The Pack and the Excalibur soldiers were seated underneath a rocky terrace, which was guarding them from the snow. Seeing a few soldiers in slight fatigue from the rapid hiking, Julia and Jesse permitted them to take a quick ten minute break. Aaron had found the rock terrace a minute later, and the teams sought shelter below it. Each were taking the break to their benefit. Some slept, others simply rested.
Julia, feeling little fatigue, settled on pulling a book out of her bag, which had luckily fallen with her on the escape from the transport. Not usually one to read much, it was a tad unusual to see the woman reading in the middle of a snowstorm.
Zion, who had been lying against a rock, shifted his gaze toward her. "Good book? Thought you hated to read."
"Mmm... usually, yes I do hate it. This is interesting though." Julia mumbled, then spoke louder. "It's on the history of Mysidia. Or at least, what the Centrans thought it was, and what they thought from ruins as stuff."
He nodded in acknowledgement. Julia had been diving into books and other sources about Mysidians, just out of pure curiosity. He knew very well that she much desired to meet up with her kin and wage war against Hyne, but there seemed to be no way to get to Gaia. She felt that it was her responsibility to lead them, and she didn't want any of the Mysidians to suffer any longer. But, with the birth of Rinoa, Julia no longer strived to find a real way into the far off Empire.
She could sense his silent concern. "You still think I'm going to leave you and Rinoa, don't you?"
"Well, no, but...." Zion began to say, but she raised a hand to stop him.
"I can tell when you lie, love. Please believe me. You and Rinoa mean more to me than anything else. I would do anything to stay with you. I'm not going anywhere, willingly." She replied sincerely, a rare softness to her voice.
With that, she wrapped her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder. He smiled warmly at her. "Yes, I know. And for that I am eternally grateful."
They remained that way for a moment, until Jesse's voice interrupted them. "Okay lovebirds, break it up! We have to move out now. We've wasted enough time resting."
Julia nodded and slowly stood. She picked up what equipment she had, and turned to her own soldiers. "You heard him guys, let's go! Epsilon, wake up Lancer and Celeste and get them on their feet."
Epsilon groaned and shoved Lancer on his shoulder, causing the mercenary to jump up in alarm for his sleep. Celeste, who was lying against his chest, rolled to the side and landed not so gracefully on the snow. She looked up in confusion, and only returned a sheepish look from her husband. Seeing Epsilon's smirking face, she frowned.
"Epsilon, you have to ruin every peaceful moment I have, don't you?" She asked, standing and brushing the snow from her backside.
"Hey, don't blame me for that, Indiana Jones. It was all Julia's idea, I swear. She ordered it." Epsilon said with a smile. "Can argue with the leader, now can I?"
"Oh... fine." Celeste grumbled, picking up her whip. "And don't call me Indiana Jones! The whip and the gun don't have anything to do with him! Do you see a hat on my head or the leather coat?"
Andraia rolled her eyes. "If you hate us calling you that, then why did you dress up as him last Halloween?"
Celeste opened her mouth, but no words came out. Lilliana laughed. "No answer, Trepe? That's what I thought. You like it, and you know it."
Celeste grumbled something, but continued to gather up her gear. The others decided to leaver he be, and get together their own equipment and fall in before Julia and Jesse.
"It's not far from here. About an hour's walk at the most. Let's move at a normal pace to keep up stamina for any fights we might have once we reach the base's perimeter." Jesse ordered. The others nodded.
"Remember," Julia interrupted. "If you spot any of the lost equipment, let us know. We don't have much left."
Jun frowned. "Too bad we didn't see where the transport went down. It'd be easier to find the weapons that way."
"True." Aaron agreed. "But, all we can do is keep our eyes open and get to the base with or without our main weaponry. Besides, we can do it with the left over stuff if we have to."
Andraia smiled. "Right! No task too big or too small, we can do it without anything if we had to. Right guys?!"
A few agreed with nods or small cheers, yet most of the soldiers remained quiet. Julia snorted. "Shut up, Tilmitt, and let's go."
And with that, she and Jesse took off north, and the others could only follow.
Epsilon and Corin ducked down to their knees, keeping low. Epsilon had a pair of binoculars out and he quickly placed them to his eyes. Before doing so, he got down to lie on his chest level with ground.
"Dincht, stay down. They might see us." the sniper warned. Corin also got down to his chest, staying as close to the ground as he could.
The two were lying on a snow bank no less than a half-mile away from the base built into the mountainside. It only appeared to be one story tall, and was significantly smaller than they were expecting. It was covered in snow, though there were footprints indicating human activity. A few vehicles were parked outside, and a radar dish was atop the roof. The other Wolves and Excaliburs were awaiting their report at the bottom of the snow bank, and Epsilon began to evaluate what they would be up against.
Using the binoculars, Epsilon peered into the base's perimeter for signs of life. He looked into the tanks and trucks parked outside. Nobody was there. He looked into the warehouses and smaller buildings, and into their windows. Nothing. He looked into the base's main building. Nothing. Epsilon furrowed his eyebrows in confusion.
Looking back to Corin, he shrugged. "What the hell is going on? There's nobody there. Not one person. No guards, nothing!"
Corin too, contorted his face into a confused glance. He looked back down to Julia and Jesse, and yelled. "Are you guys sure you followed the maps right? There's nothin' here!"
"Nothing...?" Julia asked, confused. "...Well, look again!"
Epsilon sighed and did as he was told. Once again, he found nothing. He turned back to Julia and shrugged. The grenadier crossed her arms in worry, and looked to Jesse.
"Think we should go inside and investigate?" She asked the blonde gunblader.
Jesse nodded in return. "Of course. I didn't come all the way out here in the freezing tundra just to look at some abandoned base. There's gotta be something inside."
Lancer groaned. "I don't know. I smell a trap."
"He's got a point. They either moved the missiles to a different base to fool us, or are waiting for us in there." Zion replied, furrowing his dark brows. "I don't like this."
"The nearest Helios base is at least fifty miles away. We'd be too late if we decided to hike out there. Let's just check this one and pray to Hyne that the missiles are there and we can get in and out safely." Jesse said, crossing his arms.
"Don't pray to Hyne." Julia said, her gaze not wavering from the base. "He won't help you. He'll kill you."
"Huh?" Aaron began to ask, but Andraia hit him swiftly in the ribs.
"Well, let's just get going. We can check it out, and hopefully find a radio to call in back up." Zion said, starting to hike down the snow bank towards the base.
Julia followed, and after a minute the rest of the team did as well. The grenadier called back to Epsilon. "Kinneas, keep your eyes glued to those binoculars. I don't want an ambush. Keep us informed."
"Will do." Epsilon replied. Jun even aided by glancing through her sniper rifle's scope.
Without binoculars, it was hard to see with the naked eye. A windstorm had come in the past ten minutes, blowing snow everywhere and lower visibility tremendously. While it was hard enough to keep their balance, it was harder to see their paths. The teams eased forward, going slowly to prevent themselves from falling over.
They staggered along, some having their pistols or other remaining weapons drawn out in case of an emergency. Five minutes passed, and they approached the base's outer wall, still without sign of any enemy soldiers.
Then something occurred which stopped Julia in her tracks.
"You would do well to take caution in there, Mira."
Julia stopped to a tense position, as did Lilliana and Andraia. The summoners looked confused, but Lilliana spoke. "Hey, Bahamut's upset. He won't stop roaring and talking in my mind. I think something's wrong. Shiva, Ifrit, and the others are pissed too."
"Tritoch and my summons are the same way." Andraia replied. "Something just scared the crap out of them. Carbuncle won't stop chattering and Tritoch is screeching so loud I'm going to have a headache here in a second."
"Emerald Weapon didn't scare your summons, so what the hell is wrong with them?" Lancer asked. "Must be something really bad."
"I dunno what's wrong with them!" Lilliana shot back, getting a migraine from the five summons who were extremely distressed.
Julia was still unmoving, her hair flying in her face and in front of her eyes due to the intense wind. Her spine and nerve endings began to tingle, and the hairs on the back of her neck and arms stood straight.
"Who are you and what the hell do you want?" She mentally answered back, not sure if her mind was playing tricks or not.
"I am disappointed that you do not all ready know. Though, that amnesia still blocks a good portion of your memory, does it not?"
"Oh, god!!" Andraia screamed, falling to her knees and clutching her hands to her temples. "Tritoch, be quiet! What's wrong with you?! Fenrir..."
"Very good. Glad to see you are not a complete imbecile. I say again, take heed of my warning, Mira. It will be the only thing I shall aid you with. Then, you may side with me after it has all ended. I eagerly await your arrival on Gaia."
"I'm not coming to Gaia you sick, twisted, pathetic excuse for a god. I'll never side with you. Not after what you did to my loved ones."
"I think you shall. Remember, I am a god. I control the afterlife of your so-called 'loved ones'."
".....Julia?" Came a familiar voice, one that made a tear fall from Julia's dark eye.
"Raine?! Oh, Tyran.... Raine are you all right?!" Julia mentally yelled back, distress littered on every thought.
"Pain.... so much pain." Raine's spirit replied. "Julia, don't... give in to him."
Lilliana fell to the ground now, unable to take the pain of Bahamut's roars any longer. Tears welled in her eyes, and she screamed in pain. The Pack was now trying everything they could to aid the summoners, their attentions turned away from Julia.
Raine's voice vanished, though Julia mentally called after her. Hyne ended up replied to Julia's calls. "An eternity of torture for your 'friend' who ruined my plans. This is what happens when a person turns against me. Do not be foolish. I also control Dante and your mother's spirits. Both are going through the same endless torture. Though, I use your mother for... other purposes."
"Shut up you bastard!! Don't talk about my mother!" Julia screamed back. "I would never side with someone that evil... I see why Shajuk and Tyran kicked you out of the Realm of Heaven all that time ago."
There was a large source of anger in her mind, though a calm voice replied. "I will only end their suffering if you agree with me. Now... yes or no? Your loved ones safety, or an eternity of torture?"
"...An eternity of torture? I don't think so. Remember the prophecy? The Raptuareduna will kill you, and they'll be free."
"You still cling to that failing hope? My, my... don't we have a plethora of faith."
"You'd better pray that the Raptuareduna gets to you before I do. Because I'm going after you. I'll see to it that you spend an eternity in hell, now stop trying to manipulate me. You can't win. Your time playing king is over."
There was no reply, nor any hint that Hyne was still in her mind. Lilliana and Andraia stopped screaming, as did their summons. They dropped their hands from their heads, and let their husbands pick them back up.
"Lily!" Corin shouted, "Are you all right? What the hell happened?!"
Lilliana groaned, but replied despite the faint sense of pain left in her mind. "Something must have scared the summons. They all started screaming and roaring, cursing something forever. And then.... it just stopped. They were all quiet again."
"Can you ask them what went wrong?" Jesse asked the both of them, a little freaked out over the incident.
"They won't talk anymore." Andraia replied. "No matter what I say or ask... all they can do is stay quiet. Like, they're afraid the thing will come back again."
It was then that Zion noticed Julia, tears streaming down her face, and she was still deathly still. "Julia? Are you okay? Julia!"
She snapped out of it. She shakily replied. "I-I'm fine. Come on, we have to get inside. We have a mission to complete."
The Pack and the Excaliburs began to get themselves calmed down again, and fell back into formation. As Julia led them onwards, she began to fear what she had said.
"My god, I did the wrong thing... I should have went with him. Raine... Mother... everyone, forgive me. Be strong, someone will kill him... I promise if not me, then the Raptuareduna."