The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter XXI

Jesse and the leaders from most of the other Special Forces units stood before an impressive amount of Galbadian soldiers and machinery, ready to defend the city at all costs.  While there were several anti-infantry and anti-armor gun turrets posted within and on the borders of Deling City, most everything was set up along the top of the beach.  It was on the beach that tanks, mobile SAM launchers, and other defensive machinery lay.  Several dozen soldiers also were lined up before the artillery, each holding a powerful Stinger Missile launcher to blast away the incoming Estharian and Helian ground soldiers.  But to say the least, the Galbadians were not feeling to well about the battle itself.  Helios had a startling number of genetically enhanced beasts of battle that they let loose during war.  They were almost impossible to take down unless you were able to have heavy firearms or specially trained elite units.  Esthar was bad enough by itself, but now that the sadistic Helian forces had sided with them, Galbadia felt outnumbered and helpless.  Luckily for them, Dollet had reinforced them and Timber troops were on the way. 


   Jesse threw a look in the direction of the attacking force.  The Estharian and Helian Navy were dangerously close to the shores of Deling, and were about ready to open their doors and let the ground forces swarm onto the land, killing everything in their paths.  The airships around them had left their escort duties, and were now speeding towards the main city.  He then turned to his teammates, checking to make sure none of them were feeling an anxiety so powerful that it would render them helpless.  Luckily, all of Excalibur seemed up for the challenge before them.  Now, one of the generals who was leading the defense force raised his fist into the air and addressed the troops.


   "This is what all of your training has been for, soldiers!  Defend the capitol and live on as a national hero! Do your country proud.  For Galbadia, charge!!"


    It was as he said this, that the three armies:  Helian, Galbadian and Estharian began to charge up the opposite side of the beach from either their sea craft or from behind the artillery line.  The Special Forces soldiers were remaining back while the standard infantry charged, and had specific orders to charge after the initial strikes had been exchanged.  Jesse couldn't help but flinch slightly as the ear-splitting roars of the tank and other artillery guns let off their first round of attacks.  One by one, the shells exploded with a red flash either on the incoming soldiers or the naval ships that were in range.  As the artillery began to reload, the missile launcher wielding soldiers raised their weapons, and let off their own round of fire towards the enemy.  Spiraling upwards and arching widely, the missiles each plowed into the ground within and before the charging line of the joint strike force.  Dozens upon dozens of enemy soldiers fell, but they were about to get even.  


    The Estharian naval ships had their own gun emplacements, and with their superior technology they had better range and firepower than the Galbadian artillery.  Sending off blasts of their own laser powered gun turrets they, almost effortlessly, destroyed an entire row of Galbadian tanks and artillery.  While the infantry soldiers were still a few hundred yards away from each other, Helian soldiers with high powered guns were already firing away at their enemies, taking down a good number before they even collided.  


    Then the armies clashed.  Some tumbling on top of each other, others tackling the front line soldiers, the uniform colors of turquoise, navy blue, and green merged together in a single chaotic form.  It was then that the Galbadian Special Forces soldiers were allowed onto the field.  Jesse received his notice, and turned to his soldiers with his Hyperion in the air.


    "All right ladies!  Let's get out there and kill some bug soldiers!"  He yelled with a smirk, and turned towards the battle again.


    Leading them down a path that the first soldiers had dug when they had begun their run, Excalibur quickly ran into the fray alongside the Sentinel and Jade Phoenix units.  Jesse and Icelina quickly began to hack down any Helian or Estharians they saw, using their gunblades to slice away anyone not wearing Galbadian combat gear.   Alexius and Jun on the other hand, tended to be a bit more hesitant in their charges, hanging back a suitable distance to use their sniper rifles to cover their teammates.  Aaron ran along side Icelina, using his duel hand guns to blast away any incoming opposition.  


    This is what all of our missions have been training us for!  Jesse thought inwardly as he continued to fight on.  Now its up to us to save Galbadia from destruction.  Come on guys, just don't turn tail and run away on me.  Now, where the hell are those Wolves anyway?!  Raine's missing out on all the fun!




    Lilliana had pushed the Valhalla's throttle up to its maximum limit in order to fly past the mass of airships surrounding the battlefield without being hit by enemy fire.  It was actually quite nerve-wracking to hear the blast coming from the other ships as they tried to gun the Valhalla down before it came to the battle, but she ignored the feeling and plowed through the barricade.  She called out to Raine that they were finally ready to enter the battle and join their countrymen in the fight.  Upon hearing the shout from the bridge, Raine turned back into the hall of the airship that the rest of the team was preparing in.  


    "Listen up guys, I'm only going through this once!" Raine shouted, getting their attention.  Once the other Wolves had all turned to face her, she continued on.  "Lilliana is staying behind with the airship while the rest of us are going to jump out of the cargo hatch once she flies low enough.  From there, we will all pair off with one other person or go solo to aid the other soldiers in the fight.  The whole goal is to take down as many enemies as you can.  If you see Virados or Satori out there, do not engage unless we are all together.  We've still got our communicators from the assassination mission, so we can use them to get in contact with one another."


    Corin slammed one of his fists into the other in eagerness.  "Yeah!  Let's get out there and give 'em hell!  Still, man, I feel a bit nervous going out there without the Kevlar stuff in our combat gear.  Too bad we weren't able to get back to the base and get it before hand."  


    "Yes, and just for that statement I think we should all keep an eye out for one another.  I don't want a bullet in the back any time soon."  Edea added on, also worried about being gunned down by a pack of Helians.  Julia was having similar thoughts also, wishing that she had her flame thrower in conjunction with her already present grenade launcher (which unfortunately was running out of ammo). 


    "Good point."  Raine interjected, "I think Zion and Epsilon should swing back and give the team cover from behind."


    The two gunners nodded just before Lilliana called out again.  Beginning her descent to the ground below she informed Raine.  "I'm starting the descent, boss!  Careful, I'm going to open the cargo hatch now!"


     Raine gave her a thumbs up and warned the others.  Standing on the sides of the cargo room, they watched in silence as the strong metal doors that held the room shut began to loudly creak open.  After a few moments of metallic clanking, they had swung all the way open, revealing the battleground below them flying past at a great speed.  Lily then began to slow down so that they could jump out and not fall to their bloody deaths before they had gotten near the battle itself.   Then, one by one, they tumbled out of the rear of the craft.   Rolling to a stop on the sandy terrain below, they came to a rough stop, some with bruises already forming on their shoulders and legs due to the fall.  They quickly engaged in nearby battles to aid their Galbadian comrades.


    Corin and Andraia took off to the left of the group, and anxiously began to fight.  With one shot from each of her guns, Andraia caused two Estharians to drop dead to the ground.  Corin, after dodging a bullet from a Helian soldier, quickly gave a lightning fast upper-cut to his enemy, cracking most of the bone in his jaw and leaving him to fall limp towards the soil.   At the same time, Celeste and Lancer were rushing into their own battles.  Taking initiative, Celeste wrapped her whip around the leg of a Helian and threw him to the ground, prompting another Galbadian to shoot him.  With the same motion, she flung the whip back towards herself and lashed another Estharian in the face.  Lancer used his pole-arm to stab one enemy in the chest, and caused two more to fall with a wide swipe of the blade at the end of the pole.  


    Julia and Raine were more or less fronting the group, charging into the deepest fray to slash away at anything without a navy blue uniform on.  Raine used her katana to slice two down before they knew what had hit them.  She then noticed something was wrong with her katana, and that Virados had done something that effected the metal.  It felt foreign in her hands, almost as if it had been downgraded or aged several hundred years.  It's sharpness wasn't its former glory.   Julia was making up for it though.   Using her staff in conjunction with her grenade launcher, she made up for Raine's loss in effectiveness.  The Alpha Wolf would certainly have to give Virados what was coming to him, especially now that he had damaged her main weapon.  

    Zion and Epsilon held back as instructed, Edea standing a few feet away from them for support fire.  Epsilon had perched himself on top of some fallen metal debris from the battle to give himself cover as well as a better spot to snipe out enemies from.  He only had a few magazines left, but he still had his pistol and shotgun left to use in close range fighting once his ammunition was depleted.  Zion, whose gunarm did not have any targeting site, was doing well with eliminating anyone in a general area who got to close to the other Wolves.   Edea could aim quite well compared with Zion, but used his tactic of group elimination due to the inaccuracy of her chain gun's bullets.  


    Then the time came when the Wolves had penetrated too deep into the fray to be seen by one another.  The soldiers who had been giving cover fire ran into the battle as well to find another spot to guard from, or to join in the general combat by themselves.  To his surprise, Epsilon had quickly gone through what ammo he had, and he resulted to tossing the rifle to the ground to save himself from carrying around its weight the entire battle.  There would be more in the base, and he would pick up another later.  


    A few more minutes, though it seemed like an eternity to the fighters, a few of the Galbadian SAM launchers finally released successful missile hits from their missile bays.  Two of the Helian airships that towered over the battle fell from the sky in burning flame.  The metal from the hulls crashed down on the battlefield with a sudden creak and whine that the soldiers under it didn't have time to react and move out of the way in time and were crushed by the massive weight.  The Wolves quickly turned their heads skyward to make sure that neither ship hit was the Valhalla, and were relieved when they saw the silver ship heading back towards the Galbadian air base nearby.  


    Though they couldn't all see Andraia through the dense wall of people they were surrounded with, they certainly knew she was nearby.  This was due to the massive robed figure of Ramuh descending from the now thundering sky down towards the equally loud battlefield.  The wise summon that had been around from long before the Centran Wars began to send bolts of white hot energy surging into his master's enemies.  This immensely aided the Galbadians nearby who were outnumbered by the mass of opposing troops.  The thunder god hovered close to the small brunette summoner, aiding her as she called for it.  

    A barrage of missiles left the airships above the battle, and they skyrocketed downwards leaving smoke trails all through the air.  They sped down above the battle, towards the back of Galbadia's defense line.  To the horror of the officers who witnessed it, the majority of the mobile SAM launchers were destroyed in a gigantic ball of fire that was seen from miles away.  Now they would have to rely on the tanks and gun artillery to bring down the ominous airships that remained silently over the conflict.  


    By this time, the Galbadian Navy had deployed almost all of its warships to try and dispatch the threat from the sea.  The Helian and Estharian ships didn't have time to turn themselves around quickly enough to allow themselves time to let off the first shots, and found themselves assaulted by a barrage of missile and cannon fire.   It finally seemed like the Galbadian army was beginning to seize control of the battle, but then something unexpected happened.


    Apparently the Helians had loaded their airships with dumb bombs on the underside of their hulls, and now each of the five remaining ships were lining up in an air raid formation.  This attack would unfortunately kill soldiers from all three armies, though the Helian officers either didn't care or thought that it was a price to be paid to get rid of the remaining Galbadians.  The leaders of the special forces units noticed this formation, and ordered their soldiers to move out of the way.  While some managed, the order simply came too late.  An array of bombs dropped from the ships that were flying overhead, causing each of the small warheads to explode once they came in contact with the ground.  Many soldiers then met their doom.

    The rate of fire from the ground artillery increased as the enemy airships flew above them.  Luckily, they were able to take two more of them down before they could circle around and drop another payload on the battle below.  Little did they notice Virados' flagship maneuvering down to the ground...




    Raine felt very fatigued.  Her chest was heaving, and sweat was seeping out of her pores due to her extensive battling.  She had long since gotten separated from Julia during the fighting, and any attempt to locate her through the communicator proved to be utterly futile.  Zion had been with her earlier, but she had ended up sending him off to find Julia.  Not much to her surprise, he ended up getting lost in the crowd as well.  


    From the corner of her eyes, she saw someone she had hoped she would not encounter again.  The silver-clad female warrior who had imprisoned her in Esthar and left her to Virados in Helios was now in the battle.  Satori was a great distance away from her, yet through the mass of people she could tell that she was causing a great number of Galbadians to fall due to her sharp sais.  She was too far off to go after the Estharian general, and figured she would only engage in combat if Satori got close enough to her.  


    She flinched as a large object suddenly flew about three feet over her head.  Looking up quickly, she saw that it was the demon wolf Fenrir, which could only mean that Andraia was somewhere close.   Ramuh had been dispatched about twenty minutes ago, so now the summoner relied on Fenrir for battling duty.  The demon pounced on a pair of Helian soldiers, and proceeded to their them to shreds with his large fangs.  Raine was forced to look away at the sight of so much gore.  


    However, she was forced to cause her own.  Two Estharians jumped her from behind, and she used her katana to block their two Boomerang swords.  Sliding her blade out from between theirs, she sliced them across the chest and neck, causing them to fall down and never get back up.  This assault, of course, attracted more enemies toward her.  This did not scare her, however.  What better a way to find out how good this new Shaduna power works? 


    Raine had felt the power surge ignite within her a long time ago, but she had kept it suppressed with her mental control.  She let the power flow now, letting  it reach into every part of her body. The tingling sensation in her chest spread into her legs and arms, and finally it reached her head.  She could see the reaction of the enemy once her eyes turned the unnatural shade of cerulean and felt herself slip into a battle trance.


    Aside from the tingling, once she was in the trance, everything felt different.  Her eyes focused more clearly, and soon she was able to pick up on more details than ever before.  She had felt her muscles tighten once she entered the trance, making themselves stronger and more durable.  Her stamina recovered, yet she wasn't sure if it really had, or if she had been numbed from the pain of fatigue.  


    As the first enemy charged her she allowed the power to flow into her sword, turning the blade a dull shade of blue.  She plunged the blade straight forward into the chest of the Helian before her, the energy acting as a heat, and allowing the blade to slice through his armor and bone as if it took no effort to do.  At the same time she let the power drift back into her leg, and kicked another charging soldier in the jaw with her boot.  The force of the kick, along with the powerful energy, caused her to break his jaw and send him sprawling to the ground.  That was when the remaining three enemies turned and began to run to safety.  She didn't like that idea, however.   She began to sprint at a nearly inhuman speed after them due to the Shaduna's strength, and with a wide arching swing of her energized blade she sliced a groove into each of their backs.  They fell to the ground and writhed in pain.  

    She marveled at the powers she seemed to possess.  Silently, she pondered if she had any magical powers in the trance, but she didn't have time to wonder for long.  At this time, she heard a familiar voice screaming two names.  


    "Zion!  Raine!  Help me!!"




    Julia's grenade launcher had long been out of ammo since the initial attack.  Now, it remained strapped to her back in the place of her staff, the metal weapon now resting her hands.  She used both ends of the bladed staff to block two incoming attacks and then swung her wrist around so that she cut down her opponents with a single side of the staff.  Seeing three more soldiers to her left, she decided to dispatch them as well.  If my grenade launcher won't make my fires for me, I guess I have no choice but to do it the old fashioned way!


    She forced the palm of her hand to generate heat that only she and Edea knew how to do, and smiled subtly as a spark of fire ignited before her hand.  Using her mind, she sent the forming ball of fire outwards towards her opponents.  The fire spread as it flew into somewhat of a cone shape, and ignited all three Estharians into red flames.  Their armor was not fire resistant, luckily for her.  Julia's own variation of a Fira worked quite well in her situation, for the group was soon dead.  


    The burning flesh soon attracted a predator that Julia wasn't hoping to encounter.  She and Zion, who had found her and gone away a bit later to spread out Wolf Pack's rate of attack, had noticed Satori come into the battle about ten minutes ago.  It was then when she had been working on battling away from the general, due to the fact that she didn't want to be attacked by a Shock Break anytime soon.  Or at least, not alone.  They had almost won when they attacked as a group, but Raine had failed when she was battling alone. 


    But to her bad luck, Julia had been spotted by Satori, and the Estharian was quickly running towards her.  She knew help couldn't get to her in time, since Andraia and Corin were pinned down among a group of Helian several hundred meters away, and Lancer and Celeste were trapped fighting a pair of gigantic Helian war beasts with Epsilon.  Zion and Raine were absent from her view, and she figured they had ran off to help the other groups.  She guessed that she would have to fight on alone.  


    Satori, instead of stabbing outwards with her sais as she usually did when she fought, tried to grab Julia and throw her over her shoulder.  The grenadier was able to step out of harms way, and tried to slash the general with her own weapon.  Satori blocked with both sais, and pushed the staff away from her safety zone with a powerful throw. Satori countered by kicking Julia in the abdomen, causing the brunette to lurch forward in pain.  Satori then elbowed downwards and crashed into the back of Julia's head.  


    She fell to the ground in pain, but strangely felt a growing tingling feeling in her chest that had nothing to do with pain.  In fact, the feeling felt more healing than painful, and she felt her stamina slowly returning.  She rolled out of the way and stretched out her arm towards Satori.  Her skin crackled as a Thundara spell formed along her arm, and she let the energy flow outwards towards her enemy.  Satori grunted as the thunder hit her square in the chest, and took a moment to recover from the attack.


    Julia then proceeded to flip herself up from the ground as Satori recovered.  That was, until, she was grabbed from behind and placed in a choke hold.  She couldn't turn her head very well but she knew that she couldn't break herself free from the grip.  The arm was too large to be female, so she assumed it was a male who held her.  Suddenly, she saw a large toothed sword with an emerald hilt placed against her stomach.  


    "Master Virados?  I thought you were staying on board the airship?"  Satori said with puzzlement.


    Julia heard Virados chuckle behind her, and it was then she realized the danger she was in.  "Yes, Satori.  I know I said that, but I couldn't afford to miss this.  We've waited almost thirteen years for this day.  I needed to be here in case something went wrong.  Which, apparently, almost did."


    Satori remained silent, and rubbed the portion of her body that was still scarred by the electrical blast Julia had given her moments before.  Julia felt herself be dragged away by the man who held her in his grip, and though she could barely move her jaw against his arm, she was able to call out one last thing before his grip completely cut off her airway and she passed out from lack of oxygen.  She called for the two people she thought the most highly of.


    "Zion!  Raine!  Help me!!"



Chapter 22