The Dark Fleet Chapter 4
A Little Espionage
By Dan Schmidt
Cid piloted the Highwind down into Cosmo Canyon. This was the only place they could think of that would hold some information on Artanis. Last time they were here, they had found substantial information about Admiral Hyran Vervain himself. However, most believed finding information on Artanis would be significantly harder.
"Well, where do we start?" Reeve asked.
"I suggest the lower library," Red replied. "I know for a fact that there is no such information in the upper library."
They made there way up the stairs and then down into the lower library. This was by far the oldest place in the Canyon, next to the Gi Cave. Everything was covered with dust. It was obvious that no one had been down here in quite some time.
"You guys obviously haven't used this place much, have you?" Barret asked Red.
"No, most of the stuff down here is old Canyon history, so we rarely come down here," Red replied. "However, there are several books about the Ancients that date back centuries ago. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky."
This library wasn't as big as the main one, but it was still atleast three football fields long and about 100 yards wide. There were countless bookshelves and each shelf contained countless books.
"Let's get cracking," Cloud said. And so they began their search of the library. For the first hour, the search was futile. They found nothing that they hadn't already known.
"This isn't helping," Barret said. "I'm tired, I'm gonna take a nap." He sat down and leaned up against a bookshelf. The bookshelf began to teeter and it fell over backwards. It smashed into the wall and broke down a large section of it.
"Whoops," Barret said aloud. "I'll clean this up, I promise." Then, he looked at the hole in the wall the bookshelf at made. Beyond the hole, he saw another library, only this one was so large, Barret could not see the wall at the other side.
"Barret, what did you do now?" Yuffie said as she walked over to investigate. She stopped dead when she saw what Barret had discovered. "Holy sh "
Barret stepped into the newly discovered library and looked at the first bookshelf. On the top of the shelf, there was a book with the simple title of 'Artanis'.
"Yo!" Barret called out. "I found the jackpot!" He paged through the book. By now, all of the others were crowded around him. "Hey, check this out!" He began to read aloud: "Artanis is an Ancients' city that was built immediately following the construction of the original City of the Ancients. It was meant to be some sort of safe haven or something like that." He skimmed down further. "This says that some sort of weapon was built there as a final line of defense against Jenova. It's an electromagnetic weapon that disables all mechanical machines within a hundred mile radius."
"What's that mean?" Yuffie asked.
"Well," Red began, "It shoots an electromagnetic pulse-"
"Quiet Red, I'll tell her," Reeve interrupted. "Ever see the movie 'Goldeneye'?"
"Yeah," Yuffie replied.
"Well, it's the same kinda thing as in that movie," Reeve explained. "The Goldeneye satellite shot an electromagnetic pulse that short-circuited all machines within a large radius. Remember?"
"Maybe that's why Aeris waited until now to tell us about it," Vincent said. "An electromagnetic weapon would work well against Vervain's fleet, but it wouldn't have worked against Sephiroth."
"I dunno," Barret said. "I still can't believe she kept a secret this big from all throughout all the years we've known her."
"Nevermind that now," Cloud said. "Does it tell where Artanis is located?"
Barret skimmed the book a little more. "No, it doesn't. It's obviously near the City of the Ancients. Oh yeah, it does say it's underneath the ocean."
"Great, that means we'll need the sub," Cloud said. "Junon is under Vervain's control. They've probably got that place sealed up tight. We'll have a hard time getting to the submarine now."
"Leave that to us," a familiar voice said.
Cloud turned around and saw Reno, Rude, and Elena standing behind them.
"How did you guys know we were here?" Reeve asked.
"We know lots of things and we can help you sneak into Junon undetected," Reno replied. "Who else besides the Turks would know anyway?"
"I don't know if we can trust you," Cloud said.
"Don't feed me that line of crap, Cloud," Reno said angrily. "You and I both know the only way you're gonna get into Junon is with our help. So drop the paranoia and just admit that you need the help of your former enemies."
"How do we know you weren't hired by the Shinra to lead us into a trap?" Cloud shot back.
"Cloud, you amaze me," Reno replied. "We don't work for Shinra anymore, not even if they hired us independently. Remember what I said up on the Shinra space station years ago? That holds true today."
"Cloud, we've got no other choice," Barret said. "Put your personal vendetta with Reno aside and accept their help."
"Fine," Cloud replied.
"Very well then," Reno stated. "You'll all need Shinra soldier uniforms and we can get them outside of Junon. Get some fighting gear just in case. We'll meet you outside of Junon in two hours."
* * *
Two hours later, Avalanche arrived at the outskirts of Junon and found that the Turks were already waiting for them.
"What kept you?" Reno asked sarcastically.
"Hey, hey, hey, we met your two hour deadline," Barret retorted. "Let's get this show on the road."
"Very well," Reno replied. He reached behind him and picked up a large box. He threw the box at Barret's feet. "Inside are enough Shinra soldier uniforms for all of us. And of course, we got Barret an XXL."
"Reno, if we didn't need your help I'd rattle off a few rounds in your direction right about now," Barret remarked coldly. "But you're lucky this time."
"Whatever," Reno replied. "You name the time, I'll name the place."
"Knock it off!" Cloud shouted. "Aren't you forgetting that we have a mission here? Vervain, Shinra navy, any of this ring a bell?"
"You're lucky your fearless leader saved you this time, Barret," Reno said. "Anyway, we can take the elevator up to the top. From there, we'll head to the underground docks. That's where they moved the sub too. You guys probably should've left the sub at Costa Del Sol, or some place that wasn't a military town."
"Hey, we had no idea Vervain was suddenly gonna barge in on the world," Cloud shot back. "Nobody knew about him, not even you guys."
The three Turks shrugged.
"It's not like we were the President's librarians," Elena said. "Hell, most of Shinra lowest executives knew more company secrets than us. We had our own agendas."
"Mind if we get this mission underway?" Tifa interrupted.
"Yeah, you're right," Cloud replied. "Okay, everyone put these uniforms on. Then, we'll follow Reno to the docks."
Everyone took turns going behind a large rock to change. When everyone was fully dressed, Reno led them into Junon.
"There's a guard near the elevator," Reno informed them. "Just stay quiet and let me do the talking."
They walked up to the elevator and were halted by the guard.
"State your name and reasons for entered Junon," the guard said monotonously.
"Sergeant Van Kowell of the 3rd Shinra brigade," Reno said. "My squad and I are on sub recall at the upper Junon docks. Strict orders from the Admiral's right hand man."
"You may proceed." The guard opened the elevator and the disguised members of Avalanche and the Turks boarded.
"Nothing to it," Reno bragged as the doors closed. "Of course, not everyone is as suave and smooth as I am."
Tifa groaned. "Shut up, Reno."
Reno smirked. "You know I am, sweetheart."
The elevator reached the top and the doors opened.
"Just follow me," Reno stated as he led them off the elevator. Upper Junon hadn't changed much since the days of their first adventure here. The cannon was missing, obviously, but the stores were all the same, the hotel were the same, even the same drunks were hanging out at the bar.
"We need to get to the Underwater Reactor," Reno said. "I don't think Vervain has activated the reactor yet, but I do know he's using the docks. That's where your sub is. Think you can get there by yourselves?"
"Yeah, why?" Cloud asked. "What are you gonna do?"
"My fellow Turks and I are gonna get some info about Admiral Vervain's fleet," Reno replied. "Remember the first rule of battle, Cloud, 'know thy enemy'? We're gonna dig up stuff like how many ships he has, his manpower, etc, etc. After that, we'll head to Cosmo Canyon and prepare to launch a counteroffensive. That's where the Fort Condor army is currently located. We'll try to get support from the Midgar Underground and Wutai. If we can weaken Vervain's army, it'll buy you guys more time. Because sooner or later, he's gonna find out where you guys went and come after you. So find that Ancient city quick and get that weapon back to the surface."
"Thanks Reno," Cloud said. Then, a puzzled look came across his face. "I never, ever pictured myself thanking you for anything."
"I can't really blame you," Reno replied with a smirk. "Just to make you feel better, I still think you guys all suck."
"That's more like it," Cloud said with a smile. "If all else fails, we'll meet you guys at Cosmo Canyon."
With that, the Turks left and headed deeper into Upper Junon.
"Alright, we're on our own from here," Cloud announced. "Let's mosey."
"Ahem, try that again, Cloud," Cid said.
"Huh? Oh yeah." Cloud smiled. "Move out!"
* * *
A short time later, Cloud and the other found themselves standing on the Underwater Reactor's docks. Their sub was directly across from them, although they clearly spotted a squad of guards at the hatch of the sub.
"I wish Reno were still here," Cloud said to himself. "He could smooth talk his way outta this one." Cloud turned back to the other members of Avalanche. "Okay, we don't wanna start a fight or nothing, so I'm gonna try to smooth talk these guards into leaving the sub."
"Heh, looks we need Reno around after all," Cid commented.
"Hey, I can do this." Cloud walked up the submarine's ramp and saluted the guard at the top. "I'm Lieutenant Strife of the 3rd Shinra brigade. We're under Admiral's orders to relieve you from duty. Step down, soldier."
The soldier gave Cloud a quizzical look. "If you're a lieutenant, than why are you wearing a cadet's uniform?"
"Umm " Cloud stammered, trying to think up an answer. "Dry cleaning mix up?"
"I don't think so," the soldier replied. "Lt. Strife? Strife? Isn't that the same name as the guy who brought down Shinra the first time?"
"Umm coincidence?" Cloud replied nervously.
"Who are you?" the guard shouted. "Unmask yourself immediately!"
"Alright, alright, I've heard enough." Cid pushed his way to the front. He looked the guard straight in the eye. "You either let us on this sub, or I'll shove my boot up your ass. Okay?"
"You're both bad at this!" Barret stormed to the front and clocked the guard over the head with his gun-arm. "That's how your solve problems!"
The other guards heard the commotion and rushed over, only to see their captain lying on the floor, out cold.
"Attack!" The guards rushed towards Avalanche.
Cloud unsheathed his sword and began swinging wildly at any soldier near him. He chopped down two or three before gunshots blazed around him. He dove for cover behind him boxes.
Barret, Reeve, and Vincent had found some cover and were blasting away with their firearms. Yuffie and Tifa acted as healers, while Cloud, Red, and Cid took up the front line.
Cid slashed at a soldier with his spear, but the soldier was quick to dodge. However, a well-placed bullet from Vincent brought him down.
Red slashed and clawed as many soldiers as possible, while Cloud finished them off with sharp blows from his sword.
Within minutes, the soldiers were routed and the survivors had run for their lives.
"The sub is ours again!" Reeve shouted.
They all rushed on board. Barret closed the hatch after all had boarded.
"Cloud, do you still know how to control the thing?" Tifa asked. "It's been a long time, almost two years."
"I dunno, I guess we'll find out." Cloud ran into the control room and sat down in the seat. He looked over the controls quickly and began pushing some buttons.
"I'm just gonna buckle my seat belt right now," Yuffie said nervously as she sat in the co-pilot's seat and buckled up.
"Okay, I think I press this " Cloud rushed a lever forward and the sub lurched forward into the dock. With a loud bang, the steel and wood collided.
"Alright, let's try this again." Cloud pulled the lever back and sub began to move backwards. He turned the sub around and began to pull out of the dock.
"Next stop," Cloud announced, "Artanis!"
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