Author has written 1 story for Final Fantasy X.
Male. Born: 1963.
Favorite Book: Too complicated to go into here, but I like military SF/Fantasy, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, Glen Cook's stuff, and the Harry Potter books.
Favorite Consol Games: FFX and Splinter Cell.
Favorite PC Games: Civ III. I know Civ IV is out, but I haven’t bought it. The Civ games are good, but incredible time wasters.
Favorite Movie: The Big Sleep.
Favorite Song: You can't have just one favorite song. You want to get to know someone ask them what their five favorite songs are. For me right now, Blinded By the Light, Amazing Grace on the bagpipes, Moon River, Ever the Same, and What a Wonderful World (belongs to Louis Armstrong forever, I know, but have you heard the recording by Renee Olstead?). The list changes sometimes.
Favorite TV Show (Not watching TV right now, except for watching Astros lose every game in Series): House, MD. Second favorite, Kim Possible. (Don't ask.) Used to watch West Wing, CSI, Buffy, Babylon 5, Gilmore Girls. I just bought the first season of the new Battlestar Galactica. I guess I’m going to go ahead and get the next one, but breaking the season up into two set, does that seem cheesy to anyone else?
Favorite Hurricane: Epsilon.
I'm only working on one fic. It's an aurikku. It didn't start out that way. When the first season of House ended I thought I'd look at some of the fanfic and see who the fans were putting him with, young Dr Cameron, age-appropriate Dr Cuddy, or (long-shot) ex-girlfriend Stacy. As always, when I got to the site I saw the Game category, and as always I thought to myself that there isn't a game out there whose characters I care enough about to read a fan fic much less write one. Then I thought, Oh wait. There's one. So I went in to look for FFX fics.
Like a lot of people, I decided to go ahead and write a fic to take my mind off some stuff that's going on. Sort of a hobby, and not as expensive as collecting Old Masters. Like a lot of people, Auron was always my favorite character, so I decided I'd write an Auron POV fic, building up his part with a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that the other chars would never even notice. I read some Auron fics to see what was out there, and that's when I first ran across aurikkus. Rikku had always been my second favorite character in the game, but I had never thought of putting them together. But when I thought about it, the story started to change in some really interesting ways. The original story was going to be a rather grim little jeremiad on honor, duty, and what it means to be a man, with Auron not letting anything or anyone stand in the way of his duty. Basically, read the first chapter and imagine it like that all the way through to the end. Then I started thinking about the two of them together. Sure it's an unlikely pairing, but that's why it's a challenge to make it believable. Basically, I thought the only way it could have happened was gradually, coming first from a strong friendship. Anyway, that's what I decided to write.
A thought on aurikkus. There are a couple of reasons that some people don't care for them. First, some think the pairing is too OOC. Well, that's the challenge. And some people just like the pairing. Anyway, the second reason is that some people think the relationship is just wrong because of the ages. (Seem to be okay with the life and death thing.) And I have to say, if you take a real 15 or 16 year old girl and stand her next to a real guy in his 30s or 40s you will see their point. That's valid. But OTOH these aren't real people, they're characters we care about in very special circumstances. Well, like I say, just a thought.
Couple of character notes. Auron is probably my favorite character from a video game—not that I play that many. That’s partly because he’s an older character, which makes a nice change in a fantasy game (for example, Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell is another favorite character, but in a game set during the present day and that’s trying to be realistic they couldn’t logically make Sam Fisher seventeen years old...he has to be about the age he is). But mostly I like Auron for the same reasons that other people like the character. He’s cool and mysterious. And he doesn’t talk much. That’s important because it means that we get to fill up his silences. We get to decide what’s going on inside his head and what he thinks and what he cares about. We can make him whoever we want him to be, and he always agrees with us about right to life or right to choose, or about the war in Iraq, or about legalizing drugs, or whatever. Who wouldn’t like someone like that? (That’s also why it squicks us so much when writers take him in some OOC direction that isn’t the OOC direction that we would have taken him.) So, who did I decide to make him?
FFX had a more Asian flavor than other FFs (apparently...I’ve never played the other FFs) which had more of a European Middle-Ages or generic Techno-industrial feel to them. That’s great, but my Auron is more western than eastern. That just helps me with the characterization better. So, he's not actually a warrior so much as he is a soldier, that is, a military professional. He has his own concept of honor and cares absolutely nothing about ego or pride. He cares about the mission. You can see that in my story from the way he goes about his duties as a guardian. To him the best way to protect Yuna isn’t to be some superhuman sentinel never letting down his guard (although that has its place) but rather to pour his efforts into training the party to be an effective team. In the end, that will keep Yuna and all of them safer...as well as quietly furthering some of his own ends.
I'm also probably the only one doing this that makes Auron older. That's left over from before it was an aurikku. I wanted him to be a 20 year vet before he went to Zanarkand, and the earliest that I could credibly start him was age twelve. I had a lot of stuff in his backstory to fit in. Some of that will be explored, some will just be mentioned, and some probably will get left out of the story. Anyway, my Auron is very goal oriented. Also, unlike many stories, my Auron is actually rather fond of young people. I don’t know exactly why so many stories assume that he doesn’t like young people, as opposed to anyone else. Much of Auron’s career was spent training young cadets in the warrior monks and Crusaders, and later in Zanarkand...young people with strong values and enthusiasm. He enjoyed doing that, and he respected their dedication and that's the prism through which he views the group he's traveling with. (Of course that’s going to cause some problems—raise some issues—when he starts to have a relationship with one of them.) There is absolutely no question that he thinks any one of them is worth twelve of him, because like almost all Aurons, mine is full of bitterness and self-recrimination. And at the same time he sees things very clearly, and so even if he doesn't think much of himself, he knows that his skills and his knowledge are beyond price, and he knows that he's vital to the success of The Plan.
Recently a reviewer commented that by this point Auron was very OOC. Some others have agreed. And of course they’re correct. He is. Not only to the game, but to the way he is at the start of the story. Thing is, that’s kind of the point. I’ve never had a problem with OOC characters as long as it was clearly and believably explained how they got that way. In a way, that’s not the central theme of the story. Can you really see the Auron from the game or from chapter one flying a kite, or going on a picnic, or with a puppet on his hand? The story is how he got to the point where those actions are believable for him. (I could actually see Auron being that way inside, but not showing that part of himself to people...but that’s me.) Auron’s been through a lot by the time Part One ends, not the least of which was falling in love and being loved in return. I think that would change him.
You know, back before the story became an aurikku Auron’s character wasn’t actually going to change much. When the story was just about Auron it was going to be an exploration of unflinching steadfastness in the face of adversity (true stoicism, rather than what passes for it in a lot of these stories) so success for Auron would have been remaining unchanged, unbending, unyielding until the end. But that changed when it became an aurikku. Now the story is partly about how and why Auron changes over time. (Rikku too...she’s pretty OOC at this point...they’re rubbing off on each other.) Put it this way—with everything that Auron goes through, and all that happens to him, if his character did not change by the end, that would be so remarkable that it would have to be itself the main theme of the story. There’s certainly room for a story like that...Rikku offers him a last chance for love and affection, and perhaps Auron would even like to accept, but in the end he simply can’t make the change, can’t unbend, can’t open up, and he remains alone, a tragic figure. That would be a fine story (kind of depressing) but it’s not the one I’m writing. So my Auron does change, gradually.
But that still doesn’t make him a good guy to cross.
He’s still Auron.
Now here are some Rikku character notes for the story, and I hope no one’s offended because first off, I think I have to say that I don’t like RikkuxGippal. Couple of reasons. First, I just don’t like Gippal. Sometimes in real life there are people who just rub each other the wrong way. No reason. Gippal types have always been like that for me. Just bad chemistry. (Usually vice versa, too.) Hey, maybe he changes as the game goes on, I don’t know. I didn’t come close to finishing it. So I just don’t like Gippal. That’s one thing.
But the other main thing about RxG that I really don’t care for is X2 Rikku. It seems to me that in the two years since FFX the girl got seriously less mature, and I know why SqS did it, making the point that now that Sin is gone all these young people can have the childhoods and young adulthoods that they missed. (And trying to make a less serious game.) But I just don’t like her the way I do FFX Rikku. It’s a good thing she has that bikini because she doesn’t seem to have anything else going for her. (Is that too mean? Sorry. X2 was a bitter disappointment.) Auron really wouldn’t look twice at X2 Rikku. (He’d look once, because of the way she’s dressed, but not twice.) A lot of people say aurikkus are unrealistic because Rikku’s just some annoying, squeaky, hyper teenage girl who wouldn’t do anything but get on Auron’s nerves. That isn’t close to being true in FFX, but it is for X2. She just got so shallow. I know some people have argued that she also got mean and slutty. I can’t say anything about that because like I say, I didn’t come close to finishing X2, and I only got as far as I did because of Rikku’s outfits. (By the way, don’t care for X2 Yuna, either.)
All of that really by way of leading into what I think about FFX Rikku, which is that as a character, she has depths and complexity. Yes, she has a perky, upbeat personality, but there’s more to her than that. Aside from her massive competence in so many areas, aside from the tragedies in her past, aside from the whole member of an outcast society thing, aside from all of that, if she was just a party girl she would never have been on the pilgrimage to begin with. She wouldn’t have cared enough about her cousin (or anything except maybe boys and partying) to risk her life that way. (You can argue that it came out of an impulsive, live-for-the-minute, don’t-think-about-the-consequences attitude, but I don’t see it that way. That’s just not Rikku.)
So, she’s a deep, complex character. Having gotten that far, there seems to be a lot more variety in the way people write Rikku than Auron. He’s always more-or-less stoic and angst-ridden and whatever. But people do different things with Rikku. Some Rikkus are happy and perky and everyone loves them. (Call that standard Rikku, and it doesn’t mean the story lacks depth. I think that’s the kind of Rikku you get in “bleak” for example.) Others are truly tortured, like the Rikku in “crimson confessions” (not aurikku) to take an extreme example. Some are sweet and young and kind of naïve like in “the emerald truth” or “unlikely duo” and some are assertive like in “the shape of his heart” or even “paradoxical intention”. Some are just silly and goofy, like in “finding her focus” or “chance of a lifetime” (I really like that story). And some are just, well, regular teenagers.
I was always worried about my Rikku characterization, about how well I could write a teenaged girl, especially since I wanted her to be real rather than some two dimensional, cardboard cutout. One thing that people sometimes do that does give her more depth is make her sexually active. (This is for FFX and X2.) That’s not necessarily to say that a teenager who’s having sex is more interesting than a teenager who isn’t, but it does add a different side to the character. It certainly isn’t unrealistic and it opens up the possibilities of things like failed romances or abusive relationships (the latter show up mostly in AUs, as does drug use and cutting), and what is her attitude towards sex, or even a possible miscarriage or abortion. (Rape also comes up quite a bit.) So, okay, you can do that (it also to some extent mitigates one of the objections to an aurikku relationship) but I didn’t. My Rikku is still a virgin. I’ll get into why in a minute, but the thing is that it doesn’t make her any less interesting a character given the reason. She’s innocent (not just sexually) in a world and circumstances where it’s not easy to stay innocent, which means it’s a choice that she’s made and something she has to work at to not become cynical and fatalistic. I think that’s interesting.
I also think that this Rikku is closer to FFX canon, going by the talk she has with Tidus in Guadosalam if she tops the affection list. (You know, I think most all of us actually talk to Lulu in Guadosalam, probably because Rikku’s just joined them and how much chance have we had to heal her and stuff? Of course, on the other hand that means Lulu rides with Tidus at Lake Macalania and Rikku and Auron ride together.) Anyway, when she talks to Tidus about how her mother died and so she only has one brother and she was kind of lonely growing up so she wants to get married soon and have lots of kids, well…it just doesn’t sound like casual sex is her main motivation. Frankly, it sounds like she’s looking for The One. (She is young.) Also, given her natural optimism, I think she would really believe in true, romantic love and probably hopes that whatever boy she falls in love with would be a virgin too. Having said all of that, and that I do think that it’s close to canon, I have to admit that even if it wasn’t this is still the characterization that I would have gone with. This was just the story I wanted to tell. Well, the sex thing is going to be addressed within the story.
(By the way, I also avoided PMS. It’s certainly, um, an interesting factor, but in a long story trying to keep track of it would be…a distraction. So I just gave an indication that there’s a spell that all girls know and use once a month. (Cast Midol.) Maybe sometime in the story, a particularly bad attack or something?)
So, we’re left with a teenaged girl with a genius level IQ, a savant in many fields (mix-smith, languages, machina, materials) as well as a skilled thief. (Auron believes that what she actually has is a genius for seeing and analyzing patterns.) She has an upbeat, cheerful, outgoing personality, but she also has hidden depths and sorrows which gives her a maturity past her years that she sometimes shows and sometimes hides. And Auron likes that she’s sweet and smart and caring, and he admires her for it, but for him the key component of her makeup is her courage. She has hope, not because she’s too young and stupid to know better, but because she’s brave enough to hope in spite of knowing better. She knows that hope hurts on Spira, and she accepts that. She accepts the pain as the price for hoping, and he knows how much courage that takes.
Rikku is a teenager, with everything that comes with that—impatience, inexperience, naiveté, some immaturity. And she is hyper and nosey and messy and a little OCD about treasure. I also don't want to make her impossibly perfect. But she’s not just a teenager. And more than anything else, Auron respects her. And that's going to mean that he has to respect her choices.
Anyway, those are just some notes about how I saw the Rikku character as she entered the story. Maybe sometime I’ll update the Auron notes (I did) or give some general story notes (see below) or short notes for the other chars (not yet). Maybe.
Okay, a summary and some story notes. Spoilers for my story.
When I first started roughing out the story I came up with an AU story arc, a series of important events and the sequence in which they would take place and laid it over the existing game arc. Then when it became an aurikku I came up with a relationship arc and laid it over the other two. It didn’t explicitly push back or displace the AU arc because there was no set schedule, only a sequence. But in practice it meant that the AU stuff would take a backseat as the story explored the development of the relationship first. Again, there wasn’t a schedule—this will happen in such-and-such chapter—there was a sequence. At any given time I knew what the next major thing that was going to happen in the relationship was, whether it got written in the next chapter or the chapter after that or whenever, I knew it was next. So I would know that the next big thing was a fight, and then make-up/misunderstanding, then they spend time alone together, etc.
Okay, Part One is finished. It followed Auron, Rikku, and the party through the confrontation with Yunalesca at Zanarkand. During that time we find out that Auron has a plan (or Plan). He reaches an agreement with the Luca Group without really trusting them. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, all stemming from the war in heaven. Auron joins Yuna’s party and immediately assumes tacit leadership and starts training them to fight as a team. At this point the party is fairly low level and the AU arc is in the background...we only get glimpses of what is really going on. The party meets Seymour and witnesses the events at Mi’ihen. In time Rikku joins the party. She is initially intimidated by Auron’s appearance and manner, while at the same time she’s sort of drawn to him as a crush object (as she is to just about any interesting or vaguely attractive human male she meets). Auron sort of sees Rikku as a kind of stand-in for all the young cadets that he’s trained over the years. They each start to find things to admire in the other and grow close, but at the same time there is growing tension between them because of Auron’s secrets and Rikku’s understanding that they might have different objectives.
Rikku’s crush on Auron grows stronger even as she tries to deny that she has a crush on him (but she doesn’t try very seriously). Auron’s state of denial is much firmer. He does start to love her but won’t admit to himself that it’s romantic love. He tries to see her as another Tidus. Their feelings for each other grow stronger through the debacle at Home, and the events in Bevelle, and Rikku starts to see that Auron isn’t perfect, isn’t really a legend...he’s a man, and maybe he needs saving too. They reach the Calm Lands and the story just sort of bogs down in mushy-fluffy-lovey-dovey scenes. Rikku’s crush is turning to love, and it’s getting harder for Auron to deny the romantic nature of his feelings (but he does...what a trooper). Auron is trying to teach Rikku everything that he can—starting with the first lesson—and Rikku starts writing gushy little fantasies about her and Auron. Eventually Auron tries to go off on a journey alone—leaving Wakka in charge—but Rikku follows him. On their trip they talk and start to open up to each other about their respective pasts. Of particular note, Rikku learns something about Auron’s early relationship with Braska, and Auron’s feelings about the sword Masamune. Auron learns something about Rikku’s cheery, upbeat personality. Eventually Rikku actually witnesses one of the formative events in Auron’s life, his doomed defense of Starfall Village.
The two return from the mountain closer than ever. They eventually leave the Calm Lands by way of the Monster Arena and the Sunken Cave, where we learn that there is an agent of Bevelle (not a traitor) in the party, that the zookeeper is an unsent, that the fayth of Yojimbo is Auron’s uncle, and that the various pieces of Masamune can speak to Auron, and also about the origins of the other celestial weapons. (What’s that? What about celestial armor, you ask. Will there be any of that in the story? Could be.) They head up the mountain and the relationship takes a downward turn. Rikku reacts badly, and Auron is finally able to admit to himself that he loves Rikku, now that he believes that it’s too late. Yuna shows a somewhat surprising hint of backbone. We also learn a little something about Auron’s past relationships, especially in Zanarkand. Lulu makes a play for Auron. Auron thinks that Rikku turns to someone else for comfort. The party meets and defeats Seymour, who Auron has allowed to savage the Ronso in order to gain tactical insights. They make their way through the caves, defeat the boss waiting outside, and finally reach Zanarkand.
At Zanarkand we learn that Auron’s promises seem to hold a special power. Rikku passes though an emotional crisis and she and Auron finally share a, hm, passionate kiss. Events in Zanarkand unfold, Auron and Rikku are together as a couple—although neither is actually sure just what that means—, the party fights the keeper and then confronts Yunalesca, and this part of Auron’s plan comes to fruition. Yuna has to decide whether to live or die, Wakka and Lulu push her toward dying without even realizing what they’re doing, by accepting the situation and volunteering to be the fayth of the final aeon. But Tidus and Rikku unwittingly act as Auron’s surrogates—primed by him—rejecting the idea of death and arguing in favor of life and hope. Yuna chooses not to die. This has happened before. The Church has procedures in place for parties that change their mind. Sometimes their agent is in a position and is willing to eliminate the summoner and other guardians, or if they reach Gagazet they meet fra from the Grey Court or Ronso of the secret society known as the Stone Claw to eliminate them. But mostly Yunalesca handles these things. But Auron has trained the party well, and he has a plan, and Yunalesca goes down. They get outside and the airship is waiting for them. End Part One.
In Part Two, Auron and Rikku have talked, and decided not to jump into having sex. They’re going to wait and, uh, date. So hopefully there’ll be some fluff ahead, but it isn’t just clear sailing for them. There are going to be problems that they’ll have to deal with. Or fail to deal with. We also learn a little more about what’s going on behind everything, and about conditions on Spira. Auron moves on to the next phases of The Plan. The party is going to start a second pilgrimage. I did that for structure reasons. At this point in the game, this is where you just run around doing sidequests and playing minigames and maybe leveling up. That’s fine, and I have this whole AU thing to explore now, but I wanted there to be some background structure so that it didn’t just look like they were flailing around out there. And since they end up going back to the temples anyway to talk to the fayth and go everywhere else to catch monsters, I figured it’s like they’re doing the pilgrimage over again. This way, while the AU stuff is going on, people will also see that like the pilgrimage is at Djose, or the Calm Lands and sort of know how far along the story is and if they’re getting close to the end.
Okay, that’s it for now. Did I miss anything you want explained?