Disclaimer: I don't own FFXII
Darkness shrouded her, encompassing her body, her mind, her sense of awareness. She had no idea where she was, or how she got there. Confusion and helplessness seeped into a painful aura around her, so powerful that the darkness wasn't even entirely dark anymore. Maybe a bit more…gray. Who cares? Penelo thought dazedly. In her state of nothingness, nothing mattered. Penelo couldn't help but feel a very dull pang in the pit of her stomach, though. What…? Where am I? Breaking into her personal black abyss came a querulous, disembodied voice. She couldn't make out the words, but she knew they were being voiced in a demanding, almost hateful way. With each passing sound, the black surrounding her got less and less intense. It was fading fast. The disembodied voice was getting louder, as well.
"Get up, girl!" came a rough voice, slick with venomous revulsion.
Penelo was forcibly shaken awake by scaly, spindly hands. Blinking several times to readjust her eyes to her surroundings, she took in an angry-looking bangaa backing up a few feet from where she was crumpled on the floor. "Eat," the bangaa commanded, and dropped a tray of repulsive food, if it was even considered food, to the floor, causing most of its contents to splatter across the ground. Penelo sat up, slightly hindered by the shackles around her hands and feet, and glanced at the tray in disgust, making no move to approach it. "This food not good enough for you, is it?" The bangaa laughed with a high-pitched, shrill voice. It was then that Penelo realized that this bangaa was actually a female. "Well, that's too bad then, isn't it? Because you sure aren't going to be getting any more food from us. Especially if you really don't know the sky pirate like you said."
Eyes widening in shock, Penelo realized that the bangaa could be right. This food may be the only form of nourishment she will be provided with while in the bangaas' captivity. She doesn't even know who this 'Balthier' is. There must've been some kind of mistake. I'm just an orphan from Rabanastre! Why would the bangaa think that she could possibly have ties to a sky pirate?
Gently scooting closer to the food, Penelo was careful not to put anymore pressure than necessary on her midsection. She remembered getting kicked and punched, among other things, while she was fighting to resist capture. All of her attempts were futile, however, seeing as she is stuck in this prison of a place with only hateful bangaas for company.
Penelo finally reached the food and slowly lifted her hand out to grab the tray, eyeing the bangaa the whole time. "We haven't poisoned it, I promise you," the bangaa's hostile tongue interrupted her progress. Penelo's stomach chose that moment to growl its impatience towards Penelo's hesitance. Oh well. Forgetting all other doubts, she yanked the tray onto her lap and started to inhale all that it contained, doing her best while still restrained by her shackles. Penelo ignored the raucous laughter of the bangaa as she turned to exit the prison chamber. Penelo began slowing down with her meal, now consumed with troublesome thoughts. I hope Vaan is okay. The Imperials can't do too much damage to him, can they? And he was with that Viera…and that man who looked like he could tear anything apart with his bare hands. I wouldn't want to cross his sword. But who was that man…who gave me his handkerchief? He probably only did it to stop me from getting myself into even more trouble trying to protect Vaan. She sighed heavily. Who could he be-?
Slapping her hands to her mouth in realization, Penelo tried to slow her quickening heart rate. All the dots were finally connected in her mind. So that's the famous sky pirate, Balthier. Why would he go to the trouble to comfort someone like me with something as simple as a handkerchief?
Several bangaas' voices interrupted her reverie. Perking her head up in the direction of the chamber door, she strained her ears to the best of her ability, so she could possibly hear what they were saying. The voices were muffled, but she could still make out most of it.
"You've seen to her feeding, sister? Yes?" came an authoritative, yet lethal voice.
"I have," responded the female bangaa who just gave Penelo her meal. "She eats well."
"See that she does. We need her alive. Balthier's bait must be fresh!"
Losing all sense of rationality, Penelo screamed, "I keep trying to tell you! I barely even know who Balthier is!" I've only been in his presence for all of two minutes!
The door to her chamber burst open, crashing against the wall as it over-rotated. The bangaa that she assumed to be the leader started to slowly approach her. Penelo stared in horror at what she was afraid might happen next. The female bangaa tried to intervene, "Ba'Gamnan! Don't waste your-"
"My brother!" a fat seeq came rushing into Penelo's chamber, saving her from the soon-to-be tragic experience. "A message has come from Rabanastre!"
Penelo's heart began to race again. Vaan…?
"The Strahl, she's set sail! She makes straight for the Skycity of Bhujerba!"
So that's where I am…Bhujerba…
Ba'Gamnan turned to face her again, a look of pure evil on his face. "Barely know, was it? Yet at a trice he goes bounding off for you. Tell me, how could that be?"
Penelo cowered under his horrifying scrutiny. She mentally berated herself for lacking the courage that she had almost all the time. Thinking of the orphans back home, and the courage they have that helps them endure every single day with she and Vaan, she suddenly felt brave. She shouted, "That's what I'd like to know! I just met him that one time-"
"Does that tongue never stop!" Ba'Gamnan interrupted, raising his scaly hand into the air, as if to silence her. He took two big strides toward her and bent over so they were face to face. "How would you like it if we plucked it from your head?" he grinned maliciously, licking his lips. Penelo felt like she was staring into his disgusting face for hours, trying her best not to cry, but in the blink of an eye, he turned around and addressed the surrounding bangaas and seeqs. "As for you all: We need Balthier alive. His corpse fetches but half the bounty!" Penelo shuddered at his last statement.
The bangaas and seeqs added their two-cents worth as they left her alone in her cell once more. She tried her best to ignore the cackles, and many boastings and plans of action they had in store for Balthier when he arrived. Penelo sighed yet again, feeling lonely and extremely befuddled. Why would he come after me? She shook her head with unnecessary force. I don't even know him! Why is he coming after me and not Vaan? As Penelo continued her senseless musings, she couldn't help but replay the scene in her head where she had first met Balthier over and over.
I can't believe he stepped in front of me like that. It was almost as if he was protecting me from getting arrested by the Imperials, or something. That's surprisingly kind. And his handkerchief… She lifted her shackled hands to the pocket of her upper thigh and grasped the handkerchief. Lifting it up to her face, she took a inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of gunpowder, leather, and what smelled like it could be his cologne.
I never pictured a sky pirate to look like that, either. From the stories I've heard, they're dirty, rude, ugly, and unkempt. He seemed…well, he was none of those things. Balthier wasn't ugly in any way, shape, or form. And his accent almost made him seem…eloquent. Her stomach knotted up, but it wasn't due to pain or discomfort. What is this I'm feeling?
Gazing out at the small view of the sky that was visible from her barred window, she felt shivers run down her back. He's out there somewhere. Coming for me, of all people! She laughed softly, in spite of herself. I wonder why he even bothers?…
All he could see was a beautiful girl with blonde pigtails. Everytime he blinked. Everytime he gazed into the sky. He couldn't escape her innocent face. It was all his fault. She would have never been taken by those damn bangaas if it wasn't for him and his sky piracy. Why am I feeling this way? I have never once regretted my career before now!
He had only seen her for a few moments in passing, and he could already tell that she was a genuinely kindhearted person. There aren't enough people like that in this world. She struggled through Imperials and gods knew what else to try to help Vaan. I assume those two are fairly close, considering the way Vaan reacted to the news of her abduction…Balthier tightly clenched the steering wheel of his beloved Strahl, their course set straight for Bhujerba.
The only reason he accepted Vaan's gift of the magicite stone was so Basch, Vaan, and Fran wouldn't wonder why he was so quick to agree to help rescue Penelo. A sky pirate must maintain at least some of his characteristics at all times, no? He felt the grip on the wheel tighten even more, if it was even possible.
"You must relax." Balthier heard his partner, and best friend, command from the copilot's seat next to him. "The girl will be fine," Fran continued. "She is but a token for your arrival in the Skycity."
He made noncommittal grunt in reply. Fran, sensing his lack of enthusiasm in their conversation, made no move to continue to speak. Sometimes, with the two of them, things were better left unspoken.
Balthier sighed, earning him a slight twitch from Fran's ears. I wonder is she's okay?…
A/N: This is the product of koalababay's infinite boredom...and writer's block from her other story (which she will update soon-PROMISE!!). Hope you enjoyed it. Review if you can! Thanks for reading!! :)
OH! and just curious, should I continue this...or leave it as a oneshot??