Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean or its Characters.
Note: Don't worry intrasonic, the romance has to be built up to. Sophia won't be taking Fayt's place, but she'll have her own trials to overcome and have an experience much like Fayt's. This story runs parallel with the game, so I'm going by the game script for this, just adding to it and altering it in some places. That and I wasn't sure how to have Sophia and Ameena meet…but Keeki did that quite well in Affaire du Coeur.
Star Ocean: The Untold Story
Chapter 2: A Whole New World
Sophia yawned as she poked her head out of the shuttle. Almost immediately she ducked back in. It was cold outside. Really cold and she was in a tank top and sandals.
She used the replicator to produce a jacket and boots. She asked that the style be as close to that of the planet as possible. Within seconds, her items were ready. She changed from her sandals into the simple brown boots. The jacket looked more like a cloak and was the color as her boots. The sleeved were loose to allow free movement, the bottom reached almost to her knees for added warmth and a soft hood hung behind her head.
For now, her jeans would have to do. The shuttle was slowly running low on fuel.
Before long, she found herself standing outside the pod again. The sun was just starting to grace the horizon with light. Sophia threw the bag on her back and pulled out her quad scanner again to confirm the location of the village she had picked up yesterday. She turned to face the proper direction and put the scanner away.
"Okay. Come on feet, time to get moving." She put the hood on her head and started her decent down the mountain, using her staff as a walking stick.
Albel turned abruptly from the metal object and eyed the four soldiers. With out a single word, he approached one of the soldiers. Using his good hand, he yanked the man up by his shirt and glared at him. "You were on guard duty," he hissed between his clenched teeth. "And you're telling me you didn't see her leave?"
The soldier gulped hard. "I-I heard a n-noise," he stuttered. "I went to investigate; t-t-to be sure it wasn't a threat. When I got back she had already left."
Albel squinted evilly at the man. "And you alerted us as soon as you found her gone?"
"Bah." Albel jerked the soldier up and dug his claw into the man's side. The man let out a brief cry of pain as Albel withdrew his claw; tailing blood along the way. Before the man could register the absence of the claw, Albel leaned in closer. He used his leg to apply pressure to the soldier's knee, bending it the wrong way.
Albel released the man and smirked as he crumpled to the ground. The three remaining soldiers stood at perfect attention, each hoping to avoid the wrath of their captain.
Albel glared down at the man as he held tenderly to his broken leg. "You three, get him back to Kirlsa and have a doctor tend to him. I'll retrieve the girl myself. There's no need for me to rely on any of you incompetent fools."
The fallen solider watched the heartless man as he examined the footprints on the ground. 'I hope I gave the girl enough of a head start.' Tears clouded his vision as he felt the three soldiers attempt to help him up. 'Once I get back to Kirlsa, I'll need to find a way to inform my contact.'
Albel studied the ground. Her footsteps were fairly fresh. Judging by the direction they faced, she was headed straight toward Kirlsa. Albel smirked. This was turning out to be in his favor. Without so much as a glance back, he left the four men and followed the trail left for him.
Fayt sat in a chair behind the two blondes. "Okay, let me see if I've got all this so far. You are both Klausians. You work for Quark and for some reason your leader wants to meet Sophia…but you won't tell me why."
Cliff turned in his seat and nodded. "Yup, that about sums it up."
"And you expect me to be perfectly okay with this when you won't even tell me what you want with her?"
"Look kid, I'm just following orders here. I can promise you that no one's out to hurt her if that's what you are concerned about."
Fayt hung his head slightly. "There's a lot I'm concerned about."
Cliff sighed. "Look, you want to see her again don't ya?"
Fayt nodded but refused to answer verbally. It wasn't that he didn't like Cliff. Actually, Cliff seemed like a nice guy. Fayt just didn't like the idea that something concerning Sophia was being kept a secret from him.
"Well, that's where we're headed right now. Don't worry; we'll have her in no time."
"Sorry to break this up guys, but…"
Cliff darted his head from Fayt and looked at Mirage. "Huh? What is it?"
"I've just detected a gravitic space anomaly up ahead. I'm bringing us out of gravitic space to avoid it." Mirage continued to enter commands as she responded.
"You serious? You think it's hostile?"
"I'll guess we'll soon find out," Fayt mumbled from the back seat as the Eagle came out of gravitic space.
Mirage shot Cliff a glance. "We're back in conventional space. ...Two Vendeeni battleships detected 400,000 km ahead."
Cliff grunted. "I can probably guess where their headed. Man, it's bad enough having to worry 'bout Federation ships. ...Open up a comm link."
"Hold on." Mirage activated the comm link and gave Cliff a slight nod. "Connection confirmed... Okay, the link's open."
"Uhhh... This is the Eagle, a Klausian ship. We don't want any trouble with ya..."
"You're wasting your time," Mirage cut him off in mid sentence. "The enemy ships are already prepared to attack."
"Awe man! They can't possibly know where we're headed. Escape's our only hope. It'll be tough without using gravitic warp, but we've got no choice... Reverse course! Conventional engines, full power!"
"First Hyda, then the Herle and now this. What is going on here?" Fayt shook his head.
"Hey kid, let's reminisce later. Mirage, full power to rear shields! And lemme see a chart for this region!" Cliff growled softly under his breath as he examined the chart. "Alright, course 116, mark 267! Activate auto-evasion program! Fasten crew safety harnesses!"
"Roger. ...Course entry complete. Speed, maximum... Program activated."
Fayt remained silent as he watched the two in front of him. It seemed that no matter where he went the Vendeeni were close by. He was suddenly overcome with a sudden fear. Cliff had said something about the Vendeeni knowing where they were headed. They were headed to find Sophia. 'Are the Vendeeni attacks somehow related to Sophia? But why…it's not like she's done anything. She wouldn't hurt a fly, little less do anything the Vendeeni would be interested in.'
"Hey, feeling lucky, kid?" Cliff called from the front seat.
Before Fayt could acknowledge him, the Eagle tilted sharply from left to right. "Whoa!"
"We've evaded round one from the enemy's disrupter cannon," Mirage spoke with little relief in her voice. She shuffled slightly in her seat. "Nearing objective point."
"All right, as soon as we're there, go into gravitic warp."
"Huh?" Fayt questioned.
"Cliff, gravitic warp is currently nonfunctional..."
"I got a hunch it'll function the moment we reach the objective point. Get us on a straight line between the ships and that planet, then pop us up starside-we'll open up the distance that way."
"Very well...but we won't be able to designate our warp destination."
"Well, we're toast if we stay here, Mirage! Anyhow, space is big, right? Our odds ain't that bad!"
Fayt leaned forward in his seat. "What? Are you both crazy? He's got a hunch and that's enough to pull a stunt like that?" Fayt leaned back in his seat. Maybe he would have been better off on an underdeveloped planet. At least he would still be alive. It might have taken the Federation some time to pick him up but these Klausians seemed suicidal.
Fayt hardly heard the dialog between the two. All he knew was that he had lost his chance at seeing his parents or Sophia again. The words Cliff had said spun circles in his head. Was Sophia in trouble? If so, what could he do about it?
Fayt was shook from his daydream when the Eagle entered gravitic warp.
"We've thrown off the Vendeeni ships."
"Phew... That was close. How far off course are we?"
"Not far, Cliff. Actually, we've made it here a lot faster then we had originally projected we would."
Cliff turned in his seat and smiled at Fayt. "What'd I tell ya. My hunch really paid off. How about showing a little respect huh?"
"Yeah, a healthy respect for your recklessness," Fayt replied dryly.
"Heeey, what is that supposed to mean? A little more honesty would be…"
"Sorry to interrupt while you're having so much fun..."
"What is it, Mirage?"
Mirage didn't answer right away. She set promptly to bringing the Eagle back into conventional space. "Bad news. Both the conventional and gravitic warp engines have scrammed. The backup engine isn't functioning, either. I'd say we have a problem."
Fayt and Cliff moaned in unison. "Where're we now?"
"We're currently within Elicoor II's gravitational field."
"Well," Cliff responded. "At least we're on course. Mirage, come up with something."
"I'll see what I can do."
Fayt sighed heavily "What CAN we do? Aren't all the engines scrammed?"
Cliff chuckled. "For starters, we gotta land before we crash."
Sophia had found a path that gave her some convenience in her decent down the mountain. The path was wide, but with a sharp drop. Sophia stayed close to the mountain wall as she walked.
The area was mostly desolate; graced only with sparse foliage. When Sophia spotted a tree, she felt a little hope. She was beginning to worry about what type of planet she had landed on.
She closed the gap, treading carefully. She had fallen a few times already because of the loose gravel and she didn't want to add more bruises then she already had. She stopped, just within arms reach, and examined the tree. It was tall and its branches seemed unable to produce anything but a few leaves. Vines hung from the branches.
Something inside her issued a warning. Something seemed menacing about the tree. She almost laughed at herself. There was no reason to be frightened by a tree, was there? She took a step back and decided to just continue her course to civilization.
She was about to turn when one of the vines snapped out and at her. She screamed as she jumped back just in time to avoid the impact. Before she could really wrap her mind on what was going on, another vine lashed out and caught her in the side. Reflexes allowed her to keep a tight grip on her staff as she hit the ground hard.
The air was knocked out of her and she felt dizzy. She lifted her head, trying desperately to gain her breath back. The roots of the tree moved across the ground and straight at her. She managed to sit up on her knees before her headache stopped her. Her vision was clouded but she could see the tree coming closer. Her heart sped up as she tried frantically to recover from the fall. Another vine reached for her.
Then something blocked her vision of her foe. A man appeared just in time to chop off the vine that was headed straight for her. She sat perfectly still and watched as a man with a sword danced around the tree. Each step he took was accompanied with a slash from his sword; and each slash took a chunk out of the tree.
Buy the time he had mutilated the tree, Sophia had found her breath and was finally able to stand. She watched as he sheathed his sword. His face showed no emotion. She almost wondered if she wouldn't prefer the tree to his cold stare.
She bowed slightly. "Thank you, sir."
"Humph," he replied as he stepped near her.
She swallowed hard. He was really tall and one of his arms appeared to made mostly of metal. She tried to smile at him, hoping he wasn't going to hurt her next.
"You, come with me." Even his voice was emotionless.
"You are the one that climbed out of that metal contraption, are you not?" He arched his eyebrow.
She was on the edge of panic again. She couldn't tell him she was…that was a violation of the UP3. But he had just saved her life. She owed him something. She swallowed again deciding that honesty was her best course of action. Nothing good ever came from lying. That and she was a terrible liar.
"Yeah," she said weakly.
"Then you have two choices. Come with me willingly or come with me by force."
She took her gaze off him and studied the ground. That really wasn't much of a choice. She knew she had no way to defend herself against him. She had just witnessed him take out the monster tree and he didn't seem the least out of breath. She sighed.
A shadow crossed her line of vision, pulling her attention to her right. Standing a few feet from them was the biggest spider she had ever seen. Her actions alerted him to the new presence.
Before she could blink, he had drawn his weapon and cut clean into the spider. He was fast, the fastest person she had ever seen, but not quite fast enough. He had just pulled his sword from the creature when another spider jumped on his back. He twisted, throwing the spider off, but not before the spider had bitten him.
Not missing a beat, he lunged for the spider, cutting it into two pieces. He looked around and smirked at his handy work. Once again he put his sword away.
"Oh, you're hurt," Sophia said as she spotted the blood trailing down his back.
"Bah." He reached into his pouch and pulled out an herb of some kind.
Sophia watched, but her attention was taken off of the man when she heard a scurrying noise behind her. She turned sharply just to confront another spider. The spider lunged at her, causing her to jump back in response. Her backwards momentum was stopped when she hit the man. She didn't realize how close she was to him.
Everything seemed to happen at one time. The man dropped the herb off the edge of the path, the spider jumped once more, and Sophia brought her staff over her head and down hard. The staff made contact with the spider, crushing it instantly.
Sophia blinked in disbelief. She had just successfully defeated a huge spider.
"Stupid wench," the man said. She turned to see him looking over the edge. "You better hope I don't kill you."
She took a step back and gasped at him. She was only defending herself and hadn't meant to hit him. Her legs felt like they would give out from under her as she took another step back.
He took a step toward her before falling to his knees. She watched as he massaged his forehead. He appeared to be in pain.
"Oh my," she whispered. Instincts willed her to his side. If there was one thing she couldn't stand, it was to see someone in pain. She kneeled down and put a hand on his shoulder. "What's wrong?"
"Poison…" His body went limp as the word left his mouth.
After a quick walk around Kirlsa, Nel met her subordinates at the eastern gate. "There has been no word from our contact yet," she informed the two.
"We'll just wait here Lady…" Tynave broke off in mid sentence when a shimmer in the sky caught her attention.
Nel followed her subordinate's eyes and instantly saw the distraction. Another metal object raced through the sky and was headed straight toward Airyglyph Castle. Nel watched as the object passed over head.
"Looks like there might be a slight change of plans."
Farleen and Tynave nodded, turning their attention to Nel once the object was out of sight. "Your orders Lady Nel?"
Nel thought briefly. There was one object in the mountains and she had no doubts that Airyglyph would soon have their hands on the girl. If there was an occupant in one object, then it was almost certain that the second would also contain someone.
She nodded and straightened her stance. "I want you both to go back and tell Clair that I'll be investigating this second object further. Meet me at the Airyglyph Castle gate with a wagon. I will meet you there after I've retrieved what is in that object. If this object holds nothing useful, then we will resume our mission to obtain the girl."
"Yes, Lady Nel," Tynave answered as she turned to follow orders.
"May the grace of Apris be with you," Farleen said before following Tynave.
Nel watched the two disappear. "May the grace of Apris be with us all."
Sophia quickly turned the man to his back. He was unconscious, and less intimidating as he had been before. Still, a surge of painful guilt overcame her. If she hadn't caused him to drop the herb then he would be okay.
She shuffled to the edge of the road. There was no way to make it safely down to retrieve the lost item. She shook her head and sighed. She couldn't just leave him there to die. She had to do something, but what could she do?
She knelt beside him and called her memories back on the fundamentals of symbology. Being the daughter of a scientist had allowed her to get her hands on materials that normally wouldn't be accessible. Earth's government didn't allow everyone to practice the art of symbology. Even though the simulator games allowed the players to use it, it wasn't real symbology.
The first rule for beginners was to choose an item to help focus a person's energy. Her staff was the perfect item for such a task. She held it out, sideways over his body. She closed her eyes and tried to pull her energy together. The book she had read had talked about how not everyone was privileged to the right chemistry for symbology, but none the less she had to put her bet effort into it.
She concentrated the hardest she could muster. A soft glow surrounded her, pulsing brighter around her staff. "Healing!"
The glow left her and covered the man. He took a rigid breath and tried to sit up. Instinctively she dropped her staff beside her and helped him to sit. He was still dazed and pale. He was so pale and sweating slightly.
She had been able to successfully use symbology, and though there should be pride in that one act her efforts were not enough. She had used one form of the art when another was needed to rid the man of the poison. All she could do at this point was to keep the poison from spreading.
"Come on, we have to get you to a doctor," she said meekly.
He just grunted, unable to do much else. She grabbed her staff and stood. He looked at her, his red eyes speaking words he was unable to produce. She understood he held contempt for her, but she didn't care. He needed her help and that was exactly what she was going to do. She was going to help him.
She lowered her hand, just to have him weakly slap it away. She frowned at him. "Look, I'm sorry I lost your medicine, but right now isn't the time to argue. I can't get rid of the poison. All I can do is stop it long enough to get you some real help. Now, let's go."
She surprised herself with the sternness in her voice. She had talked to him much the same way she often talked to Fayt. Perhaps if she kept Fayt in mind, she would be able to make it through this. She needed something to inspire her not to give up. Right now, Fayt's memory would have to do.
She reached for him again and this time he reluctantly took her hand. She wasn't sure of the customs of this world, but she hoped that there were other people who were friendly. She sighed as she pulled his arm over her shoulder. He wasn't able to walk too well and she would have to provide him some stability.
Once his arm was around her shoulder, she let it go and transferred her staff to left hand as she slid her right arm around his waist. She felt him tense. Perhaps the people of this world didn't make physical contact with one another much. As she helped him to start their journey, she made a mental note to learn as much as she could about this new world she found herself in. Violation or not, the UP3 would just have to take the back seat to curiosity.
(A/N) Hope you liked that last section. I had some help brainstorming on what it would be like to use symbology for the first time.