Twilight The Traveler Chapter 7 – Palamecian Rescue or Things Get Complicated

Twilight the Traveler

// Palamecian Rescue or Things Get Complicated// Story: Twilight the Traveler// by ilbgar//——————————//

The Skytank flew them to the Lindblum, the ever-moving cruiser-class airship which served as headquarters of the Cavalry division of the Guardian Corps. They usually disposed of the monsters roaming the uninhabited areas of the outer rim of Cocoon, and served as a rapid-response force for any disasters that occurred. The regulation of the environment by the fal’cie made that uncommon, but not unheard of. Their roles as rescue workers and in fending off airborne monsters made the force popular among civilians. Their transport set down in one of the hangars, and they got off. They were led to a command post with several television screens.

Their mysterious benefactor turned out to be Cid Raines, commander of the Cavalry. He had black hair and wore a white cape with the collar spiked up over a blue military uniform. He was aiding them because he had a similar view of the fal’cie to her own, an oppressive and restricting rule at best, with only the illusion of true freedom, and the treatment of people as little more than means to an end.

Rygdea was the name of the soldier who had brought them here, he was one of Cid’s closest, both in rank and in terms of friendship, subordinates.

“So, what are we doing here?” Snow asked. He’d been provided with a new coat by Cid’s people.

“There’s something you need to see.” Cid said, gesturing the 5 l’cie and Rygdea to watch, and then turning on the TV to a channel that first appeared to be broadcasting a view of some cloud cover, until the clouds moved to reveal a relatively large airship.

“Isn’t that the one we saw at Lake Bresha?” she asked, upon recognizing it.

“Yes, though in actuality, it is a fal’cie modified into an anti-Pulse weapon. It also carried the Vestige during the Purge. Now listen.” Cid explained.

The camera image changed to a frontline view of the ship. “There she is.” a female announcer began. “The Palamecia pride of the Sanctum Skyfleet!” Fighters, bioweapons, and lesser warships were shown flying past, this was obviously a whole fleet. The camera was clearly either mounted on a moving platform, or a fighter, because it began to follow a pair of fighters along their course around the ship. “This mighty flagship currently serves as a prison for the l’cie apprehended in Nautilus.” the camera panned out to show a full view of the Palamecia and it’s convoy of warships and fighters. She noted a pair of soldiers jog past behind them out of the corner of one eye. “The l’cie will face official sentencing upon the convoy’s arrival in the capital.” the announcer finished.

“So what’s with the freak show?” Snow asked, angry due to seeing how their friends were being held in front of them almost tauntingly. …Wait a minute, that was odd. Shouldn’t they want the l’cie put down as quickly as possible?

“So that the Primarch can stand in judgement of the villainous l’cie, with their execution as the climax. The people will cheer their demise, and the dominion of the fal’cie will once again be completely undisputed.” Cid explained, glancing at them.

“All part of the plan.” Light said, cold stoicism masking her emotions.

“Then why parade them in front of us like this? They could simply bring them to the capital in secret, but they’re being about as noisy as they can about it. Merely publicizing the trial when they reached Eden would prove to the public that the Sanctum was doing it’s job.” Twi asked, then realized that there was a very good reason. “Unless they plan to try to use those two as bait to draw us out of hiding to a heavily armed and armored airship surrounded by warships and fighters and crawling with Sanctum forces even if we manage to get on board.” she finished, one hand pinching the bridge of her nose.

“Yes, but every trap can also be an opportunity for those who are flexible enough to take advantage of such things.” Cid said. Hm, sounded like he was speaking from experience.

“In a display of a totally unwavering dedication to duty, the Primarch himself has boarded the Palamecia and focused his personal attention on the resolution of the l’cie crisis.” the same announcer said happily.

“Okay, there is no way they’re not baiting us, it could have been trying to keep the citizens from panicking before, but no way would that be true with this.” Fang said.

“Now they’re using people as bait.” Snow said, his mood souring a little further.

“Yeah: ‘Here are your friends. Come and get ’em.'” Light said.

“Well, if they’re daring us to mount a rescue… I’ll take that action. All in.” he brought his fists together and regained some of his usual cheer.

“It would be downright rude of us to refuse such an elaborate invitation. Especially when they had to go to all this trouble.” Twi said, smirking. She was slightly worried she’d gotten much crueler since being made a l’cie, but she’d be more than willing to dispatch anything trying to kill her friends. She was dimly aware that she had a bit of an abandonment complex ever since the rehearsal, which led to her somewhat stupid levels of loyalty edging towards suicidal bravery (and apparently homicidal anger if her friends were endangered).

“All righty, bets are on the table. We leave when you’re ready. I’ll be standing by.” Rygdea told them, he waved before running off.

“Hey guys, I’ve got a new spell that will come in handy.” Twi told them.

“What’s that?” Hope asked.

“You know how in some video games you can level up and upgrade items? Well, I’ve figured out how to do the same with our weapons and accessories by putting modified l’cie spells on them. They’ll even be tailored to our strengths and get a small immediate boost.” she explained.

“That does sound useful, our stuff getting stronger as we use it.” Fang said.

“Plus, it’ll cut down on wear and tear.” Light agreed.

After she finished casting the spell on their equipment, they followed Rygdea. “You guys ready already?” Rygdea asked.

“Yeah.” Twi, Snow and Light said at the same time.

Rygdea nodded and flipped a switch. Floodlights came on one by one, showing a red and white airship. “This baby back here is actually a Psicom vessel. It’ll deliver you to the Palamecia.” he said.

“Oh, so we’re cargo now.” Snow said in mock-offense.

“Actually, I’d say we’re the payload.” Twi drawled.

“Either way, a parting gift to our rotting government. Take those Psicom guys apart for us.” Rygdea said.

“I suppose every one we deal with is one less you guys have to.” Twi nodded, seeing the logic.

“Yes, but are we supposed to take on all of them? I’m pretty sure the entire division’s on board.” Light said. “We’re l’cie, but we’re not that powerful, they’d bring us down by attrition eventually.” Crap, that was right. The certainly had more stamina now, but an entire division was beyond them, even if they used their Eidoloins. They’d simply collapse from exhaustion eventually, then they’d get a bullet or five through the head, then they’d likely be incinerated or something just to be safe. No miraculous recoveries for them. They’d need to either do as much sneaking as possible, or rest at some point.

“I don’t care how many lackeys they’ve got. Bring ’em on! Vanille’s in there.” Fang said.

“I’m sure she’s fine.” Hope said.

“You can’t execute someone who’s already dead.” Twi said, somewhat morbidly.

“Besides, Vanille’s tougher than I could ever be.” he finished with his head hung a bit lower.

They turned to him, “Hope, are you scared?” Light asked.

“To be honest, yeah, terrified actually. But I’ll be okay. Because I have you, and this guy,” he pointed at Snow. “and Twilight,” he pointed at Twilight. “and Fang.” he pointed at Fang. “We’re all in this mess. We’ve got to stick together.” he finished.

Rygdea chuckled, “Right, enough with the bonding. It’s go time.” he said. They followed him further along the path towards their ride.

“Say, what did you mean ‘this guy?'” Snow asked, amused. Hope just laughed in response.

*** The Bridge, The Palamecia ***

“Sir, are you sure you don’t want me to stay as well?” Rosch asked the primarch as he was about to leave.

“Yes Rosch, if the l’cie are able to fight their way past our escort, the soldiers inside the ship itself, and Jihl here, then what hope would you have of stopping them?” Dysley asked bluntly, chuckling slightly.

“I suppose you are right. I’ll be waiting on further orders sir.” and with that Rosch left.

‘I’ll have to handle this myself if they do manage it, they’ll be most vulnerable to an aircraft-based fight, since their access to l’cie powers that are of any use is limited.’ Rosch thought, he’d get the most powerful fighter in the fleet, the Proudclad, and wait for them to come out if he got even a hint of their presence on the Palamecia, then wipe them out in the air, where they were at their weakest. He nodded to himself as he walked to his transport.

‘It seems all is going according to plan.’ Dysley thought, a slightly cruel smile on his face.

*** The Airspace Outside The Palamecia, Roughly 20 Minutes Later ***

“Hold on, I’ve got to give them the authorization code, or they’ll shoot us down.” Rygdea said.

“Well, it’s not like we’re going anywhere.” Hope joked.

“I think Snow’s sense of humor’s infected you.” Light said, mock serious.

“Is it very contagious?” Fang asked, going along with the gag.

“Oh yes, it spreads like the common cold during cold and flu season.” Twilight said in a fake serious tone, before they all burst out laughing.

Rygdea entered the code, they waited for about ten minutes before Rygdea activated the comms and asked “What’s the holdup?” in exasperation.

“Stand by. Verifying identification code.” an operator said.

“You let me land this bird, or I’ll crash it into your face!” Rygdea threatened, annoyed. How did it take this long to check a four digit code?

After another minute, the operator said “Code verified. You’re free to dock. Welcome aboard.”

“Well, it’s about damn time.” Rygdea said huffily.

A pair of fighters used tractor beams to guide their ship to the dock, which pulled out of the flagship as they approached. A row of blue ovals served as guides to where they were expected to fly. They passed through, landed, and they started getting ready to get out. “Well, this is where we split up, the commander can’t let the Sanctum know he’s on to them.” Rygdea said.

“Makes sense.” Twilight said. If Psicom realized Raines had figured out there was a great deal wrong with the current rule, then they’d find some means to silence him, this might vary from demotion to killing him. Probably the latter considering how Psicom usually dealt with things.

“This is close enough, we can get the rest of the way there ourselves.” Hope said with a somewhat forced amount of confidence.

The ship left almost as soon as they were all off, they waved goodbye, then turned towards the ship’s interior. The ship was made of greyish metal with lights of various colors serving as highlights.

“Code red! I repeat, code red! This is not a drill!” a voice announced as they neared a door, only moments after the ship had left. Eight soldiers walked into view, pointing their guns at the group of five, except for one with a staff. Apparently, someone had realized something was up. All that time ‘checking’ the code, was probably used scrambling the soldiers.

“Alright, let’s tear ’em up!” Snow said, determinedly.

“We’re here for Vanille and Sazh! Stay focused!” Light told them.

“We’re not leaving without them!” Twi said.

The one with the staff turned out to be a ‘mage’ of sorts, the staff was full of advanced manadrives, letting the soldier cast spells of the basic types with almost impunity. There was also one who wielded a gunblade like Lightning and seemed pretty good with it as well as better-trained than their compatriots, they were somewhat more trouble than their run-of-the-mill compatriots, but not a real threat, nonetheless.

“Cheap knock-offs.” Light said, annoyed.

“They say that mimicry is the highest form of flattery.” Twi said. “Still, they seem to be prescribing to ‘send a thief to catch a thief’ this was some sort of attempt to defeat us based on that principle. Though they failed so miserably I feel kind of insulted.” she added. Was that really the best they could do at copying them?

Another group showed up, the proportions were the same, but the numbers had been doubled. Two Lightning knock-offs, two Twilight knock-offs, and 12 regulars. This fight proved significantly harder, but still not life-threatening. “Looks like they want to play.” Fang said once that group had been dealt with.

“No kidding, where to now?” Snow asked.

Fang smiled as she pointed up to the metal framework above the door, which appeared sealed shut. “Right up there.” she said.

They jumped and climbed, (and teleported in Twilight’s case) their way up the framework, until they reached a platform over the door. They rode an elevator up to the roof of this cavernous room, and fended off a small number of soldiers in the hall leading to a series of platforms suspended on the ship’s outside.

They had to jump down to reach them, and the height made it impossible to jump back up since there were no footholds or ledges.

“Guess we won’t be going back that way.” Snow said.

“We’ll find another route.” Light said.

“Too bad teleportation requires exponentially more energy for each person, or this would be a snap.” Twi said ruefully. Well, technically, it required more energy in a non-linear fashion with greater amounts of mass, but that was the simple explanation.

“I’m way ahead of you.” Fang said pointing to a bridge that led to another opening.

They fought their way through the soldiers, and drones, and made their way to the bridge, using fighters as staircases up to that height. They took cover behind a wall, soldiers were milling about, preparing for the incoming l’cie. They might have been expected, but they apparently weren’t expected to push through their forces so easily.

“Let us through! Block our way, you die!” Snow called, several gunshots answered him. They were pretty on edge, then again, they were dealing with people who had massacred Sanctum forces up to this point.

“You tryin’ to get ’em angry?” Fang asked.

“Eh, I thought maybe they’d run.” he said, flippantly disregarding the fact that people had been trying to shoot him about ten seconds ago. “There’s been more than enough blood spilled.”

“You thought they’d run? Let me refresh your memory, those soldiers think they’re protecting Cocoon from us, the ‘evil’ l’cie. They’d be willing to die if it meant stopping us. The fal’cie have them all brainwashed.” Light told him

Snow thumped his hand into the wall. “Damn fal’cie.” he growled “We cannot let this go on.” he declared.

“Let’s go.” Twi said, preemptively unleashing a Thundaga to scatter the soldiers.

They fought their way through the halls, and sets of the type of platforms outside several times. “Attention all crew, code green! I repeat code green! Security forces stand by! Hostile forces have boarded the ship!” an announcer yelled over the blaring sirens.

“Well, this should be unpleasant.” Twi said. Wait, why was code green a bad thing? What color was all-clear?

They began to fight their way through waves of soldiers again, they were making steady progress, but the place was a labyrinth. They kept having to backtrack and having to fight reinforcements in areas they’d already cleared. They continued in this manner, cutting down entire companies until the siren began blaring again.

“Code purple! I repeat, code purple! Security breach! All units on alert!” the announcer sounded decidedly nervous now.

“All these colors, what do they mean?” Hope asked curiously.

“Means that we’re doing our job, and making a lot of Psicom guys nervous.” Fang said.

An explosion rocked the area. “Who’re they fighting?” Hope asked warily.

“Vanille.” Fang said in a low voice. They continued onward, passing through a chamber with pillars that energy flowed through and some of the stronger varieties of

*** The Bridge, The Palamecia ***

Reports were coming in from two ever-expanding areas of the ship of entire companies wiped out with little to no effort. The two l’cie who had been imprisoned had escaped, and the five l’cie who came to rescue them were proving nigh unstoppable. A video showed one of them backhanding a soldier into a wall hard enough to leave cracks. Backhanded! She had wanted to send more soldiers for moving the captured l’cie, but the primarch had forbade it, stating that the number she’d wanted to send would have left a gaping hole in the defenses.

Alright, she granted that an entire company for two people had seemed like overkill at the time, but now it appeared it might not have been enough anyway! Jihl was on the verge of a panic attack after the piece of news she received next.

“Colonel! We’ve lost track of the intruders!” one of the female operators called worriedly. They might be too busy dealing with the reports to watch the camera feeds very closely, but they weren’t stupid enough to believe that there was nothing wrong when a tenth of the division was either convinced that the l’cie were around the next corner with a decent chance of being correct, or had already fallen!

“That puts us at code yellow, no wait, code blue? If we were orange, that would mean…” She’d be the first to admit she wasn’t a nice person, her sadistic streak was the tip of the iceberg to be honest, but she didn’t want the l’cie to destroy Cocoon! She was pacing back and forth in an attempt to keep herself from falling apart, that was the last thing they needed right now, the commanding officer coming apart at the seams.

“The escapees made it through, they’re entering the engine room!” a male operator called, distressed. With the group of five l’cie seemingly inexorable, relatively few troops could be spared for the escapees, this fact didn’t make her feel less like cursing when she heard the news that two of the enemy l’cie were in the engine room of an airship.

“Damn l’cie.” she growled, allowing herself that much.

“Intruders located, they’re on the starboard side’s weather deck.” another male operator called.

“Make it rain!” she snapped.

She was too absorbed in her own thoughts to hear the primarch mutter. “Desperate times demand flexibility. Code white.” the monitors flashed said color briefly, the operators too busy to notice as they were dealing with the overwhelmed soldiers asking for orders as their companies were being picked off, one by one.

*** The Weather Deck ***

“Hm? the wind is dying down.” Hope said, they’d been forced to stay at the door when they reached this point, trying to figure out a way across without being blown off by the wind until a moment ago.

“Yeah, it’s stopping and we’re decelerating.” Light said.

“Okay, this can’t be a coincidence, they’re not that convenient.” Twi said. Something was up here, and she was going to find out what sooner or later.

“They must be up to something.” Light agreed.

“Couldn’t we have just gotten lucky for once?” Snow asked.

“Have you been paying attention to the last couple weeks?” Twi asked in deadpan.

Bioweapons began to come out of the woodwork, or metalwork in this case. “That looks a lot more like bad luck.” Fang said.

“You’ve got a point.” Snow admitted.

“Not to me, that we can actually do something about.” Light said, unholstering her gunblade.

“I’m with you on that.” Twi agreed, sending a fireball at a bioweapon.

They fought their way past the bioweapons, soldiers and drones, making their way in what was probably the bridge’s direction. Until they ran into a draconic yellow bioweapon with wings that had metal bands on them, anyways. A Kalavinka Striker, apparently.

“Physical attacks will be ineffective and it absorbs lightning magic.” she warned. Her Libra was getting good from all the practice.

“So Light… How do you figure this makes us lucky?” Fang asked.

“Because when we kill it, we’ll be one step closer to Vanille. How’s that?” Light asked.

“Well, when you put it that way!” Fang brandished her lance.

Hope began using debuffs on the thing while the rest of them attacked it. It soon fell, and then fell off the ship, but another appeared in it’s place. “Another one!” Hope called.

“Geez, are these the usual around here?” Twi asked.

“One big, bad stroke of luck after another. I’m so happy I could cry.” Snow said sarcastically.

The Striker flew overhead and past them as if mocking them. “Tease us will ya?” Fang challenged.

“Come down here!” Snow yelled at it.

There was an explosion a little bit behind them, and Sazh and Vanille emerged from the cloud of smoke. They were waving their arms and coughing in an attempt to remove the smoke from their insides and outsides.

“Vanille!” Fang called, getting the pink-garbed girl’s attention.

“Fang!” Vanille called happily. They rushed over to each other.

“There you are.” Snow said in Sazh’s direction.

“Miss me?” he asked.

“Not you, the monster!” Snow said pointing at their newest adversary.

They didn’t even bother with debuffs this time now that they had backup in the form of their two fellow l’cie, they just blasted it until it died, falling onto the ship. The moment they were sure it was dead, Fang and Vanille rushed to each other and embraced. Then Fang bent down, realizing what she was about to do, Twilight turned to the boys.

“Alright guys, look away.” she said, just as Fang lifted up Vanille’s skirt to check on her brand.

“Thank goodness, you’ve still got time.” Fang said, choked up.

“Fang, there’s… there’s something I need to tell you.” Vanille began, only for Fang to hug her again.

“Making me worry like that, we’ll talk later missy.” Fang said, not altogether very sternly.

Sazh sighed. “What’s wrong?” Snow asked him.

“Huh? Oh, uh, nothing, nothing. So, what’s on the agenda?” Sazh asked.

“Toppling the Sanctum.” Snow said.

“No, I mean really.” Sazh said.

“He’s serious, we’re taking down the Sanctum, and giving Cocoon back to the people. The fal’cie have called the shots for long enough.” Light said, supporting Snow.

“If we actually manage to pull this off, it’ll be a miracle.” Hope said.

“Well, good thing lady luck’s on our side.” Fang said.

“I’ve faced down a corrupted goddess with less support than we have here, this won’t take long.” Twi said encouragingly. “Oh, I almost forgot.” she quickly explained and cast the same spell she’d used earlier on their own equipment on Sazh and Vanille’s. “There, everyone’s accounted for.” More bioweapons of the same shape, but larger, and in purple and white, flew overhead.

“Not more of ’em!” Sazh complained.

“This is getting really old really fast.” Snow said.

“Well, then check this out, a miracle, Gran Pulse style!” Fang rushed towards the edge of the ship, closely followed by Vanille.

“Vanille, go fish!” Fang ordered, leaving the rest of them confused.

Vanille seemed to understand perfectly, saying “Right!” before sending a hook into the thing after it sent a spray of icy breath at them. The rope attached to the hook extended until Vanille called “Fang!” while pulling on it. Fang used her lance to help Vanille bring it down to the ship. The dragon-thing screeched once before quieting down.

“That’s a good girl.” Fang said soothingly, before turning to the rest of the group. “Let’s get on!” she called. Twilight saw that same owlish bird from before watching them again, there was something odd about it, but she couldn’t place it. She decided to worry about it later. They all got on, with magical construct safety ropes tethering them to their… vehicle. Which proved a wise decision, as Sazh almost fell off, only barely hanging on to his seat when they got off the ship and into the air.

“Believe in lady luck now?” Fang asked him as he struggled back into his seat.

“Yeah, lady bad luck!” he called over the rushing wind.

“Well, get ready, because it’s time to Purge a primarch!” Snow said.

“You got it!” Fang called.

Twilight put a shield up as fighters began to fire on them, realizing the bioweapon had been commandeered. It was a measure of her increase in skill and power that the shots plinked harmlessly off, even direct hits from full bursts didn’t noticeably drain it as they began to look for the bridge, this was not true of missiles however. Missiles certainly did less damage, but they still drained a noticeable chunk of the shield’s energy. Luckily she had a lot more of that to work with, and much faster regeneration of what she had used.

They began taking evasive maneuvers to dodge the projectiles, and Twilight made the shield one-way just long enough for their ride to use it’s breath weapon again to make a hole in the ship near where they believed the bridge to be. They jumped off and into the hole, Twilight dissolving the tethers just in time.

They found themselves in an oddly designed room, there were platforms with no obvious way between them. She really hoped they hadn’t specifically redesigned this room so that teleportation was the only sane, feasible, way across. Teleporting the group was inadvisable, doing that gauntlet of teleporting would make her useless for hours even with the enhancements to her reserves and regeneration. Then she noticed the monitor with a diamond on it, that must have been put there to be the controls for the creation of a bridge or something along those lines.

After helping each other up, they took a look at the orange glow in the direction they were about to head. “Dysley’s through there.” Light said.

“We’re almost through with this mess.” Twi said, filled with determination.

“We’re still gonna have our talk, but let’s survive this first. Yeah?” Fang told Vanille.

“Right.” Vanille nodded, agreeing.

The monitor turned out to be little more than a high-tech switch, it turned green as it caused a metal bridge to make a path to the next platform over, they explored thoroughly, wiping out all the Psicom forces to keep them from taking pot shots at the group, and connecting all the platforms, thoroughly checking to make sure this place didn’t have any hidden secrets that were going to bite them later if not taken care of.

They finally made it to the door, which was actually rather underwhelming in it’s design for such an important area. They steeled themselves, and went in. They walked in to see the primarch on a white throne, with a blond-haired woman officer standing next to him. The operators were cowering at the sight of them, but to their credit the were still trying to perform their tasks despite their obvious terror.

“I’ve been looking for you Nabaat!” Sazh called, pointing at the woman. They hurried over, Nabaat, who was the other head of Psicom, wouldn’t have reached her position if she weren’t a very capable commander, especially due to her somewhat unsavory personality. She jumped down and drew a rapier as Sazh drew his gun on her, they were pointed directly at each other.

“Your eminence, please escape while I cover your retreat.” Nabaat said to the primarch.

“Why don’t you leave Jihl?” Dysley asked in a bored voice. “Or rather, take your leave. Humans have no business here.” he finished.

“What?! Your eminence!” Nabaat called, turning, only to take a Ruin directly in the chest, being killed on the spot. Dysley had pointed his staff and fired the destruction-oriented spell.

“What? Magic?” Sazh asked.

Twilight’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped, that magical signature was very similar to Carbuncle, only stronger, which meant… ‘Oh crap!’ she thought.

Dysley began to chuckle evilly. More Ruin spells circled his staff, the operators gasped, and then screamed as they were killed one by one in quick succession. The ceiling above them dissolved.

“Monster!” Snow cried, outraged. “People are not yours to use!”

“What else does one do with tools?” Dysley asked coldly.

Snow charged at Dysley, only to be sent flying back by a shield with a spell matrix design she hadn’t seen before. She copied it, hoping it would come in handy if they survived the fight that was almost certainly coming.

“Cocoon is, in reality, nothing more than a factory, built by fal’cie, for the mass production of human thralls.” Dysley told them as Hope healed Snow.

“Not anymore it’s not!” Snow told him defiantly.

“What can mere humans do? Without our help, death is all of which you’re capable. You saw all the fools, the mindless mobs drunk on fear of a few l’cie. Though I suppose that given your excellent performance thus far, their fears weren’t completely unwarranted.” he smiled with an odd mixture of cruelty and approval.

“If they only knew that a l’cie was the one filling their cups!” Light countered.

“L’cie?” Dysley asked, then chuckled, “Do you mean me?”

“He’s not a l’cie.” Twi said.

“Huh? Then how can he use magic?” Hope asked.

“His magical signature, it resembles Carbuncle’s, and, to a lesser degree, our brander’s. I don’t think I need to explain what that means he is.” Twi responded.

Dysley smiled, “Most impressive, she is correct. Perish the thought of my being a l’cie, child.” he began to float upwards, magic gathering around him and the same suspicious bird flying towards him. “I am more than that!” he cried as a blinding light came from his staff.

When the light faded, the bird was gone, as was Dysley’s human form, and in their place was a towering, bronze being with gold lining, alien markings visible on his skin, and four face-masks grafted onto the sides of his head as adornments. He now had a snake-like throat with gills. His eyes lacked pupils and he had an eerie grin with sharp, dagger-like teeth. His form had shifted to quadrupedal with four clawed feet, and the face-masks were actually pauldrons and ailettes on either side of his head. They instinctively took a step back from the monstrous figure.

“I am fal’cie! My name is Barthandelus, voice of the Sanctum, and Lord-Sovereign of the Cocoon fal’cie.” he said in a very slightly echoy voice. They backed off a bit more. “Your kind feared the darkness, so we gave you light. You begged us for the Purge, and did it not come to pass? Yet now you would spurn our counsel!? You must be taught your place!” he finished.

Shaking off her instinctive fear at the sheer size and power radiating off of what they were facing, Twilight quickly cast Libra, discovering that the pauldrons and ailettes could attack as well. “Take out the pauldrons and ailettes first!” she called out, snapping the others out of it as well.

They got into formation with Hope and Twilight buffing the party. Hope was about to start casting debuffs, but stopped when Twilight told him that Barthandelus was immune to all of them. He switched to switching between spell-casting and healing. Twilight switched between sword and gun-wielding and spell-slinging. The Waterga, Blizzara, Thundara, and Firaga proved annoying, and Barthandelus’ own Ruinga was nothing to laugh at.

His attack-range changed once the pauldrons and ailettes were gone. He called out, “This is the power of a fal’cie!” as he used an immensely powerful attack called Destrudo, followed almost immediately by a massive laser attack called Thanatosian Smile and then the destructive Baptism in Ruin moments after that. If it weren’t for their buffing and Hope starting to heal them almost the moment Destrudo damaged them, they would have died. They had a few more close calls, but eventually defeated him.

The fal’cie let out a horrible growl, then toppled forward, disappearing into little sparks of light and magic. “A fal’cie running the Sanctum.” Snow mused.

“Then I guess that means Eden wasn’t controlling things after all.” Hope said.

“As I said,” Dysley’s voice said from nowhere, causing the room to shake, “I am Lord-Sovereign of the Cocoon fal’cie.” Dysley finished as he reappeared above them, unscathed.

“Well, that’s rather unfair.” Twi said dryly.

“Guess fal’cie don’t go down as easy as the rest of us.” Sazh said, taking their failure in stride.

“Ease is not the issue.” Dysley said as he touched down on the floor once again. “You have not fought to win. You should all know quite well already the sure way of dispatching our kind.” he gestured grandly with his staff. “Ragnarok.” he said, the name of the entity they had seen in their vision.

“What’s Ragnarok?” Fang asked. Fang suddenly gasped in pain, and grabbed at her brand, breathing through clenched teeth.

Dysley chuckled evilly. “Pitiful l’cie, you have forgotten your Focus. Ragnarok is the beast, fueled by rage, one of you must become, in order to fulfill you Focus. Laying waste to Cocoon.” He pointed at them, sweeping his arm from one to another. “You have had the dream, one among you must defeat Orphan and destroy Cocoon.” he said, teleporting next to each of them.

“Orpah? What is Orphan?” Light asked.

“The font of Eden’s power, and through Eden, the font of power for every fal’cie save myself, since my link is also direct. Orphan fuels Eden with strength. Eden, in turn, sustains the remaining Cocoon fal’cie and your kind through them. In destroying Orphan, you’ll release a force such as this world has never seen. Cocoon will be torn asunder.” Dysley clenched a fist.

So, if I did that, destroyed Orphan…?” Fang asked, the pain having faded somewhat apparently.

Dysley chuckled evilly as he appeared next to her. “Your Focus will be fulfilled.” he said, disappearing as a gunblade and a fireball passed through where he used to be.

“So what? Who says it has to be?” Light asked, angrily.

“Why should we sacrifice millions for our own sakes?” Twi asked, more angry than Lightning if anything.

Snow held up the crystal tear from Serah. “Serah asked us to save Cocoon before she turned to crystal. Save it. And that’s what we’re going to do! She was trying to tell us how to complete our Focus-” Snow cut off as Dysley began to laugh menacingly.

“Poor, self-deluded fool. Allow me to help you see the truth of things. The moment you and your friends arrived, your fiancé wept crystal tears, this was because her Focus required bringing you together.” a cruel smile spread across his face. “The only thing that girl accomplished, was assembling the tools for Cocoon’s destruction. That was her Focus, one she most certainly fulfilled.

Two l’cie who had almost succeeded in destroying it the first time, a girl with more raw magical power than most fal’cie and the potential for still more, a trained soldier who lost everything because of the fal’cie, a man who would do anything for his son but lost him to Cocoon’s fal’cie, a boy who lost his mother due to the Purge ordered by the Sanctum, and a man who lost friends and his bride-to-be due to the will of the people of Cocoon. You all have either a reason, the power, or both, to cause Cocoon’s destruction.”

Snow looked at the tear, at a loss. “Did it truly never occur to you? Or did you simply refuse to countenance the thought at all?” the ship began shaking. “If you will not face the truth, then face the true peril of your plight.” The owl-like bird, now identifiable as another Cocoon fal’cie, morphed into airship form as it hovered above them.

“Ah yes, one more thing.” Dysley waved his staff and sent an identical spell at each of them, hitting all of their brands.

“What did you do?” Twi asked. Shit, don’t be what she thought he did.

“Did you believe I was not aware of what you were attempting to accomplish, miss Sparkle? You might even have managed it, had you been given more time. You are the most intelligent of this lot, and greatest in terms of sheer magical power. However, that particular spell is a personal invention of mine. Any further experimentation on your brand or the others will only result in cie’ethification. I will not allow any holes for you to try to wriggle out of this through. Rather foolhardy to tinker with your own brand, I must admit I’m not sure if you’re brave or insane. Now, run l’cie, and see how stark reality is.” Dysley said, disappearing in purple smoke.

“Wait, you’ve been messing with your brand this whole time?” Fang asked.

“I needed a test subject, and I wasn’t going to risk someone else.” Twi defended herself.

The ship began shaking more, clearly not going to stay in the air much longer, cutting off further conversation until they could get somewhere safe. “Come on!” Light called. They hurried on board the transformed fal’cie.

The ship burst out of the slowly crashing Palamecia in an enormous cloud of smoke and debris. “This is bad, the yoke’s jammed!” Sazh said as he tried and failed to control the ship.

“What?!” Light and Hope yelled.

“Knew it was a trap!” Snow said, fists clenched.

“That doesn’t make sense! Why set a trap when he could have just let the ship crush us in the crash?” Twi asked.

“Something’s coming!” Hope called out.

An unusually designed fighter, clearly superior to the usual type, was headed for them, it launched a full eight missiles at once, only for their ship to dodge, or pre-explode the missiles with gunfire on it’s own. “Hang on!” Snow called.

The unknown fighter continued to fire on them, while their own ship continued to dodge and return fire. When it couldn’t dodge, there was an explosion and a lot of smoke and fire, but when it cleared, a green barrier surrounded the ship. “That wasn’t me.” was all Twi could say.

“The hell kind of ship is this? Flying and fighting on it’s own?” Sazh asked.

The ship accelerated towards Eden, focusing on dodging fire rather than returning it now. “Shouldn’t we do something?!” Hope asked, hands on his head like Sazh and Vanille.

“Ya got me kid! I give up!” Sazh yelled.

They passed through a blue magical barrier with no trouble, thanks to a series of circles that allowed them through, likely courtesy of Dysley. Their pursuer was unable to pass, however. They traveled through the city, all looking behind them. Vanille looked in front of them and gasped. “Sazh, look out!” she screamed.

They all turned to see their ship rapidly approaching a building. Sazh frantically tried to move the controls out of their locked position to no avail, and they screamed as they went straight into the wall, only to disappear in a flash of light, and reappear in a subway-like area. They all slumped over or sat down in relief. After taking a minute to recover from that ordeal, they disembarked.

Twilight The Traveler

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