Fiction Fragment Fridays: Returning Hope (Chapter 5 – Part 3)

Continuing on with Final Fantasy: Returning Hope!

Reminder: If you’re looking for the previously posted parts of the story, go to the “Categories” drop-down banner on the left banner of the site and choose “Final Fantasy: Returning Hope”.

Banon - Sad (Front)Terra - Glance
*Spites via http://www.videogamesprites.net

Locke led Terra back to the room with the beds she’d spied upon their arrival. They were both silent, neither sure what to say to the other. Locke motioned Terra toward a corner bed in the empty room and she sat down. After a moment of hesitation he turned and sat facing her on the next bed over.

Terra’s mind was swirling. ‘Our only hope’, Banon had said. What could he possibly mean by that? What was she supposed to think about it? He hadn’t explained anything at all, just dazzled her with a fairy tale and left her with a hell of a lot of confusion and questions. Was he…was he expecting her to fight for him?

“Locke,” she said after what felt like an eternity of silence, “Why did you join the Returners?”

Locke’s eyes probed Terra’s face, but she was staring resolutely at the floor while she awaited an answer. After a moment he sighed, lay back on the bed, and crossed his arms behind his head. “Someone important to me was jailed by the Empire,” he explained slowly. He didn’t use so much as a pronoun, but Terra’s mind flashed an image of Locke standing next to an older, more rugged version of himself…father and son. “I’ve hated the Empire every since,” Locke continued on. “When I realized that they were completely rotten to the core, I sought out and joined the Returners. I wanted to make a difference.”

Terra considered his words for a while before speaking again. “But I have no significant other in my life, no one to fight for. No one to ‘make a difference’ for.”

Locke turned his head to look at her, and this time she was looking back. “That’s not entirely true,” he told her. “Your memory still has a lot of holes in it, so you can’t be sure that someone like that doesn’t exist for you.” He smiled. “Besides, I’m sure there are people out there who feel that you’re important to them. They’re probably out there right now, somewhere, counting on you to do what’s right.”

Terra couldn’t decide whether that was a comforting thought or not. It was nice to imagine that there might be people out there who were emotionally attached to her, but it was also frustrating to think that they might be counting on her to make a decision that she felt completely inadequate to make. She just didn’t know what the ‘right decision’ was.

She popped up from the bed so suddenly that Locke jumped. “I need to move,” she announced. “Take a walk or something.”

“You want me to come with you?” Locke asked, propping himself up on his elbows.

“No,” Terra replied slowly. She turned toward the door. “I need to think.” She strode off before Locke could object.

There were plenty of people wandering the tunnels of the hideout; more than Terra had expected, men and women of all ages. It seemed that the Empire was more widely hated than she’d realized. It was difficult to find somewhere quiet to think. She met up with Edgar in one room, and he gave her some thoroughly unhelpful advice.

“It’s tough to try and talk you into joining us,” he’d said with a careful smile. “If we push you too hard then we’re really no better than the Empire. So we want you to make up your own mind…trust yourself.”

Later, by the food bar, Sabin gave her some even less helpful advice.

“The only thing I can add,” he’d said thoughtfully, “Is that you can trust my brother implicitly. He’s a good man and has always been fair with me. You can trust him, Terra.” He added with a sheepish grin, “But don’t you dare tell him I said that!”

After a polite smile to each, and feeling thoroughly uninspired, Terra eventually made her way to the mouth of the cave entrance. Here she finally found a quiet place to think. It was still fairly early in the day, but the sun was beginning to disappear behind the large walls of mountains, casting shadows across the valley.

For a few minutes she let her thoughts disappear beyond the mountains as well. The warm breeze blew through her hair and she stood with her eyes closed, listening to the sounds of the evening; a wolf’s howl, an eagle’s cry, and the grass in the valley rustling in the wind.

“Peaceful, isn’t it?”

Terra jumped about a mile before peering around the corner of the cave entrance. Banon was there, a few feet away, sitting down against the stone wall. His eyes were closed, his head resting back.

“I come out here sometimes, to think,” he explained. “It’s a very calming environment.”

Terra hesitated for several moments before walking over and sitting down next to him. “That is why I am out here as well,” she admitted.

“Hmm…” said Banon. “Trying to make up your mind about joining us?”

It was another few moments before Terra responded. “Yes.”

Banon offered no more, but Terra soon found herself irresistibly displaying her thoughts for him to see.

“It’s just that,” she started, “I think you’re the ‘good guys’, but how do I really know? My memory has so many gaps. How do I know that the Empire isn’t perfectly sound and that the Returners aren’t just a group of rebels who want to overthrow the government?”

Banon chuckled a little, and the response he gave almost seemed to be rehearsed. “I suppose when you put it in that sense, you really can’t know for sure,” he told her, his eyes still closed gently. “But we don’t fight because we know we’re right. We fight because our hearts tell us we’re right. Tell me, Terra, knowing that the Empire enslaved you against your will, what does your heart tell you?”

Terra didn’t have to think very long before admitting, “Anyone who would do that to someone has to be bad…”

“And as for us, well,” said Banon, “We can’t really prove to you that what we’re trying to do is inherently ‘good’, but certainly there’s no harm in observing for yourself. Allow yourself the time with us in order to give your heart enough evidence to decide properly.”

Terra considered this for a long time. She watched an eagle, its wings spread majestically, soar high in the twilit sky. “Yes…I suppose so…”

Now, finally, Banon opened his eyes and turned to look at her. “Then I must ask, as it’s been killing me, you see,” he said with a flicker of a smile, “Have you made your decision? Will you give our organization a chance and possibly become our last ray of hope?”

Terra continued to watch the eagle until it landed on a nearby ridge, where sat a large nest. She spied several tiny bald heads peek up as the mama-bird nuzzled in.

“Yes,” she whispered.

Banon’s eyes lit up. “Really? You will?”

“But,” Terra interrupted loudly, “I’m scared.”

Unable to hide his jubilation, Banon twisted to place both hands on Terra’s shoulders and grinned. “That’s natural,” he told her. “But try to have faith. If everyone works together, with a common goal in our hearts, we’ll be successful. Never give up hope!”

Terra allowed herself a small smile.

With a childlike bounce, a grinning Banon jumped to his feet. “I believe,” he said aloud, “That it is time to call a meeting!”

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