Twilight The Traveler Chapter 4 – Palumpolom

Twilight the Traveler

// Palumpolom// Story: Twilight the Traveler// by ilbgar//——————————//

They had snuck closer to the city early in the morning and were currently hiding out of sight, ironically enough, behind the road blocks that Psicom had set up. As a veritable arsenal was being deployed in the area and a small army of troops, at least 1000 strong, and that was only those that they could see, began taking up positions, a voice could be heard over the loudspeakers on one of the ship’s radios.

“Attention all units. This is Director Rosch, Psicom division. Cocoon is caught in the grip of a Pulse-born terror. If we allow the l’cie’s activities to continue, panic will rip the world apart. The peace and stability we have fought so hard to maintain will become nothing more than a memory.

The Pulsian variety of l’cie threaten our very way of life. They must be eliminated. There can be no hesitation. That is all.” the voice finished, having been that of one of the two commanders of Psicom, Yaag Rosch. Rosch was one of the highest-ranking members of the Sanctum military. He was well-known for being level-headed by Sanctum standards, though he was wary of Pulse even before the events leading up to the Purge.

More locally, they watched troops being briefed, or reporting in, the forces still being organized.

A Guardian Corps soldier said, “Task Force reporting.” to a Psicom officer, his exact rank was unclear, his uniform suggested he was above captain, but he certainly wasn’t an elite.

“Begin operations immediately. The l’cie are headed in the direction of Eden, I don’t even need to tell you how badly things will go south if they manage to get there.” the officer ordered.

“Sir!” the corps member saluted and walked off with the rest of his squad.

They’d taken advantage of the soldiers attention being on the officer to sneak even closer, specifically behind a truck parked not 20 feet away from the officer. Hope surveyed the scene in front of them. “We can make it. We just have to get to the station and board the train for Eden.” he said.

Lightning looked at all the security measures on the area. “Do you think it’s still running?” she asked.

Twilight considered it, “If only to transport soldiers and officers, yes.” she neglected to mention things too volatile to be flown in on regular transports. They’d deal with those if they came across them.

“Besides, if it isn’t, between my talents with technology and Twilight’s brains, I think we’ll be able to make just about anything intact run.” Hope said.

Lightning glanced at him, “Then punch straight into the heart of the Sanctum? Now you’re thinking like a Pulse l’cie.” she said.

“Well, we are Pulse l’cie.” Twilight said, shrugging. She had a spell to fix their little time-bomb problem half-figured out already, but she’d hit a bit of a roadblock.

“This is Operation NORA. Snow’s not the only one I’m after, the Sanctum’s got to pay too.” Hope said. Lightning grunted. “Hey, you’re the one who said we had to fight. Every minute we waste, we’re tempting fate.” He wasn’t wrong.

“And fate is notorious for being bad at resisting any form of temptation.” Twilight added. She’d noticed it also had a sick sense of humor.

“There’s an underground tunnel not far from here.” Hope pointed at an opening some distance away. “I used to play in them all the time when I was a kid. No one uses the entrance anymore, so even the army doesn’t know about it, and by the time they do figure it out, we’ll be long gone. I know exactly where it is. We can sneak in right under their noses.” He finished.

“Sounds good.” Lightning said.

“It’s certainly preferable to having to fight our way through all these guys.” Twilight said, nodding.

“Great! Here we go.” Hope said, sneaking to a pair of crates a bit further up.

They began to sneak past the soldiers, only fighting when they could guarantee a quick and quiet one, as they made their way over to the opening.

“Huh. No more rivalries now. Psicom’s brought in the Guardian Corps.” Lightning said, seeing the two branches of the Sanctum military working together was almost unheard of outside history books. It seemed Rosch didn’t care about the rivalry between Psicom and the Guardian Corps, or he simply cared less about Psicom’s pride than capturing them.

“We must have made a deep impression getting through the Whitewoods.” Twilight said. Come to think of it, they had killed off an awful lot of the potential replacements for all the bioweapons the Sanctum had been losing. Maybe that was why?

“There are some old drainage pipes we can use to sneak past without being seen just past that thing under the green tarp in front of us. The tunnel entrance is a little bit further past the last one.” Hope said. They carefully made their way past the patrols and through the pipes to an opening in the side of the mountain in front of them.

Lightning was glancing behind them as they entered what was apparently a food-making plant. Another fal’cie, resembling a gold crystal with butterfly wings could be seen floating in the center of this, likely providing the power and directing the place.

“Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. Only kids like me will even know about that entrance.” Hope said.

“They’ll find it. They’ll call in a team and canvass the whole tunnel system.” Lightning said.

“You’re getting as paranoid as I am.” Twilight said as she set up a barrier similar to the one their brander had used, only with a purple eight-point star instead of their brand. “Okay, that’s going to be really useful in the future, I can just tell.” she said. A barrier that could stand up to missiles at a minimal cost, learning this spell was the best thing that had happened in that building by a long shot. She thought she detected faint traces of someone else’s magic when she used it though. That was why she used it so infrequently.Well, that and it was draining to the point that she couldn’t cast for 30 seconds afterward, and it only took form as a wall.

Certainly that barrier would confirm they’d gone through this place, but first they’d have to find the tunnel, and then to take advantage of this knowledge they’d have to either find the other end of the tunnel, or force the barrier down, and she’d be able to sense the latter happening, giving them plenty of warning. Besides, that barrier would need the kind of force you’d get from a tank moving at terminal velocity landing on it to bring it down, not to say that it couldn’t be chipped away by weaker attacks.

Hope blinked. “Huh, so you can do that now. Still, we’d better hurry, once they find evidence, by which I mean the soldiers we took out on our way here, they’ll tighten security like a noose.” Hope said.

“So, where’s this thing come out, anyway?” Lightning asked.

“Well, to be honest, all I know for sure is that it comes out in the city.” Hope said sheepishly.

“We’ll be finding out today then.” she said.

They encountered Flan-type monsters, which were any that were formed of a jelly-like substance, and an armored lizard type, which took a surprising amount of punishment to bring down. Their armor was tough to the point that she took a sample for later study.

A few minutes later, when they had gotten much closer to the fal’cie, she asked Hope about it. She was studying it’s magic earnestly in hopes of breaking down some of the problems she’d been having with the brand. Although it was a Cocoon fal’cie and their brander was from Pulse, so she wasn’t sure how much help this thing was going to be.

“Name’s Carbuncle. It’s in charge of this food-making plant, and it’s one of our enemies. Being Sanctum and all.” Hope said.

“So… Kill him, and we cut off the food supply. That’ll make us popular.” Lightning said sarcastically. She really only seemed to switch between anger and sarcasm in terms of inflection half the time.

“People already have plenty of reason to hate us, don’t you think?” Hope asked.

“Yeah. You’re probably right, hungry people make for angry people.” she said.

“On the other hand, maybe it’s about time you guys learned to stand up on your own two feet. Where I’m from, people are expected to go through daily life without being utterly dependent on god-like beings for the basic requirements of survival.

Though I’ll admit that the argument is weakened by the fact that the most powerful magic users in existence are our rulers who also happen to move the sun and moon. Then again, they don’t usually get involved in daily life.” Twilight said.

“So, how do you deal with anything really bad? It’s strategically unsound for the rulers of a nation to be at the front-lines of a major conflict.” Hope asked. Huh, that seemed more like something Lightning would ask. She must have been rubbing off on him.

“We haven’t had a war in centuries, and I was a member of a group that dealt with crises. My friends and I are the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, the most powerful magical artifacts known of. Though our natural talents are enough to deal with more minor problems such as manticores.” Twilight explained.

They walked a bit further “Look at us: Pulse l’cie, using a Sanctum fal’cie to tell where we’re going. Sort of ironic.” Hope said, a slight chuckle in his voice. They were now on another side of the fal’cie, but almost as close as before.

“Not really. We’ve relied on them our whole lives. The food we eat, the light and water, it’s all from the fal’cie. You know, I think Cocoon was really built for them. The rest of us are just leeches. Parasites.” Lightning said.

“You think?” Hope asked.

“Not me, I’ll conjure my own food and water, thank you very much.” Twilight said, glancing at their crystalline observer. She could feel it watching them, lack of eyes or not, and it was creeping her out. Why hadn’t it called down the Sanctum on them? There was definitely something going on here.

“They protect us, nurture us, take care of, well, normal people. They treat us like we’re special almost like…” Hope struggled for a word.

“Pets.” Twilight suggested, realizing the implications of that word a moment later. How had she never thought of it before, it was so obvious that the fal’cie didn’t regard the humans as equals. They didn’t get involved more often because they considered human affairs beneath them.

“Like pets.” Lightning repeated. “To them we are just pets. That’s it, now it all makes sense.” Lightning clenched her hands. “I’ve been so blind all this time. I was born into a fal’cie world, and raised on a fal’cie leash. It was the only life I knew how to live. When it was taken from me, I was completely lost. I was a puppet without a master to follow, my life had no purpose.”

She turned to them, “Hope, Twilight, both of you listen to me. This l’cie curse took everything from me. My future. My dreams. I didn’t want to think. So I fought instead. As long as I was fighting, nothing else was real. I was running away. The two of you got swept along with me.” Lightning finished. Crap, now what were they supposed to do? They didn’t exactly have a safe-house set up in case fighting Eden didn’t pan out.

“But Lightning, I don’t understand.” Hope said.

“Operation NORA is over.” Lightning said.

“What?!” he asked.

“I…” she began.

“No! You told me to fight!” he said frantically.

“I made a mistake!” she yelled.

“But- You can’t do this! You can’t just build all of that up, then abandon me.” he said.

“I won’t abandon you. I won’t.” she said, griping his shoulders.

“No one’s abandoning anyone.” Twilight said, before turning to Carbuncle. “This thing is part of the cause of all this. You were right when you said that the fal’cie needed to die, but I think Cocoon won’t be safe until all of them, from Pulse or Cocoon, are gone.” The others were perturbed by the cold anger in her voice. Twilight was intelligent, but never cold or calculating.

She drew her sword and used it to slice the fal’cie in half with a wave of lavender magic. She preferred to use structured spells as they were both more efficient and more precise, but she was so angry right now that she didn’t care. The moving platforms stopped, then began to fall, the lights overhead began to slowly dim, and they started to hurry towards the exit. Her brand reacted to that fal’cie’s death with a surge of new power, she could assume it was because of it being a fal’cie, and that the others were similarly affected.

“So what do we do now?” Hope asked as they reached stable ground, causing Lightning to stop. “We’re l’cie. Ticking time bombs. Enemies of Cocoon. If we can’t follow the plan, do we just lay down and die?”

“I didn’t mean we should give up.” Lightning answered part of his barrage of questions.

“Then what battles do we fight? And against who? Tell me that!” he said a hint of desperation bleeding through the anger in his voice.

“I don’t know yet.” she said.

“Personally, I think we should target any and all fal’cie, maybe if they blink out one by one, people will be able to adjust.” Twilight said. ‘I’m thinking the massive power boost wouldn’t be unwelcome either.’ the same voice from Vile Peaks commented slyly. She was starting to get worried about that. Voices in your head that talked back were never a good sign.

“At very least, I know we can’t lose hope.” Lightning said.

“Speaking of hope, I think I’m close to figuring out the counter-spell, I’m planning to lengthen our remaining time to far beyond the lifespan of a human, that way we’ll be dead of old age before our brands can advance all the way.” Twilight said. She hadn’t had any luck with her ‘Removing their Focus’ idea, so she’d go the other way, she hadn’t made much progress, but so far it looked promising.

“Still, there’s always the possibility that you’ll hit a dead end, or that they’ll advance all the way before you finish.” Hope said, sitting down on the nearby staircase.

“You know, you remind me a lot of how I was.” Lightning said to Hope.

“Huh?” Hope asked.

“When my parents died, I had to be strong for Serah, I thought I had to forget my past. So I became ‘Lightning,’ I thought if I changed my name, I could change who I was. I was just a kid. Lightning. It flashes bright, then fades away. It can’t protect anything, it only destroys.” Lightning moved over to the stairs and sat down next to him.

“Serah tried to tell me, but I wouldn’t listen.” she stood suddenly at something only she could see. “I threatened her, the only one who believed her was Snow.” Lightning said.

Hope snapped. “Don’t say it! Don’t say his name. It brings everything that happened that night back. I keep playing it in my head, what happened to her over and over. Then I see his stupid face and he’s… smiling. How could he smile when she’s dead?” Lightning reached to put one hand on his shoulder.

He jerked to a stand. “I know! I know there’s nothing I can do about it. No matter what happens, she’s not coming back! I hate knowing that! When I was fighting, there was no time to think about it. It felt good just to give in. But now, you start talking about hope…” he sniffled. Lightning walked over and took one of his hands. “I’m sorry, I’m messed up.” he apologized.

“No… It’s my fault.” Lightning said.

“The world’s what’s messed up.” Twilight said. Seriously, whoever designed this world needed a good punch in the face, Creator or not.

After a minute or so, they reached an elevator that appeared to go to the surface. Just before they got inside, Lightning half-ordered, “Talk to your dad.” to Hope.

“What? Why?” Hope asked in surprise.

“Fighting without hope is no way to live.” she used the nearby control panel to call the elevator down. It was starting to lose power too and she’d probably just fry it if she tried using a Thunder spell to power it, so they’d have to hurry. “It’s just a way to die. I want you to find the Hope you were named for. Staying alive I can help you with, but I can’t- I can’t give you hope. If you go to see your father…”

“You think meeting my dad would make anything any better? He’s never listened to a word I’ve said. It’s just- He’ll never believe all this l’cie stuff.” The elevator began to rise. “Snow believed Serah didn’t he?” Hope asked.

“Yeah.” Lightning answered.

“We’ll help you convince your dad then. Also, Lightning, I found an interesting bit of the spell, I believe I could reverse the spell on your sister keeping her a crystal, provided she be in my sight for a full minute. The cie’eth countdown won’t start up again or anything.” Twilight said.

“You really think you can?” Lightning asked, her voice more hopeful than Twilight had ever heard it.

“Yes.” Twilight answered with full confidence. Even if their brands advanced all the way, she’d give Snow and Lightning one last reunion with Serah.

“Say, what are you hoping for?” Hope asked Twilight. She hadn’t exactly talked much about what she wanted to do.

“Simple, I’ve already got the spell to return home figured out, I just want to make sure all my friends here are safe.” Twilight said.

“Wait, so you’re staying to help us? You don’t have to do that.” Hope said, incredulous.

“Don’t be ridiculous, what kind of friend leaves you to rot in your time of need? Because this definitely counts.” she answered. “After all, a true friend always helps a friend in need.” she said, smiling slightly. She’d avoided really thinking about the wedding rehearsal if she could, but she wanted to have everything straight in her head… just in case. It occurred to her that the others might have simply felt that Cadance needed comforting more and that they believed Twilight to be in the wrong in that situation. If that was true, they hadn’t betrayed her, not really. Maybe if she convinced herself of that, she wouldn’t say anything to make things worse when she got back.

“Sometimes you act like a soldier, others you’re far more innocent than is healthy around here.” Lightning said, the faintest of smiles on her face.

They drew/unholstered their weapons as the elevator neared the top of it’s climb, ready for anything. They arrived in an enormous coliseum-like building to the sound of an announcer broadcasting over a set of speakers like before.

“In a recently convened emergency conference… the Sanctum announced that the fugitive l’cie had been located. The military plans to apprehend the l’cie and carry out a public execution.” They noticed a camera-fed image showing the area they were in on an enormous screen, before showing the three of them specifically.

“These images are coming to you live from the scene in Palumpolum.” the announcer continued as the camera switched to a view of the three of them. An airship came into view, along with the camera which had been feeding the image of them, airborne soldiers and fighters. Normal Psicom troops, numbering in the hundreds by themselves, surrounded them from every angle, including the nearest wall and roof of the building. Airborne troops and fighters circled overhead.

“It’s an ambush.” Twilight said readying an overpowered Firaga. Essentially a normal Firaga with more power put into than was originally intended. Less efficient than a normal Firaga, but stronger. With her brand’s recharge ability boosted by Carbuncle’s death, she could afford to use a lot of power at once.

“These are l’cie. Show them no mercy. They aren’t people, they’re targets.” Rosch said from his command position.

They got into a back-to-back position as reinforcements, including several bioweapons, arrived. Twilight and Lightning shared a look.

“Start running.” Lightning said, readying her gunblade.

“We’ll keep these guys busy.” Twilight said to Hope as she created a second ball of fire in one hand. No point having both hands slinging magic and leaving herself wide open. She could technically keep a large number of orbs of flame orbiting herself, it just took a lot of concentration.

“But-!” Hope began.

“You survive, even together, and with our Eidolons, there’s too many.” Twilight said. So much for that reunion or getting back, but there was no point in all of them dying here.

Before Hope could make a decision, there was an explosion from a wall of the building. Several soldiers in that area got taken out by a figure that appeared to be Snow. One was thrown over the railing, and Snow apparently took a gun from another.

After a moment, he threw a blue orb and shot it, causing it to shatter and expand before sending out large tendrils of ice. The armed forces were thrown into chaos, though their actual numbers weren’t reduced by very much.

It turned out to be the handiwork of two tall blue-skinned Eidolons that resembled human women. Snow jumped off the ledge and grabbed onto the Eidolons as they transformed into a somewhat bizarre motorbike. A woman wearing a skimpy blue outfit who had black hair and was armed with a two-pronged lance landed on it as it formed completely.

They rode the bike down one of the ice tendrils, with Snow’s companion taking pot shots at the Sanctum troops with Snow’s pilfered gun.

“It’s him!” Hope said in a mixture of disbelief and anger.

Lightning grabbed his arm and pulled him along, taking shots at the soldiers and downing several. Realizing Lightning’s plan to take advantage of the mass chaos, she joined in with her pistol on individuals and first and second tier spells on small groups.

Meanwhile overhead, their allies were assaulting Rosch’s command platform, one of his soldiers got shot as the duo fired on the bike and were fired on in turn by the woman. The camera on board had more holes in it than Swiss cheese in about ten seconds.

She distinctly heard the general order “Move, take us out!” before his platform slowly moved away from the battle. They had taken out dozens of soldiers at this point, she was trying to avoid thinking about what she was precisely doing as she slaughtered more than Lightning and Hope combined thanks to her ‘area of effect’ or ‘crowd control’ spells, spells that were for dealing with three or more opponents. The third tier was easy for this due to sheer power and scale, the second tier was more difficult to use in this fashion, but certainly not impossible for closely grouped enemies.

They ducked instinctively as the bike passed over their heads. Snow chuckled as he landed the bike with a spin. “Yeah!” he exclaimed, likely due to an adrenaline rush from the ride. The group approached him, Lightning looked rather annoyed, though Hope was surprisingly calm.

“Lightning!” Snow called out. Suddenly, another dozen soldiers rushed them, only to be cut down with little effort. The five of them got within a few feet of each other, only for Lightning to push Hope into Snow’s arms.

“Take care of him.” Lightning ordered.
“Lightning, listen to me.” Snow said.

“Get moving!” she said.

“You don’t understand, Serah’s alright! She’ll turn back!” he said.

After a moment of silence, she said, “Take care of Hope.” before rushing off, followed by Twilight. They could tell him later, or Hope could do it.

“Wait!” he called.

“And then there were three.” the woman said, before running after them.

After essentially carving a path out of the building with their new companion’s help, the three of them began making their way through the city. 15 minutes later, after the woman introduced herself as Fang, they stopped as she pulled out a phone. “Gotta check on blondie, he’s liable to get into trouble if he’s left alone too long.” She had a brand as well but it was hazy and bleached compared to theirs, and the spell it represented was disrupted to a great extent. She dialed the number and her phone rang a few times before it got picked up. After a moment, she roared into it, “You damn well know what’s up!” she listened to the voice on the other end, presumably Snow.

She sighed, “Right, what’s your status?” Fang asked.

After getting a response, she said “I’m great, you’re great, everybody’s great.” she turned to them. “Reunion time, figure out a rendezvous point. That line is hyper-encrypted, so don’t worry about eavesdroppers.” she said.

Lightning took the phone and it could be assumed that Snow called her ‘sis’, because she said, “I’m not your sister.”

*** Meanwhile, At The Location Of Their Ambush ***

A Corps soldier was arguing with Rosch. “This city is under our jurisdiction! Since we’re the ones defending it, we should have a say in what’s done to protect it!” he said somewhat angry.

Rosch ignored the man, saying into his headgear, “Attention all units, ignore any and all fire zone restrictions. Fire at will.”

The soldiers muttered and fidgeted uneasily. “What!?” the same soldier, apparently the ringleader of the dissidents asked, horrified at how many casualties that could cause. Rosch made a mental note to have this one made a low-ranking officer, he at least questioned orders that seemed to go against his duties as a protector openly. Of course, he also openly defied authority, so ‘low-ranking officer’ was probably as far up the ladder as he was going to move up, even assuming he survived.

“Do whatever it takes to kill the l’cie, they are no ordinary enemies. Over.” Rosch continued.

“‘Do whatever it takes’?! You want us to start a war in the streets? The civilians are still evacuating! That kind of collateral damage is unacceptable!” another soldier said.

“You don’t know what it’s like out there!” the first said.

Rosch drew his sword with a ringing sound, and pointed it at the ringleaders. “You don’t seem to understand why we’re here. Who exactly do you think it is that’s terrified of Pulse and begging us to kill the l’cie? Not the Sanctum, and certainly not us. It’s the people of Cocoon.” he sheathed his sword and addressed them.

“This information was delivered to me minutes ago, the fal’cie Carbuncle… is dead.” the soldiers gasped. “Magic was used to kill it and the l’cie are known to have gone through that area. I don’t think I need to draw a picture for you.” Rosch finished. This was bad. According to historical records, killing a fal’cie provided l’cie a large power boost.

*** Back With The Girls ***

“We’ll meet at Hope’s place. Felix Heights, 35-A.” Lightning said, she’d turned the phone to speaker at some point in the conversation.

“Right, see ya there. Tell Fang ‘hey.'” he said.

“Take care of Hope.” Lightning ordered.

“All over it, I’ll tell you more about Serah when we meet up again. I found out that she’ll turn back on her own eventually, there’s still hope.” Snow said

Twilight and Lightning shared a look, telling Snow about Twilight’s progress could wait until they took care of the more immediate problem. “Snow you need to listen to me, it’s about Hope. His mother was-” she cut off as the phone had apparently changed hands in the short space of time and now Hope was on the other end.

“Lightning it’s me. I’ve decided-” static began to override his voice and all they caught was something about Operation NORA.

“Hope? Hope! Answer me!” Lightning raised her voice a bit.

“Yelling isn’t going to fix it.” Fang said, holding a hand out. “I’ll admit it, I”m impressed they got the interference up so fast. You can chat when we get there.” Lightning handed over the phone. “I’ve got point, you lot fall in behind. And try and cool off that head of yours.”

They followed after Fang, fighting their way through soldiers and drones. As they hid next to a wall, Lightning asked her. “Who exactly are you?”

Fang chuckled, “Ugh, I don’t even know where to start. I’ve got some screws loose, but I’m a l’cie, like you both. The difference being… I wasn’t born on Cocoon.” Fang stated.

“Welcome to the club of non-Cocoonians, is Vanille from Pulse as well?” Twilight asked nonchalantly.

“It’s Gran Pulse, and how’d you know?” Fang asked, blatantly surprised.

“I pieced it together from a few things, her unusual knowledge on l’cie and magic, contrasting her lack of knowledge of history, she held her hands in a position of prayer different from the one normal among Cocoonians. All in all, I’ve suspected her of being of Pulsian origin for some time. I simply didn’t bring it up because I felt no need to drive a wedge between the group, and I was lacking in irrefutable proof. It was possible she had in fact slept through history class, unlikely she would have done so often enough to render her ignorant of common knowledge, but not impossible. Similarly, she might simply have been part of an obscure religion, explaining the unusual position of prayer. It was also possible she was simply very talented with magic. What is the world below that everyone on Cocoon seems to hate so much like, anyway?” Twilight asked curiously.

“I might take you there some time if we make it out of this, Vanille and I turned to crystal there and fell asleep for about five centuries as near as I can tell. When we came around, here we were. The reason Cocoon’s in an uproar and the reason you’re here now are one and the same. Vanille and I woke up.” Fang glanced at the sky as she finished her speech.

“So, what you’re telling me is that Serah will wake up on her own someday too?” Lightning asked.

“Yep, we didn’t do our jobs right. That’s why it made her a l’cie, we messed up. Sorry.” Fang apologized.

Twilight was silent for a moment, before she punched the wall next to Fang hard enough to leave a small crater, small meaning the size of a cantaloupe. This startled some birds, which drew the attention of the nearby soldiers for a few moments before they went back to patrolling. “Every person who’s suffered or died because of this whole mess is at least partly your fault, give me one good reason not to slap you into next week.” she said, controlling herself with some difficulty. After all, Fang was probably feeling guilty already.

“I think Lightning should do it because it’s her sister that ended up a l’cie.” Fang commented. Lightning took what amounted to an invitation and slapped Fang hard across the face. “That it? I was kinda half-expecting you to try to skewer me.” Fang said in mild surprise

“I’ll admit I’m still tempted to do exactly that, but I won’t. …For now, anyway. Whether or not we’re square? That’s up to Serah.” Lightning growled.

“Snow said almost the same thing and he didn’t hit me.” Fang said.

“Then he already knows this.” Twilight surmised.

“Wow, I feel a heck of a lot better. Glad I apologized!” Fang said. Twilight felt her right eye twitching.

“You apologized… to make yourself feel better.” Lightning stated, echoing Twilight’s thoughts. Her face seemed stoic as ever, but something about it screamed there being stabbing in the future.

“Guess so.” Fang said cheerily, before turning to Lightning. “How about you, feel better now that you hit me?” Fang asked.

Lightning grunted, “It didn’t change anything.”

“My jaw disagrees.” Fang said, rubbing at said area.

“Wait, how did you and Vanille become separated?” Twilight asked, much calmer now.

“The Euride Gorge incident? That was us. I’d lost my memory of my Focus and what happened after being branded, Vanille too, but her brand didn’t go inactive like mine, so I got this stupid idea to attack a Cocoon fal’cie to jog our memories. The plan didn’t work, the fal’cie turned some poor kid into a l’cie, Vanille and I got separated, and I didn’t even get one memory out of the deal.” Fang explained. Wait a minute, that was about the last time she’d seen Sazh, and he’d mentioned planning to take Dajh to… Oh no. She thrust the horror down. There wasn’t any proof that was what had happened, but if it was why she hadn’t seen Sazh or Dajh since then, then she had one more reason to hate the Sanctum.

“Felix Heights is up there.” Lightning pointed to an opening in the nearby brickwork. “Still a ways to Hope’s place.”

“Then we better pick up the pace.” Fang said.

“I say we go through that gate.” Twilight said, gesturing towards a gate that some soldiers passed by a few moments before. If they were careful, they could slip past the patrol.

“Right.” Fang nodded.

Twilight The Traveler

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