Sharla led the party into the personnel lift, which took them down to the level below. They walked alongside a sheer drop to their left, with high, cold, stony walls towering above them to their right. Across the gap to their left was the corkscrew-like structure that was the backbone of the Ether Mines. Their goal was its base, where they believed the faced Mechon who had attacked them at Spiral Valley was not holding Juju. The gap between them and the corkscrew was filled by a metallic bridge; several of them could be found in the mine, which allowed miners to get at the ether in the walls of the cave.
Up ahead were four Mechon. What Shulk thought were two M69 units, Otharon explained, were actually M53X models; very similar, but with differing amounts of power from their M69 counterparts. Similarly, the raindrop-shaped M31 up ahead were actually M32X units. “How do you know so much about the Mechon?” Shulk quizzed him.
“Like I said, I’ve been observing them,” Otharon growled. “Now let’s destroy these machines and move on. We don’t have much time.”
The party lured the M53X units away from their hovering counterparts and quickly dispatched them using the Monado’s power. They then charged the M32X and knocked them out as well, before making their way across the bridge to the central structure of the pit.
Reyn kicked one of the battered M32X units off the edge as he passed it; it was a long while before a thunk! echoed up from below. He grimaced as he followed his friends across the bridge.
The structure in the middle of the pit was turning, and four giant arms placed at equal intervals swept over their heads. “What are they for?” Reyn wondered aloud.
“It keeps the ether moving,” Otharon growled. “That way the ether down there keeps circulating and churns up more for us to use.”
But did they have to put those things so low? Reyn flinched as one of the arms flew above his head. He and the others followed Otharon as he led them around the outside of the central structure, towards the next elevator that would take them down.
Otharon cursed when he spied an M64X ahead, flanked by two M32X; the M64X looked just like the claw-spinning M63 that Shulk had seen during the attack on Colony 9. “These blasted mines are crawling with Mechon!” “Then we’ll have to take ‘em out,” replied Reyn. “Shulk?”
Shulk nodded and cast Monado Enhcant on the party. Reyn charged in and blocked the M64X’s first blow, giving Shulk a chance to run in and cut it down. Another M64X joined the fray, but it was quickly disposed of in a similar fashion. Afterwards, Sharla looked over the boys to ensure they were relatively unharmed, and they moved on.
The party hit upon another bridge that would take them to the next personnel lift; they could see the lift itself a short distance away. They crossed it; Sharla shot down another M32X unit as it tried to flee. The elevator was to their left, as were a group of four Mechon; one M64X, two M53X and an M42 scout unit. Otharon frowned at the roadblock, thinking hard. “They shouldn’t cause us too much trouble, but there’s more of them, so be careful.” He tapped his rifle. “Take out the smaller ones first so we can fight the M64X together. Got it?” He nodded when they all confirmed their understanding. “Right then.”
Shulk cast Enchant and Reyn dashed headlong into the fray, yelling at the machines as they turned to face him. As Shulk began to follow, an ether bullet whizzed past he and Reyn, piercing the eye piece of one of the M53X which then collapsed.
Reyn was unfazed; he blocked the first blow from the M64X and thrust its arm back, staggering it. Shulk blocked an attack from the remaining M53X and then sliced at it, severing one of its legs. He finished off the machine by slicing it in half, just as Reyn lopped off the claw of the M64X and tackled it to the ground, digging his shield into its neck. The M42 was unmoving; Sharla had already taken it out.
The way to the next personnel lift clear, the party headed down it to the next level. Two Mechon patrolled the area before them; an M42 scout unit, and another variation of the M63. Its metallic body was a reddish brown, the claw replaced with a long ether-powered laser. “That laser on the red one is powerful,” Otharon muttered. “You boys are going to have to cut it off as soon as you can. Got it?”
The two friends nodded and readied themselves before dashing in to greet their foes. The red Mechon pointed its laser at the boys and began to charge a shot; an ether bullet from Otharon distracted it, allowing Reyn to jump on the machine with his lance. Shulk swiped at the M42 and brought it down as Reyn destroyed the M67. “Not too much trouble,” grinned Reyn, shaking the scraps of metal from his weapon.
Otharon approached the pair, Sharla in tow. “Good work. Now, let’s keep going.” He led the way forward, felling a couple more Mechon on the way. The path sloped downwards and then doubled back on itself to end at a bridge connecting it to the central corkscrew. The bridge opened up into a platform with three Mechon. One was another variant on the M69 model, the M55, while the other two were more M67. The party took out the M55 before moving on to the M67 and dispatching them as well.
Another platform lay ahead; at its entrance were two M67 units, with two more flanking its exit up ahead as well. In between was an M42 scout, with an even larger M82 visible in the distance. Shulk and Reyn recalled the last time they had fought one of those, back in the Colony; it had ended with Reyn severing the machine’s head.
Otharon looked out over the area in front of them, planning their next move. He turned to his companions. “This needs to be done quickly.” He addressed Shulk and Reyn. “I need the two of you to destroy the M67s closest to us, while the scout unit is near. Sharla and I will take out the scout unit before it reports the attack to the other Mechon.” He glanced across the platform ahead of them. “After that, we need to take out the other M67 units… And then work on the M82.” He grimaced. “I realise it’s not much of a plan, but it’s the best we can do.” He looked to Sharla. “Medic Sharla, are you ready?”
Sharla nodded, raising her rifle and placing the M42 in her sights. “I’m ready.”
Otharon mirrored her stance. “It’s coming!” he barked at the boys. “Get ready!” Shulk and Reyn tensed, waiting for Otharon’s word. “Now!!”
As Shulk and Reyn ran forwards, ether bullets flew past their head, sinking into the body of the scout. The M67 units turned in time to see the boys’ weapons come crashing down on their heads, cracking them open. This caught the attention of the three Mechon opposite them, who then began to hurry towards the party.
Sharla and Otharon fired at the M67s, managing to bring one down before it could do anything. The other traded shots with them as the M82 fronted Shulk and Reyn, spinning the saw on its arms. The M82 took a swing at Reyn, who deflected the blow with his shield. Shulk dashed in and swung at the machine’s legs, toppling it over; he and Reyn then lopped off the machine’s head, finishing the battle.
Otharon and Sharla approached the boys. “Are you okay?” Sharla exclaimed, fussing over Reyn. “That looked like it hurt!”
“Hey! I’m fine, Sharla.”
“That was reckless! That Mechon was huge!” “
We fought one back at Colony 9,” Reyn told her. “We beat it without the Monado. There was no way we were going to lose this time.”
Even Otharon looked impressed. “Great work!” he exclaimed.
Reyn looked taken aback. “Um, thanks.”
Otharon nodded. “Onwards, then. We’re getting close.”
Three small Mechon lay ahead; they were quickly taken out with no issue. The road ahead ended abruptly, with no branching paths. Reyn was about to ask where they were to go next when a platform appeared in front of them from above. The four of them boarded it and took it upwards. They then took another one, which led them down, deeper into the pit. To their left was a bridge leading away from the central corkscrew, which they followed. Two Mechon were at the end of it, which they defeated. There really are an awful lot of them, Shulk thought.
The party took down an M82 and then another two Mechon that blocked their path, heading ever downwards.
After destroying two groups of Mechon harvesting ether from two different crystal sources, Shulk felt disturbed. “They really are here for the ether…”
“These mines are a treasure trove,” Sharla replied. “It’s even more reason for us to kick them out of here.”
Up ahead was another personnel lift. The party were once again faced with those long, sweeping arms they had seen when they first reached the Central Pit. The room they were in was circular, and there were wide gaps between the islands of land off to the left and to the right. Otharon turned to the party. “We have to ride those things,” he said, pointing at the arms. “On the other side of this room is a lift that will take us down to the base level of the Central Pit. That’s where the faced Mechon who took Juju is.”
Otharon led the party on to the first of the arms, which took them off to the right and on to the next platform. As they walked through to catch the next one, a giant mechanical hand dropped a Mechon in front of them. It looked like an M84, but it was red, much like the M67 was to the M63. On top of that, its right arm had been replaced by a wicked-looking lance filled with green fluid. “What the hell!?” Reyn exclaimed.
“Fight it!” growled Otharon. “We’re almost there! Come on!!”
Reyn lowered his head, put up his shield and charged even as Shulk cast Monado Enchant on himself and the others. The M84 stabbed at Reyn and missed; Reyn rammed into the machine and staggered it. Sharla and Otharon opened fire, covering Shulk as he ran in to aid his friend. He cut the Mechon’s leg as he had the M82 before and it toppled over, flailing its arms wildly so Shulk and Reyn couldn’t get close.
The machine rolled on to its front and began dragging itself towards them; the boys tried to find an opening, but whenever one of them got close, it would stab at them with its lance.
“Damn it!” Reyn shouted, frustrated.
“Well, it can’t move properly,” Shulk began. Even as he said so, an ether bullet penetrated its eyepiece, and it stopped moving completely.
“Nice work!” said Reyn happily. Sharla nodded. “Thanks.” She and the others boarded one of the sweeping arms again, getting off at the next island of rock. They could see the entrance to the pit ahead, but before they could reach it, a huge mechanical hand blocked their path and two M84 dropped from above. “I think we have to defeat them to move forward,” said Shulk grimly.
Otharon swore. We’re so close!
They had no time to think, as the two Mechon spotted the party and quickly made their way towards them. Otharon and Sharla jumped back, firing at one of the machines. It made its way towards them; Shulk ran in and sliced off part of its leg, so it collapsed to the ground. This works almost too well.
Reyn, meanwhile, was grappling with the other Mechon. Sharla hit it with a powerful shot of ether from which it needed a moment to recover.
That moment was all Reyn needed. He jumped up and cut off his foe’s lance. When he landed, he turned and jumped again, cutting through the metal connecting its head to the rest of its body, and the machine collapsed.
Grinning, Reyn turned to help Shulk, but found that his friend had already destroyed his own foe.
“Right,” said Otharon. “That should be the last of them. Now, let’s head down to the base of the Central Pit, and bring back the residents of Colony 6.”
The Mechon vanquished, the party trod onwards, heading down some stairs and into an elevator. They all entered it and began their final descent, ready to fight the faced Mechon and take back Juju and the residents of Colony 6.
Images taken using Scalz311‘s YouTube channel.