6 months has passed since Galcain was defeated. Aika has some unfinished business to finish. She suceeds, but what has happen to her?
At the front of the Blackbeard/, there was only one cannon, so it was the ideal choice to sail straight forward. Vyse knew the /Wave Line inside out and when the cannon was fired he steered away just in time to evade being hit. Now!
The little creature chirped and pressed in the button. The ship shook and then the sound of torpedoes was heard.
"Fina! At the front!"
Hardly had the words left his mouth until the PYRULEN spell struck the ship. Perfect! He put the ship in a downward course to make it look that the ship was going to crash. Then he grabbed two boarding ropes and Cupil. He rushed out and threw one of the ropes to Fina. And then the torpedo hit it's target. The whole bridge was covered in black smoke. They waited until the Wave Line had made it almost across the Blackbeard and then threw their boarding ropes at the Black Pirates's ship. Vyse quickly climbed up and made it over the gunwale. He immediately grasped his cutlasses and kept an eye out at the door leading to the bridge. Fina then climbed over. Without a word, they darted for the door. But hardly had they reached there until a group of five Black pirates went out, fully armoured.
"Well, well, thought you could fool us with that simple little trick, huh!"
"Judging from your looks, I thought you would fell for it perfectly." Vyse said.
It took some seconds before the insult was understood. And that added some humiliation as well.
"You have created enough trouble for us! Now you'll be threw aboard!"
The pirates drew their weapons and rushed forward. Fina fired off a CRYSTALEN spell aimed at the pirates. One of them was temporary frozen, the other four continued the charge. Cupil changed to a giant sword, ready to defend his mistress.
One pirate jumped out at Vyse, weapons ready. Vyse quickly side stepped, the pirate flew past and had to deal with Cupil. Vyse then engaged another pirate. He swung one of his cutlasses at the pirates throat, then used his second one and thrust forward at his opponents stomach. It hit, and the pirate fell down in pain. Vyse was then busy with another adversary, a man with a long black coat armed with a Nasredian sword. Vyse swung his right cutlass against his opponent's head, the left one was used for defence. The Black Pirate stroke away Vyse's cutlass with great strength. The Blue Rogue's arm was pushed away, leaving his right side exposed. The Pirate screamed and thrust against the unprotected area, but Vyse quickly dodged and kicked his opponents right knee. That didn't kept him down and it wasn't long until he attacked again. Vyse clenched his teeth. This pirate was more tougher and skilled than his comrade. The duel raged on. Vyse knew he had to finish it soon, or he would have to take on two at a time. Then, suddenly, the pirate stopped. He fell down at the floor with a sword deep into his back. Vyse didn't have to look very long before he realised the truth. Cupil changed back to his normal self and chirped.
"Thanks little buddy." Vyse said. "Now I owe you one."
"Vyse..." Fina said and pointed.
It looked like an whole legion, although it probably was just ten of them. Ten Black Pirates who were very eager to kill. Baltor stood in front of them and chuckled.
"You did a good job there. They were five of my best men."
Vyse stood calm, his eyes searched for an escape. There weren't any. This was the end!
"Now, I'm going to save myself some fifty thousand gold and make some job for the deck-cleaner. Blood is really hard to wash away. Especially that of an Blue Rogue. Now what do you say?"
"Are you sure you can handle the two of us with only ten of your best boys at your side." Vyse said dryly.
Baltor reached for his handgun, aimed at Vyse and Fina and he squeezed the trigger. But before the shot went of, the ship was rocked by a huge explosion.
Baltor looked up and saw the approaching ship. It was nothing serious but with all his crew standing on the deck, they were sitting ducks. He cursed out load.
"Everybody to your posts, I'm going to finish this!"
"Oh no you don't!" Fina said and cast a powerful WEVLEN.
All of the Black Pirates were thrown around like dolls. The attacking ship came closer and then they saw it was...
"Hey, it's Gilder!" Vyse called out.
Fina waved at the Claudia to make the ship to stop the assault. Fortunately, the helmsman seemed to understand and the ship laid itself side by side with the /Blackbeard/.
"Vyse, come on! Let's move of!" Fina called.
"Hold a sec, I'll just..."
Vyse rushed against the pirates.
"What do you think you're doing? Get back!"
The pirates were still drowsy from Fina's attack, but they were not out. Vyse gathered strength and then...
"Take a nap! SLIPARA!"
One after one, the pirates fell down. Most of them were still awake of course but Vyse got what he came for. Baltor! He grabbed the leader by his arms and quickly dragged him to the awaiting Claudia/. With help from Fina, he shovelled the Black Pirate over to Gilder's ship and then /Claudia took off.
Baltor had taken the full power of the SLIPARA and now slept heavily. The Blackbeard's crew were still confused over the loss of their captain so the Claudia had no trouble to get away. After taking Baltor inside the ship and tying him up, Vyse and Fina made their way to the bridge. Halfway there, Gilder met up with them. He gave Fina a light kiss on her hand and Vyse got a handshake. He smiled heartily.
"So, still getting yourself into all sorts of troubles, eh?"
"Well, I don't have someone to run away from all the time, I have to find other things to keep myself busy with."
Gilder just smiled.
"If you're talking about Clara, I haven't seen her for some time. I was just passing through on my way to Yafutoma and then I found that you're kept down by... Baltor! Looks like you're getting sloppy, Vyse."
"Hmph, if we had used the Delphinus he'd be down in moments. But I felt like a challenge."
"Maybe. Too bad almost all of your crew left after the battle with the armada."
"They had their reasons. You know it's very hard to control a big cruiser like that with only three people. That's why I'm stuck using that small boat out there."
"Alright, three people and one Cupil that is." Vyse said and grinned.
"So, were you heading somewhere?" Gilder asked.
"Yes, we were on our way to our base." Fina said. "Will it take us long?"
"Whoa, I was in a bit of a hurry. Do I have to?"
Then, Cupil floated up to Gilder and changed himself to the oh-so-familiar dagger.
"Or maybe we will, yes I'm sure that's good."
Gilder went to the bridge. The two youths followed him.
"I think you should stop threatening people with that poor little thing." Vyse said to his friend.
"Maybe, but it's pretty fun." Fina said and giggled.
She was doing those sort of things more often, it seemed. She wasn't so shy anymore and she often knew how to shoot back a remark, but she was still the sweet gentle person they had saved from Valua not less but three times. They stepped up to the bridge and in the distance they saw Crescent Isle. Finally they were home. Had they really left this morning? Vyse shook his head. It felt so long ago. Now they had the antidote, and soon Aika would be able to wake up and escape from her peril. His heart pounded. Fina tapped his shoulder.
"Vyse." she whispered. "Should we tell him?"
"No, we owe Clara at least a thanks."
The Claudia glided in to the underground docks. As soon as the ship was rigged, Vyse and Fina rushed to the living quarters. Gilder had heard from the two what had happened to Aika and he followed them. Then, as they reached out of the cave, he stopped. No! Why here of all places?!
"Oh, you're back." Clara said. "We even made some work at your ship so... oh it's you!!"
She immediately ran after Claudia's captain who quickly turned around and rushed for his ship, shouting to his men to prepare for leaving harbour. Vyse and Fina took no notice of this, however, as they ran to the living quarters, skipped up the stairs and burst into Aika's room. Inside, Belle sat and bathed Aika's forehead. The young gunner looked up.
"Not a moment too soon." Vyse said to his former gunman (or woman). "Hopefully this will cure her."
Clara opened the door.
"Belle, return to the ship. I lost him but we'll catch him up with the /Primrose/."
"Aye, aye." Belle replied and ran out of the room waving goodbye to the two friends.
"Thank you for your help." Fina said.
Clara just smiled.
"No problems, Fina. Say hello to Aika from me when she wakes up."
Then she was gone. Vyse moved Aika to a sitting position against the wall and carefully poured the dew into her mouth. The sleeper began to cough, and then, she opened her eyes! Fina gasped in wonder.
"Aika, are you alright?" Vyse asked her.
The answer was not comforting. She pushed Vyse of her bed down on the floor and screamed.
"Aika, what are you doing?" was all Vyse managed to say.
"Get off me!" she cried.
"Aika, don't you recognise us?" Fina said. "It's over now!"
The red-head girl grabbed her photo of Vyse and threw it at the silvite. Fina dodged and the photo slammed into the wall and the glass-frame shattered. Vyse quickly went over to Fina.
"It looks like she's still in her nightmare. It may take some time before she realises it's really over."
Fina nodded and said to Aika:
"When you're feeling better, we will be waiting for you downstairs, Aika. OK?"
Aika just stared at them with bloodshot eyes. She breathed in short gasps, seemingly ready for an assault. Vyse and Fina slowly backed out of the room, closed the door and went down to the all-room. Vyse shook his head.
"This is just... I thought everything would be alright once we'd given her the antidote. But now..."
"We'll just have to give her some time. She'll know that she is awake and..."
"And then?" Vyse said. "We don't know what she has experienced during this whole day. She could turn out alright, yes, but she could also go completely insane! Period!"
"And all because of..."
Vyse sat down on the sofa. He leaned his head against the wall. Fina sat down next her friend. He definitely had a point. Isolated and faced with god-knew-what. Would Aika even be the same?
After a long wait, the door opened up and Aika entered. She was dressed in her normal yellow outfit but she hadn't arranged her hair in the usual braids.
"Hi you guys." she said.
Vyse and Fina just looked. Still unsure.
"Don't worry. I'm awake now and perfectly sane."
Still, she looked a bit different. It was something in her eyes. She went over to the table, pulled out a chair and sat down. She took a deep breath.
"To put it short, I haven't had the most cuddliest dreams during the day, so to say."
"You do know that you drank that formula you prepared for Vigoro." Vyse said.
"Yep. I poured the dew in his food but he must've swapped the dinner plates while we were out."
No one said anything for a while.
"It was horrible. I had no idea that I was dreaming. It felt like... like I had died and lived through my own hell. And when you gave me that cure, it all finished so abruptly, I didn't know I was awake. And, ahem, you had been in my dreams also, and I thought you were back again to..."
"To what?" Fina asked, but she knew already what Aika meant.
"Never mind that. I feel better now and all. It was just dreams and they can't hurt me a bit. I'll be able to shake 'em off in time, but still, I feel terrible."
"What for?" Vyse asked.
"Cause I was about to throw someone into a living hell and let him stay there. And I had no idea about getting a cure! That formula is just to horrible to exist!"
Vyse raised his eyebrows.
"Even for... Vigoro?"
"Yes. Even for that jerk. I was lucky to get out after just one day, but imagine what would happen after one week! Or a year!"
Vyse and Fina nodded, silence. Aika stood up.
"Well, I know I've slept all day, but I got to hit the hay. See you tomorrow, and thank you."
She smiled briefly, closed the door and soon they heard her walk up the stairs. Vyse and Fina looked at each other.
"Well?" Fina said.
"Not too bad, I guess."
As soon as he woke up, Vyse jumped out of bed. He dressed quickly and went over to Aika's room. The clock was around 10 A.M. so they had all got a sleep morning. He knocked lightly on the door. Immediately, the door opened. Aika was dressed in her usual yellow pirate suit. Her braids were in place as usual. She smiled cheerfully. A good sign.
"Already up?" she asked.
"Well, I'm not the one who tries to wake people at 6 o' clock."
"Sleep more later, work more now." Aika said. "What's on the schedule today?"
"I have... I mean Fina and I decided we should head over to Valua. It appears that the Black Pirates have made some progress and they need to be pushed back. Also, we should check that Baltor has been put behind bars."
"Baltor's been put away? Alright, how much have I missed so far?"
"Well, apart from Fina almost went berserk in Nasrad, I got to handle three brigands on my own and then a battle against the whole crew of /Blackbeard/, I'd say not too much."
Aika raised her eyebrows.
"Anyway, lets go prepare the /Delphinus/. Clara and her crew did some job on her while they were here, so we could take her out for a ride."
"Has Clara been here? When?"
"Since yesterday morning, but she left when we returned. Are you coming?"
"Sure. Oh, and maybe we could stop by Nasrad. Just want to tell a thing or two to a certain salesman."
"Or make sure that he is put behind bars also. Hopefully he can share a cell with Baltor."
"Good thinking, ten years together with Baltor could be just what he needs."
"Or why don't we throw him out in the desert and hope his hair burns up." Vyse said and smiled.
"I still say it's possible! You were just lucky back then, I tell you!"
Instead of bantering back Vyse smiled warmly, his very being shimmered with joy. Aika looked confused.
"I'm so happy that you're back." he said with a low voice.
"Well, it's not like I ran off or something."
"I know. But that you're still the Aika I know."
She smiled and then quick as a flash leapt forward and pulled Vyse into a tight hug.
"And I'm glad to be back with the Vyse I know. Not some nightmare."
He immediately answered to her hug. He found that he had to struggle to keep away some tears.
"Should we go?" he said after a while.
"Nuh uh." Aika said low. "Not yet."
"If you say so."
It took a while before Aika began to release the grip. After that, they went to the docks area while Vyse told her everything about yesterdays adventures. As soon as they reached the docks, the two friends started to supply the ship with fuel and ammunition. After a while Fina showed up, dressed in her Blue Rogue outfit. As she saw her, Aika quickly dashed away and threw herself at Fina. Unfortunately, Fina was not prepared for the impact and they both fell down on the ground.
"Well, good to see you again." Aika said.
"That's the Aika I know." said Fina and hugged her friend tightly.
Some minutes later, everything was set to go and they boarded the /Delphinus/. When they had made it to the bridge, Vyse turned to Aika and said:
"Helmsman Aika, take us to Valua. After that, we'll go to Nasrad."
"You're letting me take complete control over /Delphinus/? Heh, I don't know if you are daring or just stupid."
She smiled. Vyse mockingly pointed his finger towards her and said:
"Don't push your luck matey, or you will be swabbing the docks for one whole month."
"Ha! As far as I remember it, the exact words were that we should split it up!"
"And as far I remember it, I'm your captain, so hah hah!"
They all laughed. Aika went over to the wheel. She felt exited.
"Everything's set." Fina said.
"Full speed ahead, helmswoman." said Vyse. "I know you'll do a good job."
"Aye aye!" Aika said.
The Delphinus made a slow but sure emerge out from the docks. Vyse smiled and looked at his companions. Continuing sailing and adventuring together with his best friends could only be "Eternal Joy"!
A/N: My "Thank you-list": SEGA and Overworks for creating the most wonderful RPG I have ever played.
My former PSO-partner who told me about a great game I had to buy: "Skies Of Arcadia". Thank you!
Kitty (user "kkcty" on fanfiction.net), who test-read my story.