Chapter X

Jesse sighed and kicked the nearby wall lightly with his boot. An hour of searching and there had been no other enemies found. Celeste had radioed in a few minutes ago, saying she had found the missile bay and the objectives, yet he was still searching for any signs of life. The sniper group had long since left Jesse's presence and had begun to search themselves, leaving the top floor to his team. The snipers had gone down to the ground level, where Celeste's team had previously been.

Icelina and Lilliana were deathly quiet behind him, yet Corin was just as on edge as Jesse was. The brawler groaned. "Man! Nothing here. Absolutely nothing! How about we just go cover Celeste's group instead of walking around in circles up here?"

Jesse gritted his teeth, "Already asked Heartilly that very same thing. She said to stay up here, so that each team is covering a level."

"She found Satori down there, didn't she?" Lilliana asked curiously, speaking for the first time in minutes.

"Yeah, why?" Jesse asked, shooting her a look.

"Nothing. I just sort of feel like I want to go after Satori. I think all the Wolves do. We sort of have a history with her. We fought her on and off during the war." Lilliana replied.

"Wasn't she that woman who tried to capture Julia, but ended up having to let the senator Virados do it instead?" Icelina asked, as she rested against the far wall of the hallway they stood in.

Corin nodded. "Yup."

"Oh." Jesse said shortly. Then his eyes darkened a bit, and he shut off his headset. "Hey, I've been meaning to ask you Wolves something. What's up with Heartilly? She seems different than she was during the war. Did something happen we Excaliburs don't know about?"

Corin gave him a stern gaze, but Lilliana actually replied. "Yes, something happened. But it's none of your business."

"'It's none of my business!'" Jesse mocked. "What are we, in junior high? If it's a security threat, we need to know about it!"

"She's not a security threat, and what we learned doesn't have anything to do with... well, anything on Terra." Corin responded. "The crisis was stopped, and that's all that matters. Julia's more quiet and dark than she was only because Raine died. She misses her. That's it."

Icelina was quiet for a few moments, then softly spoke. "How did Leonhart die, anyway? We didn't see the report, we only heard that she was killed."

Lilliana's head fell, remembering the instant she found out that the Alpha Wolf had died.

"She, uh... was murdered during the second Winhill Massacre." Lilliana informed, her eyes moistening but not tearing. "She had been fighting off two Estharian battalions, and was winning. But, something went wrong and she was shot in the spine by a sniper. Then, someone stabbed her and left, leaving her for dead. Heartilly came a bit later, but it was already too late."

Raine taken out by some ragged Estharian foot soldier... no way. Jesse thought to himself, as the four soldiers were now dead silent after Lilliana's description. I don't like it.

Jesse sighed, and turned away from the group. "Come on. Let's go on another patrol."

"Again..." Corin whined. "I'm starting to loose sight of the point of a patrol."

"Quiet!" Jesse hushed.

"I was just being sarcastic!" Corin said defensively. "Calm down, man!"

"No, not that! Shut up, dick-face, I hear something!" Jesse yelled back, agitated.

Corin silenced himself, though he didn't like the tone of Jesse's voice very much. He sighed and crossed his arms, straining his hearing to see if he could pick up whatever it was that Jesse had heard during the conversation. What the hell is that idiot talking about... I don't hear nothin'!

Jesse raised his head at the slight sound of something. Icelina and Lilliana heard it this time too, Icelina drawing out her gun and Lilliana extending the claws to her battle gauntlets. Corin shrugged, not having as good hearing as the other three. A soft thump came from down the hall, though as Jesse looked, nothing was to be found.

"What the hell is making that noise?" Jesse asked to no one in particular. Corin finally caught on, and heard it as well.

They watched the hall intently for a moment, still not seeing any movement what so ever. Jesse shook his head. Damn it! I'm hearing things. I could've sworn something was down there making noise....

Lilliana screamed as the ceiling burst open, and two very large dark beings that were definitely not human landed in front of the team. They were humanoid, two legs and a pair of arms, yet their skin was solid black and covered with scales rather than flesh. Their eyes were neon green, which seemed impossible. Fangs extended from their mouths, and their jaws were heavy-set.

The two demon like being let out a deafening howl, and rushed the four soldiers before them. Icelina fired rounds from her gun at them, all the while back peddling in order to stay out of their range. Sadly, her bullets merely deflected off of the scales of the beasts, not causing them any pain.

One of the beast swiped his muscled arm at Jesse, who wasn't able to duck out of the way in time. The Excalibur leader was tossed like a rag doll into the far wall, a small trickled of blood spilling from his elbow where he hit. Jesse groaned slightly, but drew out his machete in place of his missing Hyperion blade. He rushed the demon, slashing out wildly.

Jesse and Lilliana both attacked it, both angry at the fact that the one beast they were assaulting was dodging every single one of their moves. It jumped back, and a wave of lightning hit both of them square in the chest. They few back, landing on their backs, and skidded along the ground until friction stopped them.

Damn it! Corin thought to himself, debating on whether or not he should attack the thing himself. Icelina and he were still standing a ways off, Icelina shooting the beasts once or twice with her gun.

Then, as the first beast raised it's hand to strike at Corin, a powerful blast caught it. It's hand splintered open, and blasted apart as a bullet with enough force to shoot through concrete passed through it. Epsilon held the demon in his sniper rifle's sights, ready to shoot another bullet at it.

"Epsilon!" Icelina called, unsure how his team showed up at the correct moment.

Epsilon and Jun had their rifles pointed at both humanoid monsters, and Aaron stood behind, his twin handguns drawn. The first demon clutched the remains of it's left claw with it's other hand, groaning slightly. It leapt up, running along the ceiling and the wall, pouncing on Epsilon in a matter of seconds.

Lilliana, seeing no other choice, opted for her own demonic solution. Ifrit!! I know you're still shaken up from the thing that happened a while ago, but for the love of Shajuk, help Epsilon!! Kill that thing!

As you wish... my mistress.
A dark, growling voice answered back.

Fire erupted from the walls, rushing in to form a portal of flame and heat. From within this blaze, out stepped a tall, muscle bound wielder of flame, his horns darting behind his head. Fangs showed themselves as he roared at the two dark demons before him, startling them slightly. The first leapt off Epsilon, and turned it's gaze to Ifrit.

The fire demon roared loudly and flames formed around his fists. He rushed the two demons, who also began to run towards him. The second demon leapt up onto the ceiling, running on all four limbs, while the other sprinted at him on the ground. Ifrit flung a fireball at the one on the ceiling, tossing him off and onto the floor.

The first demon jumped to attack Ifrit, yet the fire deity sunk his claws into it's side. It howled in pain, and then was successful in reaching down and biting the fire demon on the shoulder. Ifrit roared again, flinging the lesser demon into the wall. While that demon hit the wall, the other got up after being hit with the fireball.

It spread it's leathery dragon-like wings and leapt into the air, flinging a lightning cloud at Ifrit. Ifrit grunted as the magic hit him, surging through his body, yet he simply growled and flung another fireball into the demon's face. This time, the heat caused the demon's cranium to explode, leaving the beast a bloody pulp on the floor.

As for the last one, Epsilon finished it off. He used one of his last bullets to shoot it in the chest, and the bullet blasted it's way through the solid ribcage and into the heart. The demon howled for a moment, then fell on it's side and died. Lilliana called Ifrit back, having the demon disappear into another flame wall. She thanked him quickly.

"What in hell were those damned things?!" Jesse shouted, walking back to the group.

"I have no idea...." Jun muttered. "I've never seen a beast like that before. Not in Galbadia's files, nor in the field.... nothing."

"They looked almost human, were it not for the wings and the jet black scales." Lilliana replied. "And of course the neon green eyes. We should report this. Jesse, Epsilon? Which one of you wants to do it?"

The two squad leaders looked at each other for a moment, but Jesse put a hand on his headset. "I'll do it."


Julia looked around the new rooms quickly, angry at the fact that she had lost sight of the Estharian general she and her team had been tracking for a good while. She crossed her arms and tapped a frustrated finger on her bladed staff which rested on her back. She stopped walking for a moment, trying to use her other senses to get a trace of her. Scent and hearing proved to be useless, as the room was silent and all she could smell were the two Wolves standing on either side of her.

Damn it, where the hell did she go?! She thought angrily.

"Satori is gone. I can't sense her anywhere. I could before." Edea commented, also looking around aimlessly.

"Yeah, me too."

Zion rolled his eyes. "You magic sensitive people. I feel completely left out, not being able to sense anything or cast giant spells just to destroy some poor creature."

Julia punched him lightly on the should. "Aw, don't worry about it. I'll destroy enough for the both of us."

Zion smiled and laughed slightly, then turned serious. "But, really though, what are we going to do about Satori? Should we just let her go for now and try to find her later? We could be guarding Celeste's team at the moment, they're disarming the nukes after all."

"Hmm.... yeah, I guess." Julia mumbled, turning around to walk back towards the missile bay.

That was when something caught her nose. She took a long inhale of the air, scrunching her nose up at the awful smell emanating from some area near their current location. The smell was very familiar to her, as she has been around it most of her lifetime. She turned back around, leaving the others to give her a confused glance.

"What is wrong?" Edea asked.

"Boss! Come back, we have new developments!" Jesse's voice boomed over the radio.

Damn it, of all times! Julia hit her headset. "What is it?"

"Some weird ass monster-demon things just attacked us! We had no alternative than to let Ifrit rip 'em apart. They look kinda human like... but definitely haven't ever been seen before. They're some new species or something...." Jesse replied.

"New species... human like? Whatever, Lancer is the expert on monsters, you should ask him. If you see anymore, kick they're asses using Ifrit or some other summon again." Julia replied, walking in the direction of the smell.

"Right. Over and out." Jesse replied, shutting off his radio.

"What is it that's bothering you, Heartilly?" Edea asked again, following the grenadier into one of the hallways.

"I smell blood. Lots of it." Julia replied quickly, drawing out her bladed staff just in case.

"What?" Zion muttered to himself quietly, getting out his own gun and quickly running after the two women who had charged in front of him.

Julia darted into one of the rooms in the hallway, stopping once she reached the doorway. It was some sort of storage or locker room, blood drenching anything in the area. It had been dragged up onto the white walls, and corpses of both Galbadians and Estharians littered the floor. Edea turned away, disgusted, but Julia did not. And for that she was thankful. She noticed one of them was moving slightly, and it was Galbadian.

It's Gabriel! The leader of the Smoke Panthers! Julia recognized, rushing over to his side. Zion and Edea followed, Edea seeing if she could heal him or not.

He is barely moving.... and barely conscious. Edea thought. He is too far gone, I cannot heal him any longer. Damn it.

"Heartilly!" Gabriel wheezed out, blood in his throat causing his voice to be unusual. "You're here? ....How?"

"Doesn't matter! What the hell happened to you and the others!?" Julia asked, a little too loudly and angrily.

He took in a sharp inhale of breath to keep conscious. "General Kirstarke.... executed everyone. Heartilly, this base... it's a staging area...."

Gabriel coughed uncontrollably, blood seeping out of his mouth. Julia shook her head. A staging area? "A staging area for what, Dorsen? What were they staging?"

Gabriel's eyes had already rolled back into his head before Julia could even finish her question. Julia groaned and hit the wall in anger, still not knowing what he had meant. Zion shook his head, running his hand over Gabriel's still open eyelids, shutting them to hide his glazed over eyes. Edea dropped her head, not saying anything for several minutes.

"So... what do you think he meant by that?" Julia asked softly, standing up. "If nothings here, shouldn't I just radio the teams out?"

"I don't know. But, I have a bad feeling about Celeste's team in the missile bay." Edea replied quickly. "I think we should get over there quickly."

"All right." Zion said. "I don't like that they're alone near nukes either."

Julia nodded, sheathing her bladed staff. "You're right. Let's go. I don't know what he meant by a staging area, but we've still got stuff to figure out."


Chapter XI