Word Count: 1962
Level 4 - (28/40) + 3
Location: The Edge of Blue ~ The Bowls of the ship(girl?)
The damage was about as bad as Link had expected, but The Cadet was fortunately already making headway. The most apparent threat in the room already had three of those great arrows poking out of it, and so Cadet had its undivided attention. Other Monsters, the blackfish he had spotted earlier, struggled to chomp and wriggle their way through as the wood of the ship in a constant battle against Blazermate's healing. Link watched as one got overzealous, tried to force its way in through a hole not quite big enough for it, and got stuck halfway as the wood reformed around it. It screamed, fired of it's guns randomly, then was reduced to ash and a spirit as its white body was crushed.
For every one like that, though, there was another one that got through and plopped like a dead fish into the knee deep waters of the hold. He could make out the shape of them in the brackish, constantly shifting water, and their heads would rise up out of it to take potshots in any direction. No matter where they shot they'd hit their enemy, after all.
Link gripped his new weapon as he crouched at the top of the stairs, getting a good feel for the heft. The other thing, the metal plate, had an odd adherent property he had noticed almost as soon as it had manifested. He'd found it had stuck to his glove, almost like a shield would, and with a little effort he had pried it off and stuck it onto his back as a little extra body armor. With those he had the makings of a plan of attack, and it only highlighted how woefully underequipped he was. If he'd had his way he would have just helped Cadet get back up on deck then chucked three or four lightning weapons down here and called it a victory. As it stood he was going to have to face the swarm head on.
If you were going to fight something head on, you had to make the first strike count. He spotted what looked like a good cluster of the black shadows under the water, bubbles rising to the surface every time he saw the flash of one of their guns going off. Taking a deep breath Link jumped off the steps into the middle of them, spinning forward in the air and bringing the full weight of the axe slamming down into their midst.
He felt one get crunched under it, the familiar feeling of his weapon biting into armor and flesh instead of wood radiating up his arms, but more important than that was the impact. Water exploded upward like a geyser from the force of the blow, sending three of the blackfish and what looked like a group of smell childlike monsters flopping into the air with it. As they did the axe disappeared from his hands, replaced by the good old sword and shield. He drew back, a sheen of light running all the way up the Soldier's Broad Sword until it reached the tip. With a mighty "HYAAAAAAAA!" Link spun. The sword just chopped through the imps and left nasty gashes on the blackfish as they were sent flying back into the water.
Without missing a beat Link brought his shield up at the end of his spin, crouched, and braced himself. He didn't have to wait long before he felt the shuttering power of the blackfishes counterattack, their guns lightning up as they each in turn turned their attention to him and fired. He had anticipated that he'd get their attention with a move like that, and more importantly draw off that attention so Cadet could handle his prey relatively unmolested.
He waited for the shots to stop like he knew they would. After all, he had been watching them all day. They didn't shoot forever. The last impact sounded and he moved forward deeper into the hold, scooping up the imp spirit floating on the water with his shield arm and crushing it before storing the result without even looking at it. Some of them came to meet him, a pod of four that didn't bother reloading and came for him with their jaws gnashing. They broke off, spreading around him like a pack of wolves before charging in, but it didn't matter. He stopped, reared back, and spun again. The sword cut through the water as it scooped the attackers up and scattered them. He set his shield again and the firing line opened up once more, battering it further but he held his ground. He worried about its integrity, but he just had to hope that he and Cadet could sweep the creatures and crush the majority between them before it broke.
Suddenly he felt an impact on his back, an explosion that almost threw off his arm if not for the metal plate he had affixed there. Had the one coming at him from behind survived his spin attack? No, that wasn't it. As the thunder of the abyssal assault died down again he could hear...buzzing? Like wasps. He felt something else dive into his shoulder, the impact absorbed, but as he looked up he saw what was attacking him. More little flying machines
buzzed around the inside of the ship. Had they come in from above. No, that splashing. He cast his eyes downward just in time to see another little green plane burst out of the water. The blackfish had that ability as well?
He dove forward toward another group of lurking shadow as more of the little planes dived at him, the propellers of one trimming a little hair from the top of his head as it did so. They were like wasps, running after him and peppering his fleeing form with their own small machinegun fire. As he charged up his next spin he saw the shadows pin around and begin to retreat out of his range. The planes also broke off pursuit, content to circle above him like vultures. They'd learned, but the ship was enclosed. If they were going to run he would just herd them into an area where they couldn't. Besides, a few weren't fast enough. He spun again, striking the two that hadn't been able to get away, but then did something they abyssals hadn't expected. He jumped, letting the spin carry him up into the air and slicing into the swarm of planes. Green parts were scattered as the biplanes were caught in the tornado of steel and landed about him in the water as he came down and set to readying his shield again.
His pattern was interrupted as suddenly the entire hull was engulfed in a blue light, what looked like electricity sparking off the walls but surprisingly not frying everything in the hold. Even the abyssals were forced into a state of caution by the odd phenomenon. Then all attention was drawn to the front of the ship as a pink light began to build up. Link could see the outline of teeth, then the battlefield itself as the ships mouth opened and Shippy put everything it had into one attack. The entire hold shook, nearly throwing him off balance, but as the light faded there was a moment a peace as each side found their bearing again.
That was when the situation went from bad to untenable. The abyssal attack intensified, perhaps by a desperate fear of what the ship had just done, but from Link's perspective what was once a losing battle against an ever intensifying leak turned into a hopeless flood. Explosions' rocked Shippy, tearing more holes and letting more of the wriggling blackfish in. He felt several more shots hit him in the back and was immensely grateful for that plate. Another took the opportunity to swim up and latch onto his knee with its jaws, but for some reason the pants seemed to hold off its jaws before it broke through. More shots came from the front, which he took on his shield and skidded back through the water as a result. He took his sword and ran the one of his knee through, dusting it just in time to hear the bussing of planes fill the hold again.
"This isn't going to work." He called over to the Cadet, stepping back and cutting through another plane before dodging to the side as another pod of imps that gotten inside jumped at him. "Do you have anything else in your bag of tricks?"
Regardless of any idea the Cadet might have they were faced with a new problem soon. Without warning a new light overtook the hold, a familiar light. Link had seen it just last night, when that Sephiroth character had fused with one of the Cia's. That's when things suddenly got a lot more cramped and a whole lot more wet as the walls closed in around them. The water rose sharply, what was thigh deep in a ship the size of Shippy filling the hold at Shippy's new size. He took a deep breath as the water went over his head, feeling the salty sting of the water in his eyes but he had to keep them open because he had to find what was shoving that gun barrel into his chest. Link felt himself bordered on all sides with abyssals, now fully in their element luckily just as bewildered by what had just happened as he was. Unfortunately not for long as one turned and sank its teeth into his chest. Another followed its lead, grabbing him by the upper arm, and another plunged its teeth into his neck as he tried to pry that one off. Another just shot him in the gut, and he desperately pulled his hand to his mouth in a futile attempt to keep the wind from being knocked out of him. Bubbles sputted through the gaps in his fingers as a plane spun into his face, it's tiny propeller working at his cheek and fingers. Blood began to fill the water as the armored plate on Links back crumbled, seeping out from in between the sea monsters teeth as they began to enter the throes of a feeding frenzy.
Then, suddenly as it started, the Abyssals of the hold were pulled off him. They slammed into the sides of the ship as darkness swept over them, the waves traveling one after another through the now cramped hold leaving no room for escape. Link's eyes focused through blood blooming out into the water to see the blurry form of Cia floating there in front of him, treading water as best she could in that outfit.
Had he...? No, it didn't matter right now. He had to find Cadet and get out of here before he drowned. Link wasn't the best underwater but he wouldn't leave him to the mercy of the abyssals that had lived. They had to get out of here, they all had to get out of here. He wouldn't accept anything else. His chest felt like it was on fire as he looked around. At this rate he wouldn't even find the stairs back to the deck.
A hand on his shoulder stopped his frantic searching. He looked up to see Cia again, close enough now to see what he considered uncharacteristic concern on her face. It was so arresting that he didn't spot the shining thing she held in her hand before she had forced it into his chest. One of the spirits floating around with them in here?
The sorceress faded away into the darkness as the changes began to take hold.