Chapter 22-1: Threatening to Shatter the Very Firmament
It seems that this episode was released in halves, and perhaps in an even more complicated fashion that we’ll get into later. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! We’re too shitfaced to get ahead of ourselves. Well, Shotgun is, anyways.
We start the chapter by learning that Tseng still hasn’t been kicked out of Top Secert Turks HQ, and is trying to hack his way to find Verdot’s location. Reno is there, but they’re otherwise alone. It’s now one day to Verdot’s execution, and the other Turks, true to their character from FFVII, can now be found in a dive bar.
Welcome to the Midgar slums, where all the playable Turks, and also Sears, have gathered to go drinking. And what do you know, they happen to have chosen the bar where a young Elena – future Turk from FFVII – just happens to work. Elena remarks to herself that “sis and her gang” are hanging out in the bar, which is both revelatory and hilarious. You’re probably wondering about her “sis:” it’s Gun (Female), aka Emma, and she actually gets a unique reaction for this scene that Ririn bothered to record! That said, the scenes aren’t that different. In both versions, the player Turk insinuates that Elena would make a crappy Turk, and Elena storms out. Honestly, Shotgun’s in-character reaction to Elena storming out is more entertaining to me than Emma’s supposedly unique scene, since Shotgun arrogantly – yet casually! – blows off the suggestion that Elena could possibly have a problem with her.
We follow Elena as she continues to gripe in private, only for her to overhear an armed holdup in the distance! She goes to investigate, and discovers three Ravens in a street brawl with three Shinra grunts. Naturally, the super-powered Ravens win. Elena initially starts off to tell her sister, but it seems her dislike of her sister and her “gang” prevent her from doing it and she stops a short distance away. Back in the alley, the Ravens have stolen the grunts’ uniforms and disguised themselves. Ah, yes, the Stormtrooper problem, that’s what Shinra gets for having faceless evil minions. Elena spots them, but doesn’t realize what happened. She goes to investigate the alley, and to my surprise, she finds no bodies. Shit, do NPCs in this universe really dissolve when they die?
Back in the bar, Shotgun and Sears do some recapping, Shotgun suggesting that they keep looking for Elfé while Tseng looks for Verdot. What, you’ve been looking for Elfé in the Midgar slums? Or are you all still hiding jet planes in your back pockets? Sears decides to take a precaution and the two of them split up the doomsday support materia: he takes one pieces and Shotgun takes two. This is going to go about as well as it did in FFT, but once again I think I’d have done the same!
Meanwhile, Elena has gone to tail the disguised Ravens, following one of them at random after they split up. Meanwhile-meanwhile, Tseng’s repeat hacking attempts have been tracked, and someone hacks him back. Luckily, the counter-hacker only wants to talk, but we don’t learn who they are quite yet.
By the way, this is an incredibly long intro for a BC mission! Unless Ririn has been controlling Elena during her segments – which I doubt, as she walks in perfect straight lines at all times – it seems like there’s nearly 9 minutes of cutscenes before you start so much as a fight! Thankfully the fight is coming. After a scene implying that Elena has been spotted by the disguised Raven, we jump back to Shotgun, who has been spotted at the bar by a Shinra grunt armed with a robot, specifically one of the bizarrely named Moth Slasher enemies from FFVII. This is followed by another Moth Slasher, after which Shotgun charges out to escape and has to fight two more. She isn’t willing to fight the grunts, though, “they’re just doing their job.” Shotgun… ugh, Shotgun. She runs for it.
Back in Turks HQ, it turns out the counter-hacker is Rufus, and he has a deal for Tseng, though we don’t get to hear it. Tseng takes the mystery deal in exchange for Verdot’s location. And that’s it for now. This mission has a lot of cutaways to Tseng, and most of them won’t last more than a sentence’s worth of summary.
Tseng calls Shotgun with the news, and orders her to secure an escape route from Midgar for after they grab the chief. Unfortunately, there are more Moth Slashers guarding the nearby area and you have to fight your way through. After this, another one-sentence cutaway to Tseng, Reno and Rude, who are going to find Verdot, locked away in Midgar’s garbage dump of all places. Shotgun continues her escape, this time dodging a few Moth Slashers on patrol. After that, she finds two guards complaining about their job, saying no one ever goes through the checkpoints except for Shinra trucks that don’t even need to be investigated, I mean someone could easily sneak through because we just aren’t checking the trucks for anything, I sure hope no one’s listening in on our conversation, but anyways aren’t our jobs boring? Shotgun has her escape route!
At this point, Tseng calls, and in a freak miracle, we actually see Shotgun go into hiding to take a call instead of hanging around outside, with enemies watching her or just about to shoot her or any of that shit. As you can imagine, this wouldn’t have happened unless the movement served some higher purpose, and sure enough, Shotgun barely gets a few words out of her mouth before guards spot her she darts down an alley instead of the familiar main road. In the process, she stumbles on Elena’s hiding place, which just so happens to be her personal gym (read: abandoned building she’s squatting in). Weirdly, she no longer seems aware of what’s going on despite having been tailing those Ravens earlier, nor is there any sign of the Ravens tailing her until later. This scene’s got eraser marks all over it, and my best guess is that our nine-minute exposition intro was inflated with Elena scenes in post, but it’s hard to say, since other parts of the episode aren’t so sloppily incorporated and actually make reference to Elena’s earlier actions.
Shotgun asks for shelter, and is soon on the phone with Tseng. The two of them repeat the details of their “find a company truck” plan for the second and a half time, and Shotgun prepares to leave before an offhand discussion about Elena’s martial arts leads to an extended discussion about her schooling. Shotgun learns that Elena has dropped marksmanship class at Shinra Thug School. Elena tries to point out that she’s really good at martial arts and has several badges from school for just that skill, but Shotgun keeps prying into the personal details as though this explanation is not enough. I suspect that we’re supposed to see Elena leaving Shooting Poor People 101 for Punching Minorities In The Dick 301 as though it were symbolic about Elena distancing herself from Emma, aka Gun (Female), but is she really not allowed to show an interest in her natural talents in beating up the underclass with her hands and feet?
In a moment of supreme incompetence, Shotgun heads out the door and nearly walks Grunt standing straight outside, and ends up having to knock him out. Professional assassin! Shotgun then notes that you can use her body-dumping place as a safe house during the next section, which involves dodging Moth Slashers on patrol. You could, or you can just do what Ririn does, which is to go back to the safe house immediately and steal the grunt’s uniform, a good old-fashioned secret. Long story short, this uniform allows Shotgun to get by all enemy patrols untouched, and she manages to sneak into the back of a truck, having no idea that the disguised Ravens are in the driver seat.
After a cutaway to Tseng, Reno and Rude, who are starting to encounter armed resistance, Shotgun is surprised to discover that Elena is also on board her truck, having been kidnapped by the Ravens at some point off-screen. She tells Shotgun the facts, presuming that she was kidnapped for witnessing their attack on (and probably murder of) the three grunts, not to mention their infiltration. Shotgun waits for the truck to stop before making her move – they’re on the highway at this point. After killing the drivers of this and another truck, and after another cutaway to Tseng involving a speech about the “pride of the Turks,” Shotgun discovers there are even more Ravens in the back of the second truck, where they must be stacked up like cordwood the way they keep coming. One of them finally knocks her out, after which a near dozen more come out of the stinking clown car. She fights them off, but is so distracted that other Ravens regain control of the trucks and drive off, taking Elena with them.
Back in the dump, Reno and Rude are surprisingly overcome by the robot prison guards, and Tseng makes a dramatic last stand as he reminisces about the day Verdot saved him some time in the past, before being overcome. The closing scene is of Shotgun calling Tseng and talking to him before realizing he’s not responding… despite the fact that he can’t possibly have answered the phone for her to talk in the first place? Because he’s unconscious? With that, our half-chapter comes to an end.
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.