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Im on a train. I was put on the train, like a piece of cargo. My hands are cuffed, Im in a straightjacket, and theyre taking me somewhere, along with all these other people

Everyones in their seats, heads and spirits down. The hoods of the restraining suits hide their expressions so I cant see them, but I know all the faces around me must be coloured with fear and despair. Our peaceful days have been taken away from us, without warning, and were about to be exiled, turned out into a world full of danger. Soldiers with guns watch us, alert.

Suddenly, the train sways violently. The soldiers lose their balance, and in that instant I dash from my seat.

I rush at the soldiers, send them sprawling. A soldier falls, loses his grip on a remote control, and I crush it to pieces underfoot; the electrical locks on our handcuffs come undone. The other soldiers are going to come for me any second now. I throw off my restraining suit and make a leap. I land right in the middle of my enemies, and one good kick takes care of the lot.

Oh. This is a dream.

I realize this as I fire the gun I just stole from an enemy soldier. And as soon as I realize this is a dream, I immediately come to my senses.

It was a dream of that other world. Its been some time since that last happened. I think its because Id been going over the records of my interviews last night. Sazh had given a lively description mimed it, even of the way Lightning stole onto the train for the Purge, how she made short work of the soldiers.

In the end, I still havent published the results of those interviews.

The bond between Lightning, Sazh, Hope, and the others, the bond they shared their bond is a story of how men banded together to stand against God, and I know that if I share it with the entire world, it will be a source of courage and hope for the people. But I also know that once I do that, all eyes will be trained on Lightning and her friends, whether they like it or not. It troubles me to disturb their peaceful lives, not when all the fightings finally behind them. So in other words, I went to great pains to get my interviews, uncovered the truth, but ultimately couldnt bring myself to publish my findings. I fail as a journalist, I know.

I wont deny it. Im too many steps removed from what a journalists supposed to be, these days.

The old me, the person I used to be, I think maybe she died on that battlefield.

I was reporting on the civil war when I almost bought it, and after allowing myself the minimum amount of medical treatment and rest, I went straight back to the battlefield. Those around me tried to stop me, but I didnt listen. I approached the opposing forces, and did my best to get everyones side of the story out, without bias. I made sure to keep a neutral stance, to keep any kind of slant out of my reports, and to avoid setting any side up as the bad guys. I was careful to cover every possible angle.

My efforts to stay absolutely neutral paid off, I think, because somehow or other I earned the trust of the various forces. They began to speak frankly to me, and I learned that many of them didnt want to fight, at all. Only problem was, they never found a way to sit down and talk with their enemies.

That was where I came in. I took on the role of the mediator. I stood in the middle, among all the forces in play, and as I carried out my duties as a reporter, I also delivered messages, arranged for negotiations, fixed for them to get in touch with each other. I was just the go-between, but I was also getting into the neck of things with the principal actors of war. Im pretty sure Ive already violated the ethics code all journalists strive to protect, the necessity to take the objective view at all times. Worse still, if things dont work out, I may very well stand accused of having been complicit in a war crime.

I knew all that, and wasnt troubled in the least. I wanted to help bring about an end to the civil war. So here I am, in the middle of preparations for an important meeting, The plan is to have all the parties involved come together in another country, away from the battlefields, and have them sit down and talk. I dont know if this is going to work. I cant even rule out the possibility that there may be assassins out to get me, courtesy of those who want to sabotage the negotiations.

But it doesnt matter if I end up killed, all that means is that Ill be meeting Caius Ballad again. If I bite the dust while walking on the path I believe to be right, so be it; I think Ill be able to stand before the God of Death with pride in my eyes this time.

Im not so vain as to think that I can change the world all by myself. But I believe that I can help steer the world in a better direction. Thats the courage, the hope I found in the story of that other world.

Every time I think of that story, my heart brightens a little.

Chapter 10: Passenger

Im just coming out of dreamland, and I wish I could have had a little more sleep. I really want to get some rest on this train ride; work kept me up late last night, and theres an important meeting waiting for me, where Im headed. It had been a pleasant doze; I was able to relax in the comfortable train seats and feel the rhythmical duet of wheels and rail drum through me. It was nice, and I wish it didnt have to end.

I close my eyes, and for a while I give myself over to the rock and sway of the train. At some point, an intense light pierces through my eyelids. Im drenched by the sunlight filtering in through the window; I reluctantly open my eyes and look out. The skies are a clear blue, and the verdant countryside spreads before me, under the bright clean sunlight. Ill only get to my destination sometime in the evening, so thats still a long ways off. Shouldnt hurt to catch a few more zs in the meantime.

Eventually the train begins to slow, little by little. We must be nearing the next station. I hear footsteps approach from behind, then go past me. Must be a passenger getting off. Through the dividers of my box seat, I catch a glimpse of the back of a light coat. A woman with hair the colour of roses.

Im wide awake the next instant.

It strikes me like lightning. I jump to my feet like Id been burned, and whisper, in a daze:


She stops.

She turns towards me, a sharp look on her face. I dont blame her; Id have my defenses up, too, if a stranger called out to me, without warning. But under that hard expression, I think I see a hint of Serah Farron there, too.

Its Lightning, no question about it. Her name came up in every single one of the interviews I conducted. Its ironic. I wanted so badly to meet her, but couldnt find my way to her. And now here I am, face-to-face with her, by complete accident.

She doesnt say anything. I begin to talk.

Ive always wanted to meet you. I met with everyone, but you were the only one I couldnt get to.

She seems to know what Im talking about.

I see, so its you.

The edge in her look fades away.

The reporter whos been calling on everyone, and wants to meet me yes, Ive heard about you.

Please, I would very much like to interview you.

A deafening screech from the rails drowns out my voice. The train is quickly losing speed. Were reaching the next stop.

She steals a glance out the window, and shakes her head.

Sorry, but I dont have time to chat. This is my stop.

Then Ill come with you, Ill

Get off here too Im just about to say this when it hits me.

This is incredible luck, bumping into Lightning here after all those dead ends trying to get a lead on her. It probably isnt going to happen again, so I cant let this meeting slip through my fingers.

But right now, I

I have to look away in disappointment. With a sigh, I force out the words:

I understand. Its really too bad, but I suppose I cant always have it my way.

Youre sure?

She sounds more surprised by this than I am. I dont think she expected me to back down so easily.

I am disappointed, of course.

But this isnt my stop.

I have a mission. Theres someone I need to meet at my destination, and thats still a long ways off. I have to meet this person and find a way to stop that war. Its my duty. Theres no guarantee that my actions, insignificant as they are, will end the war, but Ive made up my mind to try.

Ill find the path that leads to an end to the war, and go down it, as far as I can thats the mission Ive given myself. The people wishing for peace are waiting for me at the end of this road. I cant afford to get off before my stop.

I raise my head, and look at Lightning.

There are things I have to do. Ill take a rain check on that interview, if thats alright with you.

I dont know about that.

Her words are a little stand-offish, but her voice is gentle. She hasnt rejected me outright, at least.

Theres something I want you to know. Ive always wanted to say this to you, if I ever met you.

Were almost at the station now, and the trains about to come to a complete stop. There isnt time. The sound of the screeching brakes tells me I have to hurry, and my words tumble out in a rush.

I No, all of us, mankind, humanity, were alright. Were definitely going to be alright. There are times when we make one mistake after another, when we hurt each other. But even so, this world this world that you and your friends won in your victory over God this world is built on us, were the ones supporting this world, were the scaffolding. So well try to sort this world out, with what little strength we have, by ourselves. We may be small and insignificant on our own, but together well make the world a better place.

I understand. I leave it to you.

She nods, and turns away from me. That was goodbye.

I watch from the window as Lightning steps onto the platform and walks away. The train begins to move, and I immediately lose sight of her. Strangely enough, I find myself without regrets. The expression on her face when we parted ways is seared unto my memory, and I can still see it.

It was a warm, gentle smile. And to be honest, it caught me by surprise. Id always imagined Lightning to be strict and exacting, never one to let her guard down. I never thought shed smile like that.

And it occurs to me her fight ended in that other world.

Lightning sent the God of Light to his grave, and by doing so freed herself from all the fighting. And she wasnt the only one who attained freedom, either. God, the manipulator of men, was defeated, and all human souls broke free from Gods leash, to be reborn here in this new world.

That includes her. Shes been reborn, too.

She no longer has to fight. Maybe she doesnt even call herself Lightning now. A quiet life, her heart open to friends and family, people that mean the world to her, happy smiles shared all around Im sure that must be her life now.

I have a feeling Ill meet her again, somewhere, someday. Ive never been able to get any leads on her, and even now, after bumping into her by accident, I still dont have her address; in spite of all this, Im absolutely certain this isnt going to be the last time we meet. She knows who I am. She must have heard about me from one of her friends. The bond between them is as strong as ever, even after their rebirth here in this world. If I visit her friends again, Im sure Ill be able to meet her somewhere. Theyre still friends, after all, and will always be a part of one another.

It occurs to me to wonder why she got off at that station. Is she going to meet someone? Is one of her friends waiting for her? Or is she off to meet a special someone, someone I dont know yet? It doesnt matter which. Shes free now. She can go anywhere, meet anyone. What she wishes for will definitely come true. I want that for her, from the very bottom of my heart.

The will of men determines the fate of this world without God; if this is true, I choose to believe that if I strongly wish it, an ever more brilliant future awaits her. May this woman, who was once a brilliant flash of light in that other world, chance upon hope this was my wish, and it was like a prayer, a promise.


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