Authors Note: I do apologize for the late chapter. Work keeps me very, very busy. Also, let me know how I'm doing. I think I probably could have done better on this chapter in a lot of ways.

FireWalker

Well, we found another use for the harpoon today. Just like you'd find coral reefs in the sea. Here on Arcadia, they have stone reefs. Basically, it's a somewhat dense asteroid belt. Well, the harpoon was well advertised. It shattered right through the reef and kept on going. So we reeled it in and kept firing until we had a hole large enough to fly through. Ingenious, right? Our trip thus far has now taken us into Nasr, more specifically into the desert town of Maramba. And that is currently where we are stuck. My valkyrie is half buried in the sand and the Little Jack is nowhere to be found. The old bastard actually had the balls to dump us here. Now, technically, I could carry a passenger in my lap, but that still leaves two here. So that's a no-go. And I'm not gonna leave them here and go to get help. I had enough old school Rupees locked away in my cargo bay for emergencies, which means shelter and food isn't a problem. So we are on our own. Vyse is currently wandering the town looking for information about old ruins and legends. And I am currently digging out my valkyrie. If I EVER see that rusty old bastard again, we'll see how much he likes forty millimeter shells ripping his boat to shreds...

You know, I just realized something good about all this. The heat here reminds me a lot of home. It's funny... Kharak is gone and here is a village that could have been taken... right...out...? What the hell? That's a Goddess damned TRIFORCE marking on that well! No, I'm serious. Now I'm damn curious as to the relationship between the Hylians and Arcadians. Cause I just found a link in a freaking desert village.

Every time I write in this thing, Aika gives me funny looks. She tells me its because of the faces I make while looking around and thinking. I think she just wants to read it. Of all of us, Aika and I are having the easiest time with the heat. Vyse, who is used to hard work, is adjusting...slowly. Fina, though, is the one we are worried about. I don't know where she is from, though my suspicions are growing, but she is not a person for heat. I also just had a thought about Vyse... well, another one. The way things are shaping up, he'll be captain of a ship in no time at all. And any crew he gets will need to be disciplined and able to work together. So, my idea is to put his new crew through a crash course in Hylian military training. I'll run it by Vyse later, but I think he may like the idea. Today, though, they are taking a trip to the local pub and inn. And I still need to dig out that damn plane...it's going to be a long day...

From the Journals of Sora Hyrin

IS*IS*IS*IS*

Two days have passed since Drachma had abandoned the four friends in Maramba. And while Vyse, Aika, and Fina went to find information on the Crystal and it location, Sora was currently digging sand out of his portside engine and was already halfway inside it. Digging his fingers into a crevice, a large pile of sand broke off and landed on his head. "I'm going to kill..." "Hey Mister!" Sora, not expecting the call, jumped and smacked straight into a thruster assembly. "Ow..." Crawling out, he saw a small Nasrian boy there.

"What you need, kid? I kinda need to get back to work."

"What'cha doin'?"

"Trying to get sand out of my engine."

"Why?"

"Cuz sand in my engine is bad."

"Why is it bad? I like sand."

Sora sighed and sat down. "I don't mind sand. But sand melts and gums things up when it gets really hot. Can I get back to work now?"

The kid nodded and ran back down the road. 'Back to the grind. Stupid desert is too much like home. Even the kids are annoying.' Crawling back inside the engine, he went back to digging.

It was midday when they returned and Sora heard them talking as they got closer. Listening to their conversation, he continued digging into the sand.

"Damn it, Vyse. Something is definitely fishy here and you are being too... too... MALE to notice it. That...woman... offers a ride for nothing. NOTHING! She's a dancer at the pub!"

Sora, laughing to himself, crawled out of the engine. Then, he heard Fina's response.

"I think she likes him. Who wouldn't like him?" He snorted at this.

"That's not the point, Fina. Something is really wrong here and …"

"It'll be fine, Aika. You'll see."

Finally the trio arrived as Sora dusted himself off. "Sounds like you found something?"

Vyse nodded. "Yep. The crystal was buried in the Temple of Pryrnn. A woman with a ship is willing to take us there and back tomorrow morning."

Sora, too, thought that sounded fishy. "And why couldn't she go now?"

"She said she needed a day to prepare."

"Vyse. Something about that sounds strange. She just needs to start the engine, fly out there, sit there, and fly back. I'm gonna agree with Aika on this one. Something about that doesn't make sense."

"You would agree with her." At this, Aika went red in the face and Fina took a step back. Sora stepped forward and looked Vyse in the eye.

"Vyse. I want you to listen very carefully. If she is a dancer, she shouldn't have a ship. Dancers don't make that much. If she has a ship, someone gave or borrowed it to her. What if that someone is a certain greying Admiral named Galcian who is paying her to keep tabs on us? Start thinking outside the box. Play along for now, but watch her closely. Something will happen tomorrow. Count on it." Turning around, he crawled up and into the cockpit. Aika, watched him, then turned to the others. "Go on ahead. I'll be there in a bit." Vyse and Fina nodded, then walked off towards the Inn.

Aika sat next to one of the valkyrie's legs as it stood in GERWALK mode. Exhausted from her arguing with Vyse, she barely noticed the sun beating down on her. Sora, however, saw her and moved one of the arms over her head. Looking at the radar, he saw a couple of contacts moving away, but nothing unusual. Shutting down the valkyrie, he climbed down and sat next to Aika. "Long day, huh?" She hummed a yes and started to nod off. "Hey now, don't fall asleep. The Brat might be back soon!" She looked at him. "Brat?" "Yeah, this little kid that keeps sneaking up on me, making me jump and bash my head inside my engine. Then he asks a lot of annoying questions until I throw something at him. He comes around every hour or so." She laughed as, sure enough, the kid was walking up towards them. "See! See! This is what I deal with."

"So mister, are you done?"

"Yes, I'm done. And now I'm trying to relax."

"Why? Now you can play."

"No... Now I can sleep." Aika snorted, then blushed as she realized what she had done.

"But I want to play..."

"Kid, listen. I've been at this for two days and two nights. I need sleep. When I don't sleep, I get jumpy. And when I get jumpy..." he threw his boot knife into a nearby tree, "things and people get hurt. I like you, kid. You got a big heart. I don't wanna hurt you, k?"

By this point, Aika was rolling with laughter. The kid, seeing a lost cause, began running to find his friends. "Wow. I feel sorry for you now, Sora. Maybe I can think of something to brighten your day." Sora leaned back and rested against the leg of the valkyrie, closing his eyes. "You don't have to mmph..." His eyes snapping open, he saw and felt Aika's lips on his. Then, as quickly as it happened, she pulled away and then leaned back as well with a slight blush. Quickly falling asleep, a small smile appeared on her face. "Well, I'll be damned. Wasn't expecting that. But I'm not gonna complain either. Leaning over, he planted a small peck on her forehead, then leaned back again. Closing his eyes, he too fell asleep.

Vyse awoke early the next morning with a nagging feeling in his mind. Looking at Sora's bunk, he found it empty. 'Odd... he likes his sleep.' Moving to the hall, he peeked into the girls room to find only Fina, also sleeping. 'Aika isn't here either...?' Waking Fina, the two of them proceeded outside and towards the valkyrie. The sight that greeted them was one they had only seen once before, and this time in broad daylight. Sora and Aika were sleeping peacefully. Aika had a grip on Sora not unlike that of a teddy bear. Sora, however, just lay there oblivious to the world. Both of them had smiles on their faces. "Well...I never expected this. Well, this soon anyway." Fina giggled as Aika gave Sora a squeeze in her sleep. "Well, it is kind of cute, Vyse."

As one, the two of them awoke slowly. Then, as if it happened everyday, untangled themselves from each other. Still oblivious to their watchers, they got in a quick kiss before Vyse cleared his throat. "Hi Vyse." Both had a slight blush, but showed absolutely no shame. "Sleep well, guys?" Both nodded, again as one. Vyse was finding this whole thing odd. "How are you feeling?" "Like a million rupees/gold pieces." Now he was worried. The responses were right... but were from the wrong people. "Aika, why did you say rupees? And why did you say gold?" Both looked at each other as if silently conversing. As both moved to speak, they suddenly closed their mouths. Finally, Sora answered. "I think what we have is actually a very rare occurrence... Though now that I think about it, it seems pretty common in my family. It's simply called a bond or link. Thoughts and feelings could be sent back and forth and, with practice, over long distances. I thought it was only a Hylian thing though." Aika went into thought and then Sora suddenly coughed and spluttered. "I HEARD THAT, AIKA! And no, Vyse, I will NOT repeat it." Aika simply laughed and Vyse shook his head, chuckling. "This is gonna take some getting used to."

The trip out to the Temple of Pryrnn took almost the whole day. Vyse, Aika, and Fina went with the dancer in order to give no indication there was a fourth person in their group. Sora trailed above them in Upper Sky, waiting for a chance to land and head into the temple.

Everything okay, Aika?~

Yes. And I keep getting funny looks because it looks like I'm smiling randomly.~

Alright, well I'm about two miles above you hiding in the sun. I can see what looks like the Temple up ahead. I'm gonna land and keep out of sight.~

Kay. See you soon.~

Punching the throttle, the wings folded back and the now familiar double-crack echoed through the air. Landing behind the temple, he punched up the remote pilot program. 'Let's see...What does this thing do?' Setting up the system, he found it was surprisingly simple. 'I love new technology. With this set, I just send a signal and it comes to get me.' Hearing Aika's laughter in his head, he sent back, ~Hey now, I am not easily amused, besides I don't poke around in your head. I might find something traumatizing in there.~ ~Who knows... You might like it.~

Blushing, Sora closed the link and shut down his engines. It didn't take long for the small Nasrian craft to arrive. Just as expected Bellena, the dancer, refused to enter the temple. "I'm a dancer, not a fighter. Only thing I'd do is distract you." As the rest approached me, I came out of hiding. "Well... Shall we?" And, once more a group of four, they entered the ancient temple.

IS*IS*IS*IS*

The temple was something I found to be extraordinary. Everything from the brick work to the style of art intrigued me. It reminded me heavily of home. Then I saw something. Engraved on one wall, seemingly out of place, was a single phrase in Ancient Hylian. Translated, it said, 'Here lies the power of Din's fiery hands.' Okay, now this is freaking me out a bit. Aika was able to pick up on my unease. Further in was another word, one that meant Fire Eater. As we had continued to explore, we were finding Ancient Hylian everywhere. Maybe I'm not really all that far from home. Fina could also read the ancient language, saying it was a dialect of Silvite. So now I'm wondering just where did my people come from. Did we come from Arcadia before the Rains? Or did we settle here once before and then leave again? The answers, some of them at least, lie on Arcadia. And I swear I'm going to find them.

From the Journals of Sora Hyrin

IS*IS*IS*IS*

As the group traversed the temple, torches would light by themselves. Murals of ancient scenes and battles covered the walls in a never-ending story. As Sora read through the murals, he saw an ancient legend drawn out. "The hero's triumph," the other turned to look at him as he traced the mural, "on cataclysm's eve wields three tokens of virtue. The Master Blade he will then receive, keeping the knight's line true..." "What's that mean, Sora?" Looking further down the wall, he saw an image of the Imprisoning War. "This isn't a mural of Nasrian history. Its a mural of Ancient Hylian history.

"This... is a depiction of the Imprisoning war. That quote was the world's first reference to the Hero of Time. But this, this shouldn't be here. Something doesn't add up."

Walking further down, they saw another mural. "Do you know this one?" Sora nodded.

"The Battle of Good and Evil. This is actually a battle from my family history... though, I'd rather not talk about it right now." The murals ended there, the rest have been corroded or destroyed beyond recognition. In place of the murals, written in Ancient Hylian, was a single sentence. "Beware the Wyrm?"

Deeper and deeper underground they went, following the temple corridors. As they continued descending, the temperature began to rise. "This... is seriously not normal. Even out here, it should be getting cooler as we go down." Fina shook her head. "We are getting closer to the Red Crystal. Because of that, the area around the crystal is warped by its power and that in turn heats the area." "Are you telling me we are collecting a crystalline blast furnace?" "No, the crystal itself is cool. Its the energy it gives off that heats the air."

Entering a large room, a lava flow split the room in half. On one side, the party stood. On the other, the crystal hovered silently above a pedestal. A Triforce mark adorned the pedestal dead center. High above, written on the ceiling, was a single Hylian word that caused Sora to pull the others back. "What is it, Sora?" Pointing at the word, he said, "In Hylian history, a dragon plagued the Gorons for generations. This beast was unique in that it lived and thrived in lava flows. Only a special hammer allowed enough force to be delivered to hurt it. The dragon's name is up there." Fina shook her head, unable to read it. "What does it say?" "I want you all to stay back. This thing will only come when called... or whenever its hungry." Stepping forward towards the flow, Sora drew his sabers.

"Beast of Flame, I challenge you."

The ground rumbled and the lava flow bubbled and churned. In a spray of molten rock, a serpentine monster burst out of the magma. And, to the surprise of everyone, it spoke. "I heed your challenge. Who dares face me, the mighty Volvagia?"

Sora stepped forward and bowed deeply. "I am Sora, one of the Hero's line."

"Another descendant of that accursed fool!" The dragon roared, "Why do you disturb me here?!"

"I seek the crystal you keep. Am I to understand that I must prove myself to claim it?"

The dragon only nodded.

"Then I issue my challenge," With a pair of snap-hisses, his sabers activated. "I challenge you to battle. Give me the Hero's trial." The lava bubbled as rock platforms rose up and out of the boiling earth. "Then come, Would-Be Hero. Let's see if you can match the strength of your ancestor." And with that, Sora leaped into the arena.

Fina, who had been standing back with the others, turned to Vyse. "If it took a special hammer to beat him last time... How will Sora hurt it?" "Let's just hope he's strong enough to give it a good whack."

~Be careful, Sora. Please?~

~I may not have the Hammer, but I still got my magic. I'll be okay, Aika. Just...be ready to heal some burns.~

Sora stood tall on the platform closest to the dragon, the twin sabers glowing in the dimly lit room. "No hammer, Little Boy?" Sora shook his head, "Times have changed. I'm pretty sure I can give you a good wallop." The dragon laughed, a mixture of a rumble and a hiss, then charged. Forcing magic through his body, he leapt high into the air, letting the beast pass beneath him. Landing, he spun and darted up onto the dragon's back, slicing deep into its scales before jumping down to another platform. Roaring in pain, it charged again. This time, though, it breathed in and released a torrent of flame. Caught off guard, Sora leapt from platform to platform, rolling with his landings in an attempt to put the wisps of fire eating at his clothing. Again, the dragon released a gout of flame. Focusing his magic once again, Sora brought up the shield that had saved him from the golem. Flame licked around him and superheated the already smoldering air. Just as quickly, a second shield burst to life and the temperature seemed to drop dramatically. Looking over, he saw Aika, sweating and breathing heavily, but holding up a Hylian shield spell.

~Get him, Sora. I've got this.~

~You sure? You're still learning that stuff.~

~Go. I'll last long enough for you to knock him around but good.~

Nodding, He released his own shield and focused on casting him own magics. "Nobilis...Crystlear."

The dragon's flames snap froze in place, lodging themselves in the dragon's throat. Pulling his buster pistol, he took aim and began charging. "You lose, Dragon." Squeezing the trigger, a near-solid beam of energy lanced out from the gun, forcing the ice to crack and explode. And while some went out of the way, the rest lodged deep inside the dragon's soft palate, slicing deeply and mortally wounding it. Collapsing to the ground, the old dragon called to him. "You...have passed my trial. The crystal is yours. I also sense... dark power within you...unbridled and unrefined. Tell me...what is it?" Kneeling next to the beast, he said, "I bear the Wings of Chaos." "Valmar's blood... Take a...scale from my head. Grind it and eat it with your next meal. It will grant you... better control and more strength of magic. You do your Bloodline proud, boy. Both of them."

"I thank you. May your passing be peaceful in the eyes of the Three."

Smiling a toothy grin, Volvagia breathed its last. The magma, powered by the dragon's fire, cooled and solidified, forming a path to the crystal.

~Told you I had you covered.~

~Thanks, Aika. I owe you.~

~I'll collect later...Shiny Thing first!~

Laughing, Sora waved them across. "Its safe guys. Let's get out of here."

Making their way across, they all gathered around the pedestal. Fina, almost reverently, removed the crystal from its place above the stand. Bright red light shone from the facets of the gem, bathing everything in soft, red light. "It's so pretty..." Aika pulled Sora into an excited hug. "Now that is what I call treasure." As they began moving back in the way they came, another door opened in a nearby wall. Vyse, annoyed by the long hike, said,"Oh, so now the place gives us a shortcut. Oh well, we got the crystal. Let's go."

The small door that had opened led them right in front of Bellena, who was surprised to see a fourth person. "So... Did you find it?" Vyse, who never could resist a pretty face, started regaling her with a tale of how he managed to get the crystal...with some help, of course. And when she asked to see it, he simply handed it over. Sora simply looked down and shook his head in disbelief.

"It's a very beautiful object, isn't it? Now...I'm afraid I must ask you to surrender."

~I told you so.~

~I know. But Vyse is trusting, almost to a fault.~

~Nothing we can do now. She has soldiers with guns. Even I can't move that fast.~

Meanwhile, Vyse and Bellena were at a standoff. "Vyse, you're a good kid and if you were a little older, who knows. If you surrender, I won't harm you...As for the crystal..." Holding the crystal high, she called out, "Come forth, mighty Recumen and do my bidding."

"Vyse, we have to run. NOW!"

The entire group took off at a dead sprint out into the desert. Soon, the ground was shaking violently, throwing sand and dirt into the air as a massive, mechanized beast rose from underground. 'I'm sorry, kid. You should have surrendered.' "Recumen, destroy them." The machine never hesitated and fired. A beam of red light lanced out, drawing a line of glass in the desert sands and stopping the group in their tracks. As it prepared to fire again, several cannonballs slammed into its head, throwing the beam off course. "What the hell?" Looking up, they saw the Little Jack circling around for another pass. "I thought he ditched us."

The beast, unsure of what just happened, waited as it tried to regain it bearings. The Little Jack, however, moved to pick them up. As the others boarded, Sora stayed on the ground. "Vyse, Aika. I'm going for my valkyrie. I have no idea if I have enough punch to hurt it, but I'm pretty sure I can be quite annoying." As the Little Jack lifted off, Sora turned and activated the remote pilot system. Looking at the monster in the distance, he saw the mechanical monstrosity looking right at him. ~Oh...shit~ Taking off at a dead sprint, he pumped as much magic into his legs as he could. Again, it fired, but he was able to dodge in plenty of time. As Sora continued to avoid shots, he heard the familiar whine of his fighter's engines approaching. Seeing it pull alongside in GERWALK mode, he leapt up to the side, reached into the cockpit and yanked the stick back. Instantly, it climbed straight up as he hung on the side of the hull. Another shot pierced through the spot the valkyrie had just been in and the little ship continued to climb at full burn. Leveling out high enough to be out of range, Sora finished climbing in. ~Is everyone okay?~

Sora could feel the agitation on the other end of the link. ~We're fine down here, but that thing is one tough nut to crack. Best we can manage is throwing off its ability to hit us.~ Finishing his checks on his equipment, he brought the AGNI online. ~Keep clear, Aika. Beam cannon is online. I'm gonna take a crack at it.~ Switching back to fighter mode, he punched the throttle and dove. Keeping a firm grip on the stick, he centered the machine in his sights and fired. The beam impacted and scattered, surprising everyone. Firing a missile volley, Sora pulled up hard, skimming the dirt before screaming back into the air. Looking back, he saw the beast was off balance and without a scratch. Looping around for another pass, he fired and watched the beam bounce off one of its heads and shoot straight up into the air. ~Aika, ask Fina how to stop this thing. I'm only pissing it off.~

After a few more passes and even more near misses, Aika's voice popped back into his head just as another beam sizzled past his canopy. ~Sora, we need to take on that Admiral. She's in control. We get her to surrender and she can call off the Gigas.~ As he spun around, he told her a quick message ~I'll keep the walking artillery busy. Focus on the Admiral.~ Getting a mental nod, he watched the Little Jack veer off. "OK...lets see if we can find yer weak spot..." Lining up on a leg joint, he fired again. This time it pierced through, but did very little in the way of damage. "This...might take a while..."

Meanwhile, the Little Jack had caught up to the Valuan Rose. "This is Vyse Dyne of the Little Jack. Surrender and call off the Gigas." The only response were the turrets rotating to lock them in. "Belleza, I don't want to hurt you. Besides, given enough time our friend will probably do some serious damage to that thing." The turrets fired, forcing Vyse to spin the wheel hard left and sending the others to the deck. "Aika, go for the engines!" Able to turn much faster than the other ship, the Little Jack came around and behind the larger craft. Aika, seeing a shot, fired a volley and grabbed a support to keep upright as the floor jumped beneath her feet. Looking back at the Rose, she was dismayed to see nothing but a few dents and a single small gun port smoking. "Vyse, I think we need some bigger guns! I barely put a dent in it.." "See if Sora can help us out, then. I'm busy trying to stay out of their gun sights."

~Sora. Any chance of some help? We can't get through the armor belt.~

The call from Aika, distracted Sora long enough for a beam to clip his wingtip. Targeting the leg joint for what seemed like the hundredth time, he launched another volley of missiles and fired the AGNI. As he passed the monster, the missiles impacted right where the beam cannon had hit. The beast wobbled then, in an explosion of metal and hydraulic fluids, collapsed as its knee joint was destroyed. ~Yeah, I'm on my way. Ugly won't be bugging us for a while. When I signal, break off and get out of range.~ ~Got it. Are you alright though? I thought I felt you panic for a second.~ ~A little on the cooked side, but I'm okay. Be there soon.~

The valkyrie's leg thrusters swung forward as it banked right, breaking hard before boosting towards the air battle. Entering gun range, he gave the signal before sending a burst of fire in to the Valuan Rose's rear armor. As he passed, he strafed the hull, leaving large holes in a jagged line along the side of the ship. ~Their armor is definitely not made for Autocannons. I'm coming back around. Stay out of range.~ Strafing again, he left another trail of holes along the other side. "Valuan Rose, this is Sora Hyrin, Stand down and..." Seeing a turret tracking him, he pulled up just as it fired. "Have it your way, then."

Switching over to battroid, he let himself freefall towards the Rose's hull. With an earth-shattering impact, it slammed into the hull and drew the AGNI like a large rifle. Aiming at the bridge, he called out again. "Admiral, stand down. This beam rifle will take out your bridge in one shot. I don't want to hurt you." ~I do, though.~ ~Aika, you're not helping.~ Aiming to the side, he fired as he saw a turret turning towards him. The heat melted the barrel clean off as it went by and the turret instantly stopped. "We surrender. We have called off the gigas and are landing due to damage."

IS*IS*IS*IS*

Belleza, or Bellena as she was known to us, was actually a very reasonable person. She didn't want to really hurt us, but knew we wouldn't ever give up. In fact, if the situation were different, she would probably have called us friends. It was Vyse and Aika who actually came up with an idea to get us to our next destination. Since we are, in fact, pirates, we just decided to steal Belleza's engine and all her spare cannons to swap ours out with. Now armed with large-bore guns and a military grade engine, the Little Jack was a match for any Valuan ship of similar size. Now, I wouldn't have taken the engine. But Vyse explained how she planned to leave us out at the temple so, since she was going to make us walk...She'll walk instead.

Fina says our next crystal was in Ixa'Taka, the lands of the Green Moon. Its supposed to be a month long journey due to the winds of South Ocean. Now, I've yet to see a tornado here but supposedly South Ocean has a constant storm of them. So, as its supposed to be a very long trip, we've decided to stop off at Sailor's Isle to resupply. Drachma actually apologized to us, in his usual gruff manner, for dropping us. He says that we grew on him. Heh, I guess the old coot has a heart after all.

All I can say is this is gonna be a long trip. It's supposed to be too dangerous to fly the valkyrie, so I'm going to be stuck inside the Little Jack. I hope Vyse and Aika know some good card games.

From the Journals of Sora Hyrin, Blue Rogue