Chapter 11- Not So Friendly Creatures

Once Galbadia's initial bombardment was completed, the commanding officers gave the order to charge into the inner depths of the forest. The soldiers immediately responded and moved into the demolished portion of the woods, except for Laguna, Kiros, and Ward. The other two were prepared to follow until they realized that their clumsy comrade was petrified with fear, as if he had been traumatized. He stood still, visibly shaken by what had just transpired.

"C'mon, Laguna! We gotta get goin'!" Ward urged.

"I-I can't…"

"You have to! It's our duty! I don't like it any more than you do, but orders are orders."

"He's right, man," Kiros agreed. "I know you're scared. It's only natural in a situation like this, but you can do this."

"But I don't want to," the man with the machine gun said.

"Me neither, but it's our job to defend Galbadia, right or wrong. Listen, we all know this so-called war won't last long. Even Timber knows it. The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can go back to Deling City. You'll get to see Julia again," the black man said, knowing it would motivate him.

"You're right," Laguna said with a nod. Then he raised his weapon high into the air. "Let's do this!"

His eyes scanned the surrounding areas, spotting small fires still burning the bare, scorched trees. However, there was no sign of the rest of the army. "Uh…Which way did they go?"

Kiros and Ward placed their hands on their foreheads and shook their heads simultaneously. "Don't tell me we lost them," the bulky soldier remarked.

They all remained silent briefly. Then the Winhill native looked at Laguna expectantly. "Now what?"

"How should I know?!" he shot back. "I didn't even see them leave!"

"Well, you're the leader here. We'll go wherever you go," the witty soldier stated. "As unfortunate as that is for us."

"Shut up!"

Kiros grinned slyly while Ward chuckled.

"Let's go!" Laguna ordered and they dashed into the forests of Timber.

They followed the path of destroyed and desolate trees and wildlife, hoping that it would be an indicator of which direction the rest of the troops went. Occasionally, they passed fallen Timber soldiers, dressed in dark brown in an attempt to blend in with their surroundings, but to no avail. The tall grass had given way to the fires, dropping to the ground and clearing new paths. Various remains of trees had fallen down, and the trio walked around them. It began to drizzle, but they hardly felt any of the soft raindrops hitting them.

As they proceeded deeper, they came across a large group of various animals—Funguars, Geezards, Wendigos, Cockatrices, Anacondaurs—enraged by the fact that their home was being destroyed. As soon as they spotted the three Galbadian soldiers, they stampeded together toward them. Their eyes widened in fear as they watched them rushing toward them.

"I suggest we run," Kiros said.

"Good idea," Ward agreed.

Then they ran as fast as they could in the opposite direction, with the deadly forest predators in pursuit of them. Laguna kept looking back at them, seeing that they were gradually closing in on them. They were becoming fatigued, while the monsters showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

"Where's a tree to climb when you need one?!" he exclaimed between breaths.

"You know, we can't run from them forever. They'll eventually catch us," the Winhill native said.

"Well, do you wanna fight them?" the thin soldier questioned.

"You can't be serious! There's way too many of them!" the man with the machine gun protested incredulously.

"Better now than later when we're too exhausted to defend ourselves."

"I guess you have a point…" Laguna reluctantly admitted. Then he started slowing down his pace. "Well, what're we runnin' for?! Let's get them monsters!"

They stopped completely and turned around to face the beasts, still breathing heavily. Laguna pulled out his machine gun and aimed it at the stampede. Then he pulled in and held the trigger in place, unleashing rounds of bullets on the predators. However, damage was minimal to them, and they were still approaching rapidly.

"It's not working! What do we do?!" Ward asked in desperation.

"Jump!" Kiros yelled.

They dove aside at the last possible moment and landed in ashes caused by the burning wood as the pack passed by harmlessly without noticing at first that their victims were out of the way. The minute particles of dust sprayed all over the three Galbadian soldiers, covering their bodies in soot and turning them black. They began coughing uncontrollably as they stood up and began wiping the ash from their bodies. Their eyes began to fill up with water and their vision became blurred. They were unaware that the creatures had turned around and were heading their way again.

"Whew…That was close," Ward said.

By the time their sight had cleared, it was too late to do anything. The pack was too close for them to maneuver out of the way, and the monsters collided with the trio. They were knocked off of their feet and dragged for a few moments before they slid through the vicious herd and hit the ground roughly. The momentum caused them to starting rolling. They covered their heads to avoid having an animal step on them. The Galbadian soldiers were badly bruised and battered, barely able to move and bleeding from cuts sustained during the stampede.

The wild beasts stopped and returned to their prey and attacked them. An Anacondaur rose over Laguna and prepared to bite him. However, as the mouth drew near and opened wider, he put his machine gun inside and mercilessly pulled the trigger. Its head was literally blown to pieces as its scaled body fell on top of him.
"AH! Get it off! Get it off!" he screamed, squirming around, trying to get away from it. Once he had forced it off, he quickly returned to his feet. "Yuck…That was disgusting!"

A Cockatrice was trying to bury its sharp, clawed feet into the chest of Kiros, but he continually raised his Katal to block it. He tried to stab the foot as it came for him again, but the large bird wasn't affected by it. As he held it in place, the thin soldier rose up the other blade and pierced its leg, causing it to shrilly squawk in pain. Kiros was able to slide out of its way and speedily returned to his feet. Then he decapitated it with an "X" motion with the weapons that were attached to his wrists.

Ward was surrounded by Geezards. They were frustrating him immensely. They weren't overly powerful, but he couldn't manage to attack one because another would swipe at him. Then he was forced to deal with that one, and then another one of the small monsters would take their turn. After long enough, the bulky soldier couldn't stand it anymore.

"That's it!" He planted his harpoon into the ground, and then used it to catapult himself high into the air, bringing the weapon up with him. At the peak of his jump, he cried out "Massive Anchor!" and then began to descend back toward them at a high velocity, with his feet on top of the harpoon for added pressure. Ward slammed into one Geezard and impaled him. Then the powerful shockwave resulting from the ferocious attack sent the rest flying into the air. They each bounced a couple more times, and then ceased to move.

Kiros was confronting a Wendigo and Funguar. The mushroom-like creature shot a sleeping gas at him, which he effortlessly sidestepped. Then he disposed of the fungus with a couple of slices from his Katal. As the Funguar was withering up and dying, the other muscular monster pounded him on top of the head with its fists. The thin soldier dropped to one knee and clutched his head as he began to feel dizzy. He shook it off and returned to unfinished business.

"You asked for it," Kiros said with a smirk. "Blood Pain!"

At a blinding speed, he turned around and began ruthlessly slashing the Wendigo, who was too slow to defend such a furious onslaught. With each incision made by his sharp blades, a bright red flash of light was emitted. Once it was completed, the brute monster dropped to its knees, and then fell on its face with a grunt.

As Laguna fired at the remaining beasts, he backed into a tree that was somehow still standing. Then he looked up to see a branch hanging slightly above him.

"Hey! I've got an idea!" he exclaimed. "Kiros! Ward! Get outta the way!"

They did as they were told while the clumsy soldier pulled out a grenade from his pocket.

"Uh oh…What's he gonna do?" Ward wondered.

He yanked the pin off and tossed it into the midst of the monsters. "Desperado!" Laguna leaped up and grabbed the branch with one head, still clutching his machine gun with the other. He began shooting, trying to hit the explosive, always missing, but hitting the beasts instead.

(Darn it! I need to work on my aim.)

Finally, the grenade exploded, wiping out what remained of their attackers.  Laguna dropped down, put his gun away, and dusted his hands off cockily. "That's how ya do it!"

"Good job, Laguna! But where'd you get the grenade?" Kiros asked curiously.

"Oh, I snuck one out of our cargo. Figured it might come in handy. Am I brilliant or what?" He placed his hands on his hips and laughed heartily, while his two comrades rolled their eyes.

"Anyway, we need to find our guys. The sun's almost down," Ward said.

"Let's go then."

They navigated their way through the forest cautiously, and eventually found where Galbadia had set up camp for the night.

"Hey! Where have you three been?!" one of the officers shouted angrily. They exchanged glances, but remained silent. Then the soldier shrugged. "Oh well. Doesn't matter. Better get some sleep 'cause we're raidin' the town tomorrow."

The Galbadian soldiers did as they were told and went to sleep.