Chapter XIV: Aquadalins/Vector's Tale
"Hey Setzer," Locke said, "Can you drop by South Figaro?"
"I guess. Why?"
"Me and Celes wanted to stop by our house to get some things. We don't know how long it'll be."
"Neither do I," Setzer said grimly, almost to himself. "Maybe we'd all like to drop by the old town anyway."
The Falcon landed outside of South Figaro. Locke and Celes and everyone else got off and entered the city.
"We'll be back in a little bit," Locke said. "You all can go do whatever you want I guess."
Sabin and Edgar searched through their old town. They headed to the port; they knew someone down there.
Edgar felt Sabin stop. "What is it?"
Sabin moved closer to his brother's ear. "Over there," he motioned with his head. "I have a bad vibe coming from him."
Edgar looked over. Someone was standing close to them with a black cloak pulled over him.
"Black cloak at this time of year? With this weather?"
"Well, yeah...that's what I thought," Sabin said. It was rather humid in Figaro at this time of year. "But he seems to be watching us."
"How can you tell?"
"I just have that weird feeling."
Edgar thought for a few moments. "Okay, we may have to ask him. If he isn't watching us, then he won't pay any mind, but we'll be able to tell if he is."
They moved toward him. As soon as they did, the cloaked person walked off. They pursued more. He started to run. Gotcha, Edgar thought.
The twins moved after him, pushing aside some people in front of them. Sabin jumped over everyone and in front of the cloaked.
Seeing that he was cornered, he tried to jump into the water.
"Oh no you don't!" Sabin said as he ran toward him. But he was too late.
"Hold on, Sabes." They looked up. The portmaster was an old friend of theirs, named David Harpoon, fat, hairy, but a very nice old guy. He wasn't far from where they stood, and he turned around and pulled a rope. The rope pulled up a net from the water, with the cloaked spy caught in it.
"Thank you, David," Edgar said.
"N'problem," the old man winked.
They cut the net and pulled him up. "Okay, just who are you?" Edgar demanded.
He pulled off his hood...
All three of them jumped back. "What in the gods' name is this?"
Black-scaled; red-eyed. "One of the creatures from the back at Zozo," Edgar said.
"How'd you know?" it asked in a voice indicating it was female. "And what do you mean by creatures?"
"Look, I don't know what you are."
"I am an Aquadalin," she answered with pride. Shortly after the statement, however, she backed a little, and some remorse showed in her face for whatever reason.
"Aquadalin?" Sabin asked. "Well, we saw you guys helping out the Imperials back at Zozo."
"Imperials?" she asked. "These new Imperials would never receive help from us. Oh, that's right. Please don't report me."
She got down on her knees. "I beg of you, don't report me!"
They looked at each other. "It depends, for whatever reasons."
"What's your name?"
"How were there others fighting?" Otoshi asked. They had gone back to the Falcon and were interrogating the Aquadalin.
"We've haven't been above ground publicly for many, many years. It has been illegal under the new Empire for us to."
"Are you referring to Gestahl's Empire?" asked Edgar.
"Yes, Gestahl, that was his name. That slimeball of a man."
"Well, Otoshi, that Empire fell several years ago. Now there's a new one starting to form."
"And you are not it?
"We are the Returners," Cyan cut in. "We rule in democracy. We hath not learned of an existing species such as thyselves. Otherwise I am quite sure we would have seen into the legalization of thou."
"Unless of course we had a reason not too," Setzer added.
"No. There shouldn't be."
"We need to find out a little more about you and these Aquadalins."
Relm looked out of the small barred cell she was incarcerated in. Gau had his ankles and neck manacled to the wall with his hands still bound. He was still unconscious; the manacles kept him hanging up.
She heard the sound of footsteps. Soldiers came in to the small, prison-like room. Gau awoke. He struggled a little until he realized his position. He snarled at his captors and bared his fang-like canines.
One of the soldiers hit him. When he came back up, the soldier stuffed a wad of cloth into the boy's mouth. Someone else entered. He was dressed in nice yet tarnished armor and had short blonde hair. As he entered, the soldiers saluted him.
"Hello," he said. "I am Vulkrum." He looked down at Gau. "And you must be the wild child. Yes my father wrote about you too."
"I remember you!" Relm said. "Y-y-you're the one you killed my father!"
He looked at her. "Kid, I've killed many people's fathers," he said emotionlessly.
Gau made a sound that was obviously an attempt to growl.
"Oh, what's wrong? Thought I forgot about you."
He unsheathed his sword and put the blade up to Gau's neck.
Relm saw Gau's green eyes grow wide and darted back and forth between her and Vulkrum. Vulkrum turned the sword blade to the side of Gau's neck.
Without looking at her, Vulkrum said, "As for you, girl, Emperor Vector has enlisted you for his personal servant. Take her, and leave us."
They took Relm out of her cell, and took her through the doorway. She saw Vulkrum raise his sword and aimed right for Gau's neck.
"Wait, no!" she called as she was taken away.
She heard the sound of a blade hitting flesh.
Vulkrum brought the blade down, but turned it so the flat of the blade his Gau's face. Gau made a few moans.
"Good gods, Vector with his stupid commands," he yelled out, more to himself once he was sure the soldiers were gone. "This whole kidnapping plot was his idea, with none of my consent!"
He turned around and looked at Gau. He sighed. "You look so pathetic."
He reached over and removed Gau's gag. "Besides, I feel stupid talking to myself."
Gau made as to say "thank you," but stopped himself. He stretched his mouth a bit.
"He really irritates me."
"If he annoys you so much, why do you answer to him?" Gau asked, thinking answering back might keep him freed for a little bit longer.
"He isn't the most agreeable of people, but he's a good leader and rather friendly. And at the point we're at, I wouldn't try to argue with him. He has unified our measly little group."
"Speaking of which, how'd you end up with the Asassens?"
Vulkrum hesitated. He sensed what the prisoner was doing, but at the moment he really didn't mind. He dug up some old memories. "I grew up with my mother. I have no real memory of my father, I never really saw him. I recall his name was Celica. I lived in a house in the country, though I seldom went outside. I trained, and learned how to fight.
"My mother passed from sickness, and with nowhere or no one to go to, I left and ventured out. One thing led to another, and I eventually met up with MacKigg's ‘Asassens'. I outmatched them, and was a much better fighter than MacKigg. I took control. That was only a few years ago, though it feels as if it's been much longer.
"Only a little ago, when we were raiding Jidoor, we met Vector and his ambitious crew. We joined forces, and he brought us here. You know the rest of the story."
"Why?" Gau asked
"Why did you lead the Asassens? Why do you do what you do?"
"They were made for MacKigg's purpose of taking over Figaro. I spanned our horizons to taking control of everything. It's just the way it is. We do what we do to achieve that goal. Now, Vector has brought us ever so closer to that."
"But you are just going to be broken up," Gau put in. "It's just like the Empire with Kefka. Your different ideas and beliefs will just bring you farther apart. You're already having a hard time with each other."
Vulkrum thought about this for a few minutes. Then he half smiled. "Nice try, Gau. Try to get me to betray my Emperor. Too bad. Anyway..."
He slapped Gau with his blade flat again, and then gagged him. "I've got work to do."
Gau struggled as Vulkrum left him alone.
Mog had managed to sneak through Narshe without being spotted; his white fur helped him blend in with the snowy mines. After leaving, he walked through the open plains. It had been quite a while since he had done that.
He had to clear his mind. The Falcon had already left and after he had refused to help them, he doubted they would come back anytime soon. He had to go to them. It would take a while, but he would. He had to.
But would there be anyway to get off this island now?
Mog travelled out for a day, determined for revenge but discouraged by the impossibility of being able to get off the Narshe island, much less to the Returned Isle.
Then he saw smoke. It was light gray, but looked as though it had been burning for a little bit now. He ran in that direction. He saw when he got closer that it was a half-destroyed house. Who builds a house all the way out here? he thought.
He ran up to it. He investigated the near-totalled house. After some investigation, he decided a broken oil lamp had ignited it when the oil and the flame touched. But something had obviously happened to cause most of the damage inside that couldn't have been caused by a fire.
At least no one was hurt.
He shook the thought out of his head. Right now he needed to find a way to get off... then the thought hit him. Since it was palpable no one was going to be using this for now, he could take some of the lumber and make a raft. There wouldn't be any other chance to find a boat of any kind; he might as well take the chance.
While looking for some good-sized wood, he saw what looked like a sword blade sticking up from a floorboard. He lifted the floorboard. He grinned at his own fortune. A cache of swords, knives, armor, and other arms had been hidden under the floors. This was just he needed. He needed something to defend himself with on his-what would probably be-long journey. Even though he had to steal. I don't think they'll mind, Mog told himself.
After amassing all the arms he thought he would need, he collected the wood necessary for a raft and lashed them together with rope and cord he found inside the house. It had already begun to rain down. He hadn't even noticed clouds.
He dragged it along for a few hours before spotting the coast. He put the small vessel in the water and found a branch he could use for an oar. He had a long journey, but Mog would make it as best he could.
Relm wasn't entirely thrilled by her new job: serving the Emperor personally. Her ankles were shackled, and she carried a tray of food into the throne room.
She almost jumped back as she got her first look at the reptilian emperor, but she just gulped and continued toward him. Another one of whatever-he-was was speaking with him as the Emperor looked down at something. She tried to remember her lines that a servant had given to her.
"Emp-emperor V-v-v-Vector, I am Relm...Relm Arrowney. I am going to be s-s-s-s-serving you."
He looked up from what he was doing and beamed at her in an oddly way.
"Hello, my lady." He had an oddly polite tone for such a frightening-looking being. He gestured for her to come forward and dismissed the other. "Why such the frightened look?
She walked up to the throne.
"Are you scared of this place? Are you scared of me? Or are you scared of my appearance?"
She said nothing, also as she was instructed, and carried the tray to Vector. He grabbed it and set it aside on his armrest.
"And so quiet," he commented. "You may be here for a while. I think we should get to know each other."
"I...don't think that's necessary," Relm stuttered.
"You may grow more used to me," he said smugly. "I think really think we should get to know each other better, Rim." He moved closer and put a hand behind her.
"Well, I don't!" she took a step backwards into his arm.
He pulled her forward...
Then the door slammed open. They both looked over and saw Vulkrum coming toward the throne.
"Your Highness..." he looked at him. "What's going on?"
Relm escaped Vector and walked away from him. She looked at Vulkrum who gave her a nod, and she went on her way out.
After she left Vulkrum whipped around to Vector. "What was that?"
"Nothing," Vector said bitterly. "What do you want?"
"Why are we doing this?"
"Kidnapping? That's rather low, don't you think?"
"No, no, no," Vector said. "They are prisoners of war. You said it yourself, they were at your base in Maranda with the Returners."
"Well yes, he was, but..."
"And it's nothing illegal anyway. Not like we haven't done it before"
"I never did! And I don't feel right doing it!"
"You don't have to!" Vector smirked. "You just have to do as I say."
Vulkrum gritted his teeth, but said nothing. He had nothing to argue with now.
"Is there something else on your mind, boy?" Vector asked with interest.
"Well," Vulkrum hesitated, "yes, there's something I need to ask you."
Vector could obviously tell Vulkrum had already thought of the question. "D-d-did you...know my father?"
Vector seemed as if he knew the question was coming. He sat back calmly in The Throne.
"Wait...Vector," Sabin recalled a detail from earlier. "What about that guy who is creating the new Empire? Wasn't his name Vector?"
Edgar and Cyan looked up. They looked at Otoshi. "You mean there's another Vector?" she asked in amazement. "I thought we were all gone, I thought I was the only one left.
Tell me some more about what you heard."
The Returners looked at each other; reading each other's faces. "Well," Edgar said, "he's declaring himself Emperor and is taking control of the I-"
"Hey," Sabin interrupted yet again, evidently deeper in thought than the others, "isn't the Imperial City called Vector?"
"That's it!" Otoshi yelled out. "I think I know...but it can't be. But what if it is? I can't...I can't believe it!!"
Sabin grabbed a hold of her. "What! What is it?"
She looked him in the eyes. "Utam," she simply said. "My older brother, and Emperor of all Aquadalins."
"Well then tell me!" Vulkrum yelled at Vector. "Who was he? What does he have to do with you?"
The Emperor calmly stood up and walked by Vulkrum.
"Didn't you say you had your father's journal?"
"It's not much of a journal, but yes." He reached inside his armor and brandished the old leather book. Vector grabbed it. "He has bad handwriting, just as I figured."
"Enough games, Vector, who was he?!"
He sighed. "First, let me give you my history lesson." He looked away as if ashamed to remember his old memories.
"Many years ago, I ruled this Empire, on this very throne. I ruled all the Aquadalins and human factions as well. I was a force to be reckoned with, I could have ruled the world if I had wanted to. My left-hand man and leader of the humans whom I ruled was known as Gestahl. He...betrayed me, to be blunt.
"He led the humans in a secret rebellion against us. He had an officer who led his small army, a man named Léo. He also had another officer he favored, a young man named Kefka Palazzo. I imagine you've heard of him?"
"Well, they attacked us at night, so our forces weren't prepared...."
"I was Utam's right hand," Otoshi said. "So I was drawn to his side. Of course, I would've done so anyway, he's my brother after all. But the image still sparks in my mind. When Kefka, rather than fighting the armed forces, decided to sneak into the quarters. He killed soldiers in their sleep. Then he found Utam's room.
"Utam wasn't there...but his wife and children were. I saw him murder my brother's family. I ran away..." she choked up, "to warn Utam..."
"So I was fighting Gestahl. He was a really good fighter. Finally, I was...defeated. My right hand was defeated by Léo, but spared by good sportsmanship and respect. When I was defeated however, Gestahl threw me over the terrace of the palace.
"I should've dies, but my followers rescued me and healed me. We had lost, however. Gestahl had taken our Empire, and he first decreed that Aquadalins be illegalized."
Vulkrum stood in silence.
"We lived under the sea for many years," he continued. "It was a long time later, something miraculous happened. The balance of Magic had been broken, by none other than Kefka Palazzo. When this happened, the waters rose, revealing us to him.
"Rather than killing us on the spot, he talked with me, like we were old friends, which in a sense we were. He bragged about his power. I told him ‘Well power never lasts forever. I rose and fell, Gestahl fell, Gothgar before me; you will face it soon.' I said ‘When you feel the bitterness of defeat, come see me.'
"So, a year later, he did. And I killed him."
Vulkrum looked up. "So you killed Kefka? Heh. Nice one, old man."
Vector started to lose his temper. "You think I bluff?"
"No, I know you are."
"I do not," he shot a strong beam of electricity from his hand at Vulkrum, "LIE!"
Vulkrum lay on the floor, in awe silence. "Now sit down and shut up!"
Vulkrum had never seen his superior loose his temper. And what did he just do?
"You want to know who your father is?" Vector said after he calmed down little bit. "Your father was a wicked man. Your father was Kefka Palazzo."
The younger man sat silent more. He had somewhat expected it after that speech, but it still shocked him. Kefka? The almighty warlord; the one who had destroyed and conquered the world? His very own father?
"I noticed it the moment I saw your eyes. You had the look, the snare, and the malevolence in a sense. Luckily you don't carry you father's infamous insanity."
He sat down in his throne. "Well now, you know the truth. You know that I killed your father. Are you angry? Do you feel like striking me down; avenging your dear dad? As you thought to do before?"
Vulkrum got up. He didn't know Vector had been aware of his secret plot, not that it really mattered now. "N-no," he said softly. "My father was a maniac, a no good killer who knew no honor. It is a shame."
"Very good," Vector said as he grabbed a fruit from his tray and took a bite.
Vulkrum walked up directly in front of Vector's throne and knelt.
"As a matter of fact, I take it as a personal humiliation, the way he...killed your people."
"My family," Vector said what the younger was thinking.
"I will take a debt of honor to you, my lord, to rid the Palazzo humiliation."
Vector laughed aloud while still chewing on his fruit. "Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant! A debt for your kin's actions." He was about to take another bite, when he threw it away and leaned up, as if an idea had just presented itself. "All right, I know something you can do."
He leaned to Vulkrum's ear and whispered. "Tell your men."