A/N: This was originally published in '04… And today, February 17, 2011, I completely redid this chapter. I made Nalah (the OC featured in this fic) much more legit. Apparently when I wrote it in 7th grade I cared about preserving her appearance too much. I'd originally designed her to fit into a fanfiction of Hawksong (a book about shapeshifters) and attempting to preserve her appearance or traits that were normal there made her a sue in FFX-2… and who cares that much what she looks like? XD I took out a lot of sue stuff, made her not a "treasure head," etc. If you really want to see her you can find images at http:/www..com …so yeah. I tweaked some conceptual stuff, too… But not much. I tried not to change more then I had to… I preserved a lot of my shitty dialogue. XD I don't know… I don't want to commit to editing the whole thing, and I'm waaay to lazy to revamp the fic as a whole. (But it turns out I'd only put out half the chapters I'd written anyway.)
But yeah, I did leave in a lot of the shit. She's still going to have the very sue trait of a good singing voice… I put it in originally as an excuse to use Fiona Apple lyrics. And I like those, I want to leave them. Even if it makes her a sue it had a practical purpose… Honestly, it's not essential to the story and I could take it out, but the inclusion mean a lot to me when I originally wrote it.
Another thing, for how comfortable and trusting Nalah is of the Gullwings, I probably should have written in some kind of time break where she works with the Gullwings for a while and learns to trust them/feel accepted. :S Because on day one she's immediately talking like she's one of them, speaking for them when she really doesn't know how they work yet… and for such a paranoid person she wouldn't learn to trust them that fast even if she wanted to… now you know. XD
Trust and Lies Chapter 1 (REVISED)
Paine slowly walked through the small market that had developed in Luca in the six months since Vegnagun was defeated. Craftsman from all over Spira would come here to sell things they had made. Paine eyed all the craftsmen in the market but for some reason her eyes set on a young girl who wasn't getting much business. The girl had frizzy hair, and she had it tied up so that there were two balls of her blond hair constricted tightly on the top her head, she was probably Al-Bhed. Paine began walking toward the girl. "Hello." Paine said simply.
"Hi," Dull-green Al-Behd eyes gave her a blatant, nearly rude stare. "hey... Aren't you Paine, from the Gullwings?" Paine forgot the Gullwings were a little bit famous. No one knew about Vegnagun, they were mostly famous because of Yuna, though YRP mostly stuck together, people rarely recognized Paine.
"That's me." Paine muttered, expecting for her to ask about Yuna.
"Wow, pleasure to meet you! I'm Nalah." Nalah smiled, a genuine happy smile. Paine, wasn't used to people being excited to see her. I could get used to this, she mused silently.
"Nice to meet you Nalah." Paine eyed her, clearly Al-Behd, but her naturally tan Al-Behd complexion looked slightly gray. Ever since the Calm began and persecution of the Al-Behd had ended, Al-Behd people had begun to branch out into Spira beyond their homeland of the desert, but still, this one was dressed for the desert but seemed… out of place. "What brings you to Luca?"
Nalah hesitated for a second, then sighed guiltily "Elder Khimari said I should be more 'involved with the world' so he sent me down here to try and make use of myself."
"You're from Gagazett?" Paine was dumbfounded, for the Gullwings, traveling across the entire contient was easy, but for anyone who didn't have an airship it was quite a trip. And stranger yet, and Al-Behd, people of the desert, living on Mt. Gagazet… it was unheard of.
Nalah felt caught, it's not as if her bizarre lifestyle choices were forbidden, but they were cirtianly unconventional, and she was always fearful that she would be looked down on for it. Looked at as a coward, for having abandoned the Al-Behd during a time of persecution. "My mom brought my younger sister and I to Gagazet when we were little, back when sin was still running rampant and the Al-Behd were looked down on. She hoped we'd find a better life in isolation." Nalah's mother had unfortunately passed on a good deal of paranoia to her daughter, a fear that everyone was out of her personally, as they had been for the Al-Behd years ago. For some reason though, Nalah felt that she could trust Paine, she'd heard the stories. Paine had had a hard life and Nalah, out of empathy, felt comfortable admitting her story to her.
Paine could see the paranoid in Nalah's face as her eyes darted around looking at the others in the market, she was overly wary. But Paine felt sympathetic. Before the Crimson Squad, and even more so after Nooj's betrayal, she'd known similar feelings. Paine eye'd her tempted to give her advice—a rare feeling for Paine—but she worried she'd be misinterpreted. She diverted her attention to the wares that Nalah was selling.
It was mostly alchemic goods, a common Al-Behd job class.
"You know, we could use someone of your skills around the Gullwings." Paine thought more, Khimari is a close friend to the Gullwings, if he cares enough to send her out here to learn, why not pick her up to give some guidance. Paine felt slightly embarrassed for the nearly motherly thoughts, that was Yuna's job, and this girl, Nalah, must have been at least Paine's own age.
"Really?" Nalah smiled brightly, she looked dumbfounded but oddly trusting. "That would be great."
"Glad to hear it. Pack up. Let's go! I have to meet with Yuna and Rikku at Luca dock in ten minutes." Nalah swept her concoctions into a bag, and stood.
When Nalah and Paine reached the docks, Rikku and Yuna looked confused and a little taken a back, by a nineteen-year-old girl with cat ears.
"Who are you?" Rikku said instantly, Nalah frowned a little.
"This is Nalah she's an decent alchemist. If everyone approves, she's joining us." Paine said.
Rikku beamed, "Another Al-Behd on the crew!" Paine was now the only one without Al-Behd blood, uncommon for a traveling sphere hunting group, but they were still highly respected, they gave those still weary of the Al-Behd and their Machina a greater respect for the Al-Behd. Especially half-breed Yuna, the hero of Spira, the High Summoner.
Rikku jumped up and threw an arm around Nalah's shoulder. "We're going to be great friends! This will be so much fun!" Rikku looked like she was going to knock Nalah over.
"Oh lucky me..." Nalah didn't want to be sarcastic, but she threw up her guard as soon as she was around Rikku, she couldn't help herself, she was taken aback by the friendliness. She knew Rikku would be upset but she just had to say something to get the hyper kid off her...
"Hey you big meanie!" Paine laughed a little; she already liked Nalah, she saw so much her former self in her.
"Oh, please Rikku, I would have shoved you onto the ground, consider yourself lucky!"
Rikku frowned. "You two are evil!" She pouted, and now Yuna couldn't help smile too.
Yuna pulled out her radio. "Buddy we need a pick up, we have a new Gullwing!" Meanwhile Nalah was trying to refrain from making more rude comments at Rikku. As the airship pulled down from the sky, Nalah turned, she had never been on an airship before.
-On the ship-
"I did not say Paine could bring someone into the Gullwings! I am the leader! I say no new members!" Nalah frowned, she expected she was being frowned upon because of her heritage, but Brother, of course was also an Al-Bhed. It must be that I grew up with the Ronso. Paine glanced over, she could tell Nalah thought Brother had something against her personally, when really it was probably his neurotic desire to keep "leader" authority. She wished he'd can it right now, though, all the Gullwing crew understood that Brother's leadership was a joke, except of course Brother… and apparently now Nalah.
"What's the problem Brother? Can't handle that I grew up with the Ronso? Worried that I have their primitive animalistic instincts?" She glanced around, noticing snickering among the Gullwings. She decided to take a moment to practice something she'd always been advised to do: joke. She smiled herself, and began a languid saunter around brother, "Worried I could turn…" she jumped at him as soon as she got around his back, raising her arms over her head, and yelling, "at any moment!" Brother yelped, the Gullwings bust out laughing. "You know if you reject me I could get revenge on you," Nalah grinned.
"Fine! She can stay!" Brother stammered loudly.
"I knew you'd come around!" Nalah said jokingly.
"She's good at ordering Brother around, she has to stay!" Buddy said patting Brother on the back.
"Crid ib! (shut up in Al-Bhed)" Brother stormed out.
"Nice job Nalah!" Rikku exclaimed. Paine smiled, Nalah watching Nalah start to relax.
"Wow! Nalah don't get too comfy! Baralai is sending us a major distress call! That hole Vegnagun left has a swarm of fiends coming out! Bad fiends!" Nalah was a little scared she'd trained on Gagazet with the Ronso, she'd even fought fiends before, but nothing like YRP.
"No description? How are we going to suit up if we don't know what we're up against?" Nalah frowned.
"Oh! I almost forgot! I picked up a new sphere in the market! Shinra, can you take a look at it?" Yuna handed an army-green sphere to Shinra.
Shinra took the sphere and looked it over. "It's a dress sphere! Archer, I think. Oh and Nalah, you need a garment grid. Here take this one." Shinra handed Nalah a garment grid with six empty spaces on it. Nalah sorted through all the dress spheres before deciding on alchemist, archer, warrior, dark night, samurai, and thief. Nalah then tried to change to archer dress sphere, but aside from a crossbow appearing in her hand she didn't change at all.
"Well, we better get going, before the fiends escape the temple." Yuna looked concerned, "what could have sent them?"
"Beats me!" Rikku had a lot of energy today.
Unlike all the other Gullwings, Nalah hadn't ever met Baralai, but she knew if he was leader of New Yevon, she wouldn't be fond of him. Nalah hated all Spira's political groups, except the Al-Bheds, but Gippal wasn't serious enough, making him unfit to be a leader in her opinion. However, she looked at New Yevon with the most distrust. While they were supposed to be bringing a new order to Yevon, bringing transparency to the spiritual leaders of Spira, she still couldn't let go of the fact that Yu Yevon had caused a thousand years of persecution of the Al-Behd when they'd really been using them and their Machina all along.
Nalah took stock of her surroundings she had only been to Bevelle once, when she was very little. YRP and Nalah went inside the temple, where they found a frantic Baralai pacing and cursing. When he finally looked up, he was completely relived to see them.
"So what's the status of the situation?" Yuna asked.
"Fiends are everywhere! They're coming from the Farplane, and I don't think they're your ordinary everyday fiends."
"Think? You haven't been down there yet?" Baralai seemed surprised that Rikku would ask a question like that.
"They won't let me." Baralai was a bit embarrassed that he wasn't allowed to fight the fiends.
"Some leader..." Nalah grumbled.
"And you are?" Baralai was quite annoyed with the Gullwings sarcastic new addition.
"This is Nalah, she's the newest member of the Gullwings." Paine explained.
"Oh, nice to meet you" he said putting out his hand to shake. Nalah looked a little confused. She caught Baralai's gaze holding it, finally shook his hand. Nalah's expression hardened, visibly suspicious and threatening, he almost recoiled.
"Whatever." Nalah backed off a bit she could see that she was making Baralai uncomfortable. "Let's get going, before the fiends escape."
"This place gives me the creeps!" Rikku exclaimed. Nalah hadn't ever been down here. She walked ahead of the group.
"So what exactly is this place?" Nalah asked.
"New Yevon used it as a hiding place for Vegnagun." Yuna explained.
"And the Labyrinth used to be a prison. It's full of unsents." Rikku shivered as she said the words, but Nalah wasn't scared of some unsents.
"Okay fiends, bring it on!" Nalah yelled into the darkness. Nothing happened. "No takers?" The group began walking after a few steps fiends started coming from every direction. They weren't anything special, but there were tons of them.
-1 hour later-
"I can't keep this up much longer!" Rikku was almost lying on the ground. Every one was in critical condition.
"Let's go then!" Paine yelled. The group made a break for the door, panting as they ran. As you could imagine Baralai was right outside the door when they returned.
"How were the fiends? What happened?" he asked looking each one over to make sure none of them were injured that badly.
"There were... There were... Tons!" Rikku panted.
"They were coming from everywhere" Yuna clasped her arm around her side where she had been hurt.
"We're not done yet, we'll have to come back to finish the job." Nalah added. She looked into Baralai's eyes searching to see if she could find some sign that he was lying about the entire thing.
"We beat the fiends back enough so that we won't have to go down there for a while, give us some time to train." Paine knew that they wouldn't be able to finish off the fiends without training.
"What do you think is causing this?" Nalah didn't have proof Baralai was lying but she got a strange feeling from the whole temple.
"I told you before, I haven't been down there. There's a council that almost... Controls me. Apparently they say it's too dangerous and they need me up here to make decisions. All I know is they said they were coming from the hole where Vegnagun was that leads to the Faplane." Baralai explained for what seemed like the hundredth time. As Baralai was speaking one of the members of the council he'd had referred to came to join the conversation.
"Good job clearing out the fiends girls! Of course we will need you to go back down there soon."
"We know." Yuna sighed, "There are so many, if they weren't small fiends..."
"Well you know, it's so dangerous here... Do you think it would be okay if Baralai joined you on your airship?"
"Well, I suppose..." Yuna began but Baralai quickly cut her off.
"I though you needed me here, how could the upper floors of the temple become dangerous? Wouldn't it be best for me to be here?" The man didn't even acknowledge the fact that Baralai had spoken.
"Good, good. Come back any time you like!"
"I never said I agreed!" Baralai's face was beginning to redden with anger.
"I never said you had to." The man walked off and the discussion was over. Baralai shook his head, his usually soft brown eyes had a spark of ice to them, but he quickly regained his composure.
"I'm sorry. I hope none of this is any trouble to you." Baralai sighed, "Aldimar and the rest of the council aren't supposed to have that much power, but they do. I'm more of an icon then a power... Sorry" Rikku appeared to be getting bored with the conversation, where as everyone else was a little confused.
"Well, just grab your stuff and get to the ship! We'll be there in two shakes of a second!" Rikku prompted. Baralai just nodded and disappeared into the fog of the temple.
"We're taking on a Yevon leader...? How can we be expected to trust them?" Nalah muttered.
"Who Baralai?" Paine started laughing, "I was best friends with him back a few years ago."
"Sorry I just have a bad feeling. I mean how could all those fiends come from the fareplane? This just smells of being deliberate. What if he's involved with this?"
"I don't believe he's capable of getting involved in some wacko plot like that, I trust that the fiends are coming from the farplane and no one planted them there. Chill. You don't have to be so paranoid now." Paine assured Nalah.
"I'm sorry. I trust your judgment but, I just… instincts, and all…"
"Whatever, relax, come on, let's get back to the ship." Paine started back toward the Celsius closely followed by Rikku and Yuna, but Nalah stayed behind. She looked around the temple and stared in the direction Baralai had gone for a moment before shaking her head and following the others back to the ship.
-On the ship (about 1:00am)-
"I'm going to turn in now." Nalah said yawning, she was tired after all that fiend fighting.
"G'night" Paine called after Nalah. She raised one hand in acknowledgement.
"Sleep well! We have a LOOONG day of training tomorrow!" Rikku yelled. Nalah sighed and turned around.
"Oh joy, I'm going to bed!" With that the discussion was over.
"What's up with her?" Baralai asked not realizing he was being just the same toward Nalah as she was toward him.
"She's an Al-Behd from Gagzet!" Rikku explained.
"That's not what I meant."
"She doesn't trust Yevon that's all." Paine gave a weak smile hoping he'd understand her words as a justified defense.
"Yeah, but I just don't trust her..." Baralai trialed off.
"Ha! That's funny! She says the same thing about you!" Paine shot Rikku an icy glare for telling Baralai.
"I really don't know where the fiends are coming from! I only know what I have been told! Why won't she believe me?"
"Try because you're the leader of New Yevon, the group that lied to all Spira."
"Don't remind me..." Baralai sighed and walked out. I should talk to her... I really don't know where the fiends are coming from. Will she ever believe me? Baralai paused at her door; he heard music coming from behind it. He peeked in.
"Don't cha pled me your case don't bother to explain
Don't even show me your face 'cause it's a crying shame!
Just go back to the rock from under which you came.
Take the sorrow you gave and all the stakes you claimed.
And don't forget the blame!" (Sleep to Dream: Fiona Apple)
There was a stereo going and he could hear Nalah singing along casually. The irony of the lyrics and timing didn't escape him, though it couldn't have possibly been deliberate.
"Do you make it a habit of spying on other people?" Baralai jumped at the sound of the voice.
"Paine? Oh, uhhh... hi..."
"G'night." Paine said giving him a sarcastic wave.
"G'night" Baralai sighed and left.
-Chapter 1 Complete-