Disclaimer- I don't own any of the Final Fantasy characters in this story.
Author's notes: Well, here we are. The FINAL book of the Shattered Mind Saga.
I honestly never expected the story to carry on this far or for this long. It's truly a testament to everything Final Fantasy, as well as my growing ego. XD I'd like to think that this book could act as a kind of transition, as I wrap this up and move more into professional writing, putting my own original story ideas out there for everyone to enjoy. I may end up getting rather nostalgic as this series concludes, but then again, after this long, I think I've earned it. :P
Hope you all enjoy! And don't forget to buy Micro God, on sale in March for all ereaders for only 99 cents! ^^ Details in my profile.
Chapter 1- Breaking Down the Front Door!
"Does the water here ever stay still?"
"Well, no. Water flows, doesn't it?"
"The water of Bran Bal was always still…"
I laid down on a walkway in the Black Mage village under the shining sun. The air was warm and it was a perfect summer day. My feet dangled inches over the water, with the occasional splash in the stream below. We had delivered the Genomes from Terra to the Black Mage Village. Mr. 288, the village leader, was hesitant about the newcomers at first, but Vivi was able to convince him otherwise.
The Genomes were a lot like the Black Mages. They were not fully aware of their surroundings and they didn't have a proper understanding of the world. They were like children gaining sentience. In a way, the Black Mages were further along and would make good teachers for the Genomes. What the Black Mages didn't understand would just drive some of them to learn more. At least, as long as their patience with the Genomes' constant questioning held up.
"Hey, did you know that time flows, just like water?" the Black Mage taught.
"So, water and time both flow in Gaia?" the Genome asked, still not quite getting it.
I just smirked at the both of them, then took a deep breath, enjoying the sunny day. It was strange. Ever since we got back from Terra and most of the others accepted me back, everything had been remarkably easier. I didn't have to hide what had happened to me anymore. A weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I could just have fun again, like when I had just arrived to Gaia.
I still hadn't told them about Kaiten… but my stomach turned into a knot as I remembered why. I looked down my shirt for the tenth time that day to see the spreading bruise creeping up my chest. Soon enough, that secret wouldn't matter at all. I patted my shirt back down, unable to feel anything along the dying skin.
I only had enough time to do the little good I could against Kuja. Even if I couldn't finish the trip through Memoria, I could still help the others on their way inside. That would be my legacy.
"Trevor? You awake?"
I barely cracked my eye open and saw Zidane walking towards me. I raised my hand in a small wave, then set it back down on my stomach. I still couldn't feel anything there.
"We're going to have to head out soon," Zidane said, taking a seat next to me. "The Genomes are settling in nicely, and Vivi said the Black Mages are already working on expanding the village."
"Just a few more minutes?" I said. "I haven't had a chance to rest like this in… weeks, at least."
"Yeah. None of us have."
I sighed. "I finally have five minutes that I can pretend everything's perfect. When I was in college, I would just hit a pub with my friends, or we'd just hang out. But I never got to do this. Just relax in a forest on a warm day. I missed days like this."
In all truth, I hadn't relaxed like this ever since I used to hang out with Nicole, before Shadow's death. I brushed the thought out of my mind. I didn't need to Trance right here and now.
"It couldn't have been easy for you," Zidane said, sliding back on his arms and looking up into the treeline. "Especially with that experiment you never told us about."
"I said I was sorry for that!"
Zidane chuckled. "I know. And I get it. You didn't want us to worry about you. But we will worry about you, because you're our friend. Got it?"
I glanced up at him through the corner of my eye. I would have asked if he stole that quote from a Hallmark card, but that joke wouldn't have made any sense to him. Instead, all I said was, "Got it."
"Good. Now I think we should head out. We need to meet the others at the front of the village."
Zidane stood and took one more breath of fresh air. I lazily held my arm up. He got the signal and grabbed hold of my arm, giving me a hand up. He practically had to drag me along until I slipped my feet underneath myself. Zidane made sure to give me a slap on the shoulder for that one and we shared a laugh. The world was doomed and we could very easily fail in saving it, and all I could think about was how good it was to have friends.
Life was strange.
Dagger and Steiner were the only ones waiting at the front plaza of the village. When we first arrived, the Genomes stood here in confusion. It wasn't until several Black Mages took them deeper into the village for tutelage. The Genomes were already being taught the ways of the world and with patience could grow, even without souls. Perhaps they could adapt and breed, forming their own, odd, but unique society.
"Your Highness, is this really what you wish?" Steiner asked.
"What are you talking about?" Dagger asked without turning to face the knight.
"If what Zidane and Trevor tell us is true, Kuja must have done something in the Iifa Tree to cover the world in mist. Do you not think it wise to consult Regent Cid before we investigate?"
"What's going on?" Zidane asked as the two of us arrived and joined the fray.
"We're simply discussing our next move," Steiner explained. "I think we should ask the nations of the Mist Continent for assistance."
"But the reappearance of the mist is bound to most people on edge!" Dagger said. "If we go to Uncle Cid for aid, we'll just cause a panic!"
"I agree with Steiner," I said. "We don't know what we're getting into. How can we? If we go in with backup, we have a stronger chance of success." Having knowledge of what we were getting into, I knew we would need that backup, and badly.
"But what could happen if Kuja launches an attack?" Dagger pointed out. "If we take all of Lindblum and Alexandria's armies away from the Mist Continent, and Kuja attacks, he could kill thousands of innocent people."
"I think Dagger may have a point," Zidane said. "We've been able to fend for ourselves so far and we have the Invincible now. You've seen what that thing can do. We should be fine."
"Ugh, fine," I said. "I won't push the point, but we should still get supplies in Lindblum. I have a buddy I want to see. He might be able to give us a hand."
"That's not a bad idea," Zidane said. "And we should probably stop by Alexandria too so we can give Beatrix an update."
"She's a strong woman," Steiner said proudly. "She'll be able to defend Alexandria while we're gone."
"You don't even stand a chance."
Our small meeting was interrupted by Mikoto, Zidane's "little sister", as she wandered in from the village. Zidane had given us a basic introduction to her while we were flying to the Black Mage Village, but she was cold and callous. She didn't even try to make new friends and as soon as we landed in the village, she wandered off on her own, shrugging off all the friendly Black Mages. Her attitude was in serious need of adjustment, but her entire planet had just been destroyed, so none of us were about to discipline her.
"You saw Kuja's power!" Mikoto said. "He destroyed an entire world by himself! You don't even have a million in one chance of defeating him! You'll all die!"
There was an awkward moment between the four of us at first. I wasn't about to give her lip since I wasn't that guy anymore. Underneath her tough exterior, Mikoto really was just trying to hold it together. She was scared, felt alone, and on an alien planet that she had been bred to destroy one day. Anyone would feel out of place in her shoes.
"Interesting," Mr. 288 said, walking in on our conversation from the nearest walkway. "This girl talks much more than the other Genomes."
"Doesn't she?" Zidane agreed with a grin. "She's a bit cynical, but take good care of her, will ya?"
"Of course," Mr. 288 nodded. He turned to Mikoto and asked, "Do you want us to give you a name? Some of the other Genomes have asked us to name them."
"Her name is Mikoto," Zidane said. "She's kinda like my little sister."
Mikoto's eyes widened and her face flushed. She looked like a strawberry until she crossed her arms and turned away angrily.
"Mikoto!" Zidane called out. "Listen to your big brother and make some friends, okay?"
"How… how absurd!" Mikoto said, too embarrassed to face us.
"We might be desperate insects to Kuja, but we'll show you how powerful we can be."
"'Even a fly lives for a day'," Steiner quoted.
"I don't think that's what Zidane meant," Dagger said.
I just smiled. Kaiten and I were the super soldier created to kill Kuja. With these guys at my back, we stood a reasonable chance of winning and saving the world once and for all!
…Assuming I could live long enough to see that day…
"Alright!" Zidane said. "Let's get the others. We need to get our supplies, and then it's off to the Iifa Tree!"
Zidane, once again assuming the role as leader, piloted the Invincible. We had made a quick stop in Burmecia, where the native people were just starting to rebuild. Since Cleyra wasn't destroyed, the king led his people back and the city was beginning to look habitable again, although very wet. We dropped Freya and Amarant off there first so they could gather supplies. We had all decided to gather supplies in small amounts from the three great kingdoms, rather than all from Lindblum or Alexandria. We would need a lot and gathering smaller amounts from three cities would keep us inconspicuous.
Vivi, Eiko and I were dropped off in Lindblum next. Eiko and Vivi stayed together and headed for the Business District. I went there as well, but where they went off to gather potions, I went to see an old friend.
"Knock, knock!" I said with my hands in my pockets as I walked into Wayne's Synth Shop. "Anyone here?"
"One second!" a familiar voice called out. I leaned on the front desk and waited for Wayne to come out of his back room, but I was startled when I heard the enormous BANG! It was followed by two more matching sounds ringing out. I ran out into the back and swung around the corner to investigate.
Immediately in the back room, I recognized Wayne standing next to Dante. They were standing in the middle of the lengthy room, aiming a gun down range at a hay pile marked with a large red dot in the center. They both turned and saw me leaning against the wall, just glad that nothing was wrong.
"Trevor!" Dante called out. The first thing I noticed was that he was out of his bandages. "Hey man! How's it going?"
"Not bad," I said. "Is everything alright?"
"Perfectly fine," Wayne said calmly. "Dante healed up enough to remove his bandages, so he wanted to come over and practice."
"Right, right," I said. "I just thought something blew up back here."
"Really?" Dante asked. "Don't you recognize a gunshot when you hear it?"
"Sorry, I was taken by surprise."
"That's enough of that," Wayne said, taking the revolver out of Dante's hands and making sure that it was empty. "You don't want to push yourself too hard. Your arm is still fragile."
"Oh come on!" Dante complained. "I've only shot three chambers!"
"That's plenty. This thing shakes your arms a lot after all." Wayne led us to the front desk where he placed the revolver into a drawer for safekeeping. "So, Trevor, what brings you around here?"
"Supply run," I said. I pulled out my short swords and placed them on the table. "We're going into combat again and I need these updated."
Wayne grabbed one of the short swords and took a quick look at it, turning it over in his hand. After a moment, he nodded. "Yeah, I think I can do something with this. A noble came in a few days ago with a shipment of orichalcum. He wanted me to make a broadsword for him out of it entirely. Isn't that idiotic?"
I kept a stone face and simply agreed. "Yes."
Wayne could instantly tell that I didn't understand. "Orichalcum is an alloy, partially composed of gold. The metal wouldn't be strong enough to support its own weight and the entire blade would bend like a piece of pasta. So, I gave him a regular blade and only coated it in orichalcum and kept the rest of the shipment. However, it does have some good magical properties. I can have some heated and fit it into your blades' fullers in… say two hours?"
"That sounds great," I said. "Thanks Wayne. How much do I owe you?"
"Nothing," he said seriously. "The mist came back. I don't know what you did on your last trip, but I believe the world is in trouble. If you really are saving the world, then you'll need to conserve your supplies and your money."
I was surprised, but I appreciated the support. "Wow, thanks Wayne."
"Don't mention it."
Wayne walked to the furnace, adding a shovel of charcoal to increase the flames, then left for the back room for his supply of orichalcum. I just leaned on the front desk with Dante at my side. There was a heavy moment of silence as Dante and I just stared at the people in the streets. They were rushing about, gathering supplies, some even starting to panic. The reappearance of the mist could easily be hailed as some new hell visiting Gaia.
In a way, they were right.
"So, what ended up happening?" Dante asked. "You said you were heading to some new planet to stop Kuja, right? Did you get him this time?"
"Kuja?" I repeated slowly. "Uh… not exactly…"
"Did he get away again?"
"He may have… gotten a huge powerup, and… he may be responsible for all the mist reappearing."
"…Wow. You really suck at this."
"Hey, shut up!" I defended. "We still managed to steal his airship from him. As soon as we got all the supplies we need, we're going to launch an attack on him at the Iifa Tree."
"An attack? Is that wise? Especially if he can do something like bring the mist back?"
"We don't really have a choice," I pointed out. "If we don't, Kuja's just going to destroy everything. He has the power for it now."
"That's…that's insane!" Dante shouted. "How can you even stop him?"
"Those short swords will help," I said. "And the others have been chasing Kuja as long as I have. We have a shot at it."
"Not enough of one," Dante said, walking into the back of the room. "I'm getting my gun and coming with you!"
"Dante!" I called after him. As awesome as it would be to have Dante fighting alongside me once again, he wasn't in any shape to fight. I leapt up from the table and grabbed him by the wrist. "Dante, stop! You can't come along! You don't know what you're getting into!"
"And you do?" he demanded. "You just said that Kuja is strong enough to destroy the world."
"I've been tracking him for a while and I know what to expect. You nearly died the last time we fought together! I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I got you killed!"
"So I'm not allowed to risk my life, but you are?" he shouted, throwing my hand off of his wrist. "You're a damn hypocrite!"
"You only just now got back to using a gun! We're likely going to be running for our lives. You're not in shape for this. I'm sorry Dante."
"Screw you!" he yelled. He pushed by me and left in a huff. I didn't think he would take the rejection so personally. I was just trying to keep him safe. Why couldn't he see that?
"Where's he going?" Wayne asked as he walked back with an ugly chunk of golden rock. That must have been his orichalcum supply.
"Just for a walk, I guess," I sighed. I took a seat at the front desk and just rested my head as Wayne went to work.
"Selfish bastard," Dante complained. "Won't let a buddy watch his back. He's gonna get himself killed!"
Dante wandered the streets of the rebuilding Lindblum. It had been weeks since the Black Mage Army had assaulted the city and reduced it to a flicker of its former glory. The citizens had worked together feverishly to restore the various districts to health. Distraught and alone for the moment, Dante found himself walking towards the air cab station. He had been spending so much time with Wayne that he hadn't even been to his apartment in over a month. It was worth a look.
The air cab ride gave Dante a comforting look over the city as they flew. There were still holes in roofs, collapsed buildings and streets charred black from fire, however, it was much better than it had been the night Dante traveled with Trevor to the castle. The night Dante nearly died.
The engineer held onto his chest. The sword that pierced his chest had severed an artery in his heart. If Wayne hadn't shown up at that exact moment with those potions, Dante wouldn't have lived. The thought scared him. Even after a month of physical therapy and healing, he could still feel the pain of the sword lancing through him. Maybe Trevor had a point. Maybe Dante wasn't ready for intense combat, but he still felt like he had to do something.
The air cab landed at the Industrial District with a sudden halt. He tossed his fare into the front seat and walked out of the station.
The air in the Industrial District was mostly clear, but there was a thin layer of soot rising from the chimneys of newly opened factories. It was good being back in his home district. It had been cleaned up and looked as productive as ever. Dante felt a pang of regret that he hadn't visited his own workshop in so long. If it weren't for his injuries, he probably would have been able to start on his next design.
Engineers, architects and designers walked about, some carrying new blueprints while others walked off for their lunch break. Dante used to be amongst them. Now he felt like some cripple who couldn't even use his own tools. It wasn't fair! It was such bullshit! It was—
Dante had lost himself in thought and didn't see the large man standing in front of him. He stepped backwards, embarrassed to face the man and his two shady looking cohorts. One cohort was a man with a low-set headband that blocked his eyes. The second wore a green outfit with several belts about him and a pale bandana.
"Uh, sorry," Dante said. "I wasn't paying attention."
But the large man just chuckled, patting his rotund gut. "Bwahaha, it's fine little feller," he said. "My boys and I were jus' headin' back home anyways."
"Oh, uh, good," Dante said awkwardly, staring at the man. There was something familiar about this trio. Dante looked for a moment longer, until he remembered a rumor he heard once before.
"Hey, aren't you guys Tantalus?" he asked. "That thieves guild?"
"Thieves? Us?" the large man repeated. "Naw. We're Tantalus, sure, but we're no thieves. We're actors."
"Maybe you recognize us from our performance of 'May I Be Your Canary?'" the man in the headband asked. "Marcus here played the lead."
"Geez, shut up Blank," Marcus said, using his hand to cover what little of his face the bandana didn't.
"No, I've heard enough rumors," Dante said. "You're Baku, right? The leader of the thieves guild?"
"I'm Baku," the large man said, crossing his arms defiantly. "But I ain't no thief!"
Dante just shook his head. These guys being thieves was irrelevant. What was important was the connections they had.
"I heard that you guys can get an audience with the Regent," Dante asked. "Is that true?"
Baku stood silently, sizing Dante up and putting on as serious an appearance as he had ever before. "Perhaps I can," he finally said. "What's it to you?"
In just a short time, we were ready for our assault.
Potions, supplies, and even new weapons after a stop in Daguerreo now gave us a better fighting chance. Walking through the cabin of the Invincible, I saw Freya practicing with her new polearm, while Amarant adjusted his new clawed gauntlets. I took another look at my upgraded short swords as I walked.
The golden fuller now added weight, going against its originally intended design. The gold alloy that shined in the middle of the orange blade earned them the name, the Twin Tigers. And Wayne wasn't kidding when he said these amplify magical abilities. I tried summoning a Demon Saber right after I got them and I nearly poked a hole in his roof. Even the smallest stream of energy flowed through these blades like a waterfall. I couldn't wait to test it out in live combat.
"Everyone! Can you hear me?" Zidane called over the newly discovered intercom system. "We're getting close to the Iifa Tree! Get in place and get ready for anything Kuja throws at us!"
That was my cue. I climbed the steps up to the bridge, sheathing my blade as I walked through the long doorway. Inside, Zidane stood at the Ship's Heart, as we came to calling the podium where we could communicate with it and give it our commands. Dagger stood by his side, resting a hand on the railing. Steiner stood at attention at the back of the room. He looked the most stressed out of all of us. Vivi sat at the front of the bridge, watching the monitor like a kid watching a TV too close.
Good, everyone I trusted was up here. I still had work to do with Amarant, but then again, who didn't? Eiko was a brat, and I doubted Freya would ever truly trust me again. Quina may have trusted me again, but he was so hard to read at times that I tried not to count my chickens before they hatched.
Mist filled up all corners of the monitor. Judging by the sun, we were indeed heading north, straight for the Iifa Tree. It took me a moment to see it, but there was a harsh purple light glowing in the distance. It seemed like the same color of my energy coursing through my blades. The light in the distance radiated with power and sprouted strings of light, like flares coming off a sun.
It was indeed Memoria, the place of memories.
Zidane let out a nervous sigh. It went without saying that tensions were high. The others didn't know what we were getting into, and even if I explained it, it wouldn't help much. This mission was the most dangerous we had undertaken thus far. Not just for ourselves, but for the entire planet. Some of us could very easily die if we weren't careful.
"Zidane, are you alright?" Dagger asked softly.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said. I could tell that he was as shaken as the rest of us. Even I knew what to expect and I was a little frightened. Then again, patting my stomach, I already knew what was going to happen to me.
Vivi looked up from the monitor and gazed at the rest of us questioningly. "We're going to be alright, aren't we?"
For a fraction of a second, I remembered one of my earliest battles alongside Vivi against General Beatrix in Burmecia. Vivi had been taken out early and was left face-down in a puddle with a hole in his stomach. It wasn't right that someone as young as Vivi had to fight for the world like this, but we needed his magic.
No one answered Vivi. Instead, Zidane gripped the railing tightly and let out a breath. "Get ready!" he shouted. With a sweep of his hand, he ordered the ship forward, towards the light. We soared, flying towards the final battle and Kuja's new palace.
Light swirled around the purple orb. It spun ahead of us, larger than even Lindblum's Grand Castle. It almost felt like we were driving into a star. I watched nervously, staring into the center of the orb. When we were close enough to see the Iifa Tree through the impossibly thick mist, the defenses went into overdrive.
No amount of preparation could have readied us for the army of Silver Dragons that flew screaming from Memoria's gate. First, there were dozens…
All five of us watched in horror. We had made a terrible mistake in coming here, underarmed. The Silver Dragons swarmed like a cloud of insects, cutting off our best chances at escape. They blanketed the sky, cutting of our light and blotting out the sun. I would have joked that we would have fought in the shade, but against these numbers, we barely stood a chance. I remembered the trouble I had in killing just one Silver Dragon in a nimble fighter jet. What chance did our slug of a flagship stand?
"Can we fight against that?" Steiner asked.
"We have to try!" Zidane said.
"Here they come!" Dagger cried out.
The first of the swarm of dragons approached our main deck. It reared its head back and prepared to launch its attack. The others braced themselves, but I watched in glee, because only I knew what was going to happen.
Only, that's not what happened…
Instead of a last second, gallant rescue, the dragon's attack connected. It rocked the monitor, blurring the image for a moment. The airship shook against the assault, and looking at the monitor, I could see a dozen similar attacks coming. A red light flashed in the bridge and an alarm blared throughout the ship.
"What the hell is that?" Zidane said, plugging an ear to combat the alarm.
"A red alert!" I said. "My airship on Terra did the same thing!"
"Well, turn it off!"
"I don't know how! Try telling the ship to!"
Zidane looked at the monitor for a moment, then shut his eyes. Seconds later, the alarm stopped, but the red light kept flashing. "Good enough," Zidane decided.
"What are we going to do about the dragons?" Dagger asked.
"What weapons and defenses do we have?" Steiner asked. "Cannons? Magic?"
"Looks like none of that," Zidane said. "I've been telling the ship to load something. I think the only thing we have is the eye on the underbelly of the ship."
"Wonderful!" I said. "Maybe we can ask the dragons to line up one by one." God dammit! Where's our support?
"This is no time for sarcasm!" Zidane said. "I'm turning the ship around. We're gonna have to go back and ask Lindblum for help after all!"
"We can't!" I shouted. "The longer we take, the more dragons Kuja can pop out. We need to stop him NOW!"
The moment I finished my thought, the dragons bombarded our ship with laser breaths. All of us were knocked to the ground and struggled to regain our footing against the shifting floor. Several warnings appeared on screen, showing Silver Dragons on the hull of the ship, trying to claw their way in. We had to shake them, but how?
"We can't go on alone like this!" Zidane said, pulling himself back up to the Ship's Heart with the railing. "I'm pulling us back!" Zidane activated the intercom to warn the others. "Everyone! We're—"
"No!" I cried out. I grabbed on to the railing with one hand and grabbed the back of Zidane's shirt. I ripped Zidane away from the Ship's Heart and shouted into the open intercom.
"HANG ON TO SOMETHING!"
I held on to the railing for dear life. The others on the bridge didn't have a chance to get back on their feet as the ship suddenly reversed direction. The dragons were tossed off the top of our ship and we avoided another dozen rounds of laser breaths. The vibrations that made it a chore to stand stopped.
"Trevor?" Zidane shouted. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Something desperate!" I said, holding the railing so tightly that my hands turned white. "Grab the back wall! NOW!"
The others could see the determination in my eyes and didn't question me further. Instead, they held onto the back wall, planting themselves against it and away from the door. I couldn't only hope that the others deeper in the ship had heeded my warning.
"Arm the main cannon!" I told the ship. A small gauge appeared on screen, showing a quickly raising bar, nearing completion in seconds.
The Silver Dragons started chasing us at once, many of which lined themselves up with the ship. One long, messy line formed before us as we retreated, which was exactly what I had hoped they would do. With no idea if this would all work, I plunged the ship back.
The Invincible tilted backwards onto its tailfin, aiming the main cannon at the advancing line of dragons. I kept my arms wide on the railing just to steady myself. Behind me, Zidane held Dagger's hand as gravity forced them into each other against the wall. Steiner grabbed Vivi by the coat to keep the young mage from falling out the doorway.
At once, the cannon underneath the Invincible powered up and shot its beam. It was a shot that could and had devastated a city in a single shot. The dragons had just enough time to discover the mistake they had made before they were disintegrated. Hundreds and hundreds of them were reduced to dust and ashes and the laser tore through them, shooting past the Iifa Tree and cutting a swath through their entire swarm.
With its energy spent for the moment, I righted the Invincible. It settled back down and everyone was able to step away from the wall. It let out a short shout to release my own energy, and stared up at the screen in victory.
We hadn't even killed one tenth of the dragons. And they were still coming.
"Shit!" I shouted. "Arm the main cannon again!"
"Trevor!" Zidane said, grabbing my shoulder. "We can't do that again! It didn't work the first time!"
"I'll get more of them! I…" My thoughts droned off when I saw the depleted energy levels. The only reason we were able to fire so quickly before was because of the energy the ship stored naturally. Now, having just fired and with a current energy level around twenty-five percent, it would need another few minutes before it cold fire again. That was time we didn't have.
"We need to retreat!" Zidane said, trying to pull me from the Ship's Heart. I stubbornly remained, unwilling to budge either the ship or myself.
"Look out!" Dagger shouted, pointing to the monitor.
Zidane and I stared up at the monitor in unison to see another dragon just outside our ship. It had a laser beam already charged in its mouth, ready to fire. We all held our ground as best we could, waiting for the impact.
And then the dragon exploded.
We all stared at the screen for a moment as it wavered from the shock of the blast. There were still thousands of dragons flying, but now they weren't all flying towards us. Many of them had diverted and were flying towards something to our starboard side. I hooked the screen and turned it, expanding it to investigate what the dragons were flying towards now. There was a collective cheer of relief from what we saw emerging from the mist.
The entire Lindblum Air Fleet.
Cannons fired, burning the air and destroying several Silver Dragons with each blast. The monsters burst into flames and fell from the sky, clearing the way for the Invincible. Regent Cid stood on the bridge of the Hilde Garde III, which rose high above two rows of a dozen Viltgance class warships approaching from the south, while another dozen approached from the east. Each warship was armed with twenty cannons, and each one of them was firing into the dragon swarm with gusto.
"All ships!" Regent Cid hailed to his entire fleet. "Clear a path for the Invincible!"
"Gwahaha!" Baku laughed from behind Cid. "Can't let those guys steal the whole show for themselves!"
Cid appreciated Baku coming to tell him about the impending attack. Of course, it wasn't Baku who fed the information. Cid glanced back to an engineer, staring out the front windows and trying not to get in the way.
Dante had insisted on coming along on this mission. He gave Cid the information, and damn it, he was going to help Trevor one way or another.
"Stubborn bastard," Dante muttered, looking at the Invincible in its own corner of the sky. "Told you you'd need my help!"
"Uncle Cid!" Dagger called out, running up to the screen. "Why…? How did he know to show up here?"
"Uh…" I stammered at first. "I may have told a friend in Lindblum what we were doing."
"You what?" Dagger shouted. "Trevor, I thought we agreed not to tell anyone about this!"
"Well I'm glad I did! We clearly needed the help!"
"That doesn't matter now!" Zidane interrupted. "Trevor, get us through those dragons!"
I just cracked my knuckles. "Done."
The Invincible sped forward, breaking through the dragons' defense line. We bashed through several of them as they tried to regroup through the confusion. Cid's airships continued to pummel every dragon in sight while the dragons spun around, unsure whether to target the Viltgances or us.
However, a group of them got their act together and finally decided to follow us as we made a beeline for Memoria. An alarm signaled that we were being followed, and a small window popped up on screen. About a dozen Silver Dragons were closing in on us fast.
"Head's up!" I said. "These guys aren't backing off! We might need to fight them once we get inside!"
"Hey, what's that?" Vivi asked, pointing to the smaller window.
The Silver Dragons were wiped from the screen and a thick red wall replaced them, turning the window from a warning to little more than wallpaper before it disappeared.
"What was that?" Dagger asked.
"Open a rear view on screen," I told the Invincible. "Wide angle."
The airship heard my command and opened a small window on screen again. This time though, we got to see the entirety of the ship that saved us. It was the best luxury airship in all of Alexandria.
The Red Rose.
"The Red Rose?" Steiner asked. "Could it be… Beatrix?"
"General Beatrix!" Kohel, the third Knight of Pluto shouted over the groaning engine noises. "We can't take much more of that. Our ship is about to burst!"
Beatrix stood on the rear balcony of the Red Rose, watching dragon after dragon plow into the side of the airship. They had managed to deflect and distract the monsters following the Invincible, but there was another wave coming in from the distance. And the Red Rose had no weapons to fend them off. This battle could easily be their end.
"Do not fret!" Beatrix ordered with bravado. "Your captain is in a far more dangerous situation. You are a Pluto Knight! Now act like one!"
Blutzen, the second Knight of Pluto, stood by and muttered to himself, "We all know you came here because you were worried sick about Captain Steiner…"
"Did you say something?" Beatrix shouted, doing a terrible job hiding her blushing face.
A man came walking in with a simple black eye patch, laughing at the scene. "It seems Steiner's men have you on that one Beatrix."
The two Pluto Knights saluted quickly and left. Beatrix turned around and narrowed her eyes at the newcomer. "William," she greeted Captain Delores. "I told you it would be a bad idea for you to come."
"Didn't Queen Garnet leave you in charge of Alexandria in her stead?" Delores asked. "Yet you're here, risking your life when Lindblum has the clear air superiority."
"Neither of us knew the Regent was coming here. You know that," Beatrix said. "Besides, we both have other reasons for showing up."
"Yes, I suppose I do," Delores said, watching the Invincible fly towards the floating orb above the Iifa Tree.
"Are you worried for him?"
"Of course I am," Delores admitted. "I'm terrified he might get himself in over his head. Or worse. And yet, I know he'll push through."
"And why is that?" Beatrix asked, now watching the Invincible as well.
Delores smiled proudly. "Because he is my son."
"What's Beatrix doing here?" Dagger asked. "I told her to stay in Alexandria. How did she know to show up just now?" Her gaze immediately fell on me.
"Don't look at me!" I said. "I was in Lindblum, remember?"
"That… was my fault," Steiner admitted. "She was worried, so I… may have told her…"
"Steiner!" Dagger cried out.
Zidane just laughed. "Quite a woman you fell in love with," he teased.
Steiner just scoffed. "You're one to talk!"
"Waitaminute!" Dagger said sharply. "Steiner, what's that supposed to mean?"
Rather than answer, Steiner turned and walked to the front of the bridge to watch the monitor, trying to avoid the princess' harsh gaze.
"Trevor, the dragons are being held off for now," Zidane said. "Get us in there before they regroup."
"You got it," I said. "Hang on!"
I sent the Invincible into Memoria at full speed. We crashed into the purple orb, hitting a wall of energy, and then time seemed to slow for us, like we had hit a wall. However, light poured around us, filling the bridge and blinding us. The light seemed to go on forever, pausing reality as we shifted realms. I tried opening my eyes several times, only to be met with more light.
Minutes passed and I began to worry if we had made a mistake in coming here. However, I opened my eyes one last time, and saw the most amazing sight of my life.