"It's really great of you guys to help us out here." Gippal said happily to Nooj and Baralai, who had come to the Faction early that morning. "Rebuilding Home isn't gonna be easy, especially since so many of us have been scattered to the winds since it blew up four years ago. Any help we can get now is totally boss."
"Well, the three of us are supposed to work together and help the people of this world live and thrive together." Nooj added, looking about the various machina parts that were strewn about his feet. "So, what would you like us to do?"
"I admit it'll be nice to be outside for a change." Baralai looked up at the sun, squinting from its light. "I've been stuck in that temple for so long, I'd almost forgotten how wonderful the sun felt."
"So Lai, Noojster" Gippal began as an airship approached above them. "You guys are gonna go to Home and help with the housing. Rikku and Paine are there already, and will give you all the supplies and instructions you'll need. You start tomorrow." As the hatch came down, Baralai and Nooj headed towards it, turning back to Gippal.
"You sure she's reliable?" Nooj asked curiously of the bubbly blonde. "I admit I don't know her all that well, but she seems like she's a little…unpredictable." He didn't mean to sound so accusing, but fortunately Gippal didn't seem to notice. It was just that he had little to no interaction with her since the fight with Vegnagun, and based on the few interactions during that time, he was a little wary.
"Rikku? She's tops. Knows way more than she lets on, but don't tell her I told you that or I'll never hear the end of it."
As the two stepped onto the platform, Gippal waved up to them. "Have fun over there! Tell Dr. P not to work either of you too hard!" He grinned, knowing what a drill sergeant the warrior had become since she decided to volunteer her services months ago. "I'll be by to check on you guys later!" The hatch lifted and closed, and Gippal made his way back to his office inside Djose temple.
In the year since Vegnagun's defeat, the six heroes had been busy, making appearances around various parts of Spira in hopes of continuing to unite the many people and cultures. It was important, especially for Nooj and Baralai to be seen together forging alliances between New Yevon and Youth League groups. There were still resisters, but none that had posed any true threats which made their jobs pretty easy for the most part. That was why the two decided to lend their hands helping Gippal, Rikku, and Cid rebuild Home with their people.
The Al-Bheds had been rebuilding since the first Eternal Calm three years ago, but supplies were short, and despite the fact that there was peace among people, there were still those out there that didn't trust the spiral eyed citizens of Spira and refused to help them. It made national news when the Praetor and Meyvn decided to lend their hands personally to assist, and suggested that many do the same in the name of peace.
"Not a big turnout here, huh?" Baralai noted to Nooj as they sat in the nearly empty galley of the airship as it blew through the skies as it took them to Home. "You'd think people would've started coming around by now." He sighed, disappointed in the Yevonites especially. Baralai had sincerely hoped there would have been more support.
"It's not the young ones." Nooj offered, picking up his coffee mug with his mechanical arm. "There are still many older Bevelians that refuse to let go of the old ways, no matter how much you or the new acolytes try to teach them otherwise. You have to give it time." The Meyvn glanced out the window at the passing plains beneath them; the water below glistened a brilliant blue hue that could have matched the sky had it not been for the puffy white clouds separating them.
Baralai shook his head in agreement, but secretly it was not enough to appease him. Even though he had taken over New Yevon and it was no longer an acting religion, there were still some older Chairmen that helped him create new rules and polish up the older ones making them flush with the ways of the present, and they were just as stubborn as those that refused to let go of the old ways. Chairman Tadao was one of those men, involved with Yevon's teachings for as long as Grand Maester Yo Mika had begun ruling, and he was not about to hide his dissatisfaction on the trip the Praetor was making.
Earlier that morning; Bevelle Temple
"You should not do this, Praetor Baralai." The septuagenarian protested beneath the high collar of his beige and white robes. "What if you are influenced by those people? What would that say about your beliefs?"
"It would say that I am ready for change, and that other former Yevonites should be as well, Chairman." The young man answered simply, trying to maintain the anger that was slowly beginning to boil underneath his calm, cool demeanor. "As for being influenced by anything, I believe I cannot be further influenced by anything worse than Shuyin. We're trying to be open minded here, and I suggest you do the same. That's why I allowed you to stay on board despite your involvement in Yevon's past conspiracies." Baralai left the old man standing in the middle of the room speechless. "Good day, Chairman." He said, bowing politely as he exited the chambers.
Baralai was snapped out of his thoughts by Nooj, alerting him that they had landed on Home's surface. As the hatch doors to the airship opened and the lift brought downward, the vast landscape opened before them, consisting of sand, piles of rubble, built homes and tents, and halfway constructed dwellings.
To their right, Nooj and Baralai could see other Al-Bheds diligently at work hammering, drilling, and sawing; working on new buildings and towers. They used machina scaffolding that rose itself with the push of a button, and hover dump trucks carried rubble from one pile to the other. In all, the past two years had been fruitful as far as progress, but they could both see so much still needed to be done.
"You're here!" They heard a chipper, sing song voice screech from the bottom of the lift. Looking downward, Rikku jumped up and down frantically, flailing her hands in the air as Paine stood next to her with her arms folded to her chest.
"Hey" Paine said with a smirk, punching the Praetor in the shoulder with her fist lightly. "You guys ready for some hard work?"
"We're at your disposal." Nooj stated, smiling at Paine as he mock bowed. "Do your worst."
"Oh don't tempt her!" Rikku warned with a finger to her lips. "She will work you to the bones! Didn't Gippal tell you?" She looked on, reading their expressions and knew the Faction leader had left out that detail.
"I'm afraid he didn't." Baralai answered with an uneasy hand to the short, platinum hairs on the back of his head. "Then again I'm not surprised. At any rate, Rikku? It's good to see you again." He put out his hand for her to shake and she eyed him curiously.
"Please! We're all friends here, right?" She smiled, slapping his hand away. "I'm really glad you made it to help!"
Baralai smiled, his eyes locking onto hers for a brief moment as he studied them. He had never really stopped to look any al-bhed in the eyes except for maybe Gippal, but then again he only had one, and every time he tried to get a closer look he'd accuse the Praetor of having the hots for him, which much to his amusement immediately caused him to look away in embarrassment. Engrossed in the spirals as they dilated and retracted within her eyelids, he was swiftly brought back to reality by a smack on his cheek.
"Baralai!" Paine called, waving her hand in front of his face. "Hello?"
Baralai blushed, immediately bowing down before Rikku and Paine. "Forgive me! I've never seen Al-Bhed eyes before. I…stared for too long."
Rikku blew it off, smiling and blushing profusely. "It's Okay. I can understand your being curious n'all…no biggie! Now let's get you two to the travel agency outside of Home so you can drop off your stuff before we start tomorrow!" She bounced off ahead of the three, and Paine placed a hand on Baralai's shoulder as they walked.
"I think you've been in the Temple for way too long."
"He has." Nooj replied dryly.
She laughed, happy to be with two of her best friends once again as they walked to the Travel Agency.
Meanwhile up ahead of the three, a flushed Rikku tried not to lose herself in the brief moment she gazed into Baralai's deep brown eyes while he looked into hers, and really tried not to enjoy the tingly feeling that shot throughout her fingers and toes at said thought.