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The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter XV

Celeste rolled out of the way as the beast before her charged towards her, then struck downwards with its club-like arm.  The large claw the stuck out from the mass of muscles sliced through the desk, causing the wooden piece of furniture to snap in half as if it were nothing more than a toothpick.  In the process, her whip dropped from her hands as she roughly hit the ground.  It continued after her, stalking at a slow speed.  It's colorless eyes stared her down as she tried to evade it. 


    Lancer came from behind and struck the monster in the back with his pole-arm, using an down swipe so that the blade embedded itself into the monster's skin.  However, when he did so, the blade ricocheted off of the skin as if it had been metal.  Lancer was barely able to hold onto his weapon as powerful vibrations swarmed over his arms when it struck the beast.  The monster looked back at him, and before Lancer could react, he found himself flying through the air.  The powerful backhanded strike the beast gave him sent him careening into the far wall.  He almost passed out from the force of the impact.


    It was about to use its claw to finish off the stunned Blue Mage, and raised its arm over it's head.  Just as it was about to strike down, a black whip coiled around the arm.  Celeste stood behind the beast, using all her strength to pull the arm away from Lancer.  She saw what the monster was about to do however, and quickly let it go.  If she had not, it would have pulled her towards it using her own whip and attacked.


    It turned to her again, it's face still eerily expressionless.  She took out something silver from her waist holster, and pointed it at the demonic figure in front of her.  Before it could charge her, she pulled back the hammer on her revolver pistol and squeezed the trigger.  The gun was powerful, but it was also loud.  Her ears almost went deaf from the ferocity of the volume.  She hoped that she did not attract every guard in the base towards them.


    The shot would have made Epsilon proud.  The large bullet entered the space between the eyes of the beast, leaving a large red hole through its forehead.  Brain tissue and blood spewed out of the gap in the skull, and leaked down onto the face and chest of the monster.  To her shock and fear, the beast only shook for a moment with pain, but stood back up and continued to walk towards her.  Before she could shoot again, the monster used its arm to hit the gun out of her hand.  It lurched forward as it started to charge again, but fell to the ground as its legs became tangled in the steel pole-arm between them.


    Lancer pulled his weapon out from the monster as it fell.  Using the spike atop of the pole, he once again tried to drive it into the enemy's spine.  The pole-arm ricocheted off again, and Lancer let out a curse.  Damn it, it must be weak against magic!  If only I could limit....


    The monster flung itself upwards and spun around to face Lancer.  This time, it got a hit in.  It used it's claw and sliced Lancer diagonally across the chest, cutting into his collarbone and down to his abs.  He fell to the ground due to the force of the assault.  Another shot rang out however, and yet another bullet entered the beast.  Celeste had recovered the gun, and had shot the demon in the heart.  Blood splattered against the wall behind it, and the monster groaned in pain. 


    Lancer had gotten away and felt the energies of Blue Magic coursing through him.  His limit had kicked in due to the last attack by the beast.  He gripped his staff tightly and used the energy to summon on the one spell that could hopefully put the weakened monster to death.  Shadow Flare... he thought inwardly.  The spell had been learned long ago, when he was a youth.  His old mentor had given him a strange old item that had come from something called a 'Weapon'.   It was very powerful, and he could only call it when it was needed most.


    It wasn't pretty when he did so, either.  Electric hot energy spread up his arms and into his chest.  It was painful to say the least, and it took a lot of strength to not let out a scream as it gathered in his heart.  The air around him began to turn a bright white, and it soon enveloped the whole of the room.  Celeste and Lancer disappeared into the light, but the beast mysteriously turned a dark color, as if a shadow was being cast on it.  Black specks of energy began to rush towards it from all directions, and violently stormed the monster with powerful magic.  It let out a long, pain-filled roar as it felt its atomic structure being ripped apart second by second.  The roar stopped, as did the magic.  When it was all done, the beast lay on the floor motionless, it's insides now on the outside.  The smell of burning flesh consumed the room.


    Lancer let out a sigh, and almost felt himself give in to the darkness that was creeping into his eyes.  He slid down into a seated position and tried to catch his breath.  Shadow Flare was powerful, but it took a lot of energy to use.  Celeste holstered her gun back to her waist and walked over him.  Taking a long look at the wound across his chest, she took out a potion from her item pouch. 


    Unscrewing the cap to the medicine, she bent down to his level.  "Hold your shirt up.  I'll cure the wound."


    He silently obeyed, lifting up his white shirt (which had now been stained crimson) and revealing the wound.  Luckily for him, it wasn't very deep.  Celeste did realize that it would probably leave a scar, even if healed.  She poured the potion over the wound, letting half of the bottle empty onto his skin.  The injury slowly stopped bleeding, and began the process of closing itself.  She let him drink the other half of the potion.  When potions were drank, they recovered stamina and stiffness, which was something he was suffering from as well.  Once he was done, he discarded the bottle onto the ground and stood up.


    "Thanks, I needed that."  Lancer said, returning his shirt to it's previous position. "By the way, how many of those do you have on you?"


    She shook her head.  "Not many.  I have two more left, and only one phoenix down.  The rest of the Pack has the majority of the supplies."


    He sighed and nodded.  Looking around, he took note of what just happened.  To his knowledge, Helios had long made use of Bio Weaponry, and that included bio-engineered creatures.  The beast he and Celeste killed was probably something of Helios.  Why else would it be wandering around the base?  The room around him was in shambles, and yet he still heard no movement from outside. 


    Getting a baring on the these things, he turned to Celeste with a determined look.  "That was probably a Helian war beast.  If it caught us, that means that there is a good chance we've been seen by something else.  If that is true, we need to keep moving."


    "But the doors are locked."


    He looked around again.  The other door, the door that the beast had come through, was destroyed.  It barely hung on one of its remaining hinges.  He pointed it out to Celeste, and she mentally smacked herself for being so oblivious.  The two took off, running out of the newly opened door into the halls beyond.  Hopefully, though there was a slim chance, they had not been spotted by any other base troops.


    A few moments later, after they had long left the room, the twin doors opened.  A figure walked through, wearing silver oriental armor and a turquoise body suit.  Her black hair fell around her waist, and one hand absent-mindedly held onto one of the twin sais that hung from her belt.  She surveyed the damaged room, and shook her head.


    "So they came... just as he said they would."  Satori told herself.  "Pity the trap didn't work.  Oh well, I have more in store for them and their little friends."



    High atop the sixth and highest level of the base, Raine and Epsilon carefully avoided detection by the two guards that were only a few hundred meters away.  The two were masked by a large crate, and both were trying to think of a way to sneak past the two guards that were guarding the area.  It seemed hopeless.  The crate was basically the only think that they could hide behind.  If they were to leave, they would be spotted.  Raine inwardly sighed.  To her, there seemed to be no other option but to go through with guns blazing. 


    She turned to Epsilon, who looked to her for some kind of order.  She pointed to his gun and gave the hand signal for him to snipe the two of them down.  Having a silenced sniper rifle, it wouldn't attract any other guards.  Or so she would hope.  He checked to make sure that he had plenty of ammo, then cautiously placed his hands in the correct position for firing. 


    He would have to be quick, unless he wanted to be dead.  Spinning out from the crate, he pulled the trigger and took down the first guard with a shot in the chest.  Before the second could react and fire his machine gun, Epsilon shot him between the eyes.  The two crumbled to the ground as if they were paper dolls.  Raine quickly checked to make sure no one had heard them, and ordered Epsilon to follow her.


    The two took off at a sprint across the room, running to the two guards.  Raine bent down to make sure both were dead, and sighed with relief when she discovered just that.  She took a look at her surroundings.  They were on a walkway above the main floor.  The crate had been at one end, while the guards were at the other.  Below the walkway wasn't much of anything.  She and Epsilon had already swept through and found nothing of interest, just some equipment lockers.  A door was in front of them, which is what the two guards must have been watching over.  


    She walked over to the control pad for the door and pushed a button.  The panel let out a beeping noise and the door did not budge.  Raine only had limited knowledge of mechanics and electronics, so she didn't quite know what to do to unlock the door.  She inwardly wished more of her team could operate machines as well as Corin and Celeste.  However, she did have some skills.  This skill, she had learned from Julia.


    Epsilon saw Raine flipping open a panel near the buttons and switches, revealing an assortment of wiring and microchips.  "Raine, what are you doing?  Screwing with the wiring will only make it worse!"


    "No it won't.  I'm going to hot-wire it open."  She replied, using the knife she kept in her boot to remove part of the rubber covering on the wires.  Julia and her two sisters were known around upper-Deling City as the three people that could hot-wire and break into a car in less than a minute.  The staff-user had openly showed Raine the proper way to manipulate a machine's wiring system.


    She looked back and glanced at the two bodies of the guards.  "Would you go ditch those somewhere?  If someone else sees them it isn't going to be any good for us."


    He slung his sniper rifle over his shoulder and grabbed the two guards by their uniform collars, ignoring the foul stench of rotting flesh.  Lifting them up as much as he could, he walked back across the ramp and over to the crate again.  Behind it on the far wall, there was an abandoned office building.  It was most likely vacant for the night, and the bodies would be discovered in the morning.  Epsilon told himself it didn't matter, since they would be long gone by that time.  Pulling the two bodies under the desk, he exited the room and walked back to Raine.


    The Alpha Wolf smiled to herself as she crossed the two correct wires.  The steel door slid open, revealing another part of the base.  She ordered Epsilon to follow her closely and keep quiet.  The two made no sound, not even with their footsteps, as they crept into the next chamber.   It was a circular metal room, with a staircase leading down from the walkway and hugging the wall as it led down to the floor.  The two followed it down to the bottom of the room, where two doors lay claim to the next part of their search.  Strangely, no guards were present in this room.


    I do not like this one tiny bit. Raine thought to herself.  It is far too quiet for my tastes.  If this is supposed to be a base, then why is it so quiet?  We've only seen about ten guard in the whole building, and barely any normal soldiers wandering around.  This is... way to strange.


    Epsilon placed his rifle back in his hands, loading another magazine into it.  He also felt the same way as Raine, and felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up with anxiety.  The two doors at their level were open, and nothing seemed to stop them from making an exit.  They approached the door in front of them, and were about to move on.  However, the door before them slammed shut, lodging itself firmly into the wall and floor.   The two quickly spun around, but froze.


    "Whoa!" Epsilon couldn't help but exclaim. 


    Two creatures stood before them.  Both were human-like in appearance, but had darker skin and more muscled builds.  They held large toothed swords in their hands and sneered at the two of them.  Raine identified them as 'Helian Orcs' a bio-engineered weapon of Helios.  They were formed from fallen Helios soldiers, who were injected with chemicals and other related materials to create the perfect soldier for the military-driven country.  Most often they used firearms, but since they were in close-quarters, they had taken up melee arms instead.  Both classes were dangerous mixed with the Orcs.


    The door they had entered from also shut, leaving them in the circular room which had no turned into an arena.  Four had entered it, but only two would leave.  Raine drew out her katana and prepared for the attack.  The first Orc charged her, and rose it's sword into the air.  Letting out a beastly battle cry, it tried to thrust it's sword into her.  She gracefully spun out of harms way and used the hilt of her katana to bash the Orc in the back of it's head.  As it stumbled forward, she horizontally slashed her blade towards it's head.  It turned around and blocked it with his own weapon.  It charged her once again.


    At the same time, the second Orc rushed Epsilon.  Not a melee user, the sniper couldn't help but feel intimidated by this kind of combat.  He was used to long range engagements, and rarely faced the close-range battle unless it was necessary.  The Orc took a swing at him, slashing it's sword towards his stomach.  The sniper jumped back, missing the hit by less than a few centimeters.  It attacked again, raising the sword over it's head.  It stuck down vertically, aiming for Epsilon's head.  To block, he raised his PSG-1 up and held it horizontally with both hands.  The sword struck the gun instead of it's user.  The two struggled in that position for a moment, seeing which could hold out longer. 


    Epsilon was about to give out, when he slid the gun into a vertical move and elbowed the Orc in the face.  The enemy couldn't react in time, and stumbled backwards to the blow.  It suddenly found itself the victim of another injury, as well.  Epsilon shot off a bullet, and smiled as it lodged itself into the Orc's shoulder.  It howled in pain, but stood back up.  It swung two more times at Epsilon, both missing as the sniper jumped out of harm's way.  He shot again, this time hitting it in the head.  The Orc collapsed on the ground, dead.


    Raine on the other hand, wasn't fairing as well.  Oblivious to her, she found herself trapped in between the wall and the staircase.  The Orc before her was reigning down blows that she was barely blocking.  He was far stronger physically than she was, and Raine found that with each blow, her strength was diminishing.  She felt the strange power she had encountered in Esthar surging through her again.  The Super-Adrenaline power coursed through her and her strength returned.  She used her leg to kick the Orc in the face.  As it stumbled backwards, she kicked it with the same leg, but in the stomach this time.  It fell to the ground with the completion of the kick.  Her katana began to glow blue, as it was charging with unknown power.  It was not a limit, but that strange power she previously felt.


    Before the Orc could move, Raine struck down, stabbing it in the chest.  Her blade sliced through it's steel armor like butter, cutting the heart of the beast as if it were no troublesome task at all.  The energy in the blade dispersed, and began to violently course through the enemy.  It shuddered, than seemed to blast apart almost like it had been caught by an explosion.


    Epsilon ran back to her, and skidded to a halt as he saw her eyes.  They had begun to glow the same unnatural blue they did when she limited in Esthar.  The whites had completely disappeared all together.  She was breathing heavily, as if she was bearing some great load of power.  When she saw his shocked look, she gave him a confused glance.


    "Epsilon?"  She began.  "What's wrong?"


    "U-uh... it's your eyes.  What happened to them?  They're all blue... the white parts are all gone."


    She dropped her jaw and used one of her hands to cover her eyes.  Shutting them fiercely, she tried to suppress the growing power she felt surging through her body.  It seemed it was like a faucet, if she wished for strength all she had to do was allow it to surge.  If she wanted it to stop, all she had to do was calm down and force it to go away.  Or so she had hoped.  When she opened her eyes again, they had returned to their normal color.  Epsilon gave her a concerned look, unsure of what just happened.


    "Raine--?"  He started to say, but she held a hand up to stop him.


    Shaking her head, she simply said, "It's too much to explain.  I don't even know much myself.  Look, when I find out what's happening to me, I'll be sure to tell all of the Pack, okay?  Now come on, we've got someone to kill.  Let's go!"


    Epsilon looked a bit hesitant, still weary of what just happened to Raine.  He eyed her as if she was a kind of wild animal instead of his commanding officer to which he held so much respect for.   That kind of energy was unheard of in battle, and not even a sorceress held so much during combat.  Raine noticed his look, and frowned deeply with hurt.


    "Please... don't look at me like that."  She pleaded with her soldier,  "I'm not going to hurt you.  Now, come on... we need to move."


    Epsilon nodded at last, and began to follow her as she turned to one of the locked doors.  They hadn't opened again after they had slain the two Orcs, so Raine was afraid that she would have to hot-wire them open again.  As she approached the doors, Epsilon silently cursed himself for looking down on Raine in fear.  He felt ashamed of what he had done, especially to a soldier as powerful and noble as Raine.   He hung his head and didn't say another word.


    As Raine flipped open the control panel to the far door, there was a slight scraping sound at the other door.  It was barely audible, so both Wolves paid it little mind.  However, as Raine was about to cross the two proper wires, the second door exploded in an array of orange and red flames.  Five armed soldiers burst into the room and aimed their machine guns at the two.  Raine and Epsilon began to slowly move towards them, evaluating if they could take them or not.  As they did so, the other door slid open and five more guards stormed in.  This group had another person with them, however.

    "Hello,  'Raine' was it?"  Satori said as she approached, two guards following close behind her.  "Now, surely you didn't think sneaking in would be this easy, would it?"


    Raine's lips curled into a sneer as Satori stopped in front of her.  The Estharian general said nothing for a moment, but evaluated Raine's strength.  After her defeats in Esthar, she didn't want to take any more chances with the Alpha Wolf and her soldiers.  She slapped Raine across the left cheek and smiled as a trail of blood started to flow from her lower lip.  Raine huffed at the situation.  Here she was taking a beating, and she couldn't do a thing about it!


    "What, no sassy remarks?"  Satori asked, disappointed.  "Damn, I was hoping you would press me to hurt you more.  Oh well."


    "What do you want from us?" Raine asked, "To kill us?"


    Satori threw back her head and laughed. "Oh, please, Raine you kill me!  Really now, why do you think we allowed you to get this far if all we wanted to do was kill you?  No, Virados has other plans for you."


    "Hmm, clever.  How did he see us coming?"


    Satori laughed again.  "You people are so loud, we could have shot you a mile away.  As much fun as it is to talk with you, I think I had better get on with my orders.  Williams!  Tseng!  Do it!"


    Two of the soldiers came up to Epsilon and Raine, and raised their machine guns.  Before the Wolves could dodge, the butt of their guns crashed into the backs of their skulls.  Raine's vision blurred for a fraction of a second, then she fell to the ground.  Epsilon had already passed out, but somehow, Raine was still conscious.  Satori looked astonished, and ordered another hit.  The second attack from the end of the rifle pushed her into blackness, and she fell down to the floor as she lost her sight and feeling.


    "Take them to Virados, and do not wander!"  Satori ordered, kicking Raine in the gut for good measure.  


    The two guards took them by the arms, and dragged them off to meet the one person they were ordered to kill....



Chapter 16

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