Title: Echoes of the Farplane

Author: Jewels

Email: jhantor@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: Squaresoft owns the Final Fantasy series. Not I.

Summary: Spira is coming to terms with the fact that the monster that has plagued them for a thousand years is no more, but Yevon and those who ruled do not take the sudden shift in power so kindly and are willing to use Yuna, and the secrets she carries, to their own ends.

Notes: This story has no relevance or bearing on FFX-2 (not that I would know, since at this time, even though the game has been released in the US, us UK types will not get it until next February). It proceeds into a leisurely AU just after the end of FFX.

**

Part One: End of the Beginning

**

The breeze that swept through the air lifted the edges of Yuna's veil, causing it to ripple tantilisingly against her skin, a gentle caress of fabric. She captured a fold of the translucent material between her fingertips, thoughtfully rubbing her thumb and forefinger together. It felt expensive. It was barely a featherweight as it draped over her body, and she thought she could detect barely visible patterns woven into the sheer fabric. Yuna knew, without a doubt, that it had cost the Temple a small fortune to make her dress and its accoutrements, but she also knew that it was barely a drop in the ocean of Yevon's wealth. When you ruled the world, money tended not to be any object.

She wondered if she had ever, for one minute, dreamed that her wedding day would be like this. That she would stand high above Bevelle in the bright sunlight, surrounded by the Maesters of Spira and the monks, dressed in finery that would have taken her a lifetime to save enough to buy, about to be wed to one of those same Maesters.

But then, once she had set her mind upon becoming a Summoner, she had never thought that she would ever be wed. She had thought she would never have the chance.

There wasn't much sound, only the sounds of the bells which resounded throughout the city, combined with the shuffling footsteps of the monks and guards, their tread muffled by the plush carpet. Yuna kept waiting to hear someone clear their throat idly, or whisper to their neighbour, but there was nothing. No one dared disrupt this occasion which Yevon was apparently putting so much effort into. Even Yuna's bouquet had been carefully arranged by a junior priestess who blessed the flowers. Or she at least had with the second bouquet. Yuna had shredded the first one in her anxiety, fingers plucking the delicate blooms apart. The junior priestess had not been pleased.

She contemplated shredding the new bunch of flowers that she clutched, and although she eventually decided that it wouldn't accomplish anything, the idea that making such a mess in this orderly, Yevon-controlled event was a tempting one. If she hadn't been so worried that one of the guards might shoot her for it. She idly wondered whether casting a protective barrier would protect her from the wrath of the guards.

Yuna decided she was getting faintly hysterical, if she was fretting over the consequences for destroying a bunch of flowers.

She was all too aware of the man that appeared from the opposite side of the platform, crossing to her side and gracing her with a smile that contained an overtone of triumph to it. His footsteps were soft, muffled by the plush red carpet that adorned the open-air platform, but they were almost like thunder to her ears.

"Are you ready?" Seymour's words were spoken softly, and he laid an arm on hers.

'No,' she wanted to say, 'No, and I never will be,' before throwing off his arm and fleeing Bevelle as fast as she could run. But she could not get past the guards at the door, and if she was to finish her self-imposed task here today, she had to carry on with this charade of a wedding.

So instead, she gave him a smile, if a rather faint one, and turned to face down the aisle where onlookers and guards alike gazed back at her.

There was a sense of unreality to it all as she started the walk, her eyes fixed firmly ahead of her, and in some distant part of her mind was hoping that she wouldn't trip over her veil. The rest of her chided her for caring about the matter. The truth was, a part of her wished it was different. So easily she could have fallen for Seymour, seeing his strength during the debacle at Mushroom Rock Road.

But the weight of her staff, where she had unscrewed it into two shorter sections and hidden it within the folds of her dress, pressed down on her, a physical reminder of what she was to do. She would wait until the attention of Spira and the guards were focussed on Seymour alone, and then she would send him. All Spira would see the half-Guado for who he was: clinging desperately to his own life, even after he had taken that of his father.

She stopped at the top of the stairs, not glancing at Seymour as he took his position beside her, and gripped her bouquet in a tense, nervous grip that caused the stems to crack beneath her fingers. She forced herself to relax and breathe easily, presenting only a cool and calm exterior to the crowd and guards alike.

But there was something wrong.

Maester Mika was laboriously making his way through the ceremonial words, his voice unsteady. He had to stop every once in a while to catch his breath. Yuna half expected Seymour to look impatient, but instead he looked serene, uncaring almost. She supposed this was just a formality to him, a public way of acknowledging that there was some sort of connection between a Maester of Yevon and a Summoner. She still could not work out why he was so set on their being together.

The wrongness of the situation nagged at her, that all was not as it should be. Knowledge skittered at the edge of her consciousness like pond skaters dancing across water. It was there, but it would not cause ripples to let her know what it was.

"And you, Yuna, daughter of the Lord High Summoner Braska, do you consent to this union?"

She didn't hear Maester Mika at first. So intent was she on the answer to a question she hadn't worked out yet. She didn't realise that she was being addressed until Seymour turned and looked down at her, drawing her attention outside of herself again.

"Lady Yuna, do you consent?"

Yuna hesitated, opening her mouth but uttering no sound. She turned away from Seymours intent gaze, turning her face skywards and feeling the sun warm her skin through the veil. She squinted, staring up towards the clouds. Where was the ship? Where was the Al Bhed machina vessel that came plunging through the cloud layer, delivering her Guardians? Surely they should have been there by now.

Shouldn't they?

"Lady Yuna?"

She ignored Maester Mika's tremulous questioning, eyes desperately searching the vastness of sky. It was clear blue for the most part. But she knew she should be seeing pyrefiles by their hundreds, singing tunelessly as they drifted back down to earth. But the only flash of oily hues that she could see quickly turned out to be the flip of the Guardian Wyrm, Evrae's, wings. The creature was pinwheeling in the sky, apparently enjoying its aerial freedom as it guarded the city.

"Lady Yuna?"

Seymour this time, punctuating his query with a tightening of his grip on her wrist. She muffled a gasp, startled out of her panicked searching and looked into his face. She imagined she could see pyreflies dancing behind his eyes.

"Yuna? Lady Yuna?"

Yuna cracked open one eye, staring up at the face hanging over her bed.

"It was awfully hard to wake you," Shelinda said, fretfully, as she plucked at her sleeve with the fingers of one hand. "I was beginning to think I'd have to resort to something drastic."

"Bad dreams," Yuna murmured thickly, rubbing her eyes to rid them of sleepsand. "It's nothing."

"To do with Sin?"

Yuna hesitated, debating the matter with herself before she gave Shelinda the smallest of smiles. "Yes," she said, looking at the ground.

"Oh!" Shelinda clutched her hands to her chest and shook her head. "How dreadful! And how awful of me to not think that someone who defeated Sin might not still be troubled by it. You're so strong, Lady Yuna."

Yuna bit her tongue to prevent herself from answering the sentiment honestly. "What's the matter, Shelinda?" she asked, running a hand through her hair in an attempt to flatten it into something managable. She used her other hand to push herself into a sitting position, feeling the instant deprivation of cosy warmth as her sheets fell away. "It's far too early, isn't it?"

"It's that Al-Bhed girl, Rikky..."

"Rikku," Yuna correctly gently, rubbing her eyes free of grit and blinking up at the Captain of the Guard.

Shelinda's expression was one of sudden realisation. Yuna had a feeling Rikku hadn't reacted well to the mispronunciation. "Oh. Yes. Um... well, she's demanding we get you out of bed. Quite insistent about it, she was. She says that a Mr. Pops will be here presently to pick you up."

Now Yuna was convinced that Rikku had making fun of the Yevonite. Her cousin had never really forgiven the woman for spouting the 'evil Al-Bhed' line the last time they had set foot in Bevelle. In fact, Yuna was convinced that Rikku had volunteered to spend most of her time guarding the room that Yevon had given Yuna during her stay just to irk Shelinda.

After shooing the woman away, Yuna quickly changed out of the ill-fitting sleeping garments that Yevon had supplied her with. They had felt alien and uncomfortable, and she was glad to be back into her own clothes. She started when she came out from behind the changing screen and found Shelinda still there, fidgeting impatiently by the doorway.

Outside stood Wakka, Lulu, Kimahri and Rikku, the last of which was running a fingertip across the edge of her claw contemplatively, before looking significantly at Shelinda, who swallowed audibly. Yuna fought the urge to roll her eyes and crossed over the floor of the antechamber to her Guardians with a smile of greeting.

"Yuna, you are ready?"

As Yuna indicated she was indeed, Lulu nodded and glanced towards the nervous seeming Captain of the Guard, and asked, "I assume that the city forces are prepared for the arrival of the airship and there will be no untoward incidents?" When the Al-Bhed craft had first arrived in Bevelle, a rather nervous warrior monk had started taking potshots at the craft before a well aimed water spell, courtesy of Lulu, had put a dampener on his fighting spirit.

Shelinda shook her head, the tassels on her headgear bouncing with the motion. "Oh no! Of course not, I've given orders that everyone is to remain calm and that the airship carries the High Summoner and her Guardians. There won't be a repeat of that most regrettable incident."

Yuna inclined her head gracefully, "Thank you for your consideration," she said.

Shelinda bobbed in a little curtsey. "Please follow me, m'lady Yuna. The Bevelle council and guards wish to officially grant you farewell."

Shelinda hurried from the room, and with a smile at her Guardians, Yuna followed the Captain out of the palace and into the brisk morning air.

**

She had come to Bevelle to talk to Yevon, and with all its Maesters dead and gone, there was something of a confusion about who she should speak to. It had been hard enough to get into the city, but some judicious wheedling and a long conversation with Shelinda and Isaaru had meant that Yuna and her much diminished entourage were allowed to enter and seek and audience. Eventually, it had been decided to bring some of the higher ranking priests and priestesses, as well as the leaders of the warrior monks, to one of the larger offices that had been abandoned by its occupant, Maester Mika. Everything was cleared out, a simple oval table with enough chairs for everyone being placed inside. Everyone who would be taking part in the discussions, of course. Yuna's guardians had been forced to remain standing, though no amount of glaring could persuade them to leave their charge alone in the room with the Yevon clergy.

Yuna had come to talk to them for one very simple reason: she wanted them to reopen the city, to allow the people who lived there to return to their homes. She wanted them to send the warrior monks back out to help protect Spira from the fiends that roved the world, and who had become a much greater threat to travellers since the Yevon Church had withdrawn into itself.

"The terror that was Sin is gone," she had argued, standing at the head of the table and resting her hands on the overpolished surface. "The people need the protection that was denied them or the wandering fiends will pick off those the weakened Crusaders can no longer defend."

Unfortunately, it seemed that the clergy weren't focussing on what Yuna wished they would.

One the younger women in the room, a priestess by her robes and adornments, shook her head sharply. "Sin is gone for now," she said, heavily. "It is only a matter of time before Sin returns to us."

"Sin is gone," Yuna repeated, calmly, straightening and folding her hands before her. "And will not be coming back."

"And where," asked the High Priest of Bevelle, a man as large as his ego, "Is the proof of what you say? Four times Sin has been defeated and each time it has returned."

"Sin was sent, as was the creature that created him, and moreover," Yuna took a deep breath, before plunging ahead, "The Fayth will no longer serve to protect the people of Spira. Their work is done, and they sleep."

The High Priest scoffed loudly. "High Summoner Yuna, with all due respect, it is simply ridiculous to think thusly. The aeons are the only thing standing between Spira and its destruction. The Fayth would not abandon us."

"There is an easy way to check," Yuna said. "Enter the Chamber of the Fayth and see the dead statue for yourselves."

There was a sudden upsurge of sound within the room, the majority of the assembled clergy suddenly furious at the suggestion of deliberate blasphemy. But High Priestess with the white hair shifted uncomfortably and found the great windows that looked out on the city suddenly fascinating. Yuna knew, without a doubt, that the priestess had gone against temple laws, and had broken into the Chamber of the Fayth to see for herself what had happened.

Yuna knew, of course, because she had seen the suddenly cold stone forms that lined a wall on Mount Gagazet. It had been the closest place that she had been able to think of at the time where she could see what had happened to the Fayth. Still reeling from the shock of everything that had happened, she had stroked a hand over the cold stone shoulder at what might have once been an old woman, and thought that someday in the future someone might just mistake all of this for a massive and bizarre sculpture carved into the very rock of the mountain.

She wondered distantly if that was a bad thing.

"I believe we are straying from the point."

The voice was female, strident, and carried such a ring of authority that the chatter which had been dominating the room instantly fell silent. All eyes turned to the speaker, and there was not a little intimidation in them.

"The High Summoner is right," it was the white-haired priestess that was speaking, fixing Yuna with an equally pale-eyed gaze. "At least on some level. It does us no good to keep Bevelle closed off from Spira, and from its people. We only distance ourselves from the people." She left unspoken what was doubtless on everyone's mind.

/And if she is right, then distance will become an absence as we are forgotten by them./

There was a certain amount of grumbling that washed around the room, but it seemed that Yuna had won her argument. The priestess, who Yuna would later learn was called Ismene, though, was saying nothing, but staring at Yuna with an oddly sharp look in her eye that caused Yuna no end of discomfort.

"Besides which," Ismene finished, with a wry and brittle twist to her mouth. "She is the High Summoner. Openingly refusing a request from such an august personage would hardly be appropriate."

Yuna couldn't admit to being fond of that sentiment at all. As if she were the only person of worth listening to in Spira. She was rather grateful when the High Priest declared an end to the days discussion, and requested that Yuna stay the night to rest and refresh herself. It gave her an opportunity to be with her friends, her guardians, and out of that room of people who only thought of themselves, and what they could wrest from the people of Spira.

She made her sick to think of it, and she did her best to put it out of her mind.

**

Brother had apparently improved in his piloting skills since the Al-Bhed had dropped Yuna off, as he seemed to be showing off somewhat as he manoeuvred into position close to the Highbride which was the main road into Bevelle. He at first seemed to be approaching far too fast, and there were startled yells from the watching Warrior Monks, a few of whom ducked. Just before he got to the point where he would either crash into or overshoot the bridge entirely, the airship spun on its axis, just about clearing the top of the bridge, and winding up at a deadstop on the other side, facing in the direction it had come from. Moments after it came to a stop and as the descaling whine of the engines shifting into an idling state ran through the air, a doorway low down on the ship opened, and two goggled Al-Bhed pushed a gangway from the ship to the bridge.

Beside Wakka, Rikku giggled at the mingled shock and surprise that was so broadly apparent on the faces of the assembled Yevonites, who had all gathered to see the High Summoner on her way.

"You'd think they'd never seen a flying ship before," Rikku declared loudly, grabbing Yuna's bag and swinging it over her shoulder as she hopped onto the extended gangway and entered the ship, cheerfully ignoring the mutterings and glares that had been caused by her words.

Lulu smothered a laugh, before hitching up her skirt a few inches and striding confidently up into the interior of the ship, followed closely by Wakka. Yuna started up the gangway, but paused midway up, turning back to the assembled crowd, who were crying out their farewalls. She started to wave to them, but the figure of High Priestess Ismene standing at the back of the crowd caught her attention. Ismene had a hard expression on her face, her arms folded.

Feeling somewhat chilled, Yuna climbed the rest of the way into the airship.

**

Yuna was staring out of the large windows of the airship's deck when Rikku found her.

"Kimahri said you were up here," she said, clasping her hands behind her back and dancing on the spot in a sign of nervousness. "You've been awfully quiet."

"Relief, I think," Yuna said, turning away from the vista, "I've always known my purpose was to defeat Sin, and now it's done, though we lost so much." She trailed off, looking distant.

Rikku tried not to think too hard about all those things she had lost, as Yuna had. She kept thinking that if she did, she'd wind up sitting in a corner of the engine room, crying her eyes out. "But its over now. You can go Home," she said.

Something about the way her cousin said that caught Yuna's attention. "Rikku?" she prompted, her expression curiosity.

"Pops he... heh..." Rikku shifted on the spot, looking at a badly welded spot on the bulkhead for a moment in order to avoid her cousin's eyes. "He wants me to help with the reconstruction effort. You know, with finding a new place to call Home and building a place for Al Bhed."

"And you want to go and help him," Yuna finished for her, gently amused at Rikku's awkwardness, and the way her words made the Al Bhed girl whip her head around and shake it frantically.

"No, no, I want to protect you, Yunie. But I..." Rikku trailed off, looking somewhat miserable. "But yeah, I want to help. A lot of people decided to settle elsewhere, but many want to just be with Al Bhed, they still want their Home. You understand, right, Yunie?"

Yuna smiled, reaching out to clasp her cousin's wrist. "Of course I do, Rikku. I don't need protecting from my guardians anymore. I am not a Summoner any longer, and I need no guarding from the people of Besaid. But though I no longer need my guardians, I do need my friends. You will visit, won't you?"

In response, Rikku threw her arms around Yuna in a bone crushing hug, practically squeezing the air out of her lungs. "Of course, silly," she said, though Yuna could hear the quaver of withheld tears in her voice. "As if Father would let me stay away. He's so proud that /his/ niece is the one to have defeated Sin, and without getting killed as well."

Just when Yuna was beginning to wonder how long she could last without breathing, Rikku released her and stepped back.

"It just feels so strange to even think about it," Rikku confessed, "After journeying so long. It's hard to believe that it's even over."

"Spira is free," Yuna said, softly, "We should all have a very long time to get used to the idea."

"Used to the idea that we can sail boats wherever we want, without fear of Sin appearing to destroy us? Used to the idea that we can build and it won't be destroyed and the people killed? Yes, that will take a long time." Rikku smiled brilliantly, "I can't wait to start."

"And I," Yuna said, "Can't wait to sleep in my own bed, for as long as I like."

"No more damp bedrolls and drafty tents," Rikku continued, in a sing-song voice. "No more half-stale trail rations and Tidus' stew..." She hesitated slightly at the name, but Yuna showed no reaction. At first, the Guardians had all been rather hesitant to talk about the blonde man from Zanarkand, but Yuna had been clear that she would rather talk about him, and be reminded of him, than be afraid to speak his name and think of his voice. "No more of Wakka's map-reading skills," she finished.

Yuna chuckled. "Things I won't miss." She shook her head. "But I will miss everyone," she added, soberly.

Rikku gave her another smaller hug, which Yuna was rather relieved she cut short. "You want to come down below? They put some food out in one of the common areas."

"I don't feel like food, I'm afraid. The motion of the ship is turning my stomach somewhat," Yuna said, returning her eyes to the sight of the ocean speeding along far beneath the ship. "Watching the view seems to help."

Rikku frowned worriedly. "You never got sick before. Do you want me to see if there's a medic? They might be able to help."

Yuna shook her head, turning back to her cousin. "No, don't worry about me. I'm probably just tired. I feel like I haven't slept for days, even though I remember awakening this morning. It'll do me good to get back to Besaid, I think."

"Are you sure?" Rikku asked, "Won't take a minute-"

"Rikku," Yuna said firmly, "I'm fine. Go and get something to eat."

Rikky recognised a dismissal when she heard one, and she was far too comfortable in her role as a Guardian to do anything less than obey. "Alright, but if it does get worse, you will talk to someone?"

A pause, and then Yuna nodded. Relenting, Rikku headed belowdecks to a buffet spread of rehydrated rations.

**

The airship landed as close as it could to the pier at Besaid, it being the perfect place to extend the gangplank without mostly submerging the ship. After having spent most of the past few months trying to restore the vessel, the Al-Bhed engineers had threatened grievous harm to anyone who ordered the undoing of all their work by dunking the mechanical ship in saltwater. The moment that Yuna stepped down from the quietly floating ship and onto the wooden planks from which the pier was constructed, she felt a wave of relief at feeling ground which didn't vibrate and sway beneath her feet. It was very quickly followed by a wave of nausea.

Clapping a hand over her mouth, and followed by an anxious looking Wakka, Yuna knelt down at the edge of the pier, stared down at the softly rippling surface of the water, and proceeded to divest herself of what little remained of her breakfast.

"S'alright, Yuna," Wakka muttered, rubbing her back gently. "We're back on land now, ya? You'll be ok."

Yuna muttered something incoherent and miserable, before she clambered to her feet, dabbing at her mouth with a hankerchief that Lulu produced from somewhere, before smiling tremulously as she turned towards the beach, and the villagers who'd spotted the airship approaching. At least she had been spared the indignity of vomiting in front of them.

Then she was distracted as little Bela, the child who had sobbed so on her departure from Besaid, ran up to her and into her arms, and Yuna smiled, feeling like she had finally come home.

**

Cid grimaced as he watched his niece retch over the side of the pier and poked his daughter in the shoulder when he caught her making a disgusted face. "None of that," he told her, "The girl's defeated Sin. She's allowed to get a bit airsick on a flight, especially when someone hasn't fixed the damned motion dampners yet!"

The object of his bellow, Brother, just yelled something unrepeatable back in Al Bhed.

Rikku just sighed, happily. "It's good to be back with family," she said, and wandered back inside.

- End of Part One