Promises to Keep
Part 5 (Continued)
He was gone…just like that. The loveable country bumpkin from the Veldt known as Private Elder was gunned down…by a cowardly sniper. His death was agonizing…torturous almost. What pained us the most was that we were that close, watching him gasping his last breaths.
“All right men…there's no reason we should be here anymore…let's give these men a proper burial.” The captain commands.
“He's right…these men, including Pvt. Elder died honorably. They're with God now.” Setzer agrees.
“I don't get it…it's unfair he had to die.” Gau chokingly complains. “I couldn't save him either…”
“Gau…you did what you could…he was going to die…he couldn't have survived that wound.” I try to convince the poor medic. Gau looked like a wreck. His face was worn and stressed. His clothes were a little too big for him, and torn to boot. His once long hair was all but shaven. He was anxious, anxious to see his Relm again and his expected baby.
“I couldn't save him Locke…I failed…”
“Jesus…this was a slaughter…” Duane nudges me as he surveys the carnage. “It'd be good to give these men a burial.”
Using our entrenchment shovels, we managed to dig enough holes for all the men, including Major Garamonde. Poor Edgar…he's still heartbroken. I see him sitting down on his helmet, his hands covering his face. It didn't look like he was crying, but I could tell he was in severe pain somehow. That could've been him on that mine or he could've been sniped afterwards. Instead…a lowly but brave private saved Edgar's life by sacrificing his own. I guess that would make any man feel low of himself. Hell I know I would.
One by one…we put the bodies of the fallen men into their respective holes. Edgar and Setzer were able to identify each one, so they could make markings for them. Finally putting the last mounds of dirt in each hole, we place their rifles on their tombs, helmets on top. It was a standard funeral for soldiers. We took their dog tags so when we returned to our superiors; we could give the tags to them to let them know of the casualty report.
“Anything to say for these men?” Slocum asks.
“These men…these poor men…should be honored. They answered the call to duty, and died doing so.” Setzer says bearing a heavy sigh.
“They wanted to fight to protect their loved ones…they were faithful to their loved ones and sacrificed themselves to make them proud.” I add.
“Pvt. Elder was a hero…he saved my life by dying. He will be rewarded greatly in heaven. If he was in Figaro…he'd be a hero to everyone.” Edgar says.
“Major Garamonde…he was a fine man…I respected him just as much as Edgar did…he will be remembered in out hearts, along with the rest of these brave fighting men.” Sabin says.
“To our fallen brethren…” Miceli finishes up the quasi-eulogy.
“PRESENT…ARMS!” The captain orders.
We all salute over the makeshift tombstones, honoring the dead. It was time to move on though. Sure it was hard for us…but we had to keep moving, otherwise we'd be burying more men at Thamasa, maybe even another one of our own men. Jeez…I had to stop thinking like that. I know I'm a doubter sometimes, but this is depressing to even think about. It's so funny…when did I become so…emotional? I remember Locke Cole, private eye, who didn't give a damn over no one and only cared for himself and the money, and Terra from time to time. It's funny what time and people do to you on the inside. One thing's for sure, Celes changed me quite a bit, but for some reason, this war seems to rehash or even revive some of the old demons that haunted me years ago. I hope this war ends soon…I gotta get back home.
The sun kept rising, like it had no end, until it was directly over our heads. It was noontime. We were way past the crash/burial site. Unfortunately, our morale was as low as it could get. I felt sorry for the captain, who's trying to keep everyone together in fighting spirit. I could only imagine how enjoyable holding Thamasa is going to be.
“Finally…it took us long enough!” Duane says.
“Amen to that Duane…” Sabin sighs.
We finally reached the outskirts of Thamasa. The city was in almost complete ruin, complete with bombed out buildings, ruined cars and boats, and no one in sight. Capt. Clyde was out on point.
“Ok men…fan out…stay in two separate squads. Try and find any friendlies here. It's too quiet for the Germans to be here…so either we're all alone, or our boys are hiding. Let's go!”
We split into two groups, the first one being Miceli, Gau, Setzer, and I. The other consisted of the captain, Duane, Sabin, Edgar, and Slocum. My side took the left side of the town. It was like a ghost town…only distant battle sounds could be heard. We move in tight squad formation, securing the church, then the school, then whatever the hell the next building used to be.
“Hello? Bonjour? Guten tag?” Setzer asks aloud.
“What in the hell are you doing Setzer?” I ask.
“I dunno…just thought there might be someone here.”
“Yeah…and if it's the Jerries…you just gave us away idiot!” Gau yells. Never have I seen Gau bark something like that. Oh well…
There wasn't a single person in sight…what the hell? We got back with the captain and his group.
“Didya seen anything Cole?” he asks.
“Not a friggin' soul…it's like the whole town's been abandoned…”
Suddenly about fifteen men rise from the rubble, guns drawn. “FREEZE! INDENTIFY YOURSELVES!” The men scream as we raise our guns at them…it looked like a firefight was about to ensue, until the captain spoke up.
“I'm Capt. Clyde, 2nd Rangers; I also have with me Lt. Figaro and Sgt. Gabianni from the 82nd! You can lower your weapons now.”
“How do we know for sure you're American? Name the three all-time best Vector Yankee baseball players!” One of the men yells.
“What the hell are we doing this for?” I ask. “We're as American as you can get asshole!” A nice M1 Carbine is pointed to my head, which shut me up real quick.
“Don't ask Cole…who are Ruth, Mantle, and Gehrig?” He responds.
“Ok…you got that one…one more question. What's the code name for Harry Truman concerning Overlord?”
“What the fuck is this all about? Are you kidding me?” Sabin asks only to get about three extra guns drawn on him.
“His name…is Donald Duck…there…are you satisfied?” The captain snaps.
“Ok…good…you're one of us. There are undercover German spies creeping all around this area, they impersonate Americans and they're quite good at it. One came in here, took out five of our men before we got him. I'm Sergeant First Class Alan Rivers…we're a broken group of 101st that got lost in an airdrop.”
“Where's the CO here Sergeant Rivers?” Capt. Clyde asks.
“Capt. Roe…he bugged out during the third German hit and run…got shot up by an MG42. We have no other officers with us…so I was in charge until you showed up. Thank God you did. I think the Germans are gonna make one last attack. We were promised reinforcements of the 82nd, Baker Company, but they ain't showin' up. I was hoping to run into Major Garamonde.”
“He's dead sergeant…” The captain breaks the bad news on the 101st men. “We found their C-47 wreckage about 30 miles west of here…not a single survivor. They ran into a minefield and were obliterated. Actually, Lt. Edgar and Sgt. Gabianni are the only survivors that we saw.”
“It's true sergeant…we were lucky to get sucked out of the glider earlier I guess…” Edgar says with a heavy sigh. “We're all that's left of Baker Company, there might be a few others…but I'll be damned if I can find 'em.”
“What's the situation here sergeant?” Duane asks.
“Well…after my 101st companies got all cluster-fucked from the drops, we had to fight our way through some German columns, losing a good amount of men. Only PFC O'Connell and Specialist Akers were with me in Charlie Company. These other twelve men are from Dog, Able, and Fox Companies. We were given orders to secure this town, especially this here bridge, from the Germans. The Jerries have been hittin' us hard, but we've repelled only their infantry. Now Rommel is sending some tanks into the fray…so we're thinkin' this is the last push until we can get some air power in here. We can only pray that the Mustangs come in before the Tigers do.”
“This is so FUBAR…” Sabin mutters.
“FUBAR indeed!” Setzer agrees.
“That's enough you two!” The captain snaps. “All right…we'll do what we can…if the krauts are sending in tanks…then we need to get all the anti-tank weaponry we can. Luckily we have some Panzerfausts we can use. A Tiger tank's armor is thicker than a wall of stone…so it'll take more than one of these babies to knock one out. Lt. Figaro and Sgt. Gabianni have Panzerschrecks…which'll do some good against their heavy armor, especially their Elefant tanks. We'll have to position what MGs we have in the small pockets of the buildings, and along the main roads the infantry will try to go through. They'll be in tight formation with the tanks, so the gunners can't stay for too long.”
“I still have some TNT sir! I can use that as some kind of booby trap for the tanks/infantry, along with some mines I picked up.” Duane says.
“Good man sergeant! Try and find where you can lay some of that TNT to smother the Germans. Cpl. Figaro…get two more gunners with supports…we need one in the church tower, one looking into the back road, and one near the bridge.”
“Yes sir!” Sabin runs off to collect the other gunners.
“Cpl. Cole…we need you and another scout to go up to the town hall roof and see what you can spot. The medics will stay on the safe side of the bridge to patch up any wounded that we bring over here. We need some B.A.R. men on the other side to lay down cover/defensive fire. The rest of the infantry and engineers will be with me. Everyone understand?”
“Understood sir.” I respond. “Slocum…come with me…I need a spotter.”
“You got it Cole.”
We run off to the town hall building like jackrabbits. We had no idea when the Germans were gonna attack, but if they were…it was gonna be really ugly.
We probably had only a few hours to relax. Duane had an idea of hiding TNT and mines in the debris surrounding the main road, which would probably take out or just knock out some infantry. Everyone was in position anyway; we were “ready” for them so to speak. It was quiet…too quiet for my liking. Thank God Slocum was here with me. He quickly took out a cigarette much to my surprise and lit it, taking a nice long drag.
“You mean to tell me you've got something against drinking but nothing against smoking?” I ask, with some seriousness to it.
“Meh…I was always told that drinking was bad…but nothing about smoking. Besides…it calms me down a bit. You want one corporal?” He offers me a cig…once again the Devil is tempting me to revert back to the old Locke Cole.
“Nah…I can't have one…I made a promise to quit a long time ago…and so far I've kept it.”
“For your wife huh? You never cease to amaze me corporal…” he says as we lean on the guard of the roof, talking with the lit cigarette in his mouth. “You never stop about your wife. Celes this…Celes that. I always hear you mumbling something about Celes every time something's up. She must be something else…”
“Oh but she is private! She's worth more to me than the sun, moon, and stars. I'd rather die than ever lose her. I know ya don't know much about me…but I used to have a pretty rough past until she came into my life. We had some adventures together alright.”
“What? You don't think I don't know about Detective Locke Cole…the wild young man who was responsible along with Sabin over there and his wife for stopping Kefka and Gestahl and freeing practically all of Figaro? I'm young…but I ain't stupid. That son of a bitch Kefka used to attack my hometown of Tzen frequently…I'm grateful to you Cole…I know if I was in the Army at that time though…I'd take this here Garand and stick it up Kefka's ass!”
“You're too much…” I chuckle.
“As far as your wife goes…I'm happy for you…you have something to fight for. I haven't found a special lady yet. I'm hopin' when I get back with a load of medals, the broads'll swarm me like bees on honey.”
“Oh it'll happen Slocum…you know what they say. The dames always dig a man in uniform.”
“Thanks…I'm sure we'll make it back home…the big guy wouldn't let your Celes down like that.”
“You mean God?” I ask.
“You betcha…the big guy and I…we have a special relationship…he promised me a wonderful woman when I go back home I betcha he did…”
“You've got hope there private…I'm glad…the Lord already gave me my woman…but I know he'll get me through this war to be with her for the rest of our lives.”
I then remembered the prayer Klaus gave me before I left to Thamasa. I got it out of my pocket…reading it aloud, but softly. I managed to get Duane to translate it for me. I did the sign of the cross again. Since when did Locke Cole become religious? War does funny things to a man's head.
In English...It read:
Protect me in my struggle for victory.
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Give me courage in battle to fight.
Please watch over me day and night.
Be my shield and my strength.
Be my protector on the battle plains.
I ask for your help...from up above.
Let me fight for those I love.
Kinda funny how the prayer sorta rhymed in English...but still...it was a powerful one nonetheless.
“What was that Cole?” Slocum asks me.
“It was a prayer…a German one…there was a POW I befriended back in Normandy who gave it to me. He said it would help protect me in battle.”
“I like it…even though I had no idea what you were saying before.” He replies.
“Really? Thanks private…I can only think about my Celes when I read that. I know I'm fighting for her and my kids and no one else.”
I looked all around, and I saw men…men of all different kinds, mingling, smoking, talking, and getting to know one another. What our society couldn't do…this war could…it made us bond. There were men from all parts of the country, all for one cause…freedom. I felt proud to be fighting when I saw this. A rumbling soon emerged…a terrifying one. My heart began to quiver, and my hands shake. Suddenly the party was broken up by a large metallic clang, followed by wheels grinding. Our fears had been confirmed…tanks were approaching.
“INCOMING!” Edgar screams.
“Slocum, what do you see?” I ask the private, who's holding the binoculars
“Looks like two Tiger tanks, which is wonderful…I see…one Elefant tank, one Marder tank-destroyer, two Panzer IVs, and about 30-40 infantry, all from the east. Nope…I'm sorry…there's more of them. Looks more like 60…shit…”
“Jesus…why not throw in the kitchen sink?” I get the attention of the captain, across the bridge, and with sign language I tell him what's up. I could already see the dirt. This was it. In less than a half hour, this place was gonna be Armageddon. Slocum starts wheezing.
“I know what you mean…the Germans…they're coming…and they're coming strong.” I say to him, my body quivers all over.
A motorcycle careens by…inside was Miceli…frightened like a rabbit as he fires a few rounds into the distance.
“THEY'RE COMIN' ALRIGHT…AND THEY'RE PISSED!” He yells to the company.
“Everyone get in position now!” The captain screams.
Like I said…this was it…the next few minutes as they advanced, it was going to be like friggin' Armageddon…less than 25 men against 50 Germans plus tanks. This was almost suicide. I noticed another half-track moving in from the north.
“Damn it…now there are 20 more of them.” I hand-signal to the captain to let him know about the extra German troops.
The rumbling draws nearer and nearer. We're all terrified. I can see it in everyone's eyes. Edgar and Setzer are over in the building across, as the anti-tank force, their rocket launchers shaking with them. Poor Duane is the closest to them…because he has to set the charges. Sabin is in the corner building, with only a small blast opening as his sight. The captain, Gau, Miceli, and some others are across the bridge, awaiting the battle. Slocum and I get low…so any scouts can't see us. I can now hear the Germans, barking orders to each other in that frightful language of theirs.
“God…Celes…give me strength…” I pray as I grip my Springfield rifle tightly, preparing for what might be the end.
Part 6: Fighting the Horsemen…
I saw with my own eyes…the mechanical monstrosity known as the Tiger tank. It bore a huge 88mm cannon that looked as if it could breathe fire. Troops followed closely behind it, knowing they were safe…at least from a frontal attack. Behind it was an Elefant, an anti-tank tank that had a big sized cannon that could blow a six by six hole into a brick wall…if not knock the entire thing down. I didn't see the other Panzers and Tiger…so they must've flanked us. However, I knew they're none-the-wiser to our presence. It's almost game time…the Germans keep coming closer and closer. I could hear them, yelling orders and acknowledgments at each other. It was like the Horsemen of the Apocalypse were breathing down our necks.
Closer and closer…they drew near…it was almost time. We were to strike the minute Duane's explosives went off.
“Come on Duane…whatever you're gonna do…do it now.” I say to myself.
I couldn't have picked a better time to say that. Within a few seconds, the explosions rocked the entire town, the troops behind the tank buried in rubble. The TNT managed to knock of some of the Tiger's treads. It was the beginning of the battle…and the Germans were everywhere. Immediately the .30 cal MGs erupted onto the German columns, sending them into a panic. Edgar raises a Panzerfaust to finish off the Tiger, and with one shot, the Tiger's out of commission. Setzer fires a Panzerschrek round right into the Elefant. When Setzer said he was good, he wasn't bullshittin'. The shot was a bulls-eye. The tank lit up like fireworks, launching the crew every which way. However, that didn't stop the Jerries from firing back. Immediately, the MG42 in the Tiger roars, throwing any allied unit around it into a panic. Meanwhile I'm trying to pick off any straggling Germans while staying alive. Slocum sees a few Germans in between the buildings and picks them off. The door suddenly bursts open.
“Jesus Christ! Look out Cole!” Slocum sees three more Jerries break through the door. We turn around and use whatever ammo we have on them. A bullet scrapes my arm.
“Owwww damn it! I'm ok…just keep on firing!” I yell as we pour leaden rain down upon them. I notice some airborne men advancing on the downed Tiger tank. With a quick grenade toss into the MG slit, the crew is immediately dispatched. With terror on my face I then notice some Germans wheeling in a 20mm Flak 38. Originally an anti-aircraft weapon…this thing could tear through a man like a hot knife through butter. I had to warn them.
“FLAK 38! GET OUTTA THERE NOW!” I yell, but it was no use. Immediately it opens fire, and the men are dropped instantly…and rather grisly to add. Five men…wasted just like that. I take aim and try to hit the shooter, but I only hit the front shield. They then point it at me.
“Oh shit! Get down Slocum!” We both hit the dirt as the Flak 38 opens fire, ripping apart the front part of the eastern roof rails.
We barely got away from it as concrete fragments smack us all over. For the next fifteen minutes, it was a standstill. The krauts were hard-pressed but well defended behind the building walls. They were goin' nowhere. However, I couldn't for the life of me, spot where the rest of the armor went. It was if, besides the MG blanket of fire keeping the Germans down, everything else was silent. Our .30 calibers feel silent. Maybe we could trick the Jerries into coming out. Unfortunately, what we did was allow them to unleash a wave of Steilhandgrenaten. Think of a potato masher grenade, with a wooden handle, and the ability to hurl these things much farther than one of out ovular M2 grenades, and you've a nice explosive rain pouring down on you. Two of them happen to land gracefully on our roof, one right into my lap. If I screamed…then I'd be full of lead…I just grabbed it and threw it over the other side, to absolutely nothing. The other one was on the other side of the roof…it exploded before we could get to it. Luckily, it only sent a concussion wave and nothing else to us. We were safe from the blast, but my ears rang like I was in a jazz ensemble up close and personal. Slocum was down on the ground, yelling in agony from the shockwave, grabbing his ears so hard he coulda ripped 'em off.
The Germans were gonna counterattack…I had a hunch they would. Immediately, they opened fire with a few MG42s into our MG slots.
“Sabin! Oh no!” I gasp. I figured he'd be a cooked goose in the corner of that house. Luckily I saw him and his partner running through the connecting houses. His slot was torn to bits just like he would've been had he stayed longer. The MG on the church tower returned fire. I cheer watching it take down two MG teams and half of the Flak 38 crew. Then my elation silences as a shrill and then explosion blows me back. BOOM! The church tower went up in smoke, obliterating the two gunners inside. I looked over to the southern side. Oh my God…it was the second Marder tank destroyer, and it also, as luck would have it, saw us too. It quickly raised it cannon at us…my lips tremble.
“Slocum…get to the other side…NOW!” The tank fires as we run…and we're launched 10 feet into the air, my back flies right into the brick entrance. Everything gets dizzy…and dark…and then completely black. I woke in a daze about 20 seconds later…I heard footsteps, but my head still shook like a crazy man's in an asylum. It reminds me of that time when I was captured by Kefka and clobbered by that goon Vargas.
“Cole…Cole you gotta get up…get ready. They're coming! They know we're here!” Slocum shakes me.
“Oh boy…wonderful news.” I reply. The footsteps got louder. They were coming all right. “Ok…wait at the sides of the door. On my signal…we clock the first wave of them. We have to fight our way to the bridge.”
“Late planning…but still good Cole...practically everyone is over on the other side. We only need to get Sgt. Robillard, who's adjacent to us!”
The footsteps continued to get louder and louder. Soon I heard their German voices, such a strong and fearful language. I hated it. We waited at the sides, the butts of our guns ready to clock any kraut that walks through.
“Here they come pal!” I whisper to Slocum as the soldiers approach. “NOW!”
In an instant we take our rifle butts and slam them into the guts of the first two Germans, sending them flying down the stairs, taking down a few others. Slocum then turns to the staircase and fires a magazine into any other standing Germans.
“Good job Cole…now we gotta make tracks!” He yells. We ran down the staircase like bats outta hell, knocking down any Germans trying to get up.
“DUANE! Where are you Duane?” I yell into the air, taking cover from the MG42 fire, shattering the windows.
“Jesus, God, Mary and Joseph get me the hell outta here Locke!” He screams as he's crouched right under the window, with bullets flying all over.
“Get away from the window numbnuts! They could hit you from there! Ok…there's a back entrance in this building…we could get around the building that way. Lord help us after that…because it's a mad dash to the bridge.”
“Whatever it may be…I just want out of this building now! Call me numbnuts again, and I'll chop your balls off corporal!”
“Ok then follow me honeybunch!” Funny how a corporal, especially a smartass one like Locke Cole is givin' the orders to a sergeant.
Getting as low as a snake and as fast as a locomotive, we crawl our way to the back entrance of the apartment building. Bullets continue to fly all around us like they were swarms of bees. We reached the back entrance. I took a quick peek to see anything around us. Damn. That Marder was still there, but I happened to notice a downed kraut with a Panzerschreck. Lucky, lucky me huh? Usually that's Setzer's way of thinking…but there's no time for personal reflection. I turn back to Slocum and Duane.
“Ok guys…the Marder out there doesn't notice us, nor do the soldiers near it…but I see a Panzerschreck in front of the door. You guys can run, while I take a potshot at that tank…sounds good?”
“You always had a taste for the risky huh “Detective” Locke?” Duane chuckles.
“That's 'treasure hunter' Locke for ya buddy.”
“You mean thief right?” Slocum stupidly asks.
“IT'S TREASURE HUNTER FOR THE LAST GOD DAMN TIME!” I yell loud enough for the Germans to hear us. My fears are confirmed when I hear some Germans off to the side talking as if they just got spooked. I've really gotta stop getting so mad at that word “thief.” “And they just heard me huh?”
They both nod nervously, eyes bugged out and what not.
“Shit…RUN!” I yell impulsively. We all run out like scared rabbits. I quickly rolled to the ground, grabbing the rocket launcher, and taking my best aim at the tank before it could get a shot off. BOOM! It was a nice hit to the right side…which only incapacitated it. It wasn't a great shot, but at least it can't hit us now. I was then proven wrong when I heard a nice loud boom, and the building to the left of me spewed brick and mortar everywhere. A couple of bricks rocked my helmet, but I was able to shrug it off. I quickly rejoin the others the close side of the bridge. We had to make a run for it. I signal to the captain to give us cover fire, and a barrage of MG fire along with a rocket fired by Setzer halts the German barrage. The rocket managed to cripple one of the Panzers IVs. We're halfway to the bridge, then suddenly an MG bullet tears through Duane's left thigh.
“AHHHHHH! SON OF A BITCH!” He screams wildly. My guess was this was the first time he's been shot. He continues to hobble to the other side.
“Take it easy Duane!” I yell to him as I slug him over my shoulder and continue to walk to the other side. I throw myself, towing Duane, over one of the bunkers next to Sabin. “We'll patch you up…the medic's coming. Gau…give Sgt. Robillard here some help now!”
“Ok Locke…I'll do what I can!” The boy replies as he drags Duane off to the back. At least Duane was safe…for now. I see two other troops trying to make it across the bridge, but then a grenadier launches a Panzerschreck at them.
“PANZERSCRHECK!” I yell, causing everyone to get down. The explosion rocks the two troops, one, killed by the blast, flies into the river, while the other one flies towards us, landing right on another soldier. The poor schmucks are out cold.
“This 'help' of ours better come real friggin' soon sir!” Sergeant Rivers yells to the captain.
“Just keep holding them…they will come…hopefully...” He responds with a strong lack of confidence. What ho? Is the mighty Capt. Clyde losing his emotional ground? Now wasn't the time to try and crack him open like an eggshell, we had a stronghold to defend.
They just kept on coming, like the heads of Hydra. Off one and two replace that one you kill. Another paratrooper to the left of me gets reamed by a bullet. Our numbers were dropping quickly. The situation was really FUBAR, really hopeless so to speak. Despite our best efforts, they still came in waves, establishing lines and firing right into our sandbag positions. I'm lucky I haven't been pelted yet nor have any of my friends, except for the wounded Duane and a couple others. I dropped my sniper rifle and grabbed the nearest B.A.R. next to me, firing wildly to the other side.
“No...this can't be the end for me. I'm going home…I'm going home…I will not die here!” I thought to myself, as my pulse quickens with every passing second, my trigger finger feeling like it's going to fall off. Suddenly the German troops pull back…much to our amazement.
“What the hell?” Setzer asks only to be answered by an explosion right above him. They sent a tank right up to us, thinking they could blow us away easily.
“SETZER!” Edgar screamed as the poor sap was covered in rubble. He tried to fish him out, but rifle fire prevented him from getting to Setzer.
The Panzer drew nearer and nearer, firing another round into another one of the buildings where another MG was, which rocked us around a little bit.
I sighed. “What the hell…might as well go out guns blazing huh?” I reloaded the B.A.R. and tried to direct fire right in front of the tank. I thought this was the end as I fired round after round into the seemingly impenetrable tank armor. Sabin joined in, thinking we could do something, but it was futile. I see the tank cannon directed right at me, and I closed my eyes and embraced the end. Suddenly another explosion threw me to the ground. My eyes opened wide, and I peek over the sandbag, and I see a twisted wreck of what was a Panzer tank. I hear loud whirring above me. There is a God…the P-51 Mustangs finally arrived, delivering their payloads on the German armor. The German infantry are sent into a panic, and scurry off, running like hell, leaving what they could for us to take.
“Thank God…our angels have arrived…” Edgar joyfully says.
“Indeed they have bro.” Sabin joins in.
“Oh my God…Setzer's still in the rubble! SETZER! Where are you?” Edgar yells.
I noticed an arm coming out of the rubble, so we quickly dig him up and get him to his feet. He was pretty banged up.
“Mommy? Is that you?” He asks, acting like he's in a complete funk.
“No Setzer…it's Edgar, and you're alive and well. We'll have the doc get you straightened up in no time.”
“Good…because I need a nap. Let's take five gents.” A few seconds later, Setzer falls flat on his face. Gau and Edgar help him to his feet and lug him off to the back.
I noticed the captain at the far right of the bridge, he was sweating and breathing heavily, with a few cuts on him to boot, but had a satisfied grin on his face. We had lived through what was considered to be the end. It was almost like a quick trip through hell, sorta like D-Day. I couldn't imagine it getting any worse than this. We were going to be annihilated if those planes didn't show up. We lost over half of our troop fighting off the attack. I was grateful to God that my friends survived. Unfortunately, Duane was crippled for a short time in his leg, Setzer suffered a nasty concussion, Sabin had glass shards cut him on his arms and face, Edgar got shot across the hip, and Slocum and I were stabbed with glass, knocked into brick walls, shot at, battered, and bruised all over. I sit down, behind the sandbag, as troops and tanks from the 2nd Armored Division finally roll in. Breathing a heavy sigh, I can only start laughing lightly at the insanity of it all. I had just survived this…this…this…brutality, and I can't even contemplate how and/or why. Promises stink…because right now, a cigarette and a bottle of Jack over almost anything on this planet could really hit the spot. If only I hadn't made all those vows to Celes, but then I'd be a scoundrel, nothing but a rotten scoundrel wasting away on booze and cigs, just like the old me.
We were sent to the medical tents for proper treatment once the 2nd Armored finally secured the entire town. The schmucks made us walk there, despite all the wounds we suffered. Hell…I guess I can't get any love anywhere outside of my home. It hurt like hell walking all the way over there, especially when I had to help walk the exhausted Sabin to the medics. If the bleeding didn't kill us, then the pain of drudging along would.
“Hey man…couldn't ya get some stretchers for us? We've been through enough already!” I protest to the escorting sergeant.
“I don't care if you're limping with stumps for legs! We don't have any more! If you can still walk, then you're still good to us corporal!” He snaps back.
“Why you son of a…” I became furious.
“Easy Locke!” Sabin calms me down. “We're not dead…thank God for that. The stretchers are for the dead…so let the dead have them.”
“Yeah…” I couldn't help but agree. Once again the Reaper made a pass at us, taking the ones around me, but never me. Why that was the case…I'll never know. I could only be grateful he hasn't gone for my friends either.
“We should get some rest in the tents. They're keeping Sgt. Robillard there as well. We should check up on him.” Edgar cuts in the conversation.
“You're probably right big bro. It looked like he took a nasty hit. Oh and by the way…just call him Duane. He prefers that instead of his last name.”
“Whatever you say little bro.”
Still drudging along, we managed to finally get ourselves into the tents, where we saw Duane lying on a cot, hit leg already bandaged. Gau patched him up earlier and was now tending to the other wounded.
“Hey Duane…you feelin' any better?” I ask with concern.
“Oh fan-friggin'-tastic…thanks for asking! I'm sorry. It still hurts, a lot. They also gave me some painkillers so I'll be sleeping peacefully tonight.” Duane was already a little drowsy from the medicine.
“We all need sleep gentlemen,” the captain peers his head into the tent. “Just because we won here, that doesn't mean that were through. You're all dismissed for now, so bandage yourselves up, and get ready to orders tomorrow.”
“It never ends does it?” Sabin asks.
“No Sabin, we'll keep on doin' this until we're all dead.” Duane sighs. I could tell the medication was messing with his head. “We're all gonna die soon, it's all a matter of time.” He then starts chuckling which greatly disturbed us.
“NO! We will not die!” I was angered for some reason, the mental strain was like a 2 ton truck on my head, and what just happened was proof enough of how men can crack easily, like hollow eggshells. “We made promises…remember that! How could we ever forgive ourselves if we just thought like that, giving up, and dying? Our families couldn't live with that!”
“Easy for you to say Locke but guess what? I don't have a family! I have no one back home for me! Cyan died, and Sabin, who lives with you of all people, is in Mobliz, while I'm all the way in Figaro with red tape and city troubles up to my neck, and you preach to me about promises to loved ones!” Edgar snaps, with Sabin having the most shocked look on his face. “This is the worst thing to happen to me since my parents died!”
“Edgar…please calm down.” Sabin tries to persuade his brother.
“No Sabin I won't! I don't see what I'm doing here, the smell of death intoxicating me with every step I take. I don't get it. I don't get how you can be so lucky Sabin. You met this wonderful woman, Terra, and you marry like that, and everything is hunky-dory!” He snaps his fingers. “What have I got Sabin? What have I got to fight for? I know what you fight for!”
“Love Edgar…” He replies. “I fight for the same reason Locke does…love.”
“Exactly! That's what you fight for! I on the other hand don't have that, and I never will! All I've ever had is a one night stand with some floozy! No one cares about the real me, and all I'm surrounded by are yes men and gold-diggers! My whole life is artificial and worthless!”
“Stop it Edgar! Love comes to everyone! If your heart is good, then it will come!” Sabin snaps back.
“Bullshit…I was always the more rational one, so what you preach is pure bullshit!” A tear or two starts to slowly trickle down his dirtied face.
“Enough! You call yourself rational? Look at you brother, you're in hysterics, but you're a good man Edgar. You have a kind heart. I know this because I'm your brother.”
Edgar starts to tremble, his lips quivering, and his eyes close firmly. “You're…you're right Sabin. I'm sorry. I'm so alone sometimes…you're so lucky, with Terra and your kids. She's so beautiful, inside and out. Not a day goes by…that…that I wish I could be you. All the women in the world couldn't satisfy me, unless I find that one, that special one. I'm sorry Sabin…my best friend Cyan is dead, and I'm so alone. Forgive me please.” The poor governor starts to tear a little bit. It goes to show you that even the mighty can crack in war.
“Take it from me Edgar…I know what that feels like. You don't know too much about me, but I was desperately lonely once. I was involved with Terra too, and things were good, but I was afraid and confused, and I left her like a coward. It took me years to drag myself off the ground. I was lucky to find my Celes, despite all the hardships I suffered. She's the greatest thing that ever happened to me, and I'll fight and die for her, anytime and anywhere, which explains why I'm here. My suffering was rewarded by God, in the form of her grace. It will come sooner or later Edgar. Just because you suffer now, doesn't mean that you won't be rewarded later.”
This conversation seems all too familiar. It reminded me of those five years ago, when we finally freed the land from Gestahl and Kefka. I remember how heartbroken I was, not only because I thought Celes died in that refinery at the time, but Terra had found Sabin as her new love. I do remember what Terra told me though, that love does come to everyone, you just don't see it coming sometimes.
He can only just sigh, his voice creaking with sadness like an un-oiled hinge on a door. “Thanks guys. I'm sorry…I'm just saddened. I've had a little too much to endure right now.” He tries to crack a smile, but inside he is in some severe pain. “We should get some sleep, because God knows what tomorrow will bring.”
“He's right, let's hit the hay.” Sabin agrees with him.
We had to wash up along with treat our wounds. I hope we could at least have a month or two of some R & R. I needed to write to Celes again. My God how I missed her, every day and night. If this war ended now, I would climb the tallest tower in Berlin, even the Reichstag, and shout to her and about her. I'd yell to the world how much I loved her, for the entire world to know what I'm here for. My thoughts on Celes were the only things that gave me peace tonight.
After I washed myself, I limped over to my cot, where there was only a blanket and rough pillow waiting for me. It wasn't the Ritz-Carlton, but at least it was something to rest my body on. Everyone else was asleep, probably exhausted from the battle, that or drugged up from the painkillers. I figured sleep would be the best thing for me right now. My body and mind were too distraught with all these firefights. I closed my eyes, and embraced the blackness that was sleep.
I found myself lying in a field, a lush green field. Birds were chirping and the wind was gently blowing across my face, so delicately and peacefully. It was like waking up from a nap in the middle of nowhere. I felt like sleeping again, with the wonderful ambiance acting as a personal lullaby. Suddenly I hear an angelic voice call to me.
“Come on honey, you're not gonna sleep your life away are ya? The kids and I have food set up for you!” I open my eyes, only to have those same baby blue eyes I gazed into at Setzer's joint those years ago, the same flowing blonde hair flying in the breeze. It was Celes, my angel Celes Chere Cole.
“Daddy!” Catherine runs up to me and jumps right into my arms.
“Oh it's my special little girl! How are you sweetie?” I ask her while she giggles.
“I'm good daddy…come on! Mommy made some food for you!” Celes smiles at her daughter.
“Yeah daddy, let's go!” My son Lawrence begs, pulling my shirt.
“C'mon daddy…please?” Little Adrian pleads, with such a soft, innocent tone as he stumbles to me and I catch him in my right arm, still holding Catherine in the other.
“Oh…how can I resist? It's a lovely day with my lovely family.” I rise up from the soft grass and stretch from what seemed like an eternity of sleep. The sun shined a brilliance that was unimaginable in this world. It was beautiful. I look over to my wife. “I can't wait to sit down. My God you're beautiful.”
She only snickers and plants a nice one on my lips. Given the amount of time I've been away, all the morphine in the world couldn't outdo that. I walk over the hill with the family, the kids running all around me while Celes holds my right arm and leans into me, and I see a sumptuous feast waiting for me on this picnic table. There were sandwiches, cheeses, fruit, bread, wine for me and Celes, cookies, and all sorts of snacks, all waiting for our taste buds to lavish in. I sat down to eat, stuffing my face with all sorts of food, while my family just watches…giggling peculiarly.
“What? What's so funny?” I ask.
Their laughter gets louder and louder, while becoming almost demonic at the same time. My eyes begin to widen as their bodies deform into monsters, and the plains are set ablaze. All around me is red fire while the sky turns black. The earth opens up and more fire rises from the huge crevasse formed. Meanwhile the demons that were my family fly around me, swooping at my head. I hit the ground, only to find worms all over my hands. I scream and try to run away, but then one of the winged monsters picks me up and drops me into the pit. Screaming at the top of my lungs, I could only hope that this was a nightmare.
Everything turned black again, and then to my horror I saw my real family. They were in rags, poor, and destitute. They were crying at the tops of their lungs, I saw Terra and her children, even Katarin and her family. Mobliz was a disaster area, with homes destroyed and nothing left but blackened ground, while snow as cold as ice fell on the ground. It almost looked as if it was bombed out, but by who? They were next to a graveyard. I managed to walk over there. I could see them, but they couldn't see me. I went over to the graves and to my horror the big tombstone read:
HERE LIES CPL LOCKE ALEXANDER COLE, SGT DUANE ROBILLARD, AND CPL SABIN RENE FIGARO, K.I.A.
DEVOTED FATHERS, HUSBANDS, LOVERS, AND PROTECTORS
b. 1906, d. 1936; b. 1909, d. 1936; b. 1904, d. 1936
WE WILL MISS YOU
Oh my God. We were all dead, killed overseas. The sobbing didn't stop as I saw Terra, Katarin and Celes holding each other while the kids surrounded them.
“Why God why?” Terra yells. “We're all alone now! Bring them back please!”
All Katarin can do is weep hysterically while her two kids hug her tightly.
“I want my Locke back now!” Celes screams in agony. I wanted to touch her and let her know I'm alive.
“CELES! TERRA! KATARIN! I'm alive, look at me please!” I try throwing snow at them, but nothing happens. I run over to Celes and the kids, trying to touch them and let them know I'm here.
“Kids! Honey! Please listen to me. I'm alive! Please don't cry! Sabin's alive too, along with Duane! Please…LISTEN TO ME!!!” I scream, diving into them, but I go right through them, while they continue to grieve, shivering under the cold. I sat down about to cry with them, then I was interrupted by something I didn't wanna see.
“Oh no! They're coming again!” Lawrence screams.
“Quick! We have to hide!” Terra replies.
They run under one of the ruined houses as a truck rolls by. I noticed something very disturbing; the truck had a swastika and an SS symbol painted on it. This was not happening…Mobliz was not taken over. I wish I had a weapon with me, so I could protect them. The truck stops and the soldiers pour out. An officer, in all black and most horrifying of all, has a skull for a head, barks at the men.
“Find anyone you can. The führer could use more workers!”
“Of course!” The men scatter leaving no stone unturned. I stare in terror, hoping that they would be ok. Then some soldiers notice the graves of Sabin and me.
“Look at this!” One of them yells in his thick German accent. “Looks like graves for some American pigs, nein?”
“Ja. Let's show them 'proper' burial honors!” The SS Nazis knock over the crosses and start spitting on the graves, stomping the ground with their black jackboots.
“NO! Don't do that to my daddy!” Catherine yells impulsively from under the shelter, tears running down her face.
“Oh no…please be quiet Catherine! Don't let them find you!” I yell even though no one can hear me.
“What was that?” One of the Germans asks.
“It came from over there. FIND THEM!” The skull-head officer barks.
Within a minute the men uncover the shelter with Celes, Kat, Terra, and their kids. This was a head trip, an absolute nightmare. The Nazis were going to take away my family! I tore my hair out, because there was nothing I could do about it. All together, the Nazis pull them out of the holes, kicking and screaming.
“NO! I don't wanna go! Why are you doing this to us?” Celes screams as she's being dragged away.
The kids were being loaded on to another truck. It seems like they were being taken somewhere else, somewhere I didn't wanna know about. I could only stand and watch, with tears rolling down my cheeks.
“Please…don't take the kids away! NO! You can't do this!” Terra yells as she struggles with all her might against her captor.
As Celes, Katarin, and Terra are being pulled away from the kids, they knock over their captors, beating them down, and try to run away. They're tackled and pinned to the ground, butted by the German rifles. It made me more and more furious. The officer walks over to them.
“You dare oppose us? You will die then, just like your husbands before our might, and your kids will be our slaves!”
“NO!” Celes screams, spitting on the officer's pant leg, only to enrage him and have him kick her in the chest.
“NO CELES! YOU TOUCH HER AGAIN AND I'LL MURDER YOU!” I try swinging at the officer, but once again I go through them. My heart pounds as I can only bear witness to the terror. The men aim their rifles at the both of them.
“Ready…aim…fire!” The officer yells.
“NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” I scream before they fire, and with that, the whole place shatters like glass. I wake up with my knife jutting outward, like I was ready to stab whoever woke me up. It was like the dream long ago with Kefka and his men. I awoke hyperventilating, covered in sweat. It took me a while to calm down…only for me to start whimpering, crying over the nightmare. What was so terrible was that ever since I was gone, I've had nightmare upon nightmare to haunt me. My hands were covered over my sweaty face, as I scramble for my flashlight and pull out the picture I had of Celes. She was so beautiful, even if the picture was slightly crinkled.
“Celes…I need you now…I love you so much.” I whisper to the picture, trying to believe it would talk back to me. I wish she could say the same thing from the picture. “I'm coming home baby…I'm coming home Snowflake. I'm gonna throw a big party when I get back, and you'll be the woman of honor. I'll never leave you ever again, I love you Celes.”
I hold the picture right to my heart, thinking it would ease the pain. Then I remembered that night, that night when I destroyed the old Locke Cole by throwing those cigarettes away. We kissed under the moonlight, while our wedding song played in the background. It was Nat King Cole's “L-O-V-E,” the same song Celes sang at Setzer's club, the same song we first fell in love with. It was one of the greatest nights. That kiss we shared felt like an eternity. That night, I remember when we also made the best love ever, not to sound dirty-minded, but it was one of most memorable nights of my life. I always slept peacefully with Celes in my arms. She was my little slice of heaven, and I was hers. Still holding the picture, my mind felt a little more at ease, with Celes on my mind. I remembered how fighting this war would prevent my nightmares becoming real. I still had my demons I realized, but I know living through this war with bravery, and coming home to my wife and kids would slay these personal demons. I finally take some deep breaths, close my eyes, and whisper, “Celes…”
Part 7: Where the Past Comes Alive
One month later:
“I got another one! I got another letter!” Celes yells bursting with excitement. She had just run from the post office back to the town green, where Terra and Katarin were lounging around as the kids frolicked about in the afternoon sun. Life for the trio has been a little easier since the war began. Throughout the weeks they've been the stronghold that's kept the town together. Unfortunately, they've also have had to be the harbinger of bad news whenever another soldier died. It broke their hearts to tell the unsuspecting wives, worrying that one day, the possibility of them receiving the same news is out there. However, they were too confident in their husbands to be caught up in such fear.
“That's wonderful Celes! What is this, like the fifteenth one this month?” Katarin playfully jokes.
Celes looks silently at her for a second and then grins sarcastically. “Shut up Kat.”
“I'm just kidding Cel…” Kat says rather embarrassed.
“Oh I know...I was just joshing ya too.”
“What's this one say?” Terra asks.
“Well here…read it.” She gives Terra and Katarin the letter.
ANOTHER MONTH GOES BY AND STILL I DREADFULLY MISS SEEING YOU. ONCE AGAIN I'M SO GLAD I WAS ABLE TO SURVIVE THE BATTLE OF THAMASA. I REALLY THOUGHT THAT BATTLE WOULD BE THE END OF ME. THEY PULLED OUR SQUAD TO THE REAR AFTER THE BATTLE, SO HOPEFULLY WE'LL GET AN EXTRA WEEK OF R & R OR TWO. DUANE'S LEG HAS FULLY HEALED AND HOPEFULLY HE'LL BE OK IN THE FUTURE. SABIN AND EDGAR CONTINUE TO FIGHT LIKE BROTHERS ALWAYS DO AND MY NEW FRIEND SETZER KEEPS ME COMPANY PLAYING CARDS, EVEN IF I LOSE MOST OF THE TIME. I WISH I COULD SEE OUR DARLING CHILDREN. I BET THEY'RE GETTIN' REAL BIG. I KNOW LAWRENCE WILL LOOK JUST LIKE ME WHEN HE GROWS UP. FOR SOME GOOD NEWS, THE ALLIES ARE MAKING ADVANCEMENTS INTO THE RHINELAND AND SOON THIS WAR WILL BE OVER, AND I CAN FINALLY COME HOME AND SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN. IT FEELS LIKE IT'S BEEN EONS SINCE I'VE SEEN YOU IN PERSON, AND EVERY NIGHT THINKING OF YOU HELPS ME SLEEP. TELL TERRA AND KATARIN I SEND THEM MY LOVE. I WILL RETURN TO YOU, ALIVE AND KICKING.
CPL LOCKE A. COLE 2nd RANGER BATTALION
P.S. IF TERRA AND KATARIN HAVE BEEN WORRIED ABOUT SABIN AND DUANE NOT WRITING, THEY'VE BEEN ARGUING WITH THE MAIL SERVICE FOR OVER TWO WEEKS, SO THEY WON'T GIVE EITHER OF THEM STAMPS OR MAIL THEIR LETTERS. TELL TERRA AND KATARIN THAT THEY'RE FINE OTHERWISE. I'LL TRY TALKING SENSE INTO ALL OF THEM. I LOVE YOU.
“At least now we know why we haven't gotten any letters from Sabin or Duane.” Terra acknowledges. “Charming as always that Locke Cole is.”
“Well…he has good reason to be. If he wasn't I'd certainly have to whip him into shape again once he gets back!” Celes boasts.
Katarin just falls to the ground chuckling. “Oh boy…you certainly build yourself up huh Celes? I guess it's always good to have pride. I just hope they come home soon. I grow more anxious with each passing day.
“There's nothing to worry about!” Terra says with sheer confidence rising to her feet. “These are our husbands we're talking about. They're about as strong-willed and determined to see us as we are with them! They're too stubborn to die, my Sabin is a perfect example…too thick-headed to just keel over and die!”
“I guess it's true what they say. 'Birds of a feather flock together.'” Katarin mocks Terra, making idiotic gestures imitating her. Celes laughs, knowing Terra opened herself up for that one. Terra just lightly pushes Katarin and sits back down.
“You mind if I sit with you ladies?” A young girl asks shyly.
“Ummmm…who are you?” Celes asks.
“My husband knows yours Miss Celes. They go back a few years. You ever heard of a tall lanky kid named Gau?”
“Yes…yes I have…I remember him from when I used to perform at Setzer's club. He is good friends with my Locke. You must be Relm huh?”
“Indeed I am…I also know he's in the same squad as Locke and the rest.”
“Wow…Gau said his wife was lovely. Come…have a seat, we're just watching the scenery.”
“Thank you.” She has a little trouble sitting down. Relm is several months pregnant, with their first child.
“I see you're carrying your first huh?” Terra asks.
“Yeah…I hope it's a boy. I always wanted a boy.” She pats her stomach.
“Let me tell you something honey, once they get to be around two, they're quite the handful!” Terra chuckles, “I know from experience. Those two big blonde kids running around are mine,” she points to Vincent and Ryan. “They take after my husband Sabin.”
“And another thing…do not coddle them. Locke did that with Catherine, and now she's 'daddy's little girl.' But still…they're great kids. You just gotta raise them right.”
“Jeez…all this advice all of a sudden! I wonder if Gau is gettin' the same lecture from your husbands.” Relm questions.
“Honey…we're just getting started on you. Stick with us, and we'll show you the ropes.” Terra replies.
“I'm not helpless though…so don't coddle me either.” Relm snaps back defensively.
“Don't worry, we won't baby you on the matter. It is an ordeal though, especially when it's your first one.” Katarin assures Relm. “Believe me, as you can see,” she lifts her shirt to show that she's pregnant as well, “that we know what were talking about.”
“Thank you kindly. I figured it would have to be just me and Gau on our own on this one. That's why I tried to find you guys, especially you Celes. Since your Locke and my Gau go way back, I figured you could help me out on this.”
“Oh no problem at all Relm! I'm happy to help. HEY! Vince and Ryan! What're you doing chasing those animals?” Terra snaps to her sons, who are chasing foxes and other small animals. “You know better than to do that! They could bite you and God knows where they've been!” Terra notices a shadowy figure to her right creeping its head up from the long wheat stalks. Terra snaps her head to the side, startled by something moving from the wheat. The figure then disappears, with a small flow of blonde hair going up and quickly dropping from the air.
“Who in the world…?” Terra questions herself softly.
“What was that Terra?” Katarin asks.
“I don't know…it was probably an animal or something. Maybe it's just my imagination running wild.”
“Well…I don't know about you ladies, but I am in the mood to hit the town! All this paper pushing at the mayor's office is nerve-racking! Let's go to a club or a bar or something!” Katarin suggests.
“Sure…why the hell not? I'm always game for going out. Let's just get some sitters and have some fun.” Terra agrees.
“Ok, I'm game too. I know some girls who can take care of the kids. This'll be good for Relm too! We can show her how to have a good time, just for a ladies night out.” Celes says.
“Well I dunno…” Relm seems nervous.
“Oh it's not a problem Relm. You'll have a blast!” Celes tries to persuade Relm to join.
“Oh why not? Gau and I always did these kinds of things before, so why not now?”
“That's the spirit Relm! Join your new friends!” Terra snaps her fingers, cueing the other women to walk to the car. Relm cracks the biggest smile on her face.
“Friends…my new friends…” She whispers.
“Wait a sec…we need a driver afterwards. Who's gonna volunteer to drive after? That does mean fewer drinks for the person this time.” Terra says.
No one answers.
“Ok then…we shoot for it. Ready? Rocks, paper, scissors, shoot!” The three ladies, excluding Relm, shoot for drinking privileges. Terra and Katarin draw rocks while Celes draws scissors.
“Damn…looks like I lost.” Celes says disappointed.
“Don't mope Celes…we'll let you have some sips!” Terra jests.
About forty-five minutes later, the foursome arrives in Figaro. A lot of the working men in Figaro were off at war, so now the women have taken over, and a damn fine job they've been doing too. There were women construction workers, policewomen, bartenders, firefighter, and not to mention the industrial workers, examples being Terra and Celes. It was still as busy as ever, with the usual stop and go traffic and commerce that made the city alive. Edgar's chancellor did a good job of keeping Figaro safe and profitable while he was away. So many memories filled the foursome's heads as they drove around in Terra's newly acquired Jeep. These things were hot off the market, and since Terra helps building them so well along with the tanks, the foreman gave her one as a token of appreciation. It was so nice there wasn't even a need for a hardtop car, so they drove around the city, with the wind blowing wildly through their hair. Seeing all the sights and hearing all the noises that Figaro could offer, it was a perfect atmosphere to drive in. Suddenly a woman appears right in front of the car.
“Jesus Terra! Watch it!” Katarin yells.
Terra hits the breaks as hard as possible, nearly sending Katarin through the window and the other two women right into the front seats. There was a woman in the middle of the crossway. Terra was only five feet from slamming into the bewildered lady. She appeared to be in her forties, with brown eyes and brown hair with a few streaks of grey.
“Good God lady…watch it next time!” Relm yells to the woman.
The woman stares at Terra. She continues to advance slowly towards the car, eyes peeled on Terra. Her mouth opens slightly as if words were ready to creep out. A tear slowly trickles down her cheek. Meanwhile, Terra continues to share the same fascination, staring at this woman, not really knowing what to say or do.
“Hello? Earth to Terra…are you with us?” Celes waves her hand in front of Terra, but Terra seems to not even acknowledge her. She just continues to stare at her…her eyes squinting as if this was a person she almost recognized.
“You…you're…you're…” The woman attempts to speak. Suddenly some men grab her off the street, walking her to the other side. One of the men comes up to the car.
“Sorry about dat. Our ma…sometimes she gets a little distracted, doesn't know where she's goin' half the time!” The rather tall man chuckles to Terra.
“Yeah…” Terra replies.
“Well anyway…I'm sorry about that. What're ya gonna do huh? Come on ma…we gotta get going.”
“No…but…but…” The poor woman is hurried along with the three men towing her along. Her eyes are still fixed on Terra, who in return is staring back at her. A rather mysterious cloud seems to encircle Terra's mind like a storm cloud.
“Who the hell was that?” She whispers to herself.
“Something seems to be troubling you Terra?” Relm asks.
“No…I'm just a little jumpy. I nearly hit that poor woman. I gotta watch where I'm going huh?” She nervously laughs.
“Yeah I guess…” Celes agrees. She then looks at Relm wondering what that was all about. All Relm can do is shrug her shoulders. They sat there wondering why that woman got Terra all shook up. It's certainly a great way to kill the mood, but Terra just shook it off.
“C'mon ladies, let's not let one little thing ruin our night out. Whaddaya say?”
“Yeah…you're right Terra. Let's hit the bar!” Katarin certainly shows no restraint in hopping out of the Jeep and waltzing right into the bar. Funny thing was, it was Setzer's old joint, but it looked much less glitzy than those previous years.
“This brings back memories.” Celes reminisces.
“Indeed it does. I remember always visiting Gau whenever he worked here. He always had that shy boyish charm to him whenever I gave him a surprise visit. He's such a sweet man.”
The doors swing wide open and the foursome strut right in and sit at the bar. The place wasn't jam packed, but it still pulled in its fair share of customers. The room was filled with the relaxing melody of Dave Brubek's “Take Five.” This was soothing for the ladies, knowing themselves that they've worked like dogs at the factories and at home.
“What can I get ya?” The bartender pops up out of nowhere, cleaning a mixer cup in her hand. “Say…you look familiar little lady. Do I know you?”
“No probably not. But maybe you know my husband Gau?”
“Know him? Hell lady…that kid was the sweetest worker I've ever run across in all the years I've been working. The kid always came in with a smile on his face, always worked hard, and was always respectful. He was a helluva bartender. Wait…I know you. You're Relm. Gau never shut up about you when he was here. Well…friends of that fine boy are friends with me. First rounds are on me!”
“YAY!” Katarin yells.
The other ladies crack a wide smile as they make their orders.
“A pint of stout for me!” says Terra.
“Gimme a nice White Russian please!” asks Katarin.
“I'll take a Kamikaze, a small one please.” Relm says.
“And I'll just have a glass of zinfandel please.” Celes requests to the bartender.
“Hey! You're the driver after this Cel…what's the deal?” Terra asks.
“Don't worry ladies. Besides…I always drive better with at least a little wine in me.”
“Make sure you can, otherwise you can walk home!” Katarin yells.
The women pause for a second, only to see Katarin squeak a little grin in, causing the rest to start laughing aloud.
A few hours pass, and the foursome have had their fair share of drinks, except for Celes who's the designated driver.
“Hoo boy…I think…I think that I am the greatest drinking woman alive! All hail Terra Branford Figaro!” Terra stumbles out yelling.
“Yeah yeah…” Celes mutters embarrassed.
“You know Relm…you…are so fantastic. I've never seen…no I'm serious…such a cool girl for your age!” Katarin slurs.
“Thanks Kat…I love you too.” Relm, who's quite hammered, shares her love.
“Good God…I pray I'm not like this around Locke. But then again, he's probably the same around me we love each other so much.” Celes thinks to herself, helping the other three walk.
The ladies get to the Jeep with Celes reaching for the driver's seat door, only to have some punk kids threaten them.
“Gimme all your dough ladies! This is a stickup!” The young punk draws a knife on Celes. The other kids hold up the other ladies.
“Oooohh…I'm so scared! Please…I've been shot at a thousand times, and you think you can scare me...Terra friggin' Branford with a puny knife!” She mocks them holding her hands to her cheeks like she was screaming in terror. Relm and Katarin start laughing hysterically.
“You think I'm joking?” One of the kids shoves Relm into the door. “Now give us your money.”
“You punks! To think that your dads are fighting over in Europe and this is how you repay them!” Katarin retorts.
“Hey! I don't want any trouble. I'll get my money…just let me…get my PURSE!” Celes swings her metal lunch case right at the head of the lead hoodlum, smacking him right across the face, and he goes down in less than a second. She then gives him an appropriate kick right in his stomach.
This gives the other women the cue to wreak havoc on the other punks. Terra, noticing her robber was awestruck by Celes's audacity to attack their leader, grabs the kid by the collar and slams her fist right into his gut. Katarin knees her assailant right in the groin, seriously immobilizing him, and then sends a nice right hook into his face. The kid goes down with Katarin on top, slugging away at the young boy mercilessly. Relm sends a right jab into her robber's mouth, sending him back a foot, and then kicks him right in the knee. He buckles, which gives her the opportunity to smack the kid across the face with her purse. He goes down as well. Terra wails on the poor sap with some kidney punches while Celes continues beating her assailant by running him right into the neighboring car. It took only two minutes for the four of them to beat their attackers senseless. The once threatening robbers now just lay there, bloodied and groaning in pain.
“That's what you schmucks get!” Terra yells at one of the kids. “You're damn lucky my husband Sabin wasn't with me. He's less merciful, so he'd snap you punks in half!”
“Come on…let's get outta here. Let the cops deal with them.” Celes suggests.
“Good idea. That was…a good workout though!” Katarin concurs.
“Well…” Relm attempts to grab a hold of the door, “Shall we go home now?”
“Yeah…let's…” Celes starts the car and peels out as cop sirens play in the background.
Four young little hoodlums still lay there, thinking about the mistake they made to cross Terra, Celes, Katarin, and Relm. Meanwhile the foursome travel on the road alone back home to Mobliz, all along the night roads. It was quiet, but peaceful. The ladies were a little plastered, but were certainly in good spirits.
“I didn't know we could kick ass like that back there!” Relm says astonished.
“Seriously…who needs husbands huh?” Katarin laughs out loud.
“Well honey…you can do anything…you put your mind to.” Terra turns to say. “My girl Celes here and I…we put our minds to making arms, and by God we're the hardest working wives on the planet!” She pats Celes on the shoulder, and Celes smiles. “Those kids were just a couple of scumbags anyway. I coulda pounded them all by myself!”
“I hope there's a way I can help my Gau while he's over there.”
“Just keep helping anyway you can. Victory gardens, bonds, drives, anything you can do will help Gau just that little bit to get him home.” Celes tells her.
“Thanks Celes. I'll do what I can…for Gau.”
“For our husbands ladies…” Terra says.
“For our husbands Terra…” Celes agrees with a smile on her face.
“Well…I know I'm ready for bed! A good drink and a fight usually do that to me.” Katarin says.
“I know exactly what you mean Kat. Let's crash the minute we get home, my little Madonna will be worried sick if we're any later.”
The car finally reaches Mobliz within a half hour, parking at Terra's house. Terra sees her babysitter outside on the porch, crying for some reason.
“Stop the car…stop the car!” Terra yells.
Celes hits the brakes as Terra hops out to console the frightened girl. By this time Terra got most of her bearings back, so she could speak coherently.
“Honey…honey…stop crying…what's wrong?”
“I was watching the kids, and then…I hear…I hear this pounding on the door. I ran to the door and saw a car screech away, but they left a message. Oh God I was scared…” The poor girl sobs the story to Terra.
“What message?” She asks.
“That!” The babysitter points to the front of the house. When Terra turned the light on, a dark red, almost blood red message appeared. Immediately everyone's eyes widened, because what was written was frightening to all of them. There were two messages in this blood red color. One read “DIE TERRA,” and the other read “REVENGE.”
“Oh Jesus…” Terra whispered.
“You don't think it's…” Katarin asks Terra.
“I pray not…I pray not. Ok…ladies…go to your homes. Make sure the kids and sitters are ok. I'll clean this mess up.”
“You need any help Terra?” Relm asks.
“No…I'll be fine. Go with Celes to her place.”
“Come on Relm…let's go to my house.”
Celes walks to her house, but to her horror, she gasps at more blood red messages on her house. They read “TRAITOR,” and “YOU WILL ALL DIE.”
“Oh my God…” Celes was now frightened. “KIDS! Mommy's home…are you all ok?” The poor kids were pale white, scared nearly to death by the intrusions. The sitter was there with them, scared as ever.
“Jesus God…I hope my house is ok.” Katarin runs off to the center of town. A few minutes later a shriek is heard as she runs back with the kids in tow. “They wrote on my home too…I can only hope it's not…”
“Don't say his name Kat!” Celes cuts her off. “It can't be…he died five years ago!”
“I can attest to that, it was Locke, Sabin and I that made sure of that!”
“Well look…all we can do is get some sleep. We'll figure this all out tomorrow. Here take this Kat.” Terra hands her one of Terra's revolvers. “You know how to use it, so don't be afraid to protect your family with it.”
“I know Terra…I know.”
The ladies get into their respective homes, trying to get their kids to sleep. Dark clouds were brewing back home. It seemed that a demon from the past is trying to haunt them. Terra lay in her bed, eyes wide open.
“No…no it couldn't have been…was it?” She asks herself. “Sabin…come home…I need you right now.” She thinks about how happy he made her, holding her in his massive arms. From the day they married to the day they parted because of the war, he brought nothing but sunshine on her. She was alone again. She would sometimes find herself drenched in sweat, nearly hyperventilating from nightmares she suffered. She thought she had the same thing Locke had…recurring nightmares that kept her up at night. She would imagine Sabin dying in battle, and Kefka returning from the grave. Her mind wasn't at peace; something was missing or needed to be resolved. Sure Celes and Katarin were her friends, but her heart would never be filled with Joy again until her Sabin returned. She closed her eyes, knowing she had a huge obstacle ahead of her now, and she didn't know what to do.
The next day:
Vector whistled and clanged to the tunes of the commotion going on in the tank factories. There Terra was hard at work once again. Unfortunately, since last night, she appears shaky and perturbed. Many of her coworkers have taken concern and ask her to get some rest, but stubbornly she refuses.
“Ok bring the cannon over here!” She signals the crane operator to fix the next Sherman tank cannon into the head of the tank. Slowly the crane makes its way over, fitting the barrel into the slot while Terra welds it into place. Thoughts race through her head a mile a minute.
“Who did that to our homes? Could that monster still be alive? Who was that woman in Figaro? What's going on here?” She thought to herself, trying desperately to concentrate on her duties.
“Terra…can I have a word with you?” The foreman asks.
“Sure thing boss…just let me finish this job.”
A few minutes later, after welding the last parts of the tanks were welded into place, she signals another worker to replace her.
“Terra…you're one of the best workers I've had since this war began. However, I noticed that today, you seem stressed.”
“Stressed? Oh no…no…I'm just having a little wartime jitters that's all.” Terra tries to convince the foreman with some rather nervous laughter.
“Yes…” The foreman looks at Terra inquisitively while looking through his work pad. “Well…if you're feeling troubled or stressed out, just tell me. You look like you could use some rest.”
“Don't worry about me boss…I'll be fine.” She taps her helmet with her wrench and walks back to the assembly line. “Jesus…that was close. I can't let the foreman know about what's going on. I just gotta get back to work.”
Hour by hour, she continues to weld the parts together. The tanks were in great condition, but she looked like she was a wreck. Her hair was ragged, and her face looked almost terror-stricken. Since when did Terra fear something so much? It wasn't normal of her to be like this. Maybe it was the absence of Sabin and Locke, or maybe the years of peace softened her up a bit, but who's to say? Her last hour of her shift draws near, and the rest of her crew already finished their shifts, so she had another crew to work with. However, she didn't recognize some of the operators when they walked in, especially the crane operator which was strange. She just shrugs it off and continues to work. One of the crewmembers calls her from the tank to talk to her.
“Hey Terra, you look miserable no offense.”
“None taken…I just didn't get much sleep last night.” Unbeknownst to Terra, the crane continues to move way past the tank, getting dangerously close to the workers.
“Yeah, we've all been down that road before.”
“I was just kinda stressed over my husband Sabin. It's been almost a year and I've been freaking out a little bit. But I know he's coming home…he's too stupid to die.”
“Ha…you're too much Terra.”
Suddenly the crane lets go of the cannon barrels it was carrying.
“OH JESUS! TERRA GET DOWN!” The woman tackles Terra while the tank barrels land only feet away from them. CLANG! The barrels slam the ground causing the concrete floor to crack. It could've been Terra's head that cracked instead.
“What the hell was that?” The foreman bursts out of his door.
“It was an accident sir, the crane lost control of its grip on the barrels, so they must've fallen from that.”
“Are you ladies all right? Who's controlling the crane” He asks concerned.
“No idea. But yeah…we're fine right Terra? Terra?” The crewmember asks concerned.
“Yeah…yeah…I'm ok. Thank you for doing that.” Terra gasps, still startled by the accident.
“Look…we've all had a busy day, especially you Terra. Why dontcha take the rest of the day off ok? Don't worry…come back when you get some rest.”
“Yeah…you're right. I'll go now.” Terra looks up to the crane operator booth, and notices no one is there anymore.
Something's awfully fishy going on here. She rushed to the lockers as grabs her stuff and quickly walks out and right into her Jeep. Driving away, she still has a hard time breathing normally.
“That was no accident. There's no way that crane could've been placed there by accident. Who is doing all this?” She asks herself while speeding away, back to Mobliz.
Pulling right next to her house, she notices Celes sitting down, looking as stressed as ever. Katarin sits next to her, trying to comfort her.
“I don't even wanna know what happened.”
“An ammunition cache exploded in the factory. I nearly died, and many of the workers were wounded. It was so strange…I don't get it.” Celes explains the story despite Terra's request.
“It seems like it was planned or something.” Katarin suggests.
“Maybe it was. I know I nearly got crushed by some tank barrels. It was like someone purposely placed the crane directly below us. I smell something fishy.”
“For some reason, someone wants us dead. I don't understand though. Who's behind all this?” Celes asks.
“I don't wanna know right now, or even find out…I need a drink.” Terra walks into her house, grabbing the nearest available shot glass and pours a shot of Jim Bean. Slugging it down, Terra sighs. “Man…I really needed that.”
“There's something we can do right?” Celes asks.
“How about this? I go down to Figaro, talk to the police and the chancellor, and see if they know anything. Sounds like a decent idea?” Terra asks.
“Ok, sounds good to me.” Katarin agrees with the plan. “Celes and I will stay here and look after things.”
“That not a bad idea too. Ok…I'll be back in a few hours. Hold down the fort while I'm gone.” Terra hops right back into the Jeep and drives off.
“God…I hope she'll be ok, and she can get us some help. We'll need it for this one.” Katarin says.
“Me too Kat…me too.”
The night quickly descends on our heroines. Several hours have passed since Terra drove to Figaro. Celes and Katarin haven't even gotten a phone call from Terra.
“God Almighty…what's keeping her?” Celes asks impatiently.
“I have no idea. We have to be patient I guess.”
“You know…this kinda crap happens only when our husbands our gone. Whoever's doing this has certainly picked the best time to start this up.”
“You know…I'll be honest with ya Celes. I have never been really frightened until all this, this war, Duane overseas, and our home under attack again. I mean, the last time I was truly frightened was when Hope was taken from us, but you, Locke, Sabin, and Terra all came through and rescued her. I've never been so grateful and relieved in my entire life. I'm glad you and Locke live here Celes. You're good people, and I'm eternally grateful.”
“Well thanks Kat…I appreciate it. If it'll make it any better, you and Duane have always been my good friends since we first met. Don't worry about this…I'm sure we'll come around. We can think of something to fix this.”
Suddenly a car careens by, and a several bricks are thrown through the window, startling the two of them. Some of the kids start screaming…scared by the broken windows. Katarin rushes to calm them down.
“Shhhhhhh. It's ok kids…it's ok. Don't cry. We're not hurt, so everything fine.”
“Hey…there's something tied to one of them. It's a note.” Celes picks the brick up and pulls the letter out. Unfolding it and then reading, her eyes widen.
“Celes…what's the matter? What does it say?”
DEAR VILE CELES AND KATARIN,
WE TOOK YOUR TERRA AWAY FROM YOU. WE HAVE HER NOW, ALONG WITH SOMEONE VERY DEAR TO HER. IF YOU WANT THEM BOTH TO COME BACK ALIVE, MEET ME AT THE SOUTH FIGARO DOCKS IN THREE HOURS. NO TRICKS, NO FUNNY STUFF, AND NO WEAPONS! DO IT OR THEY BOTH DIE MISERABLY!
“Oh dear God no…” Katarin gasps.
“I know…it can't be. Come on Kat…I have a plan…we gotta hurry!”
Part 8: Reunion, Rescue, and Revenge
“Uhhnnnn…owwww…where am I?” Terra wakes up from her unconscious state.
“You've been taken prisoner by them little girl.” An older woman tells her.
The two women were tied to metal chairs like sailor's knots. Terra looked a little battered and bruised as they both were locked away in a dingy basement, with the rats as their only company. She must've been ambushed as she drove to Figaro.
“They caught you in a crossroads…slammed your car. They have something nasty planned for the both of us.”
“How do you know all this? Terra asks.
“I've been their prisoner for years and years…all to try to stop the movement against them so long ago.”
“I'm sorry to hear that…”
“Oh don't worry…I've spent too many years like this to feel sorry for myself.” She slides her chair over to Terra, inch by inch. Her head sinks a bit, with her hair covering her face purposely. “I thought I'd never see the day though…when I'd actually meet you Terra Branford. I've always admired your courage and compassion defending those people over in Mobliz.”
“Well it's nice to know I have fans besides my friends.”
“Indeed. I know there's not much time left before she kills us.”
“She?” Terra asks. “I thought who I last saw was Kefka…but Locke, Sabin, and I killed him!”
“And you did indeed. Unfortunately, you did not know Kefka's secret…he has a sister.”
“Sister? You've gotta be kidding me!”
“I wish I was. Her name is Karina, and she's as equally insane as her late sibling. Gestahl adopted the both of them, and who was the one who taught them how to kill. Though Kefka was the more experienced of the two, Karina certainly was as bloodthirsty and ruthless. When she heard of you and your friends defeating Gestahl and Kefka, it sent her off the deep end. It was her that ambushed you and took you prisoner. She also has plans for your friends Katarin and Celes. Now she is hell-bent on destroying you and everything you hold dear.”
“It never ends…the violence never stops.” Terra sighs. “I'm still rather curious…who are you exactly?”
“I was once a beautiful, proud woman, with a family and happiness. Kefka and Gestahl took that all away from me. I'm nothing more than an empty, hollow shell of a woman, no soul left in her. I was taken away twenty years ago by them. I cursed them, saying that my daughter would come back and avenge me and her own losses. But it's no matter if I die now, my wish was fulfilled.”
“What are you talking about?”
The woman brings her head up, showing the tired but still graceful face of the woman Terra nearly hit the day before.
“YOU! You're that woman I saw before! You're the one who I nearly hit…the one who looks so familiar to me!”
“I should tell you angel…I can die happy now. Not only did my own daughter fulfill my wish, but it's a last blessing from God…that she be with me right now…”
“Oh my God…you don't mean…” Terra says absolutely shocked.
“You've grown into quite the young lady Terra…I'm so proud of you…my beautiful daughter.”
“Mother…mama…it's you…I don't believe it…” She now realizes why she recognized that woman, why her face kept on lingering in her thoughts. It was Madonna, her own mother, taken away from her so many years ago. Tears start to roll down her cheeks like flooding water as she slides her chair towards Madonna. “Oh mama…I never thought you'd be alive! I thought I'd never see you again!” She starts crying on her mother shoulder despite the lack of mobility.
“I'm so sorry Terra…I'm so sorry you had to live like this. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you.” She begins to cry as well, but a smile still lingers on her face.
It was strange though…because they were both crying out of happiness and of grief. After all these years, all of this suffering, mother and daughter were reunited.
They just sit there, their heads cradled on each others shoulders, not even caring about the passing minutes they have left, smiling, laughing, and crying to see each other since twenty years.
“We have to get out of here! They're gonna kill us, and I won't let that happen! We have a lot to catch up on…and I'll make damn sure we both live to tell everything!”
“There's no chance Terra…they're armed to the teeth.”
“Don't worry, I won't let this reunion last only this long. Besides, it's your daughter, the famous Kefka killer you're talking to! I know how to get out of this, but you'll have to listen to me carefully.”
“Whatever you do Terra…I'm behind it one hundred percent.” Madonna smiles to Terra confidently.
“Ok…this is what's gonna happen…” Terra tells her the plan while rustling a blade out of her sleeve and starts gently wearing down the rope.
After a few minutes, the doors swings wide open. At the door stands Karina with a sadistic smirk on her face, accompanied by two guards. She looks hauntingly familiar to Kefka, with the same blonde hair and facial features. Strangely enough, the guards happen to be female.
“Seems like Kefka's insanity and corruption infects women too huh?” Terra barks.
“I figured I'd get that kinda lip from you Ms. Branford!” Karina walks over and slaps Terra across the face. “Soon your friends will be suckered here and then you'll all die painfully hee hee hee! Little do they know the trap I've set up for them!”
“Yeah right…like they'll fall for some half-assed scheme a mere sibling of Kefka could cook up!” Another fist hits Terra, but she's unfazed.
“I see you've had some quality time with your mother! At least when you die, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing she was alive and with you. Maybe I'm becoming a little soft?” She brandishes a frightening looking knife. “I'm gonna cut you piece…by piece…by piece!” She laughs with that same insane cackle that Kefka used to. “I'm done toying with you for right now. I have to greet my suckers I mean guests! Guards…wait a few minutes and then take them to the piers…tied up! When the two other women show up…I'll give you the signal to present the prisoners. Do you both understand?”
“Yes ma'am!” The guards reply.
Karina struts out of the basement room, while the guards just stand and wait.
“Miss…could you come here for a second…my rope isn't tight enough…can you help?” Madonna asks one of them. “Could your friend help my daughter too?”
The guards were dumb enough to walk over to her, tightening her rope. They then approached Terra. Little did the guards realize that Terra was never someone you could tie down.
“You know…I gotta be honest with you…you people really suck at rope tying.” With that she pulls her arms free of the rope, and grabs the chair. With a well placed swing, she clocks one of the guards, knocking her out cold. The other guard tries to get a shot off, but Madonna slams into her with her chair, giving Terra enough time to tackle her and punch her lights out.
“Well…that was easier than expected!” Terra says getting to her feet.
“What do we do now?”
“Put on their clothes and grab their weapons. I remember my friend Locke doing this when he rescued baby Hope five years ago. This trick always gets them. I need you to act like one of them. I would do the same, but my hair would give me away.”
“Anything to help you get us out of here!”
Terra quickly unties Madonna as her mother puts on her “disguise” and they both arm themselves with the guns from the guards, while walking carefully to the door.
“I can only hope your friends have a plan too.” Madonna says, still worried.
“Don't worry mama…they've probably though of something…”
“I don't like this Celes…not one bit…I smell a rat in this whole thing.” Katarin warns Celes.
“I know I know…but there's nothing else we can do.” Celes glances at her rearview mirror, noticing several cars rather close behind her.
“I just hope this plan of yours works. Did you make the calls?”
“Yeah, but you're going to have to negotiate with…” Celes shudders, “Kefka yourself. I have to get myself in position.”
“Well…I'm still worried about this. I just hope you can cover me if things get hairy.”
“All I can say Kat…is that things will get hairy, but just to make sure you're ok, open my glove compartment.”
Katarin opens the glove compartment, revealing a Colt .45 pistol.
“Celes…I can't use this.”
“You have to…otherwise you're outta luck when the crap hits the fan. It's simple…” Celes reaches for the pistol. “You pull the charging handle back, and press back on the hammer, and squeeze, not pull, the trigger. Don't forget to line up your sights, and be careful! There's a clip already loaded inside and there's an extra one for you in the compartment.
“I've never fired a gun in my life!” Katarin protests.
“Well you're gonna have to learn quickly! That's one of Locke's Colts you're handling too. I have the other one…along with some other “weaponry” of my own. He taught me how to use that, and now I'm teaching you. I'm sorry to do this to you Katarin. You're my dear friend, but desperate times call for desperate measures.”
“It's funny…I remember when Gestahl and Kefka's men used to attack us, it'd be Duane and Terra that would always do the defending. I never though I'd be the one taking Duane's place.”
“He'll be proud to know you're doing this Katarin…remember that. I have Locke with me in my heart, and I'm sure Duane's in yours too.”
“Thanks Celes…I'll do the best I can.”
“Us ladies gotta stick together Kat. With our husbands gone, we have to do all the home-front work...including rescuing Terra.” Celes smiles as she glances to Katarin, who cocks the weapon and hides it in the ankle holster that Celes also gave her.
The two ladies arrive in the South Figaro Docks around 10:00 PM. It's dark…very dark…so dark you couldn't see your hand in front of you. They parked a few yards away from the piers, trying not to attract a lot of attention.
“Ok Kat…just remain calm and listen to everything they have to say. I need to get into position while everything else is set up. If this goes according to plan, then we can not only rescue Terra and this other person, but rid ourselves of those crooks once and for all.”
“I understand…I just hope this works.”
“It will…believe me it will.” Celes assures her as she grabs her rifle and runs off to the best vantage point. When she disappears, Katarin looks around.
She sighs. “Well Kat…looks like it's up to you from here…”
She walks over to Pier 13, a rather unlucky number, but Katarin didn't seem like the superstitious type. Life had already been rather tough for Katarin, so good or bad luck didn't really matter to her. She and Daune, both around sixteen, were madly in love with each other, from simple flirtations to lifetime promises. Life was good for her in Mobliz, back in the day, until Kefka reared his ugly head into her town. The adults and the mayor tried to form a militia to stop them, but they were too powerful. Eventually they were overrun and all of them died or were taken prisoner. It was only poor Katarin and Duane that were left out of the “adults.” Despite the hardships, they still loved each other and married unofficially, with Duane taking the helm as the new mayor, trying to patch up the pillaged town. Fortunately for them, Terra showed up in the nick of time and offered her services. With Terra's help, they were able to fend off Kefka's attacks. Her daughter Hope was born around that time too, so she always thought the naming was appropriate. She was Katarin's best friend, and soon more came into the picture. The arrival of Locke helped bring a sense of closeness to them and the children, especially to Terra. However, Locke had his issues to deal with, so he left, and Sabin soon arrived. She especially liked Sabin, because he was a gifted caretaker, whether it was caring for the children, tending to battle wounds, or guarding the town. She was happy for Terra because Sabin represented that true love Terra was desperately trying to find after Locke. Katarin however took an incredible liking to Celes, who was rather inexperienced at the time with being a wife and mother. She liked the charm and sassiness that Celes possessed, and how much she and Locke loved each other. It reminded Katarin a lot of herself and Duane. She, like Terra and Celes, longed for the day when she'd see Duane and the rest come home from the war, but she knew one thing would come at a time, and rescuing Terra and this other person came first. Bearing a heavy sigh, she finds the escort guards that will take her to Karina.
“Hey you…get over here. Da boss is expecting you!” One of the cronies yells to her as she advances.
“Ok…ok…everything's cool.” Katarin whispers to herself as the guards check her for weapons. Surprisingly, their search was poorly done and they never found her ankle holster with Locke's pistol.
“What idiots…” She thought to herself as she walks to who she thinks is Kefka. She can't really believe that after all these years he lived through that car explosion. However, she did notice an apparent physical oddity. “That crash must have shrunk Kefka or something…because I remember him being larger than that.” She also thinks to herself.
“Wait a second…what's this? Where's your other friend? I said for the both of you to come!” Karina screams.
“I don't remember Kefka ever having such a whiny voice! Besides, my friend is…coming…so contain your excitement.”
“Oh believe me…I can hardly wait hee hee!” Karina cackles. Like her brother, she seems overconfident, thinking that it's just one person against her group of twenty-five or more armed goons. However, she doesn't know that Celes is waiting behind Katarin, and that the two have an ace up their sleeve.
“I believe you have someone that we want Kefka? Where is she? Where's Terra?” Katarin demands.
“Well Katarin, I'll tell you. I do have her, and you know what? I won't give her back so readily…so don't think you can hustle me!”
“Since when did the fearsome Kefka have such a girlish voice too? Something's not right…”
“Well it looks like the cat's outta the bag! You got me oh clever Katarin Robillard!” Karina advances to Katarin, showing her true face.
“Oh my God…you're not Kefka. Who the hell are you…some deranged fan of his?”
“Actually…I'm his sister Karina, and I'm equally as nuts as he was!” She laughs, with the same level of insanity as Kefka would have. Behind her, and unbeknownst to her, Terra and Madonna are in her midst, waiting for Katarin and Celes to pull something off. “You probably wanna know what my story is huh?”
“Well…while we're waiting for your 'prisoners,' I might as well listen.”
“As I already told you, you little brat, I'm the great Kefka's sister Karina. I remember when I used to be with him, admiring his dirty work and even going on crime sprees with him. That is until that cursed bitch Terra showed up! She did nothing but thwart my poor brother's effort in taking over the towns…always infuriating that old bag Gestahl and getting Kefka in trouble! As if that wasn't enough to start the hatred inside of me for Terra, she and those two 'accomplices' decide to murder my brother, all for your stupid whiny child who Kefka shoulda killed from the get go!”
“How dare you!” Katarin shouts. “How dare you call my Hope that! If it was just you and me, I'd pummel you until you ate those words!”
“Well…I guess it's fortunate for me I have all these armed men and women with me huh? You're not going anywhere, Mrs. Robillard, not until I bring out who you want. Bring the first prisoner in…the murderer!”
Madonna, cleverly disguised as one of the guards, drags Terra who is tied up with the same rope from the chair. Terra, wearing down the rope like she did before, knew when the time came she could break free and go after Karina.
“Here's the one you want Miss Karina, what should I do with her?” Madonna asks, trying to imitate one of the guards. Karina seems fooled for the moment.
“Keep her alive, I want her to hear this. You see ladies…I basically have a master plan to exact my revenge on all of you. Because this whore, this tramp, this little 'urchin' decided to murder my dear brother, I became broken. I made it my personal mission to see you all suffer now. I've already tortured her mother for a while, but I grew bored of that. And you know those accidents at the weapons and tank factories? My fellow criminals decided to instigate those. Unfortunately it didn't kill either Celes or Terra, but it certainly made them paranoid for a while. We will kill you, Terra, and her mother now, and then go after your tardy friend Celes. Then, knowing you're all outta commission, we'll take care of your kids, all of them!”
“I don't understand. Why didn't you 'exact' your revenge years ago…when the death of your deranged brother was news?”
“Well…knowing how relentless your husbands have been, especially that cursed Locke Cole, who was the true accomplice of that wench Terra. But I'm sure the deaths of their wives and kids will make them suffer enough over there for me to be satisfied!”
“Why you…” Katarin becomes more and more enraged, “even if you kill us, our husbands will find you and kill you right back!”
“Oh you see…that's where you're wrong. You see, my dear brother and his crime organization were already against the government, so guess what? We, or should I say I, decided since my dear brother would've wanted it this way, I've already collaborated with the Nazis!”
“Oh I see…so you're a bitch, a lunatic, and a traitor as well. My God Karina, you're full of surprises!” Terra barks, only to be struck down by another guard. All her mother could do was step back, knowing that if she retaliated, her cover would be blown.
“That's enough out of you! I expect more begging anyway!” Karina retorts.
“I'll never beg to you, you piece of filth!” Terra yells right back, only to be hit again, but Madonna quickly pulls her up while no one else sees.
“Anyway…before I was so rudely interrupted, I decided to get payback on a grander scale. I believe it was that bimbo Celes who had that grandfather who was a scientist. Cid! That's his name! Anyway, since your worthless husbands are over there fighting, I decided to work with the Germans. In fact, I already gave them detailed information on your husbands, so if they are taken prisoner…they'll be shot on the spot!!! Oh it's so delightful!”
“You're a monster Karina!” Katarin shouts.
“Oh it's not over there!” Karina continues to laugh hysterically. “You see, I'm so sorry I get so wordy, since it was Cid who constructed that wonderful bomb that Kefka was going to unleash on Vector and Figaro before he was tragically stopped, I managed to get the designs from some people who survived that refinery fire. And wouldn't ya know it? I happened, for the right price, to give those secrets to German contacts, so now they have designs for the bomb, which they intend to use on the Allies, including your husbands, and then on this very country! It's so beautiful, so elaborate, so clever, dontcha think? And it's all because you murdered by poor brother Kefka, and ruined my life!”
“You really are insane Karina…you're perhaps worse than Kefka!” Katarin is actually frightened. It's like Kefka possessed her and gave her twice the insanity and danger he wished he could have.
“Thank you. I'll take that as the best compliment I ever got in my life. Unfortunately for you, you all have heard too much, and I'm growing impatient. Get the mother! I want to see her face when she sees her beloved daughter executed right before her eyes!”
“No need for that you monster!” Madonna throws off her hat, revealing herself to Karina. Unfortunately, she is not able to get a shot off as most of the guns are drawn on her. She pauses for a second.
“So…you escaped being tied up huh? No matter, looks like I'll take pleasure in killing you all right now! Guard! Shoot them both!”
One of the guards raised his rifle, only for a small flash of sparks to emit from the rifle, and while he's thrown back, the rifle goes spinning out of his hand.
“Celes…” Terra whispers to herself.
“NOW!” Katarin screams raising one hand while pulling the Colt .45 out of her holster, dropping the closest guard to her while running back for cover. In a flash of lights, the Figaro police and workers from the Figaro Arms factories surround the gangsters, all covered behind the boxes. The muzzles of the guns flash, and immediately several gang members are dropped, while the rest run back to cover.
“Kill them! Kill them all!” Karina shouts infuriated, while laughing maniacally afterwards.
The goons return fire, but are unsuccessful in their attempt to hit anyone. Terra sees Katarin, having her cover destroyed, running to another box across the pier. She sees one of Karina's cronies try and take aim at her, so she snaps the ropes off and tackles the gangster. With a few quick punches, she knocks the guard out, but is tackled down herself, her mother runs to her aid, shooting the other guard out, only to be knocked down herself. Before they could get up, the crony aims his Thompson at them.
“At least I'll kill yous two for Miss Karina, even if I go to the slammer!” He yells, but before he can pull the trigger, he is launched to the side. Terra rises up, only to see Celes, with a Springfield 1903 sniper rifle in her hands. She could only chuckle amidst the chaos.
“Celes…you crazy woman you! Like husband, like wife huh?” She asks.
“Damn straight! Now c'mon…we have to move. Let's get these scumbags!” She yells as Terra picks up the mobster's Thompson, her weapon of choice.
“Mom…run with Celes to Katarin's location. I'll be fine. I'm going after Karina! She's gonna to pay dearly for messing with me, and hurting you.”
“Ok Terra…I'm so proud of you. Get her once for me!” She hugs her and runs off to Celes.
“Come on Mama Branford, let's get you somewhere safe.” Celes runs towards the boxes on the other side, but is suddenly clotheslined by one of guards. The guard points her pistol directly at Madonna.
“Now…how about you die first and I take care of her later?” She threatens to Madonna.
“Not on my watch!” Celes, getting her bearings straight, pulls out her husband's other Colt from her hip, and fires it right into the gangster's leg, causing her to buckle, while Celes smacks her around until she's unconscious. “Clothesline me will ya? No one hits Celes Cole and gets away with it!” She gets up and runs back to Katarin, with Madonna safely in tow. “Thank you Locke…” she kisses the Colt pistol, as a memento of when he's been there for her, even through the barrel of a gun.
“He had two Colts?” Katarin asks.
“My Locke is always prepared, a regular boy scout!” Celes replies.
The battle continues to ensue, with Madonna, Katarin, and Celes firing into the boxes, trying to paste a gangster or two. Terra hasn't come back in a while, which worries her mother.
“I don't like this…I'm going to find Terra!” She runs off into the fray.
“No wait! Damn it! Ok Kat…let's give her some cover ok?”
“Sure thing Cel… let's do it!”
Under the protective fire Celes and Katarin offer Madonna, she is able to run back to find Terra. Meanwhile, Terra fights her way through the gangsters, hell-bent on finding Karina.
“KARINA! Where are you, you coward? Let's finish this now!” Terra screams.
Madonna can see her daughter, but her Terra can't see Karina pointing a Derringer right at Terra.
“NO! TERRA…LOOK OUT!” Madonna runs and pushes Terra, taking the bullet right in the hip. She falls right in front of Terra's horrified eyes.
“MAMA! Mama…are you ok? Please mama…speak to me!” She tries to get something out of her mother, who managed to open her eyes.
“Terra…I love you so much…I'll be ok…I just need some rest.” She closes her eyes, badly wounded from the shot.
“You…YOU! I'll kill you Karina!” She runs furiously at Karina, who can only laugh at the carnage. In a blind rage, much like something her husband Sabin would exhibit, she slams Karina to the ground. “I'll kill you!” Blow after blow, all Karina can do is laugh as she pushes Terra off her, and they both stand up, completely ignoring the battle around them.
“All right Terra…you wanna finish this?” She asks.
“Let's go Karina. You're gonna pay for your crimes!”
The two women run at each other, blocking every punch they throw at each other. Karina notices that she's dealing with no ordinary woman. This Terra Branford Figaro, whom she hated so much, burned with a hatred of Kefka and Karina that gave her strength and fury unlike any other. Karina gives Terra a fierce kick to the side, knocking her down. She runs right to Terra, only to be flipped on the ground by Terra. They rise again, trading kicks, punches, chokes, you name it. It was a clash of the titans, Terra and Karina, between love and compassion versus hate and destruction. Every blow that Terra gives Karina, she just seems to shrug it off.
“HA! You think that you can beat the likes of me? Your impudence will only make you suffer more in the end!”
“Oh I've only caught my second wind…just you wait.”
The two go at it again, with Terra flipping Karina over with an arm twist.
“My husband Sabin taught me that one!” Terra boasts.
“Big deal…” Karina retorts as she sends her leg right towards Terra's ankle, sweeping her down to the ground.
The two roll around and around punching each other senseless. Neither will give up so readily. Karina pins Terra and gets her in a chokehold. Things look bad for Terra, and all Madonna, who's still down, can do it watch as her only daughter struggles for her life.
“You will die Terra…even if I go down I'm taking you with me.” She stares into Terra's eyes.
Terra all the while is fighting with every ounce of strength she has left. Her right hand is trying feverishly to find something. Luckily, she feels something that is familiar to her. It's her own .38 revolver, the same one she used to fight Kefka. Grabbing it quickly, she looks right into Karina's eyes, despite her struggle for air.
“Only one…of us will go...and it ain't me!” She swings her right hand with the revolver butt hitting Karina right in the jaw. Karina falls right to the ground while Terra sits up gasping to breathe.
“Get her Terra …” Madonna whispers to herself from the distance.
“You…I hate you!” Terra turns right to Karina and pins her to the ground. Grabbing her hair, she slams Karina's face right into the wooden docks again and again. “You made my mother suffer! You made us all suffer!” She won't stop pounding her mercilessly, as if Terra has lost all of her compassion, enraged at the source of all this strife, Karina, who lay there bloodied and nearly dead.
“TERRA! Stop! She's had enough.” Celes yells as she tries to pull Terra off Karina, but she resists. Katarin even joins the attempt and she and Celes are successful in getting her off the notorious crook, but Terra just pulls herself free and continues to wail on Karina, pulling her head up by her hair and slamming her down on the ground again with a strong punch...
“TERRA…Terra…please stop…for your mother. She'll pay her dues in jail. Don't…don't be as awful as she is. Don't sink to her level.” Her mother, who has gained the strength to actually hobble over, despite the wound in her hip, pleads with her daughter. She walks over to where Terra is, who's just kneeling, surveying the aftermath, grieving over how violent she became. She starts to break down realizing she nearly lost her humanity.
“Mama…I'm sorry…” She starts to weep on her mother's shoulder. “You've suffered so much…I had to get revenge…I'm sorry…”
“It's ok honey…it's ok. You did fine.” She pats Terra's shoulder. “I'm so proud of you. You're the best thing that happened to me Terra.”
The guns fall silent, and all that's left are policemen and workers rounding up the surrendering mobsters. In the middle of the docks, there sit four brave women: Celes, Katarin, Terra, and her mother Madonna. Madonna sits there, comforting her daughter, while Celes and Katarin just watch with a certain satisfaction.
“A job well done dontcha think Celes?” Katarin pats Celes on the shoulder.
“Yes. Yes indeed. C'mon, let's put this beast in the paddy wagon, and go home. I need a drink of anything right about now.”
“Amen to that Cel…” Katarin helps Celes drag the beaten Karina towards the police.
Overall, the operation was a complete success. The police and workers Celes got laid a perfect ambush for Karina and her goons, with only a few wounded officers and workers to show for it.
“Is everyone ok?” Celes yells to the task force. One of the officers walks to her.
“Everyone seems to be ok. We'll tend to the wounded, but we lost no one. Good job Mrs. Cole, I'm glad you called us here. This Kefka impostor has been bothering us for quite some time. With this joint operation successful, now we can finally close the case on the Kefka family's reign of terror. I hope to hear from you again!” She walks off, and Celes turns right back to Terra and Madonna.
“I must thank you Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Robillard. Your plan saved the both of us. I was beginning to wonder how Terra and I could have gotten out of that alone. Because you ladies showed up, everything worked out for the better.”
“I remember usually having to save everyone's ass. I never thought that one day I would need the saving.” Terra chuckles. It looks like her sense of humor is back, which is always good.
“Now…I'm serious. We really should be getting home.” Katarin suggests, yawning from exhaustion.
“Well I can tell already your first experience of battle has worn you out oh mighty Katarin!” Celes gibes.
“Always with the sarcasm huh Celes?” Terra retorts.
“Oh no…well…maybe that one time. But I'm proud of you Katarin. You did a fine job keeping your cool and going through all that danger. You're a pretty good shot to boot.”
“Thanks Celes…those are perhaps some of the best compliments I've ever received from you.” Katarin smiles.
“Well you know…I can't be too harsh on everyone. C'mon…let's get some sleep. Everything's gettin' all wrapped up here, so there's no need for us to stay here anymore.”
“Mama…how's your wound?” Terra asks.
“It's ok. She only nicked me in the hip, but man does it sting!”
“Yeah…I know exactly how you feel.”
Celes and Terra help Madonna to the car while Katarin brings it to them.
“We have…a lot…to catch up on huh sweetie?” Madonna asks her daughter.
“First let's get that wound taken care of, and then we'll chat. I'm just glad we all made it out of that.”
“Amen Terra.” Celes replies, helping Madonna sit down while Terra sits next to her.
“Hey officer, can we go now?” Celes asks the officer next to the paddy wagon coasting by in her car.
“Yeah sure…we'll call you if anything is up ok?”
“Ok…thanks again officer!” Katarin drives away, off into the distance, back home, back for peace of mind, and a shot of hooch.
One hour and a few drinks later:
“Mama…tell me about dad.” Terra asks Madonna while cleaning the wound. “Sorry ma, but this'll sting a little.” She swabs the wound with some iodine and water.
“That's ok honey. Your father…your father, was a remarkable man. My God was he handsome…strong, elegant, I loved his innocent, but fierce blue eyes especially. Your friend Celes has eyes like his. Whoever married her certainly must've been under the same spell I was in.”
“You mean Locke? Oh ma…Locke's under her spell no matter what color her eyes are. They'll love each other till death do they part!”
Madonna chuckles. “Locke…your friend Locke is certainly quite the man, especially to tie down a woman like her. But they're two of a kind I guess.”
“He is my best friend, and I know him in and out. Celes is a hundred percent perfect for him.”
“Anyway…I'm sorry for rambling. It's my age that does that to me. Your father I remember found me alone and miserable. You see honey it was a depressing time back then too. People were selfish, brutal, and war hungry. Wars already ravaged other parts of the world, and every day I had to read of all this. I became depressed. My parents were cruel too. They never wanted me in the first place, always yelling at and hurting me. When I was old enough, I ran away, all the way to Figaro. I was cold, scared, poor, and lonely, but I was too proud to beg. I tried several jobs, but they never worked out, and I was thrown to the streets. I had nowhere to go. One night, I was alone in the rain, crying my eyes out from my misery, until I no longer felt the rain hit my head. I looked up, and I saw this big, blonde, handsome man hold an umbrella over me. 'I'm sorry to intrude on you ma'am, but it looks like you needed this,' he said to me. Rarely did people ever show such compassion for me.”
“Mother…that's so sweet.” Terra says, still tending to her mother.
“Oh immediately I fell in love with him. He provided for me, and I was eternally grateful. You see Terra, your father had a girlfriend previous to me, but unfortunately she died right next to him. She was an innocent victim of a gang shoot-out, the instigator being Gestahl's Gang. He vowed revenge on them, and to protect anyone he loved from them, including them. I remember he had a statuette, a pretty jade green one, depicting an Esper I believe. It was the source of his strength and compassion.”
“Oh you mean the Maltese Maduin? I kept that with me every day I lived. Maybe it was that statuette that did help inspire me to protect. I still have it as a matter of fact!”
“Really? That's wonderful! To me that statuette lives on as a part of his soul. You've got the same blood and spirit as him. It's that guardian spirit, the one who'll risk everything to save the lives of his loved ones.”
“Once again, it can only remind me of Locke…”
“Do tell. Anyway, we were definitely in love. Never had I met such a protective and loving man in my life. He made me forget about all of my troubles. We married a year later, and soon after that, we were blessed with you in my womb. In fact, when you were born in the hospital, it was he who came up with the name Terra. He never wanted us hurt from the city's terrible violence that already orphaned many of the children of the city, including the famous Figaro twins. He started a group of vigilantes dedicated to bring down organized crime, especially Gestahl. He was brave, always putting his life on the line to protect us. His group was successful in stopping many of the crime groups in the city, but unfortunately Gestahl was too powerful. One night…he…he…” Madonna starts to choke up.
“It's ok mama, you don't have to continue.” Terra tries to comfort her mother.
“No…I have to. One night, he was about to take on a group of Gestahl's men, but he ran into the wrong group. He was betrayed by one of the vigilantes in his squad, and was ambushed by Kefka himself. They took him away, and I feared he was dead. I never saw him again, but I remember him telling me how much he loved you and me before he left. He came into your room, kissing you on your forehead while you were sleeping, kissed me, and then left…forever. I miss him so much. I thought I lost everything, but I found you Terra, and you found me. I spent so many years tortured by them, and this bullet wound I hope will be the last reminder. You probably have no idea how much it hurts.” She says while Terra can obviously see the scars on her shoulders and arms.
“Sorry mom…but I do know what it's like to hurt like that.” Terra lifts her shirt a little bit to show a bullet scar on her stomach. Madonna looks in horror at another bullet wound on Terra's left shoulder, and the wounds and burns on her legs and arms.
“Terra…I'm sorry I made you hurt so much. Somehow I feel this is my fault. I made it my mission, when your father disappeared, to be the best mother I could be. My parents were terrible to me, and I never wanted you to feel the same way. I wish I wasn't taken away from you. You could've lived so much more peacefully. I'm sorry dear…”
“No mama…you didn't fail me. It's not your fault. I must tell you, even though I've suffered, I've never felt so alive in my life. I'm happy mama, don't you worry about me, and having you with me again makes me know that God loves me. I'll thank God everyday that I finally have you with me again.”
Madonna reaches to hug her daughter, and gives her a pat on the back.
“God works in mysterious ways Terra. I always used to think, that his spirit passed on into you, and I think it did. I always dreamt it gave you the courage to finally put an end to Kefka, to avenge me and your father.”
“I never thought of it that way. I know I don't know dad very well, but now that you tell me these things, I feel like he's been a part of me since I was a little girl.”
“You'll always be my special little girl Terra…thank you for making me so proud. I know I sound like a broken record, but now I have no reason to feel miserable anymore, now that I have you again.”
“Same here mama…same here…”
The next morning:
“Kids…I have a very special treat for you all!” Terra says.
“Is it Santa Claus mommy?” Ryan asks her.
“Ummmm…no sweetie.” She replies, not expecting that one. “I have something better. I want you all to meet my mommy, and your grandma.”
Madonna walks through the door. Her eyes glisten at the sight of her grandchildren.
“Terra…they're beautiful.” She looks at Terra, who can only smile.
“Grandma?” Vincent walks up to her.
“Yes Vincent…it's grandma. Why dontcha say hi?” Terra tries to plead with the already confused sons.
“It's ok kids. I'm your mommy's mom.”
“You mean mommy has a mommy?” Vincent asks.
“Yes indeed.” The kids walk over and give her a nice big hug and kiss, much to Terra's satisfaction. “Oh my…you're strong little boys aren't you?”
“They take after their father, who's as big as a tree.”
Little Madonna stumbles over to her, grasping her leg. Big Madonna reaches down and picks her up.
“Gramma.” Little Madonna says, hugging her grandma.
“Oh Terra…she has green hair, just like you. She looks…just like you…those years ago, with such an adorable face.” A tear starts to roll down her cheek. It reminds her of when Terra was a little girl, so sweet and loving in her arms.
“It looks like you have an admirer mama, that's 'little' Madonna. She's got the same name as you. I named her as tribute to a great mother.” Terra says to her mother, placing her arm on her shoulder. “Can you say hi to grandma sweetie?” She asks her daughter.
“Hi!” She waves her little arm, making big Madonna laugh.
“She's precious Terra. You have such wonderful children. I can only imagine what their father is like.”
“My Sabin? Believe me…he's a great father and husband all in one big package!”
“Sabin? You mean you're married to one of the Figaro twins?” Madonna seems shocked.
“Oh yes he's the brother of Governor Edgar, but he's not at all like him. He's so loving, so compassionate, for such a big guy…not to say his brother is evil or anything.”
“How on Earth did you ever get with one of the Figaro brothers?”
“It's kinda funny. You know how I was the 'marshal' of the town when Gestahl was around?” Madonna nods. “Well…I couldn't do it all alone, and unfortunately Locke had to leave for 'personal' reasons. He had demons to confront. I had to hire new arms, but either some died, or some, like the fearsome Shadow, came and went as he pleased. I was cleaning my guns when a box of ammo spilled all over the deck. Frustrated, I bitched and moaned trying to pick them all up, when I heard a voice. 'A lovely woman like you shouldn't get so stressed like that. It's not good for the body.' I picked my head up to see this handsome, but gigantic man squatting down to help me. I don't know what it was at first, but something made me attracted to him, despite his flirting and me rejecting him. I remember calling him a 'bodybuilder that lost his way to the gym.' He fell down laughing, saying it was one of the funniest things he's heard in years. He was good, very good, at protecting the kids, very much like Locke. I think what made me fall in love with him was the fact that he was opposite to what I assumed of him. I expected some arrogant, chauvinist, muscle-bound meathead that's only good for grunt work. Instead, I get a muscle-bound sweetheart who's got a knack for being compassionate and loving with kids. He loved those kids, and always played with them. He was basically just like me, only blonde, male, and incredibly muscular. I remember when we rescued Locke from that burning refinery, and when we killed Kefka, that he proposed to me that same night. I didn't know what to say except for yes. Unfortunately it broke Locke's heart, but thank God Celes came back to him. Now we all live together, helping each other out and enjoying our companies through thick and thin. I'm especially happy at the fact that I found a kindred spirit that will be with me until death.”
“I'm already convinced that Sabin must be an incredible man. When he comes home Terra…I know I'll take a liking to him. Anyone who won the heart of my darling Terra certainly should be the best there is.”
“Believe me mama…he is…and when he comes home, he'll certainly like you.”
“I hope so.”
“Oh don't worry mama…all of our husbands are coming home one day…and we'll all be here to welcome them home…I pray…”
“Don't be so nervous Terra. Judging by how you described him, he must have the strength of twenty men, the compassion of a saint, and the heart of a giant.”
Terra just smiles out the window, into the blue sky, thinking about him over there. For Terra, this has been an experience that could rival her husband's. Despite the fact that he is still in Europe, she can't help but feel at peace with the world. She knew her husband will come home alive, but now a missing part of her, something her kids and her husband couldn't fill, has made her complete. The nightmares of Kefka were gone, and the defeat of Karina silenced his ghost forever. Terra could finally put away her weapons, for she had no need for them anymore. Her family, her friends, and everyone else she cared for was safe from the tyranny of Kefka, Gestahl, and Karina. She was finally reunited with her mother, and now nothing would ever separate them ever again…nothing.
To be continued…