~Chapter One: Amber Eyes~
"Captain, might you be comprehending a word I am saying?"
"Hm?" Cid looked up from the map he'd been pouring over in the commons area of the ship. Professor Hojo was possibly the creepiest motherfucker he'd seen in his life, but beggars couldn't be choosers; if he wanted to see the world, it was either work under Hojo or stay at home until another job came along, and who knew how long that would take? Cid ran a hand through his hair and pushed his goggles further up his forehead. "Sorry, say that again."
"I simply inferred that your inadequate pilot has informed me that we would be landing within the hour. The time is now to gather needed supplies." After nearly everything he said, Hojo made various noises of either pleasure or disapproval, noises that made the hair on Cid's arms stand on end. Wearily, the Highwind's brash captain got to his feet and rolled up the map, sticking it through his belt loop and brushing past Hojo toward the bridge of the ship.
The attending pilot snapped to attention as he saw Cid approach the wheel. He already had a nasty run in with Professor Hojo and he didn't want to spark the Captain's famous temper. "S-Sir. We're at our destination. I only f-followed orders sir," he stammered.
"Land, then. What the hell you waitin' for?" Cid snapped, raising an eyebrow at the sputtering young man.
"Y-Yes Captain!" The poor attendant started working furiously at the controls, hands shaking. Cid crossed his arms and looked out the clear panel at the bow of the ship. The scenery spread out below them was almost purely green, with the blue veins of streams snaking away from the river that bisected the large island. No, could it be called an island? It was more like another continent. And Hojo wanted the entire place colonized? Cid scoffed.
"In my opinion," a voice drawled from behind him, "this whole trip is going to be a piece of cake, yo. The price tag ain't bad either."
Cid sighed, not bothering to turn around. He didn't need to in order to identify the voice, anyway. "Yeah, but we don't know nothin' bout the place. The good ole' professor seems to think it's uninhabited, but I call bullshit."
"Let the creep think whatever he wants, yo. He's the one with the money and I'm not gonna give a care what is true or not." The red-head strolled up to him and whistled appreciatively at the view. "Well, ya don't see that everyday."
"Y'can say that again." Cid peered down at the river. It had to have been a good quarter-mile wide, and the closer they got to landing, the more ferocious it looked. "Hey, Reno. Don't suppose you can swim?"
Green eyes lazily rolled over to the Captian. "Funny. Can you? Nah, don't answer that. Ya'd probably sink."
"I'd just use your empty head as a flotation device," Cid shot back with a grin.
"Ouch, yo. That cut deep." Reno rolled his eyes and scoffed before turning to leave the bridge. "I was only sent to say that the good professor wanted you to hurry up and land already yo. Don't kill the messenger."
"Hm," Cid grumbled. "Make sure the grunts aren't fucking around in Storage, while you're up and around. I'd say we're on the ground in twenty minutes."
Reno just waved his hand in answer, prowling back to where he had come from.
Cid cursed him under his breath, turning back to exit the way Reno had, when he heard Hojo's voice float up the ladder to the bridge.
"I trust we'll be landing soon?"
"Yeah, yeah, keep your pants on," Cid mumbled, not loud enough for Hojo to hear him.
Below deck, members of the crew bustled about with preparations, readying large crates of supplies and weapons to be escorted out. The ship slowly began it's descent into a large clearing near the river. Wind whipped tropical foliage and large colorful birds scattered into the air.
Hojo flinched as the ship settled down on the grass, tucking his clipboard beneath his arm. "Here we are, then," he said briskly, walking down the hall and to the Highwind's starboard exit. The hatch doors to the ship opened, flooding the cargo bay with bright sunlight and a hot, muggy heat. The calls of loud exotic animals filled the air as well as the roar of the nearby river.
Cid stepped outside after Hojo, slinging a pack over his shoulder and looking around at the trees and thrashing river. "Hm. Charmin' little place this is."
"It'll be more charming once it's civilized, yo."
"I guess so." Cid kicked a rock with his boot; a tiny, snake-like creature slithered from under it and disappeared into the mud by the riverbank.
In the underbrush, amber eyes tracked the movements of the creatures. They looked like him, but wore strange clothing, their hair cut in various fashions. Behind them was a array of the strange creatures, unloading strange boxes from the large metal bird laying on the ground. The eyes flicked back to the trio standing away from the rest. The dark haired one and the one with hair like fire seemed to be excited, their expressions and manners reflecting it. The gaze shifted to the one with golden hair. This one didn't seem all that happy to be there. The eyes blinked, unsure what to make of it all.
Cid sighed and raised his binoculars to his eyes, looking through the leaves in hope of catching a glimpse of an interesting bird, or plant, anything to distract him from Hojo's enthusiastic rambling. As his gaze passed over the scenery, the binoculars passed over a pair of wide eyes, half-hidden in the brush. Startled, he let out a yelp and dropped the binoculars.
The amber eyes widened even more by the sound that came from the fair headed. The creature seemed startled and it fumbled something that it held. A long slender hand reached behind to close on the handle of a knife. Long ebony hair heavily adorned with beads and feathers cascaded around a lean, pale body, clothed only in a long loincloth held together with thin vines. He inched closer towards the strange creatures, trying to get a better view.
Cid glanced behind him. Yes, Reno and Hojo were still deep in conversation. Distracted. He crept further towards the thickest part of the jungle ahead of him, squeezing between two tightly-knit trees and into the thicket.
The native saw the strange creature started walking towards him, and he started to scramble away backwards. His movement was abruptly halted and he looked down, where his foot had become snarled in a root. As he was about to reach to work it free, the creature broke through the brush.
"Hey, wait a sec." Cid brushed away all surprise at discovering that the island was, indeed, inhabited, and carefully approached the frightened native. "Lemme help get your foot unstuck..." He didn't really know why he bothered talking to it; it probably didn't understand any English, if any language spoken outside the island.
As the creature started to near him, the native withdrew the long knife almost too fast to see, growling threateningly. The strange words were wasted on him as he held the knife defensively in front of him.
Cid's hands flew up in defense. "Woah, hey. I don't mean no harm." He gestured down to the native's stuck foot, then made a pulling motion, feeling extremely silly. The native's amber eyes regarded the strange motions the creature was making. It seemed like it wouldn't harm him but it couldn't be trusted. He snarled animalisticly at it, hoping it would leave him alone.
Cid rolled his eyes. "Fine. Stay stuck. See if I care." He turned abruptly, his foot getting snagged in an adjacent root of the same plant, and sending him plunging to the ground.
The native's eyes blinked in surprise as the creature tripped and tumbled to the ground. Slowly he lowered his knife, watching the creature almost curiously. Whatever it was, it acted, well, like him.
Cid scrambled to his feet, whirling back around as if embarrassed. He and the native simply stared at each other for the next few long moments. Slowly the raven-haired man put the knife away, back in it's sheath. The creature eyes, the color of the sky, showed no signs of aggression or ill will.
Cautiously, Cid knelt and reached for the foot, still stuck in the gnarled root. The native watched, amazed, as the creature gently pulled his foot free of the root. Amber eyes met sky blue, both still apprehensive of the other.
Cid blinked, and without really registering what he was doing, reached a hand out towards the savage.
The native's eyes widened even further as the creature reached out to him. He know it was against his people to not kill the stranger on sight, but something in him told him not to. Breathing quickly, he let the creature come closer.
Cid's gloved hand brushed against the stranger's bare shoulder, eyes flooding with curiosity.
The native trembled as the creature touched him, the odd covering of it's hand feeling warm and smooth against his skin. His chest heaved from his frightened breaths, too frozen to move. Cid found himself frozen as well, unsure of what to do next, so he let his hand slide off of the shoulder. "Are there more like you?" he asked slowly, in futile hope that he would be understood.
Strange words flowed from the creature mouth, yet he somehow understood what he said. His people knew many langauges, all passed down through generations.
"More here," Cid repeated. "More people?"
He darted his eyes back nervously towards the ship, the sound of voices becoming louder. He looked back towards the creature, trying to scramble away.
"No, no, no. Don't run!" Cid said quickly.
He paused at the creature's words, torn between running from the approaching voices and observing the light haired one more. He continued to sit, frozen, as the voices came closer.
Hojo and Reno eventually stepped through the thick trees, brushing themselves off and stopping mid-conversation at the sight of the native. Hojo's eyes lit up eerily. At the sight of them, the native tried to scramble away again, truly terrified of how the dark one was looking at him.
Cid shot a glare at Hojo. "Back off," he ordered. Hojo gave him an indignant look and shoved him out of the way, leering at the amber-eyed creature and stalking closer. The native grabbed his knife and withdrew it with lightning speed, hissing loudly like a large cat. He continued to back up further, knife raised defensively. His eyes darted between the three creatures anxiously.
"Captain. Grab it," Hojo said briskly.
Cid didn't move, eyes still locked on Hojo with a glower that could shatter glass.
Hojo turned toward Cid. "I believe I gave you an order."
"I believe I refused it, Professor."
Hojo whipped around to face Reno. "You, then. Make sure it doesn't get away."
"Whatever you say, yo."
Without a second thought, Reno darted towards the native, ducking it's large knife. It was clear that the native was a warrior but he was no match for modern fighting tactics. In a few moments, he was on the ground gasping painfully while the lanky form of Reno pinned him none too gently to the ground.
Cid gritted his teeth and cringed. "What're you gonna do with him?"
"It's our first test subject," Hojo said eerily, turning back toward the ship. "I'd say this moment deserves a drink, don't you? Come along."
Amber eyes pleaded at the pale haired one. He gasped painfully, trying to regain his breath. He was the top warrior in the village but was taken down in mere moments. The thought of what these creatures could do terrified him. Struggling one hand free, he reached towards the owner of the sky blue eyes, hoping it would come to his aid.
"H-Hey," Cid said suddenly, grabbing Reno's arm. "I can take care of this one, alright?"
Reno roughly pinned the native's arm back down again, before looking back up at the captain. "I dunno, man. You sure seemed eager to let him go."
"I got this. Don't worry about it." Cid pushed Reno's hand off of the native's arm and replaced it with his own.
Reno raised an eyebrow, squeezing the pressure point on the native's neck before smoothly getting up. He glanced down at the native, who was slumped bonelessly on the ground before looking at the captain.
"You can have him now, yo," he drawled before walking back towards the camp.
Cid sighed, trying to figure out what to do. He leaned down and lifted the native into his arms without much trouble. He couldn't just let him go; he knew that for sure. Hojo would ask questions. If he let Hojo keep him in captivity, at least for a while, he'd be able to make sure he was alright until a time came where he could let him escape.
Knowing that he was risking the young man's trust by doing so, Cid headed back towards the ship to put the amber-eyed beauty in the brig.