The Terra Episode Chapter 6
Guardian never revealed his or her true self, no matter how many times Tina asked for them to meet in person. But Tinas attitude towards Guardian has changed since that time. Even during that first day that they communicated, Guardian has shown her astounding things about the Empire and clues about conspiracy against her.
Tina was an orphan. She was raised in a special orphanage. She was told that her parents have been killed in a war. Her father was said to be an Imperial soldier, and her mother was an Imperial spy. She had no immediate relatives when they both died for their country. She grew up practically alone. Not once was she given special attention like parents would to their child. The matrons at the orphanage could not offer her this for there were too many children to be cared of.
Living in the orphanage was not exactly a poor standard of living. They had good clothes and food and were even given free education, all thanks to the generous offerings of the emperor, Gestahl. But a life without parents was a harsh life, emotionally speaking. Even the other children didnt seem to like her for some unknown reason. There was just something about her, an aura that made other children afraid of her. But despite all these Tina didnt grow up to be a bitter person.
She learned tolerance, patience, and perseverance. The memories of her dead parents were all she had to live by. So when she finished her education, she enlisted to be a soldier immediately. It was her driving force to become a hero just like her parents who have died for her and Vector so many years ago. It took a lot of work, but she has climbed and conquered many mountains of trials.
She has achieved what many could not in a mere three yearsearn the Third Class Ranking. At the rate she was getting promoted, people predicted that she would reach First Class Rank in just three more years.
Then Guardian came along and revealed to her the lies about her past. The Guardian told her and even showed her some documents about her deceased parents. They were all fakes according to Guardian. She never had a father who was an Imperial soldier, and she never had a mother who was an Imperial spy. Tina even embarked on her own research to track down her roots according to the documents that were given to her. She was successful in finding the historical background of her supposed father. The man was recorded to have been born about one hundred years ago and was in the mercantile business. Her supposed mother, Tina found out, was not even originally from Vector. She was a teacher from Maranda that immigrated to Vector. This woman never married and never had a child. It was a shocking discovery. All that she knew about her past was a sham. It made her feel insignificant. It was hard enough for her to not get to know her parents when she was just a child, but to actually learn that her parents and their stories about their patriotic deaths being an illusion was just too much for her.
But Guardian provided her with hope. Guardian claimed to know her real origins and that Guardian would give all the information Tina wanted if she would accept to do the tasks in return. Tina forgot all about the emotionally traumatic discovery and looked towards the new hope instead. Finally knowing the whole truth was much better than the blissful ignorance she has lived in.
This was the main reason Tina was now determined to learn the whole truth about her past and her present. But most of all, she wanted to find out who lied to her about this. She went back to the old orphanage to talk to the matrons, but oddly, they were all gone. They were either dead or have left Vector permanently. Guardian continued talking to Tina about a conspiracy about her but refused further to tell the whole truth for the reason of their bargain.
The Guardian only revealed to her pieces of the truth. Undoubtedly, Tina was getting answers, only slowly because Guardian would only show her answers after each mission the Guardian asked her to do. The tasks were treasonous. Tina was hesitant to do them at first, but she soon realized the present and unknown danger to her life about the conspiracy. The tasks ranged from delivering messages to unknown destinations, to sabotage and demolition. Each time Tina went on these missions she was not alone. Using a nearly invisible device she wore in her ears and a microphone around her neck, she was in complete communication with Guardian all the time.
Guardian, Tina discovered, had direct access to almost all of the computers that are linked to the main central core. Guardian was essentially everywhere at once. The Guardian could watch a corridor for her through the security cameras installed all over the Bronze Fortress. The Guardian could disable security measures, take control over most of the programmed drones patrolling the inside of the warehouses, and unlock high security doors. She could induce overloads in most reactors as distraction and should Tina get caught. She could prevent Tinas presence from the internal sensors and could give her falsified documents to give Tina access to restricted areas without question. Almost anything that was connected to the central computer core, the Guardian had almost complete control over. The advanced technological mechanisms inside the Bronze Compound were Guardians eyes, ears and hands.
But even the most accomplished surgeon could not work miracles without a scalpel. Guardian needed Tina to help her have full access to everything that the Bronze Fortress had. There were still certain areas where Guardian could not access. One of them was the interior of the Devils Lab. She needed Tina to plant devices in a certain room so Guardian could gain access to all of the systems. This was Guardians second to the last request from Tina. And they have successfully done it, although, it didnt go as smoothly as Guardian had predicted. Still, Guardian managed to clear things up for herself and Tina. Guardian created an overload in one of the Magitek reactors to eliminate the soldiers who saw and identified Tina as the infiltrator.
The reward for the task was something Tina was looking forward to. Guardian had promised her that everything would be revealed to her. Everything about her past would be hers as well as the names of the conspirators against her and their purpose. Tina kept the end of her bargain and, so far, Guardian had not failed her once, either. Although, something inside Tina that kept telling her that maybe knowing the whole truth was not such a great idea. In fact, there were times when she wished she hadnt gone to the library. There were times when Tina wished she never got involved. She was happy before everything else. Before Guardian revealed to her the truth about her fake parents, Tina had parents, and they were heroes. But the quest for the truth was such a powerful, enigmatic force. The truth meant not merely to quench her thirst for it, but it meant her survival. Tina Branford simply had no choice.
Tina reached her private quarters. To other soldiers, their private quarters meant nothing more than a temporary lodging. But to Tina Branford, it was her home. She had no house of her own outside the military compound, and though she had enough to buy one, she had no intention of doing so because there was nothing of special interest out there for her. The room was small. It was probably the same size as the room she grew up in back in her orphanage. The difference was that she didnt have to share it with other people. So though it was modest in size, it was certainly something she valued greatly. Only soldiers who have reached the Third Class Rank were given these privileges. And the further she got up the ladder the better the private quarters became.
The walls were made of bricks and were painted with a dark green interior. It had a small closet and a small shower room. A barred window gave her a view of the spacious training grounds. She had a bunker situated away from the window and against the wall. The bunker was more comfortable than the previous ones she had during her training before she was promoted. Next to it was a small unadorned drawer cabinet with a lamp on top of it. An immovable computer was installed to the wall closest to the door. This was what she used to get her messages and file her reports. She didnt have anything hanging on walls except for a mirror. She had books on top of a table next to the computer. They were books she recently borrowed from the library that Guardian had told her to check out. They contained basic plans for constructing electronic devices such as the devices that Guardian had asked her to plant in the Devils Lab.
Two large chests were kept under her bunker where she kept the rest of her private belongings. Soldiers in these quarters still had to go to their designated company mess halls for their meals. There werent many in her room that would serve as a distraction for her military educational training. At least, not until she met Guardian.
"Im home," she said. She always did everyday as a ritual. But this time she said it as a signal to Guardian.
"I will start uploading all the information that you wanted into your terminal. You will have access to them any time starting tomorrow if all goes well. Soon, I will arrange for the final task that I will ask of you. It might take time because it is essential that we wait for this incident to settle down. What you do next after that will be up to you," Guardian said.
Tina looked at her computer screen. There was a progress indicator of the download. It was going slowly. Tina felt excited and nervous at the same time.
"The soldiers are starting an investigation. They are not wasting any time. I will hinder their progress to the point where they will give up. It is not that difficult to do," Guardian said in her usual computer-simulated voice. To Tina it was starting to sound human.
Tina took off her stealth coveralls and dressed into something more comfortable. Then she folded the black suit and tucked it under her bunker. She would need it again for the last task that Guardian had in store for her. She retired to her bed without removing her earpiece and microphone. It was something Guardian asked her to do in case there was an emergency. She lay on her bed pulling the sheets to up to her neck and then stared at the ceiling with her green eyes. It was a habit of hers since she was still at the orphanage. Back then she would remain perfectly still and would blocked the laments of the other children who refused to go to sleep until she could only hear her beating heart and nothing else. She would then pretend that her parents were there to tuck her in and to kiss her goodnight. She would only close her eyes when the matron of the orphanage would turn off the lights.
She didn't do this every night--only when she was feeling lonely, depressed, or nervous. In her room that night, she was alone so there was no need to make the effort of blocking away the noise. But she couldn't picture her faceless parents anymore. They were no longer phantoms but mere illusions, -- were, to her, worse.
The lights in her room were still on. She had forgotten to turn them off before she settled down.
"Guardian?" she called in a whisper.
"Yes?" Guardian answered.
Tina hesitated for a couple of seconds. "Could you please turn off the lights for me?" she asked, sadly.
The lights went out the very next second. Tina felt a sudden surge of sadness fill her entire body. Tears ran down her cheeks. She felt like she was back at the orphanage when the lights went out, but only this time, no illusions--no phantoms--kissed her goodnight.
"Thank you, Guardian," she said through her silent sobs. It was the first time she had thanked her mysterious partner.
Oddly, Guardian didn't reply.
Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic