The Terra Episode Chapter 13
Fright, panic and confusion did not go well together. Tina was hopelessly lost in putting things together. The chain of events did not fit. There were holes, gaps and extra pieces that blurred the whole image into a chaotic mosaic.
Tina sat on a cot inside a small cell with no windows. The only exit was a steel reinforced metal door. An electric lamp flooded the whole cell with sufficient light, eliminating even the smallest of shadows. The cell was clean. It was not what she expected. She thought that the other prisoners might consider it a luxury. She, of course, did not.
I dont belong here! This is all a mistake! she thought as she paced back and forth in her cell. Her hair was starting to return to its original color. Her hand was still stained with dry blood, as well as her uniform. She tried in vain to wipe it off with the clean sheets of her cot. Her voice returned shortly after they threw her inside. She had been yelling and protesting, but nobody seemed to care. She soon gave up and calmed herself a bit. But her mind was still at work.
I did not kill the witness. A Fanatic did, she thought, reviewing how she was going to explain it to her trial. With any luck her captain would hear her out later. A Fanatic killed the witness but why? Guardian abandoned me. The Fanatic called me Terra. And Kefka prevented me from explaining myself. The creature in the Devils Lab called me Terra. It cant be a coincidence. They must be working together and against me! I was set up! Oh, Guardian, I trusted you!
Tina Branford sat on her cot and buried her face in her hands. I shouldve seen it coming. I was naïve. I shouldve known that Guardian would eliminate anybody that had contact with her. She would do it to protect herself. She killed the workers and soldiers without hesitation. I shouldve known that she would do it to me once Ive outlived my usefulness.
But what is Guardians connection with Kefka? Is she a Fanatic herself? Tina suddenly remembered that she was not even sure whether Guardian was really a woman. She only communicated through indirect means using a computer-generated female voice.
Why dont you ask him yourself? Or her, she recalled Guardians Jidooran messenger say long ago, on the day they first made verbal contact. For all I know the Fanatic who killed the witness couldve been Guardian. Maybe even Advisor Kefka! Ive been framed. I was the scapegoat--the fall guy! Vector was looking for an enemy, and I was right behind the curtain the whole time!
Tina thought about her chances of getting out of her predicament. She felt foolish, somehow, thinking that Guardian would soon save the day as she always did in the past. She was alone again. Her only chance was finding somebody she could convince about her innocence.
But would they believe me? Kefka is a powerful figure--the emperors advisor himself! The Fanatics work with frightful duplicity. I would be my word against the cult. I must convince somebody who is not afraid to face Kefka. General Fencross might listen, but I have to prove to him my innocence! Hossbach! If hes still alive then hell back me up! He saw the real killer--unless somebody else finished the job and murdered him as well.
She thought it hopeless. She would gladly take the chance to try and escape on her own. Even without her weapon, she could still use her magic. She just needed the right moment. She had been holding back on the Imperial Army about her true magical powers of the fire element. After the infusion a long time ago, she told the lab directors--as Guardian advised--that her magic had worn off just like the other test subjects of the infusion procedure. She had been an unregistered magic-user.
But now they know.
"Well, played, Tayan. Youve done well," Kefka said in praise of his Chosen Mage.
Tayan smiled gleefully. It was rare to get such a compliment from his master. He truly was the favored one among the Devouts. "I await your next order, master."
Kefka moved closer to the window overlooking a spectacular view of most of the Bronze Fortress Compound. They were inside one of the tallest towers of the Bronze Fortress. It was his private sanctuary. His eyes watched the miniaturized Warehouse 5 from above. It was the closest storage warehouse to another Magitek Powering Facility.
"Wells will send word about the surprise assembly of his troops soon. We must execute the next phase before this happens. Summon these people on my list and have them report to Captain Wells in Warehouse 5 as well," Kefka said as he turned away from the window. He drew something from his pocket and handed it to Tayan, who took it with his bloodied hand. It was a folded paper containing a list of people.
Tayan read the list quickly and then kept it in his pocket. "Forgive my ignorance, master, but may I ask why it is important for these people to assemble in Warehouse 5?" Tayan asked.
Kefka grinned, and stared out the window again before answering. "These are the people who know too much--Branfords comrades, old acquaintances and the soldiers who arrested her in the hospital."
"What do they know that is critical, master?" Tayan asked again.
Kefka slowly turned away from the window and then stared into Tayans eyes. "They know that she exists!" Kefka replied coldly. "With any luck, one of them might be her accomplice."
Tayan still didnt fully understand and chanced another question. "But how would interrogating them get us anywhere?"
"It wont!" Kefka answered before bursting into laughter. It was the same kind of manic laughter that sent chills up somebodys spine. It lasted for a full minute. To Tayan, it seemed to have lasted forever.
The door flew open suddenly, startling Tina in the process. She stood up, hoping to see her commander. To her disappointment he was not there. Instead, four Imperial soldiers, with their swords drawn entered.
"Turn around, and dont make any sudden movement," ordered the first soldier.
Tina did as she was told. Two of the soldiers approached her and seized her by the arms. They cuffed her hands again and made her wear a metal collar around her neck. The soldier pushed a button on the collar, and it beeped twice indicating that it had been activated. Tina was unsure what it was for, but she had a feeling that escaping would now be close to impossible.
"Follow me," ordered the lead soldier. "Dont try anything funny, or well be forced to respond accordingly," he warned.
Tina faced them and was led out of the cell. They marched through the metal corridors of the detention building. Two soldiers led the way while two tailed her, making it impossible to escape. On the way out of the building, four more soldiers joined them. Clearly, they were not taking any chances with her. She was being escorted somewhere.
"Where are you taking me?" Tina asked nervously.
"Magitek Lab 14," answered the lead soldier with a slight grin. "You have been scheduled to spend a full hour in the Magic Diffusion Chamber. So say goodbye to your powers, magic-user!"
"I hear its quite painful to have magic stripped away from you in that chamber," added a soldier from behind her. "Some say the chamber itself is still in its experimental stage."
The other soldiers laughed cruelly. Tina swallowed nervously. Her hands started to tremble, and her heart started beating fast.
"B-but Im innocent," she pleaded. "Dont I get a trial?" she asked.
"Oh, dont worry. Youll get your trial," the lead soldier said mockingly. "Youll get your five minute trial before your execution!"
The soldiers laughed louder this time.
"How does it feel, murderer? To know that your time is almost up?" asked a bitter sounding soldier from behind her.
Tina wanted to explain, but she knew that her words would only fall on deaf ears. She decided to march with them with dignity.
"Hey!" yelled the soldier who asked the question. "Did you hear me at all? I asked you how it feels!" he said angrily. Tina ignored him. This angered the soldier even more. He grabbed her by the shoulder and stopped her from walking. They all seized their march. "Dont you ignore me, you witch! You killed my brother back in the reactor! Tell me how you feel now! Are you nervous? Are you scared? You should be!" The mans face was red with fury. He was practically screaming in her face. Tina tried hard not to break in sobs.
"Back off, Hobbes! Get back in line!" the lead soldier ordered the infuriated man.
"Shut up!" retorted the angry soldier. "This is between me and her!"
"You are out of order! Now get back to your position!" barked the leader.
"Why the hell are you defending her?!" retorted the furious soldier at the leader.
"Are you out of your mind, Hobbes?" yelled one of the other soldiers.
"Youre losing it, man!" commented another one.
"You stay out of this!" snapped Hobbes at the two that spoke. "I dont understand why we cant just finish her off here. I mean, lets just tell them that she tried to escape!"
"Get back to your position!" shouted the team leader, his face red and ugly with anger. "I just gave you an order!" shouted the leader at the top of his lungs.
Hobbes lunged at the leader with his fist flying. He struck the leader straight in the face. The leader went down from the blow. Two other soldiers grabbed Hobbes by the arms and wrestled him down on the floor to stop the fight, while another two helped the leader up. The leaders nose was bleeding. When he realized it he went berserk himself. He shoved the two soldiers that helped him up out of the way and then kicked Hobbes while he was still on the ground.
"You bastard! You stupid piece of--" he raved as he kicked Hobbes another time.
The two soldiers who helped him up ended wrestling the leader down as well to stop the fight. Opportunity was screaming at Tinas face, but she still had to take care of the two other soldiers who were eyeing her closely with their swords drawn. She could not have found a more perfect moment.
"Fire!" she screamed out loud. A burst of flame knocked the two soldiers ten feet back from her. Without further hesitation she ran out of the building and into the shadows of the nearby structures. It was already dark out, making for her a perfect blanket of shadows for cover, but only if she could lose them.
"Dont let her get away!" bellowed Hobbes. The two other soldiers were still pinning him down on the ground.
"After her!" commanded the leader.
One second, they were at each others throats, and the next second they shared the same thought--the witch must not escape.
All eight soldiers picked themselves up, including the ones who were slightly burned. Tina Branford didnt dare look back. She ran, searching for a place to hide, her hands, still cuffed behind her back. She made a turn around a dark alley, hoping that it was not a dead end. To her relief, it was not. It led through a narrow passageway between two buildings into another clearing. With any luck, the soldiers might not have seen her go through the alley. She reached the other side with no sign of the soldiers behind her. The surprise she gave them bought her enough time, at least, to get this far.
All of a sudden, a high pitched sound filled her ears and sharp pain coursed through her entire body. Her knees weakened as she ran until she couldnt support herself any longer. She fell on the ground roughly, fighting away the pain pulling her to complete paralysis.
It was the metal collar that was doing it. She felt it vibrate as it squealed to life. She screamed out loud not only in pain but also in hopes that the soldiers would hear her and eventually catch up with her so they could deactivate the collar. She just wanted the excruciating pain to end.
"There she is!" hollered one of the soldiers.
She didnt see them, but she knew that they were coming. The pain stopped suddenly. They mustve turned it off when they found her on the ground. Tina took the remaining moments to catch her breath. Her eyes were closed, and her head rested on the ground in submission.
The running footsteps of the soldiers steadily grew louder as they approached. She weakly opened her eyes and waited for them to arrive. She thought about using her magic to fend them off as her last desperate act, but she was too weak to even lift her head off the ground.
Its over, she thought. Either I die tonight or after my trial it doesnt matter.
The first soldier to reach her was Hobbes--the one who hated her the most in the group. There was a triumphant grin on his face as he waved his sword menacingly before Tina.
"On the other hand," he started to say, "you dont have to tell me exactly how you feel. I think I can take a guess!"
Hobbes raised his sword in the air preparing to strike like an executioner. From somewhere she heard somebody shout, "Dont kill her!" But it didnt matter. By the looks of Hobbes face, it was a command he would risk ignoring just to avenge his brother.
The sword started to fall. The entire picture slowed down for Tina. A flash of white covered her sight for a brief second. There was a sharp explosion that came from somewhere followed by the sound of the clatter of a dropped blade against pavement. When the blinding flash cleared she saw Hobbes body on the ground a few feet from her. Hobbes sword lay harmlessly beside her.
Tina had no clue what happened during those fast seconds but to her it changed nothing. She still couldnt pick herself up to continue her escape, and the soldiers were still coming to retrieve her. Then the soldiers stopped dead in their tracks as a mysterious figure suddenly materialized out of thin air between Tina and the soldiers. The figure wore a flowing red cloak, and his back was turned towards Tina. It was a Fanatic.
The soldiers looked at each other uneasily, not knowing what to do. Finally, the leader, whose nose was still bleeding, spoke boldly.
"That prisoner is to be delivered to the Magic Diffusion Chamber. You are interfering with our mission by blocking the way. Step aside, or we will be forced to--"
Another explosion cut short the leaders warning as a bolt of lightning shot through the Devouts fingers. It struck the leader dead just like it did with Hobbes. The other soldiers raised their swords and charged at the Fanatic. At the same time, five more Fanatics wearing either black or red cloaks appeared out of thin air. They finished off the remaining soldiers with Lightning magic. The soldiers stood no chance. They died within the few seconds of the altercation between Imperial soldiers and the Cult fanatics
Tina didnt know what to make of it. She didnt know whether she was being rescued or simply being thrown into a bigger fire.
Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic