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Afterstorm

by Sherick

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Chapter 11

Chapter XI: The First Battle

Vulkrum's army set up on the vessels that had been gathered from the outside Aquadalins and Asassens. He walked up and down the ranks, with his new-old really-emeraldish body armor presented by Vector. It had supposedly belonged to some big general so many years ago, and had been considerably well preserved.

"Gentlemen," he said to all of them, "it is now time for the Imperial Army to make its first attack against the Victory Returners. No longer are we some hit-and-run guerrillas, but a powerful, undefeatable army. None shall be better. We must earn that. Now get your asses on the boats and get to land!"

The Falcon flew over the Miranda and Jidoor regions.

"About 100 miles more till Zozo," Setzer called from the slot machine-like control panel.

Locke could see Zozo. Anyone could from miles away. It was massively overcast day and night, everyday, without stop. It seemed surreal to see a bright sky with a small cluster of storm cloud hanging over one mountain range. The airship turned to go around the storm; it was too dangerous to go through.

"Something's not right," Terra said.

Locke looked at her. "What?"

"I said something's not right."

"How can you tell?"

"I just...can," was all she said.

"Well, whatever it is," Setzer said, "we'll have to wait to actually see what it is, these clouds are impossible."

A clash of thunder made Locke jump. I hate Zozo, he thought. From the ground and the air. It was bad enough when we had to deal with Gigas, Dancers, and that stupid Dadluma, but the clouds up here...

"Almost there," Setzer called. "Once we clear this mountain, we'll be in position of the encampment."

Terra looked down, eyes wide and mouth open. "No way."

The Returners that were positioned there were battling with attackers who had come across in boats. "Land it!"

"I am!" Setzer yelled back. "Give me a bloody minute. Its hard to land this thing that quickly with so little land, y'know."

As Setzer landed the Falcon in the mountains, Terra watched, as the Returners were barely able to fight back against the overwhelming numbers. Not only were there many attackers from the boats, but also seemingly infinite, terrible-looking aquatic beings were coming up from the sea. Just the ones that had been described.

Once the airship finally landed, Locke, Terra, Setzer, and Celes jumped out of the ship. Edgar, Cyan, and Sabin came up from the staircase to the deck and followed likewise.

They ran into the battlefield to do their part. The attackers from the sea had been taken by surprise by the new intruders. One of the Returners ran up to them. "K-k-king Edgar? Sir Garamonde, Lady Celes? Wh-wh-what-?"

"Long story," Edgar said shortly. "Who's in charge?"

"I am, who's-"

"That is me," Cyan answered. "What happened here?"

"They just came outa nowhere. And then these creatures...we're having a hard time staying alive. I'm so glad you're here. Though I'm a little confused."

"Long story," Cyan repeated, "I shall explain it to thee later. Now we must fight."

What in the hell? Vulkrum asked himself. He stood at the bow of his flagship.

"Get me a spyglass," he barked. One of his crewmen presented him with one. He looked to land.

It is! He thought. Those people from Maranda, they narrowly escaped. He smirked.

"Not this time. Bring the ship up to land, I have some business."

"Look!" Terra pointed to the sea where the flagship was coming to land. "Look who it is!"

Locke looked to it. He squinted. "Is that...the guy from the Maranda? Vulkrum? The one who-"

"Killed Shadow," Edgar finished. "Yes it is. That means that these are the Asassens."

"What about the fish things?"

Edgar sighed. "I don't know where they came from."

"We saw them on the ruined island," the Returner said. "Did you get our report?"

"Yes, I remember."

"Well," Sabin said as he stretched, "let's get in on the fun." He ran through the ranks.

"That big oaf," Edgar said with his head in his hand.

"Let's get in," Setzer repeated.

Vulkrum jumped down from the bow onto the shores. He saw the big muscular one charging. He smiled. "Yes, come to me, meathead. Feel my steel." He drew his blade.

Cyan fought against the Asassens again with expert skill. One jumped up behind him. Just in time, Setzer threw a razor-edged card right into an opening in his visor. Cyan looked to his friend. Setzer winked at the old man.

Sabin fought through best he could with some Blitz techniques. Though he was unarmed, his strength and expertise of the skill worked just as good. He was going through fine...

Then out of nowhere, a steel blade slashed through Sabin's shoulder. He fell to his knees and grabbed his shoulder. Blood was dripping down. He looked up into Vulkrum's eyes. He smiled in a sick and twisted way as he raised his sword high.

Sabin quickly used his good arm and punched Vulkrum hard in the groin. It took the wind out of him. He dropped his sword and fell to his knees. "You...bastard."

Sabin got up and was about to attack Vulkrum again, but too many Asassens came his way. He just ran. Edgar covered him along with a few other Returners.

"Are you okay?" Edgar asked his brother. He nodded. Edgar hit him in the back of the head.

"What was that for?"

"For being headstrong and stubborn. You could have been killed!"

"But I wasn't," Sabin reminded him with a smirk. Edgar just looked speechlessly at him. He cracked a smile as a medic dressed the wound.

"Dammit, get away from me!" Vulkrum yelled at the men trying to help him. "We can still win this. Let's go!"

As it seemed, the new reinforcements had done enough to help the outcome of the battle. They were greater fighters than he had thought. He had to give all of them, even the big ox, some respect. But respected or not, they were enemies of war.

War. Vulkrum thought on that for a moment. Yes, they were at war now, war against the Victory Returners. But if it were war, he would need a much bigger army.

He shook the thoughts from his head. He just had to worry about this battle for now.

"Let's go!"

Locke held his own against them, the Asassens. He thought he was doing well, but just looking at Cyan, Setzer, or Edgar discouraged him. Even Celes seemed to be doing better than he. But they were winning, so it didn't matter that much. He looked behind him. Terra refused to fight anymore, she may have even forgotten how. So now he had to protect her.

Just thinking that brought back some old memories. "Locke."

Celes came up to his ear. "You go ahead and watch over her, I'll take care of this."

The Returners were winning. It was obvious; just those seven intruders had turned the tables. But that could be changed. It could all be changed, oh-so easily...

Celes was the first to see it. The trees and brush behind them was rustling. There was someone in there. She approached it with her sword up. "Come out, you cowards!" She didn't even see it. Five men jumped out of the brush and grabbed her by the arms and neck. She tried to call for Locke, but could barely squeak it. One of them put a finger to her mouth. "Shhhhhh."

The falchion was taken from her and her hands were bound. The one who seemed to be in charge got close to her ear.

"I'll play with you later, now we have a battle to win." He hit her and threw her against a tree. "See ya later, sweetheart."

Locke did his best to stay close to Terra and attack at the same time. Someone came up behind him and hit him hard on the head with a club. He dropped to the ground and held his head.

Terra yelled, then one of the intruders grabbed her mouth. "Lookie here, two of ‘em! We can have some fun tonight!"

"Two?" Locke demanded, it took a few moments for his mind to refocus. "What did you do to Celes?"

The leader got a sword and put it to Locke's throat. "You are in no position to demand."

Locke was clubbed again, this time rendering him unconscious.

"Sir!" the Returner captain yelled to Cyan. "Someone's coming from behind us!"

Cyan looked at Setzer. "Might we go take a look?"

They snuck out as inconspicuously as they could towards the wooded area behind them.

They barely missed one man with a huge sword who jumped down. Cyan quickly ran him through. "That's one. Anyone else feel that they should show thy faces?"

Blades from all sides met them. "Hm," Setzer nodded, quickly counting nine. He expertly threw cards, killing five. "Now there's only four," he said in a mocking voice.

"Now just give up," Cyan said. "Don't make me have to kill all of thee."

After some hesitation, all four blades fell and the attackers came up with their hands above their heads.

"Now, tell us exactly who thou art."

Vulkrum looked once again through a spyglass. He smiled. They had reinforcements! The tables had once again turned. "We have won," Vulkrum whispered. "We have won."

"We have won!" he yelled to his crew. They cheered.

"We have to retreat," the captain said to Edgar and Sabin. "They keep on coming up."

"All right, let's go find the others."

Cyan managed to save Terra and Locke, and after some more interrogation, found and freed Celes. Edgar came to them, and though they had had their run of luck, Cyan and Setzer agreed to the order.

For the first battle in what seemed to be an upcoming war, they had lost.
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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