Chapter VIII

Epsilon, Jun and Aaron dropped to the ground as the sounds of gunfire filled their ears. Heated bullets sped past their bodies, luckily none hitting them. The heated particles of metal slamming into the roof of the base next to them, leaving holes in their wake. The bullets came in waves, from machine guns, and the sniper team was barely able to roll down into a dip in the roof where the height was lower.

Jun and Epsilon quickly locked and loaded their sniper rifles, and waited for the gunners by the radar dish to run out of ammo in a clip and reload. Aaron was lying prone on the ground behind them, but knew that his handguns didn't have the range or accuracy needed to attack the enemies, who were clear on the other side of the building.

The Helios and Estharian soldiers paused in their firing, dropping their empty clips to the ground and ducking behind the radar dish's base in order to mask themselves from fire. All except the two rookies knew what they were doing, and they left themselves open for a shot by the snipers.

Though only a small portion of their body was protruding from behind the dish base, it was enough for Jun and Epsilon to take them down. In fact, it was a mere simple task for the two veteran snipers. They raised their scopes to their eyes, and let loose a shot. Epsilon was able to shoot his target in the head, and kill him instantly. Jun, on the other hand, was only able to shoot the arm of her target. He fell to the ground screaming in pain, but the wails were quieted by a second shot of Jun's rifle.

"Well, I guess the base does have life after all!" Aaron shouted, still ducked down behind the other two.

Epsilon rolled his eyes and replied. "Not for long it doesn't."

"Five more of them left, keep down!" Jun warned, and just before a second wave of machine gun fire began to pour down on the areas surrounding the three comrades.

Epsilon noticed that during this wave of gunfire that the shots were very inaccurate. In fact, it seemed he could be able to shoot back as they fired, if they continued the pattern that they were. He smiled as he realized his clever discovery. He propped himself up a bit more, though the shots slamming into the ground to the side of him and in front of him were a bit intimidating. Jun hissed for him to get back down, worry evident for her husband.

Epsilon squeezed his trigger once more, sending a high powered shot directly at one of the careless soldiers. The noise from his rifle dwarfed the sounds of the machine guns and the wind storm, causing the enemies to jump. The bullet from his shot entered the space between his target's eyes, and he fell to the ground dead. The remaining soldiers dove behind the dish once more, fearing another attack.

Aaron and Jun got an idea, and rushed up from their prone positions. While Epsilon had scared the enemies into hiding, it gave them the time they needed to reach the closer side of the dish base. They sprinted towards it at top speed, fearful that the soldiers were getting ready to come out and shoot at any notice.

Reaching the foremost edge of the dish base, they hugged their bodies to the metal. Strafing to their left, they quickly made their way down the side of the dish, ready to attack the enemies that lay past the next turn. Meanwhile, Epsilon had fallen back under fire. This time, the enemies were firing more accurately, the leader taking a step forward to try and get a shot in.

Epsilon flinched as bullets whizzed quickly past his ear and plowed into the metal around him. He had fallen back under the cover of the height dip, and his rifle was clenched over his head for a makeshift shield, should a bullet get that close to his head. As he continued to duck down, one of the Estharians threw something at him. Landing with a clank a few feet away, his eyes widened as he looked at it.


A grenade fell at his side and, not worrying about the bullets anymore, Epsilon got up and ran in the opposite direction. However, the fuse was a little short for his liking. He had only gotten a few feet, a bullet coming dangerously close to his arm, when the small grenade exploded. The fire and explosion flung him several feet, burns forming on his back. He came to a landing close to the edge of the roof, and he clamped his fist around the side of the building as he fell off.

As Epsilon hung there, too injured to pull himself up, but too determined to let go and fall, the other two reached the mass of enemies. Jun gave a worried glance back at her husband, but she and Aaron had no choice but to kill the enemies and then help the poor man. Exchanging her long range sniper rifle for her short range handgun, she and Tilmitt stormed around the corner, guns ablaze.

The soldiers didn't know what hit them until it was too late. Still turned to face Epsilon, they hadn't even noticed that Jun and Aaron had gotten up and moved. Jun shot one soldier quickly with her gun, while Aaron was able to get two with his dual pistols. Jun elbowed the last one, the leader, in the face, and kicked him to the ground.

He struggled under her boot to try and reach his gun, but Aaron shot his hand and stopped him from doing so. He howled in pain, and begged for their mercy.

"Where are the missiles?!" Aaron yelled, pointing one of his guns at the man's head.

The soldier grunted as Jun pressed her foot against his chest harder than she had before, but he was able to choke something out. "What missiles?! I don't know what the hell you're talking about!"

"With all that training Esthar gives you, don't you think you could come up with a better excuse than that?" Jun asked.

"I'm serious! Satori tells her soldiers nothing! Please believe me, and don't kill me!" He wailed, a tear escaping from his eye. "I have a daughter back home... please..."

Jun's eyebrows relaxed, as she too knew what the worry was about being a soldier with a child. Giving a soft look to Aaron, he ended up nodding in return. The two smiled like children with an evil plan. Taking rope out from his item pouch, Aaron pulled the soldier over to one of the radar dish's poles.

"H-hey! What're you guys doing?" The terrified soldier asked, as he soon found his legs and feet being bound together.

The two left him then, still smiling and Jun even laughing with humor, hogtied to the radar dish. It was cold, but with his clothing, he would be able to survive. No use in letting a soldier run back to his commanding officer and have him squeal on the Galbadians. The Estharian looked at them with bewilderment.

"Hey! What if nobody finds me?!" He called, but they were already rushing back to Epsilon. "Hey! Aw... damn it..."

Jun rushed back to Epsilon, still hanging by one hand from the roof of Ganymede. Aaron, while taking a few looks at their hogtied soldier, also rushed over quickly to help. Jun grabbed her husband's arm and began to haul his body up over the side. Aaron, too, grabbed Epsilon's arm and drug the man over the side of the building.

Epsilon landed on his hands and knees, wheezing and gasping for breath. The backside of his uniform was tattered from the force of the grenade explosion, allowing the other two to see the blood covered burns on his back. Jun, knowing she couldn't heal him out in the cold, slung his arm over her shoulder, and began to walk towards the entrance to the base.

Aaron followed, having saw the entrance when he and Jun ambushed the soldiers. It was a circular hatch that was left open, as the enemies had used it to gain access to the roof. He climbed down the ladder first, to make sure that there were no other opposing forces left down at the bottom of the ladder. Looking around the top floor of the base, he didn't seem to notice anyone else down there. Waving Epsilon and Jun down, the two snipers followed.

Slowly but surely, in order to not injure Epsilon further, they came to the bottom and stood next to Aaron. Jun wiped her brow of sweat, and set her husband down on the ground. Lying him down on his stomach, so that the burns on his back wouldn't be irritated, she tried to figure out how to treat them.

"Well," Jun mumbled, "we've got a few potions, but do you think they'll heal this?"

"Only one way to find out." Epsilon replied, resting his head in his crossed arms. "It'll heal some. Enough to where I can still fight. As I am now... I can't do much..."

Jun sighed, and retrieved one of her five potions from her equipment bag, grateful that they had not fallen away at the crash. "Okay... hope that this will work. If not, I have four more."

As Jun removed the cork from the potion, a voice interrupted her healing. "Whoa!"

Aaron and Jun instantly went on the alert, drawing their pistols from their holsters and pointing them at the source of the voice. Aaron sighed as he saw who it was, the voice owner's face falling slightly.

Jesse smirked as his face fell, however. "I'm a little hurt that you thought I was one of the bad guys. What in Hyne's name happened to gun-boy over there? Did he try to jump in fire or something?"

"Grenade." Jun replied in a clipped voice. "We got into a fight with the guards on the roof."

"Well, that would explain what we heard a few minutes ago." Jesse stated.

"Damn!" Corin shouted from behind Jesse, Icelina and Lilliana to his side. "Estharians... I'm gonna kick their asses! Epsilon, how you doing, man?"


"That bad, huh?" Icelina asked, and Epsilon rolled his eyes from where he lay.

Lilliana stepped forward, and sunk to her knees as she reached Epsilon. She motioned for Jun to put her potion away. "I can cure this better than medicine can. You should save that for a more dire situation."

Lilliana placed her hand lightly on Epsilon's charred skin, making the sniper wince in pain slightly and stifle a scream from the mere touch of someone's hand. Lilliana poured healing energy into her fist, letting it gather until the point where it was dense enough to use a Curaga. Letting the cooling blue magic flow over his skin, she smiled as the burns closed themselves, and skin grew back to cover the bloody wounds. Still not satisfied, she casted another Cura to seal the wound fully.

Lilliana and Epsilon stood back up after she had healed him, and Epsilon rotated one of his arms to if in fact he was really back to normal. "Wow, thanks Lily. Everything's back to normal, I feel fine!"

"Don't mention. Just be glad that our team got sent to check the upper levels for any sign of life." Lilliana replied.

"Speaking of that..." Jesse began, "...have you guys seen anything up here?"

"Only the six guards we killed. The seventh is tied up to the radar dish." Aaron replied. "Other than that, I've seen nothing. There was only one entrance onto the roof, and I checked it. We're clear in this area."

"You tied someone up to the radar dish?" Icelina questioned. "Why?"

Jun shrugged. "He made a good plead as to why he shouldn't die. Parent and husband. So, we had mercy on the poor guy. We question him, but he doesn't know anything."

"Hmm... great." Jesse replied indifferently. "Well, your team is healed now, so let's split back up. We'll search everything left of here, you guys search anything right. Radio in if you find something, all the team leaders have their headsets on."

"All right. Meet up with you guys later, then." Epsilon nodded back. "Let's go guys!"


Julia, Zion and Edea quickly moved down one of the halls on the 1st basement level, guns drawn and their eyes searching for any sign of life. Julia hugged her back to one of the walls, peering quickly around the corner to make sure that they were clear. This is getting annoying! There's nothing here! They moved the missiles, I've got a feeling...

She heard Edea sigh behind her, and her husband was growing just as impatient as his wife. Julia turned the corner and continued down the hall, keeping her eyes open.

"Julia! Come in! I've got a report!" Epsilon's voice declared over the headset radio the group leaders carried.


"There was a squad of soldiers guarding the roof, but they're done for. One of 'em hit me with a damned grenade, but Lilliana met up with us and cured me. I'm good now. Jesse's team and mine are checking the upper levels." Epsilon replied, somewhat lighthearted despite the fact that everything on the mission seemed to be going wrong.

"Okay. Report back if you find something else." Julia responded. "Over and out."

"You know," Edea began to say, "I haven't seen any room that's capable of holding missiles with a nuclear warhead. If they are here, perhaps there are more sub-levels than we realize. Shall we look for a way to get to lower levels?"

"Sounds good to me." Zion replied.

"Yeah, keep looking." Julia replied. "That's all we can do for right now."

The team continued to jog through the hallways, kicking open any suspicious door that looked like it could harbor information. They continued this method of searching for a time, until Edea found something that was unsettling to her stomach. She covered her mouth and nose, as she had not seen carnage of this scale for a good long time.

"Julia!" She was able to choke out, and Heartilly and Caraway came running to see what the problem was.

Julia frowned as she saw what Edea was upset about. There was a room filled with about six scientists, in white coats. Well, what was left of them anyway. It looked like it was a bio-chemist laboratory, but the scientists weren't exactly in researching health. There were slices and cuts all along their bodies, some even ripped in two. Claw marks covered their cadavers, and the sight was enough to make even Zion turn away briefly.

"What the hell happened in here?!" He shouted. "It looks like what happened in the Deep Sea Research Center, but that was Virados that did that! Satori, maybe?"

"No way in hell." Julia replied, gaze unwavering from the bodies. "She's too weak. A monster, or some sort of amazingly strong Centran or Mysidian did this."

Though the sight was demoralizing, Edea looked on to evaluate the room. It was a standard lab, tables and test tubes lined up all over the place. Computers were on, but left idle for a great period of time. A large titanium circular door, with clamps shutting it tight against the wall, was in the corner of the room.

Zion saw it too, and walked over. "This might be what we're looking for. An entrance to lower levels you think?"

"Whatever it is, it leads to somewhere we can't get to. That means we need in." Edea replied, nodding.

Deep claw marks were left in the metal, as if something tried to bash it's way through the titanium door. From the looks of it, the dents and scrapes in the structure, it looked like it had almost made it through. Whatever caused those marks left Edea and Zion with an unsettling feeling.

"Right." Julia began, then touched her headset. "Trepe!"

"What's up, Heartilly?"

"We need you down at the 1st level basement, in the bio-chemistry lab, or whatever the hell this place is. Genome Splicing Lab? Get down here. We need you to hack open a security system on a locked door. Could lead to somewhere important." Julia replied.

"Okay, I'll be down there in a minute or two with my team." Celeste responded, "Keep your eyes open, we might get lost down there."

"Will do. Stay alert, and be quick. I don't like what's going on. Over and out."


Chapter IX