Ch 4, part 8
"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.
Minwu led Firion, Clarisse, and Gordon up to the one opening in the hull of the Dreadnaught. He carried the pass and book he found in Bafsk, just in case someone decided to stop them from going inside. He was nervous, which was odd for him. Something about this place felt different to him. He could sense something nearby. It was not evil, so he could tell it was not the Emperor himself.
"Well?" the guard standing in the doorway asked. "What do you want?"
Minwu presented the pass. "We're here for the reconstruction."
The guard looked at the pass. "Oh, my apologies!" he said, bowing his head in respect. "You can report in to Her Majesty on the top floor, or head straight to work down below."
Her Majesty? Minwu thought. The Emperor is married? Since when?
"Thank you," Minwu said, leading the other three behind him.
Inside the ship, there was nothing but Dark Knights. Looking around, they were all busily organized, working on reconstruction on the hull. There were no visible holes or anything like that, so it seemed really weird that they'd be working on it, but no one was going to interrupt them while they were working.
"Let these ones out," a loud voice said from the other side of the area. "They were set free by the Empress herself!"
Firion looked over to see who it was, only to find a familiar face staring back at him. "PAUL?!" he gasped. "What are you doing here?"
Paul turned when he heard his name called. "Well met, m'boy!" he tapped Firion on the shoulder as he passed by. "Look, I have no idea why you're here, and I've got no time to figure out why. I'm on my way to meet up with Minwu and-" Paul bumped right into Minwu, as he was not even looking where he was going. He was on a hurry out that door.
"Paul? You need to speak with me?" Minwu asked. "I'm right here."
"Seven hells," Paul said. "Looks like the whole gang's here. Wow, even Gordon, too? Shit, it's like you rolled out the red carpet or something."
"Who are they?" Candice asked from behind Paul.
Paul smiled. "These guys, well… it's probably not a safe idea to talk about it right in the middle of… well, here, but I digress. They're really, really close friends of mine…" He pulled Minwu away for a split second. "I don't know why the hell you're here, buddy, but your girl is in this ship!"
Minwu had his own gasp. "…my Cantirena is here?" he asked. "Is… is this true?"
Clarisse's eyes all ready watered and she didn't even lay eyes on her sister yet. Firion was beaming, too. It did look like their adventure was finally coming to an end. He hoped so, too. He was so tired most of the time.
"Aye," Paul nodded. "She was the one who let us go free. She wouldn't come with me. Oh man, Minwu, you've no idea the shit that's happened. Listen, you grab Cantirena and we'll meet back at Fynn."
"There's an airship outside," Clarisse said. "You can go there, tell the pilot that we sent you and that you're a part of our group. He'll be happy to accommodate you."
"That's splendid," Paul said, motioning for Candice to follow him. "Come on, we're supposed to be high-tailing it out of here!"
Cantirena set those two free, Minwu thought. But why didn't she go with them? …Wait…
"You three, find the engine," Minwu gave them the order strictly. "Go. Now."
"You're going to find her?" Clarisse asked. "Why don't I go with-"
"There's no time. I will move quicker alone," Minwu said. He sounded almost angry. "You came here with a job to do… and so did I."
He hoped his intuition was wrong, even though it never had been in the past. Hearing the guards say that the Empress freed Paul and that girl with the dark blue hair, and then hearing Paul say that Cantirena had done it. He started to run. He was told that he could meet the Empress on the top floor of the airship, so he headed up every flight of stairs he could. He ran with all of his might. The thing he sensed was at the top, too. By now he was very sure that he had found his beloved student after all this searching.
At the top floor, he found a door with a flower on it and one guard standing in next to it.
"Yes?" the guard asked. "This floor is for the Empress only until further notice."
Minwu had his lie planned ahead of time. "I was told when coming aboard to report to the Empress before starting my duty. May I please see her?"
"Ah, of course," the guard said. "But if she is resting, please respect that and go to work first. I will send her your way when she wakes."
"That's fine," Minwu said as the guard moved over and opened the door for him.
When Minwu walked through that door, it instantly closed behind him. He found himself in a room that looked very much different from the rest of the ship. Of course, it was a mess. The furniture was all in shambles, except the bed. He walked closer to the bed only to find blue hair sticking out of a blanket. Minwu reached to pull the blanket back, and there she was.
Cantirena! He thought joyfully. How… much I've missed you…
"Cantirena?" he said, putting his hand on her shoulder. "Cantirena? Come now, my child. We do not have much time. Wake up. Please. Come on. Wake up."
She grumbled a few times in her sleep. "Your Grace, I can't right now… You've worn me out…"
Minwu didn't know what to make of this. He decided to ignore it until he was able to get Cantirena home. No matter what she said or did, he had to get her out of there. The other three were on their way to destroy this entire ship, and he was not having his one and only student blow up with it. "Cantirena!" he said louder. He forgot how hard of a sleeper she was. "Wake up!"
She shot straight up, rubbing her eyes. "I swear, if this isn't to greet His Grace I'll have you-"
"For the love of the Goddess," Minwu groaned, "Cantirena! We have to leave this ship, now!"
"Leave?" she asked. She looked directly at Minwu, confused. She couldn't remember who he was, but she knew he was familiar. She knew his scent, his skin, and his eyes. "I can't leave it. I'm sorry. His Grace has told me to stay here on the Dreadnaught. He will come back for me when the time is right. I will do as he has commanded."
"I hate to tell you this, but the ship is going to be destroyed," Minwu said. "And we can't have you on the ship while it… explodes." He tugged on her. "Come on now. We really do not have much time."
"…those rebels?" Cantirena thought aloud. "The rebels I set free… they betrayed my trust?!" She shook her head angrily. "I'll have them hunted down and killed like the traitors they are! And I went to the trouble of feeding them, too… that's the last time I trust anyone other than His Grace."
Suddenly the lights in the ship all started blinking red.
"They've found it," Minwu said. "Come along, Cantirena!"
"No! I was told to wait for His Grace!" she shouted at him. "I will continue to do so!"
Minwu sighed. "…I'm so very sorry…"
What… what's happened to you? Minwu thought. He didn't have many options, though. Using his staff, he cast a sleeping spell on Cantirena. Sorry to do this to you, but… I see no other options. Yes, it made little sense to him, too, having to wake her up and then put her back to sleep. He went over to the door and cast the same spell on the guard. The guard slumped over into a very peaceful position. Then he turned back to Cantirena, gathered her up in his arms, and started his run back down.
The sirens were very loud. The dark knights didn't do anything but keep working, and when Minwu thought about it, Cantirena was going to stick with what she believed she had been told, too. There was some sort of dirty magic at work here. Something Minwu disliked very much. No, no, he didn't just dislike dark magic. He abhorred dark magic.
Minwu was on a race against the clock, carrying Cantirena and trying to dodge all of the Dark Knights who were standing in his way. When he made it out of the ship, he looked back to see that no one was coming. He searched frantically.
"Hey, Minwu!" Paul's voice shouted from the airship. "Come on, my friend! We're all on the ship! Get the hell away from there!"
Minwu immediately turned around and ran again, barely putting his feet onto the deck before Cid launched off the ground and zoomed in the opposite direction as quickly as the ship was able.
Behind them, they could all hear a huge explosion. Minwu didn't bother to look back. He held his student in his arms, and for that one moment, it felt like the world was finally coming back together. He couldn't believe what he just did, and his feet felt like rubber beneath his weight. Minwu fell back onto his butt, still holding to Cantirena very tightly.
"You found her!" Clarisse exclaimed joyfully, sitting down next to Minwu. "Oh, you're home! You're finally home, sis…" She cried tears of the greatest happiness. "Don't worry, Minwu. We're all going to take care of her. We're all going to work together!"
Cid looked over, seeing Candice over on the other side of the ship. "Hey, missy. Care to explain what you're doing here?"
Candice turned around, noticing that the pilot was Cid. "Oh shit, Dad. I didn't even see you there." She walked over to him and hugged on his arm. "I've been through Hell you couldn't even imagine. It all started the afternoon I… uhh, I took the Hilda Guard. I crashed into a mountain on the other side of the border of Palamecia, and… well, the Emperor himself found me aboard. When I said he couldn't have it, because it belonged to you… he put me in a slave camp. That bozo over there-" she pointed at Paul, who was in the middle of congratulating Minwu "-not only got me free from there, but he got on the Dreadnaught because he got a look of the Empress' face, saying that he needed to know why she was there. But, as luck would have it, he got us caught - by the Emperor himself, no less – and we were put in the hold until this morning, when that girl with the blue hair decided to let us go. That's when the others showed up and… and… that's everything."
Cid ruffled her hair. "It's good to see you. It's real good to see you again. Listen, ahh, when we get back to town and things get settled in with the Princess, we really have to talk."
"Yeah…" Cid said. "…I don't think I ever told you… about your mother, or anything like that, did I? Where you were born, or any of that."
"No, Dad, you never did talk about anything like that…" Candice said. "Why? Is this important?"
Cid nodded. "More important than you realize. But now's not the time to go into it. We're all high strung from super stressful things that have gone on. We all need to rest, to eat, to bathe… hell, I don't know where to start. But what matters, Candice… what really matters… is that you're back home with me. And I've… I've really missed you, kiddo."
Cid piloted his airship directly to Altair. There was so much to do… So, so much to do.