The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter IV
"Raine!! Help! Son of
a *****! Stupid *******!!! Damned mother
******!!!" Corin Dincht
trying to play Super Mario Bros.
Edea stepped off of the silver
train and onto the hard, crusty earth of Esthar's outer-rim territories.
The air was stale, and nothing appeared to be able to grow in such an
area. There were no signs of any animals, outside of the run-of-the-mill
monsters like Mesmerizes, Ochus and whatnot. Wind whipped Edea's French
braided black hair as the others passed her as they disembarked from the
train. The mountains were high above the valley they were in, but
she could make out a steep crater like lake bed a few miles away, which was
probably Salt Lake. Esthar would lie just beyond.
Andraia exhaled loudly and fiddled
with her hair for a moment, "Now what? Everyone else on the train
got off in Fisherman's Horizon. The train engineer thought we were crazy
for getting off here!"
Julia scoffed and put her hands in
the pockets of her leather coat, trying to warm them, "I think he
Raine flipped a compass out from her
backpack and looked at it for a moment, trying to remember which direction
Esthar's entrance gate was in. She put the compass away after she was
done and adjusted the belts that hung across her waist and held her katana and
pistol under her trench coat. She stretched out her back for a moment,
her muscles sore from sitting so much on the train.
Zion looked to Raine to see what the team
was going to do now, "All right Major, now what?"
"We hike East until we reach the
lake bed. We then go through that, and on the other side there should be
a hologram wall. There's a ladder there somewhere, and we enter the city
from there," she said, straightening her coat out, which had been ruffled
from her crouching down for the compass.
Andraia stood on her tiptoes and looked
out over the horizon to see the decline in height that was the lake bed
itself. She glared from Raine to the lake a few times then put her
hands on her hips, "Are you nuts?! That's like, gotta be at
least eight miles!"
"C'mon," Epsilon started,
"We ran at least that much during Special Ops. Boot Camp! Besides, I
hear there are some good looking girls in Esthar! I'll race all the guys
"You're on!!" Corin
shouted, receiving exasperated looks from both Lilliana and the rest of the
girls. Lancer and Zion followed behind the other two men, and were
quickly trailed by the females.
After a few minutes of sprinting
through the Estharian wilderness, Corin and Epsilon eventually returned to the
main group in case of an attack by a beast or Esthar battle group.
The team had sparked into lively conversations that had nothing to do with the
mission, but which were more what you'd hear out of civilians that were bored
over the weekend and the like. However, despite how much fun her
friends and soldiers were having, Raine couldn't help but shake that ominous
feeling she had been having ever since the team had left the base in
Deling City. She felt that this mission was going to be much larger
than it had sounded in the briefing room, and she hoped Edea had been wrong when
she said the Raine had a keen sense of foreseeing the future, even if it was a
Lancer put his hands in his coat
pockets as he walked. He had been here a time or two before, but never
passed the Salt Flats. As a mercenary, he had been hired by Galbadia a
number of times, but none of his missions had gone passed the point Wolf Pack
was at now. He came here a few years ago, when he was in his
mid-teens, when the war had just started for the first time. Funny how it
had now seemed like a way of life for the people who lived on the planet Terra,
how their life was now engulfed by nothing but war and torment. And he
had seen so much of it since then. Celeste noticed the distraught
on his face, and the two hung back until the rest of the team was a fair
distance ahead of them.
"Are you all right? You
look a little uncomfortable," she said, stepping a bit closer to him with
He looked up from the ground to her
face, "Yeah, just a bad memory or two. You don't have to worry
"Au Contraire," she said
with a smile, fingering the whip which was tied around her waist, "I worry
about everyone. Personality trait of mine."
He chuckled a bit, and returned the
smile, "Thanks for your concern, but it's nothing really. Now come
on, we keep talking like this we're going to get left behind."
Raine waved to them from the main
group, telling them to hurry up and follow their lead. The two
blondes jogged from their location to the direction the group was heading
in. In a few moments they caught up, Lancer into the group the guys
had massed in, and Celeste back into the girls. She shrugged off a mischievous
look Julia had given her for talking with Lancer in private and told the
brunette to mind her own business. There was still a long way to
go, and the sun was starting to set over the mountainous horizon.
Finally, after an hour of hiking
through the drought-like lands of the Estharian outskirts, the Salt Flats were
finally upon them. The land in the lake bed looked like a form of
winter ice, but Edea probably guessed it was just from Esthar's experiments and
chemical dumps. There was a blue tint to the ground, which made it
more visually appealing compared to the rest of the rocky terrain around
it. It was a few hundred feet below sea level, and the path to the other
side was long and curved. Corin groaned with the uncomforted feeling in
his legs, sore from the previous hike and the battle only a day and a half
"Has anyone noted that my legs
are sore?!" Andraia hollered out, breaking the silence, "Specifically
aided by the fact we've killed about a trillion Mesmerizes in the past
"Boot camp was so
kind," Corin whined, "I think I miss my Drill Sergeant."
"Ha, the boy finally lost
it." Julia said, "Come on Dincht, Raine and I are tiny little
women and we aren't tired. Don't be a wuss, get down there and start
moving your lazy ass."
One by one they slid down the side
of the Flats into the main area that they would take into Esthar. The
terrain was rockier than it looked, and was hard as stone. The path
ahead narrowed as ice like cliffs encased the walkway, allowing only one person
to pass through at a time. Raine guessed the total distance to the
other side was four miles. She thought they would be lucky to get into
Esthar by midnight, but it had to be done, they didn't have a tent to camp the
night in. They set out as soon as they all made it down.
"That's it, someone carry
me!" Andraia whined loudly, "I give up, and so do my
Epsilon motioned that he was about
to pick her up and throw her over his shoulder, but Andraia slapped him away,
"Not you, skirt chaser!"
"Hey! She found out my
nickname in High School!" Epsilon said with a smile, "And to think it
would have died out!"
Lilliana shook her head at the
usual antics of the Pack when they had to hike over long distances. But
she understood how Andraia felt, for she too had sore legs and was hoping
they'd get to Esthar soon so they could rest. She slid down a steep
decline in the earth as the others did and jumped over a small crevasse that
awaited them at the end of the slide. As she came down, she noted
how long the path ahead really was. At least a good four miles across,
there were several drop offs and cliffs that stood in there way. Another
thing she noticed, and Abadon stomped through the area that was by the end of
the path. Great she thought, now we have to kill what's already
Half way through, Raine
noticed the beast as well, and decided to take another route to the end.
To their luck, it appeared shorter than the one they were previously on
before. The only problem was that there was an Estharian garrison of
at least eight soldiers guarding the way into the high-tech city
beyond. By now, the team could easily see the hologram system
flickering, giving away what it should have been masking from the
world. Seeing the soldiers ahead, Raine quickly assembled the team
and hid the group behind an outcropping of blue-silver rocks that was just
behind them. On instinct, the group drew out and assembled their
"Wait a minute!"
Raine said, hushed. "We can knock them out and use their armor to
infiltrate the city easier!"
"And just how do you expect us
to do that?!" Andraia whined, still sore from the physical exertion
the team was going through, "They're all men! We have a few females
in this group who would not be comfortable wearing men's clothing! Our
fronts would be in tremendous pain!"
"Yeah... well, inhale
then." Raine responded, gripping her katana a bit tighter. She was
starting to get annoyed with Andraia's whiny behavior.
Celeste interjected, "How are we going to knock out the soldiers without
slicing up the armor?"
Raine thought for a moment.
She figured she could send Corin and Lily in, since their weapons didn't cause
any scratches or scars (but only if Lily retracted her claws and used the
gloves as knuckles instead). Maybe send in Andraia and Edea in for
curative purposes, so the two wouldn't feel so intimidated, since they would
have been outnumbered four-to-one. She felt that that was too
dangerous, and didn't want to put any of her team members in that kind of
situation. Most commanding officers treated this like business, and
didn't care if members fell in battle, but to Raine, these soldiers were like
close family members. Instead, she remember how in high school she
and Julia had pried information out of a guy official for Edea once.
The Alpha Wolf smiled one of
the most evil smiles she had in a long, long time.....
"Oh Julia?" Raine called,
"I have a plan...."
Julia walked down the steep path
that led to the Estharian soldiers. She was walking a bit....
differently. She was swaying her hips a little more than she normally
would, and had Celeste's whip dangling around her arms and waist like an
inanimate snake of sorts. Her eyes were lazily half-closed, and had her
shoulders more limp than usual. When she wasn't that far off, she put her
hand to her lips and let out a sharp whistle. On instant, the eight
guards jumped to attention, their Boomerang Swords raised in an attack
stance. That is... until they saw her. Most stared at
her, and Julia would have just loved to see their faces had they not been
covered with those ugly helmets.
One soldier, presumably the leader
of the group, stepped forward, "Halt! Estharian citizens have not
been cleared to go passed here. Please present your identification card
and we will escort you back to the city!"
Julia raised an eyebrow and smiled
seductively, "Yes, I'm just sure you guys would love to 'escort' me
back to the city. Would you help me with something... over there?"
"Heh heh... sure we'd love to
help you, Miss," one of the others replied for the group, who
nodded in agreement. If Julia wasn't so good at maintaining her fake
persona at the moment, she would have burst out laughing at this
point. But... she would have to kill Raine once this was over.
prompted, "It's not like I'll bite. Or at least... not if you don't
want me to." God that was corny.... Julia thought to
herself. But the Estharians seemed to like that phrase more than the
things she had already said.
...........Back in the rocks
"Raine Elise Leonhart, you
should be ashamed of yourself!!" Edea yelled in a hushed voice to
the Commander, who was laughing softly a few feet away.
Raine stopped sniggering for a
moment, "What? Come on Edea, she's good at this! Just look at those
guys follow her around. Besides, it's not like you didn't find this
funny when we did it in high school!"
"Yeah well, as I recall you
were with her when that happened."
"And embarrass myself in front
of my soldiers? Ha."
"Get ready," Corin
warned, "She's bringing them up here now! Time for the good ole fist
said, suddenly growing serious, "We knock them out. No damages
to the uniforms, attack with your fists only!"
........ to Julia
"Just a bit further guys, and
I'll show you all you want to see..." She said in her fake airy
voice, a hint of exasperation in her voice. The soldiers behind her were
getting a little impatient and whiney, and were starting to annoy her greatly.
She jumped up onto one of the rocks
above, which led to where Raine and the rest of the Wolves were waiting.
This kind of tactic gave the group its name. Luring the enemy into a trap
and attacking from all sides, like a pack of wild wolves. The team would
attack from the sides and front, leaving Julia to attack from
behind. She checked to make sure the soldiers were following
her closely, which they were. She stopped for a moment, to see if
the team was waiting up ahead. When she saw a hand come out from the
rocks and give her a thumbs up, she smiled.
"All right boys, let's go into
this rocky area. It should provide good... cover," Julia said, hands
on her hips, and nodded towards the ambush site.
soldiers quickly ran up ahead in front of her, some jumping up and down with
uncontrollable happiness. A few were about ready to shed their
uniforms when a shrill whistle caught them off guard. On instant, Raine
and the others jumped out from the rocks, their fists and feet flying into the
soldiers vital areas. Corin was of course doing the most damage
along with Lilliana, since the two were experienced fist fighters.
Julia used one of her pointed boots to roundhouse kick one of the soldiers in
the back of the neck where the spine meets the skull to send one of the
Estharians falling unconscious to the ground. Andraia simply
resorted to grabbing a big rock and slamming it over one of their heads.
The rest relied on simple punches to knock out the enemy.
By the time they finished their
deadly assault, none of the soldiers were awake or aware of their
situation. Zion went to his black backpack and took out a few
strands of rope that he had brought for just such an occasion. With
Epsilon's help, once the soldiers were stripped of their armor, they tied the
Estharians tightly against one of the large rock outcroppings in the
area. They had a feeling the guards would be stuck there for quite some
time. Lily just hoped someone would find them before they
dehydrated or starved to death.
Edea arranged the uniforms out
in the crystalline ground according to size. Since there were only eight
suits, two of them would have to go without, and it would be determined by the
height of the Wolf that got into it. Basically, if you were one of
the two people who would fit in the suits, you'd have to go in
normally. Andraia raised her hands in protest towards Raine.
"You mean we have to
wear these uniforms? What if they're too small? Or what if they're itchy?!"
she said, accenting that she didn't want to itch during the trip.
"Well, you won't wear one
then. I'm not going to force you," Raine said, pulling her coat over
her katana. "Besides, we're two short anyway.
Okay.... these suit were tall and fairly muscular, so we'll give them to
Zion and Corin. These two were tall and thin, so Lancer and Epsilon get
them. The next four are medium height and standard
build. That applies to all the girls.... except of course Andraia
who isn't going to wear one. Who will give theirs up?"
Lilliana raised her hand,
"I'll go without. It's not that big of a deal. I'm good at being
"Okay then," Raine
said, "Pick a suit and just wear it over your own clothing. We'll
get out of it as soon as we check into a hotel for the night."
"Oh, I can't wait until
sleep! I really need to be unconscious right now!"
Andraia said, exhaling harshly, yet smiling at the same time.
Each soldier pulled on the
Estharian armor, shoving any coats or whatnot into their backpacks until they
reached a hotel once they got to the main part of the city. The male
Wolves seemed to have no problem with their armor, in fact it almost fit them
perfectly (Epsilon was too tall for his). However, the girls, who
were wearing male armor seemed to have a little difficulty. Each
girl groaned in pain and the breastplate of the Estharian armor closed,
squishing the girls chests into a much smaller space then they were used
too. As the team began to ascend up a steep path towards the
entrance ladder, Celeste and Edea could be heard quietly whining with each step
Andraia giggled, "Now
I'm really glad I'm not in one of those tin can suits."
Lilliana nodded in agreement and
smiled at the currently injured women, who, if they could see through their
helmets, were glaring in jealousy. The team had climbed a great
distance up the path now, and the ladder was in sight. Of course it was
flickering in the glitches of the Esthar Hologram System, but it was still
clearly visible to anyone who knew about it's existence. Raine was
about to say something to the group, to brief them, until Julia fell backwards
and crashed into her. Raine was able to catch the brunette before
she hit the ground. Her sapphire eyes clouded in worry.
"Caraway! Get this
helmet off!" Raine ordered, setting Julia down on her back against the
Zion quickly bent down and detached
the helmet from Julia's head, letting her brown hair fall back down around her
armor plated shoulders. Julia's eyes were closed, but she was
breathing normally. Celeste checked her pulse to make sure it was
alright, which it was.
Edea looked to Raine,
"It's not high enough for elevation sickness... she just must of fainted
out of fatigue."
"No," Raine responded,
"She's never acted tired before, not even during the really challenging
missions. I guess... we just have to wait and see what's going to
For the first time on the mission,
Raine didn't know what to do. She didn't like this feeling.
Worry for Julia combined with a sort of unknowing feeling on what was going on
made her feel completely helpless. But, she set that aside to try and
help Julia. She was her best friend, and wasn't going to let worry
or fear, if that's what it was, get in the way of aiding her back to recovery.