High above the Earth, tremors began to shake the airship, shattering the peaceful silence of the nice sky. Passengers began to chatter nervously as everything swayed, the captain's voice teetering on the unhinged even as he tried to calm them over the radio.

"Everyone remain calm. It's just a bit of turbulence. Nothing to worry about. Please, remain in your seats. There are safety buckles- What the? W-Who the devil are-"

His voice was suddenly cut off, however, and after some pounding and static, a shrill new voice rang over the crowd.

"Sorry to interrupt the pleasure cruise, but we have business with you high class dogs! Start taking out your valuables now! Anyone who is not in the dining room, you better get over there now! And don't try anything stupid!"

The door to the dining room slammed against the wall, revealing a small number of men dressed in electric blue and black uniforms, guns pointed everywhere at once.

"We're Larxene's gang!" one of the pirates shouted, raising his gun into the air and firing a shot through the hull. The crowd jumped at the sound, huddling together and screaming as he sneered at them. "Take off your jewelry and pull out your purses!"

"Y-You can't do that!" A man in a business suit pushed his chair back with a harsh groan. The second he was on his feet, he began shouting. "You think you can get away with-"


He hit the floor with a heavy thud, causing the woman next to him to begin wailing. The rest of the crowd took up the unholy chorus after her, and it sharped in pitch with the voices of several young children.

"Shut up!" the pirate yelled, firing two rounds into the air. The passengers quieted significantly, though many continued to sob."He had it coming. Anyone else want to end up like him?"

No one moved or spoke for a tense moment.

"I didn't think so. Pay up, and no one else has to get hurt."

In an instant, the people scrambled to pull out their valuables. They held them out desperately, not even showing the slightest sign of remorse or anger. Clearly these pirates were not in the mood to take hostages.

"And keep your hands visible!" he sneered, motioning quickly for the other two men to leave the room. They did so, and he returned to his vigilance with a smirk.

Sometimes Seifer really loved this job.

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Elsewhere, in one of the numerous passenger rooms, a tall, blonde man punched the wall to his right.

"Damn! How could they have known we'd be here?!" After a momentary pause, he calmed, straightened, and looked to his men. "...Hold them off at all costs. If they take the bridge, knock three times. I'm going to call for backup."

The two nodded grimly and quickly left. No sooner were they gone, gunshots sounded, all of them dangerously close to the area.

"Hells!" The man wiped the sweat and frustration from his brow, before casting a quick glance around the small room. In the far corner sat a young boy, curled into a tight ball on the floor. He looked up from his knees as the man moved to his personal radio, and the older blonde eyed him coldly for a moment.

"Roxas, sit still and don't make a sound," he warned, as he donned a large pair of headphones and set to work putting together a message.

"Can anyone hear me?...Hello?!"

Seeing that his back was turned, the boy slowly let his eyes drift to a heavy bottle on the floor next to him. It had once been filled with very expensive vodka, but had been emptied over the course of the evening, and rolled onto the floor when the pirates first attacked the ship. The glass glittered faintly in the lamplight, with little specks of moisture still within.

Ever so quietly, the boy carefully grabbed the neck of the bottle and got to his feet. It felt heavier than it should.

"Yes, pirates! Do you understand?...Our current position? One moment…." With a heavy sigh, the man began rifling through the papers on the small table, shoving a plate to the floor with a loud shatter of porcelain.

Roxas jumped a little at the sound, afraid he'd been discovered, but saw with relief that the man was just dragging out a map from under the clutter. Swallowing nervously, he drew closer, raising the bottle…

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"Don't you think Seifer was being a little too harsh in there?"

"Demyx, I'm a little bit busy!" Emphasizing his point, the other pirate fired off another round, laughing a little as he managed to snag one man in the arm.

"I know!" Demyx cried, doing his best with his own gun. These guys were pretty good shots, but once their leader made her way over here, Luxord and his cronies would have no chance. "I know, but shooting that guy in the head? He could've had a family, Hayner, and Seifer killed him just for trying to reason with him!"

"Hazard of the trade," the other man shrugged, ducking back a bit to reload. "Did you think this was gonna be all sunshine and butterflies?"

"Well, no..." The pirate scratched the back of his head, still looking guilty. "But I-"

"Enough chatter!" Both turned their heads to see a young, vicious looking woman with a razor sharp smile and a dozen guns belted to her waist.


"Call me captain!" Larxene snarled, biting off the pin of a smoke grenade and chucking it down the hall. It exploded in an instant, and the pirates continued to fire until they couldn't hear coughing anymore. "Get moving, you bums! I want that crystal!"


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Roxas reached into the unconscious man's shirt, pulling out a small pendant from his inner vest pocket.

As he fastened the gem around his neck, he winced to see a bit of blood on the floor behind Luxord's head. As much as he hated the man, he hadn't meant to really hurt him.

Suddenly someone began pounding loudly on the door.

Roxas nearly jumped out of his skin, then stumbled back as a voice called through the wood.

"Luxord! Open up, you son of a bitch!"

The blonde backed up slowly, looking around for some way to escape. The only available option now was the window, he realized grimly, so with a nervous swallow, he forced it open with some difficultly, making a space large enough that he could fit through.

The bashing continued. "We know you have the boy! Hand him over now and we might just let you live!"

Looking out into the night sky, Roxas felt an overwhleming wave of fear. He couldn't believe that he didn't have any other choice but this one, but someone was trying to break the door down. The blonde couldn't stay there.

Just as he slipped outside, desperately clutching to the slick, frozen edges of the ship, the door slammed to the ground, ripped completely off its hinges. Then it became difficult to hear, as the whipping, chilling winds battered his face and body. Roxas shivered violently and held on for dear life, trying his best not to look down.

"Where is he?" A woman shrieked. He heard that well enough, somehow.

The next thing he knew, a slim blonde woman and a tall, burly blonde man were sticking their heads out the window, their eyes locking onto him almost immediately.

"There he is!"

Roxas shook his head desperately. He inched out of their reach as best he could, feeling tears streaming from the corners of his eyes. They blew away quickly with every buffeting blast of wind, but the dampness they left behind was especially cold. His fingers were already bone-white, and his bare toes were quickly losing any sense of feeling.

"Don't just stand there, dimwits! Grab him!" the woman shouted again.


He didn't recognize who shouted his name, or where the voice had come from. The boy pulled himself up to another window, panting, using his arms to anchor himself more firmly on the sill. He couldn't keep this up for much longer. He had to make it to the lower hanger. If the rest of the pirates were busy herding the other passengers, maybe no one would be guarding the lifeboats...

The two people inside the cabin were dressed in formal evening wear, and looked to be an older couple. They starred at Roxas in shocked disbelief, even as the man got to his feet.

"What in the world-?"

The woman whipped around and screamed as the door burst open, and the blonde pirate from a moment ago was rushing through with a snarl. Behind him, there was a skinnier, more timid-looking young man, who pulled out a gun and aimed it at the couple.

"Come here, you little brat!"

"No!" With a terrified cry, the boy's arms gave out and slipped, his fingers grasping desperately for purchase but finding none. A hand flew fast out of the window, grasping for him, but it wasn't quick enough to outrun gravity, and Roxas fell away backwards, watching in horror as the ship shrink smaller and smaller in the air above him.

He was screaming, though he couldn't even hear it over the wind. He was falling into a cold, windy abyss of dark clouds, plummeting towards the world far below...