Chapter 22-2: Threatening to Shatter the Very Firmament, Continued
Verdot’s voice from the past reaches out to Tseng in the present, and empower Tseng to somehow take down the robots that nearly wiped him, Rude and Reno combined. After getting everyone back on their feet offscreen, the trio continue their rescue attempt.
Back with our main protagonist, Shotgun is for some reason wondering why AVALANCHE kidnapped Elena. She… already told you this, lady, she’s a witness and they’re just looking for a place to dump her corpse. But it turns out there really is more of it: we cut to the Ravens, who contact Fuhito to inform him that they captured Elena as some sort of pre-arranged objective. This just adds to my suspicions that Elena never witness an attack in an earlier draft!
Meanwhile, Sears is running around Wall Market, having apparently learned there’s a way to summon a “Perfect Zirconiade.” “Who knew that there was a way to summon a perfect Zirconiade?” And that I’d learn about it in the Honey Bee Inn! Unfortunately for him, he’s been found by Fuhito, who had previously hinted that he had a loose end to tie up, i.e. Sears himself. It seems Fuhito’s brought Elfé with him in a truck, and is preparing for the summoning. Fuhito demands the doomsday materia that Sears is holding, and Sears rationalizes that there’s no harm in doing so: he plans to summon Zirconiade anyways, and all that really matters is that he be near enough to the materia to break it after the fact. He surrenders.
Meanwhile, Shotgun has been following a trail Elena left behind to rescue her off the train leading out of Midgar. The developers had underused train assets and darn it, they were going to get their money’s worth! Here, we learn Fuhito’s plan: the Ravens are holding Elena hostage in exchange for Shotgun’s two doomsday materia. Shotgun takes stock of her situation, to determine if she could conceivably rescue Elena, and after a fair-sized tactical analysis that I appreciate (especially since it’s quite in-character!), decides it’s best to surrender. Elena attempts to fight her own way free, but Shotgun stops her and they make the exchange, after which Shotgun starts firing. Unfortunately, the Raven with the materia has already made a break for it. Elena tries to join Shotgun, but Shotgun turns her down (reasonable, but from a gameplay perspective, surprising, as we already have the AI and some of the punching sprites from the scene in the gym!). Elena muses about how she “always thought the Turks were dogs of Shinra,” but now she’s changed her mind. Why not both? Apparently Shotgun has inspired her enough to join the oppression in the future. Great… great job on this kid, Shotgun.
After gunning down the entire train full of Ravens (she’s lucky they can’t regenerate any longer, for whatever plot-hole-related-reason), Shotgun realizes the Raven with the materia actually jumped from this train to another mid-motion, got lucky his neck wasn’t snapped in the process (since he can’t regenerate anymore, clearly!), and is far away by now. Shotgun decides to chase after the materia. You know, you still have to help Tseng with that escape plan, Shotgun, not just chase AVALANCHE! Her new scheme is to get a Shinra chopper to chase down the Raven, even though Shinra is at the Turks’ throat at this point. And also that she’s on a high-speed train out of town. But whatever, this game thinks you can circumnavigate the globe in under eight minutes.
Back with Sears, we learn about this “perfect summoning” Sears was talking about earlier: it seems that all Fuhito has to do is to kill Elfé after the summoning, and then give Zirconiade the doomsday materia (including the one in Elfé’s hand). That does fit the evidence after a fashion: remember that Sears’ plan was to smash the support materia, so Fuhito’s plan to give Zirconiade the materia for safekeeping, absorption or whatever, seems like a viable “opposite.” Shotgun coincidentally happens to call Sears just after Fuhito leaves him lying in the Wall Market dirt, and he conveys the bad news. After that, he collapses, announcing that he will soon die of his injuries. So you know it’s gonna happen! Definitely! No chance for any other outcome! Just like last time!
Back with Tseng, him and the other Turks actually dodge past enemy bullets, which looks pretty badass for all it’s improbable and… urm… “drawn-in-these-graphics” as it is. Unfortunately, they’re still dedicated to leaving grunts alive, conscious… totally untouched in fact. So now they’re trapped in between the grunts and the building where they’re holding Verdot, but that… never comes up? Rude breaks down the cell door, and Verdot is shocked to see them, figuring they would take company loyalty over personal loyalty. Tseng earns a facepalm from me when he declares that Verdot is actually more valuable to the company than to them, so in a matter of speaking, isn’t this still company loyalty? You see what I mean about the Turks taking pride in blind loyalty being treated as a positive. Tseng then says Shotgun is waiting with an escape vehicle. Sure she is!
Back in Shinra HQ, the President is watching the security feed and takes Verdor’s escape in stride. You see, because he’s seen Tseng was one of the rescuers, he rightly presumes that all the Turks are out of the HQ at the moment, and he can retrieve Rufus! Unbeknownst to him, Shotgun has just now snuck back into HQ to steal that helicopter…
For what it’s worth, this actually has been kind of exciting lately. Keep it up, game!
Shotgun manages to trip an alarm, muttering to herself (and the player) that it’s unbelievable that she slipped up like that. She ends up having to clobber a guard, which with her animations looks like she blew his brains out despite her claims that she’s trying to keep the Shinra grunts alive. Thankfully, he had a key card, as the alarm means all the doors will now be locked. Unfortunately, “security” has apparently released numerous copies of Sample:H0512, because god forbid we draw new monsters with our brand-new set of 2D resources. Hey, remember when Hojo’s research was supposed to be a secret in this game? Long story short, Ririn has to navigate this maze, finding the doors that can be unlocked with the current keycard, and then finding more Grunts to find higher-level keycards. Ririn uses a secret door to find the first card, though I can’t imagine that’s mandatory, probably just a shortcut. Ririn also goes out of their way to kill one of the Samples during this sequence, so I imagine this has something to do with the end-of-mission rating. The sequence caps off with a fight against three Samples at once! Unfortunately, Shotgun and the President’s thugs never cross paths, despite the threat to the contrary.
Shotgun finally finds her helicopter, reasoning that she can find the Raven that took the materia and take his truck back in the process. Seems like there are easier ways to grab a truck, or that you might even try escaping with Verdot via the helicopter, but I’m with you on the first part. At this point, we cut to President Shinra, who has rescued Rufus just as planned. I’m a little disappointed that the two characters’ efforts never crossed paths. A fight against some Shinra guards would be appropriate here, but then they’d have to create enemy versions of Shinra guards!
Despite having somehow travelled to the middle of the city and then back, Shotgun has somehow caught the Raven with the materia just as he’s making his escape. Impossible, but whatever. She outright crashes the chopper into the truck, and ends up having to chase the Raven down on foot. Unfortunately, he has reinforcements, as, in a streak of even less believable coincidence than just a few seconds ago, he crashed just outside of the stretch of highway where Fuhito plans to perform the summoning! Fuhito uses the doomsday materia near poor, unconscious Elfé (who is, because of the sprite limitations of this game, still armed months later), and Shotgun is too late to stop it. No one in the audience is particularly surprised – narrative tropes and all that – but Shotgun does get very close for whatever that’s worth.
Anyways, poor Elfé! She’s basically not been a character for several chapters now and is now essentially a prop, not a person. Not even surprising, Square Enix. Not even surprising.
Zirconiade is summoned, and for bonus points, the game shows the summoning happening over the same graphic of Shinra HQ that’s used on the game’s main menus – the “normal” coming under attack, and all that. Shotgun basically tackles Elfé away from Fuhito before he can kill her, and the two of them end up in a fight. But for some reason, he’s immune to damage now? No explanation is ever provided! Even though Fuhito is “invincible,” I suspect the game is counting your hits or something, because Ririn’s fight ends just as Fuhito is taking an shot to the face.
Fuhito and Shotgun’s battle is interrupted when the doomsday materia begins to react, and the main materia separates from Elfé all on its own, and then flies directly to Fuhito, who takes it as a sign that he’s been divinely appointed to give it to Zirconiade. He runs off towards the hovering Summon. Shotgun gives Tseng a call at this stage. Tseng, I’m calling you tell you that I have blown it. Tseng decides to pass on the news to Verdot that Elfé is okay. That is… that is technically true. Sure, let’s go with “okay!”
At this point, the playable Turks – including Legend, but not the version exclusive characters – all gather somewhere outside of Midgar, just outside a magical cloud that Zirconiade has summoned around the area. They note several Behemoths roaming the area. You see? Behemoths! What did I say? They just appear the fucking second the final dungeon shows up! Out of nowhere! Spontaneous generation!
With that dire news, the chapter ends.
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.