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Love Her and Despair (43)

Title: Love Her and Despair
Chapter 43: No Matter How Dark the Night
Final Fantasy X/X-2
Characters:Auron/Lulu, Isaaru, Elma, Pacce, Rikku
PG-13 for violence.
Word Count: 3600
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Map of Pilgrimage - Links to All Chapters

Our Story So Far: Thirteen years after Yuna falls in the Final Summoning, Isaaru and his guardians have brought down the Final Aeon. Yu Yevon pounces Auron as a last-ditch substitute.

The Farplane promised longed-for release. Auron was so tired, a husk of secondhand pyreflies glued together by Phoenix Down and scars. Rest, sang the sky beyond all skies. Your journey is at an end. Yu Yevon promised nothing, but its dissonant, teeth-cracking whine turned every thought to despair, to the frenzied attack of the maddened hive. Defend, defend, defend, destroy, came the mantra, and he wanted to lash out at something, at anything, as if the violence he had just committed on Lulu's body had unleashed the ravening fiend within. All that held him back was pain, the pangs of childbirth magnified a hundredfold. Why was Erinyes screaming into his mind?

A slight pressure on his hand, faint as the swish of a braid on bare skin, was proof against chaos. Choose, Auron. Choose. This is your story.

A fiend was still a man, as long as he remembered his name.

Auron jammed himself back into his body like an ill-fitting shoe. Rikku, shaking him frantically, gave an indignant, "Hey!" as he elbowed her aside and stood, feeling the weight of sword-hilt against callouses.

Lulu's garden was lost. In its place, brackish waters lapped from horizon to horizon, flooding the ruins of a ghost city under a bruise-purple sky. Jumbled stone blocks were scattered, patternless, a puzzle that could never have formed a coherent whole. Bolted to them were rusted pylons and transformers, a maze of drooping cables and catwalks leading nowhere. Bleached, coralline huts teetered on rotting piers, side by side with soulless skyscraper façades. A few dying Macalania trees glowed pale and dim in the shallows. Over the dome of Baaj Temple, carrion birds wheeled in an endless gyre.

No, not Baaj. Erinyes.

Seymour's aeon had sprouted from the temple foundations like an unholy mushroom, its flesh stained and gangrenous, its reflection mirrored on stagnant water. Around it orbited a pair of misshapen monoliths: last remnants, perhaps, of Lightning Mushroom Rock. At the aeon's foot stood a small figure in an old red coat.

Auron began to run. Leaping, skidding from rock to algae-covered rock, he tore a careening course across the sunken city. A blunt snout and long neck burst from the water, arching across his path. He hewed it and kept going. Crackling explosives on his heels told him that Rikku was following. There were more dark forms moving in the water around them. He should wait, make sure she was safe. But others needed him more.

"Let him go." It was Lulu's voice, hoarse with disuse: did he only imagine it? "Release the summoner. He did not kill your son, Keta. I did."

There. Between the feet of a sheared-off summoner's statue, Isaaru lay unseeing, his body arching and falling back in fierce convulsions. Pacce held him, weeping. Elma stood guard, glaring down at black fins cutting the water around their perch. Her sword was dripping pyreflies.

They would have to hold on.

So would Lulu, sinking down with one arm cast across her face in a warding gesture. Flying past her, Auron braced his sword against his hip for a full-body ram. Spray went up as he hit a thin sheet of water. A Flare spell curtained ahead of him in a rolling barrage. Puddles flashed to steam. Blinded and scalded, he crashed into the aeon at full speed, knocking the breath from his lungs. The sword plunged deep. Erinyes lurched and screamed, straining against its chains.

Any pity he might have felt for its fayth, Yevon's newest prisoner, had been negated by the sight of what it was doing to Isaaru, what it might be doing to Lulu behind his back. "We killed Seymour," he said, when he had breath to speak.

It took all his strength to yank the blade free. With the follow-through, he swept it around in a Break, softening steel to lead and bone to sinew. Erinyes fought back, screeching into his mind. My son, my sin, my beloved! Acid waves washed over him, chewing through his body like a plague of insects. He stumbled, pitched face-forward against the aeon's armor, and felt the cold smack of a Hi-potion across the back of his neck. Lulu must have raided his coat. There was a weak tug on his belt.

Retreating, he risked dropping his guard for a glimpse of her. Scarred wrists, snarled coils of hair, the hem of his coat staining the water around her ankles red— another spike of rage threatened to snap his control. "Sorry I'm late."

"Nonsense." Fetching another potion, she mimed drawing it from her bosom with a wink and a flourish. "You're just in time, Auron. If you would?"

"Hmph." Smiling faintly, he took the potion and tossed it back. Cool healing soothed the burning needles of pain burrowing under his skin. Then he sprang forward, throwing out his left hand in another Break that he had not needed in thirteen years. "Peeling the fruit for her," Lulu used to call it: jarring ordinary matter with pyreflies so spells hit twice as hard. Blue sparks showered around him from the oblique impact. Pivoting away, he braced as Lulu swept up her hand in an emphatic command. The air quaked. Ultima's black jaws closed around the aeon, pinching it down to a point before exploding outwards in a bubble of insanity. Just before the shockwave reached them, it reversed, crushing the aeon in torturous slow motion.

"I'm sure I told your summoner not to bring any aeons," she said, observing the spell's progress with detachment.

"Summoners are stubborn."

"Well." She half-turned. Across the water, Isaaru was sitting with his head between his knees, but at least he was no longer being jerked like a puppet. "I suppose I cannot fault him. I'd rather fight her than you."

"Hey, guys," Rikku said, popping over a high stone curb and landing next to the mage. "The flirting's kinda cute, but can we go now?"

"Go?" Elma called over. "First we kick Yevon's ass!"

Twice, three times space ruptured and folded, buckling the pavement almost to their feet. Puddles of water drained away, streaming into infinity. When the aeon snapped back into focus, Lulu rotated behind Auron, drawing Rikku with her. Striding forward, the swordsman renewed his attack with a flurry of hammer-blows before the aeon could recover.

"Augh!" Rikku reached for a grenade clipped to her belt. "Guardians!"

"Rikku, wait," Lulu said. "You've done enough. Keep clear. Wakka needs you."

"But we need you, too!" Rikku's voice rose to a frustrated squeak. "I came to rescue you, not watch more friends die!"

"I know. Thank you." She brushed a few strands out of Rikku's eyes as once she had clucked over a young summoner, and her words, too, recalled Yuna. "Go, now. Please... believe."

"That's not funny, Lulu."

"Not in us. In him." The mage gave a gentle push. "Just a little longer."

Rikku might have stayed to argue, but Lulu summoned a portcullis of lightning that slammed down on the aeon and arced along its chains. Whining about black mages playing dirty, Rikku fled. She scrambled back over the wall and tumbled into waist-deep water, sloshing towards the others.

"Watch out!" Elma said, spearing a dark shape swimming below. "Super-sized piranhas down here."

"Eeee!" Flinching, Rikku tossed a grenade. The ensuing geyser drenched Isaaru and his companions, but several eel-like fiends floated to the surface and dissolved into pyreflies. The rest scattered.

"Come on," she said, wading out to the trio. "They won't stay away long."

They shuffled Isaaru to dry ground, fighting his sodden robes. Taking refuge behind the ceramic ribs of a stripped machina, they hunkered down to watch the struggle taking place on the temple platform.

"Pacce," Elma said. "Think you can watch Isaaru's back without me?"

"No. I beg your pardon, Commander," Isaaru said, his voice a papery whisper. "Erinyes fights with talons you cannot parry. Sir Auron and the Lady... may have one advantage."

"If anyone gets killed, I'm holding you responsible," Rikku said, folding her arms.

"Grant them this battle, milady." He smiled, wan but composed. "Never again will Spira have such a chance."

"Oh, great. That's what Lu said last time."

Meanwhile, the swordsman and mage were rediscovering their old dance. Auron was always fore, attacking with ruthless overhand blows, the disciplined savagery of Ifrit's hellfire. Lulu glided behind him, fingertips whispering annihilation. Sometimes the slivers of ice and fire that fell splintering on Erinyes stung him too, but he barely noticed such love-bites under the aeon's scourges. These came at lengthening intervals; the aeon was clearly tiring. Unfortunately, so was Lulu. She had exhausted her magic too quickly in triplecasts, then burned through all the Ethers he had bought from Gippal two weeks ago on the slimmest of hopes. Now she was forced to fall back on weaker elemental spells.

"Was I always this feeble?" she said, contemptuous. "No more Ultima, I'm afraid."

"Good." He carved another gash in the aeon's flank. Hadn't he hit that spot earlier? "You're not Sin anymore."

Even for Sin, the battle was surreal. Their foe stood rooted like a quintain on the warrior monks' training grounds, yet they were the ones rocked by unseen attacks. Twice the aeon's mind-rakes felled Lulu; twice, Auron dodged an unsteady Thundara while setting her back on her feet. Black ichor flowed, spattering his face and arms. He struck and struck and ceased to feel any pain. It might be their final battle together, but at least they were free, fighting for vengeance and lost chances, fighting for each other and for old comrades, staking everything on one last tryst of havoc and destruction. He thought he heard Lulu's laughter in the storm.

It was not enough. It should have been enough. The damage they had inflicted should have vanquished Sin itself, let alone an aeon. But Erinyes fed on pain like a leech. Auron wanted to warn Lulu away, shield her from what was coming, but he needed her spells to keep the foe off-balance. If they could just beat it down before...

Reality began to tatter and warp. The ground melted. The aeon dragged them down and down, deep into the bloody heart of hell where the pyreflies of lost fiends fetched up at last, a wailing void of anger and despair. There was a second Erinys down here, inverted, crowned and horned and maned with strips of desiccated flesh. It knotted its fists, roared, shattered its chains, and began to pummel them. Auron parried the first punch and the next, but blows came thick and fast, turning armor to anvil. At last, with a fiery explosion, space flipped like an hourglass. He fell, struck ground and lay in a bloody welter of pain. Lulu landed beside him, limp.

Isaaru's profound healing washed over both of them with the force of Holy. Ignoring stabbing protests from half-knitted bones, Auron arose. Elma crumpled a few paces off. The Crusader must have attemped to take his place in a head-on charge to distract the aeon. Moving like a sleepwalker, Isaaru headed towards her.

Failure. Auron felt the same sick numbness that had gripped him when he woke to find Kimahri's corpse and a blasted plain. Thrusting it aside, he dropped to one knee next to Lulu and offered his arm as a ladder. "Can you find the exit?"

"No!" Lulu's eyes blazed as she levered herself up. "We're not letting him get away, Auron. I swear to you—"

"To hell with Yu Yevon," Rikku cried, scurrying towards them. "We can figure out how to beat him later. We're getting you out of here!"

"There are lives at stake, Lulu," Auron said.

Glancing at Rikku, Lulu drew a sharp breath. The last of the Lady's inhuman cruelty bled from her face. "Yes. All right. Let's collect your summoner."

"Pacce!" Elma said, reorienting herself after a heady dose of Isaaru's white magic. "Wait!"

The boy had darted towards the monoliths orbiting the field of battle. Auron had barely registered them: grotesque pillars like fossilized excrement turning in endless circles. An apt symbol for Yevon, he noted sourly. Pacce was blunting his sword against one of them with wild, flailing attacks. It slowed. The second one swung around and plowed into it. Erinyes gave another shriek, dropping the young warrior monk in his tracks.

"Keep back," Auron commanded, catching Elma's eye. Still woozy from a Life spell, she nodded and tackled Isaaru, hooking her arms around his elbows to hold him back. Striding over to Pacce, Auron seized him by the collar and started dragging him towards his brother. "Guard your summoner," he snapped, noticing the boy was still conscious and struggling to speak.

"Sir! Th-the stone things. Isaaru says we've got to stop them!"

Auron's brow furrowed. "What?"

"They're healing Er—" Isaaru started, but it was his turn to collapse under Erinyes' baleful glare.

"Of course!" Lulu said. "I should have known. Rikku. Disable them."

"Uhhh...okay." The Al Bhed unclipped another grenade. "Don't breathe!"

A cascade of orange, purple, and shocking pink explosions engulfed both monoliths. One by one, their spinning segments ground to a halt like jammed millstones.

"Lulu, now," Auron said.

"Keta," Lulu murmured. "Let go. We've both lost. Let Yu Yevon lose with us."

Flare's inferno went off like a bomb. Elma whooped and sprinted towards the aeon before the flames had completely sputtered out. Auron followed. The Crusader's blade ignited as she leapt— the woman was a lunatic, running up one of the chains to stab at the eye— while Auron pounded the aeon's trunk. Bones pulverized. Pieces of carbonized flesh and clotted blood came raining down. With a final gurgle, the aeon exploded, leaving behind a pile of fused chains and a blackened ivory pendant etched with a woman's full-length portrait. Elma fell and rolled, snuffing out flames beginning to scorch her uniform. Something black and billowing catapulted up into the sky.

For a moment, Auron feared Yu Yevon might escape, taking refuge in some back pocket of the Farplane that he and Lulu might never find. Then he looked up and realized there were other reasons why they might never find him. Lots of them.

"Augh!" Rikku said. "Incoming!"

The air rocked with sonic booms. Featherless wings and claws came swooping down, covering Yu Yevon's flight. It was not one garuda, but many. At the same time, an army of fiends burst from the sea, surging over the platform from every side. Sinscales, tentacles, water serpents, maelspikes engulfed the party in a heaving mob of fins and teeth and spines. Auron rammed into the nearest scaled flank, reaching Rikku and Lulu just before the mass of foes grew impenetrable.

"Circle," Elma shouted, shoving Isaaru behind her and closing ranks with Pacce. They were cut off, too far away to provide mutual support to Yuna's ex-guardians.

Lulu drew back her hand and gasped, sweat beading on her skin.

"What is it?" Auron said, slashing at blue-flickering wings over her shoulder.

"Yu Yevon."

"Fight. Don't let him back in."

"No, not that." The tremor in her voice was close to panic. "He's sucked me dry. I couldn't light a candle!"

A cluster of spines drove into Auron's arm. He doubled over for a split second, clutching the wound. That was all it took for a leaping sahagin to shove past his guard, wedging itself between him and his friends. The amphibian reared back and spat digestive fluids in his face, delaying him further. For every foe he mowed down, two more pushed him farther away from friends.

"Lulu!" Rikku's cry was another jolt of pain, but Auron could do nothing more than keep hurling himself at the growing wall of fiends. A tumult of pyreflies swirled around him, tokens of petty victories. He was losing ground. He was losing them. The lack of pyrotechnics was an ominous sign. Either Rikku was out of small explosives, or...

Thin red lines of focused energy stabbed down, taking out two of the maelspikes looming over him. The huge tusked fishes tipped belly-up and faded away. Before he had had time to process what that meant, there was a whining roar of braking engines, a loud chuff, and a detonation on the temple platform immediately behind him. Heat blistered the back of his arms and legs. The tide of pyreflies streaming past his shoulders told him just how close he had come— to what?

A blocky figure leapt down beside him, lugging a shoulder cannon even larger than Gippal's. "Legendary jackass is right. Rikku, you okay?"

"Wakka!" Rikku hurtled out of the chaos and snuggled against him, back to back, brandishing a knife. "The Celsius?"

"Yeah. Buddy's watching the kids. Where's Lu?"

"Over here; come on!"

Wakka's gun was cumbersome for close combat, but useful as a ram. Auron followed the pair, dispatching the fiends it knocked down. Off to their right, Elma and Pacce had been joined by Juno, forming a triangle of swords around Isaaru. More fiends fell to lances of red light from above. Looking up, Auron saw the flash of Baralai's white hair: he was leaning over the side of Gippal's flyer, picking off fiends with a marksman's precision. Nooj, braced against the opposite railing, was shooting down garuda.

"Orders, boss?" Gippal called, waving through the windshield. "Hope we're not too late to the party!"

"Clear the fiends," Auron said. He turned, searching for Lulu.

There: Wakka's orange crest nodded on the other side of a pack of sinscales. Cutting his way through, Auron found the blitzer stooped over the mage, tenderly applying the last of Rikku's potions while Rikku danced around him fending off fiends with knife and targe. Baralai's sniping kept her from being overwhelmed, but a few sword-strokes cleared the area more efficiently.

"You stay back," Wakka growled, not looking up. "This was your boneheaded plan, ya? Trying to get Lu and Rikku killed this time."

"Hey, I came on my own," Rikku said. "They needed someone with brains."

"The plan was mine, Wakka," Lulu said. "And now that you are here..." Opening her eyes, she raised a finger, pointing weakly at the sky. "That is the true face of Yevon. Have you brought Atonement?"

"Lu!" The blitzer broke into a teary-eyed grin. "Yeah, she's right here. Glad I didn't have to use her on you this time." He squeezed Lulu's hand, then turned to retrieve his ungainly cannon. "That's Yu Yevon? Hard to believe anybody would pray to that thing."

Scooting away from her, he propped the gun against the ground and his shoulder, tilting it up like a mortar. The fiends had thinned enough for Auron to look away. Yu Yevon was no more than a flickering inky blot against into the clouds.

Wakka was muttering to himself. "Tryin' to play cactuar tag, huh? Dodge this." A shaft of blue-green light as thick as his arm shot from the barrel. High above, Yu Yevon swerved right into the beam. There was an eerie black explosion. Ribbons of shadow began to peel away from Yu Yevon's bloated shape. Nooj turned, aiming his smaller energy weapon at the twisting mass as it began to fall, writhing, towards the leaden sea.

"Yeah!" Rikku crowed. "Machina power!"

A sinking heaviness seized their limbs. Air, blood, bones: everything suddenly seemed impossibly heavy, pulling them down. They could not breathe. There was a clang as Juno's heavy blade dropped, a louder clank as Wakka collapsed under the weight of his gun. The flyer's engine strained, whined, and coughed to silence. Gippal gave a shout and wrestled the stalled craft to a messy landing as it tilted and plowed nose-first into the water. Even Rikku tripped and went sprawling.

"Gravija," Lulu whispered.

The weight of his sword dragged Auron to his hands and knees. Crawling towards the mage, he saw the frustration in her eyes, the aching powerlessness of one grown used to godlike powers.

"End this," he said, pressing his palm against hers.

She stiffened. The pyreflies whined loud in his ears as he willed his will to her: his slow simmering anger steeped in two decades of failure and betrayals, his lost faith, his grief for the fallen, his loyalty, his broken oaths, his stubborn sense of justice, his deep-seated compassion veiled under a cynic's mask, his laughter at life's follies (especially his own), a burning love never named that kept him here, here, here— everything that drove him, Entrusted to her like fire leaping from one dead tree to the next—

Her fingers laced with his. He was uncertain whether he heard her voice aloud or in his mind. "For Chappu." Ultima's first salvo exploded outwards. Had the hover not fallen, it would have been ripped apart. "For Yuna. For Tidus. For Kimahri. For Ginnem. For Braska—"

Again and again the sky ripped inside out and outside in, worrying the shapeless mass of Yu Yevon like a chocobo in a fiend's jaws. The two inert pillars of stone were drawn up and into the vortex, spiraling faster and faster until they slammed together with Yu Yevon crushed between them. Brilliant spokes of white light spurted out, speckled by fine black grains like charcoal sifting down. Solid rock began to unravel.

"For you."

With a shattering roar as if all of Spira had been dissolved by the force of her last spell, Sin's nightmare burst and disintegrated. Sky and water, stone and fire flew apart. Light and darkness, sound and scent, every form of sensation ceased.

Slowly, slowly, their senses returned.

Thin and remote, a solitary lightning bolt struck a tower beneath a very ordinary bank of thunderheads.

They lay on stony ground. A light rain was falling through a net of pyreflies drifting as far as the eye could see.

Auron looked down. Lulu's eyes were closed. He bent and kissed her temple with a gruff whisper that he hoped she could hear. "Welcome home."

Next Chapter: Chrysalis
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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 27th, 2010 05:56 am (UTC)
Okay, you know when you're really into those big boss battles and the world doesn't exist anymore? The phone rings but you don't hear it sort of thing?
You're just there and you're fighting and all you care about is that next spell or that next potion because if you lose focus it's game over and you have to start again after throwing the controller against the wall.
And THEN when you finally win and you throw the controller against the wall again, but this time because you're thrilled?
You know what I'm talking about, right?
Anyway, that's the sort of vibe I got after reading this. You've made me care so much about these characters and this STORY that I want to throw things. I don't know if you keep up with any sports, but it's the same feeling you get when your team gets that home run or that touchdown.
I want to tear down a goal post now. This was flippin' awesome.
Jul. 27th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC)
Trying to capture the feel of an epic boss battle is HARD. I was afraid this chapter dragged too much.

FF games generally climax with a bigass, multi-stage, cracktastic battle sequence full of angst and an emotional roller coaster. So I had to try and simulate it in prose.

It isn't my most artful writing, and I keep wanting to massage it, but it got the job done, eh?

Edited at 2010-07-27 08:39 am (UTC)
Jul. 27th, 2010 01:21 pm (UTC)
I loved everything about this chapter.
Jul. 27th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
*insert victory fanfare*
Jul. 27th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
Absolutely wonderful!
Finally, Yu Yevon got his...with a vengeance!

I'm hoping that Lulu and Auron will reap some happy time together after all they've lost over these terrible years...

Just wonderful when Wakka came to the rescue with that gun...

Hope there's more writing for this story; a triumphant return for some folks...

Jul. 27th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Absolutely wonderful!
Oh yes. I'm afraid this story has gotten sooooo long (it just officially broke 100,000), but there's still a bit more. There's one final flapping loose end to tie up (I think you know who), but first, we need a little character Quality Time.

Edited at 2010-07-27 08:37 pm (UTC)
Jul. 27th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Absolutely wonderful!
Yep. I do know who that flapping loose end is, and I hope Auron gets to do the killing stroke this time. I think he's earned it...

Jul. 30th, 2010 07:23 am (UTC)
Excellent series of battles. I think the fight with Eryines was my favorite -- the echoes to the final FFX battle are well done, although of course it's hard not to love Lulu and Auron taking down Sin together at the end.
Jul. 30th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC)
Heh. I debated every which way trying to figure out who got the coup de grace in each battle. I considered giving Yu Yevon to Wakka, but Lulu's played the damsel in distress part for far too long in this story. And Auron has waited too long for revenge.

I do so love to use Auron's Entrust and Guard skills. It's not the most effective use of his abilities (until one gets a Counterattack to give his Guard teeth), but they're so danged noble!

Edited at 2010-07-30 08:47 am (UTC)
Aug. 18th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
Lulu's played the damsel in distress part for far too long in this story

Interesting. Throughout the bulk of this story -- at least the first half -- I've seen her as relatively in control. She's fending off Yu Yevon, just as Jecht managed.

But it's true, she wouldn't have managed this without Auron. Nor would have Jecht, in the original game.

I have noticed, however, how frequently het relationships in fic feature periled princess motif. I wonder how it would feel for Lulu to save Auron and/or the party in before the curtains close. I think we may have discussed this before, but it's popped back into my mind after reading this comment.
Aug. 19th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)
Yep. I've juggled that problem through this entire story, keenly aware that I was following the standard "princess trapped in a tower, knight riding to her rescue to slay the dragon" trope. It doesn't help the gender dynamic at all that she was ALSO the dragon!

Meanwhile, Vandevere wants Auron to get the killing stroke against our flapping loose end, precisely because I had Lulu an active participant here.

That comment reminded me of the fact that in the game, despite his being the most powerful fighter, Auron never gets the killing blow on Yunalesca (or Seymour, after Kinoc's death) without his friends beside him. In the Yunalesca battle, he never says, "help me kill her for vengeance." He gets his revenge, but he's there for them and gives a rousing speech for them to choose their fate.

That gave me the key to how to counteract the "rescue the princess" stereotype. It's a little like Utena -- the prince can help, but the role of "damsel in distress" is itself a prison, and the true way to "revolutionize the world" is for the princess to rescue herself...and, perhaps, the prince.

Which Lulu has done on several occasions, particularly after Shuyin nearly took out Auron, but also at the beginning of this chapter.
Aug. 19th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
This is true, she has saved him. And she got the final hit in against Yu Yevon. Well, sort of.

I should state that I am generally against writing fiction with a conscious political bent. That being said, I do notice such tropes and it may change my perception of the story, but even so, I really don't think you're doing badly on that front.

It's more my selfish desire to see Lulu really kicking ass and saving the day.

But I can understand why it makes sense to let Auron have his final strike of justice. But on the other hand, Yunalesca presents more than a few opportunities for peril. Confuse, zombie, megadeath.

In other news, I just noticed the blurred out locations on your map sticky. Looks like we've got a bit more to go. *wicked grin*
Aug. 19th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
I'd say it's 15 more chapters, but I'm afraid people might run screaming.

I could just jump right to the end, but I want to stop and do sidequests, ahem, catch up on characters.

And yes, I do just want Lulu to kick but and take names!

I don't write with a political bent, I just question myself when I see I'm falling into a particular trope that a lot of people complain about. Sometimes, I decide to keep it, but I then won't let it be too pat. Or, if it is problematic, I...adjust it.

E.G. My original outline blithely had a "romantic" idea that Mars and Venus would meet on the field of battle, and Auron would go into Lulu's dream and make love to her, and then the airship would be able to clobber Sin when its defenses were down.

The sexual symbolism in the original version was all kinds of wrong.

So I kept the idea, but I turned it on its head: the original Mars/Lulu scene had the unxpected ending that Yu Yevon was using it to trap Auron. Which I think is an idea you may have given me.

I also left in the way Auron drives a sword through Lulu to "kill" her so that Yu Yevon will leave her -- it was The Moment in the original one-shot embryo form of this story that has stuck with me -- but I adjusted the tone considerably.

Edited at 2010-08-19 09:45 pm (UTC)
Aug. 19th, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Yaaaagh that anonymous (and screened?) comment was me, of course.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 1st, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
That is all exactly what I was trying to do, but I wrote and rewrote and rewrote that chapter so many times I wasn't sure if I'd killed it.
Aug. 18th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
God, this aches.

Defend, defend, defend, destroy. There's something in those simple words that breaks my heart to the toes. KJHkhdsfkjd.

Isaaru in convulsions. Their desperate attack on an aeon.

Lulu's Sin is far more terrifying than Jecht's ever could be. I don't know if I've spelled that out before, but it should be said.

Elma scuttlng up Keta's chains -- yes!

And Wakka and the others!

Their last desperate measure, goddamn...

Your battle prose is, as always, to be envied. I wish I could do that!

You've fragmented Spira in an effective, nightmarish way. It worked out well and I'm glad you went with this setting. I look forward to more, but I don't want it to end.
Aug. 19th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
Took me forever to beat this chapter together; I'm glad it finally worked!

And as always, thank you.

The problem with endgames in Final Fantasy, and video game fights in general, is that if the game engine showed just how dangerous the situation was, the game's rating would be shot to hell. Even in "easy" battles, it's often so. I was just playing the "rescue Yuna" sequence recently to check a detail, and noticed how those flamethrower warrior monks bathe the party in actual flames, yet apart from 350HP of damage, everyone's just fine and able to keep going!

In these games, humans go into places that should squash them like a bug. Their Awesome Sauce hero skills can't entirely explain why they survive. White magic, magical armor and potions are an absolute narrative necessity to overcome this problem. But magical aids don't stop the characters from taking massive damage or facing terrible danger, they just mitigate the effects.

P.S. Elma is too much fun. I'm so glad that character barged in and stole Maroda's role in this story, though it was rough on Maroda.

Edited at 2010-08-19 02:55 pm (UTC)
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