Calling the Battle Savvy - 01/25/21


Blue came back to camp exhausted, though she tried not to show it. As per her promise to her sister, the Xaela had stayed as safe as she could in the days that followed, gingerly expanding the perimeter by which she watched for both the injured and any possible threats. She made sure the tents remained in clear view however, and unlike some certain cat in another channel, wouldn't delve near the ruins again unless someone was with her. She didn't want a repeat of what happened. She didn't want to scare her friends.

She slipped closer to the tents if only to notice that hardly anyone was around - perhaps another operation? Blue dropped her medical pack and made her way towards a barrel filled with specialty chocobo feed and leaned against it, pulling the linkpearl from her pocket.

“Is..Tret still adventuring?” The girl mumbled quietly to herself. She hadn't heard from him in a couple days now. Lonely and wanting someone to talk to, she thinks for a moment before clicking the pearl on and bringing it to her ear.

“Gair? It's me, Blue. Free to talk a bit?”


Gair was afield in Thanalan, tending a fire in the Sagolii: the last few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster for the Grand Companies, the Flames most of all. What should have been celebration of a way forward has been dimmed by grim tidings: a strange tower near the Sagolii desert. He was at camp a few malms off, watching the black spire pulse it's light like a heartbeat. Taking a load off for the evening after a bout of distant observation.

The pearl in his ear crackling, he scrambles to press a finger to it and focus- expectant. Only Gust can see the surprise on his features when he asks, “Blue, that you?” with a disbelieving tone. He shifts to sit up, attentive. “I'm just on my arse o'er here. You been a'right?”


Almost immediately upon hearing Gair's familiar voice does Blue's tail start wagging. It felt like so long since she'd been at the Hearth and Home enjoying one of his patented ciders and not worrying so much about….everything.

The Xaela smiles brightly to herself and was just about to respond when the crackling sounds of gunfire rattling off sounded in the distance followed by the boom boom BOOM of things crashing and burning. The impact shook the tent a little bit and Blue braced herself, peeking out from the tent cautiously. Was a ways out. Nothing to worry about yet.

Still, it takes a moment for her to answer proper, mismatched eyes giving the grounds another sweep before she turned around.

“I'm okay Gair. Just experiencing a lot of new things lately.”


“I can hear that, those shells sound like a half malm off,” Gair utters in a deadpan tone upon hearing Blue answer after the distant crackle of gunshots and explosions, more than most he was used to the sounds of war sounding off over linkpearl. So many reports he'd had answered to with the popping of artillery fire in the background. He knew to give those on the other side a moment to gather themselves or prepare for an ambush, so he busied himself for half a minute by fishing out some smoke rolled in paper from his rucksack

“What front're you at?”


Blue didn't figure she was going to be able to hide the sounds of gunfire over the linkpearl, but the fact that Gair was so perceptive to them still surprised her.

“..I'm over in Bozja, Gair. Was out training for a bit with Lami in further east but found out my sister was here, so I ran after her.”

She flicked her earfins. All had briefly gone quiet again and the Xaela took a breath and continued.

“I'm mostly tending to wounded out here as much as I can. It's…”

“I miss home. There's so much death here.”


Gair cupped the end of the cigar in his palm and in a flash, the paper and herb ignites all at once in a small flash. He takes a puff, pensive, war is hell, he thinks. “Oh, Warden…” He exhales out and shakes his head. “I don't envy you bein' in a medic's tent. Nald's work is hard enough, harder yet when your patient's got a foot through Thal's gate.”

“Hard to see the light of life when you're in the storm.” His hand idly finds Gust's head to scritch, the chocobo audibly making a 'kweh' noise that can be heard over the linkpearl. “We're here.”


Blue felt her eyes go damp as she listened, and nearly broke into a sob at the chocobo noise and the following words. She wiped at her face with the back of her hands and somewhat shakily responded with,

“Thanks Gair. I'll be okay. Don't know if I'll even be here for however long it takes for one side to win, whatever winning means here. Just can't leave till my sister is out of this mess too.”

“…But from your experience…does it get any easier with time? All of this…it's so much. It's hard to feel hopeful or happy when there's so much pain and fear and anger and dread…”


“Only if you close your heart to the sufferin' around you,” Gair's words sound more cautioning rather than any true suggestion. “Which I've done before…it helps in the short term, but all it does is set aside the burden you've got to carry until a later sun. For some it's too heavy and they never truly come back from the chaos.”

The words stifle in Gair's throat for a moment. “It's okay to not be okay, Blue. You and the Bozjan's are seein' hell to free others of that hell, you for your sister, them for their families.”


“…I don't think I can do either of those. To close my heart to other's pain or to not be okay. Because if I do..”

Blue pauses and closes her eyes after a moment. She pulls out a Sykis bud from the barrel behind her, mostly for the sake of doing nothing more than to have something to distract her fingers with.

“You have time for a little story? I promise it'll relate back to everything at the end. Maybe.”


“Faith, then, in yourself, and the suffering you're taking on. That you can come back from it,” Gair's lungs drew in a considerable drag from his cigar. Even if he couldn't see her, he waved vaguely to the air as if to invite the story.

“I'm a lazy arse havin' a smoke at the stables, time ain't an object,” He was a decent liar when it was on behalf of another, he pushed that worry down and urged. “By all means.”


Blue, who had no reason to doubt Gair to be at the stables petting on Gust for hours at a time, began.   `“I came from some place far far north but if you asked for a name, I wouldn't be able to tell you. I was taken away from there by people who ran a slave market. I don't even remember how old I was. Too young.”`   `“There were hundreds of slaves there, all given some purpose from pleasure to labor to servitude to worse fates. There were also blood sports. Fighting, most times for survival, against all manner of beast and warrior while people watched and cheered.”`   The Xaela found her vision blurring in favor of the images in her brain. The dark spaces, the blood, the rusted metal.   `“I was like a wild animal to them, and so I ended up there, fighting for other's amusement. I broke things I didn't even know I had. I bled in places that weren't supposed to be stabbed or torn or ripped. I grew up spending most of my time spilling blood or in a medical bay recovering just to go through it again.”`   Clearly needing the slightest break in her tale, the Xaela stopped and took a breath, focusing back on the quiet tent around her. She put what remnants remained of the Sykis Bud back into the barrel- most of the stalk had been ripped to tiny bits and lay scattered at Blue's feet. She tried to joke a bit, but her words sounded rather empty.   “Wish all that time had helped me learn to use weapons proper. I only know of how much hurt they can do.”


Gair sits there, quiet and mired in smoke and thought as Blue tells her tale of depravity and bondage, sounds like Garlemald…the only thing missin' is a laboratory. In the face of true tragedy, he never felt he could truly comment on such things- it was easier to be quiet and simply let someone speak. His answer to her joke is rather blunt, “No you don't, beasts use steel all the time.”

“You're afraid to go back to that place, to prove them right and be the beast they thought you were.” He exhales out a breath and stares at the clear night's sky. “That's why you can't close your heart.”


“That's…that's part of it.” She admits slowly after a time. “To have no purpose other than to fight and harm, to not have a chance at anything else, anything brighter? It breaks you. It almost did me.”

`“I thought that was my future, so I gave up on hoping for anything else and focused on the other slaves around me. The depressed, the starving, the younger ones that never should've been allowed to know this dark place existed. To cheer them up and never let them give up like I had on myself. I couldn't let myself break because if I did, who would be there for them?”`

Blue wandered and hopped onto an unoccupied cot, legs dangling over the edge.

“Opening my heart to others is what made me keep going and not just give in to all the bad and terrible things.”

“To..try and be stronger so I could always be around if someone needed me.”


“Good,” Gair chimes back immediately, his tone approving in light of hearing Blue's response. “A strength for others, one you will need to lift others…and strike your enemies down with. Not to dominate, but to control.” A slippery slope I'd offered in closing her heart, but she'd already found the right way some time ago.

“War'll demand ugly things of you, it'll pry parts of that beast right outta the darkest depths of your heart. But if you're gonna come back…not just in the flesh, you can't forget that you're doin' it for life first.”


Blue cupped her cheeks in her hands as she listened, tail wagging slowly at the approval in Gair's voice.

“..Doing it for life…” She echoes back his words thoughtfully.

“So it's okay to care? To want to support and help others, even here in the middle of a warzone?”

The Xaela sighs. “I've been told recently that my softness is a poison and it bothers me. People need to care about other people, else what kind of world do we live in anymore?”


“It is,” Gair voices out and hastens to add. “But softness ain't the same thing as bein' merciful in war, softness is a poison. It'll cost your allies their lives and you'll even damn your foes to fates you didn't intend.”

“The strength to fend off assaults on your allies, provide swift and clean deaths for your enemies, imprison and debilitate when you can. Mercy is at times…every bit as bloody as brutality.”


Blue frowns a bit, tilting her head as she tried to understand the difference between both terms proper.

“..Maybe this is something I'll learn with more time…is not like I've just been letting the enemy go or refusing to fight when people need help out here..but..this is still new to me, so maybe I have been soft in ways I don't know.”

“Bozja kinda reminds me of that slave market, just much bigger. The smell's the same but stronger, and just watching the soldiers and the medics- their sadness and desperation and fears and hurts. I'd happily forgotten it all up until now.”


“What's important is that you don't indulge in the chaos,” Gair shakes his head at the open air, this isn't an easy conversation, but it is an important one. “Measure your victories not in lives destroyed, but in lives saved. Prisoners you free, enemies you capture, land that you conquer.”

“Alas, I'll stop preachin' like I know everythin'. Just know you're allowed to feel out there, that you ain't gonna be alone when all's said and done.”


That's hard Gair, Blue thinks to herself. The chaos is always within reach, just waiting for me to let it go, to not think of anything else.

“I'll do my best not to let all the chaos get to me, almost swallows you whole out here. Feels so heavy..”

“And you know more than I do about all this,” Blue answered gingerly. “I didn't think I'd be on a battlefield, but I'd do anything to help get my sister out of it. She's already gone through too much..”

The woman perked up after a moment, a thought occurring.

“I have a question. How do you protect someone against something that is much much stronger than you?”


“Hmm…” Gair goes quiet for nearly a minute, thoughtful grumbles sounding over the linkpearl as he considers the question in full. For much of it he just idly draws in the cold sand at his feet.

“There's a few ways, findin' some allies would be a solid start. See if you can't ferret out if that somethin' has enemies you can find a common ground with, or make enemies for them. You can exploit the chaos of that warzone to your advantage.”

“And most importantly, if you feel a confrontation is inevitable: obsess over any detail you can glean about them. Guardianship is bein' able to eat, breathe and shit thinkin' of ways you can exploit any weaknesses…and bein' ready to lay down your life for that someone.”


Blue didn't know what she was expecting from Gair's answer to her question. His was of the tactical kind, and what made the most sense. She held out her hands as she listened, flexing her fingers idly.

`We're already in here with his enemies who are even worse. My allies work for him and are scared of him. To bring even more chaos here..`

`Maybe I am too soft. I don't really want to hurt him either. He and Veldi are connected in a way I can't really understand, maybe it'd hurt her worse than it already is..`

A tone of dismay carried through Blue's voice in spite of herself.

“I'll keep that in mind…have you had to go against something too big before?”


“Aye, once. That crew we chased a few moons back? They were better outfitted by a malm, just as many men as we had, and they answered to some…machine god.” That fucking airship, too…you deserved better, Momori.

Gair clears his throat at that, he had no idea where to start when being posed such a question. I suppose my non-disclosure with The Order is null by now.

“I wouldn't be here talkin' to you if we'd failed, 'an we didn't do it by just havin' a bigger stick neither. We found knowledge that challenged us, our resolve. Victory came only when we stood together and resolved to find the humanity in our enemy. Our mission wasn't just to kill them and be done, it was to change them.” Sure, some had to die, but that's battle.


Blue tilted her head. “Was that the mission you went on when we all came to say farewell at the Carline Canopy? N' You acted like you might not come back?”

She listened quietly though, a patient ear in return for dragging Gair's own with her worries and dark memories. Only when he finished did the girl answer,

“I believe he's got some humanity in him still but I don't know if change is possible. I know my words certainly fell flat. And I don't think I can fight him, truly. He makes people explode. But I wish I could do something..”


“Some didn't,” Gair gently asserts, he found himself sitting up fully now, talking about the Voyage roused something in him. It made his legs twitch, like sitting down or staying still wasn't right. “All I can suggest is an open ear to somethin' you can exploit: if you got somethin' to protect, threaten somethin' they gotta protect.”

“You know, Blue- you remind me an awful lot of song I know. I'll 'ave to play it for you one of these suns, I think you'll like it.”


Blue frowned a bit but found herself nodding. It was more advice and direction than she had on her own, dwelling deep into the what ifs and the fears in her own mind. In truth she wondered if she even had that in her, to threaten anything of any sort, especially when the Xaela had her own weaknesses to be exploited.

“It's scary Gair. To never know if you're going to end up losing someone suddenly. To wonder if there was anything you could have done different or better that could have stopped it. I'm just…trying my best to prevent it from ever happening.”

She smiled at the mention of a song,

“That'd be real nice Gair. I'd enjoy that. Don't get enough chance to enjoy music proper, though I remember you played wonderfully at the beach for Moonfire.”


Gair flicks the smoldering stub of what remains of his cigar onto the sands, letting the cold airy breeze of Thanalan carry it across the dunes. There wasn't really much else he had to impart besides his ruthless calculus and sentiment of self sacrifice. “Somethin I do for the fear…never put yourself in a situation where you'll survive the one you wanna protect. That way you wont have any regrets, wont be a question if you could have done more if you gave it tooth 'an nail.”

`Seven hells we're grim.`

“I'll keep my acoustic close for the coming suns, then. Don't be a stranger…and don't hesitate to call for help, a'right?”


Blue was quiet on the other end for a time before quietly saying,

“That's the plan.”

Her life wouldn't be the same without the people that made it whole for her after all. Grim as the reality of that notion was, she would die before letting her loved ones fall. The Xaela absently brushed a strand of frazzled hair from her face and watched as the gloom of the setting sun darkened the inside of the tent.

“Thank you for talking with me about all this. I feel a little more clear headed about everything now. Maybe we can talk bout nicer happy things next time! ..Take care of yourself Gair.”

Blue plucked the linkpearl from her ear and stared at it briefly before gently clicking it off, listening to the sounds of parties returning to base.

It was then that a couple of Bozja regulars came into the tent and straight to the Xaela. One of them was wringing their hands nervously, but both faces were grim. As Veldi's sister, Blue had every right to know when the former had gone missing and still hadn't been found.

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