Chapter V - Fata viam invenient

The explosion was magnanimous, filling the entire plain with its generated heat. Rikku hit the floor hard, dodging an awry shard of metal plating. What luck, the fight wouldn't kill her, but the outcome would surely finish the job. Another blaze splayed above her, and she placed her hands on the back of the head, attempting to shield herself from the jutting flames and airborne wreckage. She growled, infuriated by her brother's tactless actions.

A hand shot out of nowhere, gripping onto Rikku roughly and pulling her away from her position on the ground. Rikku glanced up to see Wakka scowling at her darkly, arms now crossed across his broad chest.

"What is going on?" He hissed, demanding an immediate answer. Rikku was about to deliver his request, until she was interrupted by the nuisance of the hour.

"Rikku! E'l kuehk du damm uie vydran!" Aniki called from the hill once more, obviously angry over his recent loss. Rikku placed her hands on her leather-clad hips, and brusquely stamped her foot on the blackened ground.

"E'l kiyntehk Yuna, oui eteud! Oui'na niehehk ajanodrehk!" She shouted up at him in reply, her verdant eye's glowing with rage.

"Oui luimt ryja gemmat cusauha! Yuna's veha, ugyo? Fa'na ymm rana du syga cina hudrehk rybbahc," Aniki scoffed loudly, waving his hand in dismissal. He shook his head at his misunderstood younger sibling.

"Ed tuach'd syddan." He barked, turning abruptly and granting them all one last oblique glance, before retreating down the hillside and out of view. Rikku turned away, shaking her head, causing her askew flaxen tresses to quiver somewhat.

"Since when can you speak Al Bhed," Came a livid question from Wakka. Rikku looked up at the group, they looked as if Cerberus had dragged them through the nine levels of hell and gnawed on them a bit at the end. Each had their share of blackened clothing and blackened skin. Tidus had a fresh gash across his lower calf muscle, marring his evenly tanned flesh. Yuna and Twamell seemed the only ones who came out unscathed, and even they had a few bits of burn clothing and awry hairs. After Twamell scooted Yuna off toward the temple, Rikku shook her head again. Her brother had gone too far this time.

"Eh?" Snarled Wakka, tapping his foot impatiently upon the blemished ground.

"Because I'm from the Al Bhed tribe, my brother and I," She replied ineptly, adverting her eyes from his blazing stare. Wakka threw his hands up in the air, turning his stare toward the rest.

"...you all knew this?" He growled, directing the brunt of his stare upon Tidus. Tidus merely stared back, seemingly unimpressed with Wakka's outburst. Lulu stepped forward, pausing from her futile attempts to brush the ash from her gown.

"This angers you?" She asked, knowing the answer, but the question had to be asked. Wakka could be rather unreasonable at times; this was certainly one of them.

"Just pathetic... I've been traveling with one of these Al Bhed heretics," Rikku looked up suddenly, her mouth wide with disgust. What did he have against her people? She wasn't like the rest of the Al Bhed, anyway.

"We are not heretics!" She rebuked, stepping closer to the irrational Wakka, hands still poised upon her willowy hips. Wakka lowered his arms from his chest, clenching one by his side and waving one before him for emphasis.

"And yet you freely use the machina forbidden by Yevon! Don't you get it? Sin wouldn't even be here if people like you didn't use the machina!" He replied uproariously, still waving his hand about. Rikku sputtered angrily, infuriated by his sudden change of heart due to her ethnicity.

"How do you know that? Show me the proof!" Rikku shot back, folding her arms across her chest. She would not let this man get the best of her.

"The Yevon teachings! Their lessons are proof enough!" Wakka truly did believe all that fluff. Yevon taught old wives tales, encouraging people to believe nonsensical legends that had never occurred in the first place. A false security Yevon was. Yet, how could she possibly explain this to Wakka? He would simply scoff and go off on some long sermon about the glory of Yevon. Damn his glory. His glory had taken her family and friends; his glory had taken her dignity.

"The teeeachings, the teachings! What are you? A robot?" She cried, pointing at him accusingly.

"Explain then, why does sin exist?" Wakka questioned, a smug look crossing his face. He knew, as clearly as she, she had no straight answer. She had several theories, each crazier than the next. But, Sin couldn't be there for the reason Yevon had provided. It was ludicrous!

"I...I don't know," She answered plainly. What could she say? She couldn't lie, he would see straight through that.

"That's just because you don't know the teachings of Yevon," Wakka stated matter-of-factly, encouraging her unease. Oh, how much Rikku wanted to smack some logic into him at that moment.

"Just quoting the teachings isn't thinking for yourself! Thinking this way will never change things from the way they are now!"

"There's nothing wrong with things not changing!" Wakka reproached, defending his religion and pride, like a mother bear defends her cubs. Rikku growled at his obstinacy.

"Then there's nothing wrong with Sin reviving either. Who knows, maybe someday you might be able to stop it," She proclaimed, trying to talk some sense into the foolish boy. How could an unchanging world satisfy anyone? How tedious life would be if it stayed like it was now.

"When we have atoned for our failings, Sin will not revive." He declared straightforwardly, as if it was a known truth. Atone? Where was she; Purgatory?

"But what do you do to atone!" Rikku continued, know what would come next from his mouth. Something evidently extracted straight from the teachings; more horse shit.

"When you follow and live by the teachings, someday you can atone!" He growled in annoyance, advancing on the girl. She had most likely pushed him past his peak. He seemed horribly offended and tremendously angered. It seemed Rikku was on a streak, causing as much pain and fury as she could in her wake. The two held gazes for what seemed like hours, glancing past tinted irises, attempting to dissect the other from the inside out.

"Rikku," Called a deep voice from across the clearing, pulling her from her deep examination of Wakka's sentiments. She was shocked to find that the one to pull her from her contemplations was Auron. She turned briskly from Wakka, happy to be free of his intense gaze and absurd babbling. She moved quickly to Auron's side, following his gaze to the speeder sitting passively upon the icy ground. She looked up at him with a quizzical look.

"It's a snow speeder," She stated blankly, entirely confused by his interest in the automobile.

"Do you know how to work it?" He asked, not looking up from his assessment of the speeder. A small smile formed on her lips, as she simply nodded in reply. She bent down motioning for him to do the same. He did so in slight hesitation, his gaze shifting from the vehicle to the girl.

"It's really simple," She stated, as her hands flowed across the smooth metal of the side panel. Her hand tentatively reached from the chrome plating to the rubber handlebars.

"See this," She said, pointing to a metallic lever positioned beneath the handle, "This is the ignition, you pump it to rev up the engine,"

"You're not going to ride that thing, are you," Wakka interjected, a surprised expression across his face. Rikku looked up from her explanation, shaking her head in exasperation. Auron stood, wiping a bit of dust from his vibrant scarlet coat, and shot a stern look in Wakka's direction.

"Do you have a better idea?" He asked quietly. Wakka stared vacantly at the man in reply. He most likely didn't have a better idea, or any idea at all. Wakka threw up his hands once more and stormed off toward who knows where. Tidus moved to follow his frustrated companion, but Auron raised his ebony gloved hand, halting the boy's advance.

"Let him be," Auron suggested austerely, ending the conversation directly. Rikku breathed a sigh of relief, as she collapsed upon the leather seat of the speeder. Wakka's outburst had shaken her resolve greatly. She hadn't expected him to act so rashly. Lulu had warned her about Wakka's strong dislike toward her people, and she being Cid's daughter, would only add insult to injury. Yet, despite the forewarning, she hadn't been prepared for his sudden verbal attack in the least. She shook her head elusively, as if trying to rid her mind from the echoing curses of the blitzball captain by unobtrusive force.

The revving of a speeder drew Rikku's attention away from her own self-pity. Looking up, her eyes were met with a flash of blue fur and silver. She didn't even try to suppress the fit of giggles that erupted from the sight of Kimahri racing off on the snow speeder. Tidus stood in the speeders wake, an impish grin placed haphazardly upon his boyish countenance.

"Well, I think that is our signal to hit the road, as well," Tidus announced lightheartedly, mounting one of the speeders tersely. His azure eyes skimmed the controls with curiosity, worrying Rikku a bit. The last thing they needed was someone sent flying by one of the speeders.

"You got it?" Rikku called. Tidus offered her a heartening thumb up as he revved the motor. The engine began to purr and he was off like a rocket, following quickly behind Kimahri. Rikku glanced about at the few remaining guardians. Oh goodness, they weren't going to make her ride with Wakka, were they?

"I suppose I shall tackle this one with Wakka," Lulu mused, turning away to search for the complainer.

"We'll be right behind you," She said with a dismissing wave of her perfectly manicured hand, thus leaving Rikku and Auron alone. She looked up at the stone-faced man, who seemed to be studying the speeder with a slight unease.

"Do you want me to drive?" She asked, standing from her comfortable seat. Auron gave her a glance, telling all without words. She hadn't expected him to let her drive, anyways. Auron climbed on the speeder, grabbing a hold of the handlebars awkwardly. Rikku giggled and climbed on after him.

"Hold on," He grunted, revving the engine just like the others before him. Before Rikku could even reply, they were thrown forward. Rikku instantly wrapped her arms around Auron's abdomen, clinging to him once more for dear life.