Why is Fina acting so strange? WHat'sshe planning? And why won't she let Vyse and Aika know?
One day after; Fina’s shuttle returned. At the sight of her ship, Vyse and Aika hurried to the docks. They arrived just in time to see their silvite friend emerge from the little ship together with Domingo. Fina held a large cloth bag. Both looked happy (Fina and Domingo that is. Not the cloth bag.).
“Thanks again for your help, Domingo,” Fina said. “This will suit my needs perfectly.”
Domingo smiled back.
“Anytime. It’s always a pleasure to help out someone as beautiful as yourself.”
Fina smiled at the compliment, but did not look embarrassed. Domingo was still the same skirt chaser. For a fact: Fina and Aika had been one of the reasons he joined up with Vyse.
Now the silvite and the lookout had noticed Vyse and Aika.
“Hi you two,” said Vyse. “Did you have a good trip?”
“Oh yes. It was very… fulfilling.”
“It was indeed. But anyway” Domingo said, trying to steal away “Glad I could help you out. I’m outta…”
“Not so fast,” Aika said and grabbed him by his shoulder. “What have you two been doing?”
For a very short moment, Fina looked a bit cautious. Domingo didn’t seem much happier either. They exchanged a quick glance.
“Well” he started “I’ve given my word I’ll not reveal anything. But…” He suddenly looked astute. “Everything has its price.”
“And that is?”
Fina began to take a step towards Domingo. It seemed almost as she was trying to stop him from speaking. She was obviously quite nervous, Vyse noticed.
“The price?” Domingo said. “One nice little date, maybe? Just you and me.”
The blonde silvite relaxed visibly. The redhead squinted. Her facial expression made it clear she was thinking very hard.
“You’re right,” she said. “My right foot has always wanted to meet your kneecaps.”
“… maybe some other time then,” he said and started to walk away.
“Hey!” Aika called after him. “At least tell us what you were doing!”
“Sorry!” he said across his shoulder. “I’ve given Fina my word. If you want to find out, ask her.”
The lookout blinked with his right eye. Aika turned and saw Fina waving at him. The silvite looked relieved.
“Okay,” Vyse said, going down to business. “Where have you been and what have you been up to?”
Again, Fina seemed anxious. She squeezed her bag tightly, as if it gave her protection, or that she needed to protect it. Her gaze was slightly turned down.
“Uhm… I’m sorry to say this but…”
“But what?” Vyse and Aika said simultaneously.
“I can’t tell you.”
That was an answer neither of them had expected. Vyse, Aika and Fina were very close-knit to each other. They shared everything, whether it was laughter or tears, happiness or sorrow, the last cookie, or a bottle with loqua. They trusted each other with their lives; they’d do anything for each other. And now Fina had decided to keep them, her best friends, away?
Aika suddenly brightened up.
“Aha! I knew it all along!” She lowered her voice to a more confident tone. “It was for that special someone, wasn’t it? You’ve met someone, have you?”
“Aika!” Vyse interrupted. “Don’t start to imagine things now!”
Fina herself looked away, but then a sweet little smile started to emerge across her lips, her eyes sparkled; just the way they did when she thought of something she liked.
“That’s true,” she said mildly. “Although, it’s for more than one special-someone.”
Now that was astonishing.
“More than one!?” Vyse exclaimed.
“Why, yes,” Fina answered casually.
“Well, blow me down,” Aika said, her eyes as big as saucers. “Are… Fina, are you a bigamist?”
Fina looked a little bit perplexed. Just like that time when she for the first time had heard about the strange term that was ‘buy’.
“Uhm… no, Aika. I’m not a ‘bigger mist’. That’s a weather-phenomenon.”
“No, you’re misunderstanding!” Aika groaned. Vyse was just grinning. “What I mean is…bigamy is when… argh, never mind.”
“Anyway,” Vyse said. “As long as you’re not in trouble…”
Their silvite friend suddenly got a new look in her eyes. Not really stern but very resolute.
“If I was, I wouldn’t doubt telling you,” she said. “I have no problems. Only a secret.” She blinked when she said the last thing.
“And that is?” Aika asked.
“Give it a rest, Aika,” Vyse said. “It wouldn’t be much of a secret if she told us, huh?”
“That’s true,” Fina said. “I’m sorry I have to keep you out of this, I really am, but I want it to be a surprise for them. I won’t take any chances.”
Not taking any chances!? OK, so of course they would go out and spread something Fina wanted to keep secret! Aika felt a bit snubbed. It was not as she was offended by Fina or anything; it was because of what she had said. Didn’t she trust them anymore?
The day passed on. Vyse nor Aika managed to get anything out of Fina regarding her trip. But Fina had after all held her secrets from captain Dyne, empress Teodora and even Galcian himself. They didn’t see much of her either. She kept herself busy with the harbour-works. They did, however, manage to get some time together in the tavern for a quite late lunch. Fina made some delicious koketa-omelette. With the onions, mushroom and cheese she added, it tasted like that heaven no airship could reach. And the roasted sausages weren’t that bad either. Any and all questions Vyse had about the trip, or the early visit, were swallowed as quick as the food.
“Did you like it?” Fina asked when they were finished.
“As much as Nasr is hot,” Aika said and dried her mouth with a napkin. “You’re really great with food, you know. It’s always so tasty.”
“Especially for someone who once didn’t even know what money was,” Vyse agreed.
“What?” Aika said. “So now you think they didn’t have food at the silver shrine?”
“Well, that would be your worst nightmare, huh?”
“You have a point there,” Fina said. “Everybody has to eat, even silvites. But at the silver shrine, the only thing we ate was nutrient-pills.”
“What’s that?” Aika asked.
Fina smiled a bit, almost starting to laugh. She often found it funny when someone had to ask her of definitions.
“Nutrient-pills are… were simply small pills we had for food. They supplied you with all vitamins and, of course, nutrient you need for several hours. Although, it doesn’t compensate for liquid so you need that as well.”
“So you ate pills for food?” Aika said, greatly astonished. “Isn’t that… I mean, don’t you have to gobble quite a lot to feel stuffed? And eating that many pills… did it ever happen that someone got high?”
“No,” Fina giggled. “No one ever got tall from these pills. There were no growth hormones included.”
“What Aika means with ‘high’” Vyse said explaining “is when you, how shall I say this, feel all strange and start to see pink airships in the skies. You know, stuff like that.”
“I see,” Fina said, realizing. “Then I know I’ve been that several times… but then I saw it was just the /Primrose/.”
“Oh, Fina you nutty.”
They broke out in laughter. Vyse thought that sure, a pirate-life was great and all, but Fina and Aika was definitely a wonderful topper. Being together with them was all nutrient he ever needed.
“But anyway,” Fina said after the laugh-dust had settled. “The pills were totally without taste. But I wasn’t really aware of that until I came down to Arcadia.”
“So dull,” Aika said. “I mean, it must be so boring to not have any sense of taste.”
“True,” Fina nodded. “So that’s why I like it so much. Cooking, I mean.”
“That’s good,” Aika said. “Like, it’ll be less house-keeping for me.”
“Aika!!” Vyse said. “Stop teasing her!”
“Why?” Aika giggled. “No one is safe when I’m around.”
“Or when you’re around the stove,” Vyse shot back.
Why you… I’ve never seen YOU being a master-chef either!”
“Says the girl who thinks ‘well-done’ is the same as ‘crisp’.”
“Look, say one more thing and I’ll put you in the oven!”
“Yeah that’s right, woman. Back to the stove where you belong!”
“Wha… now that’s it! You watch it, ‘cause it’s hunting seasons for chauvinistic pigs! It always is but definitely now!”
Vyse was about to fire away in the verbal swashbuckling when he was interrupted by Fina’s laughter. She was often easily-amused, now she sat almost bent over by laughter. Not that Vyse minded it. He liked the sound of Fina’s laughter. It was so sweet and fresh. And most of all, the fact she was laughing meant she was happy. If she was, he was.
“Look, Vyse,” Aika said. “Now you’ve made her cry.”
“Nope,” Vyse said. “It’s you scaring all the normal people.”
“Who the heck wants to be normal anyway!?”
Those words did little to stifle Fina’s laughter. But soon she managed to catch her breath. Her lips still twitched a bit, almost like an aftershock.
“I’m sorry,” she managed to say. Actually not sounding very sorry. “I didn’t mean to laugh at you, but that just sounded so…”
“Strange, weird, crazy?” Aika asked, smiling to her. “No sweat, ‘cause that’s what we are. You included.”
“That’s why we fit so well together,” Vyse said.
That was a statement everybody could agree on. Crazy in general, fitting together in particular.
“Anyway,” Fina said. “Sorry to cut it, but I have to go back to work. See you later.”
“What do you mean by that?” Aika said, puzzled.
Fina looked confused.
“Of course we see you. Do you turn invisible sometimes?”
“… Not that I know of.”
“Then we’ll catch later. Toodle-oo!”
Fina went out from the tavern; Vyse and Aika remained sitting. Resting on the food was important, at least Aika thought so. Although, it was a bit hard to place the words Aika and rest in the same sentence without using a well placed /not/.
“Right now” Aika said, “I feel like shaking up some hot stuff. You know what that means?”
“Do I dare guess?”
Aika flung up from her chair.
“Washing up the dishes!”
“So that’s why she left so quickly,” Vyse said. “Even before… darn! I forgot to ask her again.”
“No sweat, there is a such thing as a second chance,” Aika said and wrapped a green apron around Vyse. “I don’t think she’s going globetrotting for a while, and I need your help with these.”
“You don’t think so?” Vyse said sceptically and started to tie his new piece of clothing. “But as long as she’s keeping herself at least under the red moon; I should be grateful.”
Washing dishes had never been Vyse’s favourite doing, but Aika always took it with stride. It was just one bad thing associated with something else which was great: eating. You couldn’t escape it more than wobbling decks during storm, hangover after loqua, cleaning after a great party, or quarrelling with your mother-in-law.
After it was done, Vyse headed off to search for Fina. Even if Crescent Isle was big, no one could remain hidden for long. He might not get an explanation about the trip, but at least she could tell him what she had done in his room.
Vyse entered the tunnel that lead into the harbour. As always, he felt as if he had entered a whole new world. Outside the sun was shining, inside it was always a bit shady. Out in the open the air was clear and crispy, in here the smell of wax, gunpowder and sweat always filled his nostrils. He took the last steps out and soon stood with his wrists resting on the cat-walk’s armrest, and gazed out.
Brabham and Hans were there as usual, busy with the /Delphinus/. Khazim and his men were fixing and donning with the cannons. Marco, Robinson and some others had decided to swab up the deck.
No Fina was in sight. Perhaps she had gone into the harbour kitchen to make some tea. But it was too far to go, so Vyse might as well check up the other hall first. By the way, he was curious about the treasure. Having settled his mind, he turned to left and began to walk.
Vyse had just reached the opening when suddenly something swished by him. Then he saw it was…
“Oh, hello captain,” Belle said, bouncy as always. “Were you passing through?”
“Yes I was,” Vyse said. “Until someone blocked my way.”
“What? Who? Oh, you mean me. That’s right… I’ll just…” She turned around and shouted into the room: “Everybody: Vyse is coming!” Belle stepped aside. “There: all clear.”
If Belle’s intention was to make Vyse confused, she had succeeded.
“What was that for?”
“I don’t really know myself. Eh, of course I know myself but I don’t know why Fi… they made me do this… tell them on beforehand that you was coming, I mean. Oh my, I wasn’t supposed to say that!”
“So I got my own announcer. Now, where did you put my red carpet?”
“Red carpet? I don’t know about that… oh, I’ve missed something again, have I?”
“Never mind,” Vyse sighed. “Just never mind.”
“I’m such an airhead!”
Vyse went into the hall, leaving his lively gunner behind him. As soon as he had passed her, and thus being outside of her perceptive field, he started to grin.
Sometimes I wonder: does she ever put any tea in all her sugar?
Belle might look like a total klutz, but she was still a capable girl. She had her heart at the right place… she just didn’t think very far.
The cave was the same place as always. Three stalls which formed a large triangle. In the corner closest to him was Osman’s stall. In usual order, she sat amongst her precious luxury articles, waiting for opportunities to grab a buck. Farther away stood Ilchymis, mixing up some new potions. A green mist covered his little apothecary. And to the left were Ryu-Kan and his forge. Today it seemed like he had got an assistant. And Vyse had “found the treasure”. In both cases: it meant Fina. The silvite might seem demure enough, but she was not weak. She made her assisting with bravado.
Fina looked up when she heard Vyse coming. She seemed glad to see him.
“Hello, Vyse,” she said. “Did you come for the dessert?”
“Sure did,” he answered. “Ice cream with a topping of explanation.”
That sure made Fina look a bit troubled.
“Like I said before” she started. “I can’t tell you yet.”
“I know, and I accept that. But I wonder about what you did yesterday morning.”
All out of sudden, Fina apparently found her feet quite interesting to look at. She even seemed to blush a bit.
“What do you mean?” she asked plainly.
Vyse and Fina started to walk to the exit which led out to the isle itself. Having business in other people’s rooms was probably not something you would spill for anyone. Here no one would hear them.
“Okay,” Vyse said, trying to make a start. “It’s not that I’m angry at you, I’m definitely not, but I just want to know.”
Fina took a deep breath.
“All I can say now is that I had my reasons,” she said. “I understand that you find it strange, and I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable, but I can’t tell you why yet.”
“Like your and Domingo’s trip? And the fact you put Belle on ‘guard-duty’?”
“…Yes I did. I will tell you later… but just not now.”
Just before Vyse could say anything more, Aika entered.
“You heard the lady!” Aika said. “By the way, is it that strange that she needed some backup when you’re on the loose?”
“I’ve never heard anyone except Galcian need a body-guard against me,” Vyse replied. “But you can have it. After all” he smirked, “you are the weaker gender.”
As soon as the thoughtless words had escaped his foul mouth, Aika and Fina fixed him with glares which told that he was in grave danger. And he hadn’t even been serious! But they didn’t know that…
“This means war,” Aika stated. “Fina, are you with me?”
“I’ll gladly take some minutes off,” was Fina’s foreboding answer. “Regular positions?”
“For what?” Vyse asked. “No… no, no, don’t come closer now don’t… hey let go, get off me before I’ll… ha-ha-hah! No sto-ho-ho-ho-hop!! It ti-hi-hi-hickles!!”
“And that’s the reason we’re doing this, you know,” Aika said, smiling like she had the time of her life. She sat on top of him with her hand working at his sides. “But we can do much better than this, can’t we?”
“Absolutely!” Fina agreed quite cheerfully, currently busy with his hips. “Shall we remove his boots?”
“Duh, is it cold in Glacia? Just don’t forget the socks.”
“No-ho-ho-ho please! Not my feet! Not my feet! Anything but… aha-ha-ha-hah!!”
Vyse’s wiggle and struggle did no good; all of his attempts of breaking away were just as effective as a puny torpedo would’ve been against the Grand Fortress. He didn’t get any help either. People probably saw this as internal struggle. And most of the men thought that Vyse sure didn’t mind getting smooth female flesh all over him anyway.
It all finished when Vyse managed to agree that he would make Aika and Fina’s beds for ten days. Pinned down on the ground, bare feet, all your sensitive spots getting assaulted, you had no options of negotiations. But from earlier experiences, he knew they’d stop counting at the second day. All they wanted was to score a major victory. It was neither necessary nor fun to have Vyse slaving for them.
But even if he had “lost”, Vyse know he had won by having Aika and Fina by his side. Things like this just made life worth living.
As per usual after a grand raiding, Polly and Urala made a grand dinner. As usual, Aika found everything delicious. But the company could’ve definitely been better; Fina was absent throughout the whole dinner. The redhead had tried to get some details from Ryu-Kan about what Fina was up to, but he hadn’t given her any answer.
“I know you may feel excluded,” he had said. “But don’t feel pushed aside. She is a good person, and you should feel proud to count her as your friend. In time, you will find your answer.”
It was all too obvious Aika wouldn’t get any answer. If she wanted answers, she would have to get them from the source. So after she had finished her food (without even taking seconds), she set away to the cave where Fina was working. Vyse hadn’t managed to get something more out from Fina, but maybe Aika could. No matter how close the three of them were, and no matter how good friends they were, there were still things only girls could talk to each other about.
Now Aika had reached the entrance to the cave hall. She entered and spotted Fina standing at the forge. Her back turned, she hadn’t yet noticed Aika. It seemed like she had some work with the anvil. It was not necessary to scare her, but still…
Fina gasped and quickly swirled around, her hands behind her back. She looked just like she was in the process of doing something forbidden.
“Oh, hi, Aika,” Fina said, laughing nervously. ”You scared me there.”
“Sorry ‘bout that,” Aika grinned. “Guess it’s become my new hobby. Say” She tilted her head, as if she was trying to watch past Fina. “what are you working on?”
“… nothing special.”
“When someone says ‘nothing’, it will in ninety-nine cases of a hundred mean ‘something’.”
“Maybe this is the one hundredth case?”
Right then Aika noticed a large piece of cloth lying over the anvil. She knew it hadn’t lay there just before. Was Fina covering something? Aika could bet the Delphinus she did, although Vyse would probably kill her for that gamble, or at least ban her from the kitchen forever.
“Did you want anything?” Fina said.
The redhead quickly thought over what she would say. This might be tough.
“Yes. I want to know just why you have been acting so strange lately. First you groped Vyse” Aika smiled briskly, “Then, buzzing away with Domingo for some reason and now you lock yourself into the cave and miss the dinner. Heck, even I can be a lot less strange than that.”
During her tirade, Fina had tried to avoid Aika’s gaze. The blonde Air Pirate seemed quite tensed.
“I had and have stuff to do,” Fina said.
“But just what?” Aika asked, trying not to sound fed-up. “Has something happened to you?”
Fina shook her head.
“No, nothing serious. Nothing is wrong.”
Aika took a few steps forward.
“Well, if it’s /nothing/, then why can’t you tell either me or Vyse!?”
“No! It’s private.”
“Really!?” Her voice had turned much harder than she had thought. “But you could tell Domingo and Ryu-Kan and everyone else!?”
Those words made Fina jolt, as in pain, and she looked away.
“That was necessary,” she said a bit strained. Too strained…
Slowly, Aika’s word caught up with her. Oh, moons. What had she done? Together with Vyse, Fina was the most important and dearest person to Aika. And now she had made her hurt, crushed, sad. Not good.
“F…Fina… I’m sorry,” Aika said, feeling quite bad about herself.
Fina raised a hand to her eyes. It almost seemed as if she was drying away a tear.
“Don’t be,” Fina said. “It’s not your fault.”
Aika wasn’t all that convinced. She stepped forward and, doing what words couldn’t express, laid her arms around Fina. The silvite responded, which made Aika curl up a little closer.
“I’m so sorry I hurt you,” Aika said. “I didn’t mean to get angry.”
“You’ve never done that,” Fina said and laid her cheek on Aika’s left shoulder. “Hurt me, I mean.”
“And I never want to. Ever.”
They both went quiet. For now, it was enough just being close. An embrace was one of the best tokens of friendship, plus it felt cosy being together to someone you were fond of. And Aika was very fond of Fina.
Back at the tavern, the party went on. But Aika had no plans of returning just yet.
“It is a little tricky situation,” Fina said, finally. “But I promise I will tell you when it’s over.”
“Don’t worry, Fina,” Aika said. “I already know of your secret.”
Fina gasped and threw a quick glance over her shoulders.
“Did you see them?”
“You’re building a new Gigas, aren’t ya?”
Fina’s nervous looks was quickly dispersed in a mask of relief and then amusement. Aika felt Fina’s body convulse when she started to laugh.
“Well, I tried to,” she smiled. “Then I ran out of velorium.”
“Sucks. But promise me that, when you’re the world’s new empress, I’ll be your second in command, okie-dokie?”
“Too late,” Fina giggled. “I’ve already settled for Vyse as my right-hand.”
“Yeah but… don’t you need a left one as well?”
”Now when you say it. I could use someone to carry around my cloak and polish my crown.”
To this insult, there was only one answer. Aika immediately started to mess up Fina’s hair quite badly and then proceeded to take her down. Unfortunately, Fina caught up with her and turned her around, so they both fell down on the floor in a heap. They tumbled around in a quite wild but even wrestle, struggling to get the best of each other. Their laughter and shouts echoed throughout the whole cave.
“I’ll get you for this!”
Even if Aika was the stronger of the two of them, Fina was the most agile. Plus, she had the advantage of looking like a pretty demure girl, which made everybody nearby relax and take it easier on her… and then be caught by total surprise!
But victory or not, as long as she was enjoying herself, she was happy.