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Afterstorm

by Sherick

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Chapter 6

Chapter VI: Asassen Secrets

"Dammit!" Edgar yelled in the guestroom.

"Hey calm down, brother," Sabin said. "You heard Dornim, there's nothing more to do." Sabin could tell his brother wasn't going to be satisfied. "For now, just let go."

"Yeah, I guess," he conceded. "Well you seem to have matured, Sabin." he commented, "imagine, you are trying to talk sense into me!"Sabin snorted. Yes, he had been a little "immature" a few years ago. All those years didn't seem so long ago anymore. "Perhaps it was the death of Duncan," he said aloud.

Edgar's emotion turned from cooling anger to a sad disbelief. "Ol' Master Duncan? Dead?"

"You didn't know? Oh sorry. Duncan died a few months ago. Old age, I think."

"But he was in perfect shape, more than perfect."

"Yeah," Sabin agreed, "but he was about ninety-two-years-old."

Edgar had probably only seen Duncan once. Yes he was in great shape then, very big, tall, and a and a huge build. When he had taught Sabin the Bum Rush, he moved fast, swift, and strong so Sabin could barely keep up with him. And now he was gone, so Sabin was the Master. It was a sort of eerie feeling.

"Well at any rate, sleep will help get our minds off of everything." Hopefully, he thought.

The next morning, Dornim looked out his high room window at the Falcon. The ship of legends, or at least for the past five years. He was seeing in person. Last night he hadn't paid too much attention to her, but now he realized the overall importance of the airship. "Interesting," he murmured.

A knock came from his door. "Come in."

A Returner came in. "Commander, we have urgent news. It concerns those Asassens!"

Dornim hurried to put on his commander's armor. "Notify the others, ‘specially Edgar."

"He's already here," the king said from outside the doorway.

The Band was already assembling when Dornim got to the war room. "News?" he asked.

"Spies have told us of an outpost in Maranda area," a colonel replied. "Asassen written all over it."

"Literally," Edgar added. "Supposedly ‘Asassen' is in big red letters on the side."

"Seems too obvious."

"That's why we're going to investigate, not attack," Edgar said.

Dornim looked at him with wide eyes. "What?!"

"He devised it before you awoke, sir," the colonel explained.

"I'm taking a small team to take a look in Maranda," Edgar said.

Dornim opened his mouth to disapprove, but the look in the other's eyes made him close it. Like it or not, Dornim knew Edgar was taking control

"Well I have one command," he said instead. "I'm coming too." Dornim smiled.

Edgar smiled back. "Your Majesty," Edgar turned to see Cyan, "thy team is ready."

Behind Cyan were Terra, Relm, Locke, Sabin, and Gau. He smiled again. "Where's Setzer?"

"Hey, we don't all have to come along like one big happy little group," he was sitting at a table with his feet comfortably up.

Edgar nodded to him. "See you in a day or two then."

They set on a boat, probably the only time they'd been together like this in four and a half years. Still felt incomplete, though, without Shadow, Mog, Umaro, Strago, or Setzer there.

They arrived at Maranda port. They wasted no time finding the spy. More over, he found them.

"You're the one who sent the message?"

"Yes," he answered his commander.

"Which way?" he asked.

"I'll show ye," the spy said as he exited the town.

It was obvious. A large fort in the Maranda desert, though far from a town, where the sandstorms usually brewed. Good place for an outpost. Sure enough, the word "Asassens" was written on the side of the fort in big bloody letters.

"Like I said," whispered Dornim, "too obvious."

The spy had found an outcropping of rocks close to the fort that was large enough to fit a party of people in. Terra insisted that Relm stay behind, and the spy decided to stay with her.

"Wait just a little bit," their spy said. "It won't take too long for a sandstorm to kick in. You'll have a little bit of cover to sneak in. But be careful, it's really hard for you to see as well."

They looked into the fort. There were many Asassens walking about doing their jobs. They wore the same armor they wore when attacking Figaro, Edgar noticed. Heavy enough to cover their identity, with a red poncho with a formal golden ‘V' on it. V? Edgar thought. Victory possibly? Vengeance? Didn't matter. Whatever it stood for, it wouldn't matter, not for long. Vengeance was on Edgar's mind.

"Let's go," he whispered. They lurked through the fort silently. As long as they weren't spotted, they were fine. Though that was easier said than done. Edgar sighted a door that led into a small hut-like place. He signalled for the others to stay while he snuck to it. He opened the door without a sound, or at least non that could be heard over the other sounds of the fort. He walked in. It appeared to be the office/living quarters for a high-ranking officer. Edgar walked over to a desk where a folder lay. He read the papers that already lay spread on top.

May 1, 5 AFK

Director MacKigg has instructed that the guerrilla attacks on Figaro cease and start on the lands of Doma. These threads of raids will continue until the Leader --the name is kept confidential should this message reach outside hands-- calls off for more reasons, which are kept confidential.


Edgar stopped and put down the paper. Ex-Chancellor MacKigg was working for an even higher power? And one that was being kept secret. Interesting...

Just then he heard the sounds of scurrying footsteps. Then, they stopped. Then shrrriiiing, gasp, more shrrriiiing. Then...Clangclangclangclang!

Locke saw it before the others. Eight Asassens walked up to their hiding place and stopped. They know we're here, he thought. They drew their swords. Celes, caught by surprised, gasped. Locke, Cyan, and Celes drew their blades. They attacked. Steel against steel. The Asassens were much bigger and stronger than Locke or Celes, but the older man used his great swordsman experience to push them off. Sabin and Gau joined in and, though unarmed, did their share of damage.

Shrrriiiing! Locke looked over to the small hut. Edgar had drawn his sword and was charging them. More Asassens came from the fort. Dornim joined in with his claymore. Locke looked behind him. Terra was standing behind them, a blade in hand that they knew wouldn't give her much of a chance in the fight. The defenders started to swarm out. "Dornim, Locke," Edgar yelled, "we have to get out of here. There's too many of them."

"How?" Locke countered. "We're surrounded. Even back at Maranda there aren't but a small ships worth of Returners." He looked around. After Kefka's Tower, how could they go down like this? In a small guerrilla union outpost, fighting for their lives.No! he thought. It's impossible. At least they all got to see each other, once more. Then, as if a blessing from the skies, the forces stopped. They turned to a new target if only he could get a look of whom.... Oh my!

Shadow!?

Shadow, in his black ninja gi, was standing in the middle of the heavily armored Asassens, swinging his two blades like turbines on a windmill. He caught Terra's eye. "Run!" he yelled. She opened her mouth to say something, but she could barely croak.

"Run," Terra said shortly. "Run!" she yelled to the rest of the party. While all the defenders were preoccupied with Shadow, the small party took their chance and ran out of the fort. The spy and Relm were behind the rock and motioned for Dornim and the others.

"Get me a spyglass," he ordered. The other handed him one, though it wasn't necessary. They could see clear in the fort if they looked the right way. Though no longer did Terra see Shadow whirling his swords around. She looked at Relm. By the tension and amazement in her eyes, she had already glimpsed her father, Shadow, in the middle of the fray. But now Terra didn't see him at all. Instead she saw all the Asassens standing above a pinned figure on the ground. About five minutes later, Shadow was captured and strapped onto a pillar. Terra had the urge to get up and run straight into the mass of armor, to help him as he had done her, though she knew it would be useless. They waited... waited.

Locke, Edgar, Sabin, Terra, and Dornim crept closer to the fort. They could see clear inside. The Asassens knelt to one knee. They heard footsteps. They looked up; though the figure was out of their view. He came into their view, though it wasn't Director MacKigg. An obviously younger man, wearing the same poncho as the rest, but less armor. He had short-cut shimmering blonde hair. Terra got a good look at his eyes. The eyes, the face... there was something familiar about him, she just didn't know what.

In front of where Shadow was strapped, about thirty feet away, was a large something cloaked by a sheet. The young man walked up to it.

"Mister Shadow," he said with a sinister voice that didn't quite match his appearance. It somehow seemed eloquent, deep, similar to Edgar's in the more articulate moments. "The mercenary assassin. Yes, my father wrote about you. Now I get the pleasure of meeting you."

"Just get on with it," Shadow said moodily. "If you're going to kill, just kill me!"

The other smirked. "But I haven't introduced myself. I am Vulkrum, leader of the Asassens."

Vulkrum. The V's."Now, as for your request..." he reached over and removed the sheet. Terra could barely hold herself from gasping. It appeared to be a huge laser cannon, similar to the Magitek ones. But that couldn't be it. Magic is no more; Magitek doesn't exist. "This," Vulkrum continued, "is a laser cannon. Though incapable of using the fuels from years past, we've created it using steam engines and, let's say, different forms of machinery."

Terra looked at the laser cannon, its silver barrel pointed at a slant toward the pillar, a thin iron pipe coming form the top nearer the control panel. She saw some differences between this and the Magitek cannons, though she wasn't mechanically savvy enough to truly point them out.

Vulkrum smirked. "Shall we test it?"

As he walked to the control panel, Shadow maid a quick move. He wriggled his right arm free of its restraints and pulled out a dirk that was hidden in his gi and threw it at Vulkrum. But it went right past him... and hit the cannon square in the panel. Terra expected lightning and sparks, though nothing happened.

Vulkrum casually pulled out the dirk. He then turned and swiftly threw it back at Shadow. It hit his free right arm, catching the side of his forearm and pinning it to the pillar. His blood dripped to the floor. Terra had never seen Shadow bleed. Or at least had never noticed it before. She saw his eyes, reeking with pain, though he didn't so much as twitch.

Vulkrum messed with the panel for a few seconds. Then it started making sounds, sounds of machinery, sounds of steam, sounds that reminded her of the Mines of Narshe. Steam streamed from the pipe. The barrel heated up and turned orange, then bright red, then dark. Terra could feel the heat from where she stood. The younger man grinned once more, "Tah-tah!" and pulled the lever.

A yellow-red beam shot from the barrel and shimmed to the pillar. They watched helplessly as Shadow, mercenary, assassin, bounty hunter, friend, and father, disintegrated on the stone pillar.

After the light faded, the pillar lay in crumbles, and Shadow's corpse was barely recognizable beneath it.

Terra started to scream, but Locke grabbed her arm and pulled her back from the fort.
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy VI
Version 6
©1997–2017 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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