The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter VII
Esthar Presidential Palace, Upper Levels:
Raine, Corin, and Lily continued to shuffle up the dark ventilation shafts that led towards the upper levels of the palace, towards the conference rooms. The path before them was very steep, and they had to use their legs to push themselves upwards. Raine was trying to read off the map Celeste had given them earlier, electronically sealed in a Game Boy like device which made it easier to read. According to it, they weren't that far off. Unfortunately, the vents ended at the next floor level. If they continued up, they could jump down into an office area, which would be abandoned at this hour, and run through the next area and jump up into the other vent system which would take them even higher. They continued up, until the dark vent came to a halt before them. Raine peered down one of the plates in the vent to make sure no one was below them. Seeing that it was clear, she undid the plate and jumped down into the office area. Lily and Corin did the same, landing on either side of her.
"What're we doing now Raine?" Corin asked, cracking his knuckles in anticipation of a fight with the Estharians.
"There is another vent system just passed this area," Raine informed the other two soldiers, "We can use it to shimmy upwards until we reach the conference rooms. Then we eavesdrop until we hear something interesting. Got it?"
They nodded, and Raine looked around to find a way to get to the other vent systems. The office area had many computer terminals where the palace employees worked during the day. Surprisingly, there were no guards on duty in the room, so Raine felt relieved that there wouldn't be any conflict... immediately at least. There were two doors out of the room, and Raine motioned Corin and Lilliana to check them.
Lilliana jogged up to the first door and tapped it's control panel. It slid open to reveal a hallway leading to another door. There was guard stationed in the hall, but he was facing the other way and Lilliana quickly shut the door before he noticed her presence. Turning to Raine and Corin she used her hands to say that the hall was a no go.
Corin went to the other door and slid it open quietly. Inside the next area, he found a large cargo or supply room where large crates and boxes littered the floors. He could make out a door on the other side of the cargo room, but with the amount of cover the boxes gave, he couldn't tell if there were any guards in the area or not. Having no other choice since it was the last door, he motioned the girls to come into the room. They did so, and Raine took her place in front of them and began to lead them through the room.
They went a short distance before Raine caught movement in the corner of her eyes. She spun her head around to look, and saw the last thing she wanted to. A guard was walking through the cargo room as well, but he hadn't noticed the Wolf Pack soldiers yet. Raine ordered the team to duck behind a cluster of boxes and crates. She pointed to her eye and held up her first finger. Corin interpreted this as, I see one guard.
She then pointed to Corin, who quickly got a smile on his blonde face as he was granted permission to take out the guard. The blonde man peered over the crates to see the guard's location. Once he saw him, Corin started to run lowly along the boxes until he was almost in range. He scratched the large scar on the side of his left face before he was ready to pounce. As the guard approached him, Corin thrust his fist upwards into the man's jaw at blinding speed. That speed in conjunction with the heavy metal knuckle gloves he wore instantly snapped the guard's neck and jaw. The Estharian fell over dead, and Corin slid the corpse behind a outcropping of boxes. He took the guards standard pistol and two hi-potions back to Raine and put them in her backpack for future use.
"Good job Corin!" Lilliana congratulated, giving the man a high-five.
"Yeah, let's head to the next room now," Raine ordered, starting to walk at a fast pace towards the silver door on the other side of the cargo room.
As they approached, it turned out it wasn't a door at all, but the entrance to an elevator. Raine smiled happily, this would make their travels much easier, it was certainly better than climbing up and down those stupid vents all night. She pressed the button on the panel by the door, and the three waited anxiously for the elevator to come down to them. As they stood, Raine grew worried for the other Wolf Pack soldiers. She knew they were all fine soldiers, but since she couldn't talk to them, she was afraid that they had been captured or worse.
The elevator dinged and opened its doors to the team. The three got inside and awaited Raine to push the buttons on the control panel. She pushed the button for the Conference Floor, there they could get back into the vents and get above the conference room to listen in on the meetings. As she pushed the button, the elevator slammed its doors shut and sky rocketed upwards. Raine looked to Lilliana and Corin.
"Okay, they might have guards by the elevator at the Conference Level, so be ready," Raine ordered, then drew her katana out of its sheath against her thigh. Lilliana responded by extending the blades on her claws.
As the elevator reached the floor, it slid its doors open once more. There was a guard on either side of the doors, and Wolf Pack to the initiative. Raine sliced her katana down at lightning speed into the first guards neck, cutting so deep that the blade separated his neck from his shoulders by a good six inches. He dropped quickly, his muscles twitching violently to try and hold onto life in vain. Lilliana punched her claws towards the other guards head, sinking the claw blades deep into his skull in between his spine and the lower part of his skull cap. She let him fall off her claws and onto the floor.
Raine looked around for any other guards, and finding none she looked for a place where she could dump the bodies. She saw a door marked, 'Janitor's Closet,' and quickly opened it, shoving the bodies in. She looked up also, and saw her ticket to the Conference Rooms. A large vent shaft passed through the roof of the closet. She jumped up and hit off the cover to the vent, and jumped up into it. Corin and Lilliana did the same thing, Raine helping them up into the vent.
They crawled through, Raine constantly checking her electronic map to make sure they were going the right way. After a few minutes, they could hear the deep voices of the Esthar officials nearby. A few more minutes and they were over the room, a large meeting of officials below them. Adel was with them, sitting in a large chair at the head of the table.
An official looked to Adel with a look of worry on their face, "Sorceress Adel, are you sure forming an alliance with Helios is the best thing to do? They have been known to be a conquering nation, one who defeats their allies after their enemies."
Raine thought for a moment, Helios? The super-military country in Southern Trabia? Galbadia will have a much harder time beating Esthar AND Helios.. shit!
Adel looked violently at the official, "Of course you fool! Allying with Helios will give us the advantage of having a country on our side who has the only airship fleet in the world! Plus they have a much larger army than us, it will be quite useful in crushing those pathetic Galbadians once and for all!"
"Yes," another official began to add, "Besides, Galbadia has alliances with Balamb, Dollet, and now Timber is thinking of joining them in the fray! We need a supporter as well."
"What of the Helios representative? He is here in the palace correct?" another piped up, "Why isn't he in here with us?"
Adel glared to him, "I have decided to talk with the Helian, Virados, on my own time. It does not concern your meddling in the affair. I make my own alliances, not with the help of political advisors."
"Very well, as you wish Sorceress."
Estharian Presidential Palace-- Middle Floors:
Julia was sitting in a vent, looking down to a room below them, checking her map once more. According to it, she, Lancer, Celeste, and Zion were right above the Esthar Archives. She looked down into the room again, and saw a large door leading into a circular room, two guards standing watch in front of the door, and probably two more inside. There was an open hallway in front of the archives, and anyone would hear if a loud fight took place.
Damn! Usually I'd just drop down a grenade, but it'd be way to loud. Ugh.. we'll have to do it the quiet way I guess... I hate the quiet way! It's so boring!
"Zion," Julia whispered, "Take off this plate and shoot those two with your MP-5."
Zion nodded and quietly detached the plate, and drew his silenced machine gun out of its holster. Just barely putting the nozzle of the gun out from under the vent, he shot one guard in the head, and before the other could react, he shot him in the chest. With them gone, the four soldiers slid out from the vent, making the twenty foot drop to the ground. Apparently, there was either no inside guards, or they hadn't heard the commotion from the outside and didn't come out.
Celeste drew closer to the dead guards, searching their belts for useful items. She found four hi-potions and what she was really looking for, the security card for the archive door. She smiled happily as she showed it to the other Wolves and walked up to the door.
"Will that get us in there Celeste?" Julia asked, drawing out her staff in case there actually were inside guards.
"It should, here," She said stepping up to the door's card slot, "let me try."
Celeste slid the card through its slot. A green light flashed on the panel and the twin gunmetal doors slid open, revealing two more stunned guards. Julia used one of the blades on her staff to slice open one of the guard's throats. Lancer shoved his pole-arm through the other's forehead, leaving a trail of blood from the guards nose to his naval. Zion shut the doors behind them as they entered, making sure nobody saw them access the mainframe.
The archive was a small circular room with book cases scattered throughout. Against the back of the white walls was a large computer terminal with a wide screen monitor which took up most of the back wall. One would have to look for hours through the books to find what they needed, but the computer terminal should tell them what they were searching for. Celeste cracked her knuckles, then approached the terminal. She flipped on the main power switch and waited for the computer to get to its main screen. Once it did, it required a name and password for log-on.
"Oh, great," Julia began, "Now what are you gonna do Celeste?"
"Ah, don't fear!" Celeste said with a smirk, pulling something shiny out of her bag, "You just have to love my little tricks, Julia."
Celeste revealed the CD she had pulled out of her bag, and slid it into the main drive below the terminal's keypad. Another screen appeared in front of the log-in screen stating, 'password accepted'. Celeste giggled triumphantly as she was granted access to the entire Esthar archives.
"There, now do you think I'm just a dumb blonde?" Celeste asked the other soldiers, hand on her hip and a smirk on her face.
The guys smiled and shook their heads with a negative answer, but Julia was about to open her mouth. Before she could, Celeste cut her off with an icy glare from her deep blue eyes and said, "Heartilly, don't you dare answer that! I know what you're going to say!"
Julia grinned sheepishly as Celeste turned back around to the computer. Raine had ordered them to find information on Adel, and that was exactly what she was planning to do. After accessing the search engine, she typed in the sorceresses name to find the information. After the computer searched through its database for a few minutes, another screen popped up. The Wolf Pack soldiers quickly read what was there.
Sorceress Adel --
A powerful sorceress hailing from unknown regions. A few days ago she seized power in Esthar after killing the former president, Elias Derdrick. After the presidents murder, she began increasing the militarism that Esthar had been holding lightly, massively increasing Esthar's army and navy forces. Though she was successful in her coup de tat, there was surprisingly little resistance to the Sorceress. Adel's immediate goals are the immediate destruction of the western powers (Galbadia, Dollet, Timber, and Balamb), and the establishment of Esthar colonies in the western ruins. Currently trying to ally with Helios to establish a more powerful empire. Age unknown.
Julia began laughing at the screen once she saw Adel's picture pop up, "Ha ha! That's a sorce-ress?! Somebody has an unnecessary amount of testosterone in them. Man, that's sad! No wonder she doesn't have a knight!"
"All right, calm down," Lancer said, hitting Julia lightly on the shoulder. Then, he noticed something out of the corner of his ice blue eyes, there was a security camera in the room, and it was zooming in on their faces. "Uh... Celeste? We have a problem."
Celeste looked up to where he was now pointing. Her face froze in pure shock. If the cameras were on loops, it would be zooming in on them. Someone must have found out that the cameras had been altered, and now they were fixed. Julia and Zion also looked up to where he was pointing as well. Julia let out the one thing on everyone's mind, "..... Oh, fuck..."
With that, the alarm systems in the palace began to go off, the lights turning red in warning. The Wolves quickly drew out their weapons again and burst through the door. Julia spun around and grabbed something black out of her backpack. She clipped ammo into her grenade launcher and held it out, expecting attacks from all sides. She was very glad she usually didn't listen to Raine when she said something that Julia didn't like.
All at once, Esthar soldiers began to fill into the outer-archive room, their weapons drawn. Julia and Zion began firing off their guns, Julia's grenade launcher taking out a good five men at once, and adding damage to the palace as well. They dodged incoming bullets, and tried to find cover. They dived behind another wall, Julia and Zion still firing like crazy at the soldiers, then sliding behind the wall as they fired back at them. Luckily, none of the Estharians had grenade launchers of their own. Celeste snapped her whip at them to keep them back as Julia and Zion reloaded their guns. Julia screamed lightly as a bullet entered her shoulder, leaving a pool of blood to trail down her firing arm. To their dismay, for every soldier that they killed, two more showed up to take their place. After a few more minutes, they threw down their weapons and allowed themselves to be captured.
Raine plugged her ears as she heard the alarm system start up. The panicked officials in the conference room bolted out the door at the first sign of trouble, Adel had left a few minutes earlier, so they didn't have to worry for her. An official said to one other, "There is a problem at the archives, send another legion of soldiers down at once!"
"They're using the vent covers for transport, shut them immediately!" another called out to a soldier, who nodded in return. At once, the vent covers which the team used to get out of the vents slid shut under them,
Damn it Heartilly! When I get my hands around your scrawny little neck, I'll kill you SO dead! Raine thought violently.
Seeing no other option to get out of the vent, Raine, Corin, and Lily crawled into the vent shaft over the hallway. Raine detached a grenade from her ammo belt and set it to time delay. Pulling the pin, she threw it down the shaft a few meters, and the three soldiers covered their ears to prevent themselves from going deaf. After a few seconds, the grenade exploded in an array of orange and red flames, causing the vent to break open, and killing all Estharians below it.
The three slid down the vent and dropped through the newly created hole. Raine drew out her katana and Lily extended her claw blades as six soldiers closed around them. Raine slashed through two of them, each one had their necks sliced open by the blade. Lily punched two in the stomach with her claws, puncturing vital organs, and leaving them writhing on the floor in pain. Corin kicked one in the jaw, a sleeper kick, causing him to pass out. He got the other one by a swift crack of the nose bone, sending bits of bone and cartilage into the poor Estharians brain, killing him instantly. Before more soldiers could come towards them, the three soldiers turned and began to run down the nearest hall.
"Lilliana! Haste us!" Raine ordered as they ran, hoping to move at a faster pace than the Estharians couldn't hope of matching.
Lilliana's hands glowed a dull yellow for a moment with energy, and then the team felt an increase in energy and muscle strength, allowing them to move much faster than a normal person would allow. But, this spell all ways seemed to have a negative effect once adrenaline stopped to flow. Raine and the others learned by experience that Haste did allow you to move quicker, but was very painful on the muscles once a person calmed down and stopped to think what happened to their bodies.
The three sped down the halls, bringing any soldiers down who got into their way. However, palace security sentinels, human cyborgs, were dispatched to stop them. They were stronger than a human, and moved as fast as a person on Haste. The robotic humans closed on the Wolves, their Boomerang Swords raised in a ominous manner. As two moved in from behind them, two more approached from the front. They were using the old Pincer move, to trap their victims so they couldn't get away.
Raine sliced her katana into the first drone's stomach, shorting out the main systems and causing it to shudder to the floor. Lilliana punched one in the head, her claws penetrating deep into the sensors, causing the machine to attack anything, Galbadian or Estharian. Corin grabbed the last two by their heads, and smashed them together as hard as humanly possible, crushing the two together and leaving them sliding to the floor with electrical currents seeping out of them.
They continued down the hallways, the sound of silenced machine gun fire getting ever closer. As Raine, Lily and Corin rounded the corner, they were greeted with a familiar site. Edea and her team: Epsilon and Andraia, were fighting their way out of an attack as well. They were surrounded by five Esthar cyborgs, but they were easily taken down with a combination of gunshots from Epsilon and Edea, and nunchaku wounds from Andraia. Three more showed up after, but Lilliana was already on top of it.
"Ifrit! Come to me!" with those words, the fiery demon appeared through a forming wall of flames against the hallway in which they stood. The ten foot tall muscular demon barely fit within the halls, but was able to manage. As the first Esthar cyborg approached, Ifrit sent a Firaga towards him, the high temperatures melting away external armor and frying all the internal circuits. For the next robot, Ifrit used one of his large clawed hands to bat the enemy into the wall nearby, crushing him. The last approached, and Ifrit formed a fireball in his hands, and batted it toward the last warrior. The flames consumed him, and the team was clear. Lily called the demon back to his own world, and he disappeared in a burst of flame.
They began to run down a new hall this time, a wider one that said it reached the mid-deck levels. They would go to the archives to bail Julia and the others out, and would then get back out into the city as fast as possible. Then they could finally return back home to Deling.
"Hold it right there!" The Wolves turned around to face a stern looking woman in her early twenties. Long black hair tied back into a pony tail and her oriental style armor set her apart from the three Estharian soldiers which stood on either side of her. Two large silver sais hung at her side, and a smirk told them she meant business.
"Who are you?" Raine demanded, holding her katana up to try to be more threatening.
The woman simply shook her head and drew out her sais, "Shock Break!"
A large burst of white hot energy formed along her sais and grew brighter. Before Wolf Pack could react, the energy exploded outwards, digging into the Wolves skin, burning them violently, yet not leaving any welts. All fell to the floor unconscious before being able to scream out in pain. However, Raine still stood in front of the strange woman, clutching her wounds. The woman looked stunned.
"How...? No one has ever been able to stand up through that attack before!" she exclaimed with slight horror in her voice.
"Tell me who you are!" Raine demanded, now standing fully upright. She felt her limit break kicking in, much stronger than usual.
"Hmm, I might as well," the woman said with a smirk, "Think of it as a reward for surviving the attack. I am General Satori Kirstarke of the Esthar Armed Forces! You know, it is an honor to have me introduce myself to someone, feel proud!"
Raine huffed and began her limit break, hoping to take down the arrogant female once and for all. Though something different happened this time. Instead of the usual orange glow her body got as she limited, her eyes turned a darker blue, leaving even the white of her eyes a pale sky blue. Even through her trenchcoat, she could see a blue glow on her left arm, that of a cross or sword with a pair of wings for a hilt. It disappeared beneath her coat again, and Raine felt a new surge of energy as a new limit break was formed.
The room turned darker as her eyes grew brighter. She rose her katana straight into the air, and it also began to turn a dull blue with magical energy which Raine had never experienced before. White bits of energy began to hover through the air, imitating starlight. Raine yelled out the name of the new limit, Silver Night, and swung her katana down at a rapid pace. The energy sliced through the darkness, causing the room to turn a bright silver as the fake stars exploded as the energy hit them. The soldiers which stood by Satori fell to the ground dead within a second. A large gash was left in the floor according to the path of Raine's sword, so large you could see to the floor below.
Satori fell backwards at the blow, but stood back up, clutching her chest and howling in agony. A large gash was in her side, a rib visible through her cut. With her last efforts of strength, Satori yelled out a name which Raine had heard only a few minutes before.
"Master Virados! Help me!" Satori yelled, raising her hand in the air, and collapsing to the ground afterwards, still conscious, but badly injured.
A tall, attractive man appeared out of thin air at this, and stood next to Satori. He had long red hair and yellow, cat like eyes. A large broadsword hung at his side, and he was dressed in reddish maroon armor. He quietly casted a Curaga on Satori, sealing her side wound back together, and giving her enough energy to stand up again. Raine raised her katana again in anticipation of a sword attack, the blue hue still in her eyes. Instead, he casted another spell towards her with a single word, a pair of snow white wing emerging from his back. "Ultima."
A large yellow orb fell onto her, rendering her completely helpless under its magic. Energy from around the orb rushed in, turning the air around Raine a bright green. Though she tried to escape, the orb exploded violently, cracking a part of Raine's ribcage and causing her to fly ten feet backwards into the wall behind her, leaving her badly injured and completely unconscious.
Virados turned to Satori after looking at Raine once more, "Throw her in the cell with the others. But listen to me! I want you to keep an eye on her and that Heartilly woman. Understood?"
"Yes, Master. As you wish."