Chapter Four: Prima Vista's Final Voyage

Having a large, thirty-year-old man charge at you with a battle cry and his sharp sword in the perfect slicing position is definitely worth adding to a "Things You'll Pee Your Pants At" list. This is not a simple and easy boss battle like the ones I would experience in the beginning of a role-playing game. Steiner is not trying to defeat us or knock us out; he is trying to kill us!

There is little fighting instinct in my bones, so I do what any kid would do: I jump back and away from the terrifying knight. I also do what any clumsy person would do: I nearly fall off the side of the stage and into the murky water that has been gently rocking the ship back and forth. Instead, I manage to fall on my butt right at the edge of the stage.

"Surrender the princess at once!" Steiner's sword clashes with Zidane's dagger, but the knight's pure physical force is too much for Zidane's much smaller form. Zidane's dagger slides down the length of the blade, creating a sharp sound, but this maneuver allows him to twist his body around and deliver a well-placed stab to the only part of Steiner's arm that is not covered by his armor. The pain obviously weakens Steiner's strength, and Zidane uses this moment of weakness in order to practically whip his daggers across Steiner's armor, forming an X-shaped scrape in his chest plate. Even though his attack does not penetrate through the metal, it sends Steiner stumbling back.

Taking this opportunity myself, I reach forward and grab Vivi's arm, pulling him to the back of the newly designated battle arena. My plan had been to get Vivi and myself as far away from the fighting as possible, especially before Steiner noticed us, but I actually end up pulling Vivi away from being stabbed by one of the Pluto Knights who had previously been chasing us.

The Pluto Knight is unable to stop his attack, stabbing straight on through empty air. He must have put his entire weight into the attack, too, for he practically throws himself clear off the stage and into the dark water below with a loud splash. "Gah!"

Vivi and I look over the edge of the stage, watching as the Pluto Knight desperately tries to swim in the water and climb back up the stage. His broadsword is nowhere in sight.

Despite my fear, I stand in front of the struggling soldier and lift my foot up until he notices the sole of my shoe. Before I can bring my foot down on his face, he surrenders.

"Um, uh... My wrath ends here!" he cries as he lets go of the edge, choosing to swim towards where Vivi and I entered the stage.

"Get back here!" Steiner's command fell on the deaf ears, however, because that Pluto Knight kept on his merry way. A giggle escapes my lips, and I almost turn to give Vivi a celebratory high five, but when I start to turn to look at Vivi, the other Pluto Knight charging at us seems a bit more important.

"Eeep!" I yelp, putting both of my hands out in front of me as though that alone would provide me with adequate protection. "We're kids!" This doesn't seem to matter to him, and I barely have enough time to throw myself out of the way as he slashes his sword at me. "Why are you after me! I have no weapon! Vivi! Help!"

Instead of landing gracefully on the wooden floorboards, I trip over my own two feet and fall onto my butt. Searing pain shoots up my tailbone from the harsh landing, but I don't have time to sit there and soothe it. As soon as I look up, a glint of the Pluto Knight's sword enters my vision, and I automatically roll over and scramble to get back on my feet.

"Vivi!" I can't think of any other name to scream. Zidane and Marcus are double-teaming Steiner, and I don't know if shouting for the princess would do me any good. Maybe as a body shield. The Pluto Knight wouldn't attack the princess, right?

With no other option, I narrowly avoid another attack from the Pluto Knight by ducking, and I beeline it towards Vivi. Just as he had done before, there is a fire-like ball burning between his two gloved hands, and it actually looks to be almost the size of his head. He pushes his hands forward, releasing the fire, and it is then that I realize that my being in front of the Pluto Knight has not been accounted for.

"Aiyee!" I squeal as I, for once, purposefully throw myself face-first to the ground. A strong wave of heat tingles over the back of my head, but a pained yell behind me lets me know that I'm not burnt.

Sighing, I look up at Vivi, about to thank him, but there's this look of horror on his face. When the heat doesn't dissipate from the back of my head and neck, I put two-and-two together.

"AHHHH!" I scream, desperately pounding my palms at my sweatshirt's hood. "VIVI! YOU SET ME ON FIRE!"

"I'm sorry!" Vivi squeaks as the burning finally stops, leaving me with a burnt smell to my sweatshirt. Thank goodness my hair and skin is relatively safe. I don't know what I would have done if my hair had been on fire. Where would I get my hair cut and styled in this place?

Whoa. Messed up priorities alert.

"Are-Are you okay?" I look back up at Vivi as I bring myself to my feet, and the poor thing is trembling. He looks like he wants to come over to help me, but I think he's afraid that I'll yell at him.

I am a terrible person.

"Ugh!" Vivi and I both visibly flinch as the Pluto Knight behind me gets back up. He takes a couple of steps towards us, sword still in hand, before running in the opposite direction. "I'm gonna be late for my date!"

"H-Hey!" Steiner exclaims as his soldier passes him by, leaving him without backup. Marcus takes advantage of Steiner's inattention this time, stabbing the same arm Zidane had. Zidane and Marcus then jump back from Steiner, creating a good amount of space between them.

"You okay?" Zidane asks, quickly looking over his shoulder at us.

"Peachy," I reply, patting Vivi on the shoulder lest the black mage continue to think that I was upset with him.

"I feel we have really wounded him," Garnet states, and we all turn our attention to Steiner who has doubled over while holding his badly bleeding arm.

"Bah!" the Captain of the Pluto Knights grunts. "Only a flesh wound..."

"'Tis but a scratch," I mutter to myself. Monty Python references are always worth noting. Before I can recite another line, the ground gives a sharp jolt as the ship begins to shake. Vivi grabs onto my arm for support, and I hate to tell him that I'm not the sturdy structure that he thinks I am.

A loud, humming noise coming from above us also starts, and I look up to see that the airship's propellers are spinning. They're spinning so fast and hard that the Prima Vista is already lifting into the air.

Over the sound of the propellers and booing crowd, there's also this strange cranking noise. Is that part of the airship?

There's a loud bang, causing me to jump, and my mind works on overkill as I recall the fact that Queen Brahne is not down with just letting her daughter go. As Marcus shouts: "Hit the deck!" I grab Vivi and throw both our bodies to the ground. Wood splinters all around us, and I can see the sleek metal of a harpoon sticking out where we were grouped together.

The airship jostles from the impact, and the stage dangerously dips to the side. Vivi rolls from the movement, forcing me to let go of him. I try to regain my balance in order to go after him, but a gloved hand grabs my upper arm and pulls me back.

Zidane drags me closer to him, and I notice that Garnet is also kneeling at his side, holding onto the ship's railing. The scene is hauntingly familiar, and a flashback of the game's full motion video plays in my mind. Zidane and Garnet are struggling to get back to their feet when a harpoon lodges right between them.

"Look out!" I scream as I scoot myself back from the two of them, not even bothering to check if the harpoon has been launched yet.

"Oh shit!" Zidane curses. He pushes Garnet away from the spot and falls back to where I am.

The harpoon unfailingly shoots and lodges right into the spot we were just in, and Zidane practically throws himself on top of me in order to block most of the debris with his body. He doesn't stay in this relatively compromising position, though, and quickly grabs both of my arms, forcing me to my feet. He doesn't let go once I'm standing, and though I want to berate him for being so touchy with me, I'm actually rather grateful because my knees are still shaking.

"Princess!" Zidane calls out, still keeping a hold on me with one hand. "You okay?"

"I-I'm fine!" A voice answers back. Despite the size of the stage, the debris and harpoons make it a bit difficult to spot Garnet's orange suit out of the six of us on here.

Another machine sound reverberates over the screaming crowd and loud creaking of the airship. Zidane quickly locates it, turning his head towards the source, and I follow his line of vision to a huge, black cannon.

"The bomb..." I breathe, recalling it from the game. Zidane doesn't hear me, but he immediately starts ushering me back when he realizes just what the cannon is about to do.

A booming sound nearly silences the panicked screams coming from all around, and a huge fireball lightens the entire area as it flies directly towards us. Just as I think it is about to hit, the fireball evolves into an evil bomb monster.

In the video game, I never found this bomb-thing to be that frightening. In real life, I'm ready to piss my pants. It's shaped like a ghost that is made entirely of fire, and flames and sparks are shooting out from it and onto the wooden airship. It's also emitting this inhuman growling that sends a shiver down my spine. And its laugh. I don't think I've ever heard such a chilling laugh before.

To make matters worse, Steiner has recovered from all the rolling around the stage. "Princess! I cannot let you go with these thieves!"

Zidane and I share a look; both of us are obviously aware of the huge firebomb that is freaking growing behind Steiner, and it's just hard to believe that the noises and the heat from it hasn't clued Steiner in already. He seriously wants to battle when all of our lives are on the line now?

"All right." Zidane shrugs his shoulders and unsheathes his daggers. "Go make sure your friend is okay."

For a moment, I eye the bloodied blades of his daggers. "... Uh, okay."

Despite Vivi's small size, it is very easy to spot his form. He's sprawled out on the ground nearby Steiner, and he's struggling to get up. To make matters worse, Steiner has already spotted him, and he doesn't seem too forgiving over Vivi putting one of his men on fire.

"Vivi!" At the sound of my panicked voice, Vivi looks up just in time to see Steiner zeroing in on him. Steiner's looming form over Vivi's small, trembling one causes the small black mage to freeze up. "Vivi! Run!"

"Steiner! I order you to look behind you!" Garnet's order seems to distract Steiner for a moment, probably recalling that the harpoons could have killed or wounded the princess, and this gives Marcus enough time to rush over to intercept Steiner's path. Vivi remains on the ground, terrified, but he lifts his arm up and points a finger at the growing bomb creature behind Steiner.

The airship jerks once more as the bow smashes into the stone-built houses, crumbling their walls while the airship only takes minor damage to the wood. I stumble to the side, but someone steadies me with their brown, leather-gloved hands. Confused, I look over my shoulder to see none other than Garnet.

"We have to get Steiner to turn around!" She lets go of me, searching along the ground for something. I just keep looking from her to the ongoing battle with Steiner. Marcus is trying to lure Steiner towards the side of the stage, and Zidane's staying in front of Vivi, so whenever Steiner does a sharp maneuver towards the black mage, Zidane is there to stop him. When Garnet picks up a large stick with a curved top, I realize that something she has been searching for is her staff. She must have dropped it when the harpoons attacked the airship.

Garnet turns back to me, addressing my questioning gaze. "He is very hardheaded."

"What does—oh." Garnet runs up to Steiner, hitting him hard on the top of his helmet with her staff, answering my question. Ouch. That looks like it hurt a lot more than her attacks do in the game!

"Look behind you!" Zidane shouts as Marcus tries to forcefully turn Steiner around. Marcus may be built, but Steiner is still stronger than him and easily throws him back, knocking Marcus off his feet.

"It's a bomb!" Vivi finally manages to vocalize his thoughts.

"I won't fall for your old tricks!" Steiner brings his sword down on Zidane's dagger and then implements a quick side slash. For the first time, I see Zidane's middle get torn into, and dark, crimson blood soaks the white shirt he is wearing underneath his blue vest.

Before Zidane can even fully register the pain, a white light surrounds him, glowing brightly for a few seconds before dimming and completely fading away. A little ways from him, Garnet has her eyes closed and her staff pointing towards Zidane. He blinks before giving Garnet a charming grin. It seems to affect me more than it affects Garnet.

At this point, the bomb behind Steiner is at least three times its original size. The glaring eyes are now bulging as though the thing is about to explode. I panic and ignore my brain that pleads with me to stay away from the bomb. Vivi's not getting up from the ground, and everyone is right near the bomb!

Steiner doesn't take notice of me running towards them, but Marcus surely does. He glances from me to the bomb, making the connection almost immediately.

"It's gonna blow!" Marcus shouts, causing everyone to scramble away from Steiner and the bomb. I grab Vivi and attempt to drag him away from the line of fire.

Steiner's determined, furious expression falters, and he finally looks over his shoulder to see what is causing us to stop fighting. I can't see his face from where I am, but as soon as he turns around, Steiner falls back to the ground, holding a shaking hand in front of his face.

There seems to be almost a moment of silence before the bomb explodes.

Fire and smoke cloud my vision, and Vivi's small body slams into mine from the sheer strength of the bomb's waves. Having a mother's instinct, I huddle my body over his in order to protect him from the fire and debris hitting against my back. At some point, I'm forced to let go of Vivi so that I can roll over on the stage, putting out the embers and ash that have landed on the back of my sweatshirt. Even with the thick clothing covering me, it feels as though some wild cat has been let loose to scratch up my back, and it freaking burns!

Though the explosion isn't as deafening as I thought it would be, I'm still left with a small ringing in my ears. There's a distance sound of a roaring and crackling fire and splintering wood, but when the smoke finally starts to clear from the bomb, I notice that the airship is not as damaged as the bomb led me to presume. In fact, we're still flying over the rooftops of the many homes outlining Alexandria.

The Prima Vista quakes once more as a part of it just collapses onto the rooftops below, and at this point I can make out where everyone is on the stage. Marcus is towards the center, almost falling into a hole left by one the harpoons. Vivi somehow got jerked far away from me towards the far-end of the stern of the airship with Garnet. Steiner is not too far from them, but he looks to be having a more difficult time recovering from the blast.

Zidane's the first to get to his feet, achingly standing up a meter or so from me and attempting to make his way towards Garnet. The airship picks up speed, and he's back down on his knees before he can make it to her. The Prima Vista takes a sudden low dip, and for a split moment I am awestruck by the huge waterfalls that we seem to be almost gliding down. A mist of water covers us, and the temperature itself seems to quickly fall as we descend farther down the side of the cliff.

The Prima Vista picks up even more speed, and I can feel my body start to slide from the wind. We're so low to the ground now that I can see a sea of dark green trees over the sides of the stage. Branches cracked alongside the wooden airship, managing to jerk the boat as though the trees were really waves.

I try to grip onto the floorboards, but there is nothing for me to grab onto. As though I were on a rollercoaster ride, my stomach fills with butterflies as my entire body lifts up into the air. I want to scream or shout, but my world spins so quickly that I'm left closing my eyes, praying that I would wake up before I hit the ground.

A jolt of pain against the back of my head is the last thing I feel before everything goes black.