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"I did not authorize you to follow me!"

The blow had not landed. Elma gripped Lucil's wrist in both hands.

Had it only been three days since the lieutenant fished her captain from the bloody waters of Djose?

"What, you expect me to stay here and breed chocobos?" Elma said. "If you're deserting, so am I.'

Lucil gave an efficient twist, and her subordinate was on the ground. The captain set a boot on her breastbone. "Bevelle is in disarray. Wait for new orders. You can't throw your career away, Elma."

"And you can? If those goons from Bevelle catch you, they'll execute you. You'll need someone to watch your back."

"This is mutiny," Lucil snapped, in flat contradiction of the shining devotion in the younger woman's face. No scars. No weathering from years of riding. No dimming of brash innocence. They were still to come, assuming Elma was not killed in the madness that had overtaken Yevon, hell-bent on stamping out every young, good, brave heart in Spira.

The order to kill Lady Yuna had come ten minutes ago.

"Yes, ma'am. Against Yevon. But I'm still following you."

It occurred to Lucil that if Yevon was false, then certain other rules -- rules she had observed meticulouly -- might also be discarded.

She placed her heel by Elma's ear. "You'll have to walk," she said. It was an insult to one of Djose's elite, the chocobo knights.

"Yes, ma'am. Destination?"

Lucil offered her hand, raising Elma to her feet. "Besaid. We stand with those who would shelter Lady Yuna."

"Very good, Captain." Her eyes twinkled. "I can swim."

"Lucil," she corrected. "No rank now. From this time forward, we are not Crusaders." She traced a gloved fingertip against the woman's cheek. "Understood?"

"Yes, ma'am." Elma beamed. "After you."