The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter I
This is the first of five books telling the whole story of Final Fantasy VIII.
Sorry it's going so slow... reviews would help! Book Key:
The Sorceress War
The Sorceress War II: Black September (current characters)
The Sorceress War III: Succession of Witches (FF8 from Edea's P.O.V.)
The Sorceress War IV: The Prophecy (FF8 characters)
The Sorceress War V: The Rapture (FF8's kids)
Team Wolf Pack: Roster (order of enlistment)
--Leader: Major Raine Leonhart of Deling City, 19
--Demolitions/vehicles: Lieutenant Julia Heartilly of Deling City, 19
--Magic Operations: Master Sergeant Edea Van Neil of Deling City, 20
--Electronics: Sergeant Celeste Trepe of Dollet, 20
--Mechanics: Sergeant Corin Dincht of Balamb, 20
--Summoning: Sergeant Lilliana Frieda of Timber, 19
--Sniper: Sergeant Epsilon Kinneas of Dollet, 20
--Summoning: Sergeant Andraia Navradski of Deling City, 18
The skies over the once calm Dollet landscapes were filled with the cries of fallen warriors and the sounds of wildfire. The sweet scents of the nearby flower fields were masked by the vulgar and morbid stench of rotting flesh and blood. Two mighty armies clashed within a canyon just southeast of Dollet, fighting for ultimate domination. The sky was as fire as rival air fighters exchanged laser and machine gun fire. Twisting metal and grinding engines fell from the air, crushing any soldiers that were in their path.
For the second time in one month, Esthar had tried to invade Galbadia's shores.
Now it was up to Deling and Dollet's forces to thwart their assault.
Deling City had sent 4,000 regular foot soldiers and three special operation units to help throw back Esthar's force of 6,000.
This battle was one of many in which the growing Estharian force had tried to seize Galbadian lands for themselves, hoping to establish a western empire.
Under the dictation of the infamous Sorceress Adel, Esthar was a force to be reckoned with.
Formerly a purely scientific society, its advanced knowledge aided them on the fields, but they had just begun establishing a strong army.
Galbadia, on the other hand, was almost a completely military country, who had much more soldiers but were years behind in terms of technology.
Deling and its allies were the underdogs, and its only hope was in the skill and courage of their soldiers.
Above the battle three black Deling transport helicopters wove through the air war surrounding them and landed on the three far corners of the battle.
The leading helicopter to the north, the second to the east, and the third to the south.
The eastern helicopter came to a halt on an outcropping of rocky terrain in a canyon not far from the epicenter of the battle.
It's eight special operation soldiers prepped themselves for the coming onslaught. A direct link with the Dollet outpost was crucial for the team, information being a key player in modern warfare.
The pilot of the helicopter swung his head back to face the leader, "Okay Major Leonhart, you're good to go."
"Thank you," Raine replied, then faced her soldiers, "Okay people, you know the drill! Kinneas, get to an elevated spot and give us cover, the rest of you are to assault the lead Estharian tank while taking out as many enemies as you can. Move out!"
The team assembled outside, the red headed sniper heading to a large plateau not far from the helicopter with his sniper rifle slung over his uniformed shoulder.
Raine and the other soldiers split up in pairs of two, heading for the primary tank line on the Estharian side of the battlefield.
Raine and Julia started to break through the main brunt of the enemy groupings to take out as many as they could, trying to ease their comrades battles.
Julia swung her large bladed staff over her shoulder as if it was a pole-arm and ran it through two soldiers as she sprinted towards the navigation point.
She then casted a Fira on a group of three, lighting them on fire and sending them falling to the ground.
Raine was following closely behind her, slashing her dangerous katana in the direction of Estharian soldiers, causing a fatal wound to at least one per slash. Even this early in the fight, the two of them were covered in red blood, a trail leading from their weapons onto their arms and then downward.
Raine leapt over a Galbadian soldier and made a vertical strike to an Estharian below her, allowing her to jump off of his carcass and continue her run beside the ever-fighting Julia, who was by far the most athletic and aerobatic of the team. Raine was starting to feel a slight part of remorse creeping into her brain for the Estharians, who were quickly dropping in numbers despite their impressive technology. Galbadians were by far the better trained, and could easily take down an Estharian foot soldier in two or three quick movements.
Aside from this, the war was still going to be hard to win, after all they were going to face the wrath of Sorceress Adel head on sooner or later.
She kept having the uneasy feeling during large scale-battles like this one.
Raine had always preferred the undercover missions-- the kind where if she was lucky, she didn't have to encounter enemies at all in battle.
During brawls like this always felt like she was trying to avoid some deadly liquid on every side of her.
It was true, when Raine looked at fighting from a distance it looked like literal "waves" of people. When she was in battle, on every side of her there was clawing, scratching, and mauling that she simply could not avoid.
She had never been a people person, and being this close to so many at one time nearly drove her frantic.
The roaring of tanks and further screaming jutted her out of what thoughts of hers that had started wandering in her brain. Julia and Edea were right-- she was a space case sometimes.
She quickly slashed down three more soldiers in her path. She could now hear the constant rattle of a XM-32 heavy machine gun, a sure clue that Edea was nearby, with Celeste Trepe in close pursuit. The two of them generally had races to see who could reach the nav' points quicker.
Soldiers started to drop like weighted flies near Julia, bullet holes sending them into the ground forcefully, one shot at a time.
Epsilon must have reached his point and started to give everyone cover from above.
Julia flipped an Estharian over her left shoulder, prompting Raine to slash him across the face.
The canyon road was winding down, and the tanks were within at least 200 meters, which would be easy to clear, since most sane soldiers were trying to stay out of the tank's line of fire.
An enemy soldier tried to slash his Boomerang sword down at her, who simply blocked it and kicked him forward to Julia. The other brunette killed him quickly with one strike of her staff.
The dry, grainy dirt surrounding them was quickly getting kicked up into the air by the two surviving Estharian tanks, which were annihilating every foot soldier in their paths.
By now Raine had visual contact with every member of her team, aside from Epsilon, who was masked by various rock outcroppings by their transport helicopter.
Lilliana Frieda, the secondary martial arts expert, had just summoned her favorite Guardian, Shiva, who proceeded to blast several Estharians away with a chilling blizzard wind while leaving ice shards along the rocky canyon.
All but one of the Estharian tanks still hovered slightly over the ground, the rest having been picked off by anti-artillery weaponstationed on the ridges of the canyon.
Wolf Pack's job was to eliminate the remaining tank while the fire support reloaded to fire on new waves of Esthar soldiers.
Epsilon had come down out of the cliffs and was rapidly making his way towards the point where the entire team was now relocating too, switching his sniper rifle for his favorite firearm, the close range shotgun.
Over the shouting of commanders of the two other special operations units, Excalibur and The Sentinels, Raine could here her fellow Wolves shouting out to her in announcement of their arrival.
She gave a sharp whistle to signal her position to the others.
"All right team listen up--!" Raine shouted, holding her silver katana in the air to gain their attention. Epsilon was still running down the path.
"Whoa Raine, hold it, hold it!!" Epsilon shouted, he ran up to the team and came to a dead stop at looked at her sheepishly, "....Now continue."
Raine sighed but continued, a bit grimly, "The main battle is dying down around us, but our goal is to rip apart that tank and send it to the scrap heap. Go to it, melee weapons watch yourself. Long range in the back, summoners too!"
The team answered with a round of eager cheers, who then assembled into the proper formation and charged the hunk of metal, not yet aware of them.
Andraia quickly summoned Ramuh to blast the poor thing to dust. The sky darkened even more that it already was, lightning proceeded to form a sphere within the clouds, thunder lapping all the way.
Ramuh emerged from within the sphere, and came down almost to ground level. The old wizard sent massive and deadly electric currents through its strong titanium armor plating.
There was a distinct roaring creak after the attack, and the tank turned its turret and then its main casing towards the team.
Two Vulcan guns popped out of the lower part of the tank and started to spin. On that note, the team scrambled to avoid the now damaging gunfire that was almost literally pouring out of the guns.
Most were able to dodge while Corin and Raine managed by with just nicks in their skin.
Edea countered this attack with a strong current of Thundara, which sent a section of the thick armor to explode into several pieces.
Corin threw two shurikens into the tanks external targeting system on the gun turret, which would prevent it from firing for a moment or two.
"This," Julia began to joke with a sort of twisted pyromaniac humor, "is my favorite part of the mission!"
The arrogant brunette took out a high powered grenade from her explosives belt, then put it up to her teeth and bit the pin off.
She threw it onto the top of the turret, near the crew's entry hatch, where it waited for a moment then exploded into a bright and deadly flash, ripping open the crew hatch and the upper armor.
The team could hear screaming from the Estharians within, reeling in the pain of the blast, though most was absorbed by the now fractured armor.
The gun turret swung down level to the area of the team, which prompted all of them to scatter and attack before the turret had a chance to fire on one of them.
Epsilon swooped down the right side of the tank, using his shotgun at point blank range to try and damage its engine compartments.
Julia and Edea strafed down the other side and let loose several thunder based magical attacks, which started to short out the main circuitry of the tank.
Raine, who had reached her limit break several battles earlier, started one of her special limit attacks.
She ran up to the tank and leapt into the air, her blue eyes seemed to turn a lighter shade as her katana started to glow with non-elemental energy in the shape of a large dragon fang, hence its name "Dragon Fang".
She gracefully started to fall, and plunged the glowing blade into the tanks upper turret, the energy quickly dispersing to cause massive damage. She then propelled herself off the tank and leapt back to the ground.
Celeste was busy keeping soldiers away with her trusty whip, giving any Estharian (and one Galbadian, by accident) large scars along their face or body. Andraia was concentrating on healing other Galbadians who were fighting outside the battle, while still keeping taps on the her teammates, sending Curas in either direction when needed.
By this time, the once heavily armored tank was almost to the point of falling apart all together, once good last jolt would cause it to collapse into several large pieces.
Andraia simply summoned Fenrir, the demon wolf, to finish it off.
A loud, piercing wolf howl was heard from behind them, causing most soldiers in the battle to flinch or stop fighting for a moment.
The demonic form of Fenrir ran through the battlefield at blinding speed, but came to a halt right in front of the tank. He threw back his canine head and sent a heated ball of plasma spiraling into the tanks frontal armor. He then ran off again, jumping over the tank and vanished into thin air right above it.
A heated wall of energy from the ground was sent up, and blasted through the tank like a small atom bomb.
The tank shuddered for a moment, then the Estharian crew bailed out of the now broken hatch.
The armored plating that still remained slid off and the tank let out a small explosion, rendering it completely unusable.
The remaining metal would be salvaged by the Galbadian government to use for its own weapons for the war.
The team was relieved that the battle flew by so quickly and that no one was seriously hurt.
Andraia, on the other hand, was already celebrating.
"Whoo-hoo! We won!" Andraia cheered for the team, "Victory dance in celebration of me!!"
She then proceeded to try to pull off an imitation of a touch down dance that football players did so often.
But, as Julia had noted in other "victory" moments, Andraia simply looked like a short, brown haired idiot dancing around in the middle of a war zone.
That was an Andraia trait, acting hyperactive, even in the most inappropriate of timings.
There was a brief static sound from Raine's radio, the voice of the teams main battle coordinator made it through the static, "Good job Wolf Pack, your objectives have been completed! Please return to the Night Wolf for extraction."
"Okay, we're done, let's go home!" Raine said after the transmission, putting the small radio back in the black pouch attached to her leg.
The Wolves nodded and turned to the direction of the helicopter.
After they had finished destroying the tank, the main battle had died down significantly, so it was safe to stroll back to the transport without having to draw their weapons.
Esthar was withdrawing from the battlefield and heading back towards their escape boats anchored near the coast.
Raine had a feeling they would never make it, the anti-artillery weapons had reloaded by now, and were sure to fire on them at any moment.
Galbadian forces were returning to Dollet for the time being, and the Special Operation units were returning to Deling City by nightfall.
Now that most of the people had cleared out, and the corpses of the fallen were starting to be removed, the canyon had returned to its normal state of peace and silence.
The sun was starting to meet with the horizon and the sky was turning a brilliant shade of orange. The group of friends and warriors-at-arms made a quick jog back to the midnight black Wolf Pack helicopter and set their weapons in their proper place along the weapon holsters against the interior of the main area of the helicopter, where the team also made the long ride back in. There they would ride to Special Operation Headquarters in Deling City's military district, where all of the units spent their off time while still being on duty.
The large building contained dorms for each unit, a lounging area, cafeteria, and plenty of training rooms to keep the soldiers fit.
It'd be a fair amount of time before they reached the opposite coast of the Galbadian continent, however.
2 or 3 hours later
Special Operations Headquarters "Zeta"
The cold, airy air hanger of the Headquarters bustled with activity as the Excalibur, Sentinel, and Wolf Pack units all disembarked from their respective helicopters.
The pilots were busy powering down and returning the transports to stand-by status, while the soldiers all headed for their rooms of to the lounge areas. However, Raine had called the Wolf Pack back into the hanger, where she had to inform the group of new events.
A few months earlier, Wolf Pack had suffered the loss of one of their soldiers.
Her name was Kyra, and she had been a Wolf since the formation of the team.
She had been shot and killed by an Estharian battle group outside the area of Timber.
At present, each of the units had to have an additional member. Wolf Pack was already behind after Kyra died, but Raine had hired a mercenary and had a team member of the Raven Squadron transferred to the Wolf Pack. It was her duty to introduce them to the current roster of the Wolf Pack, which had been growing since its creation two years earlier.
"All right guys," she started, "Now I know you want to go to the lounge, but I have two new Wolf Pack members I need to introduce to you."
A few of the team members looked shocked for a moment, but quickly regained their composure as soon as Raine gave them "the look".
Julia, Celeste and Edea hadn't been as shocked. They had been the other members of the original Wolf Pack, and had been suprised several times before as each of the current members had been enlisted.
The Galbadian military was having an increased need for Special Operation soldiers the following year. Thus, each of the twenty odd units had been steadily increasing by about six soldiers on average over the past few months.
"Now I know you already think it's crowed enough as it is, but I'm sure you'll like these two guys just as well as the original members liked you," Raine started, but saw the fear in Andraia's eyes, and Julia's smirking face.
Julia had given Andraia about five swirlies in the first hour she had gotten settled in, "Ahem... well, as much as the majority of them liked you."
Raine motioned with her arm towards a hanger facility room, signaling the two new soldiers to come out of the room and introduce themselves.
The metallic door slid open and out of it came two well built men, one with dark hair, the other with blonde.
The dark-haired one had a large gun arm strapped to his left arm, used by veterans of most firearms. The other had a large lance harnessed to his back and an item pouch on his right leg. The walked up next to Raine, who was shorter than both of them by about a half a foot.
"Hi, I'm your new gunner, Sergeant Zion Caraway. I was from the Raven unit, now over-staffed. Nice to meet you all," the dark-haired man said. He had short, but loose black hair and piercing green eyes. He wore the Wolf Pack black combat vest over a white t-shirt and dark blue jeans, an ammunitions belt was hanging from one side of his regular belt.
He nodded another hello to the team, then looked at the mercenary, who was looking a bit bored.
The second man had mid-back length blonde hair, tied into a taught ponytail held by two separate circular bands, making it look like from the front that his hair was as short as Zion's.
He had very light blue eyes, almost the color of ice. He had donned a dark red coat and silver gauntlets, he wore a pair of black combat trousers and had a white undershirt. He glanced coolly at each team member, "I am the mercenary you have hired. You may call me Lancer."
"It's nice to make your acquaintance," Edea greeted in her ever formal way.
Andraia bounded up to the two of them and started to ramble off several sentences in only a few seconds, "Whoa cool, you're a mercenary! That must be so cool, at least you get paid more than me! And a Raven, man that's an old unit! Hey, how come you Ravens never worked with us before? Oh yeah and why ....?"
Lilliana came up to her, and used one of her still armored hands to pull her back from the two dumb-founded men, "Easy there Tiger, give 'em some air!"
Andraia slowly chuckled and backed into the group of soldiers, Julia looked from the soldiers to her and back again, "Now see, this is why we never have visitors."
"Okay...Lancer and Zion, you can go ahead to your rooms and unpack. The rest of Wolf Pack can go back to their rooms to get out of their combat gear. 'Til we're on call again, you can do whatever you want," Raine informed the group, fiddling with the cuff of her black commander's trench coat.
Corin sighed with relief. The armor used by Wolf Pack, which looked like normal Galbadian uniforms, only with no helmet or waist armor and with black material instead of blue, was hot and itchy only after brief use. Though it prevented most bullets from penetrating skin, the thickness of the Kevlar under the silver chest plate was almost unbearably uncomfortable. He be glad if he could change back into is casual clothes once he reached his room in the male dorms. Then it was off to the lounge, where, he would once again challenge Epsilon to a game of pool. Maybe this time he would win.
"Um...ma'am?" Zion started after Raine, his eyes full of confusion, "Where are the male dorms? The Ravens were held at H.Q. Beta, not Zeta."
"Oh... uh....guys!" Raine called after the other men, who were anxiously walking off, "Show him to his room."
Corin and Epsilon waited up for him and gave mock salutes to Raine, who easily dismissed them. They caught up with the other males and headed down the hallway to the male soldiers' dorm areas. Raine could tell that most of the guys had already accepted the new members, and the girls? Well, they were too busy watching them walk down the hall in their jeans.
Lounge Area "B"
The guys were still giving Zion and Lancer the grand tour of the base when the girls finished changing and de-equipping battle gear.
They had gone to the upper level lounge area to relax until they were called on again, not finding much entertainment in their rooms aside from books, or short range TV signals if lucky. Raine had a Nintendo, but Julia had broke it from over-use the previous week.
The upper lounge was a place where three of the units could rest. It had several booths or couches where the soldiers could rest. There was also vending machines, two TVs and a stereo system to keep them busy. The other six units stationed in the Zeta Headquarters had an area where they could hang out as well, but it was on the base floor.
Wolf Pack had to share their lounge with the Jade Phoenix unit, who were an okay group to hang out with, and the Excalibur unit. The relationship between the Wolves and Excalibur had always been one of extreme competition, generally most Wolves didn't get along with the Excaliburs, but they usually left each other alone.
The Jade Phoenix unit was already crowded around the television watching the football game, the Deling Raiders against the Dollet Tyrants, well, the guys mostly.
Edea and the others were sure that once the male Wolves realized the game was on, they would come running through the door and plop down in front of the TV like the others.
The group of girls sat down at a large booth seat in one corner of the room, which where they usually sat if it was open.
Julia put her feet up onto the table, getting some nasty looks from attendants in the area, but she paid them no mind. "So, girl evaluation. New guys hot? I liked the one with darker hair. Zion right?"
"Oh, not again!" Edea protested, "You evaluate every guy that walks into this place. Get a boyfriend already!"
Julia mock glared, then spoke sarcastically, "Well what do you think the evaluation's for, so I know what to buy them on their birthday?"
"Yeah they were cute," Celeste said, "Just back away from the blonde. I saw him first."
Lilliana looked over to her from across the table, "Well... technically Raine saw them fir--"
"Shut up!" Celeste shot back with humor in her voice, "She didn't look interested, huh Raine?"
Raine chuckled took a sip of her water, "Nah...not my type. They're pretty cool though."
Andraia laughed, "I wonder if they won't be annoyed as Julia by my happy-go-lucky personality..."
Julia shot back a glare, "I'd pay you 1000 gil if you could find anyone not annoyed by your personality."
Raine sighed, "Down children, save some for the Estharians."
They were quiet for a moment.
Then the sound of several peo walking could be heard right by the door. The silver door flew open and the Excaliburs came marching in. Their soldiers sat around the whole of the room, and yes, most of the men headed for the football game, the TV was now surrounded by a few dozen cheering fans.
The leader of Excalibur, wearing a brown commander's trench coat came over to their table. Jesse Almasy was always bad news for them.
The blonde man spoke after a few seconds, "So Raine, what was your teams kill count?"
Raine stared coldly back then replied in a steely voice, "About 40... why?"
He smirked then started to walk away, "Bested you again. Ours was sixty!"
Julia and Andraia gave him the one-fingered salute as he walked back to his unit.
The relationship between Raine and Jesse was well known. They had been steadily dating for a few months, until Raine found out he had been cheating on her with one of the Sentinel soldiers. Then she had dumped him as fast as he had cheated on her.
During that brief conversation, the girls noticed the guys had come back.
Without even a "hello" they had become glued to the TV across the room yelling at it for the fumble by the Raiders. A few of the girls laughed at the typical behavior, and continued the talking between their group.
Raine would be glad when she got to sleep in a few hours, but she knew she would be extremely sore when she woke up the next morning, hopefully able to avoid the every-day struggle in the Zeta Base....