Puppeteer Chapter 12

The Sacrifice

Before the idol he stood, shaking, but standing nonetheless. Stunner severed his spine and pierced his stomach. Both wounds were healed slightly with a broken vial on the ground, hinting what may have transpired. Regardless on how he was not paralyzed, Baram continued to grin at his old friend with that same, corrupted smile, Kefka gave his prey before he slaughtered them.

“You’re a bastard, Clyde. As a friend, I ask you to kill me and now, when I have no desire to pass from this mortal coil, you tried to end my life,” Baram cackled as his world continued to fall apart around him.

Clyde couldn’t help but smile at the irony of it all. All of this could have been avoided if he was strong enough to kill his former friend. Baram’s endless shaking, obviously he was still having trouble controlling his nerves from his weaken spine, mirrored the quaking temple. Both were once strong and now both were falling apart.

“This could’ve been averted if you didn’t threaten my daughter’s well being,” the ninja finally answered with a scowl.

Using the exhausted Excalibur as a cane, the monk began to stumble pass the ninja. Stunner came up and rested across the monk’s throat. The unexpected move froze Baram in place for a moment. Quickly regaining his composure, the monk exploded into another bellowing fit and slapping the blade away from his neck.

“HA, HA, HA. Clyde, you couldn’t kill me before and I know you will not kill me now. Why do you think you pierced my gut instead of me heart?” Baram laughed passing the ninja who lowered his head. “Face it. You don’t have it in your cold heart to murder a friend.”

“You’re right,” a dark reply voiced from behind the monk.

It wasn’t what the ninja said that gave the monk pause, but the finality in his voice. Never has Baram felt such an aura of death surrounding him. Glancing over his shoulder, the blade swung at him, just below his chin. Then, his world began to spiral out of control. He tried to scream as the world spun, but one could not scream without one’s head attached to its voice box.

The building quaked even more after the master of the temple was no more. Stones began to fall from the ceiling and fissures opened underneath the ninja. Seeing Baram, decapitated, Clyde felt neither grief nor guilt, just satisfying relief; relief that his friends and family were safe. Baram was right. Clyde didn’t have it in his heart to kill a friend. Puppeteer was no one’s friend.

“I’m tired,” the ninja said, tossing Stunner to the floor.

Rushing to the exit, Clyde opened the door, but stopped in this tracks. The flight of stairs was stacked with debris from the collapsed ceiling, preventing any means of escape. Shutting the door, the ninja desperately searched the chapel for another way out.

“It is an honor to die today,” Clyde stated to himself, standing in the middle of his soon-to-be mausoleum.

* * *

The flight down the tunnel was hazardous for the three remaining escapees. Stones fell from above, kicking dust up from the ground, and cracks opened up in the unseen floor. Dust and sulfur assaulted their nostrils, but they ran nonetheless down the hall. Another stone dropped, right into Terra’s skull.

Down she went with the rock. Bewildered, but still aware of the dangers surrounding her, the half-Esper rose to her feet. An explosion from above drew her eyes upwards to the tunnel’s ceiling, crumpling down upon her. Ducking low and closing her eyes, Terra waited for the end. For the third time that day, she was saved.

Erect to his full seven foot form, ten or more with his arms outstretched above his head, Qaletaqa stared down to Terra. With a smile and a nod, the half-Esper continued her trek down the hall. As soon as she caught up to Celes, she gazed back to what kept her friend from moving on and had she slacked jawed. Being farther back, Terra noticed the bigger picture.

Qaletaqa stood, unfazed by the entire ceiling that he was holding up. A sickening snap could be heard from Qaletaqa’s direction that of a rib breaking, churned the woman stomach. Yet, watching this magnificent man’s strength of holding up the mountain took her breath away.

“Let’s go,” Celes whispered, taking Terra by the hand.

“No! We can’t leave him,” Terra yelled over the loud quaking.

“We can’t help him. Let’s not let his sacrifice goes in vain.”

“There got to be something we can do.”

“There is,” the native boomed, drawing both the women’s attention towards him. Terra gently removed her hand from Celes and walked back to the barbarian.


“Please… live. I know I don’t deserve any pity, but keep your word and don’t let my people suffer…” he flinched as two more ribs snapped. “…for my actions.”

Terra, with her eyes filled with tears, nodded and turned away.

“And… tell the others I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” Qaletaqa paused to smile at the half-Esper. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done to you, Terra.”

With a smile of her own, Terra reached out and softly touched the barbarian’s chest. His heart was thumping in rapid succession and the rhythm picked up by Terra’s touch. Another snap and a roar from the native told her it was now or never to flee. Down the hall the two blonde Returners ran.

Qaletaqa smiled, but it didn’t last long as another rib broke. Bowing his head to pray, the native ignored any and all physical pain he felt. All that mattered was that he could hold his position until his body failed him. Another snap… another snap… and then one final snap; that of his spine caused the barbarian to crumple along with the rest of the hall.

The tunnel caved-in, giving both Celes and Terra just one heartbeat to spare. Jumping out of the hall, both landed in the arms of their friends. Celes caught by Locke and Terra being snatched up by Sabin. Without wasting any time, the four entered the airship, which was rocking near the edge of the volcano’s core. Up came the lava, up went the Falcon.

Pushing their way topside, Celes and Terra saw their old gambling friend in his spare clothes and trench coat at the wheel. Smoke engulfed the craft, making it nearly impossible to breathe, let alone guide the Falcon out of the volcano that was about to erupt. Together, the three worked in unison with Setzer at the wheel; Terra at the stern and Celes at the bow, calling out to the gambler if he was too close to the wall from behind or in front of the ship.

The Falcon flew higher and higher as the rim of the volcano was in sight. A thud followed and the ship broke the smoke stack. Pushing the rudders for all their worth, the Falcon flew off as the volcano ruptured in the distance, covering the temple in molten rock.

“Shadow!” Terra cried out towards the temple.

“Right here,” a soft reply came from the bow of the ship. “It’s a good thing you came closer to the western side of the volcano or I would have been burnt to a crisp when I jumped. By the way, the name is Clyde.”

“Sorry to interrupt, but I’m a bit chilly. Could one of you take the wheel?” the gambler chattered as he handed the controls over to Celes.

“So, should our first stop be Maranda to pick up Cid and help out Daithi’s town?” Celes asked as she swung the ship, hard to port.

“No,” Clyde interrupted, not even bothered by the cold without his top gi or cloak. He smiled and finished his thought, “Head south. We have a promise to keep for two friends.”


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