The party embarks on a rescue mission to recover Juju in the sixteenth chapter of my Xenoblade novelisation!
Am I afraid of the Mechon? Sharla considered the question seriously as she trekked east with Shulk and Reyn, towards Raguel Bridge. Juju’s words were echoing through her head, riddling her with guilt.
How can you be so heartless!?
Yes, she decided, I am afraid of the Mechon. But I will not let that fear paralyse me.
The party slowed. Littering the path up ahead was a large number of Mechon, their armour glinting in the sunlight. “Raguel Bridge is through there,” Sharla said reluctantly.
Reyn looked back to the group of Mechon; there were just so many. “Are we going to have to fight all of those?” he asked grimly.
Sharla looked up and to her right. It looks like they’re not up there… “I know another way around,” she said. “Come on.” She led Shulk and Reyn back the way they had come, keeping close to the cliff face.
“Won’t there be Mechon there too?” Shulk asked warily.
“I don’t think so,” Sharla replied. “But it’s worth a shot, right?” She glanced back at the boys and smiled.
They reached an opening in the cliff to their left. Sharla went in first, followed by a cautious Shulk and Reyn. “This is Kisk Cave,” she told them. “Normally there’s only vangs in here, but…”
Shulk nodded and unsheathed the Monado. “…There may be Mechon as well.” Reyn pulled out his gunlance, and the three travellers continued through Kisk Cave, on high alert. Vangs flitted about their heads, but left the trio alone. They hit upon a small cavern, in which rested a huge ether deposit.
Shulk and Reyn stared up at the crystals in awe as they passed. They’re just like the ones in Tephra Cave, beside the Spring of Grief. They walked through the cavern and into another corridor, which opened up on to a small, grass-covered cliff. On lower ground to their left was the Mechon blockade; to the right, the path extended between two tall cliff faces for a short while before curving out of sight.
Sharla started to lead the boys off to the right. “This will take us right up to the southern end of Raguel Bridge,” Sharla told them. “Hopefully we’ll be able to take out whatever Mechon are there without attracting the attention of the rest.”
“Hopefully,” Shulk agreed.
Sharla looked around curiously. “Strange. Normally there’s a group of tirkins that hang out around here…”
“They look a lot like chickens, but they’re much bigger and carry weapons.”
“Oh!” Reyn exclaimed. “We saw one of those when we first got here!”
Sharla laughed. “And what did you think?”
“They’re so weird!”
“They’re very strange,” Shulk agreed. They party rounded the corner and spotted some Mechon below them and to their left. To the right was Raguel Bridge, which, they were happy to note, appeared to be devoid of Mechon. Jumping down the cliff face off to their right allowed them to avoid any Mechon clashes completely, and so, carefully, they did just that.
The grin slid off everyone’s faces as they approached the bridge. “Hey, Sharla! Look!” Reyn pointed.
Dread clutched at Sharla. “It’s Juju’s buggy.” She, Reyn and Shulk all ran forward to get a better look.
Of the mind to inspect the buggy, Shulk reached out for it and found himself greeted by a vision.
He saw a huge stone spire rising from a chasm in the ground; around the spire twisted what looked like a rocky walkway that one could almost use to trek from top to bottom. The vision changed, and Shulk saw a rocky bridge connecting the spire to the land around it. At the end of it stood a humanoid figure.
The vision changed to a close-up of the figure, and Shulk realised it was Juju, holding on to a rifle. The boy stood where he was, looking around cautiously, when something suddenly tore through the ground beside him. A new angle showed Shulk that it was the stalks he had seen in a vision back at the refugee camp. The propellers at its end opened and rushed towards Juju…
“Juju!” Shulk cried.
Reyn spun around. “What is it!?” he demanded.
Sharla turned. “Shulk! Is he OK?!” When Shulk hesitated, Sharla became more agitated. “Tell me!”
“There’s a Mechon…” Shulk began. “It’s taken Juju!” Sharla whimpered.
“When?!” Reyn demanded.
“I’m… I’m not sure,” said Shulk. “But I don’t think we’ve got much time.”
“You said you saw a deep valley, didn’t you?” Sharla asked.
“There’s a place like that just up ahead,” said Sharla breathlessly. “And it’s even on the way to Colony 6. That must be the route Juju’s taking.”
“You sure?” said Reyn. “No other deep valleys around here?”
“Not as far as I know,” Sharla replied.
“Well, Shulk?” prompted Reyn.
“Let’s move,” said Shulk. “That has to be where Juju is.” And with that, the trio set off across Raguel Bridge to the north-east. At either end of the bridge were pale yellow columns which were anchored in the lake below. Grey railings lined the edges of the bridge. This bridge is huge! It stretched across the entire lake below them; all Shulk could see under it was water.
At the end of the bridge they hit upon a path. They walked along it for a short while when Reyn suddenly turned to Sharla. “Is this the place you were on about?”
“This is it all right,” said Sharla. “At the end of the road, there’s a path to Colony 6.”
“But there’s no sign of Juju.” said Shulk. “If my vision was right, he should be around here somewhere.”
“I’m sure he would have gone along this road,” Sharla replied. “I just hope nothing’s happened to him yet.” Yet. Sharla hadn’t meant to say that. Am I starting to believe in Shulk’s visions?
“Any chance he went up that way?” Where the path changed direction and snaked off to the east, Reyn pointed instead north-east, indicating what Sharla recognised as the entrance to Windy Cave.
“It’s not safe around here,” Sharla told Reyn. “I doubt Juju would go off the beaten track if he could avoid it.” And besides, the monsters in there are way too powerful.
“Got it. We’ll search around the road.” With that, Shulk and the other two struck east, weapons out and on the lookout for Juju or any wandering Mechon. Cliffs closed in around them as they walked, narrowing their path. In clusters up ahead were Mechon; Shulk recognised M72, M69 and M31 units.
Reyn groaned. “Are we going to have to sneak past them all!?”
Shulk assessed the situation. The M31 scouts and M69 units were patrolling; the M72 never strayed from their positions. “We may be able to sneak past them,” he muttered.
“How?” Sharla asked quickly.
“We can hide behind the trees and bushes, and then run when through they’re patrolling in the other direction,” Shulk explained. “The ones on the path are looking straight ahead, so I don’t think they’ll notice us. We should be able to slip by.”
Reyn nodded. “Then we stick to the walls. Let’s go.”
The trio crept along the southern cliff face, watching the movements of the Mechon carefully and moving when they could. There’s no way we could take them all on, Shulk thought. The space between the rocky walls widened as they walked.
Four tense Mechon clusters later, Shulk, Reyn and Sharla found themselves on the upper level of the Bionis’ Leg. The path they had been following twisted to the south-east, continuing to Colony 6. To their east was a large waterfall, which Sharla told them was known as the Kasharpa Falls. To their north was a huge spire made of rock jutting out of the ground.
Shulk found that he recognised the rocky spire. “That’s what I saw in my vision!” he blurted, pointing.
“Spiral Valley,” Sharla muttered. She hesitated. “Are you sure, Shulk? That’s the opposite direction to Colony 6. Juju would have no reason to go there.”
“That looks exactly like the place I saw in my vision,” Shulk protested.
“Maybe Juju was lured there by something,” said Reyn impatiently. “If that’s where Shulk says he is, then that’s where he is. So let’s get going!” He marched off without waiting for a reply. Shulk quickly followed.
He sure seems confident… Sharla glanced at the road to Colony 6 and then, with a curse, followed Shulk and Reyn north to Spiral Valley.
No Mechon waited for them on their way north. As they approached, they spotted the most unusual Mechon they had ever seen.
The machine had a clearly defined central body with two different portions. The lower, golden half of the Mechon was the one from which all of its mechanical tentacles sprouted; with a jolt, Shulk realised they were the ones he had seen grasping Juju and Sharla. The upper, green-blue portion of its body had three long legs sprouting from it, which it used to keep itself steady. This half of the body also featured three beady red eyes, characteristic of many Mechon. Each of the tentacles ended in a three-pronged propeller, and had its own eye set into the top.
Juju was yelling as he tried to dodge the Mechon’s attacks. “Juju!” Sharla sped up, leaving Reyn and Shulk to catch up. “Juju!” She stopped; Juju was unconscious, held within one of the propellers. “Hold on, I’m coming!” She started to run again.
The scene looked horribly familiar to Shulk. “Wait! Sharla!” Time slowed, and he watched as one of the machine’s tentacles emerged from the ground beneath Sharla’s feet and knocked her flying. As she fell, she cried Juju’s name. A propeller snapped shut on her body. Sharla screamed.
The Monado shone with a brightness Shulk had not seen since the end of his travels in Tephra Cave. He stopped dead in his tracks, dumbfounded. “Another new symbol’s appeared on the Monado!” His mind was racing. “Can I save her?”
A familiar voice spoke in Shulk’s mind. Of course you can.
With a roar, Shulk sprinted across the rocky bridge, leaving Reyn behind. He leapt high into the air, slamming the Monado on to the ground before him. Blue light sped across the area, shimmering around himself, Reyn, and Sharla.
Sharla heard a rumbling behind her; she glanced back and sidestepped whatever was making its way towards her. She moved far faster than she had expected, and felt a chill run down her spine as a mechanical tentacle thrust out of the ground beside her, just missing her.
Before she could recover her wits, the mechanical stalk was severed. There stood Shulk, watching the thing writhe and sink back into the ground. “Shulk?!”
“Its tentacles could come out from under the ground at any second,” Shulk advised. He and Reyn were standing on either side of Sharla, facing outwards and slowly circling her, on the lookout for their foe. “One false move and you’re done for. Wait for my order!” He glanced behind him. “Reyn, you got my back?”
Reyn looked back at Shulk. “‘Course! Leave it to me!”
Shulk looked over to his right and saw two tentacles protruding from the ground. He dashed towards them and found himself experiencing another vision.
A tentacle burst out of the ground in Shulk’s path; the other two twirled around each other before one rose and let some fireballs loose at Shulk. It moved in to grasp him.
Shulk gritted his teeth as he was pulled back to the present. I have to time it just right… Shulk hopped and then turned and skidded across the ground; when the tentacle burst from the rock, Shulk merely sliced it through with the Monado as he slid past it.
Shulk dashed over to the other two tentacles and sliced one through. The other continued on its path and rose; Shulk yelled as he rolled to get away from the fireballs it launched at him. He regained his footing just as it came flying towards him; he leaned back to avoid the propellers and then cut them off with the Monado.
Reyn dodged the propellers that Shulk had cut so they bounced past him. He cried out and just managed to dodge a tentacle as it burst from the ground beneath him. More came up as he ran, bursting out of the ground and then crashing back into it.
Sharla had her hands full with two tentacles as they twisted and coiled around her; she fired her ether bullets at them, but to no avail. From seemingly nowhere, Reyn leapt on to one of them and sliced of its end; the other retreated.
Sharla jumped and landed right beside Shulk. “Amazing! I didn’t know you could do that!”
“It’s not me.” Shulk’s eye were fixed on his foe. “It’s the power of the Monado.”
Reyn joined Shulk and Sharla. “That’s right. And the light swirling around us… That’s the Monado ‘n’ all.” Reyn glanced back. “Sharla! Let’s move!” He looked up at the giant Mechon before him. “Now, let’s do this!”
Images taken using Scalz311‘s YouTube channel.