Thank you to everyone and anyone who has stuck with reading this story at all. It has been proven very difficult to write, especially the 'in-between' parts. As I've said before, the part where Auron and Rikku actually meet has already been written. It's the getting there that has proven to be the harder, and worthier part. This story is designed to be an epic, one that encompasses both Auron and Rikku's lives. So thanks for sticking with this story. It means a lot to me. And don't worry, there are only a few more chapters before they actually speak to each other!

In other news, I still don't own FFX.

"Even for a little while,

People can sleep in their beds without being afraid

That kind of time is worth anything.

Don't say it isn't worth it."

-Yuna

"The Oblitzerator? Is that really what you're calling this piece of junk?"

Rikku gave the large machina a kick and swore she could hear it groan in reply. She glowered at it with the sneaking suspicion that if she looked at the machina long enough, it would simply fall apart under her menacing stare. Putting her hands on her hips, she glared up at Brother through her goggles.

"There is absolutely NO WAY that this is going to work! How did Father ever agree to let you use this shitty piece of trash! Do you even have a plan?"

"Of course I have a plan!" Brother began screaming back at her, waving his arms wildly around as he spoke.

Rikku wasn't sure if he was actually that angry at her, or if he was just indulging in his love of screaming loudly. She reached up and pushed her mechanic goggles up into her hair so she could look Brother directly in the eye.

"So what is it?"

"It's perfect! I've already talked to the blitzball team, and they've agreed to comply with my plan completely," he began. Rikku stared incredulously as he continued. She was honestly surprised that he had bothered to come up with a plan at all, instead of blundering in like he usually did.

"Then, after they get the Aurochs to throw the match…"

"Wait! What?" Rikku came in on the tail end of her brother's sentence and interrupted him. "Are you talking about the Besaid Aurochs? They're terrible! How is that in any way going to be a believable kidnapping reason?"

"Us players take our blitzball very seriously," he replied.

"You don't even play blitzball!"

Rikku realized that she was the one screaming now, but was too annoyed to care. She found herself continually frustrated and disappointed with her brother's plans.

"You'll see, Rikku! It'll work perfectly!"

With a flourish, Brother stomped into the cockpit of the large machina and turned it on. Rikku quickly covered her ears and winced at the squealing sound that the gears began to emit.

"You might need some grease on that thing," she yelled towards the hissing machine, knowing that her brother was well beyond hearing range. Pulling her goggles back on, she grunted in frustration and walked out of the garage into bright sunlight.

Rikku collapsed on the ground, letting the warm sun wash over her body in comforting waves. She was exhausted, tired from squabbling with her family members and working on her own piece of machina. Her work had now become a crucial part in her father's back-up plan to Operation Mi'hen.

Her bangs fluttered softly in the breeze, obscuring her vision. Rikku quickly brushed them aside, leaving a trail of grease across her goggle lenses. She began to laugh softly to herself and her fingers, that she had not realized she had been clenching tightly, slowly unfurled, hovering over the sandy soil.

"In two days, I leave for the Moonflow," she whispered softly into the wind. In a few hours, her brother would leave for Luca, arriving with the Al Bhed Psyches to implement the first test.

Rikku laughed aloud again as she remembered Cid calling her brother an idiot, and then whispering in a low voice that he was counting on her.

"But, father, what about Operation Mi'hen? Don't you think it's going to work?"

Cid had visibly cringed and looked down at his hands, squeezing them into shaking fists.

"I'm not sure if anything can stop Sin, Rikku," he finally had said. Shocked, Rikku had looked up into his eyes. They were clear and honest.

"That's why we have to stop the summoners from sacrificing themselves," she now said in a low voice, rolling her head over so the sand cushioned her cheek.

"If Sin's just going to keep coming back…," her voiced cracked as she trailed off.

"If Sin's just going to keep coming back, then it isn't fair! I don't understand how people can even agree to this every day. It isn't worth it."

Rikku squinted, futilely trying to keep tears from slipping out of the corners of her eyes. Angrily she grabbed a fistful of sand and ground it between her gloved fingers.

"Hey, Rikku!" She heard her brother's voice yelling at her from the direction of the garage.

Rikku closed her eyes and let the sand slip from her fingers before slowly standing up. She sighed when she noticed the thick cloud of black smoke pouring out of the machina shop.

"Rikku!" Brother's voice now sounded panicky. She could barely hear him over the shrieking noises.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming! I can't believe you always need me to save your sorry ass," she grumbled to herself.