The Meeting The Meeting
Sky H Ainsworth
Bacca looked about the circular table that the heroes sat at. He looked at each fighter in the face and made sure that they agreed with what was being said.
"Okay," said the High Lord of All That Kicks Ass. "Since everyone is in agreement, I will take the Dark Lord's place and lead you. I guarantee you all victory. But I expect obedience to my authority."
Bacca stopped Jaana and Kaitlin before they could protest.
"I expect this only because I do not want my plans to fall apart. I do not want to be preparing for an attack and to discover half of my force disappeared for no reason. But do not worry, I do not expect total control. Jaana, Kaitlin, Lady Paladin, all of you have special responsibilities and I do not expect you to totally jump at my commands, but I do expect you to let me know what you are going to do. And Jaana, you are my second in command and shall replace me if I fail."
"I'm honored," said the Ninja. Bacca and she shared a smile and nod of assurance.
"Now for our future together.
"The moogles are pulling back. And they have been doing this for a while. They may be moving back to the mountains from whence they came. We will take this opportunity to rest and recover. I suggest ten days. In the mean time, I am putting the soldiers through a new rigorous training plan. When we leave, each soldier will be very effective against the moogles, both in single combat and in group actions.
"As for the army of Lance Henriksens given to me by Spacecat, they are inexperienced and their first engagement should be a defense. They may number one hundred thousand and they may be trained, but their current training is to give them a taste of hardness. My replacing their sergeants is to give them a taste of fear, since those men know about the moogles.
"I am also having the army build a new wall around the keep. I am sure the Dark Lord would be happy to hear that.
"And speaking of the DL, I heard that the last of the lizars have left the keep and that we will not be able to count on them anymore.
"Until I have another meeting called, try to rest and prepare for the coming battles. Our peace now is only temporary. So enjoy and have a good time. Dismissed."
Bacca then stood up. Everyone followed.
"I have something to say!" said Ku-Sam's small voice. "I will willingly help you, but if I choose to, I will leave at short notice. I may have other business to attend to, but I will help as much as I can. Also, if you would supply me with some wizards, I'd be happy to teach them some of my most powerful spells."
Sky H Ainsworth
"Very well," said Bacca, eyeing the dark moogle with irritation. "There is a troop of magicians in the Lance Henriksen army. You can teach them your art. BTW, LP, there is also a troop of medics, if you could teach them some healing arts, that would be appreciated.
Ku-Sam: "Also, if you could rally all the main wizards, mages, healers etc. I'd like to console on learned spells, maybe learn some we don't know from the others. All the main wizards of the base. I have some powerful ones that I'm sure they don't have, and vice versa. Plus, if you have a new sword, mine got rusty ages ago. I don't need something like the Atma Weapon. A nice Epee, or even a broad swords would do."
Sky H Ainsworth
Bacca sighed and looked at Ku-Sam dead in the eye.
"You have the three top magic users here in this room," said Bacca. "And you have the world's greatest swordsmen here.
"Ku-Sam, do not think that there is anything that should be done not being done by me or Jaana, or the others. We are all working together here.
"As for your sword, you need to talk to the blacksmith here in the keep and they will give you what you want."
"If that is it, then dismissed." Bacca turned and began walking out the door.
Ku-Sam: "Thank you. I'm sorry, but I just wished to learn something new. Besides, the others left the room a while ago. I thought they may want to the chants of some more spells, but I guess you've decided for them. Oh well."
Ku-Sam goes to the Blacksmith. He quickly comes out with an Epee, and 500 less GP.
Lorinan speaks up: If you have any chemists, I can teach them some good mixes I've come up with.
Sky H Ainsworth
"Well, we do not have any chemists, per se," said Bacca. "But we do have an engineer corp. So if you want to teach them what you know, go for it. But they are currently building a new wall. So, do not disturb them. You can teach them what you can now, or you can wait till we march.
"Take your choice."
Ku-Sam: "Lorinan. I have some ingredients you may want. I am a traveler. As for the mages, I am on my way. I still am interested in the magic-exchange thing, or any abilities for that matter. If anyone else is, you know where my quarters are."
Ku-Sam greets the troop and begins to teach them abilities.
Lorinan: "I'll go for that. I need quite a few rare items. I especially need some fireroot oil, some dark-lights, A few candied crickets, and some bone dust.
Ku-Sam: "Really, now. I have many of each of those. In fact, that's what I seem to find the easiest! But since I come from the realm of Sharadose, they will probably be easier to find there. Here." he hands him some, and they begin to swap abilities.
As the heroes left the room and went about their business, Lady Paladin stopped Bacca from leaving by quietly putting her hand on his arm.
"You mentioned earlier you wanted to have dinner with me tonight. How about at 7 PM, my quarters?" she asked in a low tone.
"Sounds good," replied the warrior. "And thanks for your support at the meeting."
She smiled. "Well, I knew you were the best for the job. I think you made a wise choice in picking Jaana as second-in-command, too." Bacca just smiled in reply, and began to walk on past. Lady Paladin stopped him again. "And please take it easy. I know you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders now, but I get tired of having to continuously heal you for weeks in a row." Her eyes begged him to follow her advice.
"I'll be careful, my Lady," said Bacca with another grin.
As Lady Paladin headed up the stairs to her room, she knew she had to make many preparations for that evening.
His Dark Lordship
As everyone leaves the room, Bacca heads off to brief the new army of Lance Henriksens. On his way there he is greeted by an apparition of Mog!
"You are making a grave mistake, Bacca. Ku-Sam is really a white Moogle."
"What?" asked Bacca.
"He was an ex-boyfriend of my brother's, before the humans killed him off. After which he tried to seize my brother's cool sword." Mog taps the sheathed weapon at his side. "I never use it. Anyway, Ku-Sam failed miserably and tried to kill us. We threw him in a vat of black paint and that's why he's so dark coloured. He's just using you to get back at us, but he doesn't know that the gods have already chosen us as the winner of this war, and besides, he sucks dank! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!"
Still laughing uncontrollably, Mog's apparition faded away.
Sky H Ainsworth
"That is interesting," said Bacca. He looked about and saw that no one else saw the image. He stood and pondered what it all meant.
Kaitlin walked up behind Bacca and waited.
"Did you sense him?" asked Bacca.
"Yes," replied the Druid. "What did he say?"
"That our new ally, Ku-Sam is really a white moogle and that has a personal vengeance against Mog."
"Do you believe him?" asked the Druid. Bacca turned and faced the Druid.
"Do I trust anyone who puts people to death by Kupo?" answered Bacca. He smiled and Kaitlin returned it.
"However, I do not believe in throwing away a piece of information," said Bacca, looking at the spot where Mog had been. "Can you investigate it?"
"I will see what I can do about it," said Kaitlin. "It may take a while."
"Okay," said Bacca. "If anything, we will put our small, furry friend under a watch.
"I do not want to believe what Mog said because Ku-Sam did fight with us at the pass. We had to rescue him from there and so I am not ready to believe that he is against us. He may have a private agenda, but we will not jump to conclusions."
Bacca was silent and Kaitlin shared the silence.
"Honor," said Bacca. He paused. "Honor states that one should not doubt an ally who has laid his life down for you cause. But common sense that if that ally may have a private plan to replace you in that cause, then you may need to take action accordingly."
Turning to Kaitlin, Bacca whispered to her. "This knowledge stays between you and me and whoever else needs to know. If Ku-Sam is listening now, then I hope he understands that I do not think he is capable of anything, but will keep an eye on me. When he stated that he would leave
on short notice, I realized that something may be up. Tell me what you plan to do later."
Bacca nodded at the druid and walked away.
Kaitlin stared after the warrior and then walked her own way.
The Druidess Kaitlin
As the group dispersed, Kaitlin caught up with Jaana.
"Well, that was interesting," the Druidess said.
"I know. What did he say about the Lizars . . . ?" Jaana had thought of the same thing Kaitlin had thought of--Bacca had said the Lizars were leaving, didn't he? Kaitlin furrowed her brow.
"Supposedly, we won't be able to count on them like when the Dark Lord was alive. But according to our message from the gods, they'll 'rally around us.' So maybe *we* can still count on them . . . "
Jaana nodded solemnly.
Kaitlin thought for a moment. "I still think something is wrong."
Shifting her position, Jaana asked concernedly, "What do you think it
"I don't know. Maybe part of it's just my unease at having someone so hardheaded as Bacca being our 'leader'. On the other hand, I don't think it'll matter much WHO's in charge in the long run here. But something is a little unsettling about all this."
"You worry too much, Druidess."
"Maybe so. I'm sorry. I just can't shake what Walker said to me earlier, and I can't shake the strange feelings that surfaced during that meeting." Kaitlin run her fingers through her short hair worriedly, her eyes widening at the possibilities.
"If you don't like Bacca being in charge, what are you going to do about it? Why didn't you speak out?"
Kaitlin chewed on her lower lip a bit. "It's important to keep the trust. And he *has* proven himself, whatever my personal opinions of him are." She just shook her head. "I'm not going to do anything about it, Jaana, because there's nothing I can do. The feeling will pass, I'm sure."
She waved goodbye to Jaana, then strode toward her quarters.
"After all," she muttered. "I'm used to power struggles."
Jaana watched as Kaitlin disappeared down the hall. "Hmmm....not good...." she thought, "we can't have her flaking out on us...." She felt a burning sensation in the pit of her stomach. She hadn't been feeling well for the past few days, ever since the ritual, her stomach had been queasy. She walked down the hall toward her room and opened the door. Sephiroth sat on the bed, facing the door, like he was expecting her arrival. Jaana smiled, the pain in her stomach forgotten. She paused just long enough to imprint the picture in front of her into her memory, before she ran to Sephiroth and leapt on top of him. He laughed. Jaana smiled as she sat on his chest, looking down into his green eyes. "Gotcha!"
"I thought you had a meeting.."
"I did. I decided not to go." he replied.
Jaana grinned. "I see. And what was important enough for you to miss your meeting?"
Sephiroth returned the grin. "Oh, I don't know." He tried to sit up. Jaana pushed him back down.
"Oh, I don't think you'll be sitting up just now."
"Yep....I happen to like this vantage point...."
"Woman, if I wanted to get up, you couldn't stop me."
Jaana laughed. "Well, I don't see you getting up."
"Maybe I don't want to...."
"I happen to like being sat on by a woman."
Jaana burst into laughter. "Yeah, I *know* that!" She hopped off and walked over to the closet. "I can't let you enjoy it too much"
"What, you won't even oblige me on my last night......" Sephiroth paused.
Jaana twirled around and faced him. "Your last night?!?"
"I'm going..." he said gently.
She stared at him, not knowing what to say.
"Jaana, come on...."
"Wait a minute, we *talked* about this. We decided that it was too dangerous! We decided that you're *not* going? Remember??"
"Jaana....." he shook his head "I have to go...."
"Damn it, Sephiroth! You don't have to go. Nobody said anything about this. This was your idea.....not theirs......."
"We aren't getting anywhere with this Jaana.....if I go, it will change everything.....we'll have the advantage....."
"You know what you're going to have to do....."
Sephiroth nodded deliberately. "Yes...."
She stared at him, her eyes eerily bright, "You'd be willing to go through that, all over again......"
"I don't have any choice."
Jaana stood there, helplessly, unable to speak. Images of the horrors he would have to endure seared her retinas. The burning in her stomach returned suddenly, welling in her chest as the tears welled in her eyes. She choked back a sob. "God, what am I doing?" she thought. "....I can't let him see me like this." She willed the tears back, just as she had done so many times before. They tasted bitter in her throat. She recovered her voice.
"When are you going to leave?"
"In the morning." He looked at her intently. She smiled faintly and nodded.
"Well then, I guess we're in for a long night."
Sephiroth smiled. "I guess so." He walked over to Jaana. "Think you can handle it?"
Her smile grew bigger. "You really don't need to ask that question, do you?"
"Well, based on past experience, I would have to say no." He reached out and caressed her cheek. "But we do have a lot to do."
"I think I can handle it...."