Extended Author's Notes

I will begin by warning everyone that what follows is not another chapter of the story. Instead, what I will be doing is trying to provide a bit of insight into how the story itself was written. It is not my intent to come across as pretentious. However, whenever I read anything, I often find myself wondering about what the author was thinking. This extended author's note is my way of satisfying anyone else who might have similar inclinations. As promised in the previous chapter, there is a bit of a teaser at the end of these notes, so if you want, you could simply skip to that (the teaser starts about halfway down).

I first started thinking about writing this story during the last few months of writing up my dissertation. Now, I can't say how it was for other people, but for me, writing my dissertation was both one of the most rewarding things I've ever done, and one of most soul-destroying things I've ever done. I love the field of research that I am in, but there comes a point, usually after the umpteenth revision of a particular chapter of the dissertation, when you begin to question your sanity. When you reach that point, and everyone eventually does, it becomes as much a battle of attrition as a measure of intellect and research capability. To help get myself through it, I decided to adopt the good old 'carrot and stick' approach. In this case, I didn't have to try very hard to come up with a 'stick'. A poor dissertation would not only result in the withholding of the relevant degree, it would also reflect badly on both myself, and my supervisor. Needless to say, I wasn't much looking forward to either of those things occurring, especially since my supervisor and I happen to get along very well, not to mention the fact that I really, really wanted to get that degree. Coming up with a 'carrot' was a little trickier. There were, of course, the prestige and career opportunities associated with getting the degree, but I wanted a little bit extra. So the whole time I was writing, I kept telling myself that once I was finished with the dissertation I could write whatever I wanted. That might sound somewhat odd, but I really did find the thought of being able to write whatever I wanted after months of working on my dissertation to be quite appealing indeed.

To cut a long story short, my tactic worked. I finished my dissertation and submitted it only a few days before I went on holiday at the end of last year. However, one of the first things I did after finishing my dissertation was to write the first chapter of Stetsons and Fal'Cie. In fact, that first chapter was written the very next day, and for those of you that are curious, you needn't worry. I did, in fact, get my degree (just what kind of degree, I'll leave to your imagination).

Something that I've mentioned before, which I think is worth repeating, is that one of my favourite novels of all time is the novel "Shane" by Jack Schaefer. It was that novel that got my interested piqued in perhaps writing a Western themed story for Final Fantasy XIII. Indeed, the very first chapter of Stetsons and Fal'Cie in which Lightning nurses a bottle of soda pop is modelled after one of my favourite scenes from "Shane" in which the hero, Shane, tries to make peace with an enemy of his by offering him a bottle of soda pop, only to end up in a fight.

What separates Stetsons and Fal'Cie from traditional Westerns like "Shane" and my other story, Headed West, is the relatively large amount of humour that is present in it. When I first started writing Stetsons and Fal'Cie, I decided almost immediately that I wanted there to be a fair bit of humour involved, even if Westerns tend to lend themselves to a more serious atmosphere. I've always liked humour, both reading it and writing it, so I really wanted to work some in. Although I think it's important for a writer to be versatile, it is also important for a writer to know their strengths, and I'd like to think that my humour is at least a little amusing, if perhaps occasionally odd.

Before talking about the story in more detail, I want to take a few moments to address how the story was written in a more technical sense. Stetsons and Fal'Cie was my first attempt to write a Western themed piece, and I think it shows, especially in the first few chapters when I was still trying to find my feet, so to speak. However, I was fortunate in that I was also writing Headed West at the same time, which definitely helped me grasp the style a little better, despite the somewhat more serious tone of Headed West. There is, after all, very little that can compare to the benefits of practice.

Speaking of practice, when writing each chapter, my standard procedure was to begin by writing out an initial draft. When writing this draft, my main goal was to get my ideas onto the page. It didn't matter how badly I wrote, or how little things made sense, I just wrote. This serves a number of purposes. For one, it avoids the problem of perfectionism. It is tempting and often worthwhile to seek perfection in the things that we do. However, when it comes to drafting something that you've written, perfection just isn't a particularly realistic goal. Indeed, the drive to perfect the first draft can often lead to people getting stuck without having written very much at all. In contrast, it is much easier to write a horrible first draft and then fix it up later.

The other purpose that a first (initial) draft serves is to iron out any problems with continuity or story telling. For example, things like where characters are during a scene, or what the scenery is during a particular chapter are often easy to lose track of. Having a first draft lets you go back and check that all of these kinds of things match up, and if not, then you can correct them in the next draft. The first draft was also particularly important for me when it came to writing the fight scenes. Throughout my life, I've read through what I think are a decent number of books. However, I've also read swathes of comics and manga, and watched more anime and movies than is probably normal. I also spent a decade and a half practicing martial arts before several injuries made it difficult to continue. As a result, I like to be able to visualise the fights that I'm writing about, because if I can't see them in my head, then there's no way I'll be able to describe them to you in a way that will let you see them in your head too. When writing a fight scene, a first draft lets me try and work out things like how the combatants will be moving as they fight, how they will interact with the environment, and just what the set up will be (e.g., how the buildings are laid out, how many opponents there are, etc.). Once I've got all of those details in place, it's usually much easier to flesh the fight scenes out, because I can be confident that what I'm doing isn't totally insane. That said, a first draft is also important for catching things like how many bullets people are shooting. For instance, if someone has a six-shooter, it'd be a bit odd if they fire ten bullets before reloading.

For almost all of the chapters, writing was a two-step process. I would write an initial draft and then I would revise it once before posting it. However, there were two chapters that proved particularly horrible to write, in that they required a great many more revisions than the others before I was satisfied with how they turned out. These two chapters were Chapter 2 and Chapter 4. In fact, it took eight revisions before I finally settled on the form of Chapter 2 that ended up getting posted. Part of that can be attributed to my not knowing entirely what I was doing yet (more on that later), but really, I just couldn't quite settle on the best way to go about things. Indeed, I'm still not very happy with Chapter 2, and in my opinion it is easily the worst chapter in the story and the one that sticks out like a sore thumb. Of course, you're free to disagree, but that's what I think. In contrast, although Chapter 4 was also a bit of a slog, I ended up being quite happy with the results.

As an aside, I'd also like to briefly mention chapter length. Although there are many benefits to writing chapters that are all the same length (particularly if you write to a schedule or plan), I tend to fall into the camp that argues that chapters should be as long as they need to be. That is, there is going to be a substantial degree of variance in how long my chapters are because sometimes more things will happen in one chapter than the next. Perhaps the best examples of that are the last three chapters, which are all quite long. However, given how much actually happens in these three chapters, I like to think that's okay. Of course, like a lot of things to do with writing, this will probably vary a lot from person to person.

One thing that I'd also like to address in this extended author's note is the extent to which I plan things. If you've read the extended author's note for Headed West, you probably already suspect what my answer will be. I didn't plan very much, at least not formally. What I tend to do is to imagine the plot in my head and then mentally update it as ideas come to mind. I don't like writing things down because it often feels like I'm caging myself in and blocking out any new, and potentially better, ideas that might pop into my head. Naturally, this means that I have to keep the whole plot floating around in my head and although that allows for extra flexibility, it can also be a little trying. The uncertainty involved is also something that not everyone enjoys, and I'd encourage everyone to just follow the method they feel works best for them. If writing the plot out in detail works for you then do that. If it doesn't, then try something else. Still, for me, having the whole plot floating around like some kind of jellyfish in my mind is what works, so that's what I do.

When I started writing, I really only had one character locked in. I knew that I wanted Lightning to be the sheriff in a small sort of town way out West, and I knew that I wanted her to be awesome. After writing the first chapter to showcase the aforementioned awesomeness, it occurred to me that I really didn't have much of a plan. A mad scramble then ensued to try and get the other characters locked into place too, and the order of the first few chapters largely reflects the order in which I decided who would become what. That is to say, I decided early on that Hope would be a young kid looking for a bit of adventure and wanting very much to grow up faster.

The idea of Fang and Vanille being bandits was not the first idea to come to mind. I had, initially, considered making Fang Lightning's deputy, but I quickly dropped the idea. It felt wrong and having Fang be Lightning's deputy would basically kill off a large part of what I had in mind, namely having Lightning and Fang get to know each other over the course of the story. However, the thought of Fang as a bandit was definitely one I could get behind. Not only did it fit nicely with her personality, but the thought of her and Vanille (especially Vanille) holding up a bank was something I found hilarious. It also meant that any scenes she had with Lightning would have that little bit of extra tension to them, given that they were on opposite sides of the law.

Serah was one of the characters that I had the least trouble settling on in terms of how to translate her into a Western themed story. Her position as a schoolteacher felt completely natural, and her demeanour as a somewhat refined young lady was something that I felt suited her too, as well as being something I could have fun with. Snow was a little harder to place. I had, initially, envisioned him as Lightning's unwanted deputy, but that ended up feeling awkward and I really wanted to show him and Serah meeting for the first time. After a bit of thinking, I decided that he and the rest of NORA were a perfect fit for a bunch of stockmen travelling from place to place looking for work as they saved up the money for a place of their own.

Sazh was the last of the main characters (main Final Fantasy XIII characters, that is) to be introduced, and frankly that was because I didn't really know what to do with him. However, after a bit of thinking, I came to the conclusion that he was just right for the retired gunslinger role, another staple of Western fiction (along with the sheriff and the bandit, which Lightning and Fang represent). The whole history between him and the two bandits (Fang and Vanille) was something I came up on the spot to justify why they would go to him for help instead of someone else. The introduction of Lahna as an original character was also something I thought about a great deal. I'm not always a fan of introducing original characters, but I felt that this version of Sazh needed to have his wife around, and I've never had much trouble imagining Sazh being bossed around by his wife.

The introduction of characters from other Final Fantasy games was not something that I initially planned to do. However, it quickly became apparent that Final Fantasy XIII just didn't have enough characters for the story I wanted to tell, so I was left with two choices: either create entirely new characters, or use characters that the readers were likely to be familiar with. I decided on the latter because original characters tend to aggravate people, and because the latter seemed like it would be a heap of fun. Looking back on it now, choosing to add characters from the other Final Fantasy games was one of the best decisions I ever made, and I can't even imagine how the story would look without them.

On the subject of those other characters, I'd like to take a moment to talk about Quistis and Fujin, who were, by far, the most prominent characters from other Final Fantasy games. I hadn't initially planned on them sticking around for all that long. In fact, I'd only planned to have Quistis drop by as a friend of Lightning's that could explain the situation to her, but as I wrote, they sort of took on a life of their own and made it impossible for me to get rid of them. In retrospect, I'm very glad I chose to keep them, because as much as Lightning and Fang were probably the main characters of this story, Quistis and Fujin turned out to be very important too.

With regards to the overall plot of the story, I'm not afraid to admit that I really didn't know what on earth I was doing until about Chapter 12. That might sound crazy, but when I first started writing, I envisioned this story as being more of a series of snippets, not unlike Ordinary Heroes or Tell Me a Story. Although I'd had inklings of Fang and Vanille's dark past well before Chapter 12, it hadn't occurred to me until then that I really, really needed to start linking their past to their current actions so that I could bring all of the main characters onto the same side, and thus set up the inevitable showdown at the end of the story. Chapter 12 marks the start of that bringing together of all the various characters, and is also where each chapter really starts leading into the next. Prior to Chapter 12, the chapters can almost be read out of order without the reader suffering any real harm.

However, once I'd decided to bring things together, the rest of the plot followed fairly naturally. Given that I'd decided to have Fang and Vanille target Cocoon, it was only natural that Cocoon be the ones responsible for their turn to banditry, and what better way to do that than by having Cocoon wipe out their homeland (it helps that this also mirrors the war between Pulse and Cocoon in the game). With that in place, Barthandelus was a lock for the main villain, and Hojo was a pretty easy pick for his partner in crime. No one really does evil quite like Hojo, and he's got just the right amount of insanity in him to really come up with something crazy.

One other thing I will say about the plot was that I knew, well before I finished, that I wanted the story to have a happy ending. Headed West was a great deal of fun to write, but I couldn't slip a happy ending into that story without killing it. Stetsons and Fal'Cie was my chance to slip in that happy ending and to work in a fair bit of Fang/Lightning too, an issue that I don't really address at all in Headed West.

On the subject of Fang/Lightning, I did decide very early on that this was a pairing I wanted to address in this story. I didn't want to beat people over the head with it, but I did want to write a story in which the two of them grow to care for one another. However, I didn't want the focus of the story to be about just their relationship. Fang and Lightning are awesome as individuals, and I wanted to treat them as individuals, allowing any relationship between them to develop without taking away from that. People aren't just the relationships they have. They are individuals, as well.

The last thing I want to talk about in this (way, way) extended author's note is what the story was about. I can't say for certain what individual readers got out of the story, but I can say what I was thinking about when I was writing it. To me, this story is about setting things right. It's there in the way that Fang and Vanille try to take down Cocoon, and it's there in the way that Lightning becomes a sheriff so that she can clean up Bodhum and give Serah the best life that she can. It's there too, in the way that Sazh takes Fang and Vanille in after they help him out and even save his life, and it's there in the way that Quistis and even Reeve do everything they can to help bring Cocoon down for what it has done. Love is a part of the story too, as is revenge, but what keeps everything going, what binds all of the characters together, and what sets the people like Lightning apart from the people like Barthandelus is that feeling that all good and decent people have. It's the feeling that there are things that are right in the world and things that are wrong, and that sometimes you have to set the wrong things right, even if it's hard, especially when it's hard. This idea of setting things right is something that occurs quite frequently in Westerns, which is perhaps not particularly surprising given that so many protagonists in Westerns have dark and troubled pasts. Of course, Westerns don't have a monopoly on this idea, but there are few genres in which it is so prevalent.

Well, there you have it. Writing Stetsons and Fal'Cie was a heck of a ride, filled with a lot bumps and hairpin turns, but it was definitely worth it in the end. As an aside, I find it quite humorous that the character that killed the most people probably wasn't Fang or Lightning. No, in the end, the character that killed the most people was probably Vanille. That just goes to show that you shouldn't judge someone by their size, especially when they have a proclivity for lobbing explosives everywhere.

Once again, thank you to everyone who read this story. Your support is very much appreciated. Just knowing that people enjoy what I write is enough to bring a smile to my face. Indeed prior to writing Stetsons and Fal'Cie, I spent most of my time just lurking about the Final Fantasy XIII fanfiction section without actually writing anything for the fandom. The warm reception that I received upon beginning this story was definitely a factor in my deciding to contribute to the fandom. As thanks, allow me to present the following teaser. It's another alternative universe, but instead of a Western, I've decided to head in a somewhat different direction.

X X X

Sazh eased the four-wheel drive to a stop in front of the supermarket. Cities were out of the question, and even the big towns weren't safe, but an out of the way place like this might still be okay. He left the engine running and took a good look at the area around the vehicle. There were a few abandoned cars in the parking lot, along with a few more on the road, but other than that, there didn't seem to be anyone, or anything else around.

However, there were buildings all along the street, and even if nothing had come as he'd driven past, that didn't mean they were empty. The Infected didn't always come out right away, but it wasn't like he could stay in the car either. He and Dajh had been running pretty low on supplies for almost a week now, so even if it was a bit risky, they didn't have much choice. They could stop and try to scrounge up some supplies, or they could keep going and probably starve in a few days. If it was just himself, he probably would have kept on driving, but he wasn't about to let Dajh go hungry. The whole world might have gone to hell, but one way or another he'd put food on the table for his son.

Satisfied that the area was clear, at least for the time being, he shut off the engine and pocketed the keys. As he got out of the car, he patted himself down to make sure he had everything. There was the shotgun with a flashlight taped onto the barrel, a pistol for the holster at his hip, and a knife. Anything more would slow him down, but anything less might not be enough to keep him and Dajh safe. Taking another look at his surroundings, he nodded to himself and then went around the other side of the vehicle to open the door for Dajh.

Dajh hopped out of the car, a flashlight of his own clutched in his hands. He had a lighter in his jacket too, along with a few boxes of matches. "Are we going to go shopping, daddy?"

Sazh nodded, eyes never leaving the area around them. "That's right, son, but we need to be quick. I'm not sure this place is very safe."

Dajh looked around quickly, taking in all of their surroundings, just like Sazh had taught him. "Okay."

"Now, before we go in there, Dajh, I want you to tell me the rules, okay?" Sazh reached into the pockets of his jacket. Good, he had a spare pair of batteries in there in case the ones in his flashlight went flat.

Dajh checked his own pockets just to make sure that he had everything. Checking things was important, but the rules were the most important of all. The rules were the only reason that he and daddy were still alive. He'd seen other people not following the rules and the Infected had gotten all of them. That was why it was just the two of them now. They hadn't seen anyone else for almost a month now. "There are three rules," Dajh said, the words so familiar to him now that he barely even needed to think about them. "Rule #1 is to always stay close to you daddy. Rule #2 is to always keep my eyes and ears on everything around me. And Rule #3 is to always listen to what you say, daddy."

"Good." Sazh reached down with one hand to ruffle Dajh's hair. "That's right, son. You follow those rules and we should be just fine. Who knows, we might even find some chocolate in there." Sazh smiled at the grin on Dajh's face. It was nice to now that even with things so bad, the thought of candy could bring a smile to his son's face.

The two of them made their way over to the front of the supermarket. As usual, Sazh kept on an eye out for things in front of them, and Dajh kept an eye out for things behind them. To make sure they weren't separated, Dajh kept a firm hold on the edge of Sazh's jacket.

They stopped at the automatic doors that led into the supermarket. There wasn't any power, probably hadn't been for months, so the doors were stuck almost shut. Sazh took a quick look inside, hating the fact that the glass made it difficult to see past the doors, before he wedged his fingers into the small gap between the doors and pulled. The doors came open fairly easily, and he pulled until the gap was wide enough for both of them to fit through without any trouble.

Inside, the front of the supermarket was reasonably well lit. It was just going on midday, so there was plenty of sunshine coming in through the windows and the doors. Further back though, past the messy lines of trolleys and the checkout counters, the supermarket was dark, the lights on the ceiling dead after who knew how long without power. Sazh had learned the hard way that even if sticking to the light wasn't a guarantee for safety, heading into the darkness was just asking for trouble.

There was an empty can of tomatoes at his feet right next to a long streak of dried blood, and he reached down to pick it up. If there were any Infected in here, the best place to fight them would be right here at the front of the supermarket where he and Dajh could see them coming, and if necessary, run for it. Taking a deep breath, he drew his arm back and tossed the can of tomatoes at the ground.

The can hit the ground with a loud clang and then rolled noisily along the floor until it hit one of the checkout counters. Shotgun up and ready, he waited for a few moments as his eyes and ears strained to catch any sign of movement. Finally, when a minute or so had passed without a sight or sound of anything, he lowered his shotgun.

"Okay, Dajh, let's go get what we can," Sazh said as he went over to grab one of the trolleys scattered around. It was a bit dented, but it stilled rolled well enough to use. "Remember the rules, Dajh. Now, turn your flashlight on, you're going to need it."

They headed deeper into the supermarket, and as they went, Sazh was careful to keep track of what was in each aisle. The quicker they were, the better it would be. As they neared the frozen produce section, he winced. Without power, all the frozen meat had gone off, and the smell of it was almost unbearable.

As they made their way over to the canned goods section, he made sure to keep his shotgun moving from side to side so that the flashlight on it covered everything in front of them. There were bloodstains on the floor and the walls, and even on the shelves. The Infected must have come through here already, and with any luck they'd already moved on.

Finally, they got to the canned goods section, and Sazh breathed a sigh of relief. The shelves were far from full, but there was more than enough there for the two of them. "All right, Dajh, start filling the trolley."

As Dajh started putting cans into the trolley, Sazh thought back to when things had first gone wrong. Back then, both of them had worked to fill the trolley, but that had turned out to be a mistake. The cans made a lot of noise, which in turn made it hard to hear the Infected until they were right on top of them. That mistake had almost gotten both of them killed, and after that, Sazh had decided that since he was the only one who could use a gun, Dajh would have to fill the trolley on his own. It was slower, and he hated to see his son straining to lift some of the bigger cans, but it was the safest way to do things.

For his part, Dajh just grabbed whatever he could find and tossed it into the trolley. The boy had learned pretty quickly, that he couldn't afford to be picky anymore. If he were, then he might not eat. Besides, canned beef stew wasn't all that bad, especially if they could heat it up and have it with something like rice.

Suddenly, there was a noise from the end of the aisle as something knocked some cans to the ground. Sazh had the shotgun pointed there in a heartbeat and he felt his pulse race until he realised what he was looking at. It was just a cat, most likely trying to scavenge for food, just like them. The cat hissed for a moment as the light played over it, and then vanished. Still, the cat was a good sign. Animals didn't like the infected too much, so if the cat was around, there probably weren't too many Infected nearby. Of course, the cat could also have run because it sensed the Infected coming.

"You done, son?" Sazh asked quietly.

Dajh nodded. "Yes."

Sazh put one hand on the trolley to push it. "Good, then let's get going."

They went from aisle to aisle, moving as quickly as they could in the darkness with only their flashlights to show the way. Most of the aisles were bare. When the Infected had first started appearing, people had panicked and grabbed whatever they could find. Still, things must have happened pretty quickly here, because there were still a few bags of rice left, along with some camping supplies like matches, and fuel for the portable stove that Sazh had managed to scavenge from a wrecked motor home a few weeks back. However, they really hit the jackpot when they found several cases of bottled water. It would be heavy – and the trolley was already close to full – but with good, clean water so hard to come by, it would be worth the extra effort.

Their second last stop was in the candy section of the supermarket and for a moment, Sazh felt his heart sink. As he ran his flashlight over the shelves, there didn't seem to be anything left, which was a pity. Chocolate didn't just taste good. It had a lot of calories, and it stayed good for a long, long time.

"Sorry, son, it doesn't look like there's any left," Sazh said.

Dajh let out a disappointed sigh as he ran his flashlight over the shelves too. And then he smiled. There, almost hidden under all the empty boxes, were several bars of chocolate. "Look, daddy!" he cried.

"Well, look at that," Sazh said. "Let's go get it then."

After putting the chocolate bars into the trolley they headed back to the front of the supermarket. This was the only supermarket for miles, so Sazh was pretty sure that it would have sold firearms and ammunition. The only question was: would there be any left? The weapons counter was up near the front, and Sazh could only purse his lips at how little there was left. Other than maybe a dozen shotgun shells, the counter was empty. Still, every bit helped, and with the Infected wandering around, ammunition was worth its weight in gold. The counter was locked, so he used the stock of the shotgun to break the cabinet glass.

"Looks like we're done," Sazh said. "Let's get out of here."

They were almost to the front doors when Sazh heard it. It was the telltale scrape of feet moving across the linoleum supermarket floor, feet that didn't belong to him or Dajh. He spun, pushing Dajh behind him as he brought his shotgun up and levelled it at where he thought the noise was coming from.

The light from his flashlight played across the empty aisle as he moved it back and forth. He'd heard a sound, he was sure of it. Breathing beginning to speed up a little, he eased the trolley back toward the door, keeping himself between the rest of the supermarket and Dajh. A can rolled noisily across the ground and he pointed the gun in the direction it had come from. There, half-hidden in the shadows that draped much of the supermarket was one of the Infected.

The Infected was a woman, or at least, it had been once. The rags of a shirt were tangled around its upper body, and its pants were worn and ripped. On its feet, there was only one shoe, and the flesh that showed through all the mangled garments was a sickly, pasty white. It must have been hiding somewhere in the back of the store, maybe in one of the storerooms. That would explain why it had only just come out now after he'd broken the cabinet.

For a long moment, the Infected just sort of crouched there its eyes twin pools of black bitumen without any hint of reason in them, only hunger. Then it lurched to its feet and charged straight at them with a keening wail. Sazh fired and the Infected jerked backward, spinning as the shotgun blew one of its arms clean off, and ripped away a good portion of its chest. But that wasn't enough to kill it, and it rushed forward again, the fingers on its remaining hand formed into claws as it bared its teeth and howled. Sazh waited a second to steady his aim and then pulled the trigger again. The shotgun roared and the Infected toppled to the ground, its head gone.

"We need to get moving," Sazh said as he pushed the trolley out the doors. "If there's more of them around, they'll be coming here." Loud sounds had a way of drawing the Infected, and the shotgun for all its merits, was very loud indeed.

They got back to their four-wheel drive and rather than try and store the things they'd taken in an orderly fashion, Sazh simply got the boot open and started throwing them in. They could get them organised later, but right now they needed to get moving as soon as possible.

"Dajh," Sazh said as he handed the boy the keys. "Get it started."

Dajh nodded and hurried to the front of the four-wheel drive to get it started. He was too small to drive, but Sazh had taught him how to start the vehicle. And it was a good thing too. The trolley was still half full, but already several loud shrieks had split the air. A dozen Infected ran down the street, drawn by the sound of the gunshots, but now whipped into a frenzy by the sight and smell of fresh prey.

"They're coming, daddy!" Dajh screamed from inside the four-wheel drive. "Hurry!"

Sazh tossed the last of their supplies into the boot and then lifted his shotgun. He fired twice. The two closest Infected went down, not dead, but out of the way for the time being. Then he ran for the front of the car and threw himself into the driver's seat. The tyres squealed as he slammed his foot on the accelerator.

The Infected gave chase, one of them lunging at the back of the vehicle, only to miss as the four-wheel drive finally began to put on some speed and pulled away.

"Good work, son," Sazh murmured as he steered the four-wheel drive around the burnt out remains of an SUV. "Good work."

X X X

Author's Notes

As always, I neither own Final Fantasy, nor am I making any money off this.

Well, what can I say? Everybody loves a good zombie apocalypse. That kind of scenario also gives me a chance to see how everyone's favourite characters cope under extreme circumstances. I've also been meaning to write something with a bit more Sazh and Dajh in it, so, here you go.

As always, I appreciate feedback. Reviews and comments are welcome.