The Inquisitive Commander

by Lord Dragon Claw

Disclaimer: Final Fantasy Tactics was developed by SquareSoft. Rights currently belong to Square-Enix.

Chapter One: Numbers

Gaff Gafgarion was a hardened war veteran in dark armor. The gray of his hair belied his vicious strength. The Dark Knight was also brutally impatient, as Ramza Ruglia had learned over the course of several months working for him as part of a mercenary troupe.

Gafgarion growled as he paced the length of the monastery hall and back again. "What is taking so long! We were supposed to leave nearly an hour ago!"

"Sir," prompted Ramza, causing the grumpy warrior to turn to face the blonde. "It's only been forty-seven minutes."

"... You counted, didn't you?"

Ramza shrugged. Rad, a red-haired squire and the third mercenary, palmed his face. He had been hired on as an attaché to Gafgarion at the same time Ramza had. Ramza's seeming obsession with numbers always grated on the older man's nerves and made him verbally lash out at whoever was handy.

Gafgarion sneered before turning to the entrance to the chapel and striding past two platinum blonde knights, Lavian and Alicia, barging through the doors despite the glares sent his way.

Smirking, Ramza followed. Rad sighed as he brought up the rear.

"What's going on!" demanded their commander of the Holy Knight they had met earlier. "It's been almost an hour!"

"Forty-eight min-"

"Shut it, Ramza!"

For his trouble, the blonde grinned.

Agrias Oaks, the aforementioned Holy Knight, turned a whithering glare at the angry man. "Don't be rude to the Princess, Gafgarion."

Said princess was a golden-haired beauty that reminded Ramza of a woman he hadn't seen in over a year. Three-hundred and ninety-two days, to be exact.

Ramza dropped to one knee for a polite bow and motioned to Rad to do the same. Gafgarion merely nodded, annoying the Holy Knight.

"Are you sure it's okay to indulge her useless prayers? We are on a deadline."

Her features steeled further as she resisted the urge to punch the man. "I see that manners are not a part of the Hokuten training regimen anymore."

"I'm not a member of Larg's army," argued the Dark Knight. "I'm just a mercenary captain. I have no obligation to show any respect to you."

Agrias frowned at him, her green eyes full of loathing, reminding Ramza of another woman who he hadn't seen in a while. Three-hundred and eighty-nine days, actually.

"Enough," declared the princess's melodious voice as she turned around. "Let's go."

Princess Ovelia's features were softer than the woman of whom Ramza was reminded. Additionally, she had chestnut eyes instead of ocean blue like the other lady.

As Ramza reminisced, Ovelia took eleven steps to the old priest where she gave him a hug.

"Go with God," he bade as a farewell while hugging her back.

"You too, Simon."

Just as Ramza began to wonder what sort of relationship this Simon had with Ovelia, the sound of a stumbling runner could be heard from behind, prompting all to turn. A female knight collapsed just within the threshold to the chapel, blood flowing from a wound in her side. Simon rushed over to the knight to aid her.

"Lady Agrias! Enemies!" she managed to breathe out, spitting out a little blood.

Simon frowned with worry. "Prince Goltana's men?"

Biting back an oath, the Holy Knight rushed to the front, bringing Alicia and Lavian with her to drive off the Nanten.

Gafgarion rolled his eyes. "The things one does for money. Let's go."

Ramza counted three archers, a knight, and a chemist. And six corpses. Whether they were Oaks' men or the monastery's militia, he wasn't sure.

"What idiots," groaned Gafgarion. "Attacking a fortified position from the front."

Agrias glanced at the man before turning back to the enemies. "Leave this to us."

"We can't make money that way," complained the Dark Knight. "Rad, Ramza, kill them all!"

"What!" exclaimed the Holy Knight. "Nonsense! There's no reason to slaughter them. Can't we just let them go?"

"That's impossible," argued Gafgarion.

Ramza needed no further prompting, leaping towards the chemist, a Fire spell already on his lips.

Chemists were a problem in the long run, able to heal their allies. A well-stocked chemist could restore their dead friends to life to keep the battle going.

The potion mixer managed to dodge Ramza's downward slash, but he unfortunately stepped right into the range of the blonde's spell. The man ignited with a scream. His pain was cut short when Ramza stabbed him in the throat.

When he turned around, he found that Gafgarion was already engaged with the knight, Agrias, Lavian, and Alicia were each cutting down an archer, and Rad had taken an arrow in the shoulder.

Quickly calculating the odds in his head, Ramza figured that no one actually needed help aside from Rad.

He kept a watch out for any other enemies potentially in the vicinity.

The skirmish was over in minutes. Ramza was charged with seeing to Rad's wound. Apparently, the St. Konoe knights were impressed with Ramza's knowledge of White Magic.

"You didn't tell me you were a priest," commented Agrias.

"I'm not," replied the young mercenary as he counted the number of fletchings on the arrow removed from Rad's shoulder.

How odd, he thought. Nanten use less chocobo feathers in their arrows than this. And Hokuten only use the common golden feathers. Why use green? He thought about it for a moment more. Glabados? Why would the church want the Princess dead? Why would they want the Nanten blamed for it? This makes no sense.

"You haven't heard a word I've said, have you?" asked the Holy Knight as Ramza stood up, pondering the shaft of the arrow.

"He gets like that sometimes," offered Rad. "He's awfully distracted outside of battle."

Agrias sighed as Gafgarion came forward. "We're ready to move and your subordinates told me that the Princess is ready."

"Good," replied the blonde woman. "Let's get going to Lionel, where the Princess can continue her studies."

"Bad idea," Ramza interjected.

Gafgarion and Agrias turned to him, both somewhat confused. He presented the fletching of the arrow.

"Nanten use a variety of colors for their crossbow bolts but they never use this much plumage. Hokuten use this much, but theirs is only a golden hue. The Death Corps is all but extinct, but they used red. Green... Green is Glabados. Someone in the Church wants Princess Ovelia dead. Going to Lionel, which is Glabados territory, is handing her directly over to them."

Agrias raised an eyebrow while the old Dark Knight gave a short laugh. "You counted again, didn't you?"

Ramza nodded.

"So... where are we going?" asked Rad.

"Dorter, to start," answered the Holy Knight.

"I, uh..." Ramza looked somewhat embarrassed. "I know some people there. I'll try to find them. They can help."

"Really?" Agrias didn't look like she believed it. Neither did Gafgarion.

"They were my graduating class from the Academy in Gariland."

Rad and the Holy and Dark Knights all looked surprised.

"You went to the Military academy!" asked Rad.

"Y-yeah. My father paid for my commission."

"You were an officer?" inquired the blonde woman.

"I... yeah." Blinking, clearly unused to the attention, Ramza retreated and wandered out the front door of the monastery. It took him twelve steps to get there.

Dorter was a bustling trade town with a port on the Corvim River. Despite the delay on Orbonne's steps, they made it within the city before nightfall. Agrias led them to the Cuar's Meow, a middle-class tavern that sported a sign with the monstrous cat drinking milk from a saucer. Gafgarion shook his head at the choice but was otherwise silent until they managed to get the Princess settled in her room she shared with the three St. Konoe guards.

"Ramza," he started. "You should go find these friends of yours."

"Sure," replied the blonde. "But Rad is coming with me."

"I am?"

"I need to look into the slums and I need someone to watch my back."

"Yeah, okay."

Gaff shook his head, but kept his silence until they left. Probably thought I'd talk Rad into helping me kill the Princess or something ridiculous like that.

Rad kept mostly silent, the redheaded young man understanding the potential danger that small talk would pose while walking through the slums, especially since it was rumored that remnants of the Death Corps stalked the alleyways, looking to steal some gil from the unaware.

Speaking of which, Ramza spotted a familiar-looking blonde woman in armor exiting a shop of some kind, thieves gathering around out of her sight. The blonde man made to call out to her.

"..." he yelled, but realized too late that he had somehow been silenced. He turned to see that his red-haired companion was on the ground, unconscious and probably silenced as well.

A monk was pulling his fist back from hitting Rad in the back of the neck while an oracle stood grinning behind the martial artist. Ramza frowned before suddenly thrusting his fist forward, sending a ripple of energy through the air and impacting the oracle. The woman cried out in pain as her cheekbone broke, the monk rushing Ramza with a left hook. The blonde caught the other man's hand while unsheathing his sword, pulling it in a swift arc to slice his opponent's belly open. The monk had anticipated this because he had blocked the strike with a stone that he'd picked up at some point. Ramza could hear the oracle trying to chant - difficult to do with the amount of pain she was undoubtedly in - but he also heard the familiar-looking woman fighting the three people who had tried to ambush her.

He heard a man cry out in pain behind him - signaling that the woman had seriously injured one of them - before the oracle completed her spell, binding his arms to his sides with cords of magic. The monk, thinking that he had the overwhelming advantage, charged forward for an uppercut. Ramza, showing a rare display of flexibility, bent backwards by sixty degrees at the waist and dodged the blow, countering with a kick to the monk's throat, crushing his windpipe.

With one threat down and choking to death, Ramza leapt at the oracle, who tried to fend him off with a quarterstaff. Kicking the pole away with his left foot, he kneed her in her already-damaged face with his right leg, eliciting a scream of pain. The blonde man kicked her in the ribs when the reached the ground, lifting her up a couple of feet into the air, before head-butting her in the sternum, breaking it. As she gasped on the ground, critically wounded, Ramza turned to see the familiar woman crushing her last opponent's windpipe with the edge of her shield.

The blonde woman looked to see Ramza standing near the dying oracle, smiling at her. She shook her head and walked over to where the blonde man stood. Her pale-blonde hair cascading around her shoulders as she walked, with her brown eyes conveying amusement and questions to Ramza.

"You crazy bastard, you nearly got yourself killed."

Ramza shrugged, his arms still bound to his sides.

"We've got to stop meeting like this, with corpses all around us. So, who's the redhead? I didn't see him with you the last time we faced off."

Ramza merely mouthed the word "mute" before looking meaningfully at his discarded sword.

"You're just full of surprises, aren't you, Ramza? First, you help me fake my death, and then you save my life by cracking that oracle's skull, and now you want me to sheathe your sword... Sounds like the plot to a romance novel, actually."

The blonde man merely shook his head in exasperation, eliciting a laugh from the woman.

"Let me guess, you're looking for your troop? Well, I found them first."

Ramza dropped his head and shook with silent laughter.

Eventually the Yin-Yang spells wore off and Ramza was able to talk and move freely again. Ramza was carrying Rad's form to this warehouse that the woman was leading him to.

"So, Miluda, you hid in Dorter after our fight?"

"Not immediately, no. Your solders actually found me as I was sneaking through Sweegy. That raised a lot of awkward questions, especially since I thought my brother died when Zeakden exploded."

Ramza suddenly became quiet.

"You okay?"

"Delita and Teta died at Zeakden. That's why I disbanded my squad." He sighed. And Delita died angry at me because he thought I actually killed you.

"Oh. I'm sorry, I kinda forgot. Gordon told me."

"How's he doing?"

"The man talks in riddles," she sighed. "But he's become a chronomancer on top of being a wizard."

Ramza snorted. "Being a time mage is so like him. How's Katarin?"

"Well, she still can use white magic, but she's become an oracle, much like the one you killed just now."

Ramza rolled his eyes. "How about Sabatieni?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know?"

"She left for Lesalia, looking for someone who would take a knight like her."

"Huh," pondered the blonde man. "Wonder if she got a job. What about Kenji?"

"Right behind you, Boss."

Ramza spun around to see the thief standing not two feet behind him, holding the blonde man's wallet. Kenji was a tall, lanky man with black hair and blue eyes. He playfully handed Ramza's wallet back to him and adjusted the spear on his back.

Blinking, Ramza said the first thing that came to mind as he looked up at Kenji. "You've become a lancer."

"Sure," he replied with a crooked grin. "And you're a monk disguised as a squire, and you've studied under both Black and White Magic."

"I've got more tricks than just that now," muttered Ramza, still annoyed that the taller man was able to sneak around so quietly in all the armor he wore.

"Of course you do, Boss," replied Kenji as he ruffled the blonde's hair, provoking Miluda to laughter.

Rad chose that time to begin coming around.

"It's getting late," complained Agrias, sitting at the table Gafgarion had chosen at the back of the room, near the stairs, facing the door.

"Yeah, I hope the brats aren't lying face down in a gutter somewhere," replied Gaff.

"Did you have to send them both out?"

Gafgarion eyed her briefly. "Ramza requested that Rad come along. Probably to avoid drowning in gutter water."

At that moment, Ramza, Rad, and four others entered the tavern. Rad looked a little dirty and Ramza had blood on his tunic. The pale-blonde female knight with them had even more blood on hers. There was a tall, lanky man with black hair and a spear who seemed to disappear somehow into the crowd if you didn't keep your eyes on him and a wizard wearing the stereotypical ridiculous straw hat. There was also an oracle woman with brown hair carrying a quarterstaff.

"Speaking of the devils," muttered the aging Dark Knight. "Looks like he found his friends."

Ramza walked up to the table and sat, Kenji and Rad sitting on either side of him. Considering that Agrias' and Gaff's table was now full, Gordon, Miluda, and Katarin sat at a nearby table.

"Nine people to protect one VIP. Told you I'd find them."

"That you did, kid," replied Gafgarion. "But it looks like you guys ran into some trouble."

"Rather," interrupted Kenji. "Trouble ran into them. And lost. Hard."

"Ramza learned something new today though," began Miluda. Even Ramza turned to look at her at that. "He can kill two other people with both hands tied behind his back and gagged."

The blonde man in question banged his head on the table to hide his embarrassment while Gaff laughed at him. "How did you manage to get into that mess!"

"An oracle silenced and-" Miluda began to explain before Ramza interrupted.

"I don't want to talk about it."

This merely provoked Gafgarion into chuckling.

"As amusing as this is," started Agrias. "We still haven't chosen a destination. Lionel, Murond, Zeltennia, and Lesalia are out."

"Don't go to Fovoham," added Katarin. "If you can't go to Lionel or Murond, it could be a sure bet that Prince Barinten would turn you in to the Church, if only to get you out of his country."

"So we're left with staying here in Gallione, or going to Limberry," summarized the Dark Knight.

"If it isn't broken, don't fix it," muttered Gordon.

Rad, Gaff, and Agrias looked over to the wizard to see if he would elaborate. He merely pulled his straw hat further down his face, despite the fact that it already made his features be little more than shadow.

"Gordon's right," said Ramza, raising his head to look up at Gaff and Agrias. "We should stay in Gallione..."

"And the safest place in Gallione is Igros," sighed the Holy Knight. "Very well."

The next day saw them making it through Sweegy Woods unmolested.

"These woods always creep me out," stated Alicia, the brunette knight eying every tree and bush as if it hid a potential threat.

"Do you suppose the stories about the Moogles who once lived here have any truth to them?" speculated Lavian, the redheaded woman looking around.

"I believe they did exist, but all records of them say they died out during the time of the Zodiac Braves," recited Ovelia as she rode her princely red chocobo, Leon. "I believe they were among the first casualties of the Lucavi demons."

Gafgarion had taken point with Ramza and Rad guarding his flanks.

"Crazy women-folk," murmured the Dark Knight. "Talking about fairy tales when there could be an attack over the next rise..."

Miluda and Agrias brought up the rear. This allowed the two blonde women to get acquainted.

"So, how did you meet Ramza anyway?"

"He attacked the fort I was at and beat the crap out of me."

The Holy Knight blinked. "And you became his friend after that?"

"Of course not. He let me go. About a week later, however..."

She was going to die. That same squad that attacked her before was after her blood, all because Golagros had to be an idiot and capture a noblewoman from Igros. Now the Hokuten were buzzing about like angry hornets, and Miluda was getting caught in the crossfire.

Most of her squad had been efficiently dispatched by the Hokuten, and the captain who had spared her before was chasing her down. Who knew a wizard/monk could run so fast?

So frantic was her dash, that she stepped into a sinkhole and fell face-first into the dirt. She rolled over quickly to see Ramza looking at her.

"You really don't want to die, do you?" he asked.

"Of course not!" she spat, still clutching the hilt to her shattered sword and brandishing it in a futile attempt to defend herself.

"Well, I have an idea, because it would seem such a waste to spare your life only to kill it again later, but you'll have to go into hiding."

"What did he do?" asked Agrias, truly intrigued.

"He had me run and hide in a ditch," replied the pale-blonde. At Agrias' raised eyebrow, Miluda continued. "Then he blew a crater in the side of the mountain with an overpowered Thundaga spell."

The Holy Knight gasped in shock. Ramza was that powerful of a mage? If that was the case, then why hadn't she heard of the name Ruglia before?

End Chapter One.

Next Chapter: brothers.

Author's Notes

I wondered how Ramza might be different if he fit the job class that I usually have him train in - calculator. Also, monk and squire. Like the wonderful author, Gaming Ikari, I see Ramza's ability to branch out into nearly every job class merely as him being a fighting genius and a Beoulve.

Blame Gaming Ikari, SerialRavist, and ObsidianDawn for writing such great Final Fantasy Tactics fanfics - fics so good that I was inspired to write one of my own.

Several things from "Chapter One: The Meager" are going to be different. Very different. For example... Delita really is dead.

I thank Vassago-Toxicity for being my beta on this story.

Also, I have a hard time keeping myself from writing Ranma instead of Ramza.

Kenji is fun to write.

So, I apologize for the really long wait. My compy died, then the lappy's power supply died, had to buy a new one, and then a bunch of really good authors updated. Meh. You don't care.

Anyway, for those of you who are reading this because you are fans of mine, welcome back. For those of you who are reading this because it's a FFT fanfic, I thank you for coming. This is my first foray into writing a fic for this fandom so I have no real fannon conventions shaping the way I can go with this. I hope that you find your experience reading this to be unique and/or amusing. Additionally, it may be some time before this story updates again.