Ch 5, part 6
"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.
Leila had a very satisfied grin on her face as she watched Firion, Gordon, and Cid board her ship. Everything was ready to shove off right then and there. Her first mate, Pluie, was at his favorite post – the crow's nest – and had a great view of not only everyone on the ship, but of the skies around them, too. Leila knew that far out at sea, these blokes wouldn't stand a chance. Not even her boss! The ship had at least ten of her men on it. She wasn't going to be able to outsmart Minwu, like Minwu had done to her, but Firion was the next best thing. Besides, the Emperor had put up fliers saying that he was looking for a silver-haired swordsman wearing a scarf similar to the one Firion was wearing. Oooh, she was going to be in the money very soon!
"I was worried," Firion said, sitting on the deck near the mast. "Knowing that both of the ports were destroyed…"
"I get the feeling that by the time we get there, Deist is going to be nothing but a crater," Gordon said, taking a spot on the deck next to his rebellious younger friend. "The Emperor is not the type to make negotiations."
Leila walked over to where the steering wheel was stationed, listening very closely to the conversation they were having. It sounded very much like all of them were rebels, which meant more money for her in the end.
"Negotiations…" Cid muttered. "You sure the man knows what that word means?" The old pilot preferred to stand. He didn't remember hiring so many people to work with Leila before.
"Ha. He doesn't know anything other than 'gimme'," Firion said, shrugging. "So we're gonna give him something: three feet of steel, pain flavored."
Good luck with that, Leila thought. The man's got more power than any of us put together. Way I see it, you might actually survive if you stick by him. He doesn't ask for allegiance. I can tell you that much. What he wants is… obedience.
"That's a nice thought," Gordon said, trying to ignore the fact that they were on a ship and he was seasick, "But I do not believe that Lord Minwu wants to do it that way."
If Minwu's smarter than all of your arses, then why is he not out here on this mission with ya'll? Ya'll his puppets? Even Cid? Heh, maybe your Minwu is just like me, working undercover for someone ya'll don't know about, eh? Leila hated them and their dumb conversation. She steered the ship to head south, which was the initial direction they needed to go to reach the island of Deist.
"Lord Minwu is not the only member of the rebellion, Gordon," Cid said quietly. "We all are…"
Wait a cotton-pickin' minute here! The Emperor said something about huntin' down rebels because the Empress was kidnapped by them, right? I might get a better reward if I just take them to him, instead of lootin' them…
"Skies are all clear, Cap'n Leila!" Pluie called from the crow's nest.
"I can see that, ya numb nuts," Leila barked back at him. "I need to think fer a minute, if'n ya don't mind! So shut yer trap!"
Firion watched the skies. Pluie was right. There wasn't a cloud or a ship in the sky now. Just blue that stretched on as far as they eye could see, and below that, a deeper blue. The water looked just simply beautiful as the sunlight shimmered right off of it. He liked being on a boat. Feeling the wind blow his short silver hair around, smelling that salty air… everything about it was nice, even if Gordon had to hold his mouth to prevent himself from puking all over the deck.
I don't know if the Emperor will be in Deist when I get there. Prob'ly not. Palamecia is a pretty long hike from the shore, and I know they'd escape me if I tried to cross that desert with 'em… I'm not going back to the mainland without something to show 'im, lest I end up with my head on a pike… Leila's gears kept turning. She was going to get something out of this, regardless of how it was done. Well they don't know where Deist even is, do they? Maybe we can dump 'em somewhere else and send a message to Palamecia while they're lookin' for the dragons!
"Leila," Cid called out to her. "You have that look on your face."
"What look?" Leila asked, turning to look at him with a very fake smile.
"That look you get when you're plotting something," Cid answered, walking up to stand next to her. "You've been scammin' and stealin' a very long time. I guess it can't be helped, considering where you're from."
"Wha… what are you talking about?" Leila asked.
"You're from Palamecia, aren't you? Born and bred in the land of trouble. It suits you."
Leila looked away from him. "…you don't even know what Palamecia is like now. At one point, it looked like a nice place to live. We had an Emperor that was a little… well, a little crazy, but we dealt with that. But in one night, that all changed. When the new Emperor was given the crown and sat upon the throne the very first time… The revolution happened in a blink of an eye. Soon people were divided between those that could fight, and those that couldn't… and those that couldn't, were taken to the labor camps to help the war effort. My mama, my papa, my three little sisters… we all…"
"Then you understand," Cid said gently. "You understand what the Rebellion is fighting against. Every town in this world has either been leveled or changed so much. Leila, join our effort. You can't pay back a debt if you're dead."
"You can't sail the seas if you're dead, either," Leila said. She kept looking straight ahead.
"What's the use of having a vessel like this… if you're not free to sail the way you want to?" Cid asked. "You're a servant of the Emperor. You have to be, because you're a citizen of Palamecia, being born there and all. For some reason, I get the feeling that you're gonna end up sellin' us out to the Emperor because of that. You don't want to betray your family, am I right?"
"They're… they're probably dead by now," Leila muttered. "But he tells me if I… if I can pay for their efforts, then… then I can have them back."
"So, you do his work to earn his coin, so you can buy your family back from him… with his coin," Cid said. "That's pretty circular. How close are you to buying them back from him?"
"…Heavens to Betsy, I don't even know," Leila said, unable to think of anything else to say about the whole thing. "We've never discussed it."
"Missy, I hate to say this, but you're a slave just as much as your family is," Cid said, looking over at her. "Until you gain the courage you need to stand up on your own and fight for them, that's all you'll ever be." He reached over to her, but she pulled away. "I know it's hard. That man has more power than all of us combined, but we gotta do something or the whole world's gonna suffer for it. He had my daughter. He had Minwu's daughter."
"That's right," Cid said with a nod. "Poor girl was kept at the Emperor's side. Who knows what he did to her, because they all say that she's not the same innocent girl she used to be. I saw her. Poor thing was always shakin' and lookin' like she wanted to cry all the time, like her mind was still stuck in that." He sighed. "I'm not gonna tell you what to do, Leila. You are the captain of this vessel, and if you're going to take us back to your lord 'n' master, that's fine. I got a few choice words I'd like to give him before he puts my head on a pike."
Leila sighed, too. "You're right, boss. You are… you're totally right about this. I'm… nothing but a slave myself unless I… fight back." She turned to look at him. "Ya'll be willin' to take an outcast like me along?"
"Of course we would," Cid said. "I bet with all the lootin' you've done, you've had plenty of time to build up some sort of combat skills." He tapped her on the shoulder. "Fight with us. Help us save our world."
"Yeah," Leila said, nodding at him. "I'll do just that."