Chapter 29 of my Xenoblade novelisation. The party raids the tirkin headquarters for the refugees!
As the sun was making its descent towards the horizon, Shulk, Reyn, Sharla and Dunban met in the dining room of the refugee camp for a meal before they headed off to defeat the tirkins.
“So we’d planned to do this at dawn,” Sharla began, “but acquiring the lake drop meant Shulk and Dunban got back far later than I’d initially anticipated.”
Shulk scratched his head, embarrassed. “Sorry about that.”
Sharla shook her head with a smile. “No need to apologise, Shulk. There was no easy way for you two to get back here. Anyway,” she pulled a piece of paper out of her pocket, “the tirkins have been giving the refugees a fair bit of grief.” She consulted her list of errands from the residents; many of the points had now been crossed out as a result of the party’s adventuring over the past few days. “They’ve stolen a bunch of clothes, and a few of the braver ones have been intimidating some of the villagers. We’ve also been asked to find some tirkin crests and tirkin tail feathers so the villagers can make more clothes.” She folded up her list and looked around the table. “Any questions?”
“Yeah,” said Reyn. “Where are their headquarters?”
“The entrance is by the Rho Oasis,” Sharla answered. “That’s where you first ran into Juju after his buggy broke down.”
“All right, cool.”
“Will we have to defeat them all?” Dunban enquired.
Sharla sighed. “I’m not sure, to be honest. I hope not, but we may have to.”
“Any idea on their numbers?”
Sharla rubbed her head warily. “A couple of dozen, I’ve been told. Apparently they hang out in pairs, so we might be able to pick them off in smaller groups. Aside from that, the entrance to their headquarters is through a narrow cave. At worst, we might be able to fight a bunch of them in there; they won’t all be able to fit, so we can pick them off in small groups.”
“Sounds good,” said Dunban approvingly. “It seems like you’ve fought this through.”
“Keeping everyone alive has been my job for a while now,” Sharla replied.
“Fair enough.” Dunban looked to his friends. “Are we all ready to go?” When everyone nodded, he rose. “Then let’s head off. Sharla,” he turned to her, “can you lead the way?”
“Of course.” Sharla hitched on her shoulder bag and left with the boys, heading north out of the refugee camp.
“No Dickson again?” mused Reyn.
“He wants us to learn to work together as a team,” Dunban replied. “He’ll journey with us for a little while, but says he will have to go back to travelling on his own before long.”
Reyn sighed, but Sharla was quietly grateful. “Any idea when we’ll be on the road again?” Reyn asked.
“We should probably make it soon,” said Dunban. “The longer we wait, the more powerful the Mechon become.” He looked to the gun bobbing along in front of him. “Did you still want to come with us, Sharla?”
“I do,” Sharla affirmed. “I need to find Gadolt, and the rest of the members of Colony 6. They can’t all have just… They wouldn’t have…” her mind flung back to the bloodstained floor at the bottom of the Ether Mine and a shudder wracked her body.
“We’ll find ‘em,” Reyn assured her. “And we could always use a healer.”
“You mean you could always use a healer,” Shulk teased.
Sharla laughed. Once they hit Kamos Guidepost, she turned north-west, the boys following suit. The Rho Oasis came into view; a pool of fed by a waterfall gushing out of the cliff face, surrounded on all sides by grass. Relics of an ancient civilisation jutted out of it; stone pillars, broken and lying in the water.
I wonder who built those, Shulk wondered. Probably the same people who built the ruins where we found that mirror. He looked up at the sky; it was getting dark.
“So where’s the entrance to the headquarters?” Reyn asked eagerly.
Sharla pointed to the cliff to the right of the oasis, where a couple of tirkins could be seen flanking the entrance to a cave. “There, where those tirkins are,” she replied. “Those two are on guard. So we’ll start with them.”
Dunban pre-emptively placed a hand on Reyn. “There’s another one just inside the cave,” he advised. “It’s probably a scout. We’ll have to be careful about this. If we let it get away, it will alert the others to our presence.” He looked up at the sky, the sun was low, beginning to dip below the horizon. “We can sneak up on them. Reyn should be able to deal with the ones out front with Sharla’s assistance. Shulk and I can break through and deal with the scout before it can leave.”
The party agreed and slowly began to make their way towards the cave. They were nearly upon the tirkins when Dunban raised an arm, signalling to stop. “Shulk, you and I will run in first,” he whispered. “We need to get past them and take out the scout. Reyn, Sharla,” he glanced at them crouched together, “come in after us and keep the guards occupied. We’ll help you after we eliminate the scout.” When the two nodded, he turned back to the cave entrance. “On three, then. One… Two… Three!”
Dunban and Shulk dashed forwards, Reyn and Sharla in hot pursuit. The tirkins in the entrance jumped and attempted to block their path, but Dunban parried a blow from one of their spears and continued running, Shulk right behind him. They heard the clash of metal as Reyn met their foes.
Dunban caught up to the fleeing scout and overtook it, skidding to a stop in front of it and brandishing his sword. The creature pulled out its weapon just in time to block his first attack; Shulk slashed it from behind, startling it and giving Dunban a chance to overwhelm it. The tirkin fell to the ground, and the boys ran back to the entrance to give Reyn and Sharla a hand.
They quickly felled the tirkins by the entrance, and Sharla was able to collect some tail feathers. “Two crests, a couple of brave ones and the clothes, now,” she said.
The party headed deeper into the cave, weapons out, watching for more tirkins. They only spotted more tirkins when they reached the other end of the passage, where two guards stood just outside the mouth of the cave.
Reyn and Dunban quietly headed in different directions, each heading towards a tirkin. At the same time, they jumped on one and muffled it; Reyn dragged his back into the cave and finished it there, while Dunban ran his through and dumped it next to Reyn’s.
Sharla gathered the required tirkin crests and informed the party these were the brave tirkins they had been asked to take care of.
So all we have to do is find the clothes. Shulk turned to his friends and stated as such.
Sharla nodded. “We might want to split up,” she advised. “It’ll be easier to sneak around in twos.”
“But then how will we communicate?” Dunban asked.
“Dunban’s got a point,” Reyn said. “I say we stick together and smash ‘em.”
“I don’t think we should attack them head-on,” Shulk put in.
“Nor do I,” Dunban agreed, “especially when there are so many of them in such a small area. If someone is spotted, they’ll all flock towards them and in such large numbers… We may not fair well.”
He edged towards the end of the cave to observe the area. After a few minutes, he wandered back over. “They’re walking around in small groups,” he told them, “just like Sharla said. But we might be able to use the cover of night to sneak past them. If we’re in a group, we can better defend ourselves.”
“Any idea where the clothes are?” Reyn asked.
“There’s a big area at the back, where there’s a giant tirkin,” said Dunban. “I suspect they may be there.”
“Sweet!” exclaimed Reyn. “Shall we get going?”
The party filed out of the cave and turned left, hugging the cliff face. Dunban was in the lead, followed by Shulk and Sharla with Reyn bringing up the rear. They crept past the tirkins, who failed to notice them as they walked. Eventually they found themselves on the opposite side of the clearing, behind the giant tirkin Dunban had described.
It was twice the size of a regular tirkin, and had its back turned to the four friends. In a pile on the ground were the clothes the old man from the refugee camp had asked them to retrieve. Shulk picked them up, bundled them and handed them to Sharla, who placed them in her bag. The four then crept back out of the headquarters and back into the cave, where they breathed a collective sigh of relief.
“All right!” Reyn grinned as they strolled through the cave and back on to the Bionis’ Leg proper. Night had well and truly fallen; it was difficult to see where they were heading. Thankfully, Sharla knew the way well.
“That’s all of the requests we’ve gotten from the refugees,” she said, smiling.
“So when will we head off?” Shulk asked.
“I say we stay for a couple more days to relax,” said Dunban.
“Sounds good,” Sharla agreed. “I can ask the refugees to get some supplies together for our journey.”
“Sweet!” said Reyn excitedly. “We can go swimming in the lake!”
The party hit Kamos Guidepost and began their trek south.
“So,” said Dunban, “a few days to relax and then we’ll be heading off to the Satorl Marsh.”
“Will Dickson be joining us?” Reyn asked.
Dunban nodded. “We’ll sort that out in a few days. For now, though… “ he smiled as the cliff leading to the camp came into view, “take time off to relax.”