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The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter XIII


Lilliana Frieda, in a letter to Corin Dincht during off time-

    "Corin will you please STOP asking me were Edea keeps the recipe for her hotdogs?!  If you want them that bad, go to Deling City and ask her to make you some!  If you send me one more letter about this... I'm sending Raine and Julia down to break your legs!"



Helios City--  00:25  hours


    Raine stood up and stretched out her legs, which was a tricky thing to do in a fast moving train car.  The skyscrapers of the Helios capitol had come into view about five minutes ago, and they were almost to the cargo train station.  The scene of the Helios skyline at night reminded the Pack of Deling City.  The entire city was lit up in lights, and the sounds of the bustle of car traffic and night life filled the air around the team, despite being so far away from the main part of the city.  Raine checked out through the window and cursed to no one.  As soon as the disembarked from the train, the two Helian soldiers guarding the station would spot them and alert the rest of the city to the Pack's presence. 


    The rest of the team saw them as well.  Andraia looked up to Raine with a worried look.  "Great!  Well, Raine, now what are we going to do?!  We're screwed over, big time!" 


    Raine looked around the car in silence for a few moments.  The others glanced at her with suspicion in their faces as she smiled at the roof of the train car.  Raine saw their looks and pointed up.  They saw a small hatch that led to the roof of the train car.   If they could escape onto that, then they wouldn't be spotted when the Helios soldiers did their check of the cars.  Lancer allowed Raine to stand on his shoulders and pry open the door.  It took a bit of effort, since it was rusted partway shut.  Once it was open, Raine escaped onto the roof.  She bent back down to help the others get on top of it as well.


    One-by-one the team used Lancer as a height booster and Raine as an aid to get onto the roof.  When only Lancer was left in the car, Epsilon held Corin's ankles while the blonde martial artist hung down from the door and grabbed onto Lancer's arms.  Together, Epsilon and Corin pulled the Blue Mage up onto the car roof, where the team couldn't help but be a little shocked at how fast they were going.  Carefully, as not to fall off of the speeding train, Raine crawled back over to the door and shut it. 


    "Lay absolutely prone, so the guards can't see you!  Also, the ceiling of the train station looks a little low, so if you're any higher than prone level, it looks like you might fly off when you hit that thing!  Get down!"  Raine ordered, then proceeded to lie flat on her stomach, and tried to make herself as thin as possible.


    The others followed her example, and soon they felt the train slow down as it approached the station entrance.  Edea couldn't help but hold her breath as they passed, barely, under the ceiling of the station.  The solid concrete ceiling passed at the most of three inches away from her head and body.  She heard Andraia and Lilliana shudder as the ceiling passed their heads, the two girls had long been afraid of closed spaces and the like, so this entrance was not exactly their grandest. 


    The train skidded to a halt as soon as it reached the loading platform.  The Pack had to cling to the sides of the car roof in order to stop themselves from flying forward at the sudden change of speed.  Julia had actually started to fly forward, her being in the middle and away from any sort of handle, but Zion caught her by the calf at the last moment before she slid off.  


    Raine heard the soldiers announce themselves to the train conductor, "We're with the Helios military, and we are going to check your train cars for any things that may be out of place.  This may take a few minutes, but it is required of all long distance transportations.  Wait here."


    Raine looked around as the officers went into the first car.  The station was almost bare at this time of night, fortunately.  There were several lifts that were apparently for cargo supplies, and a security checkpoint by the tracks, which is where the two Helios officers had come from.  At last, she found what she was looking for.  A set of twin door lay open at the far wall, and appeared to lead into the city.  There was another entrance, one that seemed to be made for vehicles, but Raine decided that they would probably be spotted if they took that exit. 


    With only that three inches of movement space, Raine slid to the side of the train car and grabbed onto the silver ladder that hung from it.  It was challenging, to say the least, to get down onto the ladder from the roof with only three inches of breathing room, and to do it quietly added more of challenge for Raine.  Somehow, she was able to do it, and touch down on the ground without a sound.  She motioned for the others to do the same.


    They cautiously and quietly followed Raine's example and slid down the ladder she had climbed down only moments before.  Celeste was the last, due to her fear of heights.  The rest of the Pack urged her to hurry with hand gestures, for the guards were almost done with their check, and the team would loose their cover once the train moved again.  Celeste slowly made her way down the ladder as the officers finished their check of the last car.


    "Okay!  We're done, go ahead to the cargo terminal!"  one officer called out to the conductor.  The conductor nodded back, wondering why they hadn't spotted the Wolf Pack.  The train began to speed up to get to the cargo terminal, which lay just beyond the station.


    When the train was gone, the two officers were the only souls left in the station...




    "Oh, wow!"  Andraia exclaimed happily.  The Pack had kept to the shadows and snuck a good way into the city.  Now, the lights of the Helios City skyline were brighter than ever, and reminded the team of a dream state. 


    Raine had led the Pack up onto the rooftops of the city to avoid detection by the Helios sector police.  The city had been divided into sectors, and the residents had to present their ID cards to the police in order to enter or exit a sector.  Obviously, the Pack did not have such clearance, and would be captured since they were Galbadian.  Raine felt that the easiest way to travel was by the rooftops.  The buildings of the city, aside from the skyscrapers, were close together and made it easy to travel on.  The only problems were the roads.  They created such a large gap between buildings that it was almost impossible to cross unless they found some sort of bridge between them.


    They were now at the top of one of the taller office buildings not more than a half a mile from the train station.  They now had a good view of the city around them.  There was a large section of commercial buildings and a industrial section that made up most of the Southern half of the city.  In the Northern district however, which Raine could view with her binoculars, was much nicer than the South end.  She could spot several buildings that looked like military outposts guarding a larger building, which Raine assumed was the base that they had to infiltrate. Also in that district were several high class mansions, most likely reserved for the VIPs of Helios.  That was where Excalibur and Wolf Pack had to go.


    There was a beep on something that was Raine's equipment.  The Alpha Wolf smiled and pushed the button on her comm. link.  Excalibur must be trying to reach them.  Raine spoke,  "Jesse?  Is that you?"


    "No, it's Icelina."  Came the feminine reply.  Raine had almost forgotten that it was Icelina who was in charge of Excalibur communications.  "Our team is just now reaching the outskirts of Helios.  Where is the Pack?"


    "We're inside the city, on top of one of the buildings.  We're just now heading off to the North district towards the base.  I'd be careful, the city is under a kind of martial law and guarded heavily.  The city is divided into sectors and you can enter or exit one since you are all Galbadian."  Raine replied with an emotionless tone,  informing the other unit of what the Wolf Pack had just learned.


    There was silence for a moment.  Icelina came back over the radio, her voice had a trace of happiness if Raine could hear right.  "Okay.  Jesse and Aaron just came back scouting and met a friendly Helian civilian.  He said that the city has elaborate tunnels underneath the roads that aren't guarded.  We're going to use those and sneak in from the sub-levels."


    So Jesse wants to take a nice romp through the sewers, hmm?  Raine thought to herself.  She replied back,  "Whatever makes him happy.  I'm going to lead the Pack now.  I'll call you back just before I reach the base district."


    "Very well.  Icelina, over and out."  The communications expert replied, and then the comm. link turned to static as she signed off.  Raine shut it down and turned back to her soldiers.

    Raine crossed her arms and furrowed her brows.  She didn't like the idea of going down to the sub-level passageways that Excalibur was taking, for if they did and they got spotted, then they would most likely not have room to fight none the less escape.  The rooftops presented problems as well.  True, they could use them for a time without anyone spotting them, but it would be a hard task getting over the wide road gaps between them.  They had been fortunate in Esthar, because the streets were often above the buildings, so they were closer together and easy to walk over. 


    Raine noticed that her team was staring at her, waiting for some kind of answer.  She figured the only way across was to jump, unless they found some other mean of getting across.  So she had to ask,  "All right, who had the shortest distance at the long jump?"


    They looked at her in confusion, but after a moment of puzzlement, they began to debate amongst themselves.  After a few minutes they came to the conclusion that Corin was the shortest jumper at 6 feet distance.  Julia was the longest jumper at a length of 10 feet, if she sprinted as fast as she could.  Raine then evaluated the distance across the streets.  None of them could jump it, for it was at least a good 13 to 15 feet across.  And these were the back roads and not the main roads.


    Raine shook her head.  They would be fine if they could find a way to just get over the 15 foot gap, because they were on a path that had no main roads all the way to the North district.  She looked around for another option.  They were on top of a building with a lot of construction material on it.  As she spotted several long but thin pieces of wood, she figured she had her answer.


    She turned back to them with a mischievous smile.  "Say, how good were you guys at pole vaulting in high school?"




    They had decided that it was Julia who would go first, and Lancer that would go last.  Lancer and Julia both had longer pole-arm weapons that made pole vaulting an every day part of their missions.  Strapping her staff to her back, Julia grabbed the first piece of wood and made sure that it wouldn't snap on her.   She showed the group how to grab the wood, and what to do when they were going to jump.  Getting back to nearly the other side of the building, she prepared to sprint to the other side.


    "This is nuts.  'Be the guinea pig Julia, so just in case you don't make it, we can all live.'"  The brunette mocked to herself.  "I swear if I die then the first people that I'm going to haunt are these guys."


    She took off at a sprint, fast enough so that she could build up enough momentum to land on the other side of the street.  As she approached the end of the building, she slammed the piece of wood in the groove between the roof and the solid concrete guard rail.   She felt herself lift into the air, and began to soar effortlessly over the street.  She arched her body forwards and made sure that her feet would come down first.  She was worried for a moment, because the distance seemed to be a bit longer than Raine assumed.  However, she landed -- a bit roughly-- on the other side of the street with a few feet to spare.  She waved to them from the other building, signaling them to follow her example. 


    Raine was after her, and flew smoothly over the buildings, despite her not having done any sort of pole vaulting since her track days at her Deling City high school.   Once she too was over, Zion stepped up.  He had to adjust to the weight of the pole, but was able to successfully leap over as well.  One-by-one, they followed their teammates over the street.  They could help but laugh as Corin found himself falling backwards instead of forwards when the piece of wood became completely vertical.  He crashed back onto the first building.  Getting back to the start line, he ran a bit faster this time and made it over.


    Eventually, only Celeste and Lancer were left.  The whip user took one look over the side of the building and saw how far down the street was.  She, being afraid of heights, quickly stepped away from the side and dropped her pole.  "No, no way in hell am I doing this!"


    Lancer looked back to her as she began to pace from one side of the roof to the next.   "Sorry Celeste, but this is the only way across.   There isn't another option to get over there."


    "Can't I just stay here?  Epsilon can give me his sniper rifle, and I'll cover you guys from back here!"  She suggested, but then reasoned with herself.  "Okay, bad idea since I've never taken a sniper course before, but... must I go over?  Can't I go with you?"


    "Two people can't make it over on the same pole.   Don't worry, its really easy, I swear!  You can do this Celeste."  He declared, slipping his arm reassuringly over her shoulders.   He pushed her back to the start line.  "Now, let's do this."


    She nodded slowly and picked up the piece of wood.  Before he could instruct her,  she took off at a sprint.  Putting the end of the wood at the same place the others had, she flew over the street below her.  She let out a small yelp as she saw how high she really was.  As she was going to land, she felt herself do something wrong, and was starting to tilt to the side.  She made it though, crashing into an oblivious Julia, who began to chew the blonde out as soon as the two of them got up again. 


    Shaking his head,  Lancer followed Celeste and vaulted over the building as well, landing smoothly near Edea and Corin.  Epsilon and Lilliana checked to see that no one had been injured on their way over, and Lancer kept trying to calm a nervous Celeste down. 


    Raine looked to them.  "All right, that wasn't so hard was it?"  After receiving a glare from Celeste, she continued.  "Well... for most of us.  So all we have to do is pole vault from one building to the next.  We'd better hurry and go, this is taking a lot of time."




    They followed the pattern of pole vaulting for so long, they almost forgot the time.  Julia would make the first run over the buildings, and the rest of the Pack would follow, Lancer taking up the rear as planned.  Celeste had been stubborn for a few times about the whole thing, but by about the fourth time over, she must have gotten the hang of it since she had stopped complaining.   However, the other team was having a much more interesting time in the Helios City sub-levels. 


    The sub-levels, which weren't much more than glorified sewers, were dark and dirty.  Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose had become routine, unless the Excalibur soldiers wished to pass out from the intense smell emitted from every corner of the sub-levels.   Icelina and Alexius had resorted to pulling out their high-powered flashlights, just to make sure that they didn't step in anything that they would regret.  Though they had night-vision goggles, they felt it would be unwise to use up all of their battery power before they really needed them.


    Jun hadn't said anything for the past hour or so, while most of the team tried to kill time with conversations.  She adjusted the heavy PSG-1 rifle that hung on her back and continued to trudge through the sewers with the rest of her team.  Jesse, on the other hand, was more than willing to express his feelings on their situations.



    "God it reeks down here!"  the blonde gunblade user ranted.  "Ugh, maybe we should have taken the roof tops like Raine did.  .... Whoa!  Did one of you just pass gas or did we walk by something nasty?!"


    "Walked by something nasty."  Icelina replied coolly.  "Though everything in here could be considered nasty."


    Aaron sighed,  "Can we not talk about this?  I don't know about you guys, but I'm just trying to ignore the whole thing all together."


    Alexius turned back to him, his red hair falling in his eyes.  "You've got to be kidding!  How could anyone possibly ignore all of the stuff that's down here!  What's even worse, all the stuff that's down here that you can't see."


    "Hey, Jun!  We've got another fork in the road up ahead.  Which way do we turn?  Left or straight?"  Jesse called out from the front of the team.  Jun looked up with annoyance.


    Pulling out her electronic map again, she searched through the pathways to get to the district in which Virados had his residence.  "Left.  And straight isn't turning, sir."


    "Oh, shut up.  I know that!"  Jesse replied hotly, turning his path to the left.


    "Think of it this way,"  Icelina said, "We're not far.  A couple more pathways and we'll be right under his residence.  Let's just hope that the guy is actually there, and we didn't have to trudge through here for no reason."


    "Oh, don't even think that!"  Alexius groaned loudly, "Please don't jinx this whole thing!"


    Icelina shrugged and continued walking.  The path ahead wasn't very difficult to get through, but the stench from the depths of the sewers made the seemingly easy task seem like torture.  She really did hope that the path they took wouldn't have been for naught, since if Virados wasn't in his quarters, it would be up to Wolf Pack to kill him.  It wasn't that she didn't have faith in that team, she did.  In fact, she had the utmost respect for each one of their soldiers.  They had only botched a mission once to her knowledge, and their record was one to look up to.  She just didn't want to go back the same way that they had come.  Her idea of fun was not romping through the sewers of Helios.  She prayed that everything would just go well on the mission to come.



Chapter 14

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