A/N: This is a little..indulgement of mine. An experiment, you could say. Something to express my own restlessness with. I call it restlessness because I'll feel I need something, but don't know what it is, which makes me unable to really work on anything. It makes me feel anxious, like I need to pace. It's been affecting me lately and I thought perhaps inflicting it upon Lightning in a long, drawn-out FLight story would help that along :P Does that sound too boring? Let me know what you think. Beginning chapters are almost always boring, though. Also, everything I write is too short. I don't like that fact.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy XIII or anything to do with it.
The figure moved into place swiftly, footsteps silent in the grass. Moving to a boulder here, a shrub there - rolling to a pitch and stop near the edge of a cliff. It stretches itself across the ground, like a beast on the prowl, waiting. Shadows sway and dance in the barest whisper of wind, moonlight from above draping everything in it's glow. An indeterminable amount of time passes as the figure remains still as stone, covered head to toe in shifting grays and blacks. Mottled. Contorted. A unique form of camouflage.
Something moves below. Darting quickly, it is gone and still as abruptly as it moves. Azure eyes track the movements with ease, patiently awaiting the time to strike. The figure draws it's weapon and straightens to a crouch - the shadow below, sensing a change, pauses. It sniffs the air, searching for the source. Hunting. It is unprepared for the attack to the come. The figure dives off the edge, the only hint given in the change of the air currents. With nary a sound, the figure is upon the shadow, grappling, wrestling - struggling. They roll and flounder about, one trying to get the other off. Rustling and scraping sounds in the still night, followed by the impact of something heavy on stone, a crack on bone, metal sliding into flesh -
An enraged roar tears the air as the shadow is felled. Glowing red eyes stare hatefully into unremorseful blue, a fearsome growl issued from it's dying breath. And then it falls to the side and the light gone from the eyes. The figure kneels to wipe the blood free from it's blade and steps away, job finished. Crackling brings it's attention to a pouch. Weapon sheathed, the figure removes a phone and brushes the hood from it's face. Pink hair spills forth, gracing a pale face in sweeping, long bangs. The phone is brought to a delicate ear, a button pressed to receive the message.
"Command to Alpha One-Six, do you copy?"
A clearcut, huskily feminine voice responds briskly. "Loud and clear, base. Target has been eliminated - send a clean up crew immediately."
"Right away, ma'am."
The woman shuts the device and replaces it in it's place. She disappears into a nearby crag just along enough to await the promised clean up crew. Within just a few minutes, a ship and multiple men swim into the area. Bright, painful light bathes the area as flood lights are brought in to illuminate the scene. A great portion of the incoming pause to stare at the corpse lying in a pool of its own blood; some disgrace the grass with their upheaval. The woman does not blame them. The beast is fully exposed in all it's glorifying terror under the light, and few have ever seen such a thing.
It is easily the size of a behemoth and just as deadly, if not more. One of the rarer species of Gran Pulse, it is believed to be wary of human life. Little is known about them - none have ever been caputred for study, and only a sparse few have ever been found dead. But those were mostly bones and rotted mess. This..this, was a fresh kill. A first. The only known things about the beasts is as follows: they are extremely dangerous, human shy, and carniverous. Their bodies are tightly muscled with long, thick legs for running and pouncing. The paws are padded for stealth, and the claws razor sharp for easy shredding. They have many rows of sharp teeth for ripping and tearing into hide and bone. Fur stands out in bristly bunches with bands of glowing colour wrapping around the body in strange formations. Their faces have long muzzles and large, cat-shaped eyes. Some say they resemble the great feline beasts of legend; others, the werewolves of fables. Staring at it now, the woman would say it is a mix of things: feline, werewolf, and maybe even dragon.
The cleanup crew finally comes to it's senses and begins to prepare the body for transfer. The woman watches for a moment before lifting her hood back up and begins to scale the cliff wall. Mission completed, Lightning melts into the night without a word.
"Colonel Farron, welcome back from your mission. I understand it was a success?"
Lightning nodded, saluting her commanding officer. "Affirmative, Major General. The calida was slain without much difficulty and the cleanup crew successfully retrieved the corpse for study."
Amodar chuckled and slapped her on the back appreciately. "Well done, Farron! That little beast has been causing such chaos and havoc for the past few months, I was sure we'd never be rid of it. We should have sent you in right away - Fang did try to warn us that conventional hunting wouldn't work." He thoughtfully pulled on his moustache. "But enough small talk - it's late! Go home and get some rest, Colonel. Enjoy the weekend and I'll see you on bright and early next week!" Lightning dipped her head in acknowledgement before saluting and exiting his office. Soldiers in the halls saluted her as she passed, a shadow of fear in their eyes at her attire. Since returning from the assignment, she had not been able to change from the uniform worn only by the elite members of the Special Forces. Because of this, the salutes of fear only served to irritate her.
As she exited the command building, her personal phone went off. She sighed as she retrieved it and answered, continuing her brisk walk towards the vehicle storage area. "Farron."
"Oi, Light - where the hell are ya? The party's startin' and you're missin' the fun!" The accented voice on the end caused Lightning's eyebrow to twitch.
"I'm just leaving work, Fang. I had a situation to take care of that was absolutely mandatory. Besides, I never actually agreed I'd attend your party; and no, before you put Vanille, Serah, or even Snow on, I will not stay that long."
"Pffft, you're such a spoilsport. It's the weekend! Ya ain't got work til Monday and there's no harm in relaxin' a little."
Lightning nodded at the maintenance personnel manning the storage area as she passed, noting their salutes of terror. "Your defintion of fun is different from mine."
"That's just a coverup and you know it! The only thing you do is work, Light, you've got nothin' else on your calendar this weekend so get yer arse down here and have some fun!"
"I enjoy my work, Fang. There's not much else that I need to do."
"Now tha's where you're all wrong, Sunshine. You keep thinkin' in terms of necessity instead of leisure. Do you evar take some time to yourself?"
Lightning sighed as she approached her bike. "Of course I do. Listen, Fang, I'll attend your little party for awhile and then I'm going home and relaxing my own way. I have to go now, I'll see you in a bit."
Fang sighed on the other end. "Always dodgin' the questions. Whatevar, Sunshine - if you're not here soon, I'll personally hunt you down and throttle you."
"Goodbye, Fang," Lightning retorted, throwing her phone into a compartment on her bike. She hated it when Fang tried to analyze her and make her take a different approach to life. What was so wrong with her approach to things? She angrily fired up her bike and took off for Fang and Vanille's shared home. At the age of twenty-six, Lightning was doing excellent for herself. In the following aftermath of Cocoon's crystallization, she had helped the Guardian Corps regroup and the stragglers of the Sanctum to integrate into the Corps. They had accepted her assistance with grudging gratitude, letting her rise through the ranks as her abilities helped to swiftly secure the safety of thousands of citizens. A chain of command had been established, laws set into place, cities and roads built. Gran Pulse was now completely inhabitable for human life with little fear.
As a result of her dedication, she rarely took time to herself. Fang was right in a way that she never took time to herself - there was never any need to. All she needed was her work. Amodar understood this and rarely made her take days off, and because of this, she never fought him when he did. She was content with her life.
Fang and Vanille's home was near the ocean, on a high-rising cliff just outside the city. It suited the two perfectly: it was out of the way while conveniently close to civilization, and they could be near the ocean. The house was rather large with two stories, a basement and attic, and five to six bedrooms. Lightning supposed the homely place reminded the two of their childhood home, and it was like a second home to the former l'cie. She lowered her bike in the fields and set it down in the thick trees, not wanting to be seen quite yet. Loud music and rowdy laughter could be heard through the trees as people intermingled and drank themselves into stupors. She sighed in resignation and dismounted, squaring her shoulders for the onslaught to come. Quick, measured steps carried her towards the house, and, as she approached, her irriation grew.
People were everywhere. The music was deafeningly loud. The heavy smell of alcohol, sweaty bodies, and uncleanliness hung in the air. Lightning never understood why the two native Pulsians felt the need to party like this, and, as she dodged between a group of drunkards, she had to wonder again. This was not fun - this was chaos, a headache, and just downright idiotic. Knowing just where to find Fang, she strode out the back door and towards the shed where the huntress was notorious for pummeling anyone who came her way in a game of cards. Lightning was proven correct when she opened the door and saw, to her distaste, more alcohol, more sweaty bodies, and her entire group of old l'cie.
A huge round table was in the center of the shed, the place of all Fang-dominant card games. To the left was a bar area for mixing drinks, courtesy of Vanille's skilled hands, and on the right was the lounge area. She was immediately noticed and swept into a seat at the table by the queen of cards herself. "Well look who it is! Finally decided ta show up, didja?" Fang asked, draping her arm around Lightning's shoulders. Lightning only gave her a cold look and shrugged her arm off, taking a seat next to Serah and Vanille by the far wall. They each gave her their own greetings, and Fang began dealing out the cards with skilled and practiced hands as Vanille deposited a fruity, alcohol heavy drink in front of her.
"What's with the getup, Light?" Sazh asked as he twirled a cigar between his fingers. Lightning narrowed her eyes at the smoke. She hated smokers. "I had something to take care of at work," she responded, pushing away the cards Fang threw her way. Sazh raised an eyebrow and Serah piped in.
Lightning sighed and swirled her drink, absently wondering just how much alcohol Vanille had put in it. "The calida that's been ravaging farms, outlying homes, and livestock was finally tracked down and killed."
"By you?" Vanille giggled, taking a sip of her own drink.
"Nice, Sunshine - those things aren't that easy to take down," Fang said, lighting her own cigar and beginning the poker game of doom. "Is that why you're in that thing?"
"It's a special form of suit used by elite members of Special Forces."
"It looks..weird," Snow rumbled, eyeing the suit with intensity.
"That's because it's meant for stealth missions and the design, colour, and taper is especially for that purpose. Right, Light?" Hope eagerly cut in.
Lightning took a sip of her drink and wrinkled her nose in distaste. She set it down next to Vanille and leaned into her chair, back perfectly straight. "That's right, Hope."
Serah made a noise of frustration as Fang cleaned her out of chips, again, and effectively removed her from the game in just a few short turns. "Fang! That's not fair!"
"All's fair in love, war, and a game of cards with Oerba Yun Fang," Fang gloated, taking her spoils with a single sweep of her arm. Vanille giggled again, obviously a little tipsy from the alcohol. Sazh sagely shook his head and Snow chuckled good humoredly. Hope was concentrating too much on his own hand to pay much attention to anything else. "You sure you don't wanna play, Light? I promise I'll go easy," Fang questioned, her signature grin giving lie to her words. Lightning only shook her head and motioned for the game to continue. "I'll pass," she intoned, brushing away the drifting smoke with a gloved hand.
"Aww, come on, Liiiight!" Vanille squealed, reaching over and grabbing her hand. "It'll be fun!"
"Soldier girl never has fun - didn't you know that, girlie?" Sazh said, puffing on his cigar as he moved his cards in his hands and sacrificed a few of his chips to Fang. Lightning shook her head again and extricated her hand from Vanille's. "First of all, I know how to have fun. This just isn't my idea of it. Secondly, we all know who's going to win this card game and every successive one after that. Thirdly, I need a drink," she explained, standing swiftly and heading towards the bar. Vanille made some fuss over the one she had made for her, but that was swiftly cut off by a squeak - Fang! - and triumphant chuckling.
Lightning wiped a hand over her face as she dug around for the heavy stuff minus all the fruity intrusion. With some maneuvering she found a bottle of whiskey, and after a little more moving around, a suitable glass. Her mind turned over the night's conversations as she poured herself a good amount and gingerly sipped the amber liquid. Why did everyone seem to think she needed this wild idea of fun? She enjoyed her work, took a little time to herself now and then, and she didn't need anything else. Sound familiar? It seemed like she'd been repeating that line to herself that night. She frowned in thought as she leaned against the counter and watched the card game continue on. In the past five years, she had accomplished many things and was satisfied with her life - content. Gran Pulse was livable and enjoyable because of her. The thought of something more, of anything, was foreign. Did she need it?
Lightning began to feel the first stirrings of restlessness.