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Joyride

Discussion in 'Pandora, Year 1 - 7' started by Oerba Yun Fang, Apr 6, 2018.

  1. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    March 11th, Year 7
    @Jack Jackson

    Fang first spotted the creatures while on patrol just south of Horizon. Horse-sized, lizard-type beasties churned their way over the sands with impressive speed, skin like beautiful sandstone, their squawking cries echoing across the sweltering open. They were probably new to Pandora, because when she asked around, no one could provide a name for the critters. One of her scouts suggested the moniker 'sand runners'. That worked fine.

    Most people would've looked at the pair of tusks curving from their lower jaws and decided to stay far away from them. Fang looked at them and immediately started thinking about the best purpose they could serve. Meat was always worth trying at least once; the more food sources, the better. The tusks she imagined some artisan would be happy to have, or maybe one of the more technology-adverse residents of the town would like to fashion them into a weapon.

    No, these were all normal and expected uses. There was one more thing that might work, one more thing that Fang was eager to try. She knew Vanille would've approved.

    A long, gangling body like that was perfect for carrying a rider across the desert.

    Riad volunteered to help Fang try taming one of the sand runners, and she accepted. He was good with breaking in newly-captured chocobos and then training them up; how much different could this be?

    Pretty different, Fang reflected later, chasing after the fleeing sand runner as fast as her own legs could take her.

    The moment the lasso fell around its neck, the lizard had launched forward in a spray of sand that left her blinded and spitting. Riad was stubborn enough to keep hold of the rope though, which naturally meant that he was now flying behind it, bouncing off the ground every so often like a pebble getting skipped across a lake. Tough bugger that he was, even that kind of punishment didn't deter Riad from trying to climb up the rope and get onto the sand runner's back.

    He wouldn't be quick enough, though. Both of them were headed straight for Horizon's gates. Fang hoped the sand runner would stop or veer away before it crashed into someone trying to leave town. She really, really hoped that.
     
    #1 Oerba Yun Fang, Apr 6, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2018
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  2. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    It seemed like a good day for a ride. While there was quite a lot of room down in the gorge for that sort of thing, it wasn't enough for privacy, especially when you were a member of the town's council. He'd been having second thoughts about it recently, about how good he was at it and how comfortable he was in the role, and that was just another thing he had decided might be worth thinking about on his own out here.

    Of course, those plans were dashed the moment the chocobo he was sat atop trotted eagerly from Horizon's gates at the very top of the gorge, stopping short at the sight of a sleek, beautiful creature running straight toward him. Jack's eyes went wide and he reckoned the same happened with the bird he was on because the chocobo suddenly started to squirm in place, a cry of alarm escaping it until it suddenly bolted at the very last moment to get out of the way.

    The movement was sharp and sudden and caused Jack to suddenly topple backwards off of the side of the bird, landing in a heap on his back, which was painful if not for the wooden staff he had fashioned across his back which dug in upon impact.

    Still, he scrambled suddenly to his feet a moment later, watching with wide eyes as the creature veered off in another direction seemingly to avoid impact as well, and that was when Jack realized that there was a person on its back, hanging on for dear life.

     
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  3. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    Lady Luck wasn't listening today. The shape of a chocobo came around the edge of the gate, and Fang's heart skipped a beat to recognize its rider as Councillor Jackson. Horizon didn't make age a requirement of its leaders as Oerba did of its village elders, but letting a runaway beast trample a venerated town figure, even if that figure was a boy on the edge of manhood, still tended to be something that was frowned upon. Fang pushed herself into a faster run and curved one arm behind her back, yanking her lance out of its belt loop.

    Her heart might've skipped another beat as the sand runner banked a hard turn to narrowly avoid collision. The sudden change in trajectory proved too much for Riad's grip. The rope slipped out of his hand and he was whipped into the ground at the councillor's feet in a tumbling cloud of dust. The sand runner cheerfully dashed off in its new direction.

    Fang wasn't about to let the creature get away, especially if it insisted on making fools out of them. A mask of concentration fell across her face, leg muscles tensing, and Fang jumped, propelling herself so high into the sky that for a moment, only her silhouette was visible as a tiny dark stain against the blue sky. Sunlight glinted off the metal of her lance in warning, and then she dropped unerringly on top of the sand runner. The force of Fang's landing brought it down onto its side with a startled squawk.

    It struggled and kicked to right itself, to little effect. Fang had saddled beasts much deadlier and livelier than this one, and the two prongs of her lance were sank into the ground in either side of the lizard's long neck. Not piercing, but pressed tight enough to draw blood if it jerked the wrong way.

    As Fang took up the slack end of the rope and waited for the sand runner to get tired, Riad rolled himself onto his stomach and began the painful task of peeling himself off the ground. Partway through, he noticed Jack and froze.

    "Oh- uh... Hey, Councillor."
     
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  4. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    His back was hurting now, that was for certain, and upon whipping his gaze around, he spotted the brightly feathered creature racing back toward the safety of the town and leaving its rider behind. Perhaps today wasn't the day for a bit of a desert wander, he silently decided as he turned his blue eyes back to the scene once more just in time to watch Fang disappeared into the sky for but a moment, only a silhouette all the way up there.

    Jack didn't know her very well. What he did know, though, was that she was utterly incredible. He had quite a lot of respect for those in her position and under her command, it wasn't anything that he thought he could do. Then again, Jack wasn't exactly the most confident of individuals and not the most confident of councilmen either. Surely there were better choices for the position than himself.

    "Oh- uh... Hey, Councillor."

    His gaze was lingering on Fang who was proceeding to finish the word she and her companion had started when Riad's voice at his feet drew his attention. He was quick to crouch, ignoring the aching in his own back and reaching out to help the poor man up. "Just Jack," he reminded him distractedly for what was likely the hundredth time since he had taken the position. Jack was far from a formal person and even if that were the case, this was hardly an official situation.

    A situation Fang seemed to have handled as he straightened up again, steadying Riad as he watched the creature tire against rope. "She's very determined, isn't she?" Jack said, a small but thoroughly awe-filled smile on his face. Not that he couldn't understand it. There were a hundred different uses for a creature like that and Jack had to wonder which one it was she'd had in mind when she had spotted it.

     
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  5. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    Riad hesitated, the embarrassment of falling over literally at the councillor's feet worsened by said councillor having to help him up. But after a moment he accepted the hand anyway, and offered Jack a sheepish smile of thanks. Riad straightened with only a slight groan, brushing sand off his clothes and out of his hair as he looked in Fang's direction.

    "Determined? Eh, that's just a nicer word for stubborn," he said, still smiling. "Though she'd probably see that as a compliment, too. Sorry about... almost killing you there, sir." Riad had heard Jack's designation preference and ignored it, just like the last hundred times. "But it's for a good cause, I promise! You want to have a closer look?"

    Riad tilted his head, already on his way over to where Fang was seated on the struggling sand runner. Its tail slapped against the ground, tusked mouth opening and closing between plaintive cries. Fang seemed indifferent to its distress, her face a stony mask as she stared the creature in the eye, her hold on her lance firm.

    At the sound of approaching footsteps though, Fang broke her gaze and threw out a jovial salute. "You're still alive! I knew I picked the right man for my assistant." Her sunny grin swapped over from Riad to to Jack. "Beautiful critter, isn't she? Don't be shy; come say hello." Fang beckoned them closer with a curl of her finger.

    Beneath her, the sand runner's limbs gave a fearful jerk. Its head was forced to the ground under the biting pressure of the lance blades, its yellow eyes staring widely at the humans. The look it wore suggested that if the creature could shed tears, it would be doing so right now.
     
    #5 Oerba Yun Fang, Apr 10, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  6. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    "Oh, don't worry, I can handle a bit of a topple," he assured Riad, a crooked smile tugging at the corners of his lips as he followed his gaze toward the creature once more who Fang was now sat upon, clearly proud of the accomplishment of catching this stunning creature.

    Still, there was a swell of pity for the poor thing as he and Riad moved closer, Jack's gaze lingering on it even as Fang addressed him. "I haven't seen anything quite like her before." And while there was a touch of curiosity and fascination in his gaze, there was a frown there at his lips as well.

    "She's terrified." In the creature's position, he would have been, too. In a way, he had been in her position. But then, maybe Fang would have called him soft. Quite a lot of people in Horizon called him soft.

     
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  7. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    Jack's fascination had Fang beaming, proud as a fisherman with a record catch. "We haven't either. Figured they must be new to Pandora, so why not see the best way they can fit into our lives."

    The sand runner was terrified. That was absolutely true; no point in suggesting otherwise. But Fang didn't feel any pity. Hunters could not afford to be soft where their quarries were concerned. Sure, you could release the animal you just caught and feel good about it, but then what of the hungry bellies back home? The bare floors with no pelts for warmth? Compassion was fine, but you couldn't turn it into food or shelter.

    Fang wasn't a bloodthirsty maniac trying to savage everything in her path—waste was one of the worst sins a hunter could commit, after all—but if she'd taken a creature down, it was her prize to use. That was just the way of things.

    "Yeah," Fang admitted, her tone a little less cheery, swinging her gaze back down to the sand runner. "Probably thinks we're gonna eat her. We haven't tried that yet, so she could be right. Depends on how good a mount these critters make."

    "Well, they're more or less as feisty as new birds, I can tell you that much," said Riad, stretching his back with a mock wince.

    As they conversed, the sand runner now lay limp on the ground, seemingly resigned to whatever fate the humans had in store. Its eyes rolled in Jack's direction, and it gave a low, sad cry, as if sensing that the redhead was its best chance for survival.
     
    #7 Oerba Yun Fang, Apr 15, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  8. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    KINDLY UNSPOKEN
    and silence speaks louder than words

    There was a certain cruelty to survival where other creatures were concerned. Perhaps Jack had such a vivid connection with that because of his upbringing in the woods, because he had grown up surrounded by all sorts of bugs and plants and furred animals. But even then, they'd had to do what they had to do to survive. After all, he and ma's options had been limited and hunting was one of those few options that they had. They'd even helped a poor family traveling through the woods, a family whose pig had been stolen from them. And they all knew what that pig's fate was either way.

    That really was the circle of life, wasn't it? To survive was to kill in some fashion.

    The way the creature rolled its eyes toward Jack, though, was so very human and he couldn't help the swell of pity in his heart, but as a councilman caring for his people, he certainly knew that Fang was right. "We'll try to give her a good life in our care. We'll try," he said, dragging his gaze from the creature and looking back to the pair of hunters beside him. It wasn't as though they were sorely lacking in food, after all, but she was a mystery to all of them and humanity certainly did love to solve mysteries. "Who knows. She might get on with the chocobos." Or maybe she would try to eat the chocobos. That wasn't exactly a nice thought. Jack had grown rather attached to one of the blue chocobos and her little friendly squawk whenever he approached.



     
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  9. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    Jack's gentle assurance seemed to reach the sand runner, for it turned its gaze forward, breathing out a nasal sound that was almost sigh-like. Its leathery body relaxed. This noticeable change in the creature's resistance had Fang tilt her head. Slowly, her smile returned to its prior strength.

    "We'll see, won't we? That'll be some work, though. I think your bird's already ran off to tell his friends he got bullied," Fang said to Jack.

    "Ah, chocobo gossip." Riad chuckled. "I can hear the outraged kwehs already. Anyway, you can let her up in a second, Fang. Gimme the rope."

    He circled around the sand runner, all the while making sure to stay where the lizard could see him. Fang dismounted with careful, deliberate movements, her hold on her lance still firm. Once the lasso had changed hands and Riad nodded that he was ready, she yanked the weapon away. The sand runner jerked, turning its freed neck this way and that, leaving tracks in the dust. Fang tensed, while on the lizard's other side, Riad held his posture, tightening his grip on the rope.

    The sand runner didn't get up just yet, though. It seemed to be waiting for something, some kind of signal or permission. Specifically, the bright yellow eyes had rested on Jack again.
     
    #9 Oerba Yun Fang, May 3, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  10. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    KINDLY UNSPOKEN
    and silence speaks louder than words

    "I suppose it's a good thing I didn't get very far at all," he admitted with a faint smirk, turning to glance over his shoulder to where he had last seen the chocobo scurrying back down gorge's cliffside toward Horizon. Looking back, he watched Riad's movements before his gaze dropped to the creature again. It didn't seem eager to move at all. In fact, the runner's bright yellow eyes were resting on Jack.

    The young councilman looked uncertain, his own blue eyes straying momentarily toward Fang and then back again, inclining his head slightly as though to encourage the creature to rise. "It's alright, we don't bite."

    Likely not a convincing statement should the sand runner understand words, given how it had been captured in the first place, but at the very least, Jack hoped his tone could be of some comfort. Who knew he could have ever had an affinity for extraordinary creatures such as this one?



     
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  11. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    Jack's soft words brought another cry from the sand runner's throat, a sort of rumbling chirp like a big cat purring. Moving cautiously, the lizard worked its legs beneath it to stand, crouching low to the ground on all fours. Its muscular tail shifted this way and that over the sands as it looked between the three humans. Fang and Riad remained on alert, but there was no fearful tension in the creature's body anymore.

    Instead, it padded over towards Jack. His eyes would come level to the sand runner's chest, a view of a broad, leathery hide seemingly as tough as rock itself. The lizard's long neck lifted up high, head twitching curiously as it peered down at Jack.

    Its head dropped low suddenly. Riad made an alarmed noise, hands tightening on the rope. Fang started to lunge forward-

    And the sand runner lightly butted its snout against Jack's forehead. The rumbling chirps increased in volume.

    "... Huh. I think she likes you," Fang said, looking at once perplexed and relieved, frozen mid-movement.

    "Maybe because you're the only one who hasn't been chasing her up and down the desert," Riad added. His eyes went to the rope, then back to Jack. A slow smile spread over his face. "She might even let you up on her back, hey. Wanna give it a try?"
     
    #11 Oerba Yun Fang, Jun 8, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  12. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    KINDLY UNSPOKEN
    and silence speaks louder than words

    A faint smile tugged at the corners of his lips as he watched the lizard get to her feet. She could have tried to take off if she wanted to. Maybe she knew better, but whatever the case, she decided to pad her way over to him instead. Jack stood very still, his blue eyes fixed on her. It was an intimidating sight, to be certain. She was tall on those strong legs, taller than she was when she stood at her full height, and it was only when she ducked her head, he feared something might happen.

    As it appeared, Jack wasn't the only one with that fear as the other two by his side either tensed or readied to pounce, but in the end, the lizard simply lighted butted her snout against his forehead. Looking bewildered, Jack blinked his eyes rapidly, leaning back just a little bit, but he huffed out a little laugh just as well, one hand lifting to gently touch the side of the creature's snout in almost a testing way, perfectly happy to pull away if she seemed even just a little bit bothered by it.

    Riad's suggestion had him hesitating, but he didn't look any less amused either as he gaze flicked back toward him. "Oh, I don't know, it may be too soon for that. Let's give the poor thing a bit of breathing space."



     
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  13. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    When Jack put his hand to the side of the sand runner's snout, the lizard's eyes slowly slid shut in response. There was something akin to contentment in the way it leaned into the touch, and the swishing of its tail was lazy. It gradually dipped its head lower, guiding Jack's hand along the side of its neck, then back around to the top of its head. It made a bobbing motion, as if asking for scratches.

    Fang snorted a laugh at the display. Her smile was full of teeth. "Too soon? Look at her! She's in love! If you two weren't different species, she'd be tryin' to mate you right about now."

    Riad cleared his throat, his face twitching with suppressed mirth. Fang laughed again, before her demeanor settled back into something more serious. Her lance tapped a thoughtful beat against her shoulder.

    "But really, if we can use these things as alternatives to the chocobos—in addition to, not instead of—it'd be good to know now. I really think you're our best candidate for the first rider." Fang gave an encouraging nod. "Come on, Councillor."

    "Jack," Riad corrected lightly.
     
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  14. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    KINDLY UNSPOKEN
    and silence speaks louder than words

    Well, they were insistent, that was for sure, and rather than refuse again outright, they had Jack thinking about it. It was probably a trait good as it was bad, his desire to listen and to please everybody. But thankfully, Horizon wasn’t exactly a place full to the brim with lawlessness and they had a community full of good people. Fang and Riad uncluded.

    And besides that, well, they were right. There probably wasn’t any time better than now when the creature was cooperating and apparently even liked Jack. To think he may have had a gift with handling creatures like this one, though he didn’t think he would ever really venture to claim that. More likely this was a once in a lifetime occurrence.

    All the more reason to take that chance.

    Jack’s gaze slipped from Fang to Riad and then back again, and he may have looked just a touch nervous, though as his gaze returned to the runner who was still very eagerly leaning into his touch, the young man seemed to relax. “... Well, now or never,” he murmured, taking a tiny step closer to close what remaining distance there was.

    “Hello, girl,” came his quiet face, handling her with gentleness, running his hand along her snout and then along her back as he moved to her side. “We’re just going to try something, alright?” Another split second of hesitation and then he reached his other hand toward her snout, which followed it lower and lower until he’d was crouched closer to the ground. Taking in a deep breath, he swung a leg over her back, hoping for the best.



     
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  15. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    It was a mystery how Jack had gotten on such good terms with the sand runner so quickly. Wild animals didn't usually cozy up to someone just because they were a little bit nice to them. Or did they? Maybe that was just how Pandora worked. All Fang knew was that back where she came from, the animals, the people, and the monsters—they all respected only one thing. Strength.

    Even when it came to Bahamut, the only reason the Eidolon let Fang soar the skies on his back was because she'd passed his life or death trial by combat first.

    But this ain't so bad, she decided, watching Jack murmur to the sand runner as if it was a small child. The lizard seemed to respond well, even dipping its belly lower to the ground so that Jack would have an easier time climbing on.

    Once his leg was over, the sand runner rose again to all fours. Riad took a single step back, moving slowly so as not to excite the lizard—he was probably remembering how the Councillor's chocobo had tossed him off earlier—and gave Jack a small smile.

    "Nice and easy," he assessed. Riad began to move even further back, pulling gently on the lasso. The sand runner followed without fuss, and together they traced a circle in the sands outside Horizon's gates. Every so often, the lizard would turn its head to glance at Jack, as if to make sure things were okay.

    Fang's posture was one of complete ease now, lance slung horizontally across both shoulders, arms perched on the ends. Her grin was bright, and maybe just a tad jealous.

    "You're a natural, Coun- Jack," she called.
     
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  16. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    KINDLY UNSPOKEN
    and silence speaks louder than words

    Some people would have assumed Jack to be some sort of magical sand runner whisperer, which was silly in his head. But then, there had once been a time he hadn't believed in magic. How could he, after all of the accusations his mother had received? False accusations of witchcraft. Ma had never been a witch, people were just afraid of being too different from one another, and judging by the news, it wasn't so different in Pandora, particularly in Pandora Town. That was why he loved Horizon so much. They didn't have those problems in their little town. People respected each other, they respected who they were. Jack, of course, had his own struggles with things like 'modern technology' as they called it, but when it came into the picture and he got too uncomfortable, he stepped aside to let somebody else handle it.

    This, though? This was something that he was strangely comfortable with for some unfathomable reason. Even both Riad and Fang looked a little bit expressed and maybe just a little bit surprised. Or was that look on Fang's face something else entirely? Whatever the case, the wariness his own expression held eventually melted away and he was actually smiling because there really was something thoroughly thrilling about this. Was this why they did the job that they did? For beautiful moments like these? How often did those moments go terribly wrong? Perhaps that wasn't the smartest of questions to ask. Perhaps he should have simply relished in the moment.

    "Am I?" he mused, shifting his gaze somewhat in Fang's direction, but his blue eyes lingered on the lizard who would occasionally glance back to him as though to make sure everything was alright. He wasn't so bad. Wasn't so dangerous, despite those intimidating looking tusks, but then, it was all rather situational, wasn't it? "I'll be perfectly honest, I don't know if I'll be brave enough to get back down." There was an amused look on his face, though, that suggested he was joking. Was he, though? Was he really joking?

    "She's sweet, isn't she?" Jack murmured, leaning carefully forward just a little bit to stroke his fingers along the creature's long neck. His heart was pounding away in his chest, but the longer this went on, the more at ease he felt. Not that he wasn't mildly concerned that he might be thrown right off of her back at any moment at all.



     
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  17. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    "Sure is," Fang replied, watching Jack and his new friend pace around in the dust, Riad still leading with gentle pulls on the lizard's leash. "Kinda weird. I've never seen a wild animal respond so fast to a human before. Maybe they're not completely wild to begin with?"

    "What, you think the pack out there was already domesticated, wherever they came from?" Riad looked from Fang to the sand runner, the turn of his mouth skeptical. "I'm not so sure about that. They seem pretty comfortable surviving in the wild, and when we approached them the first time they acted like a couple of sandworms had come over to gobble them up."

    "That's probably 'cause I had my lance out. Got some ancient instinct in those scaly skulls that tells 'em to watch out for anything sharp and pointy."

    Fang grinned, but the sentiment didn't reach her eyes. That might explain it, actually. Beasts had sharper senses than humans, not just in terms of sound, sight, smell, all that stuff, but they could tell—they knew if a stranger was up to no good around them, or if that person could be trusted not to do harm. Fang, trained as a hunter, raised during a war, had cut down too many foes over the years to ever be completely rid of the smell of blood on her hands. It was a stench that surely followed her even now, that set untamed critters like the sand runner on edge when she was around.

    And Riad... Fang didn't know what that man had gotten up to in his pre-Pandora life, but she saw the way he carried himself both in the stables and out in the desert, a cool confidence in his stride, regarding everything that happened around him with predatory caution. Riad wasn't violent by any means, but Fang was sure he wouldn't hesitate to knock heads together if the situation called for it. There was little he was afraid of, and it showed in the scars crossing up and down his arms.

    People like Fang and Riad, they couldn't be trusted not to do harm. Not like Jack. He was gentle, kind-spoken, patient. A calming presence that even wild critters like the sand runner couldn't help but relax around.

    Fang hid her jealousy behind her teeth. They should be grateful the councillor had come around today—had been dropped off by his chocobo. Must be Lady Luck's idea of pity, otherwise she and Riad would likely still be chasing after the damned lizard.

    Riad came a stop in front of the gates, the sand runner following suit, small clouds of dust rising as it halted. It had been tremendously well-behaved, not a single squawk of complaint or resistance with Jack up on its back. Still looking puzzled by the creature's change of heart, Riad gave Fang an inquisitive jerk of his head. She nodded in return.

    "Yeah. Seems safe to call this trial a resounding success, thanks to you."

    Riad smiled at him. "I'd agree with that. She's not even skittish anymore."

    "Then we've got Horizon's first sand rider!" Fang pulled her lance off her shoulders and set the tip into the ground, one hand perched on her hip. "Congratulations, Jack! So... What are you gonna name her?"
     
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  18. Jack Jackson

    Jack Jackson The Pillars of the Earth

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    KINDLY UNSPOKEN
    and silence speaks louder than words

    Fang had a point. Animal instinct wasn't such a difficult thing to understood when it came to cases of fight or flight, and if Jack were in the position that those creatures had been in, the glint of sharp steel was more likely to send him running than a hand reaching toward him with an air of both caution and kindness. Of course, he liked to think that he was braver than that now, but it described a younger him well, perhaps because he had grown up in the woods and had lived a life free of any society. Living like an animal didn't seem like the right way to describe it, but it still felt like something similar and something that he could understand.

    "If only that were the case with them all," he murmured from atop the sand runner, an amused smile tugging at the corners of his lips. He wasn't referring only to the other sand runners but creatures in general who lurked the desert surrounding their beautiful settlement. But then, human presence wasn't a common thing out here either, so it was understandable on a number of levels.

    As they came to a halt in front of the gates, Jack swore he could see his chocobo waiting several yards away and he exhaled something of a laugh, shaking his head. They were jumpy little creatures but he held a fondness for them as well. He remembered the day he had first seen a chocobo and the mystery of them had frightened them, but he often felt more at ease with these creatures than he did with people. What did that say about his position? A position he admittedly wasn't very good at, but some people did insist that he had the heart for it.

    It was probably all he had, truth be told.

    Being announced proudly by Fang as Horizon's first sand rider brought a smile to his face, finding himself beaming a bit at the prospect of it. Naming her didn't seem to take very long at all, and he didn't know how it came to him so quickly. "Nia ... I quite like Nia," he murmured. It just seemed to fit. "What do you think, do you like Nia?" he asked the sand runner herself as he leaned forward, laying his hand gently along her neck. She turned her head and made a sound from her throat, and Jack found himself flicking his gaze toward Fang. It sounded something like approval to him, maybe.



     
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  19. Oerba Yun Fang

    Oerba Yun Fang Final Fantasy

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    The sand runner blinked her big bright eyes, and Fang laughed. That seemed like approval, alright.

    "Nia. I like it, too."

    "Then Nia it is."

    Riad drew close, keeping his hands where Nia could see them, so she wouldn't startle. With some gentle words and coaxing noises, he managed to convey to the lizard that it was time to let Jack down. A chittering grumble echoed in her throat, but she bent her long limbs anyway, a graceful and steady movement that put Jack low enough to the ground that he wasn't likely to sprain anything pulling himself off.

    Once that was done, Nia rose, and Riad tried to lead her through the town gates. She didn't move though, nor did she fight him, just stood still with feet planted like tree roots. Nia nosed playfully at Jack's hair.

    "Can't get enough of you, I guess." Riad made a show of shaking his head, but his smile was still in place. "Still got the time to tag along, Jack? Just until she gets settled in? I'm taking her to the chocobo stables; gonna make some room for her, then see about having her fitted for a bridle and saddle and all that. She might tolerate it if you're around."

    "Yeah, I have a feeling you're the only reason she's not throwing a lizard-sized tantrum right now."

    Fang paused to level a calculating gaze on Jack. He might not have been like the elders of Oerba, with their cryptic wisdom and loyalty to tradition, or even like the master warriors of the village, with their overwhelming strength and ferocity, but the young man made a good leader in his own right. Compassionate, understanding, tackling problems with words instead of weapons.

    Vanille would've liked him, Fang thought.

    She stepped up, clapping a fond hand on Jack's shoulder. "Y'know, next time we go out to catch more sand runners, you should come. Work your charm. You got space in your schedule, yeah?" Her eyebrows danced. "Pen it in as 'community improvement'."