Shulk, Reyn, Sharla and Otharon exited the Mining Base via a tunnel in the rock, coming out into the Storage Depot where they had previously fought a group of Mechon. Otharon led the party down a flight of stairs; to their right were piles and piles of large metal containers. Otharon led them left and down another two flights of stairs.
Shulk lagged behind the other three, his mind on his recent visions. At the bottom of the stage, Reyn was already fed up with his friend’s slow stroll. “Hurry it up, slowcoach!”
“What’s wrong?” Sharla asked.
Otharon left them to sort it out amongst themselves. I’ll go and survey the area.
Shulk could hear the man’s voice in his head, see the ether river in his mind’s eye.
Sharla and Reyn followed Otharon, leaving Shulk to his thoughts on the stairway.
But then… What does that mean? Shulk’s shoulders sagged as his train of thought concluded. If we keep moving, is Otharon really going to die? Shulk dashed down the stairs, skidding to a stop behind his companions. “No!” “What’s wrong, Shulk?” Reyn asked.
“This battle is for my people,” Otharon said flatly. “If you can’t handle it, drop that weapon and head home.”
“That’s not it!” Shulk scrambled for an explanation. “I… It’s just that…” I should have thought this through!
“Out with it!” barked Otharon, crossing his arms.
“Listen…” Shulk began. “Maybe we shouldn’t just rush in head first.”
“What?” Otharon unfolded his arms. He could feel himself losing patience.
“We got this far,” Reyn pointed out.
“I think we should observe them, and plan our attack afterwards,” Shulk suggested.
How dare he… Otharon snapped. “You insolent… We don’t have that kind of time! You don’t know a damn thing about these machines.” He turned away from Shulk. “I have observed their movements. I’ve planned this attack for a month! I know full well what’s going to happen to my brothers and sisters!” “It’s just…” What do I say now?
Otharon was done listening to the blonde-haired boy. “We’re going. Fall in, Medic.” He continued on his way.
“Sir!” As Otharon walked away, Sharla turned to Shulk. “What’s got into you?”
“I knew it,” said Reyn. “The Shulk I know doesn’t just chicken out for any old reason.”
“This vision… Was it like before?” asked Sharla.
“Kind of,” replied Shulk. “I saw an underground ether river. And Otharon…” his voice trailed off.
“An ether river,” muttered Reyn. He looked up at Shulk. “You know what? That sword lets you see the future. All that power, and you still keep getting it wrong.”
“Better to use my brain than my fists,” said Shulk, stung.
Reyn fixed his friend with a steady gaze. “Shulk, I may rush in head first, but at least my head’s useful for something.” Shulk turned away, seeing his point and annoyed at the fact that his friend was right. “OK, OK. I get the idea.”
“I ain’t done yet!” said Reyn sharply. “You’re useless on your own, Shulk. That’s why we’re here.”
Shulk faced Reyn again, indignant. “Reyn, I…”
Reyn talked right over the top of Shulk, ignoring his protests. “Next time you have a vision, tell us. We bear the burden together, as a team.” Shulk looked to the ground. So that’s what he was getting at.
“You have a vision you don’t like,” Reyn continued, “we’ll change the future together. Got it?”
After a moment of silence, Shulk answered. “Got it.”
“What was that! Say it like you mean it!”
“I got it, all right! Next time, I’ll tell you.”
Sharla spoke up. “He’s right, Shulk. You two saved Juju once before. I know we can do it again. I believe in you.” “Thanks.” They’re right. We’ll change what happens. Shulk’s visions flashed througs his mind. Anyway, I didn’t see Juju and the others dying. There’s still hope.
“What are you all dawdling for?” Otharon’s voice echoed from the tunnel ahead.
“Shall we keep going?” asked Sharla.
Shulk nodded. “We probably shouldn’t keep him waiting. Let’s go.” He, Reyn and Sharla left the stairs behind, heading after Otharon. A short stony corridor opened up into a small cavern which Sharla recognised as the Central Terminal. Carts on metal rails sat inside the cavern; the rails twisted into two rocky passageways and out of sight.
Otharon was standing by the entrance to the cavern. He pointed at the corridor on the right. “That’s where we need to go,” he said quietly, “but there are at least three Mechon down there. We’ll need to destroy them in order to get through.”
“So let’s get going then!” exclaimed Reyn, tightening his grip on his gunlance.
Otharon gave Shulk a cool look. “Can we count on you not to waver, boy?”
Shulk nodded. He raised the Monado above his head and spun on the spot with a cry of “Monado Enchant!”
“All right!” Reyn led the charge against the Mechon with Shulk; Otharon and Sharla bringing up the rear with their rifles. The first Mechon the party came across was an M42 Scout Unit, which they quickly took out before it could run off to find reinforcements. Next came two M31 units – I swear they look different – which met their ends crushed beneath Reyn’s shield and sliced in two by the Monado.
Otharon scowled at the path in front of them. It had collapsed into the tunnel below it, robbing them of their way forward. He sighed and addressed his companions. “This was the quickest way through, but it looks like it’s been destroyed. We’ll have to go around.”
“Is it much farther to go around?” Shulk asked.
Otharon shook his head. “No. But we don’t have much time as it is. Let’s get a move on.” He pushed past Shulk, heading back the way they had come and turning left. They followed the path as it led them through a rocky corridor, which then opened up into a small cavern filled with upas and lizards. They continued into a short corridor before coming up to a large metal gate.
Otharon cursed. Of course it’s locked. He turned to Shulk, Reyn and Sharla. “We need to open this up. We’ll be making a short detour to the switch. Let’s move out.” He led them back into the cavern, turning right and heading through a long stone corridor, which eventually opened up and granted the party a view of the central pit of the mines.
Shulk and Reyn were stunned by what they saw. Directly ahead of them lay what was the core to Colony 6’s mine. A tall, cylindrical tower rose from the depths of the mine far, far below. Bridges branched from it, connecting it with various natural floors within the mine. Synthetic platforms acted as elevators between each level of the mine. The whole structure was rotating; the boys could see huge propellor-like blades slowly sweeping across the highest level of the pillar.
They jumped at the sounds of shifting metal nearby; Otharon and Sharla were out of sight. To their right, they could see the giant metallic door barring their way forward. They were astonished to see that the door was sinking into the ground; Sharla and Otharon reappeared on the path leading off to their right. “What did you do!?” Reyn demanded.
“We hit the switch for the gate,” Otharon replied. “Thankfully, the Mechon hadn’t done anything to it.”
“They must need it to get in and out, too,” Shulk guessed.
Otharon nodded. “Now, let’s head back to that door.” He abruptly left, heading back the way they had come.
Reyn folded his arms, scowling. “What’s his problem?”
Sharla glared at Reyn. “Probably has something to do with everyone he knows having been taken by the Mechon?”
Reyn unfolded his arms, embarrassed. “Right.”
Sharla rolled her eyes. “Come on, let’s go.” She followed Otharon through the mine’s tunnels, Shulk and Reyn in tow. The gate’s absence gave them a clear view of the pillar that was the mine’s centre. A path to their right led to the pillar; directly ahead was a drop, straight into the river at the base of the mine.
Sharla turned to face the boys. “We’re here… The Central Pit.”
Reyn approached the steep cliff. He looked around, scratched his head. Then he turned to Sharla, looking confused. “Where are they all? I don’t see anyone.”
Sharla pointed out an elevator to the left of the gate. “We’ll take that lift.”
Reyn grinned. “I’m ready to mash some Mechon.” Shulk agreed. “Juju, Otharon… Just hold on!” They headed down the elevator, preparing to navigate the Mechon-filled area that was the Ether Mines’ Central Pit.
Images taken using Scalz311‘s YouTube channel.