Episode Zero -Friends- Chapter 4

This is the fourth chapter of Part Two: Friends of Episode Zero -Promise- written by Jun Eishima.
The translation below is by Lissar. Because official romanizations of the names have not yet been released, they might be off.

They couldn’t go through the entrance to the main path. Researchers had begun their clean up of the area. They decided to take a side path. Whether it really was a side path or not they couldn’t tell, but it looked like one.
“We’ll get there if we go this way, right?” Elida turned back, sounding worried.
“Well the direction is right. If we keep going this way, we should find the main path…”
They were only a short distance away from the shore, but the sounds of their classmates seemed terribly far away. Hope thought that maybe this wasn’t the right way after all.
“When we go back we should take the main path.”
“But if they catch us at the entrance they’ll get angry at us.”
"Don’t worry, by then they’ll be finished cleaning up.”
“But the teachers might be watching.”
The forest around them was too quiet, so they felt they had to talk loudly about stupid things. When they were in a large group of people it didn’t seem so bad, but now that it was just the three of them the quiet was frightening.
“Hey look at that! It looks like some sort of fruit.” Elida said brightly. She pointed up to a branch that was bent under the weight of several yellowish red fruits. It was larger than any fruit they had ever seen in the store.
“I wonder if it’s okay to eat?”
“You can’t pick them. Really, Elida, you’ll grab just about anything.”
“I do not!”
“Well it is a very pretty color…”
“I said it’s not like that!” Elida was getting angry.
“Hey… guys?” Kai cut into their argument. “Don’t you think that color looks familiar? You know, the thing she said was… edible?”
Then Hope noticed it too. That monster they had seen near Rainbow Pass, it had a very similar color. Hope remembered that it hadn’t been too far away from the main path…
Then the earth rose up in front of them, like a red wall. It was that monster. It’s red translucent body swelled. A Vegetapudding, Hope thought, scared. His feet took off running before he realized it.
“Aaah! It’s following us!” Elida screamed, nearly in tears. Hope was the slowest of the three, and there was no time to look back. He just ran, moving his legs as hard as he could. If they left him behind it would all be over for him. He ran as long as his breath held out. He couldn’t tell where they were running. The found a rock they could hide behind, and dove into it’s protective shadow. His heart was beating so hard he felt as though it would jump up through his mouth.
“It… it’s not behind us…” Kai looked out from behind the boulder, then sat down in relief. Hope felt his legs go weak. He couldn’t run another step.
The three of them sat, breathing heavily. Hope felt a chill run down his body. If the ground had been slippery like it had been on the main path, or if one of them had tripped over something, who knows what might have happened. They were lucky the three of them managed to get away.
“Hey, where… are we?”
They had thought they were walking towards the main path. If it was the wrong direction, they could have just turned back and gone a different way. But they couldn’t now.
“This place seems a little… different.”
The gloomy trees that had surrounded them before were gone, and bare cliffs rose up on either side. The grass at their feet was sparse. It was a dry and desolate place.
“Which way did we come from?”
They had been so intent on getting behind the boulder that they hadn’t even noticed which way they had ran. All they could see now were rocks and cliffs going in all directions.
“Well the pass should be in whatever direction the rainbows are…”
But the cliffs blocked their view. They could barely see the sky let alone rainbows.
“I think it’s this way.”
“No, no. It’s this way.”
Kai and Elida pointed in completely opposite directions. Hope couldn’t tell which of them might be right. They really had no idea which direction was which anymore.
“Well… let’s just keep walking then.”
“But you aren’t supposed to go anywhere if you get lost.”
“Maybe in other places, but what if another monster attacks? We wouldn’t be able to run away.”
The path here was craggy and uneven, there would be nothing they could do if they were attacked by a fast monster.
“If we find a place where we can see everything, we should be able to see the lake. Then we’ll know how to get back.”
“Right. We’ve just gotten a little bit off the path, if we could see the lake it would all work out.” Kai agreed. Elida slowly nodded, still unconvinced.
“Oh yeah, wait just a minute.” Hope grabbed a sharp rock and carved an ‘X’ into the boulder. “Let’s go right. If we’re wrong we can always come back here. Then we can try going left.”
“Wow Hope. You’re so smart!”
“My dad taught me. He said if you’re lost in a place you don’t know, make sure you know how to get back to where you were.”
“Well, then your dad is smart.” Elida laughed. Complimenting his dad made Hope feel happier than if she had complimented himself.
“Let’s hurry. They’ll probably be leaving soon.”
The three of them nodded, and started off together. Even though it was noon the light in the narrow passage between the cliffs was dim. They walked without a sound. They were worried that their voices might carry to any monsters within earshot. Without anyone saying so, the three of them held hands. It made them feel stronger, somehow, walking along a path they didn’t know.
Parts of the cliff face glittered with blue. If they hadn’t be lost, they would have thought the pale light beautiful. But now even that light seemed ominous. The air was warm, and a tepid wind blew through the crevice.
Hope didn’t know how far they had walked. The cliff face continued unfalteringly on either side. Then, in the distance, they saw something that looked like a machine. They looked at each other, nodding, and broke into a run. They thought they might be able to use it to send data or to call out. If it was anything like the ones they had at home, they would be able to contact their teachers. But as they closed in on it they could see it was nothing like a household machine. It didn’t look like something children could use.
“Let’s just try pushing buttons.”
“We shouldn’t. What if we broke it…” But before Hope could stop her, Elida touched the panel. It lit up.
“See, we can figure this out.” Elida said proudly. As soon as she said that the light on the panel went out again and the machine grew quiet.
“Huh? That doesn’t work? Oh well, I guess I’ll just try doing it the way mom taught me…” Elida made a fist. Hope and Kai grabbed her arms on either side. Both of them knew what “doing it mom’s way” entails.
“No way! If you do that it will break!”
“Only your mom could make things work by hitting them!”
Elida looked unhappy but relaxed her hands.
“Well then what should we do?”
“Let’s walk a bit farther. If there’s a machine here then that means people should be close by.”
The path was still difficult, uneven and rocky, but the hope that there was someone nearby gave them the energy to go on.
“Hey, what do you think this is?”
They had just come out on the other side of a tunnel, when Hope saw a strange thing floating just in front of his face. It was a glowing ball, just about the size of a human head. It look as though it were made of water, and it wobbled in the air in front of them.
“Well, it’s not a monster, it isn’t attacking us.”
“We’ve told you not to touch things!” Hope and Kai screamed together. But they were too late. Elida touched the glowing ball with her palm. The wind grew cold, and the sky grew dark. Droplets of water fell down on them, and then in a rush it changed to a whole downpour of rain. Now they knew what that ball was. It was a rain control device.
They ran underneath the tunnel. It was the only place they could escape from the rain.
“Well, at least now we know which direction we’re going. They said there was some rain thing nearby Rainbow Pass right? So we know that the pass is just on the other side of these cliffs.”
“That’s nice and all, but what’ll we do about this rain?”
Hope was going to stop the two of them from arguing, but then he remembered. When they were on Rainbow Pass, the thing the researcher had been talking about… ‘There are monsters that love the rain too.’ And this place is meant for studying those monsters…
I have to stop the rain, Hope thought, and he ran out from underneath the rocks. But that was as far as he got. He stopped, then stepped back a pace. Right in front of him was a yellow frog-looking monster. Behind it were more of the same in various colors. They had sharp claws at the ends their webbed forelegs. His whole body grew cold looking at them.
He tried to run but tripped over his own feet, landing on his back. He knew he had to run but he couldn’t make himself stand. Behind him he heard a scream. There were monsters near Elida too. She was the loudest person in their class, and her scream was earsplitting. Hope thought somewhere in the back of his mind that maybe it would surprise the monsters and they’d run.
For a moment the monsters stopped moving. But no monster would ever run at the scream of a child. They started creeping closer. He could see sharp teeth in their open mouths. They’re going to eat me, he thought.
Hope squeezed his eyes shut, and curled into a ball. But an attack from the sharp teeth and nails never came. Shaking, he slowly opened his eyes. The rain had stopped. The monsters were slowly moving away. Someone had used the rain control device and stopped the rain.
“The fal’Cie here controls the rain….”
Perhaps it was the fal’Cie who had saved them. He then heard Elida’s scream.
“Look! It’s the airship!”
Kai yelled. They could see the airship through the crack in the cliffs. Maybe it was searching for them. It was stopped in midair, hovering. The fal’Cie must have called the airship too, Hope thought. Kai dashed out from underneath the rock, waving his hands in the air and yelling.
“Can you stand?” Elida grabbed his hand and helped him stand. He looked around, but didn’t see any researchers or anything that might be a fal’Cie.
“Hope, hurry!”
He nodded and ran after Kai and Elida, waving his hands and yelling at the airship.

Once they were on the ship, they were taken to a separate room and questioned about what happened. They got a lecture from their teacher about how the monsters they ran into in Sunleth could have hurt them. They hadn’t expected anything less.
Now that they were back on the ship, Kai miraculously had his toy camera returned to him. A researcher had found it when they were doing their clean up of the path, and brought it back to the airship. They hadn’t needed to go looking for it after all. They should have just waited until free time was over.
I never should have said we should go looking for it, Hope thought, feeling regret. He didn’t know what Kai and Elida were thinking, but they didn’t seem angry with him.
“Did the fal’Cie stop the rain?” Elida asked their teacher. She must have had the same thought that Hope had. The fal’Cie is the only one who could have stopped the rain like that.
“It was probably a researcher who controlled it from somewhere far away, but most likely it was a fal’Cie who made the decision to stop the rain generator.”
It wasn’t the fal’Cie who called the airship either. It was the panel that Elida had touched. A researcher had noticed some strange activity coming from a machine in this area, and realized that someone had intruded into “Rain Valley”.
“They said that it’s really difficult to land there. If the pilot wasn’t so good, you probably would have still been wandering around lost in that canyon. We should go and thank the pilot later.”
Finally they were allowed to go back to their seats.
“Kai, uh…” Sorry I got us in trouble, Hope wanted to say.
“That was really cool.” Kai laughed, slapping Hope on the back. Hope nodded back and smiled.
“Kai! Take out your camera!” Elida pointed out the window. It was already evening. Many points of light were scattered below them in the fading sunlight. It was the lights of the Sunleth Waterscape’s airship runway. Kai hurried to take the picture. Finally all the space on the camera was used up, and the light indicating that the data was sending came on. The picture that Kai had promised to take for Hal, that final picture, was a night view of Sunleth.

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