Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean or its Characters.

Note: I'm going to try for an action story…so brace yourselves. I'm so use to having Kay help out with editing and stuff like that so I've been studying her stuff. I hope it helps to get this going like I want and I know it'll make it easier on her to help with proofreading duties.

Racing the Storm

Chapter 1: Disaster Strikes

Her fingers glided over the command panel. Her pod was excruciatingly small but the frantic rhythm of her heart kept her from feeling closed in. Her hands trembled as she rapidly punched in the sequence of commands as directed.

"Commands entered," she huffed. After everything that had happened the last six months, she couldn't help but to be frustrated at her own fear.

"Good," replied the half digitized voice coming from the pod's speakers.

As impossible as it seemed, her heart began to beat faster when static flashed across the speakers. She looked over the interior frantically; not feeling embarrassed at all knowing she would be unable to see anything. Her pod was designed for safety and speed which left no room for any windows.

"Hey! Maria!" she yelled hoarsely. "Are you still there?"

"Yes," came the answer; static hissing in the background. "You're all set. The shield should keep you off radar for 48 hours."

Her fingers twitched nervously on the edge of the console. "What about you and the others?"

Static built back up momentarily; causing her to wince. She bit her lower lip and waited for it to quiet down into a soft hiss.

"We'll be fine. We've been through this before, remember? You can't go into this business and not expect to bump heads with the Federation."

"Yeah," she said weakly through her half closed throat.

"Hey, don't worry." This time it was Cliff's voice coming across the speakers. "Right now your current course will take you straight to Elicoor II. At least you're familiar with the place."

'Yeah, if I don't land in Greeton or better yet – the middle of the ocean.' That's what she wanted to say.

"Sophia." This time it was Mirage. "Maria will be headed the same direction once an adequate distraction is in place. The rest of us will do our best to reassemble and pick you two up in a week. By then the Federation will know where you are so keep a low profile."

Sophia took a deep breath. She was determined to bite back her fear. "Can do."

"Once I get there, let's meet up. How's Peterny sound?"

"Sounds good, Maria. Let's try for a couple of days, 'kay."

"I'll see what I can do. Until then remember to stay low. If anyone on Elicoor knew we were there then it would make it easier for the Federation to find us."

"Sure."

The speakers shut off to indicate the end of the communication. For once in six months Sophia felt completely alone. Silence engulfed her in the tight quarters of the pod. She scanned the controls.

The monitor kept her informed on any essential information. Printed in bold white letters read: TWO HOURS UNTIL DESTINATION REACHED.

She had two hours until she reached Elicoor. She leaned back in her chair and allowed her mind to replay the series of events that had taken place over the last six months. She recalled almost every detail of what had gotten her into her current situation.

-Flashback-

Sophia had just taken her first step out of the transporter on Roak. She had chosen the planet because of something her father had made her promise a long time ago. He had made her promise to meet him there should anything happen to Earth. At the time she never questioned him but never understood why he made the request. Now she knew.

As soon as her feet hit the floor of the transport station, she heard someone call her name. She shook her head from side to side. That voice was familiar. So familiar she was embarrassed at her moment of amnesia. During the whole flight to Roak, she had battled with her thoughts so much that every thing else became distant.

When she turned to the voice, she was overcome with relief. "Aunt Ryoko?"

She was instantly embraced. Once the hug was finished, Ryoko held Sophia back and inspected her. "You're looking good." There was relief mixed with tension in her voice.

Sophia smiled and nodded. It was like a burden had been lifted. She had one less person to worry about.

Ryoko's eyes held Sophia for a minute longer before she began glancing behind the girl. Sophia could read the tension in her face. She was looking for Fayt.

"He's not here," Sophia spoke softly. "He stayed behind."

"Why?"

Sophia couldn't stop the tears as they escaped from her unwilling eyes. "He didn't know what to say or do. He didn't know how to tell you about Uncle…" Her voice faded into a whisper too soft to be heard.

"Oh dear." Ryoko gathered her into her arms again. "It was a risk we were both willing to take."

A larger hand settled on Sophia's shoulder and pulled her sternly from Ryoko. Sophia was startled but unable to do more then follow unspoken directions. Before she could grasp the fact the hand belonged to a man, she found herself in her father's arms.

He allowed her a couple of minutes before breaking his embrace. Without warning he took her hand, much like he had when she was little, and began to lead her through the station.

There was something about his behavior that sent an instant alarm through her. Something about the way he walked told her that he was trying to hurry without drawing attention.

She glanced up at him. "Dad?"

He returned her glance with a smile she knew to be fake. "Almost there, princess."

She tried to look casual as he led her by the hand. Ryoko had caught up and was walking by her other side. To anyone who didn't know, they appeared to be nothing more than a family walking together.

Clive finally came to a stop at a terminal at the far end of the station. He turned his back to the transporter and gently took Sophia by her shoulders. His large hands wrapped reassuringly around her arms.

"I'm sorry your mother couldn't be here. She's busy keeping the Federation occupied."

Sophia sought answers in his eyes. He wasn't making any sense. "What's going on?"

His eyes became moist but remained tearless. "The Federation found the recordings on Moonbase after you three left."

'You three…me, Fayt and Maria.'

He kissed her forehead quickly. "Go into that transporter and don't look back. Your mother and I will be fine. Take care of yourself and maybe one day we'll see each other again."

She couldn't move. She had just found her family and was being separated from them again. "I don't understand." She felt more like a child in that instant then ever before.

Ryoko rested her hand above Clive's. "Everything will be explained to you once you're safely away from here."

Two months later she found herself on board the Diplo. Quark might have been a small organization, but it had a lot of connections. Sophia had spent two months traveling via Quark's 'underground railroad'. The name was taken from a historical event in Earth's history and the function was pretty much the same. Only, instead of transporting and protecting slaves, Quark's underground railroad was dedicated to individuals who were sought by the Federation on grounds perceived at unacceptable to Quark.

The Federation had spent no time in hunting down the trio. Instead of being seen as heroes, they were seen as a threat and a valuable research tool.

Maria had planned to leave Quark and search for a new life. Thanks to the Federation, she had just enough time to pack her things before finding herself on the run.

Cliff had started on a diplomatic journey but cut it short to secure Maria. He had hoped to settle things on the terms of 'more talk, less action'; but once the Federation made its move all bets were off. He reassumed leadership of Quark. He wasn't too disappointed. He never was a big talker to begin with.

Mirage had left for Klaus but her trip was intercepted by the Federation. She was kept in holding for days before convincing them she did not know the where-a-bouts of 'the Leingod Children' (which was what the Federation was calling the trio).

It took a month for Mirage to make her way back to the Diplo – two months for Sophia. By this time there was a price on the heads of 'the Leingod Children'. Every bounty hunter and freelance detective was out to find the three.

After four months, the Diplo found itself cornered. In one direction was a small Federation fleet. In the other was a group of bounty hunters. Drastic measures were last on the list; but the list had quickly proved there was no other way.

The Diplo had to be abandoned. Sophia and Maria were each given their own separate escape pods, fashioned with the latest technology. The pods became 'invisible' to all radar and a visual search would be reflected. In other words, no one could see them via a digital search and the pods threw their reflections causing anyone looking to see them miles from their true locations.

As for Fayt, the third 'Leingod Child', no one was sure where he was. His signal had been lost five months ago.

-End-Flashback-

Reality slammed back to her in full force as the pod hit the first layer of Elicoor's atmosphere. Despite the safety harness, Sophia held onto the chair. She heard her heart with every beat as the pod shook uncontrollably. She continued to hold on when the pod became still. Breaking the atmosphere was no fun, but the hard part was still to come.

She had to land, no – she had to crash before it was over.

The crash itself wasn't as bad as she had expected. The only problem was that the pod didn't stop moving. Instead of a crash/stop scenario, she found herself in a crash/rocking scenario.

She unbuckled and set her bag and staff on her back. There was no telling where she had landed. She wanted to be ready for anything.

She took a deep breath and pressed the button to open the door. Immediately a rush of water poured into the pod. The water sloshed through the interior and quickly rose to her knees. It was too late to close the door. She had only one option. Get out and swim.

She escaped the pod in time to swim enough distance to avoid being dragged down with it. She couldn't help but to smile at the idea of the trouble the Federation would have to go through to retrieve the hunk of metal.

She treaded water as she searched across the surface. As luck would have it, she was close to land. Swimming the distance had proven a small task. Shortly after joining Quark she had started training again. Her fighting skills had improved slightly where she was able to improve her symbology greatly. She kept herself in shape and the swim wasn't even a thing to lose her breath over.

She giggled to herself as she climbed on dry land. She was soaked but unharmed. She was able to stand with little trouble and was happy that her daily exercises had helped. If she had known about the fight with the creator before hand, she would have started training then. At least this time she was more prepared.

She used her symbology in small doses to dry herself off. It took a lot of concentration to generate 'Fire Bolt' to act more as a heating tool than a weapon, but there was a breeze in the air and she didn't want to get sick from being wet.

Secure in the bag she carried was her outfit from the events from half a year ago. She always kept it close as a reminder of what she had accomplished. She was glad she had brought it now. Being on Elicoor made her wish she had worn it instead, but changing now was something she refrained from doing. In fact, she knew it wouldn't be a good idea to wear the outfit at all, since that would surely have her noticed in a crowed faster.

For now she would settle for the cloths Quark had provided, most of which came from Mirage. She wore a faded purple vest with long sleeves over a dull pink tank top. Her shorts matched her vest and went well with her own stockings and 'Quark regulation' boots. If there was one thing she could depend on in the cloths provided by Mirage it was that mobility was top priority – a thing she was thankful for.

She inspected her surroundings, trying to figure out where she was. The first thing she encountered was a wall. The side of a cliff hung above her. She looked both ways along the shore line only to discover that her best chance was to climb. The shore became too narrow on both sides and walking around wasn't an option. That and she really didn't feel like swimming again.

She took her time and placed each step with care as she clung to the dirt wall. The climb tested her more than the swim and she was pleased to reach the top with no trouble. She hastily made her way away from the edge and studied her surroundings again. A smile crept on her face when she recognized her location.

She was in the Aire Hills. Now she had a decision to make, should she head towards Arias or Kirlsa? If she headed to Arias then she would be closer to Peterny, but the chances of being recognized was greater there than Kirlsa. She had been to Kirlsa with Fayt over six months ago, but her stay there was short and she was certain she could get a room for the night without being recognized. Though it was further from Peterny that was her best option. If Clair or Nel were at Arias then her cover would be blown.

It wasn't that she wouldn't welcome the company. She had instantly liked both of them. Her fear was that one of their subordinates would recognize her before she had the chance to explain her situation. At least in Airyglyph she wouldn't be as noticeable. She hadn't spent that much time with any of the soldiers there so she would only have to avoid Woltar's home. She had only met him on a couple of occasions but something told her the old man would instantly recognize her.

Set on go, she headed west as the sun had just started to set. In space, there's no sun rise or sun fall to separate day from night and she wasn't tired. She did want to get a room before dark if possible and try to get her body set on Elicoor's time soon. It would make her visit easier.

She was half way there when she found herself surrounded by Killer Moths. She wasn't too worried about the three enemies. She had been training and it was time to turn the simulated fights into reality.

She jumped back to avoid the mist sprayed at her by the moth in front of her. As she did, she pulled her staff out and sent a warning round of Fire Bolt at it. By this time, the other two had closed in, but before they could spray her she called on her new attack to halt their movements.

"Blood Scylla!"

The attack paralyzed the moths long enough for her to escape the circle they had formed around her. When she used her attacks rapidly, the results were always weaker, but there was no chance that her spell would be cancelled. The healing she received was minimal as was the damage dealt. Still, she had the upper hand.

She jogged a bit before turning and rapidly firing at them like an archer. She knew their weakness was in their mental capacities and she had synthesized her staff to target that weakness. One dropped from exhaustion before she was forced to duck and run from the other two.

She avoided the first moth's attack but was hit in the back by the second one. She instantly felt her mental energy drain but shook it off. She turned and hastily shot off a few more rounds from her staff, causing the second moth to drop.

Once she ducked again, she was ready to take out the final enemy when she was roughly hit from behind. She staggered, keeping her feet on the ground, right into the moth's spray.

More energy was zapped from her and her head began to hurt slightly. That was never a good sign. It meant that she was low on mental energy and had to conserve what she had left.

She quickly spun around to discover that three Bogle Soldiers had decided to join in. Things had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. She had spent the last four months training but during those months there had been no actual combat. All she had done was run from the Federation. Her dexterity and stamina were better then before, but she still relied on her symbology during a fight. Her energy had gotten so low that she had only enough left to use sparsely and wisely.

Thinking quickly, she jumped straight at the Bogles; temporarily startling them. They froze long enough to get caught in another round of 'Blood Scylla'. As soon as the energy transfer was over, Sophia jolted to the side in an attempt to avoid the closest Bogle's blow. He missed but one of his friends found an opening.

She felt the blow to her shoulder as she was pushed back. She wasn't good at close ranged combat and her mind screamed at her to put distance between her and them. But that wasn't possible, forcing her to do the next best thing. She swung her staff, like a batter in a baseball game, and connected with one of the Bogles. He yelped and retreated.

It was evident that the Bogles were not strong and were only drawn into the fight as they had seen her as an easy target. The healing she had received from the three brought her out of harm from incapacitation by only a small fraction. On the bright side, one physical hit was all that was required to make them tuck their tails and run.

Gaining her stance, she caught the second Bogle in the face with the upper cut of a golfer's swing. Like the first, it yelped in surprised pain and fled.

The third Bogle hesitated, giving her enough time to summon 'Fire Bolt'. As the weak blast hit him she couldn't help but to wince at his shrieks. He hadn't been able to run like the other two had. Instead, his fate had been much worse.

She took a deep breath and tried to steady her heart. She had been so relieved to have gotten this far in a battle on her own, she had forgotten about the last Killer Moth until she found herself showered in its deadly spray. She gasped as her knees gave out.

Out of six enemies she had caused three to fall and two to retreat. She mentally cursed herself for being stupid enough to forget about her final foe as the world around her darkened. Between warming herself after her swim and the fight, she had pressed her mental capabilities. Thanks to the moth, her mental energy had dropped so low she wasn't sure if she was passing out or dieing.

Her vision had failed before her hearing. In the blackness that surrounded her she heard a series of noises and understood her folly would lead to her demise. Her body was rapidly growing colder and her thoughts hazed over.

What she heard next shocked her. She had expected the final sounds to reach her ears to be the crush of the moth's final blow. Instead she heard a voice.

"Stupid girl."

Another wave of nostalgia swept over her. A voice from her past echoed her own thoughts; but before she could place a face with the voice, she passed out.


(A/N) Alright, I've already started the next chapter. Well, it wasn't intended that way but I thought that there was a good place to stop.