Summary; It's been 2 years since the Bahamut. Larsa and Penelo are engaged, Basch is captain of the army of Rabanastre, Ashe has been repairing Rabanastre after the it has once again been freed and Balthier and Fran have returned to skypirating, searching for treasures. But what of Vaan? And what about the talks of a strange creature in the Nabreus Deadlands that has defeated every hunter that challenges it? When Balthier and Fran hear about it they immediately take the hunt, but why does the creature act so strangely, and who's the stranger that's following them?

Just something I thought of while playing the game, hope you like it.

Disclaimer; I do not own Final Fantasy 12, except as a copy of the game on my PS2.


The Hunt Begins

"Hey, Balthier…" Batlhier turned at the sound of his name. Vaan stood nervously next to the shrine of Northwest wind. Fran and Basch were talking to a merchant about the reward for the mark they'd just defeated, a Humbaba that had mutated due to mist and had started to attack the small rest stop that caravans and merchant used when travelling the Mosphoran Highwaste..

"Vaan?" Balthier looked at the young thief. It had been two weeks since they'd defeated Vayne on the Bahamut and everyone had agreed that they should go on one more hunt before they went their separate ways, in truth, Balthier had started to grow fond of the young thief, and it seemed Vaan had taken a shine to Balthier, treating him almost like a brother.

Vaan sat on the edge of the shrine, dipping a hand in the water and watching the ripples as he moved it back and forth. Balthier sensed the young thief's distress and moved closer until he was standing over him.

"Vaan?" he repeated. The sun had already set, and the only thing that illuminated the rest stop were a few fires and the light of the moon.

"Balthier I…" Vaan seemed stuck for words as he desperately searched for what to say, the gold band around his throat and the several pieces of gold coloured metal glinted from the meagre light that actually reached them, "…I, there's something I've been meaning to tell you for a while," Vaan gave a nervous chuckle as he turned to look back at Balthier.

"Well?" Bathlier said, hoping to encourage the thief to say what was on his mind.

"Batlhier I, I lo-lov…" his words were so quiet Balthier could barely hear them, "I love you," Balthier froze. Not knowing what to do Vaan crashed his lips against Balthier's.

The next thing he knew was a burning pain where Balthier's hand had hit his cheeks. Tears flew from his eyes as Vaan's shocked mind tried to process what had happened. Balthier had hit him. He'd rejected him. Vaan looked up into the smouldering eyes of the sky pirate, a man he'd grown to admire and love.

"I never want to see you again!" Balthier hissed.

Vaan stood up and ran, disappearing into the night, tears falling down his face as he silently made a vow to never go back to Rabanastre, to never have contact with another living person again, in the hopes of earning Balthier's forgiveness.

Balthier watched as the thief ran, his eyes glaring into the boy's back, not caring if he was running into danger, knowing that Vaan would be back sooner or later. Ashe and Penelo looked up from the wares a merchant had been showing them as Balthier stormed towards the campsite they'd set up.

"It's nothing," Balthier hissed in response to their questioning glance, they didn't question it, assuming Balthier had argued with Vaan or Basch or something.

No one had even questioned Vaan's absence the next day, assuming he had found something he thought would be more interesting and that they'd see him when they reached Rabanastre. Not knowing what would happen, they set off on Chocobo towards Nalbina town to take the Strahl to Rabanastre.

Balthier woke up in a sweat. That dream again. The Strahl's engines hummed quietly as he sat up in his bed. Fran was driving them back to Rabanastre now that they'd finished their business in Archades. Balthier stood up and tugged on his shirt, quickly doing up the buttons as he fought down the guilt that welled up after the dream. Vaan hadn't shown up after they'd left Mosphoran Highwaste. He'd been missing for two years now and no one had seen hide or hair of him. Balthier knew it was his fault, not that he'd admit it out loud. He shouldn't have been so harsh to the thief when he'd said he'd loved him, but then, he tried to reason, when a guy proclaims his love for you what does he expect to happen.

He walked into the cockpit of the Strahl and watched as Fran landed the airship in the aerodrome with ease.

"The engines will still need repairs, the Jellies from the Henne mines did more damage then we thought," Fran stated in her quiet yet firm voice.

"We'll sort that out and then head over to the Sandsea to meet this client of ours," Balthier pulled on the cuffs of his shirt and headed to the stairs, Fran following.

Nonno stood with his team by the hanger doors, ready to start working on the Strahl as soon as Balthier and Fran had left.

Balthier and Fran stood outside of the aerodrome, just looking at the Westgate as people passed through it.

"Doesn't seem to have changed much," Balthier commeneted.

"Yes," Fran agreed as the two made their way towards the gate.

They passed the fountain in the Southern Plaza and entered the East end. Balthier was quickly starting to wish they'd taken the Moogling instead of walking, suddenly conscious of the stares that a few people sent their way. Despite the large number of Viera in the city Balthier and Fran attracted a lot of stares, partly because they were two of the heroes who'd restored Rabanastre and partly because they were always together.

The East end was bustling with activity. Since Lady Ashed had taken the throne a lot more commerce was seen throughout the city now that there were no Imperial guards patrolling the streets. Bangaas, Seeqs, Humes, even Vieras were talking to each other and shouting about their wares and such. The Muthru Bazaar had even had to expand due to the number of stalls, the bridge that led from the East end having part of it covered by the stands.

Balthier and Fran spotted the Sandsea among the crowd. Despite the increase in the number of travellers, the Sandsea always had a table free for whoever decided to visit.

The pair went up the stairs to their usual table on the balcony. They were currently waiting for a client who'd contacted them about a business proposition. To say the least Balthier was intrigued, from the sound of it, it would be beneficial to them if they helped out, and wondering what exactly the details of this proposition involved, all they knew was that it was some sort of hunt.

Balthier ordered a two drinks from a serving girl as they waited, which were quickly brought to the despite the heaving number of patrons that filled the bar, a large number of which were crowded around the notice board.

"Hey did you hear?" A young boy asked excitedly to his friend.


"You know that Monster that the army had been sent to get rid of?"

"Yeah, wait, you mean-?"

"Yep, they've issued a bill for it, rumour is the army wasn't even able to put a scratch in its hide, now people are going around organising hunting parties to take it down,"

"But I thought Lady Ashe was organising some sort of hunting party?" another boy interrupted.

"She is," a young girl said proudly, obviously happy to know something someone else didn't.

"Then why…?" the first boy started.

"Because Lady Ashe, Lord Larsa, the Marquis have all sent troops to defeat, their lucky they even survived. I was in Bhujerba when they got back and saw the casualties, I even heard what they reported back, several soldiers had been killed before they could even get near it, even the Viera in Golmore Jungle, the Garif and Al-cid from Rozarria are leant warriors to fight it,"

"But if several armies couldn't hurt how can a few hunters harm it?" the first boy's friend asked.

"Because they have experience. Clan Centario is helping recruit the best fighters to join the hunt in Rabanstre and Nalbina, I heard Montblanc is picking them himself," now that's interesting, Blathier thought as he heard them.

"Do you think this may be what our client wants to ask us?" Fran asked. They didn't yet know the identity of the mysterious client, they'd only heard about him through Nonno.

"Probably, you have to admit, it does sound interesting and will probably yield big rewards for those involved," Balthier stretched as he laid back.

"Hmm," Fran looked towards the entrance of the Sandsea.

Balthier went back to listening to the talk around the notice board

"When this monster appear anyway?" an old lady asked.

"About a year or so ago, though some people say they saw a similar creature to that before," a man said.

"Do you think it's mutated because of the Mist?"

"I don't know but it's likely, I've even heard it's been seen around Mt. Bur-Omisace and the Mosphoran Highwaste,"

"Don't forget the Sochen Cave Palace and Salikawood," a young woman interrupted.

"I heard it's been seen in the Zertinan Caverns," an old man stepped forward.

"Isn't that were Lady Ashe found an Esper?" the old woman asked.

Balthier stopped listening after that. Hearing that conversation brought back memories; Vaan had been able to summon most of the Espers they'd defeated, he'd been remarkably skilled at Magicks, he hoped he was okay and that he hadn't decided to join the fight against this creature, though when he thought about Vaan he knew he'd be involved with it somehow. Balthier suppressed the tears forming behind his eyes at the thought that something terrible had happened to Vaan because of him. It's true what they say, he thought, Absence does make the heart grow fonder, he just wasn't in love with the thief the way he had been with him.

"He's here," Fran said as the door to the Sandsea opened, revealing a smartly dressed Moogle, Montblanc.

Few people noticed as the Moogle made his way to the balcony. Balthier watched as the Moogle hopped onto the table Fran and Balthier were sitting at.

"Ah, you're here already Kupo," Montblanc gave a small relieved smile, "I apologise for being late, Kupo,"

"What did you want to talk to us about?" Balthier asked.

"The proposition is about a hunt for this," Montblanc gave them a bill showing the picture of some strange creature, "We don't know what this creature is Kupo, but it is extremely strong, some believe it to be an Esper of some kind, which is quite likely due to the high concentration of mist kupo, though others believe it to be some sort of dragon or possibly some mist creature,"

"And you want us to hunt this thing?" Fran asked.

"Yes, many have returned defeated and near death, ku-po, so it's understandable-" he was interrupted when Balthier slammed the bill onto the table.

"We'll do it!" Montblanc seemed surprised by the Pirate's outburst.

"Excellent Kupo-po, the other hunters from Nalbina and Rabanastre will meet at the Southern plaza in two days, come well prepared, Kupo," as the Moogle departed Fran looked a the bill.

She noticed something familiar about the monster, a jacket was stuck on a ring around the beast's ankle, Vaan's jacket. Fran looked up at Balthier, a question hovering, unasked in her eyes as she looked at her friend, and wondered just what had happened to make him like this about Vaan. She glanced at the bill again only to see the jacket had gone, had it been a trick of the light?

Fran stood up and followed Balthier out of the Sandsea, her curious mind screaming for release, though she prevented herself from showing it, she knew her questions would be answered in time.


My first Final Fantasy FanFic, yay! Anyway hope you enjoyed the first chapter, sorry if the characters seemed a bit AU, but hey, people can change a lot in a few years. Anyway, please review ; )