Disclaimer: I do not own Star Ocean, but I do own the plot of this story.

Note: First chapter is up, reviews are appreciated.


Dirty Secrets

By: Kikushi

Sophia squinted in the dark as she made her way to Palmira Plains. Ever since since she had reunited with Fayt and the rest of the crew, she had taken to secretly training at night. She out of all people knew best about how indecent and inappropriate it was for a young girl her age to be traveling alone at such a late hour. Still, she didn't want to be a burden.

The little village of Arias had fascinated Sophia ever since she had first set her eyes on it. She had never been to an underdeveloped planet before and simple things such as wheelbarrows and water wells made her eyes widen with curiosity. It wasn't that she didn't know what they were used for. No, in fact, she had been educated in the subject of underdeveloped planets. She was just so excited whenever she saw things that she normally wouldn't find on Earth.

Halting her steps, Sophia glanced back at the inn, just to make sure that no one had seen or followed her outside. She frowned when she found no one. She was sure that someone had been behind her… a cat, maybe?

Mentally shrugging, Sophia continued to her destination, humming softly to ease the little bubble of fear that she felt every time she stepped into the dark night. She turned a corner, secretly wishing that no one was there. Her silent pleading was heard, for the streets were again, empty. She sighed out loud in relief. Sophia recalled back to a week ago when she had accidentally bumped into Albel. She was so startled that she had sped away shyly, earning a narrowed glare from him, dripping with suspicions.

Out of the whole crew, Albel was her least favorite. Fayt, of course, was her favorite in the crew. She had known him all her life and he always looked out for her. Her next favorite was Nel. Nel was always about the mission, but she never failed to stop and ask if everything was going okay for her. Even though she was really busy, she always had the time to listen. Adray was like an uncle to her. Crazy as he might be, Sophia liked him. Mirage and Cliff were both nice to her. Mirage was obviously the silent-but-polite type and Cliff was the kind of in-your-face person that Sophia really didn't appreciate. Maria was okay. She never seemed to have time to talk to her in particular, though. Then, there was Albel- silent and cold, heartless on the battlefield, merciless to others, and ever so good-looking. Sophia didn't know much about him. He barely talked at all and if he ever did, he was usually responding to a question asked by Fayt. He was mysterious- a quality that Sophia liked. But at the same time, he was mean and cold to others and that's why Sophia feared and disliked him. Though she had never caught him in the act of meanness, she trusted Fayt's words when he had told her to stay away from him.

She slipped through the gates and rushed out into the plains. Wind rushed through her hair and she took a deep breath.

"Okay…" she mumbled, drawing out her staff, "I can do this."

Her eyes darted around for an unsuspecting enemy. The silence and suspense made Sophia's heart beat faster. She glanced towards her right, catching some far away movement in the distance. Taking slow and hesitant steps, she approached the figure.

It was an Enforcer! It turned to meet her and immediately started casting Dark Sphere. Thinking quickly, she raised her staff and thought to yell, "Fire bolt!" Instead, her mind flashed on another word and it blurted out of her mouth. "Explosion!"

Sophia gasped at the mistake. Thinking that she would get hit with the Enforcer's spell, she shut her eyes tightly and waited for the blow. She heard a frightening explosion, but she felt not a thing. Cracking one eye open fearfully, the Enforcer was nowhere to be seen.

"W-what happened?" she whispered, turning her head and frantically looking for the Enforcer, "Where did it go?"

It took several minutes for Sophia to finally land on the right conclusion. Her eyes widened. "I did that…?"

Pleased with herself, she started to walk back to Arias. She decided to skip training tonight. She couldn't wait until the day came when she could finally prove herself to the others. No one had called her into battle before, although they have been into battle countless of times. She was just the healing aid. Smiling to herself, Sophia knew that she had finally caught up with the others. It took several days of hard work and waking up with sore limbs, but it finally paid off.

As she crawled back into her bed that night, Sophia fell asleep at once, a smile plastered on her face and not knowing that someone had, indeed, followed her out of the inn that night.

"Sophia?"

Sophia groaned, lifting a hand to rub at her eyes.

"Sophia, breakfast is downstairs. We are leaving soon."

Sophia opened her eyes sleepily and stared at her roommate, Mirage. She was smiling down at her, already prepared to go. Sophia yawned and smiled back. "Okay. Thanks."

"Everyone will be gathered next to the fountain in front of the gate to Palmira Plains in twenty minutes," Mirage called as she walked out of the room.

Sophia sat up, stretching. She couldn't wait to go to battle and impress Fayt. She rushed into the bathroom for a quick shower, got dressed, grabbed her staff, and headed quickly downstairs with five minutes to spare. She greeted everyone she passed by on the way to the kitchen with a smile and a cheerful, "Good Morning!" As she entered the kitchen, she eyed the other occupants in the room. There were only four tables and two chairs at each. Two of the tables were empty and two were occupied. On one table, a nobleman and his wife were having an animated discussion over a cup of tea. On the other table in the very back of the room was none other than Albel. He was sitting alone with his eyes closed, seemingly blending in the shadows.

Sophia slowly moved towards the counter and grabbed the nearest fruit her hand could reach. She decided to eat the fruit outside the inn. Besides, fresh air would do her good. Before she turned to go, she decided to take another cautious peek at Albel, wondering what he was doing. At the same time she turned her head to look at him, his eyes snapped open in her direction. He gave her another one of his cold and suspicious stare through his dangerously narrowed eyes. Sophia was startled at first, but remembering that she was no longer a helpless weakling, she stormed over to him, swallowing her fear. Why was he always looking at her like she was some criminal? If anyone was the criminal, it was him, Sophia decided. She bit her lip, erasing the thought.

Albel didn't remove his stare, even when Sophia finally reached him and stood beside where he was sitting. He simply raised his head to meet her eyes.

"Pardon me, Mr. Nox, but is there a problem?" Sophia asked, trying to match his glare.

He growled, standing. Sophia noted how much taller he was than her and backed away a few steps.

"Getting a little tough now, eh, maggot?"

Sophia blinked. "What?"

Albel took a step towards her, sneering, "Don't think I haven't seen you sneaking out at night."

Sophia's eyes widened in realization. Her cheeks turned red. "What of it?" she asked, unfazed by his glare, "I don't see anything wrong with training at night."

Albel snorted. "Fool. You're wasting your time. Once a weakling, always a weakling."

Sophia watched as he stalked past her and out of the inn. She forced herself not to be hurt by his words.

There was a soft vibration and Sophia looked around, making sure that none of her crew members were present to see her. She pushed up her left arm sleeve to reveal a simple watch. Scanning the room one more time, she pressed a button on the side of the watch and immediately, the vibrating stopped. Biwig's face appeared on the tiny surface of the watch.

"Remember your mission," the Vendeeni leader spoke in a chilling voice, "Or else your parents and your blue-haired friend will die."

"Of course," Sophia replied in a monotone voice, wiping any emotion off her face, "The yellow-haired girl named Mirage is my target tonight. I will see to it that she is properly terminated."

"Perfect," Biwig hissed, sending chills down Sophia's spine. "Remember this, when the time comes, bring the blue-haired girl to me alive. The rest, kill them."

For a moment, Sophia hesitated. Biwig noticed this and spoke, "But not the blue-haired boy, of course. When you deliver the girl, be sure to bring your friend too."

Fear flickered over Sophia's eyes. "You won't do anything to Maria and Fayt, would you?"

Biwig smiled a horrible smile. "Of course not. I just have a few questions to ask and then you and your friends will be dropped off to Earth to see your parents again."

"Agreed," Sophia said. Biwig's face disappeared and the watch turned back to its normal state. She was five minutes late. Rolling her sleeve down to cover the watch, she walked out of the inn and headed to the fountain. She took one bite of the fruit that she had taken and tossed it away. She wasn't feeling hungry right now.


Note: Second chapter is coming soon. Tell me how you liked it so far and what you want to happen next. Plot suggestions are always welcome. :) -Kikushi