Grand Videoland Bridge

The greatest single structure in Videoland, giant bridge stretches across a lake that cuts a swath through all of western Videoland. Towering in both length and height, it is the only safe path across the lake, a wide and deep natural body of water that is a popular spot for nature-lovers and fishermen alike. The lake is pure, and runs very deep, some saying that below its depths tunnels lead to a vast dungeon that stretches beneath all of Videoland.

Ziggurat 8 stands watch on the Grand Videoland Bridge, just overlooking Hollow Bastion. The Fortress's attack in recent days make an extra watch mandatory.

At least, that's what he tells himself. Suffice to say the cyborg is somewhat interested in the castle, as it's one of the first places to go against what he had thought about the nature of Videoland. Granted he doesn't know much about the subject, but he'd rather reality obey its OWN rules, at least.

If the Palace Guard wasn't so understaffed he'd try to arrange a 24-hour surveillance of the area. But that's just not in the cards, so he'll settle for keeping watch out here whenever he is able.

Though Yuffie thinks it would be hilarious to just APPEAR at Ziggy's elbow and start talking, there are two reasons she refrains. One, this is pretty serious business. Even the teen ninja can realize that, and to some level, respect it. She hasn't been mouthing off about her superiority, which means it's something that honestly scares her. Not that she'd ever admit this to anyone, but just the same. And two, she doesn't want Ziggy to cyber-kick her into space if he gets startled.

Her steps, very un-ninja-like, click softly on the bridge as she walks forward, her hands clasped behind her back. There's a faint smile directed at Ziggy, of course, but her worried eyes keep flickering back towards the empty town. "Hey."

Since Yuffie isn't employing any NEENJA tricks, Ziggy can sense her coming long before she speaks. The moment he does sense her, though, his head turns to see who it is rather quickly. He can't take the chance of a non-Palace member trying to sneak by. But he sees who it is, and relaxes a bit and returns his gaze to the city. With two sets of eyes looking out things can get a bit easier.

"Hello." He replies. "Come to take a look at the latest oddity?" Ziggy muses. Then again, the /latest/ oddity is probably Etoile. But Hollow Bastion is still far more ominous. "This area will likely become very busy in the coming weeks."

"Yeah," Yuffie replies to his first question, and spins around to flop her back against the railing of the bridge, elbows propped up. It almost seems forced, the way she plays so casual. "Busy, huh? That's a nice way to put it. Hee hee." She's not looking forward to it...not at all. "This's not the only way to reach Hollow Bastion. Is it." She looks a little depressed at her statement. Mostly because the simple solution, if it WAS the only way to get there, would be to blow up the bridge and do a victory dance. Something everyone can enjoy! But there's probably a good reason why the bridge is left standing. She rubs the back of her neck. The thought of fighting back a swarm of Heartless on the bridge is a chilling image she'd rather not entertain. "You the only one on duty this morning?"

Ziggy shakes his head. "There are a number of other ways down into the city, not to mention the mysterious paths the Heartless take. However this is the best vantage point to see most of everything. At least it has been relatively quiet since the last attack."

The cyborg also doesn't seem to relish the thought of an all-out battle so close to the Palace. It can even be seen on his stony features. If Hollow Bastion appeared elsewhere his mind would be more at ease. But its close proximity does nothing but make things more dangerous around here, unless they can stabalize the area. "Yes, I believe so." He says, admitting "There isn't much of a formal schedule yet. Everyone is encouraged to scout the area whenever they can to keep the perimeter secure."

Yuffie Kisaragi nods. She might even consider taking an hour or two herself. So long as someone is around to watch with her. So she won't.......get bored. Yeah, that's the ticket. Certainly not because she's scared they'd all rush her while she was alone, heavens no! "I've got a question. Why is it a bad thing for the Fortress to know? I mean, I'm no tactics buff, that's pretty obvious! But we did kind of band together against the Heartless last time. So wouldn't they... I mean...they wouldn't allow the Heartless to overrun anything, right?"
"Hmmm..." Ziggy pauses. "Well we are at war with them, whatever may have happened in the past. And Hollow Bastion is far too close to the Palace to allow them free access to the area. Now that they know of its existance they will likely try some reconnaisance of their own." He lowers his arms, that were folded across his chest. "Plus, I suspect that if the Fortress were able to control the Heartless, then they would. They were unable to last time, but that doesn't mean they won't try again. According to Lady A there is much information regarding the Heartless, compiled by Ansem, in the libraries and labratories in the main castle. We must make sure the Fortress does not get its hands on any of that information." Just imagine: a legion of Heartless at Mother Brain's command. You've seen what she can do with only Metroids.

"The Fortress may ally with us if something is mutually threatening, but that doesn't mean we should be careless and trust them at the drop of a hat.""

Yuffie Kisaragi laughs, obnoxiously. "Well YEAH, I didn't mean that! I was just wondering why everyone seemed to be freaking out about it. But...yeah. Libraries, huh?" She rubs the back of her neck, looking out at the city. "You know...if I weren't so busy," aka TERRIFIED "I'd go swipe all the books and replace them with something worthless instead. Something that would summon fluffy rabites into their bathroom or something. That'd be hilarious."

"Unfortunately we haven't even started to archive what is in those books. We can't afford mixing them up right now. So all we can do is try to keep the Fortress out." It seems obvious that the cyborg doesn't like this situation. The Bastion is too close to the Palace, the information inside is too sensitive, and the Fortress is far too ambitious. Things like this make security a nightmare.

Ziggy is far more patient than Yuffie. Doesn't mean he ENJOYS doing nothing but watching, but if he has to, he has to. "In time, there should be. But now all we can do is hold down the fort. There's a time for everything."

It DOES suck that right now it's just a time for watching. Even Ziggy has to admit that. "You should keep up with the news on the Palace frequencies, I imagine another excavation inside Hollow Bastion will be happening eventually."

EEP!!! Maybe Yuffie shouldn't have said anything out loud. " heh heh heh..." she rubs the back of her neck, doing her utmost to keep from eyeshifting as she's prone to do when she's nervous. REALLY nervous. "I'm sure they've got LOTS of people volunteering to do that! And it's best if groups like that are kept small, right? So you don't draw lots of attention to yourselves, and everyone knows I'm really LOUD," she says loudly, "and really CLUMSY. So I don't think I'd be much good there!"

If Ziggy was the type of person who smirked, he'd be doing it now. But his mouth only twitches slightly. "Well, who's to say what sort of team they'd need for another excavation? I thought you were a great ninja?" Teasing? Nah. Ziggy just wants to make sure Yuffie isn't trying to sneak out of any responsibilities, hahaha!

"But I'm sure there'll always be a need for people to guard the area. So if you don't want to get near the castle itself, you can always stay out here." May not be much safer. Not if the Fortress attacks again. But.. thems the breaks.

Were this an anime, a million beads of sweat would be popping out over Yuffie's body. Even on her clothes. And everyone knows clothes don't sweat. "Hum...well...that is...I mean, I *am* a great ninja and all, but...but..." Arrrrrrrrrrrrrgh Ziggy not fair! "BUT THAT PLACE GIVES EVEN ME THE FRIGGIN' CREEPS!" she winces as she shouts it out loud. But once it's done, she feels better. "Phew!" she rubs her wrist across the bit of brow not covered by bandanna. "Anyway. You need someone braver than me. I think I'd go to pieces if they swarmed me alone."

Fear? Fear wasn't the first thing that came to Ziggy's mind about this place. His main concern was how it was going to affect the security of the Palace. Then again, when was the last time he truly feared anything? He's worried about the direct threat the Heartless can pose more than anything else. The thought that other people in the Palace would be /afraid/ of them never really crossed his mind. He shakes his head, sometimes his lack of empathy surprises even him.

"Sorry. It's not like anyone is forcing you to be involved here. Some of us are better suited to things like this, I suppose."

"Yeah...heh...I know." Yuffie's smile seems a little sad. Disappointed, really. Mostly in herself. "You're really good at it. I don't think anything could scare you. But me... I mean, seeing Aeris go Heartless like that...not being able to do anything about it...and being scared that Cloud, or dad, or Vincent...anyone really...might fall too...I don't really know how to describe it. I'm scared of that. Seems no matter which direction I want to run, I'll be scared, right? Heh heh." She combs her fingers through her short hair, rubbing the back of her neck. "How do you get over something like that?"

Here Ziggy pauses again. It's an uncomfortable silence. What should he tell her? Just spend 100 years stripping away your humanity bit by bit until you reach a point that it is impossible for you to fear for yourself, when all that matters is the tasks you have set before yourself?


"...practice." He replies. Yes, it's a BS response. But it's better than the alternative.

"Practice?" Practice. How do you practice not being scared? Or maybe that's just Ziggy's way of saying he has no idea, but let's pretend it's a good one so neither of us have to be uncomfortable about the subject. Good hustle, Zigs, good hustle. Yuffie chuckles, tapping the toe of her boot against the bridge road. "Right. Practice. Maybe I'll ask Vincent to do a couple of runs in his mansion, then. That plays gives me goosebumps, too."

Ziggy doesn't respond to Yuffie's puzzlement. At least she gets the hint that it's a topic best left unspoken as far as Ziggy is concerned. "However you want to handle it. Facing one's fears is the only way to get around them."

And he's totally not being hypocritical /at all/.

Yuffie Kisaragi chuckles again. "That's easy to SAY, but hard to do, you know. Especially when there are so many others who AREN'T scared of it that can do it for you." Without even asking to get paid! Those are the best kinds. "I mean, you know me, I'm no coward. But there are just some things... Ha, what a lousy topic of conversation!" she suddenly snaps upright, beaming. "You're not interested in that! How've you been lately? I haven't seen you around much!"

"Many things are easier said than done. But those are the things in life worth doing." Figures. Just what Yuffie loves to hear, more lectures on working hard.

Well, the conversation WAS getting a bit morbid, wasn't it? Though Ziggy prefers to keep focused on his work. "Nothing has changed with me." He replies. "Just been keeping up with my duties." Was Yuffie expecting anything different?

Yuffie Kisaragi nods, smiling a little more brightly now. Needling Shang Tsung seems to have cheered her up a bit. While she's not the sort to back down from a challenge, Yuffie's got her limits. And facing an enemy with the power to consume you and take away what little goodness she has is much too chilling for her to face so recklessly. Much like her decision to stay the heck away from Shang Tsung's palace in the future, despite its load of riches. She doesn't want to lose her soul! "Just duties, huh? Huh. Did you try out that robe yet? I wanna know if it fit okay!"

Ziggy isn't Mr. Exciting, Yuffie should know this by now. Small talk with him usually consists of very quick, brief, answers. Not that he hates conversation, but he's just so used to /everything/ being quick and efficient that it's just how he tends to treat all aspects of himself.

"It fits as well as can be expected." He admits. "I'm not designed for standard clothing, after all." Luckily it's just a robe, which can fit over most of his body. If Yuffie wanted to get him a pair of pants she'd be totally out of luck.

Yuffie Kisaragi buys pants for NO ONE. Not even herself, apparently. "Really? So you DID try it on! Wonderful!" she clasps her hands together. "I thought you were just going to throw it in the closet or something. That makes me happy!" And it honestly does, too. He did what she asked him to, what awesomeness! "Hey, long as you're pulling solitary duty out here, is there anything I can bring you? Anything at all! Sky's the limit! Seriously, I wanna help, just...not the way everyone else wants to!"

"No, thank you." He says. Ziggy isn't a snacker, he doesn't get cold, and he isn't easily bored. He bores others easily, though. Clearly. But it doesn't bother him. It's just how things are.

"You don't have to stay around if you don't want to." He says after a few moments. "Things have been relatively quiet this morning. And given the bantering on the radio I don't think EVIL is poised to make a tactical strike in the immediate future. Shang Tsung hasn't even restocked his soaps yet." Was that a joke? Nah.

Yuffie Kisaragi snickers. She grins over her shoulder at Ziggy. So he DOES have a sense of humor! That...delights her, for some reason. It's nice to know that he still has a bit of old human ways, deep down inside. Good. He doesn't deserve a boring robotic existence. "Probably leery that I might take those, too. I have to admit, it'd be tempting. They were awfully nice soaps. I took a bath hours ago, and I still smell like roses. Now that's quality for ya!"

Ziggy remains silent as Yuffie waxes on about the soaps. If this is where she expected him to compliment her on the quality of those soaps, well, she expects too much. Maybe she's just trying too hard?

For now, his eyes remain fixated on the horizon, he realized he got a bit too distracted by the conversation that he let his eyes wander for a while. The whole point of him being here is to make sure he keeps note of any Heartless sightings, and most importantly any villainous sightings.

Yuffie Kisaragi wasn't expecting any such thing! Otherwise she would have stuck out her arm and demanded he sniff for himself. That's what she'd do to Cloud or Vincent, but only because they'd boggle at her. And that would be hilarious. Ziggy will just look mildly offended at the invasion of his personal space.

For now, though, she gets the hint that she's become a bit of a bother. And not in a humorous way! "Well, if you're sure you don't need anything, I'll be off," she swipes her hands together. "Let me know if you change your mind, okay?"

Bother? Well that's not entirely true either. It seems Yuffie still has much to learn about Ziggy's behavior, but it's just as well she calls it a day. He won't be going anywhere for awhile, and unless she's willing to put an effort into guarding herself, well, she's just distracting him. Not that'd he'd come out and say it.

"No. Thank you though, but I'm fine." He replies.

Distraction = Bother! At least in Yuffie's book. "Right-o, then! Keep up the good work, I guess! Heaven knows you're much better at this than I could ever hope to be," she winks. And with a salute, she whirls about on her heel and marches off. No, guard duty is not suited for the restless ninja. She'd start lobbing shurikens at pigeons just to pass the time. Poor pigeons.

=========================== Some Time Later ===========================

Five O'clock and all's well!

At least, that's what Ziggy would be shouting if that were his job. But, thankfully, it's late-afternoon and there's been no sign of anything suspicious. So far the only eventful thing that has happened was Yuffie dropping by to pester/keep him company.

No matter how calm it stays, though, the scenery is still pretty unsettling.

Having heard so much about Hollow Bastion, and being on light duty for the next day or so, chaos had thought to come down and see the place for himself. Or maybe he'd heard Ziggy had been posted as a guard and intended to relieve the inevitable tedium of standing watch. Whatever the reason, late afternoon finds the youth walking across the bridge, taking in the sights with a faint smile on his face. It really is a pretty part of Videoland, unsettling scenery or no.

Pretty? Well before the castle was dropped down into the middle of things it might have been. Now, as far as Ziggy is concerned, it's just one big security risk for the Palace in general. Both regarding the Heartless, and EVIL's interest in it. It being so close to the Palace of Power just means bad news. And lots of it.

Right now Ziggy is alone on the bridge, aside from chaos. No other guards seem present. He remains in one spot for the time being, turning his gaze from the Hollow Bastion itself, and towards Sim City. It's slow, monotonous work. But it's something that needs doing.

chaos takes a little time to stop near one edge of the bridge, looking over it in the way of tourists everywhere toward Hollow Bastion. After several seconds of looking, he gives a slight shake of his head and continues on his way down the bridge toward where he can see Ziggy standing. "Ziggy," he calls out to the cyborg, once he's close enough that he doesn't have to shout. "What are you doing out here?"

Ziggy's head turns in surprise, he didn't even notice chaos approach. He even heard Yuffie coming (though she was purposefully being rather un-ninja-like). He nods in greeting, "chaos..." He says, turning around. "I'm just guarding the bridge. Recent events call for us to keep an eye on Hollow Bastion all the more."

Ziggy folds his arms, frowning a bit. "I think we could stand to have more people out here, though. The area is too large for only a small number of guards."

"Ahh." It's not really intentional, chaos's ability to sneak up on people. He's just accustomed to being quiet--or so he'd tell it. Stopping not far from where Ziggy's standing, he folds his arms across his chest and looks out at Hollow Bastion once more. "There is an awful lot of it. I suppose...the Palace has had a lot of other things to worry about, though." A pause, before he looks back over at the cyborg, still smiling a little. "I could watch with you, if you'd like. It must get awfully tedious out here."

"I suppose..." Ziggy says. "But, its close proximity to the Palace is my biggest cocern. If the Heartless attack en masse, or if the Fortress decides to attack again it is, you could say, too close for comfort."

chaos makes his offer, and Ziggy nods. "If you'd like. It's hard to watch everything. Though there hasn't been any sign of anything suspicious yet. It's best to be ready." Adequate prepartion, that's his motto. But sometimes Ziggy's definition of adequate borders on excessive.

"Yes." chaos nods to this thought. "The Heartless--they did show up last night, didn't they? It's been two years since they were last seen. I suppose..." Whatever he "supposes" is lost as he trails off, giving a shrug, a self-conscious quirk creeping into his smile. "Well, anyway. I don't know if there's anything we can do by wondering about it."

The youth sets himself to watch as Ziggy gives his acknowledgement, taking a few steps away from the cyborg toward the other side of the bridge. Close enough they can still talk, far enough that they wouldn't be needlessly overlapping their fields of view and render two sets of eyes useless. "They took everyone by surprise last time--it would be good to know if they're coming." He folds his arms across his chest, looking out across the lake.

"How have you been? It's been a long time..."

Ziggy nods. "All the more reason to keep an eye on things here. We can't afford to lose a foothold so close to home." Close to home, eh? Just goes to show how the time he has spent here has affected him. As if his main priority has changed to the Heroes.

"It has, hasn't it?" Ziggy replies. "Probably even before the Proto Merkabah incident last year. Things have been... unchanging. I've just been aiding the Palace. MOMO is still undergoing diagnostics from the intrusion, I haven't seen much of her. Jr. is still missing and Gaignun Kukai has been occupied with his own bit of politics. Shion and KOS-MOS, of course, have business at Vector, so I've been left with orders to assist the Palace." About a year ago he might have sounded rueful at the thought, but now it seems the cyborg has gotten used to being an ally of the Palace 'first'. It's just the way things have gone.

If the change in usage surprises chaos, he doesn't give any sign of it. In fact, he nods again as Ziggy makes that remark, keeping his comments to a quiet murmur of agreement. "Things /are/ quiet at the Kukai Foundation, politics aside," he adds. "With the Little Master missing...there hasn't been much reason for excitement." chaos actually sounds troubled here, a little gloomier than usual. "But I'm sure--I'm sure he'll return when the time is right.

"And the Palace?" He glances over at the cyborg, the earlier note of worry gone. "How has it been with them?"

Ziggy hasn't even gone back to the Foundation frequently since the incident last year. Though, at least when he had Mary and Shelly offered a friendly wave, but that was about it. Most of the time spent back in their 'home' world was on Second Miltia. "I'm sure Jr. will turn up." He says with almost certainty. "If he was dead I'm sure we would have found some trace of it by now." Funny how he can state otherwise morbid facts without batting an eye.

"The Palace has been largely the same." Ziggy admits. "Rather disorganized at times, and prone to attack and being mostly reactive in dealing with the Fortress. The recent events in the past few weeks have held the most surprising events I've seen in awhile. But despite the flaws of their conduct things have been going well, over all. The recent addition of Athlon has helped boost morale and initiative." Honestly, if he wasn't already committed to the Palace Guards, Ziggy would likely seek out a spot in Athlon's team.

"Yes. It would change too many things--to go unnoticed." chaos can understand the morbidity. It's a consequence of dealing with the harsh realities of the world for too long; you get used to bearing, and hearing, a lot of bad news. chaos's gaze has wandered back out toward the horizon over the far edge of the lake, though casual as he is--rest assured, he's keeping watch. "He does seem like a good addition. I'm sure they can improve with time--many things have changed, from the Palace I remember." Maybe not all for the best, but changed, certainly.

"Athlon seems much more active, and eager to engage in pre-emptive strikes. It seems to be rubbing off on the others, which is good. The Palace needs to confront the tactics of the Fortress with more of the same."

Ziggy suddenly turns the conversation around. "So what have you been doing? You just disappeared for awhile." He asks, seemingly unaware that chaos just tends to DO that. Or maybe he IS aware, and is asking for elaboration anyway. Ziggy wasn't concerned for his well-being, something told him chaos would be fine no matter what. But still, his absence was pretty long.

The question about his wearabouts for the past year or so provides a good reason for chaos not to comment on the mutual tactics of the Palace and the Fortress. "Oh," the youth says, that small smile of his back again. "Helping out where I can on the Elsa... We've been very busy lately." Though surely not for the entire past year! "Catching up with old friends back home. It's nothing very interesting--I don't lead an exciting life, like most people around here." He smiles over at Ziggy again. "Pretty boring, unless Tony's showing off for someone."

"Hmm.." Ziggy nods, listening to chaos's story. "So that's where the Elsa has been. I admit, I've been wondering where the Captain had vanished to as well. For awhile I thought he ran away from his debt." A joke? Nah.

"Well, I suppose it being uneventful is better than it being a bad journey. Things have been unpredictable here." Though, perhaps chaos would have been well-suited in all of the chaos. Who knows?

At that, chaos has to laugh a little, even if it isn't a joke. "I'm not sure the Captain could, even if he tried," he says, still smiling. "He seems so used to it, I'm not sure what he would do if it were gone." The youth shifts a little, glancing down and adjusting one of his gloves before refolding his arms.

"I heard. It doesn't seem like it will get any more predictable for a while, either... With the situation in Liberl, and here." He nods over in the direction of Hollow Bastion; hard to avoid it, really.

"That's the way things are, I'm afraid." First Proto Merkabah, then the Riftripper, and now Hollow Bastion. But if there's one thing coming up that Ziggy is dreading, it's...

"Then there's this tournament that will have people distracted as well. More than winning, a few people in the Palace have been concerned over the supposed death of Master Hand. I don't pretend to know about their connection to Videoland, but I can't shake the feeling that something more significant than a trophy ceremony is going to happen by the end of this." The cyborg muses. "I suppose I'll have to pay attention while in the Melee."

Heywait... he signed up? What miracle brought THAT on?

"That's true. Never slowing down...sometimes it might be nice to be able to catch your breath, but..." chaos's voice trails off once again, and he gives another of those little shrugs. "Tournament? Oh! It is about that time again, isn't it? So you've signed up..." The obvious question occurs, of course, and once more the youth is looking Ziggy's way. "It sounds exciting. I may need to come watch." Not that bloodsports even of the nonfatal variety are a particular interest of his. Quite the opposite.

Ziggy nods, almost reluctantly. As if he still has some doubts about participating. "Yuffie Kisaragi talked me into it. Lately she's been..." Annoying? Pestering? Interfering? Butting in? "..persuading me to try more 'human' things. She talked me into signing up on the Melee with the idea that it would give me some free insight on some of the Fortress's more powerful fighters." As he says that he sounds as if he thinks he was bamboozled. Oh well, too late now.

Ziggy gives a bit of a shrug of his own. "Right now I'm more interested in what will happen at the end of the tournament. But if I can gain anything from the tournament itself, well, so be it."

From the look in chaos's eyes, he doesn't necessarily think this is a bad thing. "More 'human' things," he repeats, thoughtfully, rolling the words around in his mind. At last, he nods once, still smiling. "I think that's a good idea. MOMO would probably be happy to hear it, too." He shifts to rest his chin against one hand, his expression one of thought. " will be interesting to see what happens, with all that's been going on..."

Ziggy sighs a bit. That's what he keeps telling himself, but he can't help but feel pretty uncomfortable at much of Yuffie's actions. "Well, we'll see." Don't expect miracles, though. If anything, Ziggy can be incredibly stubborn.

"What troubles me about the tournament is that it is uncertain. With the death of Master Hand and with some of the things Crazy Hand has reportedly said it is impossible to predict just what will happen once it is over." Ziggy always likes to have some idea about the consequences of an event. "But I suppose there's no more use dwelling on the issue."

"The future--it's difficult to know, what any choice we make now might do in the long run." chaos shifts his weight a little, letting his hands fall to his sides and turning to watch Ziggy. No more of these sideways glances, for the moment; he can probably tell that the cyborg's not quite comfortable with all of this. "Sometimes the best thing we can do is be prepared to meet what the future brings us--and not be so worried about the outcome that we let our fears control us."

"I suppose you're right." Ziggy says after a lengthy pause. He was clearly thinking about what chaos just said. But in what way?

"I believe I'll head to another area of the bridge to make sure everything is in order." He says abruptly. "I'll talk to you later, chaos."

Ziggy decides its best to try and clear his head with a change of scenery. It would be the best way to get his mind off of dwelling on certain things.

"All right. I think I'll stay here for a little while, in case anyone comes." chaos raises a hand to wave to the cyborg, smiling once more. "It was good seeing you again."

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