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I have been working on Love Her and Despair -- no, really! -- and keep coming across discarded ficbits. Here. All you really need to know, if you haven't read or have forgotten the epic, is that in this alternate universe, Yuna chose the Final Summoning and "the cycle continued."

Words: 300
Summary: Paine and Baralai, then lovers, each realize that the other's heart is taken.
When: ~3 years prior to LHAD
Backstory: Baralai discovers Vegnagun and studies it in secret, trying to learn to control it so that he can keep it out of the wrong hands. He confides in Paine and asks her help.

In a cavernous vault deep below the ground, a machina snarled out a jangling duet, sweet subtle melodies slashed by brazen gongs and discords. Vegnagun twitched and shuddered underfoot.

"Enough!" Paine leapt to her feet, slamming her fists against the keys. "Stop it!"

There was a terrifying jerk as the machina scrabbled against its perch, threatening to break free.

Baralai snarled like the machina he was shepherding and threw himself across the keys, conjuring up a gentle, lilting refrain somewhat like the Hymn of the Fayth. Gradually Vegnagun settled back into slumber.

"Get out," Baralai snapped. "Now."

She fixed him with a livid glare, then turned her shoulder and began clambering down. Vegnagun powered down behind her as she stalked towards the elevator. She did not look back at a heavy thump and the sound of pelting footsteps. Hands closed around her shoulders and spun her around. Baralai was seething, as angry as she had ever seen.

"What the hell did you think you were doing back there, Paine?" he said. "We could've lost control. Vegnagun could've gone anywhere, attacked anything!"

She shrugged free of his grip. "Vegnagun this, Vegnagun that. Listen to yourself! That damned machina is more to you than anything in the world."

"Maybe that's because the only way to get through to you is to be half machina myself!" he spat.

Her face froze. "How dare you."


She struck him, hard, knocking him to his knees. "Paine is dead." The words came out clipped, raw, cold.

"Paine, wait." He cupped his nose. "Look, I'm sorry. You just scared me. Vegnagun is far too dangerous. It could've hurt you." His eyes softened. "I don't want anything to happen to you. I promised—"

"I release you from that promise. Go back to your pet. I've had enough of this idiotic game. Goodbye, Baralai."

Words: 500
Summary: Isaaru's backstory for LHAD.

Backstory: All the way back in chapter 2, [personal profile] owlmoose asked me in a reader's comment, "What happened to Mika?" The question unearthed a gaping plot hole. I hastily wrote this out to do some backfilling. It unleashed a bucket o' plot threads that turned LHAD from a half-assed ten-chapter jaunt to a Tolkienian epic. Oops. 

After the Via Purifico, I vowed to quit Bevelle as quickly as possible and resume my pilgrimage -- you were a traitor, and your words had no power to sway me then. (smiles)

But the farther I travelled, the more I realized that Sin was not the only menace to Spira. Fear was everywhere. The Crusaders, excommunicated by Yevon, were rallying to protect the people while the warrior monks held Bevelle under martial law. Rumor of Lady Yuna went before me, and traitor though she was, she seemed to have won the hearts of all those she met along the way. In Macalania I heard a terrible story that Seymour had murdered his father and tried to force a marriage on Lady Yuna against her will. I had already begun to have doubts when I reached Gagazet, and there learned from the surviving Ronso what Maester Kelk had told them before his death. Spira was betrayed, and Maesters betrayed one another. It was Yevon's sins, not ours, that required atonement, or Sin would come again.

And then it came: the battle I shall never forget. From the slopes of Gagazet I watched Yuna's aeon do battle with Sin. They fell full upon Bevelle, punishing it for its transgressions.

Yuna's name was on every lip as I returned to Bevelle, and anger was turned against the maesters who had declared her a traitor and her father outcast. Then came word from Bevelle that the Al Bhed, not Yevon, was responsible for the lie.

By chance I fell in with others betrayed by Yevon, a squad of young Crusaders. Baralai was one, and he told me more to make my heart ache.

By the time we reached Bevelle, we knew we were in grave danger. But something must be done. So I approached the captain of the guard and laid the whole matter before her. It was hard, but in the end we convinced her to let us have an audience with Mika. If our story was true, we would send him. If not, she would report us as traitors and have us killed.

After I sent Mika, we convened an emergency meeting with all the priests, recalling those who had fled. We proclaimed that Seymour had murdered Jyscal, Kinoc and Kelk, after going mad, and that Mika's heart had stopped from grief when he learned the truth. I did not expect us to be believed, and there are still whispers of doubt. But for the most part, the people believed. They had seen the Crusaders harmed and the warrior monks occupying Bevelle. They had seen Yevon harm itself. So these thirteen years have been years of atonement, not for the people, but for the temples and the maesters.

I refused the position for some while, since Seymour was the first summoner before me to take that title. But in the end, the priests convinced me there was need.

Words: 600
Summary: 1000 years after Love Her and Despair, the church publishes a pamphlet to discredit LHAD's story of Isaaru's pilgrimage as apocryphal.
Note: I was going to use these as chapter headers for LHAD. Their real goal was to provide context for a friend who wanted to read LHAD but hadn't played FFX.

In Y.C. 1000, the first millennia of Lady Yuna's Eternal Calm, the Church of New Yevon commissioned this brochure retracing Lady Yuna's pilgrimage and successful defeat of the ancient menace known as Sin. It seems impossible to fathom that a young priestess of seventeen succeeded in vanquishing Sin permanently when centuries of summoners had failed, or, like her father, had achieve a temporary reprieve at best. Yet we know that High Summoner Yuna's achievement is no myth. Contemporary accounts and rare sphere recordings show glimpses of her pilgrimage and her life. Without her self-sacrifice, Spira might have been plagued for many more centuries by this renegade weapon from an archaic war, and our present prosperity long delayed.

No summoner could have defeated Sin alone. Lady Yuna inherited many gifts from her father Braska; not least, the loyalty and service of his former guardian, Sir Auron. Many of the stories that have arisen about this warrior monk from Bevelle are doubtless mythological fabrications. But Luca records confirm at least one of his famous exploits, the slaying of a dragon at Luca Stadium.

Of course, the idea that Sir Auron was an Unsent is a romantic absurdity. In addition to preserving sensory echoes of nearby phenomena, pyreflies do indeed possess healing properties, but they cannot fortify a body against mortal wounds — or no one would die! In the archives of Bevelle, it is noted that Sir Auron was sent by one summoner Isaaru, Y.C. 13, over a full decade after Lady Yuna's pilgrimage.

Although skeptics have challenged historical records of Sin's powers and size, recent scientific analysis of soils, rocks and metals found at several ancient Sin landfall sites confirm the legend. The impact of Sin's energy fields and manipulation of gravity can be detected in shattered molecular structures, unusual isotopes and the rare "Sin Diamonds" created by its shock waves. Coastal sediments also retain traces of ancient tsunamis and manmade debris with much greater frequency from approximately B.Y. 1000 to Y.C. 1, consistent with annals recording Sin's thousand year reign of terror.

The names of Yuna's other guardians are not now known. Let it be stated at the outset that "Lulu" is a blasphemous interpolation into scripture by the heretical Cult of the Lady, a.k.a. the Followers of Sin, that flourished in the first decades of Yuna's Calm. The Church of New Yevon has found no evidence that the so-called "Black Mage of Besaid" ever existed, nor is it plausible that High Summoner Yuna would have tolerated such a person as her guardian.

Concerning other guardians, there are only passing references, apart from the twenty-volume Pilgrimages of the Saints by the Venerable Maechen which unfortunately breaks off prior to Lady Yuna's ascent of Mt. Gagazet and beatification in Zanarkand.

The unlikely story of Sir Tidus of Zanarkand, a living person created like an aeon from pyreflies and the focused will of the Fayth, derives solely from Maechen's Annals. There are no other records of this young man, although likenesses of him bear an uncanny resemblance to a real man from Zanarkand, Shuyin, who lived circa 1000 B.Y. It is possible the story of Shuyin and the summoner Lenne was transplanted from the ancient war between Bevelle and Zanarkand to the pilgrimage of Lady Yuna by creative hagiographers who amended Maechen's otherwise meticulous account.

We also know the names of four other summoners, Yuna's contemporaries: Lady Ginnem of Djose, Summoner Zuke of Remiem, Summoner Isaaru of Bevelle, and Summoner Dona of Kilika. All four failed to complete their pilgrimages, although Lord Isaaru and Lady Dona later served as Maesters of Yevon.

At the time of Yuna's pilgrimage, the church of Yevon was undergoing the first major reform following the apostacy of Seymour.

Word Count: 460
Summary: Gratuitous Auron/Lulu flashback is gratuitous.
Notes: It's not obvious here, but the blue sphere seems to have been an "occupied" sign agreed upon by Besaid's young people hiding midnight exploits from the clergy.

Pacce picked up a bit of junk that flashed in the hazy sunlight: an old sphere, caught in a long strip of netting as if it were a fishing weight. "Hey, look at this."

"Leave it," Auron said brusquely. "It's dead."

"Oh." The younger guardian sighed and went back to wandering aimlessly. "Oh, well."

Auron brushed his knuckles against the broken sphere, remembering...

After a tip from Kimahri, he had found her standing in the jungle behind the temple, gazing up at the stars.

"Get back to the ship."

She turned at the gruff command. "Oh, come, Auron, this is Besaid. There's no one and nothing on this island that can stand up to us, even if any of them actually believe we're traitors."

"The warrior monks holed up in the temple could find you here," he scolded. "We'd not know what had happened to you."

"You'd notice the smoke."

He snorted. She was justly proud of her abilities, but... "Don't let the sight of home make you complacent, Lulu."

"Ah, here we are." She moved towards the back of the temple, where ancient dead vines clung to the wall. "Follow me."

Bemused, but figuring she had her reasons, he climbed up behind her, keeping his gaze resolutely on handholds and not the tempting view.

"Good." After he joined her on the rooftop, she ambled back to the edge, picked up something blue on a chain that sparklled and lowered it over the lip of the roof. "There. That should do it. No one will come up here now."

He stood there staring down at the unlikely token, trying to work out how a broken sphere could be used as a barrier, until she tugged his loose sleeve and dragged him back from the edge of the roof. "Help me lift this."

A boat? It wasn't on the scale of some of the unexpected developments they had faced on this journey, but Auron was still mildly stymied by the small fishing boat lying upside-down on the roof of Besaid temple. That is, until he had taken the opposite end and helped her overturn it.

"Oh." He smirked. "I might have guessed."

Lulu knelt on the nest of pillows and brightly-colored fabrics which had been covered from weather by the small craft. "I'm tired of narrow bunks. And... I have fond memories of nights up here."

He caught the hint of sadness in her voice. With a shrug, he settled beside her. "One more, then?"

Her hands stole to the straps holding his collar in place. "Yuna doesn't need us tonight. And I need--"

He smirked, reaching for a buckle. "Something else to atone for."

Okay, I STILL haven't found the piece I was looking for. There's a chunk of a chapter I'm writing now that I first wrote over a year ago. Where'd it go? Why isn't it in my outline? ARGH!

This entry was originally posted at http://auronlu.dreamwidth.org/190357.html, where it has comment count unavailablecomments.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
Cute bit with Lulu and Auron.

The 'Apostacy of Seymour' sounds like a terminal disease. ^_^ And I have always been amused that Lulu is the black mage in FFX. So VERY much nicer than Vivi.

IMO Isaaru knew Yuna was being railroaded [Via Purifico] - and is being forced to fight her. 'Where are his guardians?', Auron points out [as much as stating that Isaaru's brothers are being held hostage to force Isaaru to fight]. No way Isaaru could've been -that- naive. ^_^
Dec. 7th, 2011 07:00 am (UTC)
Yes, Isaaru was obviously very conflicted in Via Purifico. It was that scene that particularly made me pay attention to him as a character, despite his minor role. The "honorable man duped into doing evil" is one of the oldest tropes in my own writing, so I glommed onto him.

In game, I'm not sure if he realized what was going on, but he clearly did NOT want to be an executioner, and he was very unwilling to involve his brothers in the church's dirty work or get their hands stained with blood-guilt.

I think Isaaru was not told whom he was supposed to execute, only that he should wait at the end of the Via Purifico and execute the "traitor" when/if one appeared. But he surely knew the Via Purifico was supposed to be a fair test, and that this was "fixing" it; I suspect it was also highly irregular to make a summoner act as Yevon's executioner. So Isaaru may have had vague misgivings -- may even have suspected all this had something to do with Yuna, depending on what rumors he'd heard -- and sent Maroda and Pacce away. Perhaps not intending to fail on purpose; more to protect them

From memory:

Isaaru: Lady Yuna, so it is you!
Auron: You will fight us?
Isaaru: The temple's orders are law! You are a traitor. Even if you are Lord Braska's flesh and blood.

Lulu: His guardians. I don't see them.
Isaaru: Maroda and Pacce are not here. I will do this unhappy deed myself. Forgive me, Lady Yuna.

After the battle is over, Isaaru tells Yuna where the exit is. I think he genuinely felt honor-bound to obey the temple's commands, and he may have been brainwashed enough by his church upbringing to believe the maesters when they said his victim was a traitor to Yevon. So Isaaru felt he had to obey, but his heart wasn't in it. Once he had well and truly "lost," he then did as his heart prompted, and gave Yuna a little help.

P.S. Aww, but I liked Vivi! Very, very different tone of game, though.
Dec. 7th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
Nice batch! That first one... ooof my heart.
Dec. 7th, 2011 07:18 am (UTC)
I thought you'd like that. If "like" is the right word. Poor Paine and Baralai; I really put them through the ringer in this AU. (You understand: my meta is that Paine almost-but-not-quite let Baralai persuade her that Nooj was gone for good and that it was time to move on. Only...deep down, she couldn't.)
Dec. 7th, 2011 08:01 am (UTC)
I've not had a chance to read these yet, though I'm dying to as soon as this busy shift ends.

But while I wait on these patients to stop coming in, how much did it take before you decided to write about X? I've meant to ask for a long time and kept forgetting to ask. First playthrough? Second? As soon as you saw Lulu's lulus? I'm just kinda curious how you ended up with such a huge, wonderful story and enough to have...well, the fic version of a director's cut dvd.
Dec. 7th, 2011 08:50 am (UTC)
I wrote a couple FFX fics, Resurrection I and Resurrection II, before I finished the game, because Auron and Lulu both rocked, and because I didn't want to finish the game and watch Auron disappear.

I finished playing FFX on 3/5/06 and wrote Send Off. A month and a half later, I responded to an "Alternate Universe" prompt on an FF drabble community with this single, tiny post which is, in fact, the original Love Her and Despair.

I think the idea for LHAD must've occurred to me while I was finishing the game, although I can't remember now -- I vaguely recall screaming, "AUGH! LULU!" or something of the sort during my first play-through when they're facing off with Yunalesca and Lulu says, "If one of us has to become a fayth, I volunteer."

Obviously the story mutated a lot from that seed. I didn't know I was going to drag in EVERY LAST CHARACTER in Spira to join the party, or that I would wind up with ten jillion plotz.

I posted the first real chapter of LHAD on Dec 14, 2006, after brooding on the idea for about nine months. Somehow, that seems appropriate.

I wrote a ton of FFX fanfic -- lots of drabbles, one-shots, smut -- during and after my first playthrough, and for the first 3 years or so after playing the game, then the torrent slowly dried up.

Edited at 2011-12-07 09:05 am (UTC)
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:09 am (UTC)
Heh. I think you get the award for most-edited comment in history. I kept hearing my inbox chime and was starting to wonder if my laptop was wigging out.

Or if I was crazy.

But thanks! You know my fave world for FF fic is VIII and all things Quistis-related, but I was in the mood to see what people did with the world of X one day. Luckily I happened across you first thing, some delicious lightning comic smut that made me cackle. Been hooked ever since. I've been curious for soooooo long after I saw what you did with Spira and just, well never asked. Not sure why, really. It's not like you would have bitten me.

Not that I'm opposed to that, mind you.
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:14 am (UTC)
Oh SHOOT, sorry sorry sorry.

I forget people can see/hear my edits. Must must must learn to edit in a text window so I don't drive you CRAZY!

I don't know why I have such a bad habit of rereading a comment, thinking, "oh, that's too long," and then I shorten it, and then I think of something else to say, and then...poke poke poke fiddle fiddle fiddle. Anyway.

Honestly, the core of the matter is that while I was playing FFX, I was dealing with heartache from a friendship-turned-romance that crashed and burned. Friendship, splat. Romance, splat. Sex? First and last time (with her, anyway). So then I lose myself in a video game that presses all sorts of buttons, and I see these two characters I like, and I can see the one is able to handle romantic disappointment a lot better than I can, and the other's on his way out the door, and I start fantasizing, "What would it be like to have a fling with someone, knowing it can't last? Could you enjoy it? Could it be worth it, nonetheless?" And hence the lightning comic smut was born out of thwarted hormones.

There were a lot more reasons, but it's amazing how raging hormones help spur one to write, write, write!
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:25 am (UTC)
Bah! Don't you dare apologize! It's actually kind of funny. The way my brain processed the chimes, it made that old Dolly Parton song 'Nine to Five' get stuck in my head, so now I'm giggling.

And it's kinda crazy how games or books or movies can do stuff like that, isn't it? Dive in and get all thinky so you don't have to...think?

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
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