Pyrrhic Victory

BY : terpfen
Category: Final Fantasy Games > Final Fantasy VI
Dragon prints: 1432
Disclaimer: Final Fantasy is owned by Square-Enix. I make no claim of ownership nor profit from this work.

South Figaro. Finally.

Standing atop a small hill, the South Figaro countryside sprawled out in front of Celes, a stiff breeze causing her long curtain of hair to flutter wildly as she surveyed the view. To her far right, the town of South Figaro bustled in the morning light, its residents and garrison mobilizing in response to the appearance of an Imperial army. Magitek armor formed a line to the northwest of the town, columns of soldiers spaced between the large machines. Under normal circumstances, Celes would have thought the brown swath of Imperial uniforms to be the most impressive and striking feature of the landscape. However, after the... ordeal in Maranda, the rows of soldiers awaiting her command seemed almost a blemish on the grassy field.

Maranda. The thought sent a shiver down the general's cape-covered spine. Despite the time that had elapsed since she was recalled from the Marandan peninsula, Celes had never quite gotten comfortable with what had happened. Reflecting on the campaign with every waking moment, she had begun to suspect that she was set up to fail, or at least not expected to succeed. The more she thought about it, the less sense it made. And what had happened in the Marandan inn... it felt almost staged.

Those and other paranoid thoughts had filled Celes' head since the campaign. Everything seemed to be suspicious. The disappearance of some of her administrative staff around the time the forests were cleared; the Emperor's refusal to meet with her after her recall from Maranda; the way she had been shuttled off to South Figaro, given a makeshift invasion plan to study on the boat ride over. None of it seemed right.

Am I wrong? Am I just imagining things?

"... General?"

"Huh?" Celes muttered, turning around to face the source of the voice, her cape catching on the breeze and allowing a brief view of her backside. Mounted on chocobos were three soldiers, the same aides who had been with the blonde during the Maranda campaign.

"Should we give the order to invade, General?" the one to her left asked. "We've been out of here all morning. The troops are starting to get restless."

"Have you made contact with Kefka yet?" Celes asked.

"Well... no. General Kefka's army isn't where the plans say he should be. Our messengers can't find him at all. It's like he just vanished," the aide to her right explained.

The answer unnerved Celes more than she was willing to admit. Something was definitely wrong.

"... I guess we can't wait forever, can we?" Celes concluded. Yet again, another suspicious event popped up to confront her. The invasion plan specified that Celes was to attack from South Figaro's northwest, while Kefka joined her in the attack from the north... but, of course, why would anything go as she expected? Nothing else seemed to make sense any more.

Looking back at the town, Celes could see streams of figures appearing along its outskirts. Even at this distance, she could see their armaments, handheld contraptions designed to fling arrows and make noise. Well, they were nothing that a Fire Beam couldn't counter... though, now, the thought of such a one-sided victory made the general slightly disgusted. She couldn't explain her feelings... but orders were orders.

"Give the signal. Advance."

"Yes, General!" all three aides shouted. After saluting in unison, they rode off to spread the order, leaving Celes alone with her thoughts... and the same pit of fear in her stomach that she had felt in Maranda. Soon, the sea of brown uniforms spread out across the plains of Figaro rolled forward, streaking toward South Figaro like a darkened tidal wave. The South Figaro defense force spread outward, morphing into a defensive line. Moments passed in tense silence as the Imperial army charged at the defensive garrison.

And then everything went wrong.

Fires erupted in the midst of the Imperial advance, glowing red orbs that caused the brown dots of soldiers to scatter and scurry. Spreading quickly, the flames formed a long wall stretching to the far horizon, isolating the front half of the army from the rear. Even atop the hill, Celes could clearly hear the sounds of commotion from below.

What the hell?! Where did that fire come from?

The advance halted as the leading units became cognizant of the inexplicable flames behind them, but soon resumed their advance, presumably as the unit commanders refocused their soldiers' attention on the mission. Waves of Magitek armor surged forward... and suddenly disappeared. The terrain itself gave way, hundreds of suits of Magitek armor falling into camouflaged holes dotting the field. Even more numbers of soldiers were now trapped between the fire to their rear and the prospect of pitfalls to their fore.

And then the South Figaro garrison marched forward, launching their counterattack with a horde of arrows that sprung from their machined crossbows. Arcing high in the air, the bolts clustered as they trekked a path to the enemy, raining down on the trapped soldiers.

"NO!" Celes shrieked, her newfound paranoia finding justification on the field below. The blonde watched helplessly as a mere trickle of soldiers advanced past the Magitek-filled ditches, their pilots dismounting to join their comrades on foot. Just like that, the technological and numerical advantage she held was gone. The Figarans now held the upper hand, their advantage symbolized by another volley of arrows launched at the thinned-out Imperial lines.

"No... not again! Not these damn traps again!" Running from the crest of the hill, Celes made for her Magitek armor, a white-colored unit idling mere yards away. Quickly mounting the cockpit, she manipulated the necessary controls, driving the machine forward at top speed toward the crest she had been standing at. The unit leapt over the top and crashed against the steep slope, painfully jostling its pilot in her seat and forcing her breasts to pop out of her green leotard. Ignoring her sudden exposure, Celes charged down the slope, streaking toward the still-raging fires. To her right, another volley of arrows leapt forward, the thick metal bolts landing into the ground with an audible thuk. Ignoring the danger, the exposed blonde powered to the fires, arriving at the very end of the long row of red flames. Some of the trapped soldiers from both sides had made it this far, hoping to loop around the end of the blaze. As many as 100 soldiers were on either side of the flames, and every last one were shocked to see their general skidding down the hill, her breasts visibly and distractingly out in the open.

"MOVE!" Celes yelled, the magic-generating arms of her Magitek armor distorted behind a blue glow. "Get out of my way!"

The threat of being trapped in a Magitek armor's blast was enough to cause the soldiers to scatter from Celes' path, nearly all of them looking behind their shoulders, staring at Celes' expansive bust. Cognizant but uncaring of her semi-undressed state, the blonde's armor raced forward, firing a Blizzard Beam at the base of the flames. The blue blast penetrated the red curtain, forming a layer of ice on the ground, quickly snuffing out the flames. Celes surged forward, firing a continuous Blizzard Beam at the ground, eliminating the barrier dividing her army.

"Advance! Keep going!" she yelled out continuously. Behind her, the bewildered soldiers glanced at each other in total disbelief of what the had just witnessed, a bizarre juxtaposition of their buxom blonde general simultaneously quashing the obstructing fire and giving the men a full, distracting view of her bosom. Quickly, the individual unit commanders resumed command, organizing their groups and beginning a march toward the South Figaro defense line.

As Celes' army reconstituted, red and yellow glows erupted behind the Figarans, blasting at the rear of their defense line. The mass of defenders wheeled around, responding to the new threat, but to no avail. Additional glows burst forward, Fire and Thunder Beams decimating the Figaran defense line. In no more than a handful of seconds, the Figaran defense collapsed entirely, the defenders fleeing the battle.

"How...?" Celes gasped, watching the scene unfold. Magitek armor streamed out of South Figaro, pursuing the defenders.

... Kefka. It had to be.


***


"Go! GET THEM! Kill everyone who resists! And a few who don't!"

The shrill voice barked those and other genocidal orders as Celes approached. The battle now largely over, the general had dismounted her Magitek armor--after adjusting her leotard to correct her accidental nudity, of course--and ran the distance to South Figaro. Standing at the outskirts, a clown-like figure was gesturing dramatically, specifying exactly which group of fleeing defenders was to be pursued by which soldiers.

Kefka.

"What is this?" Celes demanded, arriving within speaking distance of her fellow general.

"Oh! It's General Celes! What a surprise," Kefka sneered. "My, but you seem a bit overdressed for the occasion! Bimbos should really have lower standards."

"WHAT IS THIS?" Celes roared, allowing the clown-general's words to anger her. In response, the maniac struck a pose of faux shock.

"What is what? There's nothing going on at all! Just the elimination of a few hundred worthless people. Sadly, there are only so many Magitek armors to go around, and I really must take some with me to Doma, so unfortunately the body count won't be quite as high as it should be." Kefka punctuated his lament with a bursting cackle.

Celes seethed silently until the clown's laughter had died down.

"You know exactly what I mean," the blonde recited deliberately, attempting to calm herself. "This was to be a coordinated attack. Where were you? What the hell are you doing?"

Kefka crossed his arms and tapped his foot, as if trying to jog his memory. Then... "Oh! Yes, I recall now. Something about a combined attack. Yes, yes. Unfortunately, it was impossible to carry out."

What?

"Impossible?" Celes stammered. "Impossible HOW?"

"You see, it is impossible to go into battle with TRAITORS." Kefka burst out in laughter again, loud enough to drown out Celes' immediate response. Ignoring her, the clown continued.

"Someone managed to give the enemy our first invasion plan. This was confirmed by a... sympathizer in South Figaro. Naturally, only handful of people had access to the plan, and since I didn't do it, that leaves... you." Again, Kefka laughed, pleased with his powers of deduction.

"That's ABSURD!" Celes began protesting, yelling loudly enough to override the clown's laughter. "When could I have ever given the enemy our plans? I first read them on the journey here!"

"You really shouldn't lie, my dear. Gives you wrinkles," Kefka pointed out. "You were sent a copy of the plan at Maranda. And somehow, that copy seems to have been... lost. Perhaps because you sent it to the rebels? TRAITOR!"

... That folder.

"No! That's not true!" the blonde again protested, now keenly aware of the amount of soldiers and Magitek armor surrounding her. At some point in the conversation, they had closed in and formed a semicircle to her rear. Celes moved a hand to the sheathed hilt of her sword, her paranoia returning.

"But it is! You see, the Emperor has already found you guilty of treason." Kefka struck another exaggerated pose of feigned shock. "And what is the punishment for treason? That's right: You're gonna die!"

Nothing Kefka said made any sense... but simultaneously, it made perfect sense. Suddenly, looking at the wildly cackling clown, everything made sense.

Celes rushed forward, unsheathing her sword, aiming it at Kefka's stomach--CLONG!

A Magitek armor to her left dashed forward, colliding with the blonde, her skull bouncing off the metallic body. She collapsed immediately, falling with a dull thud onto the paved street, manic cackling ringing in her ears. The world became a blur, and then quickly faded to black.


***


With a triumphant click, a pair of chains collapsed onto the ground, their restrained prisoner freed. She immediately collapsed, slumping toward the floor--her rescuer quickly reached forward to stop her fall, hands on the sides of her ribs, catching her at the last moment. Her breasts draped across a significant portion of his forearms... but that wasn't important right now.

"Hey! Are you okay? You still with us?" the man hurriedly whispered, not wanting to wake the sleeping guard nearby.

Celes groaned in dulled pain. She shook her head slowly, looking at the ground. "No… nothing's okay… I'm not with anyone anymore… just leave me here."

Locke frowned, sympathetic to the apparent hell Celes had been put through. But there wasn't any time…

"No. You're coming with me. I can't leave you here." Locke moved to Celes' side, draping her arm across the back of his neck, supporting the weight of her sore body. He was well aware of the almost mythically proportioned bosom pressed into his side, but did his best to ignore it. Helping her was more important than ogling her.

Celes weakly complied, gingerly stepping forward with Locke's assistance. She managed a few steps, the numbness beginning to leave her body. The duo took one step at a time, making their way toward the wide-open cell door. As it approached, Celes' curiosity got the better of her. She glanced at her rescuer.

"Why are you helping me?"

Locke stopped, looking straight ahead. His eyes flashed with a hidden intensity, but only briefly. He looked at Celes.

"A long time ago, I couldn't protect someone dear to me. You remind me of her." That was all he was apparently willing to share, as he stepped forward again, forcing Celes to follow suit. By now, they were near the door… right next to the sleeping guard. Looking at the brown uniform, Celes instead saw red.

You!

Celes stared at the unknown soldier, reclined against the wall in his chair, sleeping like a baby. As if nothing was wrong in the world. As if he was innocent. No, now he was just as guilty of violating her womanhood as those soldiers in Maranda...

The former general's second wind manifested itself with a vicious kick to the sleeping soldier's face. A crack echoed in the open room as he fell off the chair to his right, slumping into immediate unconsciousness. Immediately, Celes kicked the man again, her toe connecting with his unarmored hip. Again she kicked him, this time connecting with his bare face, a jarring crunch signaling that his nose had been broken.

"You... you... YOU!" Celes stammered through her rage, searching for an insult demeaning enough to express her rage, but finding none.

Locke turned away, leaving the cell. It felt somehow… inappropriate to stay. Not because he was against violence to Imperial soldiers; no, he would have done much worse than a couple of kicks. He certainly didn't begrudge Celes her anguish. But somehow, it felt wrong to watch, as if he was intruding. He waited in the hallway, doing his best to ignore the sounds coming from the cell.

Celes was crouching down in front of the unconscious soldier, tears welling in her eyes as the new reality of her life slowly sank in.

"You bastard," she hissed at the unconscious form beneath her. "You took it all from me. I'm a Returner now, because of you. A rebel. A castoff! All of you ruined it..."

Celes buried her face in her hands, sobbing.


***


Minutes later, Celes emerged from the cell, a faint redness in her eyes the only remaining hint of her emotional outburst. Locke turned to her, ceasing his lookout for any soldiers who may have found their way into the area.

"Are you okay?" he asked, tense worry in his voice.

"Yes, I am," Celes replied evenly, her lie obvious.

"… Alright, then. Let's go," Locke responded, seeing through her response. "We've spent too much time here. We have to get to Narshe with all haste." He walked past the voluptuous blonde, heading toward the end of the hallway.

After a moment of hesitation, Celes turned and left, the clicking of her heeled boosteps slowly fading.


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