Chapter 4: "Troubles Brewing, Solutions Cooking"
Rikku threw herself off the edge of the ruddy colored cliff, diving straight out into space, before gravity took effect and sent her tumbling, head over heels, down the steep slope side. A comical "Auh, auh, auh," escaping her lips as she flipped repeatedly until landing with a dusty plop onto the ground below on her rear.
The Al Bhed teen only had a moment to shake the dizziness from her head before the creature she jumped the cliff to avoid wailed at her from atop the cliff and took a clumsy step off the edge and quickly bounced with it's spherical shape closer into her view. Rikku agilely popped back to her feet, finding that she didn't want to be crushed by a burbling monster, and dashed away upon contact of her thief boots against the dirt to her place running for her life (or grown life) behind her friends who ran past her.
With slight panic lining every syllable of her words, Rikku screamed to the other girl's backs, "Who said getting a sample from this thing would be easy?"
Paine, huffing slightly, and Yuna, too breathless to answer, turned to look at the Al Bhed as they ran out of the fear of being shrunken down to infantile sizes. The warrior narrowed her dark red eyes and ground out through her teeth, "That was you!"
A gunshot echoed in the ravine and a bullet from the Meyvn's gun sunk into the soft flesh of the fiend. Mostly unfazed by the attack, the beast jumped with a great leap of its stubby legs and lashed out with its arms towards the girls, who dispersed to avoid them.
Nooj aimed again from his perch on the cliff and pulled the trigger, landing in a more shallower and less fatty spot on the monster. It squalled in pain, before green blood exploded from the wound.
Rikku, seeing her opportunity, rushed the thing with her twin daggers drawn. The one large eye focused just in time to see her and immediately set to act. Rikku only had enough time to let out a brief squeal before gums encircled her and her vision was blanketed in darkness.
"Rikku!" Yuna and Paine both gasped in concern for their friend before wiggling Al Bhed boots jutted out from the toothless mouth.
The creature 'chewed' on the teen for a moment longer before realizing it was hard to eat and spat her out on the dust, a huge waterfall of drool following after and plopping on her already gooey head with a loud slap.
Rikku, sitting on her rear with her legs stretching straight out in front of her, lifted her soaked arm warmers slowly from the slobbery puddle to discover a partially see-through glob-trail following them up. She pulled her nose up in disgust and squeaked, "Ewwwie."
Paine lurched herself forward, only momentarily relaxing that the teen was just fine, and swung her sword into the monster's soft skin. The blade sunk, clutched in fat, but did not cut. An arm swooped across the dust, dangerous barbed ends shooting up clouds, before its fleshy tentacle whacked into the goth-style teen's side.
Her pale body flew across the narrow canyon to land into the dirt hard. In the dazed moment she laid, arms and their barbs stretched towards her.
Nooj leapt into the air about the beast's head from the reddish cliff, harsh eyes focused on the woman below, and on the monster standing near her and poised to strike. His good leg extended in front of him, and the Meyvn did not hesitate to begin to open fire upon his target as he flew down to the ground beside Paine.
The barrage of bullets from his automatic weapon rang through the canyon and mixed with the agonized cries of the fiend, before the monster hurled itself away from Paine, who was lifting herself and her sword from the ground.
With a dull thud, the Meyvn landed with a passing glance as reassurance to the warrior, before turning his head to the sound of soft bruised flesh literally rolling desperately as the fiend wailed and escaped, making use of it spherical shape in its get-away.
Paine shook her head at the strangest and possibly least threatening scene she had ever witnessed that included a fiend before turning slightly on her heel to cock her hips at the Al Bhed thief, lifting a silvery eyebrow to the tanned face, "Easy, huh?" Paine said sarcastically before lowering her voice, "I should kick you."
"I got the sample, didn't I?" Rikku drew out, annoyed, before holding up a palm full of saliva, covered in head to toe with the slobber to show her hard won success.
Yuna's worried expression relaxed lightly for only a moment at her cousin, before it returned to its tense state again, "I hope it helps," She said with a heavy tone, "I don't know how much longer Leblanc can stand."
"I'm sure it's fine," Rikku said only partly paying attention to what her fellow Gullwing was saying at all, being more interested in trying to wipe and flick every bit of nastiness from her attire. The spit only stuck, and stretched between her hands and her body, much to Rikku's further discomfort and repulsion.
Yuna remained unconvinced, and it showed on her soft features. Paine sighed deeply, before offering some solace for the Former High Summoner's current thoughts, "At least we have something to work with and are that much closer to the cure. Leblanc can wait a little longer. That's all it's going to take."
"Still-" Yuna began before she stopped herself with a slight shake of her head, "No, you're right, Paine. I shouldn't worry."
Paine smiled half-heartedly, seeing the tension in the older girl's shoulders just the same.
Nooj cleared his throat, an attempt at a polite way to include himself and gain their attentions, without having to be required to add something of relief to the situation in which he had none. The girl's eyes turned to him and he lowered his chin slightly, "In any case, nothing is going to get done standing here in the ravine. Let's go back to the Headquarters and begin to work on a remedy before someone loses their mind."
"Logos, leave Ormi alone and go to sleep." Leblanc rubbed her eyes and then watched as Logos pushed on Ormi's pudgy face with little uncontrolled fingers, tiny nails scrapping the side of the other's cheek lightly.
Ormi's face contorted and the first notes of what Leblanc feared began.
"Sshh," Leblanc nearly begged with her tone and rubbed the bigger boy's stomach softly until he relaxed gradually back into slumber, before she glared at the ever-bored boy that refused to sleep or let the other be.
"Logos," She hissed in a hard whisper, "Go to sleep!"
The small slanted eyes stared, sparkling with the abundant moistness naturally settled over the dusky color of his irises, then a skinny hand slowly extended up and reached quietly yet demandingly to Leblanc. She raised a blonde eyebrow at the gesture before giving him her fingers.
He wrapped around them with a grip that was clearly as tightly as he could manage, though delicate feeling to her, and brought his weak arm back to his chest. His hand lifted again, leaving Leblanc's hand for a moment resting on his chest, and slightly bent fingers landed on top of Leblanc's hand and a velvety touch petted her smooth skin.
She sighed slowly, knowing without having to look at the time that it was nearly her regular bedtime, and lowered herself with every bit of control she had to the bed as to not disturb Ormi. If she had time that day, which she didn't as she tended to the boys, and only finding her own moments of rest when they did, Leblanc would've put together at least one of the cribs she had purchased somewhere in her room. Ideally, she may have even put them both together. But, it wasn't done and it seemed that they were going to sleep on her bed again tonight in the soft glow of her nearby lamp.
"What are you doing?" She whispered as Logos's finger brushed over her knuckles, his eyes drooping. To the sound of her voice, they opened slightly wider again, and his eyes found hers and locked. Leblanc laid her head down on the softness of her blankets and kept her hand rested on the boy's chest as he clutched her index finger.
After a while, she let out some breath again, in a calming manner, before pushing herself higher on the bed and laid beside the two boys again, eyes watching over them.
When her head sunk into the pillow beside his head, Logos looked up and lifted one his hand to her short locks of hair, fingers searching and feeling the strands as he laid flat on his back, heavy head turning sideways to see what he was touching.
Leblanc smiled lightly, exhaustion framing every movement and twitch of her face, before her hand that rested on the baby's chest raised to pat down Logos's soft downy black hair, "Why do you have to touch something before you go to sleep? Did your mother have to deal with this?"
She could commend both of their mothers over and over again for the strange little things that they must've discovered the same as she that day about their behaviors and handling it in an obviously correct manner, or the boys wouldn't be reduced-in-size and drifting off to sleep now. There had been times already when she wanted to just leave them, give up, say she quit, but Leblanc knew she couldn't.
It was still amazing though, to know that some certainly frustrated women somewhere, had done this all before. And that thousands of mothers, new and experienced, were doing it now.
Of course, Leblanc grew a little bit envious of those that had fathers, or anyone, around to help. Because clearly, someone couldn't do it all alone. Leblanc wondered once again how she was going to last however long it took for Nooj to find the cure, and hoped that it wouldn't be much longer.
It only took one full day after all, to make her feel completely exhausted. A day full of dealing with numerous crying and the desperate search for the reason t their discomfort, more feedings than she thought was necessary for babies, and of course the horrible experience of changing diapers. Then there was the drool, occasional hair pulling, squirming making them hard to hold when she moved them, and a mess of her chateau because she didn't find time to clean up after them.
Leblanc frowned lightly and tried to find a time when she could clean up tomorrow, and hopelessly came up with nothing. If tomorrow was going to be anything like today, then she wouldn't be able to find time to do anything!
Unless she could leave them in a room by themselves for a little bit, but the book was so informative about all the things that could go terribly, terribly, wrong. And the last thing she needed was to kill her two underlings while they were in the states that they were suffering in. Or making her suffer in.
Leblanc felt her eyes push close as the heavy call of sleep took over her head.
It wouldn't take Nooj long to find the cure, she assured herself. She only needed to endure for a little longer.
"Nahm," Logos pushed himself with all his small might to near Leblanc's lock of hair that he had tightly clenched in his fist, and his slimy mouth closed around the trapped piece of hair.
"Logos! No!" Leblanc pulled her hair, rather painfully, away from him and squeamishly pulled at the icky dampness that held onto her short spike of blonde strands. Logos's eyes widened at her sudden movement and reprimanding voice, then his eyes closed tightly and his small mouth plunged downward.
His body quivered, and he coughed soundlessly, but Leblanc, with a bit of growing panic, knew that he was soon going to let out a Spira-shattering squall that would surely wake up Ormi and cause a fit from him as well.
Leblanc swooped him up from the bed, glanced at Ormi lying perfectly still against the blankets, and escaped into the hall with whimpering Logos. Logos rubbed his eyes agitatedly and buried his head into Leblanc's shoulder as she softly closed her bedroom door and bounced Logos gently.
Leblanc sighed, feeling her eyes more heavy than before, and prayed that Logos would be done soon enough and sleep.
She once again felt sleep and exhaustion pull on her body hard and closed her eyes, praying earnestly that she wouldn't have to do this for much longer.
"I'm sorry Meyvn, but-"
Nooj shook his head, already understanding by the look on the underling's face what good the sample he and the Gullwings retrieved had done. "Keep trying. There is always an answer."
"I'm afraid that, well," The underling shifted, the dark night still and quiet behind him, adding to his hopelessness. "If there is an answer, Meyvn Nooj, it will not be found in this beast's saliva. Perhaps…if we could get some of it's blood, or flesh?"
The underling's features were lined with concern, for both the three heroines of Spira, and of course his revered leader's safety, since what he asked entailed another risky venture closer to the still mysterious monster.
Nooj waved his hand in a dismissive manner, exhaustion writ on his handsome face, and gently said, "You're dismissed. Please keep looking into the cure and I'll get you what ever you need."
The young man brought his fist up to his chest and slammed his heels together, before lightly bowing his head and turning on his left foot to leave swiftly. Nooj watched the man drag his feet as he walked farther down the line of tents, before the Youth League leader let the tent flap fall from his dark palm to swing back in front of the entrance.
Nooj slowly limped across the span of the tent before turning around the edge of his desk to find the chair that waited behind it at the very end of his personal quarters. He lowered himself down into it stiffly, a breath escaping from his nose as he felt the miserable possibility of failure.
The proud man of course knew it was far too early to be getting desperate or lose any kind of faith in the effort of finding the cure, but every so often when he heard infants' crying on the wind, it added some weight to his shoulders, pushing them down.
He brought a hand to his forehead and vaguely wondered if he could find a cure for Leblanc and for his own three underlings, Lucil, Yaibal and Elma, that caused daily headache for the young people's of the League, who had as much of experience with child rearing as himself, which sadly was none at all.
A wreck. That would be a good word to describe how caring for these infants were. And if he could, he would've gladly hired some babysitters from Bevelle, if only they came with fiend fighting skills. At least enough to avoid the monster roaming below on the road and avoid turning into even more children for the Meyvn to deal with. Sadly, most of the hired babysitters in Bevelle were very domestic, and very rarely left the city much less battled fiends.
Nooj sighed. If he, whose patience very rarely ran thin, was becoming admittedly agitated at the never ending troubles and needs of three babies with the help of an entire organization, albeit clueless organization, then how was Leblanc with two on her own working out?
And though Nooj didn't like to point out fault in others, he knew her goofy goons would be of no help. The only ones Nooj found competent enough to deal with were the main three, and of course, two of them were now as incompetent as they were ever going to be.
He'd never show a moment of weakness to anyone willingly, but as no one was even near him, he allowed himself to slump slightly in his seat.
The only thing for him to do was to find the ever elusive cure.
Yuna paced the floor of the ship, her brows creased, before she looked out of the corner of her green eye to check on the progress of Shinra, who also worked with a sample of the fiend's fluid. The Al Bhed boy made a few noises of interest, occasionally lisping, 'strange' or simply a drawn out, 'hmm'. Each sound pulled the Former High Summoner's face to his chair and to the boy slightly leaning forward over his control panel at his station, thick gloved fingers dancing over keys and making notes.
Brother became antsy as he sat cross legged in the middle of the bridge, his body swaying in time to Yuna's constant pacing, and he soon folded his arms over his tattooed chest and squirmed forward on his seat, a dramatic moan escaping from his lips.
"Yuna!" He whined, his body leaping up to his feet and soon jumped in front of his cousin, whose worry was still painted over her lovely face. When Yuna looked up at him curiously, he twitched nervously before speaking in his heavy Al Bhed accent, every word coming out in an individual beat, and he gradually got faster, "You know you don't have to fear!" His hands did a spastic, uncoordinated, fumble and twist before one hand finally was positioned high over his head, the other on his bent hip, and he pointed awkwardly at the ceiling, "We will find a cure!"
Seemingly realizing he stood in an awkward and unnecessary pose, Brother slowly relaxed into standing position and crossed his arms over his chest, slightly embarrassed. His green eyes searched over Yuna's face, disappointingly finding worry there still, and he lifted his chin high in his 'leaders-are-always-tough-and-strong' way, "Shinra is smart!" He practically announced, over pronouncing the Spiraian words, "He will find something!"
Buddy's neutral voice rose from his side of the bridge, "He's right Yuna, there's no sense in worrying about it. Besides, there's nothing you can do except wait and see."
Yuna began to weakly smile before her eyes closed and she shook her head, hands coming up as fists beside her face, "No," She lowered her hands and opened her differently colored eyes, "I feel like I can do something to help."
Rikku patted the air and slowly sidled up to Yuna's side, "But what, Yunie? The only thing that can help anyone right now would be the cure. And Shinra's going to get it real soon."
Shinra stood up in his seat and looked over the back of it, shaking his head lightly, "I'm not so sure, Rikku," His whole body swayed with his negatively shaking head. The Gullwings all inched closer to look over the boy's shoulder as the young genius settled back into his chair and began pulling up bits of information on his screen, his fingers tapping onto the keyboard.
"I can't find anything in the saliva that can reverse the effects of the poisons. But, I can find out what this thing likes to eat, and tons of other things," Shinra looked up to try to find anyone interested, only to be met with Rikku's pout.
"That doesn't help!" She stomped her foot down on the metal floor with a harsh clang.
To hide disappointment in the lack of caring for his findings, he turned back to his station and feverishly started to look over the data again, searching one last time for something close to a cure, but as he saw there was none, he shook his head and continued typing, only offering his favorite excuse, "I'm just a kid."
"I'm just a kid," Brother slowly mouthed, his eyes rolling in their sockets as he grumbled the phrase indistinctly and turned his back to the boy-genius and crossed his arms over his torso. Brother mumbled something in Al Bhed before looking sadly down at his boots.
Paine, from the back of the group, slowly stepped forward to put a black gloved hand on Yuna's shoulder, "Just be patient." Her soft voice was reassuring, but Yuna couldn't feel the proper effects of it.
"But-" Yuna's voice stopped, her mouth pursed into a little pout. There has to be something!
Yuna softly looked off into the distance, through the ship's large front windshield, looking over the ocean that pulsed outside in the view. Ever since she was small, she knew that she couldn't always help everyone in the world but had an impossible desire to do just that. And she had done so many incredible things that one could almost say she had accomplished it. Saving Spira twice was no small favor to the people after all, but Yuna still felt the push of the wish for everyone to be pleased, happy, and content.
Lulu had always said she acted like a little girl with the way she wouldn't except reality, and Wakka always told her not to worry so much.
Suddenly, the tenseness in Yuna's shoulders ebbed and she offered a small smile to those that continued to stare at her.
"We might not be able to help," Yuna jumped a little, clearly excited, as she turned to those that perked up at her unexpected change in mood. Her beautiful closed mouth smile widened, and her eyes twinkled softly in relief, "But I know someone who might."
A/N: Yeah, I'm sorry there wasn't a lot of baby cuteness or Leblanc for that matter, but soon, my children…soon.
And if you are all wondering why it took so long to update, blame my retarded internet connection I've been battling with lately! Argh!