Julia coughed the dust and smoke out of her throat, clearing a pathway for oxygen to get in. She had fallen unconscious for the first couple minutes after impact. After all, who wouldn't? She opened her eyes, still a little dizzy from the crash. The hallway that had once been a bright silver was now tinted orange from the fires that had erupted from the missiles. The light systems were sending sparks flying from the overhead lights into the ground, and aside from the fires, everything was dark. Though the hall was pretty much crushed, she had enough room to stand up and walk around.
She had apparently fallen from the turret, and down into the hallway behind the bridge. A thought struck her. Lilliana was still in the bridge! She called out to the lone pilot, whom she had abandoned in a fit of rage directed at Edea.
"Lilliana?! Lily, can you hear me?" Julia shouted out in the bridge's direction.
A few moments later she got a reply. "I'm here! I'm fine!"
Lilliana opened the doors to the bridge, and stepped out. Her stance wasn't upright, as she now walked with a slight limp due to an accident she had while she fell as the Valhalla crashed. The blonde street fighter smiled as she saw Julia all right, but her face grew more serious.
Julia nodded in agreement. "You head to the lounge. I'll check the turrets to make sure those guys are good. Get everyone by the boarding ramp. We might have to get out quick. Who knows if the fuel lines are damaged or not?"
Lilliana nodded, and the two girls split up. They disappeared into the smoke, heading towards their intended locations. Both had to cover their noses to prevent the smoke from entering their lungs, and the scent of that smoke was almost suffocating.
Julia rushed towards the starboard turrets first, since they were the closest. Zion and Epsilon were on this side, and hopefully both had survived the impact. She rounded the corner, finding the door to Zion's turret opening on its own. The silver door slid back to reveal the gunner, fully intact and healthy. He caught Julia moving with the edge of his vision, and smiled as he saw her all right.
"Julia!" He called, and the two quickly brought each other into a warm embrace. He held her close, afraid of losing her. "You're safe. Thank the gods above."
"Yes, I'm fine." She replied with a smile. "So are you, apparently. How's Kinneas?"
He shook his head. "His door's jammed shut. I'm looking for something to pry it open, but there isn't anything to use. Otherwise, he's fine."
Julia nodded, "Come on, I'll get it open."
The two rushed over to the rear mounted turrets that were half way down the large ship, finding Epsilon's slammed shut and refusing to open. The sniper was hitting the door repeatedly in vain, angry at not being able to find a way out. Julia rushed to the door's side, tearing off the control panel that would open it. Zion raised an eyebrow, not sure at what she was doing. The Mysidian quickly grabbed two wires and split them open with her combat knife. Placing copper wire on copper wire, they sent off a spark, and the door opened in front of her.
Epsilon nearly fell out, but recovered and rushed out before the door could close again. Julia and Zion smiled at their comrade, glad to see him okay. The sniper looked to Julia. "Thanks! What'd you do?"
"Hot-wired it." Julia replied smugly, proud that she had learned how to do that as a youth. If there was one thing being a thief taught her, it was how to hot-wire something that wouldn't start.
Before anyone could say anything else, Lancer rushed around the corner, a small smudge of blood on his forehead. His hair was disheveled and his ice blue eyes were in a panic. The three other gunners rushed over to him, and he motioned for them to follow him.
"Edea's stuck! Come help me! She might bleed to death at this rate!" Lancer yelled, and sprinted back towards Edea's turret.
Zion inwardly cursed himself. The side mounted turrets were positioned under the airship's hull. Anyone trapped in the turret when the came down might have been crushed. He knew once he escaped he should have gone for Edea. His own turret was in rubble, and a large piece of snow covered rock had broken through the glass.
As they ran towards her turret, they saw the door open, but the turret crushed. Edea was inside, trapped between the glass and the metal casing which protected the gunner from bullets. Now it could kill her. Julia darted ahead, worried and angry at herself for getting into an argument earlier. All the hate faded away.
Julia knelt down, and examined the sorceress below her in the turret. The men were now at her side doing the same. Edea's upper section was all right, but stuck between a plank of metal and the gunner's chair, which had protected her from the impact force. Her left leg however, was a different story. A piece of metal had punctured it, and now stuck all the way through Edea's leg, which wouldn't let her move much. Blood was everywhere, and the sorceress was extremely pale.
"Guys! Push that off of her!" She ordered to the men, knowing that her own strength couldn't lift it or help the men in any way. She turned to Edea, who was looking up at her with a confused but grateful glance. Julia took Edea's hand in her own and gripped it tightly.
"You're gonna be fine, Edea!" Julia said with a slight smile. "It'll hurt when it comes out, but once it is out, cast Curaga on yourself to seal the wound. Okay?"
Edea nodded, and the men began to use all their might to heave the metal plate upward. As it began to leave her calf muscle, Edea screamed in pain, and clutched Julia's hand as tightly as she could. Julia winced, but held on to give the sorceress something to release her pain onto. They continued to push the metal out, and Edea still screamed and whimpered, but finally, it was out and Julia pulled her from the wreckage before they had to let go.
Once she was free, the men dropped the metal and began to gasp for air. Between the three of them, they must have lifted at least 500 pounds of that metal. Edea quickly used what mana reserves she had left and casted a Curaga on herself, sealing the wound and preventing it from bleeding anymore. She wouldn't be able to walk properly until the other white mages healed her more, but now it was enough to get her from passing out from blood loss.
"Lancer, pick Edea up. We're meeting at the boarding ramp. It's not safe inside the ship anymore." Julia ordered. The blue mage picked Edea up, much like he had with Celeste back in the Helios military base.
The gunners rushed towards the ramp, and caught sight of the other Wolves ahead of them. Raine heard them behind her and turned back. She caught sight of Julia and called out to her.
"Heartilly! Are you guys okay?!" Raine yelled, worry in every part of the question.
"Edea's leg is torn up, but otherwise we're fine. Let's get the hell out of here!" Julia said, pressing the button on the boarding ramp panel as she neared her. The ramp slowly descended down with a grinding sound.
The rest of the Wolves appeared with Lilliana behind Raine, who had gone ahead. Most began to inspect Edea, who shooed them all away with a hand motion, not wanted to be examined until she was outside. Once the ramp was down, the team ran down until they were on the ground.
The weather was surprisingly good for Trabia. There was no wind, and it was sunny outside. As they grouped together near a mass of rocks, Lancer set Edea down on the ground. Andraia and Lilliana naturally came over, and began sending high powered Curagas into Edea's wound to attempt to grow back muscle tissue. As they were doing this the rest of the team circled around them, trying to come up with a plan.
"Helios City is still a day's hike away from here." Raine informed. "We'll be out in the open, against a snowy white background. It's not going to be easy. Were too far away from any outskirt towns to sneak in like we did last time, too."
"We'll have to brave the plains and go in that way." Zion added. "There's no other way."
Celeste nodded in agreement, as did the others following suit. Raine sighed. "This is going to be much harder now. Okay, Dincht and Caraway, I want you two to scout to the west for any inbound enemies. They might try to follow us to make sure we're dead. Heartilly, you come with me to the east."
"Right!" The three replied, nodding. They assembled into their teams.
Raine gave out more instruction none the less. "Trepe, see if you can't salvage some rations from the Valhalla. Or whatever else we might need. Navradski and Frieda, you work on getting Edea back on her feet and ready to fight. Kinneas, you're on look out duty. Everyone meet back here in fifteen minutes."
Before they left however, Julia approached Edea when everyone else was getting ready. She had a genuine look of guilt in her eyes, and the sorceress countered her look with one of her own. "Hey, Edea.... I'm uh... well, you know..."
"Sorry?" Edea suggested, slightly smirking.
"Yeah, that." Julia said. "I am sorry. I said things I shouldn't have. We got out of hand in there."
Edea nodded, and reached up to hug the younger girl. "I'm sorry too. I struck some cords I wasn't supposed to. Forgive me."
"Already forgotten." Julia replied, hugging Edea back. "I've got to go. Talk to you later."
"See you around, psycho." Edea said, pushed Julia by the head back towards Raine, who gave the two an odd look.
"Aww! They made up!" Andraia shouted from behind Julia and Edea.
"Up yours!" Julia shouted back. Edea just ignored the both of them as Andraia playfully flipped Julia off as the Mysidian left.
"Gods, we're such a friendly, happy group of people..." Edea grumbled from where she sat.
The others nodded in acknowledgement, and the scouting groups began their hike through the snowy plains. Edea watched them go, each group walking off into the distance. She inwardly hoped that Helios wouldn't be smart enough to send out ground forces along with those fighter craft.
Raine and Julia walked silently side-by-side in the frigid Trabian plains. Luckily the monsters didn't like to roam during this time of the day, and the only movement other than themselves would be from inbound enemies. They hoped they wouldn't find any battles out there in the cold, but the though always entered their minds. As Julia looked to Raine and examined her face, she saw a jumble of emotions. Fear as to what had just happened, relief that none of them were dead, and a remaining anger towards herself and Edea for acting so childish earlier.
"We don't mean to act the way we do."
Raine's answer was short and clipped, which led Julia to believe she didn't want the subject brought back up again. She felt it was time to close it though. "We made up, we're all better now. No more fighting."
"Well... you've both said that before, but for now it will do." Raine replied. "Oh... you're the Tyraduna, right?"
"Where did that come from?" Julia asked, raising an eyebrow. "Yeah... so?"
"You should learn how to go into the trance. You probably have unique skills compared with mine." Raine informed. "Being half-Hyne and all, I would think you've got some pretty killer power reserves. When you feel that weird surge of adrenaline, just let it take over, and you'll go into a trance. You'll know when you are because your flesh will slowly repair itself and power will crackle like electricity from one part of your body to another."
"Cool." Julia replied, then began to joke with her commander. "Can't wait. It's about time I learned something useful, huh?"
"No kidding." Raine joked back, slightly and playfully shoving Julia to the side.
"Hey, now who's fighting?" Julia laughed.
"Shut up, that's who."
"Shut up isn't a pers---" Julia began to say, but then jumped down to the ground with Raine as gunfire shot in their direction. "Shit!"
There was a group ahead of them, which Raine guessed were Helios special ops. soldiers just like themselves. There were five of them, and what appeared to be a very large and angry Snow Lion beast. That would pose a problem. Julia looked from Raine to the group and back again.
"No time to get the guys, huh?"
"Nope, we take them on right here and now." Raine replied, drawing out Ultima Blade. Julia followed her example and took out her staff and extended the deadly blades on the end. Julia nodded after a moment, and the two waited for the enemy group to draw near.
"Would you like me to cover you?" Raine asked, before getting up.
"Why? There are only five of them." Julia replied with a smirk.
Raine immediately went into a Shaduna trance, and cyan colored power sparkling like electricity began to flow around her body. Julia faltered for a moment, but let her own power grow in power before attempting her own trance. Crimson red power swarmed around her once she was able to go into the trance, and her eyes turned a blood red color. She hesitated for a moment, getting used to the amazing feeling of strength the trance gave her. When Raine shot up from her prone position, Julia did as well.
The five Helios soldiers shot forward and began to charge them, weaponry drawn. The Snow Lion was too slow, and hung behind them all. Julia darted ahead, possessing a tremendous new amount of speed within her power surge. Raine tried to keep up, but to no avail. She watched as Julia flipped into the air, at a height that no ordinary human could achieve, and spread her angelic wings.
The five soldiers on the ground skidded to a halt to look at her in wonder, and she flapped her wings to stay ten feet above them. She charged a Fira spell, and shot it towards the first soldier. He tried to run, as the others screamed, but was burned by it. He fell to the ground dead. Now, Raine was close to them, and she charged the next two on the ground. She stabbed the first before he knew what hit him. The second tried to attack, but Raine pivoted out of the way and slashed her across the back, sending her falling to the ground. The remaining two soldiers, knowing they couldn't run away, had no choice but to attack.
The first assaulted Raine, who easily backed out of the way, and charged her sword with power. The now cyan colored blade shot up, performing an uppercut swipe, slicing apart the enemy's jaw. The second went after Julia, by shooting off a round of his machine gun. She easily flew out harms way and flipped in the air again, descending a few feet. She used her bladed staff to attack from above as he reloaded, and it punctured his throat when she attacked, filling it with her own energy.
Now the Snow Lion had caught up with them. This would be harder. Snow Lions were very tough monsters to battle. It roared at them in warning, but the two women advanced on it. Julia shot back above, and the lion took the time to swipe at Raine. Raine, slower than Julia was, barely leapt out of the way in time. She counter-attacked, jumping up and striking the beast on the shoulder. She flipped back out of the way so it couldn't attack her again.
Julia, above them, shot a Firaga down to the monster, burning through some of its tough skin. It countered by shooting a powerful Blizzaga back at her, sending an ice javelin in her direction. She closed her wings and dropped to the ground, out of the path of the magic. Now, both side-by-side, Raine and Julia split up on the ground and ran to either side of the massive beast. It chose to follow Julia rather than Raine.
It swiped both claws at the Mysidian, who flipped into the air and jumped out of the way. She landed gracefully a few feet away, and charged the beast with her staff. She stabbed it head on, and it howled in pain. Raine, behind it, jumped into the air and brought her blade down vertically, performing a low powered Dragon's Fang move. Ultima Blade struck the base of it's tail, and the beast turned swiftly to attack Raine.
As it turned, it's tail nearly knocked Julia down. She back-flipped at the last second to avoid it, and it nearly hit her, missing by an inch. Raine didn't have time to move before the claw was brought down on her head. Raine fell to the ground, her spare hand clutching the side of her forehead. The lion bent down to strike with its mouth but Raine got up and leapt out of the way. Julia, behind the beast, grew furious.
She took off into the air again, her wings saturated with energy, and she knew that she had a limit break waiting. She brought her hands skyward, and they filled with crimson power. She shot it down onto the beast, and it split into five lines. They intersected each other, forming a perfect star if seen from above. The star of energy exploded outward, and burst into flames. It wreathed the lion in fire, and the attack lasted several seconds of agonizing pain. Julia's new limit break, Flame Star, had nearly incinerated the beast.
Raine decided to finish it off, seeing it still moving despite Julia's attack. She leapt on top of it, having to boost herself up against the actual beast, who growled in annoyance. Once on it's back, Raine used Ultima Blade to strike repeatedly with her power enriched sword. Stabbing several dozen times, then slashing powerfully a few more, she finally finished it off with one death blow. She raised her sword in the air, and brought it down right into the beast's skull. It went in, and the monster fell to the ground dead.
Raine jumped off afterwards, Julia hovering a few feet above her. The Mysidian couldn't help but comment. "Wow. You weren't kidding when you said power. I've never felt that way before. And you! You annihilated that thing!"
"Only because you blew the crap out of it first. You finally have a limit break. Good." Raine replied, then noticed Julia still flapping her wings above her.
Raine grabbed Julia by the calf of her leg, and drug her down to the ground. Julia retracted her wings and let them vanish behind her again. Raine spoke again. "Come on, I don't see anymore of 'em. Let's get back to the others. Time's up."
Julia nodded, and followed Raine back to the distant Valhalla.
"Everyone up! Let's go!" Raine ordered, coming into hearing range. "Is Edea good to go?"
"Roger!" Andraia called back, "We're all ready. The guys are back now, too! They found a small group and killed them."
"Trepe! What did you salvage?" Raine asked, more quietly now that she was closer.
"Rations for two days, a few flashlights, and an emergency distress beacon. It's not much, but it should be enough." Celeste informed, the supplies in a bag that hung over her shoulder.
Zion seemed to have found something off a Helian he had killed. He had found a laser gunarm, which were more common in Helios than in Galbadia. He smiled as it was a perfect fit over his right arm. Raine looked at it, and had to ask.
"Does that have a good amount of ammo in it?" She asked, looking at it curiously.
"Unlimited amounts!" Zion said cheerfully, smiling. "It's run off of a plasma core. It recharges by itself. I just have to stop using it for about 30 seconds while it cools and reloads itself. Sweet, huh?"
Julia frowned, "Aw... sweetie! You didn't find me a grenade launcher out there?"
Zion put his arm around her, "Sorry, Julia. Guess you'll have to make due without your 'precious baby' for a while."
"All right, team! This is it, we're moving out! Virados is only a day away!" Raine said joyfully. "There's no turning back now!"
"Yeah!!" They all called back with eagerness in their voices. They had been waiting for this, and it would finally come.
Raine turned northeast, towards Helios City. Setting off at a quick pace, should could barely contain her excitement and it left a smile on her face. Though it would be deadly and dangerous, she would finally have her revenge. She only hoped they could stop Virados' plan to open the gates, and let the Mysidian armies pour back into the world of Terra, which had long ago been liberated from Hyne's tyranny. She didn't want to face a second Centran War anytime soon.