(Disclaimer: I hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this fanfic...including the one who's compensating.)


Chapter 1: Alexander vs. Celsius


"Give it," Rikku growled, her demanding tone no louder than a whisper.

"Mmm… E tuh'd drehg cu!" (I don't think so!) brother replied with a superior air, doing one of his really weird, squiggly stances.

"I said, give it here," Rikku repeated a bit louder. She shoved her gloved hand in his face, wriggling her fingers vigorously. She wasn't playing around.

"Hud ihdem oui cyo oui'na cunno!" (Not until you say you're sorry!) brother insisted in his loud, half pubescent, annoyingly pitched voice.

"Give…it…NOW," she now roared, pouncing at him with her fingers outstretched like claws. She swiped at him in midair, but missed as Brother narrowly dodged the attack. He knew right then that he had two options. One, he could give the dress sphere back to her, or two, he could run. Under any normal circumstances, the tall, tattooed, misunderstood Al Bhed pilot would avoid a heavy beating and give whatever it was that he took back. But this time, it was serious. This time, his little sister had crossed a line that no little sister should ever, EVER cross.

"Get back here!" Rikku screamed, charging after a fleeing Brother. For a tall, awkwardly build person, he was actually pretty fast, but his sibling was faster. The two raced down the hallway of the ship in full sprint. Rikku knew that Brother would try to get to the elevator to escape, but he would not be able to with her so close behind. For the moment, that's all that poor Brother could think about – getting into the safety of that elevator lift. He was never one to think two steps ahead in any situation.

Once at the doors to the elevator, Brother began to rapidly punch the Door button on the side, but was rammed in the back by the body of raging Rikku just as the doors cracked open to reveal someone inside. Within moments, Brother and Rikku where nothing but arms, legs, and cries of pain, all rumpled together in a dust cloud on the floor before the elevator doors. They did not even notice the legs of Buddy calmly walking over them with an amused arch in his brow.

Finally, Brother laid the winning blow, leaving Rikku down for the count. He ran into the elevator and pushed the button to close the doors and go up. 5…4… The doors were just beginning to close as Rikku unsteadily rose to her feet. 3…2… Brother laughed triumphantly and began to mock her.

1…

In a flash, Rikku grabbed Brother's extended hand as he made fun of her and jerked him forward, causing his head to thump loudly against the partially closed doors, as well as his arm to be crushed by the force of the elevator's mechanics working to close the door on him.

He howled and jerked back, allowing the door to close shut, and continued to howl all the way up to the Bridge of the ship. Rikku waited impatiently for the lift to make its way back down to her so that she could hop on and continue her chase. Her hair was a mess now, with one braid hanging annoyingly in her face and a few beads knocked out of her blonde locks. She smacked the braid away in irritation as she boarded the elevator. "You're gonna get it, you big meanie… You are sooooo going to get it…"

The doors opened to reveal a hallway that lead to a little balcony with short stairs on either side to reach the Bridge of the enormous airship, the Celsius. She darted down the hall, ignored the little stairs on the sides, and hopped right over the railing, landing with a tiny pat onto the gray metal floor, and glared around the room for any sign of Brother. Her dull green swirls met the figure of an awkward man hunched strangely over the navigation sphere, peering back ever so often to see if she was looking. When she began to charge over to him with something akin to murder in her eyes, he whimpered girlishly and turned around to face her.

"What the hell are you doing?" Cid, their father, asked curtly. He was standing beside Brother, staring directly at him, his finger almost at the boy's chest.

"Fryd, E tu hudrehk!" (What, I do nothing!) the tattooed young man stammered, throwing his hands up in defense. It was ridiculously obvious to see the small bulge in the front of his pants now, and that seemed to be what Cid was referring to, as he still said nothing and waited for an answer, no matter how stupid it would be, to come from Brother's denying mouth.

"Eew! That's my dress sphere!" Rikku cried, partly disgusted, partly defeated. She stomped at the floor, trying to keep herself from pulling her hair out by balling her fists at her sides.

Cid slapped his hand to his forehead loudly and growled. Of all the children I could have had, I had to get the two clinically insane ones… A small, bright red light flashed over the hand on his forehead from the navigation sphere. He missed what had happened, as he was too busy trying to figure out why the hell he even wanted to have children, but his eye caught the change of light over his eyelids. He lowered his hand and squinted at the grid in the sphere. Again, a red light flashed over his face, only this time it was not a soft, innocent interruption. Cid's skin turned ghastly white in color, and his pupils dilated almost immediately as he stared down at the panel.

It took a few moments for his brain to register commands and use them accordingly. Above the sounds of Rikku's whining and Brother's complaining, Cid suddenly bellowed as loudly and as clearly as possible, "EVASIVE MANUVERS!"

The entire atmosphere had lost not just sound, but a sense of time, as well. Rikku's cries suddenly melted into a slight whimper of confusion melded with worry. Brother had ceased squirming around in his wormy way to become as limp as a dead fish. Even Shinra, the boy genius, whom was so quiet that no one even knew he was sitting in his usual spot, working away, turned now to face Cid and utter the one word that was on everyone's tongue. "…What?"

Cid clapped Brother on the shoulder to push him toward his station in the middle of the two other pilot control panels and started motioning for Rikku to stop being a frozen muskrat and start helping, all the while answering Shinra's question. "What do you mean, what? We're under attack! DO something! And if you don't have anything to do, just invent something – I really don't care!"

Even though Brother was weird, wimpy, and very much unattractive, there was one thing that he was so good at that no one aboard the Celsius could ever top him, and that was piloting a ship. Usually, Buddy did most of the work to his left, as Brother liked to be lazy and daydream about being with the woman of his dreams, the only person to ever bring the Eternal Calm to Spira… But now was no time for dreams. He locked himself in, set his hands on the controls, and began to work.

Where Brother was good at using machina, Rikku was good at fixing machina or taking it apart properly. When it came to piloting a ship, she knew nothing except that when you're about to die in one, pull the lever that says "eject" on it. While Shinra used his comm spheres attached to the bow and stern of the ship to get an idea of what was going on outside the Celsius, Cid recalled orders and Brother followed, gliding the enormous boat easily through the air. Rikku did the only thing she knew how do to in situations like these – she ran to the navigation panel to pretend she knew what she was doing. She had now forgotten all about the stolen dress sphere now.

The navigation panel was not completely difficult to understand. It was a big, blue sphere in the middle of the room, standing on top of a royal red colored plate that held a yellow phoenix logo on it. The sphere acted as a three dimensional grid of what was going on around them using an X, a Y, and a Z axis. Neon lines of brilliant, pink light ran through the floor all around the room, cutting through the middle and attaching to all of the navigation systems and panels, and of course, the nav sphere that Rikku now attempted to decipher. She squinted to see the tiny green dot in the middle of the grid – that was them – and circled around the sphere, waiting to see anything else.

"I got him," Shinra announced rather calmly for just a kid, but then again, he was more than what he would lead others to believe. Cid immediately hurried over to him and followed Shinra's pointing finger to a spot on one of the com sphere monitors, then grunted.

"What if they have weapons or something?" Rikku suddenly asked. She resembled a timid rabbit now huddled near the nav sphere, with droopy ears and big, worried eyes to match.

"Then we'll have to avoid them!" Cid said confidently.

"We should really get weapons, too!" the blonde girl replied sulking, turning back to the nav sphere to now see a tiny black dot in the very tip of the upper corner of the grid. "Oooh, oooh! I see something! Pops, I see something!" She was practically jumping up and down, pointing and Ooh-ing the whole time as Cid walked briskly to her. Indeed, the dot was there, and coming fast.

Rikku jumped back as Cid began shouting things to Brother and asking where Buddy was, while Shinra was also reading off information. She suddenly felt…useless. The one thing the little sneak hated was to feel useless. She felt that way around the Guardians many times before, all those years ago, despite what anyone (or herself) told her. All she could do was watch as the black dot came closer, and closer, and closer…until finally, you could hear its engines and spheres over exerting themselves and roaring with their last dying breaths right outside. It was like the people aboard whatever ship was after them was going to hit them, but whether it was on purpose, or because their ship's engines were failing, no one could tell.

She to the large, thick, clear windows at the bow of the airship, where there appeared to be nothing but deep, blue skies and great, white clouds below. But soon, as the roaring grew louder, something could just barely be seen coming from the eastern side of the Celsius. Rikku immediately recognized it as an old 342 MK 8 model airship, also known as an Alexander, but it looked as though it had not been taken care of since its making. From the looks of it, it wouldn't last long, either. The Celsius glided effortlessly upward to allow the old airship to pass by beneath them, but as soon as they had dipped up, the Alexander swerved upward on a course set directly for Cid's ship. Rikku could hear her father growling as he watched the other ship's actions.

"Hard right; dive at the last minute!" Cid ordered, and Brother nodded with a grunt of acknowledgment. Force would keep everyone's feet planted on the ground in case of the ship turning, but straps would be needed in case of a crash. Unfortunately, Cid never installed any, just as he never thought to put weapons on the Celsius, so everyone found something to hold on to and hoped that they wouldn't be knocked around like a rag doll. Rikku hopped into Buddy's seat just before the Alexander came within their area of safety, and Brother immediately went into a swirling bird dive, the entire airship croaking and groaning as it twirled like a graceful giant and began to fall down. The Alexander missed them by inches.

The entire crew watched in awe as the old, ragged Alexander passed by them, smoke billowing from behind it. The Celsius creaked and groaned, as though complaining, for it was not meant to be flown in circles and crazy spirals. Cid was the first to speak again, breaking the shock and tension in the air. "Okay… Shinra, do you still have those rocket suit things you were talking about?"

"You mean rocket propelled le-"

"-Good, go get two. Rikku, you're going with him."

"But why? What for?" she asked, tilting her head.

"That ship isn't going to last long, and who ever tried to hit us is in there – I wanna know why!" he demanded, the vein on the side of his head pulsing. "I don't care if you have to beat them senselessly, just bring some of them aboard so we can sort this ordeal."

"Why can't you do it?" Shinra asked, a hint of suspicion in his voice. "You're the boss. Shouldn't you be going with your landing party?"

"A captain goes down with his ship," Cid proudly exclaimed, puffing out his chest. "In case the ship does go down, I have to be here for it." When Shinra and Rikku only stared at him, he flashed them a sharp look of impatience. "Well, what're waitin' for?"

"Pops, I need my Thief dress sphere," Rikku complained, eyes glaring directly at Brother with venom so thick, it almost made him sick.

Cid was getting very angry very quickly. "We don't have time for this!" he cried out, pushing her and Shinra toward the steps to the hallway where the elevator doors waited at the end. "You can argue with your brother later – Go!"