Disclaimer: I don't own anything in Final Fantasy XII, so please don't sue.

Darkness encompassed the area, it seemed all light had fled from the dank sewer, the three companions continued on though. The tallest of the trio was in tune with the mist and knew its might, but even she could not tell how strong their opposition would be. Looking at her you would think you had gone to heaven, a sleek, beautiful form with the most unusual ears you had ever seen. In all honesty she looked like a beautiful, bosom bunny. Anyone would be content to stroke her ears for all eternity, but it seemed that the other duo was more concerned with getting out of the Garamsythe Waterway.

"Balthier do you know where you are going?"

"The supporting characters do not question the leading man, remember that little thief."

"Hey, stop calling me a thief, you're no better." Vaan was getting tired of the high and mighty attitude of the sky pirate. "Not so little thief, I am a sky pirate; wholly different then you." Fran shook her head at the man's arrogance; he would always tease and anger the younger man. Walking on in tense silence, Vaan was planning to beat the man over the head with the pommel of his sword. 'Damn him, he thinks he is so much better then me. I'll show him, I'll be the best sky pirate in the entire world.'

Looking back at the younger man, Fran was surprised to see a little fire in his eyes, 'What has caused that? I have never seen such determination in a hume's eyes.' It surprised her that she would observe the youth so closely, but he intrigued her more then anyone she had ever met. That was saying something, since she had lived a lot longer then she looked.

It seemed that they were reaching their destination, because the youth was striding more confidently then normal. The area looked familiar to the youth; he had hunted those large rats close to here. "I think were getting close to the exit, I remember that alleyway there."

"That is a good sign, lead the way Vaan."

"Thank you, Fran." Balthier was surprised by the look in the Viera's eyes, "What are you playing at Fran?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Walking away from her longtime partner, Fran knew that she was acting oddly. Though the reason seemed to be eluding her, deciding to leave it be for now, Fran walked toward the youth. Looking around the Viera could see that they were on their way out; light seemed to stream in once more and light the darkness that shrouded them.

Walking down a set of steps, Fran pulled the youth aside and caused him to lose his footing and crash into her. Falling into a rather intimate position, Vaan sported a blush that went from his toes to his head. "I'm sorry Fran, but was there a reason why you pulled me down?"

Laying a finger on his lips, Fran pointed toward the other side of the causeway. It seemed there was a commotion on the other side; a beautiful Hume woman was being chased by a multitude of Empire soldiers. "Stay where you are, you are under arrest for crimes against the Empire."

Vaan was not known for his patience, thus it was no surprise that he launched himself off Fran and ran to the woman. Racing toward her and splashing water all over the place, Vaan watched as she tried to take on four soldiers by herself. Knowing the situation was dire; Vaan yelled to the woman, "Hey, Jump down and I'll catch you!" The woman was surprised by the youth but still could see that her only option was what the man yelled. With one last look back, the young woman jumped from the ledge straight into the arms of Vaan. He easily caught the unidentified woman, but it seemed the soldiers were not going to just leave it at that.

"Thanks for the company, Vaan. Like we didn't need more attention." Balthier was a bit annoyed to say the least, but he got into a battle stance with his trusty gun. "Hurry pull back." Fran was more worried about the blond haired teen then the newcomer but he didn't have to know that. Placing the woman down, Vaan got into a fighting stance with his sword. The woman was no novice to the art of fighting and she too drew her sword and prepared her shield to block or parry the oncoming attacks.

The soldiers locked down the gates and readied to fight, but were surprised to see that they were equal in terms of numbers. "Kill the rest; it is the girl were after." Deciding to test the metal of these goons, Vaan swiped his sword across the leader's shoulder and was easily turned away. The leader showed some proficiency with the sword, but he was no where near Vaan's speed. Easily turning the slight into a charging run, Vaan had the leader on his back and unconscious in a matter of seconds.

While the other soldiers were occupied with watching their leader get knocked out by a kid, Fran, Balthier and the newcomer had launched their own attacks. Fran conjured forth fire and burned one of the soldiers to a crisp. While Balthier's gun made short work of another of the Empire's finest. With her sword and shield, the young woman cut in and out of the last soldier's defenses and sliced him across the stomach.

With the danger averted, introductions were made; it seemed the beautiful young woman was named Amalia. Though from the tell-tale look in her eyes, it wasn't her real name. Fortunately, Vaan and co. didn't care one bit; all that mattered was that they got out of the sewer. "Why don't you come along with us? It will be safer then escaping by yourself."

"I don't need chaperones."

"I am not saying you need anything, but a little company couldn't hurt." While Amalia was pondering this, Fran was wondering why the youth was so adamant about including the woman into the party. What finally convinced the woman was nothing the youth said, but what was in his pocket, the stone that Vaan had stolen from the palace picked that particular moment to start shining like a beacon in the darkness.

"Where did you get that?" Vaan was surprised that the young lady was so interested in the stone, "I took it from the palace vaults." The woman wasn't happy about that little transgression and she voiced her opinions about it, "Just a group a thieves then? I don't travel with thieves." Vaan wasn't surprised by the woman's statement; he knew that with her honorable mention about her troops and such. She seemed like someone that didn't like traitors or thieves, it was just something that exuded off her.

"That is fine, let's go Vaan." Balthier wasn't the least bit disappointed with that news; he didn't want anymore trouble if he could help it. From the tales that the woman spun, then it was obvious that if they traveled with her they would be in a lot of trouble. Walking away, Vaan looked back once more at the young woman, he couldn't just leave a woman alone in the sewer. It just didn't seem right, thus it was no surprise that he tapped Fran's shoulder and motioned her to follow Balthier while he headed back to Amalia.

Fran watched as the young man traveled back toward the woman, she was surprised that he would still go back when the woman called him a thief. Vaan tried to persuade Amalia to follow him, "I know that we are thieves, but it would be worse if you are hurt here. Your army won't win if their leader is taken or hurt, so what do you say?"

Amalia wasn't pleased about the whole thief issue, but she needed someone to get her out of the sewer. "I will travel with you, but once we are out then we go our separate ways, understand?"

Nodding his head, Vaan lead the way back to Fran and Balthier. "So the great leader has decided to join our lowly party, what's the occasion?"

"Knock if off Balthier, we could always use another sword." With the matter done with, Vaan and co. headed out of the Garamsythe Waterway. What they found while walking through the Waterway was that the area was littered with rats and bats flying around.

Luckily they were easily taken care of with their swords and long range attacks, unfortunately areas are not always what they seemed. A large open space seemed the perfect space to rest and recuperate for a bit, but unfortunately for the group it was also the perfect place for a ambush. Looking toward the ceiling Vaan was surprised to see a number of flans hanging from the cement.

"Disperse! The flan are ambushing, be careful of their slime it blinds you." The four split up and surrounded the slimes that seemed to want to eat them alive. Firing his gun into the green freaks, Balthier saw to his amazement that they swallowed the ammo and spit it back out. "Well that's not good." Fran was having better luck with her magic, casting fire on the slimes and watching them writhe and melt down.

Vaan was just trying to slash the flans to bits, it seemed that they didn't like the light from the stone he held. 'What the heck is this thing? Why do things shy away from it? And why does it feel like I feel better?' Amalia was watching the youth, it seemed he figured out how to pull some of power out of the stone. 'He can control it?' From the way the slimes were teetering off, it was a good thing that the youth was holding the stone. While Amalia was taking her mind off the slimes, they decided a little revenge was in order. Slinging slime straight at the young warrior, she was blinded by the horrible slimy concoction.

Vaan finished off his slime and looked around, it seemed Balthier was having a hard time with his, at least it looked that way from the way he was pounding the slime with the butt of his gun. Fran was left with puddles of slime, it seemed the slime didn't like fire. Amalia was slashing in the wrong direction, Vaan dug around in his pockets and soon found what he was looking for. Tossing the liquid in the bottle at Amalia, Vaan was happy to see that the slime peeled off of Amalia eyes and she could see once again.

With her eyesight back, Amalia made short work of the slime that had done the damage in the first place. Looking back at the blond haired youth, Amalia gave a smile and a nod of thanks. Vaan just laughed softly and nodded as well, walking over to check on his other companions Vaan didn't see the look that crossed Amalia's face.

Balthier was the worst for wear, he seemed to have beaten the last slime, but it was not without problems, it seemed he had lost a shoe. "Damn those slime, dissolved one of my shoes." Vaan was trying to contain his laughter, he felt a slight weight on his shoulder, looking back he saw Balthier's partner. "You okay Fran?"

"I am fine, but what was the stone doing?" Vaan tried to explain to Fran how the stone kept glowing when he was fighting. Fran was worried about power that was trapped in the stone and what it would do to Vaan. "I recommend that you throw that stone away, it is dangerous."

"Thanks for the advice Fran, but I think it'll be fine. I mean it hasn't done anything really big yet, just glow in the dark, kind of like a torch that never burns out." Shaking her head, Fran walked away and tried to think on why it mattered so much to her. Amalia waited for the trio to finish up their assessment of their situation and watched as they continued on. "Vaan, can I speak with you?"

"Something wrong Amalia?"

"I was just concerned about that stone you hold. It seems to hold some form of power that is unnatural."

"I understand your fear, Fran said the same thing, she even told me to throw it away."

"It may seem foolish now, but I see the good in that statement. It is a very powerful stone, the very glow is unsettling."

Vaan took the time to think about the stone while they were walking through the waterway and to the exit. Coming to the No. 10 Channel, they walked a little further and came to the Central Waterway Control. Feeling something odd in the air, Vaan looked down and saw that the stone was glowing brighter then ever.

'What is going on?' Hanging back a little, Vaan tried to figure out what the heck was up with the stone. 'It seems to glow whenever there is something wrong…oh no…' Hearing a scream to confirm his suspicions, Vaan runs through the Central Waterway entrance.

What he finds beyond the entrance is problematic to say the least. With the door closed shut behind him, Vaan knew that the horse in front of him was going to be trouble. The mane of fire kind of gave it away.

Author's notes: Now the group is going to square off against the dreaded Firemane, what are they going to do? Hopefully, Vaan can figure out how to use that blasted stone whatever it is. Any criticism is welcome, please review it really helps me with the story.