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Final Fantasy VI: Remix – Chapter 2 April 29, 2009

Posted by thejinx in ff6, writing.
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My novelization/rewrite of the classic video game Final Fantasy VI continues.  In the previous chapters, we met a mysterious girl who was rescued from her Imperial overlords by a kindly old man, only to be pursued again into the mines, where she fell into darkness.

In chapter 2, a new character comes to her aid.

Note: Knowledge of the game is not a prerequisite to reading this story.  I am writing it to be self-contained as it is.

Chapter 2 – Savior

The door rattled against its hinges as the soldiers pounded against it.

“Alright, alright!” Arvis snapped as he stomped over to the front door, trying to hide his apprehension for Terra.  “I’m coming!”  He donned a scowl as he flung the door open.

Before Arvis could speak, the uniformed soldier standing outside snapped, “Where is the girl and the Magitech armour?”

Arvis narrowed his eyes.  “What in blazes are you talking about?”

The soldier pushed against the door, trying to force his way inside.  “Don’t play games with me, old man!  People saw you bringing the girl back from the mines.  You must hand her over, by order of the Emperor.”

Arvis leaned his weight against the door, throwing the soldier back outside, and very real hatred laced his feigned innocence.  “Last I checked, Narshe was a free town.  Your emperor’s orders hold no sway here.”

The soldier growled, “Listen, you…”

Suddenly, a voice cried outside, “She’s up there!”

Arvis tensed as the soldier turned to gaze after the voice.  The soldier shot him one last glare.  “Your time will come, old man.”  Turning, he began thumping down the stairs back towards the street.

“Get lost, you mindless grunt!” Arvis barked back at the soldier and slammed the door shut.  He let out a sigh as he turned and strode back into the living room.  As he looked up, he started and yelped, lunging backwards in alarm.

The man perched atop his credenza grinned.  “You need better locks on these windows.”

Hand held over his racing heart, Arvis muttered, “Apparently.”  He straightened, catching his breath.  “Though I don’t suppose much would keep you out, Locke.”  Locke grinned as he hopped down from the credenza, stretching out his lithe body and running a hand through his silvery hair.  “And how goes the robbing and plundering trade?”

An annoyed look crossed the younger man’s face.  “I prefer the term ‘treasure hunting.'”

Arvis snorted.  “Right, you just hunt other people’s treasures.”

Locke grinned once more.  “Hey, I can’t be blamed if they don’t care enough to safeguard their treasures properly.”  Arvis rolled his eyes as he crossed the room to the fireplace and threw on another log.  “So, what was so important?  You don’t normally shell out the coin for a telegram.”

Arvis’s shoulders eased as he thought back to the mysterious girl from the mines.  Her snowy complexion, the troubled look in her eyes… and the disturbing stories told by those who had found her.  He leaned his head back as he rose.

“There’s a girl I’d like you to meet.  She’s new in town.”

As he turned, he noticed that his meaning was not lost on the thief.  The smile faded completely from Locke’s face and a dark look touched his eyes.  “Funny, I heard some pretty wild rumours about a girl coming up this way.  An Imperial soldier more dangerous than General Kefka.”

Arvis raised an eyebrow.  “Now, that is wild.”

Locke frowned.  “True, but you’d be surprised how often I heard it.”

Arvis gazed thoughtfully into the flames of the hearth.  He had hoped that Locke would feel for the girl’s plight and be quick to help her.  Although, he supposed that Locke had lost much due to the Empire.

Arvis nodded towards a bookshelf across the room.  “Look on the shelf there.”  He kept his eyes on the fire, but heard Locke’s hesitant footfalls cross the room.  “Do you know what that is?”  The sound of iron scraping wood rang out as Locke lifted the harsh headband Terra had worn.  “I didn’t, either, and it took me some work to figure it out.  It’s one of the Empire’s latest inventions, a device that, when worn, makes the wearer completely incapable of conscious thought.  It’s called a Slave Crown.”

Arvis turned to face Locke, who held the slave crown away from his body as though diseased, a disturbed look etched into his smooth features.  “This girl had no idea what she was doing.  She’s lost and confused, and imagine what she can do for us… even if the rumours are true.”

Locke frowned as he replaced the slave crown on the shelf, clearly eager to take his hands off it.  “Are you sure you’d want someone like that for an ally?”  Arvis could hear the uncertainty in Locke’s voice.

“She’s eighteen years old, Locke.  She doesn’t deserve this.”

Locke closed his eyes for a long moment.  “Alright.  Where is she?”

Arvis nodded towards the back door.  “I sent her off into the mines when the soldiers started sniffing around here.  You’d better hurry, they won’t be far behind.”  Locke nodded and strode through the living room toward the back door.

Arvis sighed as the thief stepped outside and shut the door after him, the blast of cold air outside stirring the hearth fire.  “And good luck.”

**

Locke listened carefully as he crept through the mines, occasionally darting into a dark cove to avoid detection.  He frowned as realized he risked his life to save an Imperial soldier.  If what Arvis had said was true, however… His blood boiled at the thought of the Empire enslaving a teenage girl to do their bidding.  Dangerous or no, the old man was right.  No one deserved that.

At last, he found the bend in the passage where a section of the floor had recently broken away.  Leaning over the gap, he found the girl lying below, eyes closed, unmoving.  Sliding his hands down the edges of the hole, he dropped down, grunting as he hit the ground in a roll.  He paused as he gazed at her.  She had an ethereal, almost otherworldly beauty about her, eternal and childlike at once.

Slowly, he crawled forward, wondering what lay inside this girl.  Arvis had seen something worth saving in her, but looking down at her, Locke could just as easily see withering hatred as uncertain frailty.

Suddenly, shuffling noises emanated down the winding passage ahead of him.  He stole over to the edge of the chamber and glanced ahead.  A large number of Imperial soldiers gathered at the base of the stairs before the twisting paths.  He could faintly hear the captain’s voice as he issued commands to the others.

“She’s got to be down here somewhere.  Fan out and check every passage.”

Locke scowled.  “Wonderful.  Now what?”

As though in response, a noise flowed out from the next chamber behind him.  He spun around and his eyes widened.

A stream of strange, waist-high creatures bounded out through the opening at the far end of the chamber.  Their white, chubby, furry bodies bobbed as they strode in on short legs, stubby arms swaying with their gait.  Miniature webbed wings flapped behind them in time with the sway of their short tails, and a pinkish orb suspended above their heads bobbed as they moved.

Locke blinked.  “Moogles?”  He had never seen so many of the creatures at once.

Two of the moogles bent over the girl, large, glassy eyes examining her.  Another bobbled up to him and lifted its arm, holding its hand against its head in a salute.

Locke blinked again.  Only then did he notice that some of the moogles wore belts strapped with swords or daggers, and some carried short spears or chakrams.  All of the moogles were armed.  He glanced at the creatures hovering around the girl, tilting her face back and forth as they looked over her.

“You… want to help me?”

The moogle standing before him slapped its arm down against its side, gazing up at him with a friendly look.  “Kupo!”

Locke had to chuckle at the absurdity of it all, but quickly sobered as he glanced over his shoulder down the passage where he could hear the Imperial soldiers approaching.  “Well, if you can hold your own against these guards, I’ll owe you one.”  At a sudden shuffling sound, he turned, only to find the moogles arranged into three neat groups.  They all gripped their weapons with looks of determination on their fuzzy faces.  Locke smiled, strangely comforted by their dedication and selflessness.

“Alright.”  The moogles followed softly as he crept toward the passages.  He pointed toward a group of four moogles.  “You take this passage and keep those soldiers from getting closer to her.”  The moogles saluted swiftly as Locke turned to the other group of four.  “You take this passage.”  He turned to the group of three moogles standing directly behind him.  “You three, come with me.  We’re going for the captain.”  The moogles clutched their weapons and nodded.

Drawing his dirk, Locke glanced down the most direct passage to the stairs up to the higher level.  In the flickering torchlight illuminating the mine, he could just make out groups of guards making their way toward him.  He frowned at the odds.

“Well, I’m stuck with it now,” he muttered to himself.  Gesturing at the moogles accompanying him, he stole down the corridor, keeping his footfalls as quiet as possible.  In the close rocky passages, every small noise rang out, but the lumbering gaits of the soldiers drowned out his own boots and the padded feet of the moogles.  Soon, he came upon the first group of soldiers.

One of them spotted him, too late.  “What the…”

Locke drove his dirk into the soldier’s gut, silencing the man’s outburst as the moogles burst forth and fell upon the other soldiers.  Locke yanked his blade back, hardly glancing at the soldier collapsing to the floor.  He had long lost all sympathy for tools of the Empire.  Diving between a pair of moogles, he charged another soldier trying to join the fray.  In the distance, he could hear the shouts and scuffles of the other groups of moogles fighting back the rest of the soldiers.

Though the next soldier had time to draw his weapon, he was clearly inexperienced with the blade, and Locke soon slapped aside a clumsy swing and brought down the soldier.  He glanced around, finding the moogles victorious over the rest of the soldiers in the group.  Buoyed by their success, he continued down the passage, crouching low and staying in the shadows as they approached a second group of soldiers.  Through their shifting bodies, he could see the captain waiting anxiously at the base of the stairs.

As Locke fell into an aura of torchlight, one of the soldiers ahead cried out, “Hold it right there!”  The other soldiers shouted protests and Locke lunged to the side as the soldier raised a musket and fired.  The explosion roared through the cavern, the flare of light from the muzzle lingering in Locke’s vision as the round bullet ripped through the air just beside him.  One of the moogles behind him let out a cry as the soldiers erupted into chaos.  Not waiting for another to find his gun, Locke charged.

He surprised one soldier before he could raise his sword, but the others closed in fast around him.  Locke backed away as he struggled to repel all the blows converging on him.

With a shriek unlike anything Locke had heard, a moogle fell upon one of his attackers, and the distraction was enough for him to take down another soldier.  The other two moogles, one of them with a heavily bleeding arm hanging limp at its side, soon joined the fray.  Jumping and darting around, Locke and the moogles soon dispatched the remaining soldiers.

As he glanced up, he sighted the captain, standing still and dark with sword drawn at the base of the stairs, ignoring the frenzy rocking the cavern.  Locke rose slowly, panting from his battle with the soldiers.  The captain stood poised, glaring evenly at him.  He would not be as easy to fell as the soldiers beneath him.

Gripping his dirk tightly, Locke charged forward, the moogles fanning out behind him.  The captain dodged his first attack so swiftly, Locke didn’t see the incoming blow until he heard a crash of metal beside his head.  He gasped as he spun, finding the captain’s sword held inches away from his face by the spear of one of the moogles.  Locke pivoted to swing again as another of the moogles drew in, swinging a morning star.  The captain darted away before either blow could land, but not before the third moogle slashed at the back of his leg with a set of wrist-mounted claws.  Locke charged as the captain cried out, but the soldier kicked away the clawed moogle and parried Locke’s blow.

Slowly, the sounds of the cavern diminished until only the clashes of Locke and the moogles grappling with the captain filled the still air.  The captain suffered more wounds, but managed to hold his ground against Locke and the three moogles and inflict injuries upon them.

Then, as Locke and the moogles faced the captain with weapons held at the ready, the other moogles began streaming out from the other passages, wounded but whole.  Locke grinned as the captain’s expression faltered.  Fanning out, the moogles walled in the captain.  The older soldier’s eyes darted back and forth between the blood-stained weapons held out.

The moogle with a spear, standing beside Locke, leaned forward.  “Kupo?”

Locke grinned and lowered his dirk.  “Go ahead.”

The captain cried out as the moogles all charged at once.  His voice was silenced within seconds.  Sighing wearily, Locke cleaned and sheathed his dirk, then retreated back through the nearest passage to where the girl still lay unconscious.  The moogles shuffled behind him, some limping, as they returned to the deeper cavern from whence they came.

“Thanks, moogles!” Locke stated before they disappeared.  “We’re in your debt.”

The last moogle turned to smile and wave back at him.  “Kupo!”

Gathering the girl into his arms, Locke stood and strode quickly out of the chamber and through the mines, ignoring the wounds he received from fighting the soldiers.  Some of the moogles had to be supported as they left, yet none of them seemed regretful that they had helped Locke.  He gazed down at the stony face of the girl in his arms.  Who was she?

Time seemed to stand still as he made his way through the dark and silent mines, always watchful for more soldiers.  At least most of the ones pursuing her had likely gone down into the chamber where she’d fallen, but more might yet be waiting.  The girl hung impassively in his arms, as mysterious as ever.  He wished he hadn’t left Arvis’s house so quickly.  He didn’t even know the girl’s name.

At last, following the mine cart tracks, he reached the end of the mine.  The tracks led out through a closed-off entrance and thin streams of pale light crept through the weathered metal doors to illuminate a switch opposite the entrance.  Locke laid the girl out gently on the ground, moaning softly as he pulled his arms back.  She was so light that he hadn’t realized how carrying her had strained his arms.  He didn’t even know how long he had wandered through the mines with her weight added to his.

Rising, he strode over to the switch and threw it.  Metal groaned and the doors swung slowly open, pale afternoon light and drifts of snow swirling in.  Locke shivered from the blast of cold air and shaded his eyes.

Only when the doors stopped moving did he hear the girl’s voice.

Turning with a start, he found her shifting and moaning.  He strode over to her, tensing at the person he was about to meet.  Slowly, she opened her eyes, and she blinked blearily as she gazed up at him.  He hesitated, uncertain what to say, and decided on humor.

“Hey,” he stated.  “You back with us now?”

She blinked several times as she gazed at him, green eyes shining in the light streaming through the open doors.  Curiously, she glanced around before her gaze returned to him.  “You… saved me?”

He grinned wryly.  “Save your thanks for the moogles.  I wouldn’t have gotten far if they hadn’t stepped in.”

“Moogles?”

Locke shook his head.  “Never mind.  I’ll explain later.  Right now, we should get out of here.”  He rose and offered his hand.  She paused, then reached up and took his hand, allowing him to help her up.  A moment of silence passed as she stood before him, and he chastised himself for his earlier apprehension.  He could see nothing but fear, worry, and innocence in her eyes.  The Empire had used her, as though she was nothing more than one of their Magitech armours.  And she looked so young.

She was the first to break the silence.  “Where are we going?”

Locke pulled his hand back.  “South, to Figaro.  The king will know what to do.”  She nodded, though no understanding lit in her eyes, and she looked lost as ever.  Heart wrenching at the sight, he laid a hand on her shoulder.  “Don’t worry.  You’re safe with me.  I give you my word.”

For the first time since he met her, she smiled, softly and hesitantly, but it smoothed out her features to a marble cast.  “Thank you.”

He smiled genuinely in return, warmed and invigorated by his new quest.  He held out his hand again.  “My name is Locke Cole.”

She grasped his hand, fingers delicate and snowy against his skin.  “Terra Branford.”

Locke nodded in acknowledgement.  “You okay to travel?  It’s a few days to Figaro.”  She nodded.

“Alright, then.  Let’s go.”

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Comments»

1. The plot thinnens « Brain Lag - May 4, 2009

[…] The curse of efficiency.  I still managed to do some writing last week – nothing serious, the second chapter of FFVI: Remix was done last week, as well as some unrelated work – and the important part is that […]

2. Orinocou - October 25, 2009

That was a lot of fun to read. I hope you keep adding chapters.

thejinx - October 26, 2009

Thanks very much for the comment. I’ll have to get back to writing this one.

3. MagitekElite - March 14, 2010

Oh, there is a chapter 2!

I loved it a lot, it was really fun to read 🙂
Can’t wait for chapter 3! :>


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