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Afterstorm

by Sherick

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Chapter 16

Chapter XVI: Cape of Kefka

Mog's raft drifted out to sea from Narshe country area three days ago, using a broken branch to paddle. He was amazed it had gotten him this far so fast, but he was paddling with a fury. He could tell he was getting close to South Figaro by the islands he saw around him in the distance.

He lay back. He hadn't slept for the past three days and was very tired. The current would bring him to the town anyway. He closed his eyes.

It had been a few hours later that he washed up to shore, but he was still asleep. After all these days of no rest, he had gone to sleep rather quick and probably wouldn't get up for a little bit longer. But luckily enough, the Figaro guards were making their evening patrol.

The guard, seeing the Moogle washed up with his raft, dismounted his chocobo and walked toward him. "Are you all right?" He gently nudged Mog. When he heard Mog's calm breathing, he knew he was only asleep.

He picked the small Moogle up and propped him on the chocobo. "You'd better hold on."

The bumpy ride on the big bird stirred Mog. He yawned, but stopped and grabbed the saddle below him once he figured out where he was.

"Good mornin', Mr. Moogle."

"It's Mog," he said drowsily. "Thank you for helping me."

"I see you have a lot of weaponry there. Hope you don't mean to cause any trouble?"

"Only if trouble comes first."

The patrolman laughed. "I like that attitude, Mog. Anywhere specific you headed?"

"I'd be much obliged if you could take me to the Returner island, but given your immediate position I think that would a little too far."

He laughed again. "How ‘bout South Figaro?"

"Yes, that sounds good."

"Yunno for a Moogle, you speak rather fluently and such." He turned around to face Mog. "No offense of course."

"'Tis okay. I know not many Moogle speak Human Speech very well. I was taught by...well, by an old friend."

He expected a reaction of some kind from the guard, but he paid no mind. "I used to not speak very well, or when I did, I spoke really fast and hyper."

"Well what can you say? You're just a kid."

Mog had hoped he wouldn't get any of that kind of youth talk. He was somewhat surprised though, for most of the time humans could get confused with ages for Moogles, and he thought the way he spoke would have thrown him off.

"I know Moogles," he said. "I lived by them for a while, back in Narshe. That was when the two countries were together. You from Narshe?"

"Yes. I actually am running it. Or was as it seems."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'll explain..."

They drew towards South Figaro. Mog had just finished explaining what had happened to Narshe.

The guard was awestruck. "I can't believe it."

Mog dismounted the chocobo. "I'll go back and alert Figaro Castle. Even though the king isn't here, I'm sure we can try to go and win back the mines."

Mog smiled. "That would be great." He was too tired to show too much emotion. But the guard could tell how much it meant to him. "Take care, Mog."

He turned around to the town. He needed to get a ferry to the island, but he probably needed rest first. But as he took his first steps, three big humans stopped him.

"'Ey, Muggles," the leader spoke with an ignorant voice. "You got some dang'rous weapons. They could become a threat. You need to check them out here wit us."

"No," Mog said and backed away. He backed right into two more big humans.

"Wrong answer, Muggle."

The two behind him grabbed his arms. The others got out knives and put them to his throat.

"Now I'll ask agin-"

"Get off of me. Or I'll-"

"Gimme yer weapons! C'mon. Get ‘im!"

Mog hung his head and "tisk-tisked." As he reached down, Mog jumped up and kicked him back. The two with knives were distracted by it, giving him the time to knock their weapons out of their hands. Now for the ones behind him. He slipped his right arm out of a loose grip and did a twirl and kicked the other in the groin.

The other two dove at him, and he performed a double axle, evading the thugs and making them hit their friends behind him. After they recovered, one of them looked at him.

"He's a damn ballerina!"

They tried to move at him, but he quickly brought out a small spear and got in a battle position.

"Now do you really think that will work?"

They stood up and lifted their hands in the air. He heard the leader he had knocked down before stirring. Mog smirked. He jumped, and in the same movement turned and threw the spear at him, barely missing his neck.

As Mog landed, he heard the leader faint. "I'm tired. I'm going to rest. I don't want you to cause any more trouble. Hear?"

They nodded in unison. As Mog walked to the inn, the gathered crowd of citizens applauded him.


The Band headed to Dornim's office at the top of the fortress. They had much to tell him. But unfortunately, he had a lot for them too.

Before they started on about their discovery of Espers, he put up his hand.

"I have something to tell you," he said in a serious voice. "We got a letter. It's from the Imperials."

That got their attention real quick. "What about?" Setzer asked.

Dornim brought it out. "A couple things. First off, they have straight up informed us that their army has increased drastically."

"Are they trying to play with us?" Sabin interrupted. "‘Informing us their army has increased.' This is crap."

"But that's not all," Dornim continued. "They have also invaded and conquered the Mines of Narshe."

They stared at him for a few moments. "But, we were just there," Edgar said. "Just a few days ago, they couldn't have done it that fast."

"See what I mean?" said Sabin. "They're lying to drop our morale."

"And lastly," Dornim went on, rather loudly, as if irritated, "they write that they have captured Gau and Relm, while en route to Narshe."

That stopped Sabin in his tracks. Terra came up and grabbed the letter. She read it over; to make sure she had heard correctly. "Terra."

She heard Edgar. "Terra, I'm sorry."

Figures. The greatest things that could have happened to her had just happened, and now one of the worst...

"What now?" Locke asked.

There was a moment of silence. Terra spoke in a calm yet dangerous voice.

"We go to the belly of the beast."

Cyan agreed to venture to the Imperial Island, but as an espionage mission to find out a little about the Imperial's plans. This time they had a plan. Even though the Zozo area had been taken, there was a hunk of land coming off the Kohiligen continent that they could use as a base.

The Falcon landed there so as not to attract attention. They made a plan to sneak to Vector in a raft, and had a signal to use if they were in trouble-Terra would shoot Bolt into the air. If it was serious and they needed it quickly, Bolt and Fire. Setzer was accompanied by a few Returner free-fliers, while Cyan, Terra, Otoshi, and Celes went on the raft. Edgar, Locke and Sabin took another route around the island, to see and hear from a different angle, and to cover the others.

They set off into the mist, which had actually thinned a good deal-probably something that Utam had done. It took a long while to get through, and even though it had thinned out, it was still difficult to see if it was day or night. They caught site of the island. It was late afternoon/mid evening by the time they reached it and anchored in a cove.

It took a good few hours to make it to the top, but not as long to get to the city. Looks like we got here right on time, Terra thought. There was a huge assembly of people-soldiers mainly-gathered around what had once been the Imperial Palace. It was hard to believe this was the same place they had come to once to free the Espers from the Magitek Facility, or to make peace with the Empire prior to Gestahl's betrayal of the truce. And it was ruined...yet still sparkled with its old magnificence. Otoshi was also amazed.

She was wide-eyed; awed over seeing the home she had been away from for many decades. It had to be completely different for her, but she refrained herself from curiosity and followed the rest of them. They got a fair distance away from the congregation and hid behind some rocks and ruins.

Vulkrum stood ready behind the balcony curtain. He was ready to make his big speech, as Vector had prepped him to do. Vector himself was awaiting this speech, which made Vulkrum all the more nervous. But the look on his subjects' faces would be amusing. He smirked and walked out.

The crowd cheered loudly as he walked through the balcony, but then cut it with an eerie silence. Terra looked up and barely caught herself from gasping. It was obviously Vulkrum...

But he was dressed in the most exotic and memorable clothes. He wore long green and red robes, all kinds of fur and feathers hanging from it. He had white face-paint with bright red, his short blonde hair filled with plumes.

After a few moments, he stood over the railing, soaking in everyone's expressions, still trying to hold back his amused smile. Finally, he spoke.

"My fellow Imperials, it is true, this is the appearance of the world's worst and most feared tyrant, though I am anything but. I am your commander, but I am much more. I am Vulkrum Palazzo, heir of Kefka!"

A jumble of reactions met this. Cheers from the Fanatics; fearful gasps from former Imperials; discussion through the Asassen ranks and Aquadalins; Klee'on's brigade were the only ones unmoved. The expressions showed surprise, but he had taught them not to fall out. A good leader.

"But that is not what this is about. Kefka was the most powerful man in existence, but he lacked something." He pointed to his head. "Tactics. Maybe he didn't need them, but could have been what lead to his downfall. I have no plans to have a downfall, but to reign as long as I can. As we can!"

Once again, his men supported him.

"This time it will be different. We have tactics, we have the army, we have the willpower and determination, and most of all," he reached into his robe and pulled out a huge stone, "we have this!"

Terra recognized it almost immediately. "This Megacite, our secret weapon. The ultimate in magic support, it can be drained. Magitek could be created again, and with improved technology and ideas from people such as yours truly. But to do this, more must be acquired...much more. Even this isn't enough to fuel an army. If after these years, Megacite is back, imagine what else there is!"

He held it into the air. Terra felt her throat dry up. Kefka's son, with Kefka's Megacite, but much higher than Kefka's intelligence. And now he knows...but so do we.

"We will strike the Returners...in a prevailing, larger than life after storm!"

The roar from the crowd was almost deafening.

He turned to Vector who was behind the curtain watching Vulkrum. He clapped.

"Nicely done. I knew I made the right choice."

"As did I," Vulkrum said as he gripped Vector's arm, sweat trickling down his painted face.

Terra looked like she was having hard time breathing. Celes shook her and called her. No one would hear them through the roar. Terra whispered. "There's no way. There's no way."

They understood her fear. After just discovering Espers, their greatest power, the enemy had just done like wise, but with a bigger advantage.

"We need to go," Celes said.

"I concur," Cyan agreed. "There is nothing more we can do here, in these conditions."

Going back they heard something. Footsteps besides their own through the rock. Celes reached for her sword, expecting to feel her falchion, then remembering it had been stolen. It's just Locke and them, she thought. But not taking chances, she pulled out her new, smaller sword and got in a fighting stance.

She was shocked when a Vector soldier jumped out at her. She dodged and attacked him. She saw Cyan dive behind her. She turned to see the old man parrying an attack meant for her. He brought the saber up and struck his surprised foe. Otoshi stepped up to them. They stopped, shocked to see an Aquadalin already on the scene.

She quickly assured them she wasn't on their side as she sent them back with a force of energy.

"Let's go," she said. They ran down to where the cove was. More soldiers continued toward them. But then they fell, one by one. She looked around before noticing Edgar standing on a vertical rock with his auto-crossbow, sniping the enemy as they came. He eventually ran out of bolts and had to reload. At this time Sabin jumped in for some hand-to-hand melee. Locke came around as well.

Cyan and Celes ran in to help, knowing even the Ox couldn't take too many. After a few minutes, they were all but overwhelmed by troops. Terra looked at Celes, wondering what to do. Celes nodded. Terra stood up and stretched her hand to the air. She formed an electrical charge around her hand, and then shot it up into the air. It would signal Setzer, but it would also give them away to the rest of the isle. He had to get there quick. Celes then imitated the action, this time with a large flame.

Until then, they relied on Sabin's strength and Otoshi's amatru-ki to help against the ambushers.

"Whoa, Vulkrum is Kefka's kid."

"I know. Do you think we can trust him?'

"I don't know, but I wouldn't wanna take a chance like that."

"You saying we need to ditch this?"

"Better do it quick. There are plenty of rafts, we can just take one and get out."

"Right, I'll go an' get...you alright?"

"No, I don't think he is."

The older Imperial soldier was surprised to hear Vulkrum's voice. He stepped from behind the other soldier who he had been discussing his abandonment. The other fell limply.

The older one looked down in speechlessness. "Don't worry," Vulkrum said, "I only hit him in the back of the neck with a hard rock. He'll be back in a day or two. It'll be fun. The two of you can plot an escape from the dungeons."

Two higher-ranking soldiers grabbed him and took him away, as well as his cataleptic companion. Vulkrum chuckled. He juggled the big stone he had picked up for a few moments.

"What the ‘ell is that?"

Everyone looked behind them to see a bolt of lightning jettison into the sky. "Lightning isn't supposed to work that way!"

"No it isn't," Vulkrum hissed. Spies, who had seen his speech and heard his plans. He crushed the rock in his hands. It had to be a signal of some sort; it would be too obvious had it meant to not be.

"Should we go down there?"

"No. If that was a distress signal then they're already mingling with our men. Reinforcements will be coming, we are to stay and greet them."

A zephyr blew through his hair. They looked up at the incoming airship.

The Falcon flew around, not to where the signal came from, but through the city. Multi-colored lasers shot out in every-which direction.

Vulkrum stood on a large rock in the ground, shooting spell after spell at it. Though relatively useless, he never backed down.

"Sir, shouldn't we get the cannon on this thing?" someone suggested after a little more of the bombardment.

"Nay," he answered. "The cannon is too hard to concentrate on a target as quick as this. Besides, I find this much more fun." He smiled.


Vector sat on his thrown. He knew what was happening outside, and that somehow Vulkrum wasn't going to use his best defense. "What is that boy thinking?" He signaled for one of his personal guards. "Go and prepare the cannon anyway."

Setzer whooped as he maneuvered his ship through the air, shooting 7-Flush below him. What he needed was an H-bomb to wipe the army out, but unfortunately he had none left in his inventory. A major shame, though this could do just as well.

He felt a thrust, a very powerful one. He looked behind him. Something taken a good shot at his rear, taking some out. Was it that guy slinging spells? Nothing he had could do that. The second time he knew it wasn't. A powerful blast had pierced through the ship completely. He manned the wheel, trying to gain control. He knew immediately what had happened; his engine had been destroyed.

He was losing altitude. No, no, no. They're all counting on me, I can't let them down, I can't lose control. I need to stay clear of whatever that is. He finally found where it was coming from...but just saw a huge red blur come at him.

Terra saw as the Falcon was shot by the giant red beam. It had barely hit it, but the second really took a toll. He seemed to lose altitude. Then a final one that hit home. The airship flew-if that's what you'd call it-into the distance, black smoke puffing out.

She felt hot tears. Setzer. Right now they were stuck, with no escape plan.

Vulkrum also saw the airship went down. "Looks accurate enough," commented a satisfied soldier. Vulkrum grabbed him, then restrained himself from losing his temper. It was all Vector. He threw the soldier away and stormed into the palace.

"Vector!"

He greeted Vulkrum gaily with a cup of wine. "Ah, what is it?"

"You used my cannon!"

"Yes."

"I gave no order to do so."

"So you didn't. But I did."

"That is mine, mine Vector! You can't-"

"Oh but I can," he countered. "Once you entered the service of my Empire, everything became mine to use."

"That's not fair."

"It doesn't have to be. As long as I say."

"You little bastard."

"Calm down," he said still gaily. "We won, we showed our power. And we got rid of that accursed airship. There's nothing to be mad about, only proud."

Vulkrum conceded. He held a cup of wine to the Aquadalin. "To pride."

"To the Empire."

"To honor," they both said as they gulped down their drinks.
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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