Brave New World by Shinusagi

Lenna was the first to regain consciousness.

It was always a surprise to people that this young, frail looking girl actually had the constitution of a Tonberry. It was even more of a surprise when you realised that she was Princess Lenna of Tycoon. She stood up, and then involuntarily sat down again. Okay, legs still shaky.

Oh, but she had been through worse. If she wasn't being poisoned with baffling regularity, or being trapped inside a sinking tower, then she was being flamed, frozen or shocked, or on one particularly confusing occasion, turned into a frog. She had had to hold back the urge to catch flies with her tongue for quite a while. In comparison, being flung through an unknown gateway into an alternate universe and landing on her head on what was...yes, a completely solitary island...

She paused to take a breath, and tried to regain her train of thought.

...was relatively relaxing. She stood up again, this time with more success. The rays of the dying sun glinted from the red kimono that had only so recently become her regular fashion. Oh yes, and the heavy gloves which showed her clear monkhood. She didn't recall the monks at home having ever done anything but mutter a lot and sprinkle holy water everywhere. And they couldn't even get that right; they had sprinkled holy water on her uncle"s beloved sword and it went rusty a week later. No, if most monks had to go out and use their fists (and occasionally, feet) in the real world, they"d soon go for an easier job. Like lion taming, maybe.

Speaking of the real world...

"Butz!" she called at the top of her voice. And with slightly less enthusiasm "Faris!" Of course she did love her newly discovered big sister but...Lenna had the nagging feeling that Butz did too. Maybe a little time alone. A little wine, a little music. After all, a good chemist could probably knock up some wine. And who needs music when you have a bard?

A nearby drumlin seemed to react to her voice. It coughed, and the soil fell away to reveal Butz. He continued to cough, and then lay still, breathing deeply.

Lenna winced. His Mithril armour, the proper garb for a Knight had been quite seriously dented in his fall. Only very recently, he had been wearing the thin robes of a Caller. She ran over and hugged him. "I"m so glad you're alive!"

Most people only ever succeeded in looking sheepish. Butz"s expression was more rammish. Possibly even flockish. "Yeah." he agreed. "Is Faris around?"

It was possibly just as well that Butz was paying little attention to Lenna, or he would have noticed her wrinkling her nose. "From what I"ve seen, Faris can take care of herself!"

"Too bloody right I can!"

Butz tried to stand up, which was tricky as Lenna was still hugging him. He managed though. "Hey Faris!" was all he could manage.

"Hey chocoboy." she replied, sneering. See, she didn't even like him! But then, what were those looks they keep giving each other?

Butz and Faris gave each other those looks. This was helped greatly by Faris"s present outfit. Somewhere in between being pulled into a transdimentional portal and being here now, she had switched from the unexciting, if slightly Romany, kit of a thief to the, well, exciting getup of a MysticKnight. The outfit had apparently been designed for sexuality rather than practicality. The pendant, perhaps the cause of all this trouble, was no longer concealed decently behind a jacket. It now swung free over a bikini top, while her legs were totally unconcealed by the narrow loincloth that was the lower half of the costume. Presumably, after years of dressing as a man for the benefit of a bunch of chauvinistic pirates, she had decided to prove once and for all that she was female. It was pretty conclusive proof.

Lenna found herself subconsciously wondering which job class had an even skimpier outfit.

In fact, both Butz and Lenna had been staring at the outfit for quite some time, for opposite reasons, but had both missed the focus point: what Faris was holding. Presumably it had started life with a head, but had all too recently ended it without one.

In answer to their unspoken question, Faris unleashed her colloquial, pirate speech. "I dunno what it is. But they're everywhere. I"ve done about eight already."

Oh yes, by "done" she of course meant...

Faris threw the corpse to the floor, where it bounced once before shimmering purple and...vanishing. Top scientists were a bit edgy around the subject of what actually happens, or why it only happens when they die. Some people suggested religion, but it certainly saved on dead corpses blocking the street. Whatever caused it, it happened, and nothing was left except a small blue package marked "All weather! Protects against all known monster attacks (Note: doesn't protect against any variations on Ice2. You have been warned.)"

Butz smiled. "Tent, anyone?"

Faris smiled even wider. "No cheers. Already got eight o" them."


They all sat around the fire, which Faris had lit with what Lenna considered to be unreasonable enthusiasm. It was all very fine and well to say a magical incantation while casting Fire1, but screaming "Burn! Burn! Ha ha ha!" lacked a certain class. Still, Butz seemed to like it.

"I really hate monsters." Lenna said, anxious for the non-sequitor.

Faris didn't even look up. She was actually trying to decide whether to say "Well just leave it and eat your greens" or...

"That"s the point, innit? If you liked them, they"d be pets, wouldn't they?"

"No. I mean I really hate them. I mean when I was turned into a frog..."

Faris sighed "When you were turned into a frog..."

If looks could kill, Faris would have had Doom cast upon her. "When I was a frog it felt really awful. And I mean, that was just a frog. Just imagine if I had been turned into an actual monster."

Faris bit her tongue. "Yeah, that would have been awful." she said, finally.

"I guess you're not scared of anything."

"You're so right there! But don't forget that Butt over there is scared of heights."

Everyone smiled, and a certain sense of peace reasserted itself. It was something of a running joke, that the boy who had ridden a Hiryuu, become the first person in decades to catch and use the flying Black Choco, had piloted the incredible airship and had fought on top of the gun barrel of a country-sized aircraft, was scared of heights.

"I guess," said Butz, having one of his sensitive moments "that what I"m scared of is, how everyone at home feels. You know, Boco and Cid and everyone."

"And Galuf?" Surprisingly, it was Faris who had asked the question.

"Yeah. Yeah, that"s why we're here, isn't it?"

Faris and Lenna smiled at each other. They might argue at times, but they were sisters, and prepared to die for each other (provided the other was there with a Fenix down.) It was clear that everyone was going to go the whole way, to save the world...both worlds, and if necessary, to die for their beliefs.

Still, Lenna wasn't going to be the first to fall asleep. There was no telling what the other two might try...