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Transitions 11

Our immortality lies in the memories of those who knew us.

"So the Deathseeker finally found what he was looking for, huh? Can't say I'm surprised; he did some crazy things and it was bound to catch up with him sooner or later. You, Shelinda, you knew some of his friends, didn't you? Round up a crew and go out and talk to some of them, find out what they have to say about this. It'll make a good feature spot. You know we're gonna be in for an orgy of public breast-beating about a man who wanted to die and finally did. Just because he was part of the crew that did in Vegnagun. Well, go figure. There's no accounting for the taste of the public. Since it's a slow news time, we might as well get the jump on the competition. Get a sphere-recorder (you know how to run one?) and get some reactions from the ones who knew him. Try for some inside opinions - dirt if you can find any. Don't forget to take a handful of releases for them to sign. I don't want any legal troubles when we air this."


Yuna made the prayer gesture which had been so much a part of her early life and which seemed oddly appropriate at this moment. With the movement and in spite of her skimpy garments, she became again the modest Summoner who had shepherded so many souls to their rest.

"I hope he is at peace now. He has walked such a hard road with such courage and dignity. Without him, there would be no Calm and no serenity here for any of us." She knew she was exaggerating but all the years of comforting the bereaved had instilled into her such a habit of speaking well of the dead that she hardly noticed it any longer. "He was a great man and one to whom we will always owe a tremendous debt of gratitude." She lowered her eyes and made the formal bow once more before walking away with a measured tread. She was not fond of vultures.


"Man! He could fight!" Gippal's single eye sparkled and swirled with excitement at the memories of battles past. "I've seen him run out of ammunition and take after Sinspawn with his bare ha... er, you know what I mean. Anyhow, he could fight better than anybody I've ever seen. Almost as good as I am." His grin faded into seriousness as he remembered why he was being asked the question which had brought back those days. "It took a special kind of balls to go back to the battlefield after the sort of damage he took. He had to learn to use a completely different weapon, too. You know he was a swordsman to start with and then, after, he had to use a gun. He didn't much like the gun, thought it was beneath him in a way. But he learned and got damned good at it. Yeah, he could fight all right."


Dona always gave the impression she was looking down on people. Whether it was her height, the way she carried herself or some mysterious power to cloud minds, she constantly seemed to be gazing down the length of her nose and not liking what she saw. "You want to know what I recall about him? I can tell you I wish it was more. The Meyvn was all man and by the time I met him, he was all Paine's. Yeah, I had a few minutes with him in the wilderness, you know that wild growth near the Kilika Temple, one time. He sure knew how to make a girl feel like a girl and that fake hand was no handicap." A sly, remembering, smile curved her lips and she gave a quick delicious shiver as though she could feel the touch even now. "You won't tell Barthello I said anything? I'm not so much a fool as to tell him all my secrets. Nothing really happened; just a little fooling around." She sighed ruefully. "So now he's gone and it'll never happen. Damn! I never have any luck!"


"Yeah, I'm Rin and I run this place. I knew him, knew him when he still had all his parts. Oh, he fancied himself in those days, cut a wide figure, he certainly did. All the women were after him and he just flicked them off like they were gnats. Not to say he didn't like his pleasure but he preferred to have it without strings. Didn't want to be tied down, I always thought. He liked being free and able to come and go when he wanted to. Huh? You have to ask? Everybody knows he was a brave one. I used to wonder if he was really that brave or if he was too stupid to see there's real danger out there. Not that he ever acted dumb in any other way but he would just walk into spots smart men would avoid, like the time he took on a whole crew of bandits who were working this stretch of road. He went up against them by himself and took them out. I don't know how he did it, but he did. So now he's finally met something he couldn't beat. Not surprised. He slowed down a few steps when he lost the arm and leg. Those machina ones were good, just not good enough. I can't say I'm sorry; he was ripe to die and ready for it the last time I saw him. I hope it was quick. He'd hurt enough."


Rikku pulled one of the thin braids which swirled around her between her teeth and chewed thoughtfully. "I really didn't know him all that well. I just met him after Paine joined the Gullwings and we found that sphere we took him. But any man who could have that effect on Paine has to have been awesome. I mean, she would get all silent when he was mentioned and she'd get that funny look on her face. You know what I mean? I'm sorry he's gone but mostly because of Paine. How's she doing? Do you know?"


Baralai straightened his robes, running his palms down the embroidered panels which traced their way from the ornate collar to the floor. Always a cautious man, he took the opportunity to collect his thoughts and prepare his words.

"He was a man of many talents. I knew him as a Warrior, a scholar and a leader in the drive to unify our world. As a Warrior, his courage was unquestioned. Countless times during battles, he placed his own body between mine and danger, risking himself to save me. I would have been dead a dozen times over if not for him."

He paused to moisten his lips and adjust his heavy robes again. "Then, not many people know about his work as a historian. His research filled in gaps in our planet's story and uncovered the threat of Vegnagun in time for us to neutralize it before it could destroy our world. More recently he was devoting his time, energy and talents to the cause of unifying Spi..." He stumbled to a halt. "I beg your pardon; I didn't mean to run on like that but he was so vital, so brilliant ..." Baralai hid his face with his hands. "You must forgive me. He was my friend and I loved him."


Paine stood half-turned toward the sphere recorder and the interviewer who held it. Her face was mostly in shadow. Arms folded across her breasts, her feet planted a little apart, she was the Warrior woman again, the person she had been at the start of her adventures. There was no emotion discernible on her features and her usually blazing eyes were banked fires, embers instead of flames.

"Do you want to make a statement? Share some of your memories with our viewers? You knew him well, didn't you?" Shelinda aimed her device more directly at the slender woman in the black leathers.

Paine scowled into the lens of the recorder and made a dismissive gesture with both hands, palms outward. "We were comrades during the Crimson Squad trials. I admired his courage." She looked away but held her voice steady. "I deplored his contempt for life. He was set on a collision course with death. That's all." She clamped her lips tight, folded her arms again and turned her back on the press crew. She had learned stoicism from a master of the art and would do her grieving in private.


The news director look up from running the spheres through the reader on his desk. "You got some pretty good material. Pity you couldn't get more out of that Paine woman. Oh well, we'll go with what we have. We'll edit it down to about a five minute feature, add a coupla lines to open it and that way we can run it more than once. Depends on how long this story's legs are and if anybody else important dies soon. There's no planning in this business."

Monday, August 18, 2008