This was entirely unacceptable.

Something had gone wrong, and his mistress was in danger. Worse of, was the large man known as 'Snow' and the petite redhead called 'Vanille' had tried to prevent him from reaching her. Shiny was displeased, they had only moved when the machine's reasoning had led to the stolen Orion pointing its cannon in Snow's face.

He had promptly moved, allowing Shiny to very another shot.

Shiny wasn't entirely sure he would've fired and killed the large l'Cie, but whatever the disturbance was rising in his computing cycles, made him think he would've. The machine supposed that it was as close to frustration a mechanical entity could feel. It had been wholly undesirable, making true logical decisions nearly impossible.

The feeling didn't leave, as even with shots he was doing, this was not the most immediate way of aiding his mistress and her companion.

Shiny stopped his assault, and thought everything through in a second. Turning, the massive mechanical monster moved towards Vanille.

"Uhhh, hi Shiny…" She gulped, showing obvious signs of distrust and nervousness.

Shiny gestured towards the pipe.

"I… Don't get it." Vanille admitted, taking a step back.

Snow frowned. "He wants you to go help Fang and Vanille."

"WHAT?" The girl yelped, scurrying from her place so she was hiding behind Snow. "Nuh uh, no way, you heard them earlier! There could be Flan!"

"If there is, then they need you." Snow nodded, turning to face his little friend. "Fang can't use magic to save her life, and Lightning probably can't."

"No!" She cried, glancing at the grate entrance nervously. "I'm useless with flan, they're… They… They'll try to eat me!"

"They'll eat Fang if you don't help." The man persisted. "You have magic, and you're ten times more powerful then you give yourself credit for. I've seen it." Snow reflected back to the wateraga spell. "You have to help them."

Vanille gulped as she turned to the narrow, small shaft she would have to crawl through. In her mind she was wondering if she could backpedal fast enough to avoid the creatures if they attacked her. She wanted to help Lightning and Fang, hell back in the ruin she had sworn to be like a soldier, to be strong and brave. But what had ensued had been a royal disaster, what if she messed up again? What if she hurt the two down there?

Shiny nudged her closer, humming quietly as encouragement.

Goddess protect me, I need your strength to face my fears.

They had shut the massive metal door Lightning had forced opened minutes before, and now sat on the opposing side of the room, panting. The duo had discovered, in some sort of attempt to fight back, that Fang's ability with magic was completely linked with her emotions, and even then, the spells she managed to pump out were exceedingly weak against a foe that big.

Fang had just stopped and stared at the sheer size of the thing, it took up 70% of the room, and still more of it was oozing out of the pipes it had plugged. Since its initial sneak attack, it had gone from near-invisible to a milky appearance, with four arms, and a giant gaping mouth, all of which dripped its gelatine body back into the drainage pond. Its eyes were still clear though, perhaps having something to do with its blindness.

Lightning had been the one to pull Fang backwards, away from a blind swipe that would've creamed the woman in one hit.

"Maker," Fang breathed, looking up at the ceiling. "I thought the behemoth was bad."

Lightning was quiet, staring at the door with a gaze that was cool, and collected, much like the one she used to carry before this mess had begun.

"It's going to get through that door." The sergeant stated flatly.

Why is her brand renewed? And why isn't it like the rest of ours?

"Suppose we shouldn't have fired that guy eh?"

"We should've killed him and taken his key card." Lightning answered.

Fang chuckled a bit, cradling her wrist. "Eh, not to be a pest-"

"Too late for that."

The woman rolled her eyes. "Could you fix my wrist now?"

Light looked over at Fang's hand and then shifted. She was surprisingly gentle when she took the wounded limb, examining the wrist before she pressed on it. Fang hissed, and resisted the urge to yank it from the woman's grasp. The sergeant of course, was making sure she hadn't dislodged any of the tiny bones. Of course, there was no true way to make sure without using magic.

Only Lightning couldn't use magic anymore, she was an ordinary human.

"This is going to hurt." Lightning stated, giving Fang little warning before she popped her hand back into place.

Fang let out a loud curse, which was answered by a Flan's incoherent gurgling.

Light then pulled out of her satchel, a small bottle that was nearly empty of the red liquid supposed to be in it. She handed it to Fang.

"Drink it. It'll fix whatever I missed."

The last of the liquid was gone in a flash, and there was a sharp pop heard from Fang's wrist before she rolled it and cracked it.

"Much better."



Lightning didn't enjoy dancing around the topic, and seeing as they were trapped here, in some damn drainage control center, about to be consumed by a giant sewer flan, she saw no reason to avoid it.

"Why is your brand different?"

"I told you, I made a deal with the devil."

Lightning had turned back to facing the door. "So which devil did you shake the hand of?"

"It doesn't matter," Fang countered, not wanting to talk about it. "This is your topic of conversation choice?"

"Would 'hey Fang, we're about to die' be better?"

"How about 'Hey Fang, take me now, take me hard'?"

Lightning snorted, hanging her head. "I'll remember that for the next time."

"Oh, there's gonna be a next time!" Fang joked, watching a tiny about of gel behind to seep in, around the door. "That's inspiring, how'd you figure we'd get out of this?"

"How long do you figure they'll let Shiny blast away at the pipeline before the dynamic duo decides to do something?"

Fang snickered, nudging Lightning playfully. "Dynamic duo, sometimes, dumb and dumber would do it for them."

"Never thought I'd hear you call Vanille…" Lightning chose her next word carefully, not wanting to edge the tribeswoman on. "Daft..."

"Vanille is many, wonderful things." Fang reminisced, leaning back with her hands behind her head. "Brilliance, sadly, ain't one of her qualities."

There was a suddenly thunderous boom before the creature could've only let out a noise it considered a howl of pain. The duo instantly perked up, taking to their feet quickly as the substance that was once threatening to reach them retracted quickly. Fang was off first, wrenching the door sideways before she was skid-addling down the steps, with Lightning hot on her heels.

The flan was now facing a very frantic, very scared red-head. Vanille hadn't even bothered to reveal her staff; instead she stood up to her knees in water, her hair frazzled and her hands sparkling with electrical energy. The monster was swinging its arms wildly about, trying desperately to figure out where in the world that thunder spell had come from.

"Vanille?" Fang cried, and let out a string of curses as she was forced to roll into the water to avoid, not one, but two giant arms that came crashing down where she had been. Lightning let out a yelp and back-pedalled, skilfully making her way back up the stairs. The gelatine arms retracted, rising up into the air again before the came crashing down around the recovering Fang.

"Fang look out!" Vanille shrieked, electricity flying from her hands and crashing into the sewer creature. The electricity ran through its body and into the water, before it zapped both the mage and the stumbling warrior.

"Oh Maker that stings." Fang cursed, cutting off curse as the flan came at her again. She leapt, hands grasping at the grate in the ceiling. She smirked confidently as she swung her body up and planted herself up there, watching as the monsters arms splashed and threw water around down below her.

Lightning gave Fang one glance at her peculiar position before she noticed the Flan had turned. It now swung wildly where it thought Vanille was, and with the red-heads frightened screams, it was relatively easily to figure out where the magic-user was scrambling.

"Fang use a spell!"

Fang let one hand go of the grate she was clinging to and concentrated. Yellow wisps danced around her hand before tiny sparks began to sizzle and bounce away from the woman.

Lightning locked eyes with Vanille. "Jump!"

The spell flew forward, and zapped the flan in the back. Vanille jumped at the right moment, dodging he veins of electricity dancing in the pool.

Why did I shout again? Lightning frowned, leaping from the edge of the stairs to a risen platform a good couple of feet away. That spell couldn't have stunned a damn fish, let alone Vanille!

"Light, get Vanille!" Fang ordered, swinging from one ceiling grate to another. Magic danced around her hand again, this time packing more of a punch as Fang focused more of her energy usually reserved for physical confrontations into magic aura. The bolt shot out from her hand and struck the Flan hard enough to blast some of its body away and onto the walls.

Lightning had mimicked Fang, she hung from there ceiling, though not nearly as impressively as her Gran Pulsian friend. With both hands on the bar, she caught Vanille's shoulders with her feet and lifted her up.

It was like a very painful, very contorted version of weight-lifting. Something that Lightning was not built to do, though her legs possessed considerable strength, swinging her friend up, and out of water instantly made her thighs and abdomen feel the proverbial burn as Vanille yelped and flew upwards.

She hit the shallow water with a splash just as the thunder spell dissipate from the water.

"Vanille get out of the water." Lightning spoke calmly, gripping the bars tighter before she swung, and let go. Her feet landed nimbly on another, small, raised platform.

Vanille scrambled out and stood wobbly on a platform similar to Light's.

"Snow," Lightning shouted down the pipe. "We could really use weapons at this point in time!"

There was a clang before a bright red spear appeared. Light's hand had just grasped it when all of the Flan's limbs came down on the woman and the weapon. The spear went flying into the pool, and Lightning had just managed to hop back to a safe distance.

Oh for the love of Eden, the sergeant gritted her teeth.

"Good going sunshine!"

"Shut up Fang."

"Guys don't argue you!"

The flan, admits all the arguing, had chosen that Lightning was the appropriate target to pursue. Blind throwing of limbs should've been easy for the sergeant to dodge, but usually her opponents had two arms, and weren't the size of a bloody fal'Cie. She nimbly rolled out of the way of one hand and then hi-jump over another before snapping her fingers.

One gravity-defying trick later, and she had cleared all but one hand. It came out of nowhere and wrapped its greasy self around the soldier. Lightning gasped, the flan was cool and her skin began to tingle as the gelatine monster's hand began to absorb her inwards.

"Shock it!" Lightning growled, fighting to keep her head above the Flan's surface. "Damn it, shock-"

Neither of her friends looked too happy with the idea. Fang was the first to begin to charge a spell though. Lightning's eyes narrowed as she was fully tugged into the creature, some sort of self-generated gravity dragging her towards where its stomach should be.

Vanille too, began to charge a spell.

This was going to hurt, Lightning noted dully, trying her best to stay instead the flailing arm. It was one thing to get hit by a spell when you were a l'Cie, but for all intensive purposes, she was human. She was normal; there was no special resistance or force that was going to help her. Hell, Hope wasn't even here to cast shell on her.

There were two, near simultaneous flashes that turned Lightning's vision white.