Chapter 9: Stepping Into Uncertainty
It’s the first of February, only a few weeks after Verdot’s demotion, and Heidegger has taken over command of the Turks. He sets to work immediately, and with good reason: AVALANCHE is apparently returning to Junon as we speak! He wants the Turks to serve as scouts, and gives them orders to report the moment they see the enemy so that he can deploy his armed forces to deal with the threat, which he insists can be done in minutes. Tseng goes to tattle to Verdot, still calling Verdot “chief.” By the way, Verdot’s room in building security is a full set, not like the static picture of the board room we had for the executives, which is nice considering they didn’t really have to do it and could have shot the scenes over a CG or flat black. Long story short, Verdot blows Tseng off, but Tseng points out that Verdot can use his security control panel to watch literally any of the company’s cameras (this is simultaneously surprising and unsurprising from Shinra, I don’t know what to say), and he asks him to keep an eye on the Turks in Junon and in general.
Shotgun has apparently waited until reaching Junon to let off steam about Heidegger, including mocking his laugh, much to my delight. We’re given a brief introduction to the Junon elevator for later, and Shotgun goes down to the beach for her patrol route. Much to my annoyance, the game then basically reproduces this scene three more times with Reno, Rude and Tseng, almost word-for-word. Why?
Shotgun finds AVALANCHE first, just a few steps into her patrol. It seems they’re planning to outright invade Junon on a large scale via landing craft! But Shotgun decides not to warn Heidegger (“There’s no use telling a boss like him”) and goes to attack the two troopers guarding the craft on her own. After a second wave arrives, Shotgun decides to report to Reno instead of Heidegger, and does so after a third wave. Reno has bad news of his own: AVALANCHE are already inside the city. On top of that, he also hasn’t reported to Heidegger. We then learn the same is true for Rude and Tseng, though thankfully with differing scenes and dialogue this time around, though it’s still a bit much. Tseng puts in a call to Verdot, who also-also hasn’t reported to the higher-ups, despite his façade of submissive behaviour the past few scenes. Honestly, that last bit seems out of character, Verdot is a stooge.
Tseng protests that all Heidegger wants to do is to send in the army. Yeah, about that. Look here, you four, I get that you’ve got your pride and you’re not fond of how this situation is proceeding, but a total military occupation of a major city is totally the army’s problem. Like, I can’t get mad at Heidegger when this genuinely is the Turks’ fault. The Turks are trying to stress that they can somehow suppress this total with just the four of them and also without excess violence impacting the populace, but that’s absurd. AVALANCHE must have hundreds or thousands of terrorists to pull this off, plus who knows how many superhuman Ravens, unless Square is stuck up their ass with the Crisis Core mentality that you can occupy a fort with one guy. Furthermore, the occupation has already been carried out! It’s too late! And these four think they can stop it if they only had a better tactician (Verdot) calling the shots? Bull. Honk. Even with practical concerns aside, the existence of the Shinra army implies that there are tasks that demand a Shinra army, if not in truth than at least to Shinra brown-nosers like the Turks. If not this, than what? The war with Wutai and then nothing? I can’t help but feel like my comparison to the Alpha Complex Armed Forces in Paranoia is incredibly apt. Maybe the army really doesn’t know how to do anything. And even if that’s the case, if everyone at Shinra hates the Shinra army but isn’t willing to admit it, should the information really have been dumped on us like this?
Shotgun retreats into the city, where Heidegger calls her to shout about how he’s learned about the invasion from some other source. He’s pissed, but orders Shotgun sent to the airport to prevent AVALANCHE from sabotaging Shinra’s airships. When she asks for a strategy, Heidegger petulantly insists that “everything will solve itself once you get to the airport.” Finding the linear route blocked, Shotgun tries to go through a building, and ends up finding an elevator to the next level (a regular-sized elevator, not the big transport one that you use in FFVII, that’s for later). Shotgun says to go to the right, but Ririn goes left for whatever reason. Maybe the road to the right turns out to be blocked somehow? Ririn continues to show insider knowledge when Shotgun runs into a huge group of troopers, and instead of doing… well, anything natural, Ririn runs up an alleyway, then immediately turns back to find the troopers gone! Ririn then ducks into a room to find and kill an AVALANCHE spellcaster to find a key, after which they return to lower Junon via a staircase for god knows what reason. I have no idea what’s going on, this is easily the most baffling section of the entire longplay. Ririn is either going for some kind of secret, or is skipping fair-sized chunks of content using these shortcuts!
After a fight, Shotgun is spotted by a trooper who tries to sound the alarm, and she gives chase. By running straight after the trooper, Shotgun sees him go through a door that he shuts behind him, making it look like one of the purely decorative doors that line the walls (this makes me think Ririn really is chasing a secret, but who knows). Using the key from earlier, Ririn unlocks this door and sees the reinforcements arrive… only to turn back and go the other way! God I’m confused! Ririn tries to run an AVALANCHE blockade that’s conveniently facing the wrong way (probably thanks to all this screwing around Ririn’s been doing), and then returns to the room where the reinforcements were called, and then to the street, where Shotgun announces the AVALANCHE troopers are taken care of and that she can go up the freight elevator now! The fuck just happened?
By the way, where is the Shinra army at this point? Surely Heidegger called them in? He seemed pretty darned confident in being able to get them to Junon in only a few minutes when we got started!
Shotgun goes up the elevator, only for someone to start throwing really slow projectiles at her from above, which you have to dodge, not unlike the icicle segment in the previous mission with much smaller dangers. They’re also extremely infrequent, so it looks truly boring. Every few seconds, you get to fight the trooper(s) responsible, though you curiously don’t encounter the trooper who throws the third and final set of projectiles. They just… don’t exist!
Shotgun is finally at the airport, but complains about how she doesn’t know how to proceed without a strategy from Heidegger. She’s quickly overrun by troopers and has to flee the scene, which is followed by an embarrassing second set of scenes showing all four Turks in similar situations, except these ones are virtually identical. They all blame Heidegger’s lack of coordination.
Tseng once again gets his own, special scene, where he escapes AVALANCHE by disguising himself as a trooper. He removes the costume to call Heidegger. “Oh thank god the coast is clear, I can’t use my cell phone animation in a different costume.” When Tseng tells Heidegger about the invading army’s strength, Heidegger acts like now is a good time to send in the army. What, is he waiting for the Turks to admit defeat before he helps? At least that’s in-character, but the game doesn’t necessarily confirm that either! Tseng complains that the Shinra army will exasperate the conflict and might destroy the city. I don’t really know what to say at this point. AVALANCHE has literally conquered Shinra’s second-largest city and will probably be charging the Junon cannon in under an hour, and are already doing god knows how much damage to the city on their own, and Tseng is trying to argue that he can take it back with a pistol, a shotgun, two eskrima sticks and Rude’s fucking fists, most of them in the hands of normal human beings who are actively fleeing. Would someone please just dissolve the Turks at this point?
Heidegger orders the Turks to “buy some time” and despite Tseng’s complaints, does not bother to give them a strategy. Verdot watches this ongoing cock-up from his chair in Midgar,
Shotgun is still on the run when she finds a group of Troopers waiting for her. One of them starts to taunt her about Heidegger’s shitty leadership, which is… what? Why would they tell her that? Hell, why does he sound like he’s bragging? Did they arrange for Heidegger to take command somehow? And if they did (via the mole?), revealing that they did is informing Shinra of a powerful advantage!
Just then, Tseng calls and the troopers stand politely by while Shotgun finishes her call. Tseng conveys Heidegger’s non-orders, and Shotgun starts to complain that sending in the army “means everything we’ve done has been for nothing!” Shotgun… you haven’t done anything here. You walked from one place to another, and then ran away. Okay, you killed a bunch of guys, but that’s kind of what the army is going to do too, so I don’t see how that’s at odds? Shotgun kills the troopers.
Verdot has seen enough. He gets up from his chair and goes to visit President Shinra in his office. Verdot doesn’t waste time playing softball: he threatens to go public with company secrets, full-on blackmail, unless put back in command of the Turks. Verdot underlines that the secrets would destroy the company, a little off-hand reminder that they’re the scum of the earth and you’re enabling them! Shinra points out that now that Verdot’s many secrets are on the table, he won’t feel guilty about executing Verdot the next time he screws up, but Verdot says he always figured that was the case. With that clear, Shinra reinstates him as head of the Turks. You might have noticed a great deal more nuance coming from President Shinra this time around, and it’s one of my favourite parts about Before Crisis. It’s actually going to get even better!
Verdot sets immediately to work, and to my surprise, he doesn’t even bother to rally everyone, or to even wait for them to (somehow) get them out of the scrums of AVALANCHE troopers they were trapped in moments earlier. And as soon as he contacts them, things turn out for the better! Instantly! Frankly, this doesn’t make sense, but BC is working on an FFVI-like principle, where a plot twist changes the tide no matter how unrelated to the actual situation. The Turks were complaining about not having a plan, and now they have a plan, so everything is magically better enough to overcome an army. So let’s set aside everyone’s immediate situations and hear Verdot’s big plan.
Verdot first points out that they haven’t seen a single Raven. He wants Tseng to work out why, figuring the Ravens will be at the heart of AVALANCHE’s key objectives. Reno and Rude are to retake the airport’s control tower, and Shotgun is to clear troopers on a specific airship (seemingly the only one that’s docked). Shotgun points out that she already tried that and the way was blocked, but Verdot cryptically says that the problem is being dealt with.
Once again, AVALANCHE has waited for Shotugn to finish her call, but you fight them after it’s done. After the initial fight, Shotgun notices that the troopers around the dock are fleeing the scene. They ignore you as they run, but Ririn dodges them, suggesting that they would fight you if they made contact. Shotgun soon finds the source of the disturbance: Verdot has activated the second new Turk the game hinted at earlier, Martial Arts (Male), who is on a punching rampage in the middle of the airport. Oh, and some Shinra grunts are here all of a sudden, though Ririn doesn’t talk to them. The two Turks exchange introductions (such as they can, considering Martial Arts (Male) literally can’t be named by the player mid-mission), and Shotgun heads for the airship.
Shotgun gets word that Reno and Rude have retaken the control tower already, but Shotgun’s got trouble. She finds several unconscious grunts near the airship, and soon discovers Kyneugh of the Ravens, apparently still alive after the base blew up on him in the last chapter (I personally would have used the remaining named Raven, Kanos, who has essentially disappeared from the story at this point). You have to fight him with backup this time, though Ririn routs them all very quickly. Kyneugh’s body vanishes after she stops him (like a vampire, he suddenly feels the weight of his name upon him and turns instantly to dust), and then everyone starts acting like that’s the end of the AVALANCHE invasion, even though the city seemed to be under enemy control not minutes ago! Tseng doesn’t seem to have even done anything and if the Ravens were up to something in the attack, we never learn about it!
President Shinra calls Verdot back to his office and asks about the mole. Verdot says he doesn’t have any new information, but he points out that there’s one executive who could literally never be trusted: Hojo. Verdot thinks to himself that if Hojo were the leak, he could have created the Ravens, as well. The chapter ends on those thoughts.
Let’s cover our new Turk. Martial Arts (Male) (known as “Maur” in Last Order) sounds like he might be similar to Martial Arts (Female) at first glance, but he’s not even close, except in how they’re melee characters. They probably should have been given different names, and this fellow might have been called named Boxer (Male) or even Monk (Male). He hails from Costa del Sol, and I like to imagine he’s from one of those fight clubs you broke up / kidnapped / mutated.
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.