Chapter 7: Scattered Lights Wrapped in Darkness
We start a new arc with this one, which begins at Icicle Inn in mid-January of the next year, in the middle of the night. It seems Shinra has a base here, and if you’re wondering why we didn’t hear anything about it in FFVII… well, give it thirty seconds. Two SOLDIERS, Essai and Sebastian, have just arrived on scene on a mission to wipe out some monsters. These two are treated as relatively prominent characters for people without faces! And since they are relatively important, I should point out that they appear to be 1st Class… maaaaaaybe. You see, the picture quality is so poor that I can’t tell if they’re wearing blue or purple, and to make matters worse, the SOLDIER uniforms were changed a some point between FFVII and Crisis Core, with the matter of confusion being “at some point.” Was the switch before Before Crisis, or after? Or even during! In FFVII, SOLDIERS 3rd Class wore blue, 2nd red, and 1st purple, but by Crisis Core the colours are 3rd blue, 2nd purple, and 1st black. We’ll be meeting Zack later on in BC, which is during his 1st class days, but he won’t make things any easier: his sprite wears the same indistinct purple-blue, and his close-up portrait wears black! Since the same is true of these two, I assume that they, too, are 1st Class, even though we’ll later see that Zack is in a whole ‘nother league.
The two are discussing their mission when two of Fuhito’s black-clad troopers arrive, chuckling (or even giggling) instead of speaking, which becomes like a signature for them in the future. Sebastian has no sooner exposited that SOLDIERS are superhuman than the black-clad troopers dash through them and knock them both out!
We return to the Shinra board room, where Tseng reports the incident to Verdot. Tseng confirms the entire Shinra outpost has been destroyed, but that he’s already sent Shotgun to investigate and also that one more Turk will follow. At this point, President Shinra demands an explanation, so I should probably note that the board room doesn’t use sprites, but rather a CG featuring vague figures sitting in chairs, thus allowing the game to pretend that anyone is present at any given time. That’s worked fine prior to now, but becomes confusing in this mission, as the characters start acting strange about whether or not they can hear Tseng. I suspect that Tseng is on the phone with Verdot, as President Shinra seems to absorb anything Verdot says but not what Tseng says, but it may just be that Tseng is present and whispering? Bear these complications in mind for future boardroom scenes.
Tseng is Shotgun’s adjutant for this mission. He briefly mentions the second Turk that’s coming in after you, and then tells you to find AVALANCHE’s base, as he presumes only a large-scale AVALANCHE force could have taken out the Shinra base, necessitating a similarly large AVALANCHE base! Shotgun makes a comment here about keeping on the move to keep warm, though it’s unclear if this actually relates to a mechanic ala the glacier in FFVII itself. There’s no on-screen display measuring body temperature, at least!
After discovering some tracks, Shotgun enters another maze (darn this game and its mazes, what is this, a Famicom title?) and Ririn navigates at top speeds. The next screen includes a series of boulder hazards that go at high speeds down columns through the maze. The player has to run through the danger zones in between boulders. Judging by Ririn’s movements, it’s probably impossible to go straight up the boulder’s paths except where they’re shortest. After the maze, Shotgun conveniently finds the base, and even better, she accidentally found her way onto the roof and found a nearby vent! Convenient enemy bases are the best kind!
Tseng asks Shotgun to infiltrate and determine what’s going on in the base. Unfortunately, President Shinra overhears the discovery and orders the army to attack the newly-discovered base right away. Verdot insists they give Shotgun time to scout the place, and he gets his way… which may ultimately make things worse than if Shotgun had been ordered to back out immediately, when she was still near the vent!
Before we get to see Shotgun enter, some AVALANCHE troopers hear an intruder alarm! They run off, and we cut to Fuhito, who calls one of his black-clad Troopers and tells them that “a sacrifice to the planet has arrived.” He begins to monologue about how the Planet is dying, and that Shinra’s employees should be sacrificed to ease the Planet’s (i.e. the Lifestream’s) losses. By the way, the trooper he calls has a name, the first of three that appear in this mission: the one in this scene is named Tierce, the second Kanos, and the third, Kyneugh. How do you… uh… pronounce that? Ky-new. Ky-n-yugh. Ky-nee-oog. Ky-nug. Kyle. The dev-intended joke here is that this is another of Square Enix’s numerous Star Wars references: Tierce, Kanos and Kuggles are all named after some of the imperial guards from the old “Star Wars Legends” expanded universe (the Imperial Guards are the red-clothed guys from Return of the Jedi for all of twenty seconds). Much to my relief, Fuhito also identifies the black-clad troopers as a whole with the name “Ravens,” though the Turks won’t learn that until a little later. Whatever saves me from having to type “black-clad troopers” over and over.
Shotgun soon arrives inside the base, where she also hears the alarm. To my surprise, she announces that there must be another intruder, because all the Troopers she’s seen were going in other directions! She calls Tseng, who orders her to complete a map of the nearby area. The game basically does this by waiting for you to reach key event zones, which will cause her to pull up the map and update it. The map is closed in between updates, which is irritating, but it may be that there’s a button to bring it up that Ririn never uses? The primary challenge in this section is that there are guards patrolling the area. You could probably stealth past them, Ririn doesn’t even bother, and even waits to ambush most of them! Perhaps you get a lower mission rating if they spot you, but Verdot doesn’t care if you’re the one who jumps them?
By the way, considering we were called in to determine if this base is important to AVALANCHE or not, I have to point out that the place is fucking empty.
After finishing her map, Shotgun heads to the exit, but manages to find a strange medical bay instead. There, she finds three Star Wars-style healing tubes, similar to the kind we would later see in Dirge of Cerberus, and discovers they’re being used to imprison (and at the same time, possibly heal) Essai and Sebastian, the SOLDIERS from the introduction. She frees them and they tell her about the ambush. She’s shocked by the fact that the Ravens could overcome SOLDIERs, which I imagine must be a mocking shock, considering both Shotgun’s personality and the fact that she’s beaten Ravens and they haven’t. Just saying. Sebastian mentions the healing capsules, and Essai notes that the Ravens were using the capsules too, so they can’t be harmful or anything.
Essai and Sebastian decide to join up with the incoming Shinra army, and leave Shotgun behind to report to Tseng. Shotgun stalls, asking Tseng if she should blow up the healing tanks as she finds them somehow suspicious, a delay that leaves her in the room when Tierce arrives. Tierce manages to take a few hits even from Ririn, but is ultimately defeated. Shotgun goes looking for a way out, ignoring the tanks on Tseng’s orders.
After a loading sequence, Shotgun realizes she’s not alone and rounds a corner with her gun at the ready, only to discover fellow Turk Two Guns (Male) / Ruluf instead of an enemy. It seems he’s the other Turk who was assigned to this mission, as well as the one who tripped the alarm. I guess Tseng was keeping things so close to the chest that he didn’t even mention that you were close enough to fucking shoot one another! It’s not clear to me if Two Guns shows up for every playable character. If you were playing as Rod (Male), would you still get Two Guns? My running theory is that the player selects the Turk that shows up as their assistant in some capacity, since Two Guns is Ririn’s ally in most but not all missions that require an ally, but it could easily be something else, like which Turk is the highest level, etc. Maybe you also have to “set up” a secondary Turk for Rescue Mode, and they use that?
Two Guns… actually, do you mind if I call him “Ruluf?” Because seriously, “Shotgun” sounds like a nickname but “Two Guns” is pushing it. Ruluf says he knows a way out and leads you off, only for Fuhito and the other two members of the Star Wars trio to discover Tierce’s body. They sound a general alarm and “get to work” on the body. The general alarm causes the game to start an Indiana Jones sequence in cutscene, where the two of you try to get out before AVALANCHE sloooooowly seals a bunch of armoured shutters. One such shutter divides the two Turks, and Shotgun discovers a way through (which appears to be one of the shutters that slammed in their face earlier but is now open?). Shotgun then crawls right up my craw and starts wailing at my innards, because she phones Ruluf while standing on the near side of the shutter, meaning they could lock her out at any time during her pleasant conversation. She only starts to hurry when she hears Ruluf give a shout, and you have to navigate to the other side to reunite with him. And wow, as Ririn navigates this maze, I realize Shotgun’s initial map of this place, the map she passed off as sufficient for an invasion, barely covered a quarter of its actual size.
The two Turks finally manage to escape the base, with a few regular AVALANCHE troopers waiting in ambush. The players have to run a gauntlet of them, after which Tierce appears behind you, in perfect health, just like in the previous mission! Shotgun fights and defeats Tierce once again (after the fight, you learn that Ruluf took out the remaining regular troopers). Shotgun begins is openly wondering how the Raven got back on his feet when Fuhito arrives to exposit. It seems that he recognizes Shotgun, and explains that the healing capsules are able to revive the Ravens from death, making them essentially immortal. But if that’s true, how did the Ravens recover on the trains, earlier?
Fuhito decides that Tierce must be “defective” for failing against a Turk, and uses something to dissolve the body. After that, he engages you himself, far earlier than I expected! Fuhito fights with bullets and (possibly) new lasers, but isn’t any match for Ririn. Ironically, Ruluf’s attacks keeps giving Fuhito invincibility frames that save him from Shotgun’s now-Level 63 attacks (Ruluf is also Level 63, but doesn’t seem to be doing proportionate damage!).
It’s not clear if the player was… supposed to win this fight, because Fuhito acts like he’s about to kill the party as soon as it’s over. They’re saved when someone drives a truck between him and them, and you discover you’ve been rescued by the first of the two new Turks mentioned at the end of the previous chapter. This is Martial Arts (Female), and her name from Last Order could be translated to either “Juget” or “Judet” (or might I suggest: “Judith”). Shotgun shouts over the phone that Verdot should destroy the base as soon as possible to destroy the Raven’s regeneration tanks, but he insists she make her report to the army in person first. Oh, don’t worry, they only know that company spies got away to make a full report, I’m sure they’ll just wait for you at this rate!
Shotgun does what she was told, and once the report reaches the president, he’s is so convinced that the base needs to be taken out that he orders Sephiroth be sent out. Buuuut apparently Sephiroth’s not around. So then he orders Zack to be sent out! “Zack is also away.” He’s trying to stab one of your executives’ pet cactuses, I don’t claim to understand the specifics. OR! He’s currently up-ending the infrastructure of our army, paid for by your funds, sir. OR! He’s currently harassing a 9-year-old about “treasure.” Again, I don’t claim to understand the specifics, but I’m sure it’s very important. President Shinra decides he doesn’t care, and Zack is ordered to deploy. “The base must be crushed no matter what!”
Let’s take a look at Martial Arts (Female) / Juget before we wrap up. She uses a weird jump-kicking anime fight style and probably goes by “Martial Arts” for lack of specificity. Her backstory implies that she’s a mercenary who hails from Icicle Inn. Oh yeah, raising loads of families up there in at an arctic tourist resort. The game does mention her backstory as a means of explaining why she was in the area, so that’s something, but boy what a stretch!
Screenshots in this Journal come from a subtitled video playthrough of Before Crisis (believed to be a playthrough of the DoCoMo release), originally played by Ririn and subtitled by Grimoire Valentine. The playthrough is available on YouTube.