Ch 2, part 9
"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – a Final Fantasy II retelling
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy II and all FFII characters featured within. Original characters and interpretations are owned by the co-writers of this fan fiction. There is no profit being made from this story.
Gordon's trip into the pub proved quite fruitful. While he felt frail being in the same place as many drunken pirates, off in the corner he found a man with goggles strapped to his head, a fluffy black mustache under his nose, and a cigarette sticking out of his mouth. The man looked more than approachable, as he was playing a game of poker with a group of men wearing the same overalls and goggles that he was. Gordon swallowed his fear and approached the group, trying not to catch the eyes of any of the pirates as he headed that way.
"Well, lookie here," one of the men wearing goggles said. "Ain't you a beauty?"
"You're drunk, Ned, that there's a man!" another said, whacking the first upside his head with his beer mug.
"That ain't no man," the second said, "Look at her squishy little arms and long flowing hair! She looks like the perfect lady to pour me a drink. C'mere, sweetheart, come sit on my lap."
Gordon couldn't believe what he was hearing. He stomped his foot onto the floor and said, "I am not a woman!" For the first time in his life, he sounded quite fierce.
The man at the head of the table looked up at Gordon, knocking a few of the ashes off of the end of his cigarette. "Ya'll pay your respects," he said sternly. "The boy is a prince."
"A prince?" the first man wearing goggles asked, rubbing his eyes while staring at Gordon. "A pretty puffy prince in a pub of a town that doesn't even have a castle? Come on, Cap'n, you're joking."
"I'm not. This young man was present at the royal court of Fynn when I was about three years ago, right before I finished my prototype airship, the Hilda Guard. I believe he was announced to be a prince of Kashuon," the captain said quietly, surprising all of his crew. "Tell me, young man, what are you doing in this sort of establishment without any body guards?"
"I don't have body guards," Gordon said. "My brother and the knights who pledged loyalty to me have all fallen at the hands of the Emperor. I come looking for a man named Cid on the behalf of Princess Hilda of Fynn." He stood up tall, and while he was speaking, he tried to sound more like his older brother. "So, do you know where I can find Cid? I'd rather not waste any more of your time, if you don't."
"You're a brave boy," the captain said kindly. "And I like that. Nice to meet you, son. I'm Cid. This here is my crew. Now, what can we do for a man like you? We're just common folk, you know."
Gordon nodded. "Very well, Sir Cid-"
"You hear this one? 'Sir' Cid, he calls me," the captain laughed, and the rest of his crew laughed with him. "Spare me the formality, please. I gave that up when I left Fynn a long ass time ago."
Gordon tried again. How frustrated could one prince get during one simple conversation? He was about to find out. "All right… Cid. I come seeking answers about airships."
"For that you have come to the right man," Cid said, smiling. "What exactly would you like to know, Prince? How they run? What they run on? How they're built? You want to build your own, perhaps?" With that came a chuckle from a few of the crewmates.
"Actually," Gordon said, "The Empire has finished building their own airship, but it's not a typical one at all. It's bigger than a mountain, big enough to blot out the sun completely. They call it the Dreadnaught Warship. I have come to ask you how we would… destroy such a machine."
"The Dreadnaught?" Cid asked, shaking his head slowly. "Truth is, Prince, all airship engines that I've ever known, including the ones I have built myself… they all run on Sunfire. That's what burns the fuel inside the engine, and makes it move forward."
"It's not flying because of the propellers attached to it?" Gordon asked curiously.
"Nah, those are for keeping it afloat, but they are not made to move it in any direction," Cid explained. "Airships are difficult to explain to someone that's not mechanically inclined, so I apologize if there's any confusion, but… I'm sure if you took some of the Sunfire from Kashuon Keep and put it into the engine of the Dreadnaught, it would combust in a way that would completely destroy the machine."
"But, I thought it ran on Sunfire…?"
"They do," Cid said. "But you don't remember me sneaking into your castle in Kashuon and stealing your fire, do you? I never did anything like that at all, because not just anyone can take the Sunfire from the Eternal Brazier. I made a synthetic Sunfire with alchemy to fuel my airships. Even though Kashuon was invaded by the Empire, I severely doubt that they've actually been able to take any of it."
Gordon nodded, putting all of that together in his mind. "Only an heir of Kashuon can find the Egil's Torch," he said carefully. "Only an heir can take the Sunfire because only an heir can get the torch that can carry the Sunfire!"
"That's exactly right," Cid said, taking a drag on his cigarette. "Now I can tell you that synthetically made Sunfire is nowhere near as potent or as strong as the real thing. I know this because eventually, the man-made stuff will just stop burning. You have to keep making more of it, the longer you want to fly. If you put the real stuff in an engine made for it, it would never need to be refilled ever again. But… if you put the real stuff in an engine not made for it…"
"The engine wouldn't be able to use it, and thus would explode," Gordon finished his sentence.
"You catch on quickly, Prince," Cid said. "So what can I do for you?"
"Can you fly me to Kashuon?" Gordon asked.
"That's 800 gil a person," Cid said.
Gordon crossed his arms. "Hey, I'm trying to help save the world here…"
"Sorry, Princey, we have families to feed and whatnot. Conversation might be free, but I'm still running a business," Cid said it so nonchalantly as he stuffed his now shortened cigarette down into the ashtray. "I can take you to Kashuon, but it's 800 gil. You want to go, or what?"
Gordon wanted to go, but he also remembered that Minwu asked him to stay here in Poft while he and the others went to Salamand to retrieve Hilda's mythril. He thought about it for a good twenty minutes, and by then, Cid was getting pretty impatient over the whole ordeal.
"Well?" Cid asked. "I've not got all day."
"I don't see any other customers lining up," Gordon snapped back at him.
"Ooooh, he got you there, cap'n," one of the crew members towards the back said, ripe with snark. "Our wallets are as empty as our bellies."
"Shut up, you drunk dolt, you been spendin' all your gil on beer," another said, whacking the other crew member with his beer mug.
"I didn't ask you, ya ninny!"
"C'mere and say that to mah face, ya girly piece of shit!"
Gordon wasn't sure what to make of this at all. Cid watched as his crew were starting yet another bar fight. It left Gordon alone to ponder the situation for a bit.
I have several issues with going back to Kashuon Keep, but on the other hand, it would really save time if I could go there and get the Sunfire instead of having to wait around for everyone else. I know that it requires a test for me to pass, but I don't even remember what that is or what it entails… Gordon thought. The more he thought about it, the more he got a headache. Oh, how did he get into these kinds of situations anyway? Damn it all, and he wanted to be helpful, to be useful, to do something right!
"All right, Cid," Gordon said, pulling out Clarisse's coin purse. "I'll pay your fare. I will go and fulfill my destiny as the last remaining heir of Kashuon."
"Like I said," Cid said, standing up and straightening out his beloved goggles, "I like a brave man, Prince Gordon."
Cid led Gordon out to the airship. It wasn't very big, and it could barely hold the crew who worked on it, but it sure did make Cid feel right at home. It was obvious just how much he loved flying that thing. Goggles over his eyes, white scarf ruffling in the wind, it was like he was king of the world.
"If I may, Cid," Gordon said once they took off into the sky. "Might I ask you a question?"
"You can ask me anything ya want," Cid answered. "So go ahead."
"If you are the inventor of the airship," Gordon thought aloud, "Then how exactly did the Empire learn how to make airships?"
Cid gave him a really, really hard stare. He almost wanted to give Gordon a full refund right there on the spot, turn around, and refuse to take him anywhere for that. But when he realized that Gordon didn't mean it in a way that might be considered offensive, Cid just went back to what he was doing. "I… this is not my original ship," he said. "My first one, well, it was stolen one fine afternoon… the person who stole it flew it right into enemy territory, where it was shot down. I'm afraid that I'll never get back my Hilda Guard, and… the Empire learned the secrets of my airship technology by studying the machines in the crash."
"That's terrible," Gordon said quietly. "Forgive me, Cid, I didn't mean to upset you."
"Nah, that's all right. Ships are replaceable, young man," Cid said, pointing out to the east. He almost seemed like he wanted to cry, even if he said ships were replaceable. "Out there is Kashuon Keep. You really sure you wanna go out that way?"
"I paid you, didn't I? I know there's a chocobo's forest right next to the castle, should I need to flee on my own. No monster alive can catch up to a chocobo," Gordon said, trying to not think about the flashbacks of the fall of his kingdom.
Scott… I'm coming home… all by myself. I need your strength, big brother. I need it now more than ever!