Of Moogles and Men Chapter 4

Tracking The Beast

By Mike Thomas

The brood of moogles and their trained human emerged from the cave a little after dawn. The bulk of the group stayed behind sending three of their warrior/hunters with Locke. They would serve to guide and protect him as they made their way to where the monster resided. Locke struggled to get his bearings, and as best he could tell, they were somewhere on the Northeastern slopes of the Narshe mountain range.

After a two hours journey, the moogles began to slow their progress and become more cautious. Edging up to a small rise, they motioned for Locke to follow, and they peaked over the top. Locke was not prepared for what he spotted down in the valley. There were a couple of buildings enclosed within a wall. Guard posts were at the northern and southern entrances, but there seemed to be no activity in the camp.

Locke's blood ran cold when he realized that the Imperial symbol was on the gate. "You're right," he told the little moogles. "There are monsters down there, but more than the one you described." Locke bore no good will toward the Empire, seeing as he held them fully responsible for the disappearance of his mother. Any chance to hurt the Empire was welcome.

As for what kind of facility this was, he had only one guess. From what the moogles had described, it had to be a genetic research facility. During his travels, he had heard that the Empire had done work on different species to "improve the quality of life" for others. Make a stronger horse to pull plows, chocobos that can run faster, cows that give more milk and things of that nature. It was not a leap of faith to believe that they also had facilities with the sole purpose of creating weapons of war.

Locke began quietly picking his way down the mountainside. He had to assess the situation and see how many guards were at the posts, how many patrolled the grounds, and if there were any unguarded entrances he could use. He decided to circle the entire perimeter looking for entry points and collecting all the information that he could.

Things did not go according to plan. Upon reaching a hiding spot close to the main entrance, Locke noticed that there seemed to be no activity anywhere in the base. It was highly unlikely for the Imperial scum to leave a post unguarded. The gates were still locked, but it seemed that no one was home. After he and the moogles made two trips around the surrounding area he was convinced that it was safe enough to try and enter the facility.

Not being brazen enough to walk right up to the front gate and knock, Locke circled back to where he had seen a small drainage ditch coming under the wall. Using as much caution as he could muster, Locke began to pull debris away from the entrance so he could get inside. The moogles had not made it clear if the monster was caged or lose, inside or outside the compound. He was taking no chance on alerting the beast to their position.

After a short time, the way was clear. One of the moogles hopped forward and advanced into the tunnel spear first. Locke thought it was an excellent idea since the moogle could move about a little more freely in the closed in space than he could. In a matter of seconds, the moogle dropped back down into the ditch on the other side and motioned for Locke and the others to come on through.

Slipping down into the ditch, he pushed and wiggled his way under the wall. When he was through, he slowly stood and surveyed the grounds. A gruesome sight was waiting there for him to view. All around the compound, there were mangled bodies in their later stages of decomposition. Many scavengers had made their way in to feed on the remains. Not all of the scavengers had made it back out alive. There was something truly violent held within these walls, and Locke was beginning to wish that he had never communicated his willingness to help the moogles.

Locke slipped his pack off and pulled out an extra bandana. He folded it over once and wrapped the cloth around his face tying it in the back. The putrid smell was almost more than he could stand, and he was hoping that the cloth would help cut back some of the stench. With that done, he quietly slipped the pack up onto his back and looked at the structures inside the wall. There were two moderately large buildings and two guard shacks on either end of the compound.

With one last look back at his exit, Locke turned and crept toward the guard shack on the northern end of the facility. The moogles followed, ever mindful of their surroundings. Within minutes, they arrived at the shack and eased through the gaping hole where the door used to be. Only splintered fragments were left clinging to the hinges that used to hold the large wooden door. The inside fared little better, but Locke was happy to find one ammunitions chest left untouched. He quickly picked the lock and began to load some of the contents into his pack for later use.

Leaving the guard shack behind, the small crew made for the closest building. Once again, Locke didn't worry with having to pick the front door lock since some creature had managed to tear the portal off its frame. The interior of this building looked like a science facility that had barely survived a small tornado. Equipment and documents lay scattered about the room. The broken bodies of the scientists lay by the wall in a myriad of positions. Dents in the wall testified to the way the beast had violently thrown them against it and then left them to die. Most looked like they hadn't even moved after the initial impact.

One young lady, who looked to be about Locke's age, was still gripping a manila file folder in her hand. Locke gently pried the hand open and retrieved the folder. The tab read "Journal: Specimen 419". He opened the journal to the middle and began to read:

04.08.199 Our initial plan to limit 419's vision turned out to
hurt more than it helped. Instead of becoming more
dependant on our commands, the creature has turned more
angry and aggressive. Two trainers were killed today.

04.09.199 It appears that the lack of sight has increased 419's
ability to hear. We have begun testing the volume level
at which the specimen can distinguish sound. Needless to
say, it is much more sensitive to noise than we are, and
we have moved it to a special padded cage to decrease the
noise in its home.

"Well, at least they're not totally without heart," Locke thought to himself. Skimming forward, he found the last couple of entries, and began to read.

05.20.199 Vector has answered our request with some new
technology. Today, we received a device called the
Cognitive Reasoning OWNer (we call it The CROWN for short).
From what we understand, placing the crown on 419's head
will allow us to project mental images directly into its
brain, which in turn, should allow us a higher degree of
control. The device is in test stage right now, but we
look forward to trying it.

05.22.199 The first test has been a success. We sedated 419 and
fixed the CROWN to its head. After reviving it, we sent
some pre-programmed commands to the crown. We were able
to make 419 do some basic functions such as standing,
sitting raising its arms. Unfortunately, there is little
else we can do with the pre-programmed signals. To do
anything more complicated, we will have to use the "Master
CROWN" to capture our thoughts and transfer them directly
to the "Slave CROWN". We have a few more bugs to work out
before we attempt the test.

05.25.199 I am currently writing this from the limited safety of
Lab T1. Something went terribly wrong today. During the
test, 419 managed to pull the crown from his head and go on
a rampage. Some of the others think that John, the wearer
of the master crown, might have gotten nervous and thought
about what 419 could do to get loose. Whatever the reason,
we are in extreme danger. We are cut off from outside
communication and gods only knows how long it will be until
Vector sends supplies back this way. I will discontinue
Journal entries until I have a better idea of what is going

Unfortunately, that was the last entry. It wasn't hard to guess what happened next. The beast ripped the door apart and then continued on its rampage in this building. Locke doubted if anyone had made it out alive.

Satisfied that he had seen all he needed, Locke steeled himself to enter the second building. Chances were, this is where the creatures were kept. Knowing more about what was within this compound made Locke all the more cautious as he and the moogles exited and turned toward the final building.

Chapter 5

Final Fantasy 6 Fanfic