Part 28: Episode 13 - Where in the World Did Nooj and Baralai Go?Episode 13 - Where in the World Did Nooj and Baralai Go?
Welcome back, and to Chapter 3. I encourage you to imagine the title of this update being sung to a bunch of schoolchildren by the bassist of Rockapella.
Anyway, last time, after infiltrating Bevelle and finding a big hole where a weapon of mass destruction was supposed to be, we ran back to the airship because Brother was freaking out about something. Let's see whether it was justified.
Fiends are pouring out of the temples!
There goes any hope that what's happening in Bevelle is an isolated incident.
What should we do? Is it Gullwing time?
Again, note how Brother increasingly defers to Yuna the more serious things become. His position as leader is a vanity position, and it's nice to get some indication that he seems to be aware of it.
True. But seeing Yuna out there could calm people down.
They'll expect her to do the dirty work.
Yeah, but Yunie wants to help. Don't you?
Well, not exactly. Yuna's self-sacrificing habits are still there under the surface, but she's spent the last two years trying to grow out of them. Her individuality has been hard-won, and it's asking a lot to expect her to give that up. Plus, there's always the spectre of "fool me once, shame on you" to consider; considering how much everybody seems to be manipulating everybody else, jumping into the thick might just be asking to get exploited again. But that doesn't stop people from being in danger...
Hey, I got an idea!
You mean taking out fiends and charging for it?
I like it!
If deciding to give back the sphere at the beginning of Chapter 2 was the most leader-like thing Brother does, this, I think, is the most guardian-like thing Rikku does all game. Yuna's really torn between two instincts here, and a mercenary approach is the only way she could effectively serve both. Ideally, she'll be able to have her cake after she's done eating it (Ever notice how unclear the traditional phrasing of that idiom is? I mean, isn't it perfectly reasonable to want to eat a cake that you have?) and, at the very least, she'll be able to kick the can down the road a while longer without having to commit one way.
What do you think?
Well, why not? If that means we can help out people who are in trouble, then sure!
Right, that means sphere hunting's on hold!
Man, what now?
What could this mean? Meyvn Nooj of the Youth League, ...and Baralai, praetor of New Yevon...gone. They've disappeared.
All right! Never mind. Now, Friendly Neighboring Gullwings... Where to?
All right, who taught Brother sarcasm?
Well, shit has gotten real, which is reflected by a new minor-key remix of the airship theme and fresh neutral chapter quotes for everybody. Check it out:
Video: Ghost Riding the Celcius Remix
How did fiends get inside the temples?
Your Friendly Neighborhood Gullwings? That's original.
The distress calls are coming from Besaid and Kilika Temples.
Hey, we just got another call. This time it's New Yevon.
Looks like we're also getting a call from Youth League headquarters.
Yikes. Well, I think we've got enough distress calls. Leave the fee negotiations to your Friendly Neighborhood Buddy!
So there's two plot hooks for this chapter. The more urgent one is supposed to be the whole fiends in temples thing, but honestly I'm more worried about the disappearance of two people who might actually be able to tell us what the hell is going on. Nooj isn't so bad, seeing how much he seems to like wandering off to do his own thing regardless of what his organization is up to, but Baralai was right there not half an hour ago! Where could he have gone after we kicked his ass?
Let's check that out first.
Things are tense once we land. The guards on the bridge talk about rifts within New Yevon, rumors, and panic...
...although they're quick with a follow-up burn if Yuna's still on their shit list.
If we're on the League side, we can't get in the front door. The guard says it's for our own good, but that's questionable.
Well, the Gullwings would be just fine if we lost our leader! Who needs him!
Organizations that rely on one person to do everything aren't organizations at all.
On the Yevon side, we can get a little closer to the action. It's... pretty ugly.
Give us a straight answer! Where is Praetor Baralai?
We're not keeping anything from anybody! He's really disappeared!
We don't have time to fight with each other! Not with the Youth League breathing down our necks!
Well... there aren't any fiends here.
If we butt in, things'll just get worse.
I know Bevelle isn't Yuna's favorite place, but still... this is sad to see.
There are some nice views by the entrance to the temple, though.
Baralai sure is popular. Definitely more popular than a certain other tattooed leader...
They're getting what they deserve for relying too much on Baralai.
But wait! We're not done here.
If we head back to where we fought Dark Bahamut, not only do we get a better look at that big hole, we see some kids that probably shouldn't be here.
We're not playing. We're the Kinderguardians! We snuck in to look for spheres.
There are fiends here, you know.
They might eat you!
Well, I am not scared... much.
Okay, that's kinda badass.
Hey, Lady Yuna. What is this place? I tried asking some of the New Yevon people, but they just ignored me.
Well, I don't think many of them know about this place either.
They wouldn't tell you even if they did.
I wonder if the Youth League knows.
They probably know less than New Yevon.
Dare we? We dare!
Okay, we will! Oh, you guys take this.
Wait'll they hear this! We've got some grown-ups to surprise!
I guess I misjudged these twerps. Congratulations, X-2, you made me respect Pacce.
How the heck did Pacce and the others get in there, anyway?
Bevelle's defenses must be shoddy if a bunch of kids managed to sneak in.
Don't knock it, Paine, they're at least as competent as you at one-third your age.
Well, that was unproductive. Maybe the League will be a little more forthcoming.
True to his word, Buddy beams down with us most of the places we go and tries to negotiate a reward for our do-gooding.
And the League have put up an impressive blockade, using machina on loan from the Machine Faction in Djose. That reminds me, we should check up on Gippal while we're at it, since he's living in a freakin' temple and all.
Forgive me, I... I have to return to my duties.
And he seemed so eager to talk.
When you're in a group, you can't put yourself first.
There don't seem to be many fiends... I guess we can go.
There is something I would like to ask you. That is, if you don't mind speaking with someone in the Youth League.
Of course I don't mind. What is it?
I prefer to read Lucil's tentative tone less as being suspicious of Yuna and more willing to understand if the brasher members have turned her off to the group as a whole. Between her and Yaibal, it's nice to know we have people in the League willing to reach out to us, politics be damned. That might come in handy later.
Gullwings here. Where are the fiends?
The fiends got close to our headquarters, but thankfully no further. The Al Bhed from Djose assisted us in fighting them off.
So, Gippal was here?
Yes. His group also brought us these machina. You know, he said something which still strikes me as sort of odd. He told us not to depend on you so much, Lady Yuna. He said we need to rely on our own strength to defend Spira through the coming age.
As you are probably aware, we have not heard from Meyvn Nooj, our leader, in some time. Lady Yuna, have you no information as to his whereabouts?
I'm sorry, but we don't know any more than you do. If we see him, we'll tell him to return here.
That bodes ill.
I'm starting to think that New Yevon and the Youth League are both a bunch of whiners.
So, Nooj hides stuff from his own men. Sounds like something Yevon would do.
Lucil must have it rough. Her troops have really short attention spans.
Don't depend on Yuna or Nooj. That's what Gippal was really trying to say.
At least the Youth League had a couple of second-in-commands to take over and liaise with us, instead of running around like chickens with their heads cut off. As long as they don't start a war before we're done, I think they can take care of themselves.
But what's Gippal thinking, sending off part of his defenses to help the Youth League? Let's go make sure he can spare them.
Looks pretty secure from here...
I have a name…
You seem close.
We made quite the couple.
What are you saying?
Gippal is as awesome as ever. Since I'll take any excuse to show off his voice actor, you can watch this whole scene in video form.
Video: Gippal is Still Awesome
If you're here about digging, this isn't the best time.
Well, there were fiends here too, right? Want us to clean up for you?
Fiend hunting? What, you guys give up the sphere gig?
Temporarily. Right now we're helping people out. Maybe…you'd like to hire us?
Oh? That's something we don't hear often.
We can't go running to you every time we get into trouble. I watch my own back.
Well, be careful.
Still no inclination to catch up with old acquaintances, Paine?
Look at me, Yunie. Nothing happened between me and Gippal. Got it?
Rikku's on the defensive. Now we know something's up.
Don't try to change the subject. Anyway, I can respect his individuality, but it's still deeply possible that Gippal's going to get in over his head.
Speaking of couples, we probably ought to check up on Leblanc. She's an ally (sort of, I guess) and she's probably taking Nooj's disappearance hard.
Guadosalam is at least remote enough that, barring somebody falling into the Farplane, nobody's likely to be in danger.
And the mooks greet us semi-politely and let us into the mansion without a fuss. Leblanc herself, however, appears to be indisposed.
Stretch and Tubby are hanging out in the banquet hall, trying and failing to do some kind of impression. The voice acting is pretty priceless, one of the few times I actually can stand these two.
Video: There's Nothing To Worry About
The boss has been rather…depressed since Nooj went missing.
We wants to comfort her, see?
Oh, was that supposed to be Nooj?
That bad, was it?
Even if you did sound like Nooj, do you think it would actually help?
Whatever you say.
Well, let's see if a little friendly rivalry will help snap her out of it.
The Gullwings are gonna get all the spheres in Spira, you know.
Fine by me. There's no point in chasing after spheres if my Noojie-Woojie isn't there to smile. What difference does it make?
You're a mess.
That was a bust. Maybe the Wonder Twins have another idea.
Why ask us? Go for it.
We took one in Bevelle. Care to watch it?
This isn't clear, and I have to think it's a minor translation error, but Logos isn't actually suggesting that Nooj might be on that sphere. Us being here and talking about spheres just reminded him that he hadn't watched it yet.
What's on it?
We haven't looked yet. Meet us in our room. We'll have a little screening!
One little detour first, now that the secret entrance is open again. This chest was visible in the ending cutscene of the Leblanc invasion mission, but the rails kept us from opening it then.
The shape of the minimap also gives us a clue that there's something hidden up in the ceiling.
This is the final exercise.
We haven't heard from Kinoc since the last game. Once a warrior monk of Bevelle and Auron's friend, he became Maester by playing some dirty politics and engineered the suicide mission that was Operation Mi'ihen. He was a pretty thoroughly corrupt asshole, and from what we've seen of the Crimson Squad exercises, it's not surprising to find his fingerprints on it.
We've reports of something extremely dangerous inside this cave, but we lack more detailed information.
We're to eliminate it?
Whoa, what's this?
No, you are simply to investigate. Report your findings back to me.
I understand the use of something dangerous as a test, but "go someplace dangerous and do nothing about it" seems like an obviously unproductive mission objective.
We finally get a clear shot in the video, and who do we see but Baralai, Gippal, and Nooj. Looks like they're old war buddies, which would explain somewhat the back-channel communication between the leaders of two apparently opposing organizations. Some bonds don't go away easy. I kinda wish we'd known to ask Gippal about this when we had the chance.
Honestly, Chapter 3 is where cracks start to appear in the facade of the non-linear structure. This chapter throws so many revelations at the characters, and they generally don't account for all the different combinations of other revelations you could possibly have, so occasionally you'll have characters act unusually surprised at something they should probably have already figured out or neglect to ask questions you'd think would be a top priority. For example, if we'd talked to Gippal after watching this sphere, the conversation would have played out exactly the same. It's never bad enough to completely break immersion, though, and the characters involved tend to be tight-lipped enough that having them leave out important information is never too out of character.
Claiming a weapon for yourself will be part of this exercise. This is it, gentlemen. You have your orders. Begin!
Now he might as well be screaming "obvious suicide mission." One interesting touch, though, is that while Nooj has his artificial leg model and limps slightly in this scene, he's without his cane, suggesting either that he's supposed to have lost his leg in this mission, or it's deteriorated over time.
The rest of the video is just a melange of gunshots and screaming. We can't even see what they're shooting at.
Video: Crimson Record 4
So with just this one sphere, we've figured out who three of the four survivors from the Crimson Squad training exercise are. Those who've been paying attention and completing all the optional content can take a pretty good guess as to the fourth.
Anyway, back to why we're here in the first place.
The sphere he shows us lingers a little too long on Yuna's ass.
Ormi shot this, not me.
Video: As Logos Sees It
Well that was a lovely waste of time. Logos queues up a second sphere.
There's someone there!
I'll zoom in.
So he was there when we infiltrated Bevelle? How'd he manage that? And where'd he go?
Video: The Lost Colossus
I don't like it.
All these secrets. It's just one thing after another.
If I may. You're free to do as you please, but I'd prefer you not mention this to the boss.
Whatever this Vegnagun thing is, it's clearly dangerous. Nothing the likes of we sphere hunters have any business fooling around with. But if the boss knew Nooj were involved, well, there'd be no stopping her. If anything were to happen to her…
You guys got it rough, don't you?
It's weird, watching someone who knows to punch his own weight regarding weapons of mass destruction but not with women.
I didn't shoot this one. I found it.
At first, it's impossible to see.
The image is badly deteriorated. Must be old.
Bah! The only reason the war's dragging on is because Zanarkand refuses to surrender.
That guy again!
We're not falling for that.
He's probably referring to the Machina War of a thousand years past.
You can't expect me to remember everything that happens!
Okay, I like the idea that Maechen is some teleporting sage who just appears whenever someone needs exposition. He's like if Wikipedia were a superhero.
I must admit, the likeness is positively uncanny.
I'm afraid not. After all, that sphere was recorded a thousand years ago.
Right... Of course.
Video: Gaol, 1000 Years Ago
Logos wanders off, not particularly caring about this crazy old man in his bedroom, lending credence to my theory that Maechen showing up places without warning or explanation is a regular occurrence.
Fortunately for us, he has some more exposition to drop on us, and this time it's not about politics.
Lady Yuna, a rumor has been going around of late. Perhaps you've heard it. They say that High Summoner Yuna was accompanied by a guardian from, of all places, Zanarkand! Oh, yes, that young man raised quite a few eyebrows at the blitzball tournament in Luca. I spoke to him myself on a number of occasions. I could sense that he belonged to an otherworld. That he should look so much like the man in that sphere cannot be mere coincidence, I should think.
There's a connection.
There is. I would very much like the chance to ask him, and clear this matter up once and for all.
The best part about this plot device is that it's perfectly believable. Tidus' Zanarkand was an isolated, idealized copy of the real Zanarkand; if there was a copy of this guy in the simulation, Tidus might easily be his descendent.
But... he's gone. Just like the fayth said. "Our dream will vanish."
A dream of the fayth? Is that right...
The Kilika Beasts just scored!
What is it?
I had something on the tip of my tongue. But then it slipped away... Something very important... Frustrating. Well, I suppose I'll just have to think on it a little more. Until next time, Lady Yuna.
He pauses before he leaves.
There may yet be a way to reunite with those who have gone.
Watch what you say.
Forgive me. Consider it the ramblings of an old man.
It looks like you-know-who... but it isn't him? Whoa. *blink*
I don't like building up false hope. But I guess that's just me.
Well, that turned out to be pretty emotionally draining. Good thing Paine was there to stand up for Yuna. What's Maechen thinking, getting her hopes up like that?
It looks like there's not much we can do about the former Crimson Squad for the time being, and I'm exhausted by all this drama. Next time; adventures in pattern recognition.