A darker version of the meeting between Rikku and the gang.

I can either make this a series, or a one-shot fic, you decide.

This fic will eventually tie into the timeline of Diamond Dust (my first fic), so if you want it to be a multi-chapter story, you gotta tell me now!


Darkness Falls

Rikku looked into the depths of the Machina, and turned to her brother, who was leaning against the siderails of the scavenger's deck.

'You sure this things safe?' She asked nervously. He smiled at her and waved.

'Perfectly, I checked it out myself.' he replied.

'Against fiends?' She asked.

'Rikku, don't worry! I went down over 1 mile with this thing and blew up some fish-fiends with it. It's safe.' Rikku still looked skeptical.

'Bro, these are guardians we're going up against, not fish.' She said testily.

It always surprised her brother, how Rikku's demeanor changed so drastically when they were out here. Anywhere else, she was so cheerful they had to hold her down, yet around anything to do with both water and metal in the same area she was always twitchy. Not that he could blame her, it was his fault she was like that. Him and his itchy lightning-finger. He looked across at the large Machina. He had lovingly hand-crafted it over the last year to run salvaging operations in deep water, and then his father Cid had ordered weapons put on, 'just in case', and now they were sending his little sister to fetch a summoner in it! One day that man's impulsive nature was going to get someone hurt. he had asked to be the one to go, but Rikku had been chosen instead, she was the summoner's cousin, Cid had reasoned, and maybe that would make being kidnaped a little easier to bear. he sighed at the teenager. 'For the love of... Rikku, it'll be fine. Trust me! We installed a safety precaution. Look, you see the place where you sit? Next to it is the escape button, you press that, and these clamps disengage, and the cockpit drifts to the surface, and all you have to do is step out!' He said , gesturing to several pieces of machinery around and inside the craft.

'Fine.' Said Rikku. 'But don't blame me when I come back all bruised and miserable!'


Rikku climbed into the machina. From the outside it had looked quite spacious, but from inside it was incredibly cramped, the various machinery taking up most of the parts. Now she knew why Cid had really chosen her to go get the summoner, no-one else would fit in this blasted thing. She heard her brother's voice over the speaker near her cheek.

*Rikku, you hear me?*

'Fine!' She replied. 'But next time, I build the ship and you drive it!' She shouted, She heard the mechanics laughter even through the several inches of metal surrounding her.

*We'll see.* She heard him say. *This thing won't transmit properly over a few meters, once you're in the mouth of the Moonflow, you're on your own!*

'Gotcha!' She said fake-cheerfully. Great. No space, and no company either... Then the entire ship shook, telling her that her brother had disengaged the clamps holding the craft/ship/boat in place, and she saw the water start to occlude the viewscreen. when the boat was completely submerged, she slowly took the guidance stick in her right hand, pressed the button for 'engines forward' and began her slow journey into the Moonflow. She only hoped her cousin hadn't crossed yet.


The plan was simple, another Al Bhed would be waiting at the Shoopuf crossing for Yuna to cross with her Guardians. He would abduct the summoner, who was known to have little aptitude for hand-to-hand combat, and take her down to Rikku's craft, where Rikku would engage what could only be described as a huge air bubble, and begin the journey back to the salvage ship, over 1 mile away. Simple. But only if she got their first.

The ship groaned, and Rikku looked up at the metal over her head. It had been making strange noises over the past twenty minutes, and she dared not go any deeper, lest the ship implode in on her. She had begun to have serious doubts about the sea-worthiness of this machine. Safe my ass. When we get back, I swear I'm gonna kill you bro. She looked up just in time to see the sun nearly run into the spire.

'Woah!!' She grabbed the controls, and angled sharply to the left, pushing back on the throttle. She stopped only a few inches from the strange underwater point. What the... Rikku looked at it, and caught something on the periphery of her vision. She strafed the sub past the obstruction to get a better look at it, and what she saw took her breath away. It's a city! She could see, where the Moonflow became deeper, a veritable mountain of buildings and houses, buried underwater. She was amazed, she hadn't known about this, no-one had told her, which meant only one thing; Machina city! She thought gleefully. She imagined the salvage they could get from this place, it looked almost untouched. She lost track of time, and when she saw the riverbed angle sharply upwards, she stopped. She was at the Shoopuf crossing. All she could do now was wait.


Rikku was about to quit and go home when she heard the vibrations of the Shoopuf crossing.

About time! She thought angrily. Can't you pilgrimage a little faster! She began the process of powering up the craft's air bubble, that would sustain Yuna throughout the journey back to the salvage ship.


She was still waiting ten minutes later when Latryn finally came down from the surface, carrying an unconscious Yuna in his arms.

Man, you have got to learn how to treat a lady. She thought to herself as she angle towards the man in the water. He approached her and went over her cockpit, out of sight, deposited Yuna inside the bubble. He turned to her, and she looked at him as if to say; about time! He began to swim off. His part in the mission was done. Phase 1: Capture The Summoner accomplished. Phase 2: Get The Hell Out, in progress. Rikku began to turn away towards the direction of the open sea when she saw 2 small shapes barreling towards her out of the water.

Guardians, great. She thought. She turned back and used the control panels she had been taught to launch some missiles out of the ship. They weren't really missiles, but Rikku hadn't bothered to learn the correct term for them. To her disappointment (but not her surprise) they just dodged around them and kept coming at her. That made her wonder whether they were blitzers. Fine. You wanna mess with Rikku, you pay the price! She turned around to face the two Guardians, and prepped her ship for combat.


This was not going well. No matter how hard she seemed to hit them, they just seemed to shrug it off, heal each other, and continue the attack. It didn't help that there was two of them, and only one of her, and she couldn't very well get out an conduct repairs on her ship in the middle of a battle.

She swivelled her craft and launched some more missiles. It didn't help that she only had five left, plus two depth charges. Her brother had obviously not banked on her getting into a serious scrape in this thing. She targeted the nearest Guardian and fired off 2, hoping to at least distract the other one from trying to peel open her engines. The blonde-haired one saw them coming and rolled under the first one, then turning to watch it's passage. He turned back just in time to be confronted by a faceful of compressed air, and Rikku saw she saw his eyes go wide as he was engulfed in a localized maelstrom. The other one behind her noticed this, and went to heal his companion, momentarily (and foolishly) ignoring the armed Al Bhed craft behind him. Rikku loosed two of her last three missiles, scoring a direct hit on the Guardian. When the bubbles cleared he was, amazingly, still standing (well, treading water). he turned back to the craft with anger in his eyes. Rikku fired her last missile at him, hoping to finish him off. At least, she tried to. The man threw his Blitzball (Who uses a sports-ball for a weapon? She thought incredulously) at the missile port. It hit dead on and stopped in the missile tube. As the missile left it's rack and began to travel down the guide, it suddenly found it's way blocked by a large object, and did exactly what it was supposed to do when it happened across large objects in it's path. Oh cred... Rikku thought. Then the missile exploded. Half the ship's was torn away,


Wakka watched the Al Bhed craft sink to the bottom, and turned back to Tidus. The boy was in bad shape, and being hit with one of the heathen's weapons wasn't good for him. He reached into his overalls and withdrew a potion, throwing it onto the young blitzer. Tidus instantly regained use of his limbs. He turned about, and noticed Wakka, and gave him a thumbs up. Wakka returned the gesture. The older Guardian turned back towards the Al Bhed ship, and immediately his eyes opened wide. Yuna! He thought. he began to swim frantically down towards the ship. Seeing Yuna lying in some kind of sphere, only designed to keep water out, not in, he grabbed her, and began to swim towards the surface, Tidus following behind.


Rikku watched the three people move towards the surface. She was still seething about being beat. Brother, when I get back, we're going to have words. She thought towards her brother, miles away and waiting for her return. Sighing, she turned to look outside as the ship settled on the bottom of the Moonflow. The creaks were growing more ominous now, and leaks were starting to appear. Rikku was not worried however.

Turning, she pressed the button that her brother had indicated as the escape button, to disconnect the cockpit from the main body of the craft. She heard the explosive bolts fire along the hull of her ship. She waited for the cockpit bubble to come loose. This did not happen.

Metal, and especially metal only a few inches thick, cannot last too long under the constant pressure of masses of water above it. Rikku's craft had been salvaged itself from another similar ship, and the designers had failed to take into account that the original craft had itself sunk. Add to that the damage sustained in the fight against the two Guardians, it was already on the verge of failure. The explosive bolts provided the last push. Instead of pulling away from the rest of the ship, the cockpit bubble cracked slightly. This changed the shape of a underwater craft that required a perfect circle to function, and it didn't hold.

Rikku only had time for one last thought, as the sphere imploded, centered exactly where the young girl was sitting.

Brother, you were wrong...


As Yuna regained her seat, Wakka heard the noise on the edge of his hearing. Leaning back over the water, he saw the Al Bhed craft collapse in on itself in a small storm of air and water bubbles. He said a short prayer to Yevon for its occupant, if any. The Al Bhed were notorious for having those clever machines that could pilot themselves, and he wouldn't put it past them to use a craft with no pilot. He turned back to the others, and did not bother himself with those thoughts again. 'How long till the shore?' He asked.

'Aboot thurty minoots.' The driver said in his strangely-distorted voice. Wakka leaned back in his seat, put his arms behind his head, and tried to get some sleep.


Rikku awoke in darkness, and screamed. She was underwater, in a metal tomb molded to her exact shape. She immediately shut her mouth to avoid losing oxygen. She struggled, and only just had enough room to move her arm down to her side. She reached into her leg-satchel, and withdrew something spherical and shiny. Calm down calm down calm down. You've been in worse situations than this before. She willed herself to pull the pin on the grenade, and shut her eyes tightly.

A blinding flash erupted around her eyes, and white-hot pain rushed through her nerves from her leg to her brain, demanding her attention now. Rikku attempted to ignore them. She opened her eyes, and the sight that greeted her warmed her heart. Light. She could see the surface through the now ruined outer shell of the cockpit sphere. She wormed her hands free, scratching and tearing flesh as she worked against the jagged edges. Rikku got her arms free, and tried to pull herself out. It was getting dark again, and this time she knew if she fell into darkness she would never climb out. She worked her legs, struggling to get them out of the crushed metal coffin.

After a few seconds she managed to force herself out of the ruined ship, and she began to kick towards the surface with her one good leg. Her lungs were on fire now, and she was desperately clawing for the surface. when she put her hand forward and met no resistance, it was like the breath of life. Her head broke the surface and she gasped air. For some reason it hurt to breathe. Rikku put it down to lack of oxygen. She resisted the temptation to laugh out loud. In your face Guardians! She thought happily to herself. She walked up to the riverbank, ignoring the pain. After she had traveled about fifty meters, the adrenaline started to fade. She began to falter, and collapsed onto her knees. She noticed the pain in her chest, and looked down.

Then she noticed the large shard of metal sticking out of her chest. Directly over her heart.

Rikku blinked, and put reached her fingers out to her chest to touch it. Even though she knew better, she began to try and tug it out. She started to weep. No, not like this! I'd survived! It's not FAIR! Her vison started to blur, and she began to wrench at the meal imbedded in her heart. This only caused more pain, but at this point she didn't care. Finally she pulled it free, and the pain made her scream a final death-rattle to the air as her blood poured out onto the soil. She looked at the large metal spike in her hand with an odd detachment. As the pain began to ebb, Rikku finally accepted that she was going to die. Using the last of her strength, she lowered herself to the floor, lay on her side, put her head under her hands, and closed her eyes as the darkness reached out and claimed her.


Tidus was the first one to leave the crossing-station. He wandered away from the others, not wanting to be drawn into the crowd who were standing around Yuna and asking her how she was. He couldn't explain it, but he was worried. He could have swore, when he and Wakka were fighting that Machina, he had saw someone he knew within it. It was bothering him now. Wakka had told him not to worry about it though, and he was trying not to. That they had tried to kidnap Yuna helped that somewhat. The fact that he had left first meant that he would be the one to find the trail. He turned a corner in the path, that lead out to a small embankment (it was too small to classify as a shore), and stopped dead. It wasn't the scenery that stopped him though, but the trail of what was unmistakably blood leading away from it.

'What the..!' he exclaimed. He started to walk quickly along the trail. Then he heard a scream, and he started running.


Khimari's head snapped around as the scream echoed through the vicinity. Everyone stopped and turned to look, some shivered. They knew what they were listening to. He started towards Yuna, in case anything should happen to her. Lulu was the first to notice what was wrong.

'Where's Tidus?' She asked quickly. Auron looked up from his leaning posture against the side of the Shoopuf platform.

'He went ahead.' He stated simply. Yuna looked at him, scared. Auron looked back, and then began to move off. 'That was no man's scream.' He said before he walked away. The others ran to catch up.


The first thing that occurred to him when he found her was that he had never seen so much blood. He resisted the urge to vomit right there on the spot and approached the girl. She was unmistakably dead. No-one could lose so much blood, have wounds like that, and be alive. He reached out to touch the body, and got the shock of his life. The girl's left hand came up and grabbed him around the shoulder. He looked at her face, and nearly screamed. Green spiralled eyes stared into his. The girl shouldn't even be alive, yet she was looking at him like he was some kind of demon. She opened her mouth, and Tidus had to put his ear right up against it to hear her plea.

'Help... me...' She said. He heard a scream behind him, and a whispered 'Yevon...' He turned, and saw the others looking at the girl with expressions of horror, terror, concern, and indifference, depending. Yuna ran over to the two, and nearly lost her footing, the ground slippery from the young girl's blood. She knelt down beside them, took out her staff, and immediately began to cast healing spells on the girl. After the first few, she had managed to staunch the flow of blood, and the girl looked at them with eternal thanks in her eyes. Then her eyes opened wider, with something akin to recognition. 'Cous... Tid...' She began, but Yuna cut her off.

'Shhh. Stay still. It's going to be alright.' Yuna had a wonderful bedside manner, even laying on the ground next to a stream, surrounded by liters of blood. Tidus got up and walked towards the stream to wash off, sensing he was no longer needed. He went back to he others. No-one spoke, although Wakka was retching in a corner.


Wha...? What happened? Whose is all this blood? Rikku was confused and scared. She tried to move, but her chest burned with fire when she tried. She lay back, and looked up at the person who was seeing to her. Who it was nearly shocked her back into unconsciousness.

Tidus! Yunie!

Then she blacked out anyway.


Yuna walked over to the others. Tidus looked over from the tree he was leaning against. 'Well?' He asked quietly. Yuna just looked at the ground.

'She's lost a lot of blood, she's got a hole in her lung which I mended, leg wounds, the flesh on her arm has been nearly gouged off, I can fix all those, but I can't do anything about the hole over her heart. If she lives, she'll have trouble with that for the rest of her life. By all accounts, she shouldn't even be alive now.' Auron looked up at that, but said nothing.


They reached Guadosalam at dawn, Khimari carrying the young girl in his arms for most of the journey. Yuna refused to give up. She told the inn owner that he would give this girl a bed. He had refused at first, but the twin towers of Auron and Khimari standing either side of Yuna had put paid to any arguments he might have had about the 'heathen' Al Bhed. Yuna stayed up casting spells and using potions the entire night. Tidus had agreed to stay by the bed at night, monitoring the girl in case anything untoward happened.


Rikku awoke back in the submarine. She screamed again, she couldn't breathe. The craft was vibrating, shaking her around as it crushed her in it's death-embrace. She heard a voice, and opened her eyes. She found herself not underwater, drowning in a metal coffin of her brother's making, nor bleeding to death on the Moonflow's shores, but in a room with soft lighting and wooden walls, being held by the shoulders by the boy she had met before, before Sin had attacked them. She settled back down, and shut her eyes. The last thing she heard before she fell asleep, finally free from pain, if only for a while, was the boy speaking to her in an incredulous tone;

'You're... not dead?'

Guess again.


Do I make this a one-shot or a series? You'll have to decide, please tell me in your review.