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The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter IX

AN:  Uh, I forgot if Behemoths absorbed or were resistant against Holy spells or not.  If so, well, oops on my part then.  


    "Why is it every Independence Day you three psychopaths get into a bottle rocket war?  I'm -- Whoa! -- Julia Heartilly was that aimed at me?!  Epsilon... you put that Roman Candle down!  Okay, Andraia, put down that M-1000... NOW.  This isn't funny anymore guys... stop it!"
- Sergeant Celeste Trepe


Salt Lake Outskirts,  05:00 hours.


    Raine jumped up to her feet in alarm as she heard a familiar voice through the silence of the early morning, causing the sleeping Julia to fall down on her back to the hard ground below.  Before the tired soldiers had time to yell at Raine for moving, she heard the voice as well, along with a deep, primeval roar.  That roar could only belong to a towering Behemoth, and Esthar was famous for bringing monsters into the battlefield to support their own soldiers.   Now Zion, Celeste, and Lancer had  heard it as well, and each grabbed their own weapons that were sitting on the ground next to them to prepare for the battle to come.  He knew Esthar would try something, and now he was going to see just what it was they planned.   Raine on the other hand, felt slightly disappointed in herself for thinking the Estharians wouldn't find them, and now finding out she was horribly wrong.  She trotted over to her soldiers, and tapped each one on the shoulder to wake them up.


    "Epsilon, Edea, Corin, everyone!"  Raine ordered in a hushed but stressed voice, waking each one up, "Get up! We have a problem!"


    At once, the rest of the team bolted upright at the sound of her voice, knowing that something was seriously wrong.  They too now heard the calling roar of the beast over one of the large inclines of rock around them.   They grabbed their weapons, knowing it was an Esthar search group, or maybe just one person controlling the massive Behemoth monster.  Raine on the other hand could tell the owner of the commanding voice was none other than Satori, the person who took down the whole Pack when they were first trying to escape the Esthar Presidential Palace.  


    Raine drew out her katana as she saw the dark-haired general walk over the top of the small hill which had been masking the Wolves from view.  Satori smirked as she saw them, finally pleased with herself that she had found them after a long night of searching.  She snapped her fingers, and the towering, muscular Behemoth slowly trotted over the hill as well, eying its future pray carefully.  Before Satori dispatched the beast, she looked directly at Raine.


   "As you can see the price for escaping Esthar's prisons is death!" she smirked, pulling out her sais, "Now see if you can survive the Behemoth's rage.  If you do, you'll feel the true power of my skills, you pathetic excuse of a commander!"


   At that point, Satori ordered the beast to kill.  It arched it head to the brightening sky and let out a loud, low roar.   It began to run down the steep hill at top speed, careening towards the first human he saw,  Zion.  To try and stop the raging beast, Zion shot a long burst of bullets out of his gunarm towards the Behemoths shoulders, hoping to slow it down.  Instead, he made it even more angry, and the beast picked up charging speed.  Before Zion could leap out of the way, the Behemoth used its long horns to toss Zion up in the air as if he were a rag doll.  The soldier came crashing back down to the ground, and clutched his sides in pain.  

    To draw the Behemoth's attention away from Zion, Epsilon fired a shotgun blast into the beast's hindquarters.  The Behemoth instantly turned around to face its new attacker.  It clawed at the rocky ground for a moment before taking off at a full speed charge towards the sniper.  Taking this time to help Zion, Julia rushed over to his side and poured a potion over his wounds.  They both stood back up to face the beast again.  


    Epsilon ducked out of the way in the nick of time, just before the Behemoth's large claws hit him over the head.  Before the beast could stop its attack, it crushed a small boulder that had been sitting just behind Epsilon before the sniper jumped out of the way.   The monster roared as Epsilon began to run out of its attack path.  The large Behemoth was hit in shock as Edea casted a Flare towards it.  Heat rippled through its body, and angered the raging monster even more.   In a counter move, the dragon-like monster sent a large sphere of energy from its mouth into Edea's stomach.   The sorceress was thrown back against a wall of rock, and fell unconscious.   Lily rushed over and used a phoenix-down on her, rousing her back to the battle.  Edea casted a Curaga on herself and prepared to enter the battle again, just as the Behemoth began attack Corin.  


    The beast's claws sliced across Corin's chest, leaving a trail of scarlet blood running down his white shirt.   Lilliana summoned her own beast into battle now, calling forth from her summons, Maduin, the demon warrior of Holy energy.  Appearing from a white ray shot down from Heaven, Maduin appeared on the battlefield.  Human-like in appearance, but having looks similar to Ifrit, Maduin struck fear and intimidation to anything that stood before him.  He casted a Holy against the Behemoth, who turned around to face the new threat.  


    Satori marveled at the fact that there were summoners in her presence.  They were long thought extinct ages ago.  Summoners had been used in the past as powerful warriors by Centran armies, but when Centra ceased to be, the summoners were supposedly rumored to have died out with lack of war.  She would definitely have to report this to her superiors when she returned. 


   The Behemoth used its claws to strike Maduin against his left arm, however only a minor indent was caused, and no blood had been spilt.  Maduin used his own claws to strike the beast along its face, leaving a large scrape along its left eye, blinding it on that side.  After casting yet another Holy, Maduin felt his master allowing him to return to his realm above.  He disappeared into another flash of light, and went back up into the Heavenly abyss above.


   The beast turned its attention to Lancer this time, sending another sphere of energy out towards the young warrior.  He jumped to his side, but the sphere impacted itself on his leg, causing him to fall down on his back.  Andraia was near him, and casted a Cura on his leg before the monster had a chance to charge again.  The two soldiers ran to the side as the Behemoth started to run towards them.  They heard the cracking of a whip, and looked up.  Celeste had her whip coiled around the beast leg, and it tripped over itself onto the ground.   Before it could get back up, Julia flipped onto the beast's back.  The monster tried to stand back up, but Julia dug her staff into the beast's spine.  It roared in anguish as Julia forced a hole open in its skin.  She pulled out her last grenade and shoved it into her makeshift hole.  She leapt off as soon as she pulled the pin.  


    Seeing the excited but scared look on her face, the rest of the team ducked for cover.  As it started to charge her again, its back exploded, leaving a large gap in its side.  It was instantly killed, and dropped down to the ground with a violent collapse.  Raine frowned as Behemoth gore splattered against her trenchcoat, and gave Julia a large frown.


    "Thank you Heartilly, I just had that cleaned!"  Raine yelled, then turned to Lilliana and Andraia.  "Heal the group, Satori's going to attack us!"


    The two mages did so, and Satori slid down the same hill the Behemoth had not long before.  She still held her silver sais in her hands, and attacked the nearest target she could find.  She swung two large, quick slashes towards Julia's head.   She was able to jump back and dodge the two attacks, then swung her own staff back at Satori, who blocked the attack with her sais. 


    Virados stood on a small cliff overlooking the battle.  With an angry face he called out to his minion,  "Satori, watch your target!!


    Satori obeyed, and kicked Julia down to the ground.  For some reason, she left the black mage there, and moved on to another victim.  Satori dodged a gunshot from Epsilon, and kicked him in the stomach once she got closer to him.  He fell back to the ground, but quickly got back up.  Before she could attack again, Corin punched her across the face, causing her to stumble back some.  She casted Shock Break again, sending a large beam of white light across the battlefield.  Some were able to dodge it and jump to safety behind rock outcroppings.  Corin, Epsilon, Celeste, Zion, and Edea on the other hand, suffered the blow of the blast, falling into KO states.  Raine ordered the others to cure them, and charged towards Satori.  


    As Epsilon got back up, he just had to yell out a phrase before Raine reached Satori,  "You know, you were pretty cute until you started to attack us, babe!  Despite what you think, it's a turn off!"


    Satori flipped him the finger, and turned to Raine just as she approached.  Raine slashed five swift times at Satori's neck, and to her dismay, Satori blocked all of them with her two sais.  Raine then tried to elbow her in the face, but ended up dodging two attacks from the Esthar general.  Raine ducked as Satori tried to roundhouse kick the woman in the face.  Using that opportunity, Raine sweep kicked Satori in the leg which held all her weight.  Satori fell to the ground, and rolled to the side as Raine struck downwards with her katana, missing Satori and hitting the rocky terrain below her.   Satori jumped back up, and slashed at Raine seven times with her sais, Raine was just able to block all of them.   Raine felt the same power surge running through her body, the same surge she felt when she and Satori first fought within the palace.  It wasn't a new form of limit break to her, the power seemed to appear when she had adrenaline coursing through her veins or was angered in some way.  Not like usual limit breaks worked, they only appeared if you were badly damaged. 


    "I'm going to make you suffer for the injury you gave me back in the palace, Leonhart!"  yelled out Satori, raising her sais again, motioning for Raine to attack her again.  


    Satori frowned as Julia and Lancer started to run to flank Raine and give her support, running up from the healing party.   Satori noted that the Wolf Pack was almost back at full strength, and was going to be rushing her in full force soon.  That would be a large disadvantage for her.  She had taken on many soldiers at once, but these soldiers were stronger than most.  She was running low on energy as well, and wasn't sure if she could cast another Shock Break or not.  


    Julia casted a Fira towards her, but Satori was able to roll out of the way just in time.   She felt a Shell being cast on her, and looked up to Virados.  He urged her to fight on.  Satori slashed twice at Lancer, who used both ends of his spear to deflect the blows.  She jumped up and tried to kick Raine in the face again, but the Alpha Wolf stepped back and dodged the kick.  Satori slashed down at Julia with one of her sais, which was deflected by the brunette's bladed quarterstaff.   Julia attacked back, using both ends of her staff to strike down at the general at least six times.  Satori continued to block all attacks, and focus back to Raine.  She swung her sais back towards the leader, who could block all but one, causing Satori to leave a gash in the soldier's arm.  She smiled happily, but accidentally left her guard down. 


    A powerful Blizzaga spell caught her off guard, even damaging through her Shell,  causing her to be thrown back onto the ground.  Edea approached them now, and aimed her chain gun at Satori's head.   Before Edea could fire, Satori flung one of her sais like a throwing knife into Edea's shoulder, causing her to drop the gun.  Julia countered by casting another Fira at her, but only caused minor burns through the protective spell around her.  Lancer helped Edea by pulling out the sai that was embedded in her shoulder and before too much blood could leak out of the wound, he poured a potion over her.  Raine looked down at Satori, who was still on the ground, with a look of anger.  She had hurt another Wolf, and now she was going to feel pain.    Raine swept her leg back and kicked Satori hard under the jaw, a soft blue light emitting from her foot as she did so.  Satori was flung backwards, instantly becoming unconscious by the force of the kick.  


    Shocking to the Pack as they approached her, Satori began to levitate up into the air, her sais following her.  Virados summoned her into the air, and the two warriors of Esthar vanished into thin air.  Edea knew the spell he had used though.  It was a spell should couldn't cast herself, but she had seen it before.  Warp, it was the ability to transfer from one location to the other.  It worked well as an escape from an unfavorable battle.  The other Wolves looked stunned however.  Before questions could be asked, Raine spotted the Galbadian naval boat coming quite near.  It would only be a matter of minutes before they could be rescued.  She was glad, the Pack had had enough fighting for the past few hours, and needed time to heal themselves. 



AN:  The Vagrant boat looks almost exactly like the White SeeD ship, only a bit bigger.  Both Galbadian ships remember?



The Vagrant,  13:00 hours:

    Raine stared off the side of the ship, gazing into the endless oceans below.  Edea always said she had eyes the color of the sea, and she supposed the sorceress was right.  Both her eyes and the sea had that same deep blue sapphire color.  She sighed, and glanced briefly back towards the cabin area, then turned back to the waters.  The team had been asleep for the duration of the travel so far.  She didn't blame them though, they were so exhausted that they could probably sleep for an entire 24 hours.  Only herself and Lancer were awake.  Lancer was eating his lunch in the food room the captain had set up for them, trying to get some of his energy back.   She looked up to the sky and closed her eyes, letting the warm sun bathe over her face.  They were very fortunate that all of the Wolves had made it out of Esthar alive and pretty much unscathed.  So very fortunate...  had Raine lost one member of her team, she would have shoved her katana down Colonel Reinhart's throat herself.   As she inhaled the salty sea air, she thought how shocking it really was that they had made it out while completing the mission.  She still couldn't really believe what had happened in the past few days.   She was used to having several missions, but it seemed her unit was out more than any other lately.  It was amazing what her soldiers could accomplish, even if they were already sore from missions in the past.


    A tap on her shoulder made her come out of her train of thought.  She turned around to see the captain of the boat.  She saluted him, and he returned it.  He was in his mid-30's with dark short hair and stubble on his jaw.  He spoke to her then, "Major Leonhart, I'm glad your unit made it out okay.  My crew can drop the Wolf Pack off at one of two places.   Either Timber or Balamb, which will it be?"


    "Timber please.  Thank you for the extraction sir, I hope this won't put you behind schedule," Raine replied, hoping she didn't upset the captain for this inconvenient change of events.


    He smiled in return,  "Think nothing of it Major.  I'm just glad you and your soldiers made it out all right.  If you'll excuse me, I'll go inform the bridge of the destination."


    She nodded and smiled in thanks as he turned away from her and ascended up the ladder towards the bridge area.  She turned back towards the waters and sighed heavily.  She just hoped they wouldn't have another mission when they returned.




    Lancer happily munched down another part of an apple and propped his feet up against a nearby oak windowsill.  He watched out the window at the churning sea below the large vessel the team was in.  He grabbed another piece of fruit from the platter of food the crew had set up, this was sure to be his favorite room for awhile.  He felt slightly disappointed in himself though.  He knew his contract with the Wolves wouldn't last to drastically long, and he was becoming friends with them.  He knew it was already going to sadden him if he left now, but if things continued as they were, he felt he couldn't bear to leave them.  They were surprisingly fun to be around, unlike most units who had battle dedicated hard-asses as members, and he never seemed to have much fun with them.  


    The door opened and Celeste came in.  She sat down across from him at the table and opened the book she had been reading.  He eyed her curiously.  A slender figure, shoulder length blonde hair, and deep blue eyes made her seem like someone who wouldn't be that intimidating.  But once he saw her out in the field, he changed his mind.  She was in reality, very deadly and very covert in her attacks; and that was a lethal combination.  Wanting to know more about her the person, and not her as a warrior, he struck up a conversation.


    "What brings you in here?  It's nice outside, so I figured once everyone was up they'd go out there." He said, causing her to look up from her book.  

    "Why, do you want me to go?"  Celeste asked, a hint of worry creeping in her voice.


    Lancer looked a bit shocked, and hoped he hadn't sounded to gruff a second ago, "N-no! It's okay if you want to stay, I was just wondering.  Sorry if I sounded a bit mean."


    "No, it's okay." Celeste replied looking towards him, "I just couldn't stand Julia and Andraia's snoring any longer."


    He laughed at that, "Yeah, I understand.  Epsilon and Corin are exactly the same way.  That's why I'm here.  Well... that and the food."


    She smiled at him, then looked a bit coyly in his direction.  She even appeared a bit nervous in the eyes as he gazed towards her.  She scratched the back of her head and spoke, "U-uh... I'm not very good at what I'm about to say, so bear with me.  Would you like to.. uh-- I mean, would you want to on our off time, say go to a movie with me or dinner or something?"


    He wasn't expecting that.  He looked a bit shocked for a moment, then smirked, "Did you just ask me out?"


    "I'm sorry, you don't have to if you don't want to.  Or was it you who wanted to ask me out?" Celeste replied truthfully, smiling at her last comment.

    Lancer smiled happily, almost giddily, "Sure I'll go out with you! I'd like that... I really would. That is if we ever get off time.."


    "We'd damn well better or I'll be hella pissed," Celeste said, "I'm sore enough as it is. I don't need another mission!"


    The two heard a masculine cry for food from outside the door, and three sets of rushing footsteps following it.  The males had arrived, and were hungry.  Corin, Epsilon and Zion came rushing in, and grabbed several handfuls of food from the table and began to munch it down.  The three sat down at the table and waved at the two blondes as they continued to eat.   Celeste stood up with a disgusted look on her face.  Humph!  Some people sure smelled the food when they woke up.  


    "If you'll excuse me guys.  It's become a bit crowded in here,"  Celeste said, picking up her book and excused herself, "Catch you later!"

    The four men waved good-bye and grabbed more food.  Lancer looked out the window again happily, and Corin asked him what was up.  He placed his feet back on the windowsill and smiled back mischievously.  


    "Why, I just got a date with the hottest girl in the Pack guys.  That's the matter."


    Epsilon and Corin raised an eyebrow.  Epsilon looked at him funny, "You got a date with Julia.. or Raine?"


    "What?!"  Zion burst out, shocked.


    "Dude, all the girls are hot.  Which one man?"  Corin asked, crossing his arms, "And it better not be Lilliana or I'll hit you so hard."


    "Hey, at least I know who Zion and Corin like. Anyways, it's Celeste,"  Lancer said proudly.  "Hey, why don't you two go ask out Lily and Julia?"


    Corin looked to Zion and the two burst out laughing.  Corin answered for the both of them,  "Lancer, my man, I'll tell you why.  The two of them may be hot, and they may have awesome personalities usually, but the truth of the matter is this:  the two scare us completely shitless sometimes."



Two Hours Later:


    Raine walked back up onto the main deck.  She had been asleep for a good hour, and was surprised to see the coast of Galbadia visible on the horizon.   Timber's buildings were visible as well, and she knew it wouldn't be much longer until they could drive back home to Deling.   As she walked up the ramp from the cabins to the deck she stretched out her muscles as far as they would let her.  The sleep she had gotten had healed her, and she felt awake for the first time in the past day.  As she felt the sea breeze blow in her face, she tightened her trenchcoat closer to her body and walked over to the side of the boat.  Julia, who had been awake for a few minutes, approached her from the other side of the ship.


    "Hello my sista'!  You look refreshed, what's up?" Julia asked, jumping up onto the side of the boat, letting her legs dangle over the side.  This caused some crew members to glare at her for such a stunt, but she paid them no mind.  


    Raine smiled and replied, "I tell you, a good rest is like an elixir.  I feel tons better!  So... what mischief have you been up to while I've been out of it?"

    "Well now, let's see..." Julia began, thinking of what she had been doing in the last hour or so, "Oh yeah!  Celeste finally asked Lancer out, and he accepted!  It's about time she got torn away from that computer of hers and gone chasing after some man!"


    "Uh huh," Raine interrupted, "You of course being the expert on that subject.  Anyways, good for Celeste.  I could tell those two would have gotten together eventually.   But what about you yourself, have you asked out Zion yet?"


    Julia glared, "No, and I don't plan to for awhile.  I want to get to know him better first.  And just what do you mean by 'the expert of that subject'?!  You need to go ask out someone or somethin'!  Of course the only Wolf Pack guy who still doesn't have a crush is Epsilon... and he isn't your type."

    "What about Corin?"


    "Nah, he's into Lilliana.  And yes, she knows.  She's just making him wait to torture him a little bit first.  But as for what I've been doing... well, I made Edea listen to Ozzy Osborne and Metallica until she cracked.  Hey, you know what we should do once we get some off time?  Another bottle rocket war! We've haven't done that in a long time!"  Julia said excitedly, starting to switch from subject to subject, something she usually did when she was hyper.  


    "Oh yeah, we haven't had a bottle rocket war in what?  A week?  It's not Independence Day so just wait until then!" Raine said sarcastically, "And why do you do these things to Edea?  She's a Sorceress for God's sake, she's going to Ice Strike you one of these days if you keep it up!"


    "Hey, she asks for everything I do to her!  Besides, she needs to learn to loosen up! And like I'm really scared of the big bad Sorceress who fell off her bunk bed this morning."  Julia said, and started to walk down to the food cabin, "See ya later, Rainy Day Girl, I'm gonna go grab some food!"


    Raine waved good-bye and shook her head at Julia's usual antics.  Julia and Edea had fought like cats and dogs for years, and Raine wasn't even going to bother to try and stop them now.  But there was one thing on Raine's mind that she couldn't stop thinking about.   That power that she emitted in the Palace and the same power she felt when they were fighting Satori.   She had never felt anything like that before in her life, and the feeling seemed to amplify her muscle and limit break strength.  While most of the feeling had worn off now, she still felt a bit stronger than she used to before, which was probably how she recovered from the mission so quickly.   What was even stranger was the mark it had left on her.  She looked at her left arm when she slid down her coat.  The cross or sword was still there, but instead of being blue like it was before, it was now brown like a birthmark.   If any of the Wolves asked, she would have to pass it off as a tattoo.  Though she didn't know the meaning of the mark yet, she made a promise to herself to find out just what it was.


    She walked over to the food room and opened the door, and yelled out loud enough so the rest of the Pack that was out on the deck heard her too, "Okay team, Timber's getting awful close now!  Get your stuff together!  Equipment check in ten minutes!"


    With that, the team members stopped whatever they were doing and started back towards the cabin areas where they had left their belongings.   Raine smiled a bit as Andraia and Corin exclaimed happily about how they were finally going to return to 'Mother Galbadia'.   They could get emotional about their homeland if they were away to long.  Raine understood, even though she had spent most of her life in Galbadia, a part of her still missed her home in Caran, which was now nothing but rubble.  


    That thought triggered a realization. Thirteen years ago her home had been destroyed by a young magic user no more than twelve or thirteen years old.  If her memory had served her correctly, he had long red hair and snow white wings that let him fly or hover above the village to save himself from harm.   When she was in the Palace after she had injured Satori, she called upon a man named Virados to aid her.   He also had red hair and white wings, and like the boy, had casted an Ultima with amazing ease.  Raine felt her head spin for a moment as she realized that she had re-encountered the person who had destroyed her family and friends over a decade ago.  The boy's words still rang out clearly in her mind.


    "Bring me the Shaduna!"

    She thought on this for a moment.  She didn't know what exactly the Shaduna was, but it was human according to Virados.  It must have been a person of great power or importance, and no one in Caran was that powerful of a fighter.  The highest rank anyone in the village could receive was Count, and they were relatively  very weak in terms of world government.  But she had been successful in tearing a hole through six inches of reinforced steel that made up the Palace floors and killing two soldiers while slicing Satori's side open, all in just one strike.  That limit break was a complete mystery to her, and so was the Shaduna.  Maybe she was the Shaduna?  But then that would have made her the reason that her hometown was destroyed in the first place.  


    She wrapped her arms around herself at the disturbing thoughts.  She would certainly have to research what the Shaduna was once she got the chance.  Dismissing these thoughts until a later date, she walked down into the cabins as well and began to prepare for the Wolves journey home.  She could then clear her mind back at the Zeta Headquarters, and then decide if she should go after Virados or not.  



Chapter 10

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