Chapter thirteen of my Xenoblade novelisation, which sees Shulk take on a giant spider for the sake of his best friend, Reyn.
Shulk watched as an arachno web dragged Reyn up through a hole in the roof. Where to from here…? Shulk looked around for an exit and, seeing one, dashed out of the cavern. He took a right to continue down the grey stone corridor when he immediately found himself at a dead end. Shulk ran through an opening to his right and found himself inside another, smaller cavern containing two arachno egg sacs; he skirted around its outside and then stumbled into yet another cavern. It was dimly lit by the shining pool of pale blue water that filled most of the space. Shulk paused to catch his breath.
Seeing movement ahead of him, Shulk looked up. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Reyn running across a rocky platform protruding from the wall.
Reyn glanced behind him as he ran, counting three arachno on his tail. “You things just don’t give up, do ya?” he panted. He kept running, desperate to escape them.
“Reyn!” Shulk looked around. “I’ve gotta hurry. If I can get up there, I should be able to reach him.” Shulk’s eyes followed a rocky pillar leading from the ground up to Reyn’s platform. Vines were growing on its side. I should be able to climb those.
Shulk waded through the shallow pool that lay between him and the vine-covered pillar of stone. A shiver ran through him as he walked through a ball of blue light that softly jumped out of the pool in front of him; the ball soaked through his jacket and slowly fell back into the water. He reached the edge of the pond and then almost stumbled into another one; he glanced up and weaved his way between many, smaller pools of water to reach the pillar and scale its vines.
At the top of the pillar, Shulk turned right, sprinting along a winding stone passageway. He could hear Reyn’s voice echoing down from ahead.
“Shulk! Where are ya!?”
“Reyn!” Shulk rounded a corner and saw Reyn standing in the middle of a huge cavern, surrounded by arachno. The scene’s familiarity made him feel ill. “Reyn!”
Reyn, meanwhile, was looking for a way out, and not seeing one. “There’s too many of ‘em! I kill one, and ten more pop up!” He blocked a string of web with his shield and ran towards the other end of the cavern, away from Shulk.
“Reyn! No!” Shulk gave chase. The arachno ignored him, intent on his friend. “Not that way!” Again the sound of a broken shield ripped through Shulk’s mind. “Reyn!”
Finally, Reyn turned. “Shulk!” Relieved to see his friend, Reyn didn’t notice the giant arachno that was as it scuttled down from the ceiling, and then the wall. Reyn didn’t turn until it was right behind him, fangs bared and rearing up to attack.
“Reyn!” All Shulk could think of was the life of his best friend. The Monado activated in his hands without his input, glowing a dazzling yellow. With a yell, Shulk spun on the spot, twirling the Monado through the air. A yellow pulse crossed the cavern, enveloping Reyn in a ball of yellow light. The giant arachno’s fang slammed down on to it – and bounced right off it.
The beast took a step back, seemingly disorientated. “What’s this?” Reyn stared up at his new shield.
Shulk lifted his sword high into the air. “The power… of the Monado!?”
The giant arachno let out a low roar that almost sounded like a hiss. It then started to clear a path towards Shulk, who merely watched, motionless.
“Look out!” Reyn sprinted over to Shulk and took up a stance between him and the arachno as it reared up once more to attack his friend. It slammed its fangs into Reyn, who pushed back through his yellow ball of light and managed to deflect the attack. The creature stepped back again, wary.
“Glad one of us figured out these things would try an ambush,” grinned Reyn. He prepared himself for battle. “Let’s do this, Shulk!”
“Right!” Shulk readied the Monado as the giant arachno approached them. Shulk quickly cast his newfound power on himself as it reared up to hit him; yet again, it merely bounced off the ball of yellow light. “It looks like this new power protects us from harm!” he called.
“Well,” Reyn caught a smaller arachno on his shield, well within his yellow ball, “it looks like it only protects us from big attacks!” He thrust the arachno away from him as the others swarmed. “If we can take out the big one, the others should all run off!”
Shulk backed away from the big arachno, slashing at the smaller ones as he passed them. Several crumpled beneath the Monado, but more continued to appear. We really do need to take out the big one, he thought, despairing.
Reyn felt like he was dancing, trying to take out as many of the smaller arachno as possible while keeping the large one at bay. All my hits just bounce off its damn armoured legs. He noticed Shulk edging around the side of the spider. What’s he doing? Reyn had no choice but to trust in his best friend; another arachno lunged at him, which he cut down in midair with his lance.
No more than a minute later, the beast reared up, pincers snapping, and tried to turn around. It let out another cry, and a shudder shook its entire body. Blood dripped from its abdomen; the smaller arachno stopped attack Reyn, and instead started scuttling towards Shulk. What’s he done?
Seeing an opportunity, Reyn seized it. He dashed towards the giant arachno, which was now fighting Shulk, and stuck his gunlance into its underbelly when he reached it. The creature gave a bellow of pain, but Reyn dragged his gunlance across the soft flesh, ripping it wide open. He dashed out again as it gave one final shudder and collapsed on to the ground, unmoving.
Reyn turned to Shulk as the arachno scattered, their leader defeated. “Looks like the Monado works on more than just Mechon!” he exclaimed excitedly. “I gotta say, that’s pretty awesome!”
Shulk’s thoughts were elsewhere. “Reyn…” he began, “I just realised something.”
“Huh?” Reyn calmed down and frowned as Shulk elaborated.
“The future I see… It isn’t set. I think it’s… more like a warning.”
“A warning?” Reyn echoed, scratching his head.
“Yeah… A warning about what will happen. What will happen if I don’t do anything, or…” In his mind’s eye, Shulk saw Metal Face, “…if I can’t do anything.” Sounding more determined, he went on, “So I can use this power to change the future. And that’s exactly what I intend to do.”
“You’ve got my vote,” Reyn answered instantly, “And if you really can do that… I think FIora would have liked it too.”
“Yeah.” If I had just realised this earlier… Maybe she could have told me that herself.
“Right, let’s get moving,” said Reyn, breaking into Shulk’s thoughts. “We’re nearly at the Bionis’ knee.”
Shulk and Reyn turned and headed towards the other side of the cavern and then followed a small, winding corridor. They were not walking for long before they emerged from Tephra Cave.
The boys stopped, turned and looked up. Shulk gasped as he was met with a sight the likes of which he could never have imagined.
His eyes followed the leg of the Bionis up to its waist, where he saw the great sword of the Mechonis, on which the Battle of Sword Valley had taken place a year ago, wedged into the Bionis. Higher still, mist covered the frozen right arm of the Bionis, dyed red in the light of the setting sun. Higher even than that was the head of the Bionis, where a great horn-like spike stuck out into the sky.
Shulk gasped as he stared; “Wow!”
Reyn leaned back to get a better view. “No matter how many times I see this, I never get used to it.”
The boys turned to see the Mechonis, its red eyes shining through the clouds separating it from the Bionis. “On the other side of those clouds…”
“Yep. It’s our enemy.” Reyn paused for a moment. “Mechonis,” he spat.
Shulk clenched his fists, thinking of Colony 9, and of Fiora. “Our enemy…”
Unbeknownst to Shulk and Reyn, an M31 Scout Unit took its recordings and fled to report back to its master.
Back at the Mechon lair, a giant Mechon featuring what appeared to be a shining blue cone of light as a tail picked up a dead Homs soldier and dropped it into its circuits to feed as it listened to the M31’s report. It cocked its head, and put on a vicious grin.
Reyn was trying to orient himself. “If we just came up the Bionis’ shin…”
“Then this must be its kneecap, right?” Shulk turned to look at the cave they had just left. I’m glad to be out of there.
“Yup.” Reyn followed Shulk’s gaze, smiling. “Which means Colony 6 is up ahead!”
Shulk’s eyes wandered off to the left, where he spotted some vines growing on the side of the cliff. “Looks like we can climb up there.”
“Great! I love a good climb,” grinned Reyn. He glanced behind him; a huge cliff dropped off the side of the Bionis. He wandered over to it; all he could see was darkness. “Did you know that anything you drop off here ends up back in Tephra Cave?” Reyn asked.
“No,” Shulk replied warily, “and I don’t want to test it.” Reyn shrugged and wandered back over to Shulk. “How do you know that, anyway?”
“One of the guys lost a book over the side once. We found it on our way back home, all broken and soggy.” He started to walk towards the vines. “Come on then!”
The boys quickly found a path to follow, which led them through a steep canyon. Rounding a corner, they were surprised to find a small group of people sitting together and talking. They stopped and turned to stare at Shulk and Reyn as they approached.
Shulk smiled walked ahead of Reyn. “Hi there! Would any of you happen to know the way to Colony 6?” The strangers exchanged a despaired look, which made Shulk’s grin slip. “Is something wrong?”
One of them, whose giant backpack gave him the look of a merchant, patted the grass beside him. “Sit, stranger,” he said sadly, “and we’ll tell you what’s happened to Colony 6.”
Images taken using Scalz311‘s YouTube channel.