon Core must share powerful mutual feelings for each other in order for the ceremony to bear fruit.

With Kanaela, everything would have been easy. But with Ifarnal…

Offering his life to the promised one, that’s one thing, but to sacrifice himself for a complete stranger whose only desire to bond originated from her thirst for vengeance, that’s another issue entirely. How she regretted Kanaela’s death! If only she had been strong enough to protect her, quick-witted enough to anticipate the attack…

A set of explosions ripped her away from her thoughts.

‘They’re launching an attack!’

If that massive aircraft still harbored more soldiers to overwhelm them, the Guards had zero chance of survival. Kat stood straight, undaunted; she lost her chance to become an Aeon Core, but at least she could still be the arm of vengeance.

‘O Sloan, give me the strength to lay our enemies into the dirt!’

She found courage in the happy memories she shared with Kanaela, the days they spent side by side, soaking up the sunlight when they bathed in the swimming hole, building lop-sided sand castles at the beach until the sun set, passing the time shut inside the shelter in boredom with random games. Kat snaked in and out of the trees, sticking close to the foliage until she reached a hilltop. From here, she could see the entrance to base.
Beside the dented, battered GATE 3, Kat recognized the cadavers of her comrades Gekkoh and Romand. They didn’t die in vain, succeeding to drag several more of their enemies to the Farplane with them. A familiar sword jutted out from the body of one of them, a beautiful young woman.

Kat bit back her anguished cry and hurried to GATE 0.

A gaping breach awaited her, as well as the stench of blood, and she cringed, startled by the object that struck her back. She jerked around to search for the perpetrator, and found nothing but forest and wilderness. A ball rolled by her foot, and then she heard a pronounced click, followed by a dilation of fiery white light.

Her last thought before the scorching blast of air consumed her:

‘Will I flower in the world beyond?’
12
Here's the link to the aforementioned article:
http://www.technobuffalo.com/2016/11/10/final-fantasy-producer-discusses-final-fantasy-xvi-and-final-fantasy-x-3/

Apparently, the possibility of FFX-3 has been officially tweeted since November 10, 2016. I was both excited and afraid in light of the news. XD

It might not be in three years time, or even five, but until their major players finish FFXV, FFVII remake, and KHIII, they won't be touching that title. And who knows if they'd rather do FFXVI first? It makes me wonder what changed SQ's mind; it's been 3 years since releasing the novel and audio drama... Or are they keeping the option open to get a read on their fans, like they did for the FFXIII series? There's so much uncertainty and skepticism at this point, I don't know how to feel about this. If anything, I don't trust that they would give the potential FFX-3 storyline justice.

and I'm not saying that out of bias that my FFX-3 fanfic will trounce whatever plot they'll cook up, I'm just saying
13
FFX-3 Speculation and Developments / Re: Final Fantasy X-2.5 : The Truth
« Last post by Danko Kaji on January 12, 2017, 06:18:52 pm »
The French to English translation is not available as an ebook, (but you're more than welcome to compile it as an ebook yourself; I know another user did). And it's not uploaded on any other sites such as AO3 and FF.Net.

As for my aim of the Fan Restoration Project: yes, it is both a polish of the story, and at certain parts a tweak (such as exploring unanswered/vague plot points or details) to allow fans to at least tolerate it. At least, that's what I would want from such a thing, thinking as a fan. Now that you mention an ebook format, yes! Why not? I wouldn't mind it as an ebook at all! But I'm horribly versed in the realm of ebook, so if I can't figure it out, I might ask someone who does know how to do it for me. I do definitely plan to upload it on FF.Net and AO3 for public viewing and fan discussion. My main motivating factor for sharing it is so that everyone can have access to this story (without needing to go through a rabbit hole, to quote you.)

I feel you. Plus, it's harder on organization and bookmarking, too.
14
FFX-3 Speculation and Developments / Re: Final Fantasy X-2.5 : The Truth
« Last post by MacLarensPub on January 12, 2017, 05:50:50 pm »
So I have stumbled across this forum after going through a rabbit hole, and I've reached the point where I need to start asking questions.

First, the French to English translation, is there an ebook format for it anywhere? Epub, Mobi, PDF? Can I find it uploaded to any sites like FanFiction.net?

Second, regarding the Rebirth Fan Restoration project: what is the aim of this project? A polish of the story, or a tweak to make it more fan-accepted? Also, does this project plan to have an ebook format (I'm an avid Kindle user), and are there plans to upload to FanFiction.net?

I'm very interested in reading these stories, but reading on a browser is very hard on the eyes.
15
FFX-3 Speculation and Developments / Re: Final Fantasy X-2.5 : The Truth
« Last post by Danko Kaji on January 11, 2017, 04:58:30 pm »
And please don't get me wrong here, I actually like your restoration, but the main problem is, you have done this with your own words. So what we have is a translation from a French translation of a japanese book into English, including your own version which will even differ more from the original. That's the only reason I'm a little divided here.

Wow, you don't mince words, do you? XD

Honestly, I am well aware of the fact my restoration will never be like the "official" novel, and that point did cause me to drop the ball on this... Many fans are rejecting this form of media as canon, and frankly, I believe my restoration is unwanted and unnecessary. However, it is a FAN Restoration. I'm embarking on it for myself, to better swallow and digest this story as canon, because I want to. I am canon trash, after all. I don't want to run away from it. I want to understand why Nojima decided to go for this sordid horror love story. If I were someone who was reading the restoration, not writing it, I would like to see it; I'm sure there are others who feel that way.

But yes, when I do publish it after I complete it, I will heavily emphasize and I mean heavily drive the point home it's a fan restoration, not a fanfic or a AU divergence. I will include everyone who participated in it, the translators, the editors, everyone. I will not take credit where credit is not mine. I simply want this (my interpretation) to be accessible, even if many haters and skeptics alike point out it's not the official product. I just want to share it.

I see the novel as like a skeleton, and my restoration is the meat and flesh on top of it. I'm doing my best not to outwardly change anything; the most I'm doing is rewriting dialogue and scenes to make more sense, or flow better. There was an actual line I included in Chapter 1 that wasn't in the novel, from Lulu... I plan to remove it, because it wasn't meant to be there. Otherwise, the chapters you see me post here are not finalized by any means. Think of it as a raw copy, or a second draft. I do plan to go over them again at a later time.

Now, moving on from that...

On the subject of the "Deus Sex Machina," I honestly don't know what to tell you. I'm not entirely convinced that Bevellian Summoners commit explicit sex, only that they form the bond through intimacy. It's infuriatingly vague about it; I dread to imagine how I'm going to interpret that part. But yes, the flow is okay to a point, and then everything in story quality goes downhill. Very confusing, very... lacking. But at the same time, because it has been translated twice through, I agree with you that the novel was written in complicated Japanese, on top of being a complicated story.

Yeah, I noticed the typos and such, too; I wasn't in charge of that process. XD But my friend did the best she could! They both did, translator and editor, especially when motivation was greatly lacking. I'm grateful we have an English translation at all. It beats having nothing.

Harsh critic! XD But you do have good points. I'm curious to see what you think of the ending.

16
FFX-3 Speculation and Developments / Re: Final Fantasy X-2.5 : The Truth
« Last post by Izunia on January 11, 2017, 04:42:41 pm »
@Danko Kaji

Thanks for the warm welcoming. I think I will check your restoration project when you have completed it. And please don't get me wrong here, I actually like your restoration, but the main problem is, you have done this with your own words. So what we have is a translation from a French translation of a japanese book into English, including your own version which will even differ more from the original. That's the only reason I'm a little divided here.

So, I reached Chapter 21 now and there is definitely no "Deus Sex Machina". There are still a few chapters left, but even when Tidus head is blown off, it is not described very graphic. There is, of course, a lot of Yuna Fanservice and a little Rikku Fanservice included.

I have to say, the more I read, the more confusing this story gets. And I simply don't have any clue what is going on in Chapter 21. I do think the story is heavily complicated and written in a complicated japanese. These were the complaints I've read from readers who have read the original japanese version.

But in Chapter 21, the Translation from you guys isn't very good. There are Typos and you can read in every line, you had problems to translate the text. In one line, Bria is male, in the next line, you call him "Her", which clearly isn't the case here, because he is a dude. The most complicated chapters are the ones with Kush and Valm. The chapters with Tidus and Yuna are more accessible till the moment when Tidus head get's blown away.

Currently, the story is a really big mess and the translation is not on point anymore. There are still 13 chapters left, I sure hope there will be a little conclusion at the end.
17
Chapter 11
Tentative Title:
Of Attrition
---

(A/N): I had fun going through the struggles of Tidus and Yuna cast out at sea; it's slow and grueling, if not a little boring at certain parts, but quite realistic. There's still one more chapter to cover before they reach that mysterious island (Valm-centric chapters notwithstanding). Actually, the first arc of the novel, "Boy's Side," ends after chapter 14, followed by the "Girl's Side" which only covers three chapters. I suppose the former is shared by Tidus and Valm's POV, and the latter is exclusively Yuna. I can't wait to reach those parts and embellish their structural importance. :3

*

The Ace pitched so strongly during the night that Tidus and Yuna strove to keep their balance. They had torn the bed linen to fashion a makeshift rope out of it, tying it around each other’s waist to stay connected. Standing close to the rudder, Tidus attempted to look outside in vain, and dared to venture onto the upper deck while being supported by Yuna. The rain lashed at his face while he squinted into the darkness, and the rope coiled around him tighter, indicating Yuna wanted him to come back.

“I couldn’t see anything!” He shouted once he came closer, dripping with seawater.
   
“We’ll have to wait for the storm to subside. In a few hours, the sun will rise, and then we’ll be able to regain our bearings. And then…” Yuna trailed off, grimacing from the thought: pinpointing the north posed as one problem, but returning to Besaid posed as another. “And maybe we’ll see the island. Don’t worry. Our friends will search for us. From the sky, the Gullwings will find us in no time at all.”
   
“You seem pretty calm about everything,” Tidus said.
   
“I may not look like much, but I’ve grown up on an island! Plus, I’ve experienced all kinds of scary adventures.”
   
“You’re already talking like an old woman,” he said, amused, disparaging her confident boast with a retort of his own.
   
“Oh no, the horror!” She pouted, tempted to stick her tongue out at him.
   
They caught each other’s eye and then they exchanged smiles, stifling their giggles.
   
“I think everything will be okay.” Yuna repeated, if not to reassure themselves, yet Tidus sounded doubtful.
   
“Despite all of our problems?”
   
Suddenly, the ship pitched in between two waves, cutting them short, and Tidus felt his stomach lurch whereas Yuna closed her eyes. He took a step towards her, only to stop short when the hull of the Ace split open with an inhuman whine, losing his balance. He banged his head against the rudder, picking up the scent of gunpowder, before blacking out.

*
   
Tidus opened his eyes, squinting against the sun that had already risen high in the sky. No more breaths of wind, no more clouds, not even a ship in sight. Only a plank survived from the Ace’s remains, barely large to support the weight of one person, of which Tidus found himself resting on.
   
“Stay where you are, don’t move.”

Yuna whispered behind him, and Tidus turned to find her floating shoulder-deep in water, her back facing him. A fiend floated in front of her, an adamantoise with a ravenous row of teeth fixed upon its open mouth, its jagged, sharp shell protruding from the surface. Glassy-eyed and hungry, it emanated the light stench of rot. ‘Great. We’re screwed. What’s it doing all the way out here? I thought these things only dwelled in the Calm Lands…’

“Yuna…”

At the call of her name, she turned around to give him a sideways glance, and Tidus paled at the sight of her, tired and distressed with sunken, dark bags for eyes and shallow, haggard breathing signifying her war with attrition.

‘She had been protecting me this whole time? For how long…?’

The adamantoise still did not move, and Tidus wondered if Yuna had managed to tame it. Then he saw a stick, no, a trident, broken in half and driven into its robust neck, and he imagined the battle Yuna must have waged against the beast, while Tidus had been passed out, acting like baggage that floated in the sea like trash.

“I’m sorry…”

She gave him a weak smile, reassuring him, and then she hunched forward, her eyelids drifting shut.

“...Yuna?”

No response.

She started sinking into the water, and the monster plunged in right after her.

Tidus straightened up on the fragile plank, careful to balance himself on its precarious weight. Remembering the rope coiled tight around his waist, he pulled on it hard, and thankfully Yuna bobbed back into view a moment later, unconscious in the current of the rolling waves. He moved fast to wrench her near him despite the adamantoise looming over her, and he hauled her in by the skin of his teeth, sheltering her in his arms. Their refuge couldn’t keep them afloat forever, and the beast hovered ever closer, sensing the poor state of their flimsy lifeline.

Tidus noted its vacant look, its glistening yellow fangs and its putrid red tongue hanging behind them. And in his arms, he felt Yuna’s body, so delicate that he thought he might break her. This reminded him of another time, a happier moment, two years ago, where he cradled her in his embrace, her body so light it almost felt like they were floating in a sea of stars.

Their first kiss, at Lake Macalania.

This memory evoked a powerful emotion, a roar of strength he never knew he possessed.

“I’ll never forgive you!” He shouted, only to stop and wonder-- ‘Who am I yelling at? The fiend? Myself?’

He didn’t know, but he didn’t care. “I’ll protect her no matter what!”

Careful to straighten up on the plank, Tidus tried to untie the rope that connected them. While he struggled with the heavy, soaked fabric, the adamantoise inched closer, close enough to prop its flat chin on the plank supporting them; at this rate, they were going to topple in the water.
Tidus scowled, scavenging the strength to leap onto the adamantoise’s back, grasping its shell on all fours. Ignoring the pain of its jagged spikes digging into his limbs, he forced the nape of its neck to turn over, snatching the broken half of the trident Yuna had used to subdue it. He sat up to raise it high above his head with both hands, before piercing its head straight through. Suddenly, it slid off the edge of the drooping plank until its head disappeared within the water along with the trident.

A foul smell rose from the wound, followed the spillage of repugnant liquid.

‘Now’s the time to escape.’ No sooner did he think that, another creature broke through the surface near them; a shark covered in reptilian scales. The shark leapt over them to disappear at the other side where the carcass floated, followed by a high-pitched whistling like that of a whale.

‘It must be calling for others…’

Several creatures from the same species emerged soon enough, confirming his suspicions, converging on the head of the dead adamantoise where they began to devour it. Tidus watched them from on top of their meal’s back, mesmerized by the morbid scene.

‘I have to keep them away from Yuna, before they set their sights on her, too!’

But where else could he move when the ocean surrounded him? Were they trapped here, with nowhere to go?

‘It’s make it or break it…’

Bending over to recover the trident from the tortoise’s head, Tidus slid down the carcass into the water so he could wade back to the plank where he left Yuna still unconscious. He coiled the rope tighter around her waist, the very same one he tried to get rid of, grateful for the fact he couldn’t, and climbed onto the plank, teetering from its swaying motions while he pulled Yuna into his arms. He needed to carry Yuna back onto the fiend’s shell, even though he couldn’t figure out how to move from their makeshift raft.

Tidus wondered if he had been better off staying on the half-devoured carcass. Where were they supposed to go from here? Well, he couldn’t back down here. He had to keep plowing forward.

Inching closer to the water’s edge, he crouched on his feet with Yuna cradled in his arms and took a deep breath, concentrating all of his energy into his legs. Tidus leapt only to misjudge the distance, miscalculating the weight difference. Instead of touching his feet onto the curved, jagged shell, he fell straight into the water.

Something pulled him down, preventing him from floating to the surface, and it took him a few seconds to comprehend what happened. He remembered the rope, which still connected to Yuna, and floated upright to discover that the rope had managed to wrap around one of the sharks.

It struggled for a moment to swim against the weight of two people, before finding the strength to return to its spot beside the carcass of its meal.

Tidus took the chance to sink, hoping Yuna would float to the surface. The shark resumed its lunch without paying attention to its unwitting passengers. He skirted around its belly, praying its fellow kind wouldn’t notice him, and pulled Yuna in, dragging her up with him into open air. He gasped for air, sucking in the sweet, sweet oxygen, and checked to see if Yuna’s air passage still worked unimpeded, before wrapping the length of the rope around the shark’s dorsal fin.

The first step proved to be a success, surprisingly enough. Now, he had to climb onto its back without pissing it off. But how will it react? Tidus didn’t know enough about this particular species to predict its behavior, but he couldn’t let that stop him. Struggling to mount the creature with Yuna in tow, he froze for a long moment when he felt it thrash in place and sighed in relief after it ceased its movements, too focused on devouring its lunch to buck them off. He clung to the other fin, the one which split the sea surface, to balance himself, and paused.

How to attach Yuna onto it, he wondered...

Pulling the rope in to bring her closer, he attempted to lift her up and wedge her onto its back, but despite all his efforts she kept slipping off. There’s no other way around it: she had to hold onto the fiend herself.

“Yuna? Can you hear me? Yuna, I’ll get the upper hand on this, don’t worry, but I need you to wake up.”
   
Another shark arose from the waves to scale the air above them in a smooth arc, blowing a long, gleeful whistle. In a flash of inspiration, Tidus beamed, lifting two fingers to his mouth to whistle loud and clear, the sound so sharp Yuna awoke with a start.
   
“Tidus?! Where are you?”
   
“I’m right here, next to you.”
   
She raised her head to blink at him, relief washing over her. “What… happened?”
   
“Fiends are surrounding us, and I’m trying to control our mount. But don’t worry, I got a good handle on this one. It’s just a matter of time. There’s no way we’ll end up as shark snacks, not while I’m alive!”
   
Despite obvious proof of the contrary, she acquiesced with a tired sigh.

*

Eventually the shark moved away from the carcass, now replete of its meal after the rest of its kind had come and gone, and took to swimming just beneath the water’s surface, drifting in silence.

“I wonder where it’s taking us…”

“Wherever it is, I would like for it to go there,” Yuna said, pointing at a dot in the horizon.

They had kept their voices low whenever they felt the need to talk, not wanting to exacerbate the fiend and lose their only sliver of security. Now Tidus squinted at the indecipherable spot she indicated, barely able to make out its lush, verdant surroundings.  “Is that… Besaid?”

“I’m not sure. But any island will always be better than being stranded on the back of a shark.”

“Wait, we’re drawing away from it.” His voice rose in panic, as the shark started swimming in the opposite direction, picking up speed. “And quickly.”

Even with the weight of two full-grown passengers clinging onto its dorsal fin, the shark swam unimpeded due to its colossal size; next to Tidus with his small, skinny stature, it appeared three times bigger, and he tried not to let that intimidate him.

“Hey!”

Of course, it did not respond.

Tidus sighed. “Well, I don’t think I have a choice…”

Hefting the broken trident in one hand, he jabbed the shark on the side of its head, straight in the cheek, hoping this would cause it to avert its course. “And don’t you dare go under!”

If the shark sank too much under the water, Tidus would be forced to start rearing it beneath its stomach. Besides, he didn’t want to shed any more blood than he had to, because the sight of it darkening the water in murky red... somehow didn’t sit well with him. He hated it. And also, he might need to slide down to swim by the fiend’s side in order to steer it, even though he really didn’t want to, since it had already reached a considerable speed too fast and tireless for him to keep up.

Before Tidus could even think about the problems of crossing into deeper depths, and the dangers of delving into such dangerous waters, a long, violent shiver of pain wracked the shark’s body, before it veered to the right, in direction of the faraway island.

“Forgive us…” Yuna called out to it, stroking its smooth, sleek, rubber-like skin.

He glanced at her, surprised. Tidus didn’t feel guilty at all, because sharks only knew one rule: to kill or be killed. Every living being in Spira followed that rule without question, and of course, Tidus adopted that same philosophy soon after being marooned in this cold, merciless world. He had to act cruel towards anything that posed a threat to his life. After all, Spira’s inhabitants were subjected to harsher living conditions.

Who else would have asked for this fiend’s forgiveness? Only Yuna, the one true treasure in this world, and so he reinforced the vow he had already sworn a thousand times over: to cherish her and protect her for as long as he lived.

He turned over to face her, seeing her lie flat on her stomach while her arms and legs were wrapped around its back, and felt the tickle of a smile pinch his cheeks. He remembered the day he first met her, watched a young, beautiful, gentle woman summon a ferocious, magical beast-- her first Aeon, Valefor.

At the time, Tidus had never dealt with a monster or wild beast of that size and power, not that he could recall, at any rate, but he understood then that if Yuna could control a being so powerful, he could never hope to live a normal life beside her. But then, a new thought crept into mind, which warmed his heart. He knew of another side of her nobody else could possibly know, the “normal” side of her people were unfamiliar with, because they were too busy fawning over her public image as a Summoner most serious and kind, but stubborn and inflexible, too.

‘But me, I understand her like nobody else.’

“...What are you think about?”

Yuna spoke up after a long silence, curious, and he blushed, embarrassed that she caught him zoning out.

“Why do you ask?”

She smiled, amused. “You’re smiling.”

“Really? Nah. Must be the fatigue moving the muscles of my face.”

Eager to dismiss her perceptive, flattered by her attention on him, he turned towards their destination. The small island appeared close enough for a hill to stand visible at the center, along with the unmistakable stretch of greenery that pretty much covered everything. Besaid or not, at least they would be able to find food and water. Tidus let loose a little laugh, tickled by a sense of deja vu.

“What?”

He grinned. “Nothing.”

“You--.” She pouted, unable to stifle her laughter. “You’re such a secretive little thing!”
18
FFX-3 Speculation and Developments / Re: Final Fantasy X-2.5 : The Truth
« Last post by Danko Kaji on January 04, 2017, 09:46:09 pm »
Welcome, Ryurien!

So, first thing's first: Tidus's head did get blown off, but not because he shouted "blitzball!" like an idiot and kicked it (because how the hell does one get their head blown off kicking a bomb? I'm like, seriously?! Shouldn't his body starting from the feet and legs, be obliterated instead?). A bomb that was disguised as a blitzball was 'mysteriously' thrown in his direction, catching his attention. He then proceeded to walk over to pick it up and inspect it, since why would Tidus have any reason to suspect it's a leftover weapon from a thousand years ago, and then BOOM! His head flies off. If you read the novel in its entirety, you'll get the convoluted gist.

As for the plot device that is Deus Sex Machina (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeusSexMachina), I can't really tell you for sure 100% its legitimacy. Since I have yet to reach those chapters in my Fan Restoration Project (feel free to read that side-by-side with the original chapters) to analyze it thoroughly, I believe that the Bevellian Summoners' method of producing a "living Fayth" through an Aeon Core is a nod to an ancient spiritual Eastern practice called "Tantric sex," which is thought to expand consciousness and join together the polarities of masculine and feminine energy into a whole.

A link to the aforementioned subject: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-23332/tantric-sex-101-what-it-is-how-to-do-it.html

I could talk more about that and its examples within the novel, but I want you to reach the chapters first before I spoil it for you.

I hope this cleared up some questions? If you have more, you are more than welcome to ask!
19
FFX-3 Speculation and Developments / Re: Final Fantasy X-2.5 : The Truth
« Last post by Ryurien on January 04, 2017, 10:54:37 am »
I discovered this topic and only now and, because I'm a Italian with a basic knowledge of English, I was curious to ask a few questions to those who knows, now, more about this novel that I would try to read in the next few days.
Because I've heard crazy things about this story, I wanted to know if finally it was confirmed the beheading of Tidus after kicking a bomb (It seems too absurd!  ???), and the whole question of sex behind the ritual of the pilgrimage etc. or if all of this things are only hoaxes invented because of the non-translation of the novel (I hope it...).

Thank you!
20
Chapter 10
Tentative Title:
Of Pain
---

(A/N): I'm really in love with these "pre-story" chapters. I love this gritty, though-provoking perspective of Bevellian soldier Valm and his lady Summoner Kush. I love it all, especially the setting. I think the reason why I find myself breezing through these chapters in particular because I feel Nojima's true, passionate voice in this arc the most. It's like he was itching to tell this side of the Machina War, whereas in the case of Tidus and Yuna... it's like he's dragging his feet through mud, in order to tell the story the fans want to read more. XD

*

Noontime soon came upon them; Valm knew, because of the length of the shadow he projected.

Standing atop an air duct, he took advantage of the aerial view to contemplate the gathering of his surviving comrades. There were a good ninety-five to sixty-three men left beside thirty-two women, and among them the youngest were sixteen years old while the rest were as old as twenty-five. Valm counted himself among them, at twenty-three.

“Look at them.” Sloan boasted with a roguish smile, the eldest of the lot. “So disciplined! I like it.”

“That’s right.” He agreed with a wry smile. “But what about breakfast?”

For the second time in the span of five minutes, Valm’s grumbling stomach incriminated him and his state of voracious hunger. He had not eaten anything since the explosion, the night before, and of course Sloan would notice.

“Couldn’t you have eaten something?”

Valm remembered that the poor man had just said goodbye to his little brother, and lowered his eyes. “Sorry.”

With a curt smile, his friend gave him a hearty slap on the shoulder. “You really have no shame! Go eat somewhere in private and come back when you’re done. It would do us no good if one of our best just up and fainted in the middle of battle just because he couldn’t find the time to eat.”

And with those words, Sloan joined the rest of the Guards in their circle to thank them for their heartening gestures of solicitude and pledges of vengeance during his deceased brother’s obsequies. Valm kept his head bowed, stooping to one knee on the curved metal plating, taking a silent moment to grieve for his fallen brother and sisters, before standing upright with renewed resolve, projecting his voice for all to hear.

“We can’t afford to lose any more Summoners. From now on, there are only two. What will we do, if we can’t protect them?”

‘Nothing,’ Valm swallowed the cold-hard sentiment, ‘because we'll die before we ever let that happen.’

Originally, there were five Summoners stationed on this island. Six months later, the Guards had already lost Mikka and Kanaela, and this morning, Anli, too. Now, only Kush and Ifarnal remained.

While they contributed to the war effort farthest away from Bevelle, protecting the few Summoners with the cultivated talent to command pyreflies and mythical beasts while Alb, the top weapons engineer of Bevelle’s brightest, worked on perfecting his latest invention to use in the war, the Bevellian government continued to mass produce their mechanical weapons. The city appeared to have reached new heights in terms of technological prowess. Armored units and heavy infantry corps were steadfast encroaching upon Zanarkand’s mountainous border, destroying everything in their path.

Day after day, the Guards would receive more news about their spectacular progression. But when it came to the father-daughter pair of heretic sages in Zanarkand, their worst fears were not towards the soldiers who possessed wills of steel or the inventors most diligent in their pursuit of military might, but the people who possessed the same raw talent as them: Summoners.

Regardless of the sheer distance, Yevon and Yunalesca sent assassin after assassin of willing fools to this island, determined to eradicate their best hope of turning the tide in this holy war. To this day, only twenty-eight Guards had been killed during these skirmishes.

“We’re going to form two squads. Line up by ten!” Sloan ordered, and they carried it out immediately. “Lines one to eight: search the perimeter under my command. Kat--.” He pointed to the woman who stood at the forefront of the group. “Form the units!”

“Yes, sir!” She stuck her chest out, pleased to have been called upon.

“Lines nine and ten, you guard the base.” Sloan continued, raising his arm in Valm’s direction where he stands above them as a solemn sentry, his arms folded at his back. “When you meet the ten comrades left on-site, you’ll be under Valm’s command. Your priority: To protect the Summoners. Go!”

Valm sighs, watching everyone disperse. “Alright…”

He jumped down from his vantage point and approached his men.

“We’re going to return to base immediately. Be careful along the way. Kill the enemy as soon as you catch sight of them. Woman or child, I don’t care. No hesitation! We mustn't repeat our mistakes.”

“Yes, sir!” The fifteen Guards saluted him in sharp unison.

They would never forget the day a young boy had washed up on island’s shore, unable to speak. Believing him to be a refugee, the men had brought him into their refectory. There, the child had chosen to detonate himself. The Summoner Mikka met his death in that attack.

Valm and his fellow Guards personally gathered Mikka’s remains, which were scattered by the bomb. Whenever he recalled that day, he could feel the ire boil inside his bloodstream; every time, he would appeal to the divinity of vengeance, finding relief amidst his violent thoughts that it happened to Mikka instead of Kush.

Back at base, he sent a subaltern to fetch him a portion of today’s leftovers. He devoured it while patrolling GATE 0. In accordance to their new change in tactics, he might end up having to close it off; he had commanded young Gekkoh and Romand beforehand to reposition their visiospheres around GATE 1 and 2.

Protected by enormous stone structures, GATE 0 never had to fear bomb assaults. In order to conceal their staunch defense from enemy knowledge, they put together an assembly of steel pipes to support the veil artificial vegetation. From far away, this place looked like a simple forest plot. One would have to pass underneath the shrouded scaffolding to reach GATE 0. Other exits existed in numerous other places within the island, at the outer border of the underground air ducts. From the outside, they took on different shapes in order to blend in with the lush, green landscape, but from the inside, all of them exhibited the same interior design. The ventilator, accessible only from the control room, carried out the primary function of the pipe, but with its razor sharp blades also prevented intrusion. Whenever a Guard had to pass, a control panel would allow for the helix to stop and ensure safe passage, courtesy of the secret code they modified daily.

Valm ventured through the threshold of GATE 0 to the stateroom, a round area spacious enough to house the whole personnel of the island, civilian and soldiers alike, with the exception of the Bedohls. The stone statues, which represented the divinities from which they adopted their names, lined up against the wall. Their sculpted, vacant looks converged at the center of the room where the altar stood. This room hosted sacred, formal ceremonies such as baptisms and weddings, and even business meetings. Behind the altar, a long flight of stairs led to the inner section of GATE 0 and the dormitories where everyone slept; the two exits numbered 1 and 2 were located on either side of the steps.

Valm started to ascend, but then the door to GATE 1 opened, revealing Kush further down the passage. Curious, he backtracked, peering down the narrow, dimly-lit corridor of the basement. This hall led to the armory, as well as the Bedohl workshop and their own segregated housing; further down the path should be where the operating machinery resided.

What could she be doing in a mucky place such as this? She had the right to go there, but…

When Valm opened his mouth to call out to her, he saw a hand reach out to snatch her by the wrist, wrenching her into the embrace of darkness. Alarmed by the urgency of that gesture, he rushed to save her, but then Kush reappeared from the open door she vanished through, wiping her lips behind the vicious swipe of her right glove.

Kush immediately ceased her motions when she sensed Valm’s presence.

“Is everything okay?” He screeched to a halt in front of her, confused by the flash of tearful frustration in her eyes.

She avoided eye contact, saying nothing.

And then Valm noticed the man who exited from the workshop. Ifarnal.

A young and handsome eighteen-year-old Summoner one year Kush’s junior, who sported an impressive, muscular physique developed not from martial arts training or extensive physical labor, but his insufferable love for bodybuilding. He enjoyed putting it on display with skin-tight clothes popular to his native city. And yet his face cut quite the ordinary figure, the kind you would forget right away.

Ifarnal must be conscious of it, because he strove to compensate for it with a well-toned body and flamboyant clothes, donning a bright red dye to color his hair (much to the contempt of the Guards) in order to mask his insecurities. Even the name he chose -- Ifarnal, the divinity of beauty -- sparked a string of criticism and mockery. This particular Summoner did not inspire any respect at all. Valm always thought that Ifarnal could have benefited more with a reputation for being down-to-earth, but despite all of his glaring flaws, he made up one out of the two most important people on this entire island. Over a hundred Guards had sworn to protect him at the cost of their lives. What more could he want? 

Ifarnal could care less about what the other Guards thought of him, unconcerned by their shows of blatant disrespect and disparaging jokes, because the only thing he desired happened to lie in Valm’s possession: Kush’s affections.

He had yet to obtain it, and Valm would make sure it stayed that way.

“Is something wrong?” Valm inquired, ignoring the tension that thickened the air. “The situation couldn’t be any more dire. We don’t have time for petty quarrels. If you have a problem with each other, settle it as quickly as possible.”

Ifarnal opted to ignore him. “The mechanical Bedohl is ready.”

Anyone could see through the thin veil of his motive to change the topic, thus avoiding conflict, but Valm couldn’t pretend to sound displeased by the news.

“Great.”

Ifarnal smiled. “You’ll be even more pleased to know that the Bedohl has already memorized my voice. Do you want me to call it?” Without even waiting for an affirmation, he shouted at the stationary machine to come out. “Bedohl, come here!”

As the armored humanoid contraption emerged from the doorway, standing before the trio in wordless obedience, Ifarnal puffed his chest out with immense pride, as if he had created the false Bedohl himself. As for Kush, she acted fast to hide behind Valm, removing herself from Ifarnal’s line of sight; her body language screaming stay away from me.

But Valm had been too distracted scrutinizing the false Bedohl to comprehend her timid behavior. It stood as tall as her, dressed in muddy-yellow cotton material, a shoddy jumpsuit that provided a hood to obscure its face; a pair of goggles and a hideous gas mask dissimulated its uncanny features. It didn’t look very impressive at first glance, let alone looked capable of slaying a sleeping dog.

“Is that…?”

“It is.” Alb emerged from below the stairs, climbing up to stand beside his creation. “It’s not perfect, yet, however…”

Contrary to the ambiguity of his words, the old man radiated absolute pride.

Out of the corner of his eye, Valm spotted Ifarnal slipping away with a smile that could rival a sly fox. He would have to corner that man for a little discussion later. For now, he decided to focus on the false Bedohl and its questionable state of usefulness.

“It hardly seems robust. Can it fight?”

Valm brandished his sabre, and the Bedohl flinched, surprising him with its reaction time.

“Do you understand what I’m saying?”

The machine nodded, hesitant.

“In accordance with its built-in specifications and speech perimeters.” Alb elaborated with a swell of his chest, confidant.

“In that case, unsheathe!”

It brought out a whip and twirled it around in a pathetic attempt at intimidation, waving the end of its rope in a confused line. Valm scowled, disappointed. ‘What is that? This Bedohl cannot do battle.’ Why would the scientist agree to unveil this… unfinished product so soon without the proper field testing? Valm surmised that maybe their little dispute this morning motivated him to show off his progress sooner.

‘But he doesn’t understand. We do not want it to obey us for the pleasure to watch it give in. We need an effective weapon.’ Valm sighed, embittered by his thoughts.

“All of this is absurd…”

With one clean blow of his sabre, he sliced off the arm which held the whip like it were a practice dummy. Blood gushed out from the amputated limb, and Valm cringed from disgust and surprise.

“I’ll bring it back to the workshop,” Alb said as his way of apology, grasping the malfunctioning Bedohl by the elbow to pull it back. “The final model will make use of a firearm. Chains and whips are problematic; one would need to consider the space around them in order to use such weapons properly.”

“It will never reach the required level of precision to aim correctly.” Valm shot down the idea, sheathing his weapon into its decorated scabbard. “I’d prefer that it use throwing weapons. As for the blood… Is it compulsory? I thought they weren’t alive.”

A scarlet puddle had formed on the ground, painting an insidious, dark pool in the compact soil.

“A ruse, to deceive the enemy. You yourself wondered if it was real just now, right?”

“How many units can you produce?”

“Fifty units in the next three days. Maybe more.” The answer pleasantly surprised him, in which Alb pursed his lips in malcontent. “You wouldn’t know. After all, you haven’t hung around the workshop in quite awhile.”

Apparently, he took offense to the fact Valm didn’t appreciate his hard work and ingenuity enough to visit or provide feedback. Valm ignored his lame attempt at provocation and crossed his arms. “Call them ‘Bedohl workers,’ then. And remove the blood aspect, or change the color, at least. Our enemy won’t be the only ones who’ll be deceived. I don’t want one of our own to think that a comrade has been hurt and take unnecessary risks. From far away, they must look human, but closer, the illusion can be superficial.”

Valm realized that the ultimate soldier he hoped for amounted to a pipe dream. For now, he would have to content himself with a fake Bedohl with an annoying and inconvenient talent for spewing realistic blood.

“Tell us what’s happening out there, Valm.” Kush spoke, reminding him of her presence. “Is the enemy here?”

“I think that’s the case. But Sloan and his men wish to seek and destroy them. To do justice unto his brother, he will do his name honor.”

After all, the name Sloan belonged to the God of vengeance.

“Are we safe?”

“For the time being, yes.” Valm turned to face her, softening his eyes in tender regard. “I would prefer that you hide yourself in a small refuge. Send word to Ifarnal… no, never mind. I’m going to tell him myself. You don’t need to concern yourself with that.”

Without bidding farewell to Alb who busied himself laying the maimed Bedohl down on an operating table, Valm and Kush turned to walk back in the direction of GATE 0, climbing the stairs in awkward silence, exiting out into the communal area.

“Has something happened with Ifarnal?” Valm decided to break the ice.

“Yes, but nothing important. Do not worry, my lord. I shall settle the matter with him.” She smiled to appease him, dismissing the subject altogether with a more somber note. “I am more worried about how to proceed after losing so many of our Summoners… I think the best course of action would be to send us more people to replace them, but do you think that will happen?”

A ship always came to resupply them weapons and provisions every seven days. Even if they were to transport additional personnel to bolster their dwindling defenses, Valm doubted they would agree to stay long. After all, considering their management of this part of the front lines, they still had not received news of recent development. Were their efforts contributing to the fight at all?

“Reinforcements? I don’t think so. According to the rumors, more and more people have begun hiding their gift of the Summoning Arts.”

“Then they will go to Hell.” She smiled again, sweeping her long black hair over her shoulder.

At that blithe answer, Valm understood that she wanted to change the subject.

“Say, Valm, what would happen if someone sent us another Summoner? A woman who is delicate, yet sensual, with a beautiful big bosom…”

He chuckled. “She wouldn’t have any trouble finding volunteers for Aeon Cores.”

“Men are so simple!” Kush exclaimed with a dramatic sigh, the young woman who adopted the Goddess of abundance in name. With her slender figure and sharp, stunning beauty, just like her fellow Summoner, Ifarnal, and his personal taste for aesthetics, she often faced her peers as a victim of their constant teasing.

“You’re right.” He regarded her with a sultry smile. “I am a simple man of simple pleasures. As long as you belong to me, I never find myself in want of more.” 
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