A Warrior's Redemptionby Artiles
"Breathe deep, rest now. This spirit's story has already unveiled itself to some extent, but it is far from over."
"As of now, you have revealed secrets that no one knows."
"The white light that brought you to this man's memories now releases you, to analyze all you have learned."
"Keep your eyes closed. There is no need for you to open them."
"Remain completely immersed in this man's memories."
"Are you ready now to continue? We are closer to unveiling a most dramatic memory."
"Open your eyes again."
MEMORY FOUR: OPERATION: ESCAPE
"There, kid." Varlus pointed towards some Shinra vessels docked in the shore. "One of those is our ticket out of here."
"They look heavily guarded" said Jack, spotting several sentries here and there throughout the docks.
Varlus pulled out his binoculars and scoped the area. "Hmm... they don't look well armed, though. Machine guns mostly... probably grenades... Oh, crap."
"A SOLDIER group. Damn." Varlus knew the SOLDIER were tough nuts to crack. This wasn't good. "Whatever we do, we must stay out of sight from those guys, or we'll be done for. Got any equipment?"
"Well, here's my .45" said Jack, pulling out his gun and handing it to Varlus, who refused it.
"A .45 is no good. Sure, it packs a punch alright, but it's damn slow. And besides, it doesn't have a suppressor. People in the Gold Saucer would hear the racket that thing does." He sighed. " We'll have to get some weapons in the docks, just in case things go nasty."
"What about your blade?" asked Jack.
"A sword's of no use against ranged weapons. They'll make mincemeat of me as I close in for the kill. No, we need guns. Silenced guns, if possible. Or a sniper rifle." Varlus sweeped through the docks, focusing a moment later on a large warehouse a couple of yards away from the ships. "That warehouse looks like it stashes supplies for the Shinra. I've seen similar ones back in the Eastern Continent."
"What's the insertion method?" asked Jack. Varlus looked at him, grinning.
"Why, look at you. Already speaking like a war veteran." Both men smiled. "Well, an air insertion is impossible."
"Not with this storm going on" added Jack.
"We'll probably be able to enter the warehouse if we move carefully through the encampment, staying hidden in the shadows." Varlus pocketed his binoculars and began to walk down the slope the two men were standing in towards the docks. "Psyche yourself up, kid. It's gonna be a tough one."
"I'm ready" replied Jack, following Varlus.
Varlus and Jack reached the docks' outer fence line with no problems. The two men climbed the fence and quickly hid behind some heavy crates. After explaining the plan to Jack (cross the docks towards that warehouse while staying concealed), Varlus felt a tingle of doubt. Jack was a rookie, after all. What if he blew it all out?
"Kid, you'd better wait here 'til I find some weapons for us" he said to him.
"No way! I'm not staying behind while you risk your life, Varlus."
"You don't have any experience in sneaking operations, Jack" argued Varlus. "You'll just slow me down."
"Oh, I get it. Just a green rookie, am I?" Jack sounded pissed, and not without reason. But Varlus had no time for that.
"Don't be dumb. It's just that I've got far more experience than you, kid. Any slip-up from any of us and this whole dock will be on full alert. Then, it'd be impossible to steal away a ship."
"Cope with it, Varlus" grumbled the private. "I'm not staying behind. Either we both make it, or we both die. I won't chicken out."
"And if you do?"
"Then kill me yourself."
Varlus groaned, pissed of. "Of all the idiotic--"
"Trust me, Varlus. I'll not be a burden" said Jack, patting Varlus on the back. There was something... different about this private, he thought. True, those were rookie's eyes if he ever saw them, but the kid looked determined and bold.
"Just like I did, back then." He remember his younger years, and a very similar discussion with his former Captain. His Captain didn't trust him and went on on his own, only to be discovered, outnumbered, and killed. Had Varlus been allowed to join him, things would have ended differently.
Alright, he decided, let the kid have it his way.
"Very well, Jack. Follow my every move and listen to all of my instructions. But mind you: if I tell you to pull back and let me handle it, do it. If I tell you to run away and forget about me, do it. Is that clear?"
Jack gulped. "Okay."
"Let's move. Stay silent." Varlus dashed quietly through the rows of crates, Jack following him from behind. The two men reached an opening that led to the docks' main courtyard.
"Searchlights. Crap." Two big reflectors installed in parallel towers sweeped the courtyard in a defined pattern. One sentry on the left, one on the right. A snowy truck was parked in the leftmost side of the yard, and as for the rest, it was deserted. Varlus knew it was foolish to risk the warehouse's main gate: it would have only taken one to spot either him or Jack in the open. Signaling the private, he moved stealthily to the left, hiding from the searchlights, until they were in front of the parked truck. Varlus told Jack to wait, then readied himself to run to the back of the vehicle. Yet, as he was midway through his run, the truck's door opened and another sentry started his descent to the ground. Thinking rapidly, Varlus rolled below the truck, stopping his momentum by clinging to the vehicle's lower machinery. He indicated Jack to wait, and stood silent.
A pair of boots circled the truck, and were soon joined by another pair.
"How're things?" asked one of the sentries.
"Cold as hell. No signs of either Jenneson or that rookie... what was his name again?"
"Oh, who cares. He's a John Doe anyway."
"Heh, that's true. By the way, I've recently received an update from Captain Mideen. All of you guys are to meet her in the meeting room on the second floor."
Varlus sighed. "So she's here." Captain Krianna Mideen, born in the Northern Continent (Icicle Inn, to be more precise) was his former comrade in Shinra's army, and probably one of his few friends inside the company. Varlus considered the option: what if she agreed to help him escape that frozen wasteland?
"No use. She wouldn't be in charge of this search operation if she didn't agree with the Shinra."
But then again, Varlus himself was in lead of the strike team in Wutai, even though he didn't agree. What if this was the same case?
"Oh, so she wants us to meet her, eh? Wouldn't mind seeing that hot body again." The sentries chuckled. " 'Twould be a good way to fight off this cold."
"Lucky bastard" replied the other sentry, still in an amused voice. "Anyway, go up there before it's late, or she'll have your ass kicked back to sentry duty here."
"Too true. See ya later, I'm gonna have a drink."
"Yeah, yeah, get out of here!"
One of the pair of boots ran off towards the warehouse, and entered it through a side door on the left side. That was his way in, thought Varlus. He crawled out behind the truck, and after checking the coast was clear, Jack joined him.
"Heard anything interesting?" he asked.
"Captain Mideen is in charge here."
"Oh, that slutty looking woman?" asked Jack, grinning.
"Yeah. It's a good thing, 'cause she and I go way back. But it's also a bad thing, 'cause she knows exactly how I operate and move." Who else would have thought of setting up searchlights? That was as if Krianna had left her signature in the place. "We'll have to be extra careful."
"Alright" said Jack. "Think she'll help us?"
"I dunno. We'll have to find out later."
"But, Varlus" argued Jack, "if she doesn't, then we'll have to get her out of our way."
Varlus thought about it. She was her friend. No, the simple thought of him fighting her was unbearable. "I'd rather not come to that. As long as we keep ourselves out of sight, we won't have to even see her face."
"Let's move. Follow me."
After dodging the searchlights again, Varlus and Jack made it to the side door the sentry had used, and went through it.
"I don't believe it." Varlus checked both sides of the corridor, and was astounded: it was completely deserted. He was growing restless: this was all too easy.
"What's up?" asked Jack.
"There's no one. Something's wrong... This in an amateur's mistake. If I were in command, I'd swarm this place with sentries."
"Well, even the best hunter misses a shot sometimes, don't you think?" said Jack, grinning. Varlus didn't smile in reply.
"No. Krianna doesn't make this mistakes. This is a trap... she's making things easier to tempt me." Varlus looked to the ceiling for a moment. It seemed the Captain had learned Varlus' tactics all too well. Sure, there was the meeting thing he'd overheard the sentries outside, but that was no excuse for leaving the ground floor deserted.
"There's no point in worrying about it now, though" said Jack. "Let's find some guns."
The private was right, yet Varlus felt worried nonetheless. The two men turned right at the corner, moving quietly so as not to be surprised, yet there was still no one in sight. Now feeling as if walking into the lion's den blindfolded, Varlus entered a nearby room followed by Jack.
There were computers everywhere. Thousands of research files were neatly organized in several lockers.
"A data room" deduced Jack, closing the door behind them. Varlus scanned the room for useful items, but found none. However, his eyes stopped at a monitor, which displayed the words JENOVA PROJECT.
"Hold on a sec, kid."
He walked to the computer, punched in a few keys, and it reacted, beginning to display several files. All of them were useless research diaries signed by some Prof. Hojo of Shinra, but the last entry caught his attention.
UPDATE ON CETRA SPECIMEN -- CLASSIFIED
Cetra Specimen? Ifalna was the last Cetra as far as Varlus knew. He opened the log.
Following a tip from an anonymous source in Junon, I conducted several investigations regarding this supposed "last living Cetra specimen". Much to my amazement, my inquiries had met a resounding success. A young woman by the name of Ifalna (last name unclear) was located living a couple of minutes away from Junon. Further research on this matter had revealed that she is indeed the last descendant of the Cetra. What's more, she is the wife of Shinra Army's Commander, Varlus Jenneson. I am sure that acquiring blood samples from the Cetra is of vital importance for the Project's success. I have forwarded this log to the higher-ups at Shinra, stressing it is of the utmost importance to get a blood sample of this Cetra as soon as possible. The Project has already fell under schedule, and if we fail to accomplish these tests of the Cetra's blood and later implement them on Jenova, then there is no doubt this Project will end up in failure. The President said she'd have the Cetra's blood no matter what it takes, but I don't trust the man. He's more than capable of killing her, and I need her alive for the tests. As for Jenneson, he said he'd take care of him during the Wutai campaign. I don't give a damn about Jenneson or the Cetra's daughter, but I need Ifalna alive. Else, she'll be useless. There is also the matter of that Turk, Valentine, that's complicating things. He's getting involved too much for his own good. I'll have to take care of him too eventually. No one is going to hinder this project.
Prof. Hojo of Shinra
So it was true! Ifalna was in danger! And that damn Hojo didn't give a shit about Aeris getting killed!
"I have to hurry!"
"Hey, is Ifalna--"
"His wife," said a feminine voice behind them. Both men turned around, Varlus drawing his sword, Jack pulling out his .45.
"Oh, crap. I knew it."
There, standing in front of them, stood Krianna Mideen, expressionless, sword in hand.