THE CRAVE GAMING CHANNEL
V'lanna
 

Corel

By: Brandon Coleman
cohaagen@usaor.net


The villagers of Corel all gathered around the house of the headman, awaiting the exciting news he had promised. He emerged from the town hall, and the murmurs quieted. "I've just recieved word that the Shinra Electric Power Company is coming to negotiate the building of a Mako Reactor in our area! This will mean better lives for all of us, and better pay too! We're all being given jobs working in the new complex if the deal goes through!" The response from the crowd seemed enthusiastic. The headman waved his arms to quiet everyone down. "Scarlet of Shinra will be arriving here personally to work out the details. A town council meeting will be held to determine whether or not building the reactor is the right thing for Corel. The meeting is Friday night at the town hall. I expect all council members to be present." With that, the headman returned inside and the crowd dispersed.

Barret Wallace and Dyne Murdock, two of the most respected council members, stayed around to talk afterwards. "Yo, Dyne, what you think 'bout this new reactor?" Barret asked of his friend.

"I don't know..." Dyne said. "I'm happy about all the new jobs, and the money, but I don't want to give up our coal."

"I know, Dyne, it ain't easy for none of us, but think of the easier life we'll have," Barret reassured. "Besides, Myrna can't take no more of this labor. We both got to work just to make ends meet anymore."

Dyne sighed and began to say, "I know, but...", but he gave up and trailed off. He walked off in the direction of his house.

"This ain't gonna be easy..." Barret said, shaking his head.

***

Later, Barret discussed the reactor issue with his wife, Myrna, over dinner. "Myrna, what you think about the reactor?"

Myrna smiled warmly and replied, "I'm excited about it. All the work in the coal mines has started to get to me, and with the higher wages, I won't have to work anymore." She noticed the worried look on her husband's face. "Is something wrong, dear?" she asked.

Barret moved his peas around and said, "I dunno... I wuz talkin' to Dyne, and he said he didn't wanna vote in the new reactor. He doesn't wanna give up da coal..."

"Oh, I understand..." Myrna said. "Dyne's always been very proud of our coal, even moreso than the village headman. It'll probably be tough for him to let it go."

Barret said, "Yeah, but the vote' got to be unanimous for the reactor to be built. I'm afraid Dyne ain't gonna vote it in wit the rest of us."

Myrna reassured her husband, "I'm sure he'll come around eventually... it'll be better for all of us, he understands that."

"I hope you right..."

***

Soon, Friday night was upon the village of Corel, and the town hall was buzzing with activity. All the townspeople were there, anxious to hear whether or not the reactor would be voted in.

Upstairs, in the meeting room, Barret, Dyne, the village headman, and the rest of the council were just getting ready to cast their ballots. As everyone wrote down their votes, Dyne seemed to be avoiding making eye contact with Barret, who was sitting across from him. After everyone had turned in their ballots, the headman began to read off the votes.

"Okay, now, you all know the vote has to be unanimous. I'll begin reading the votes now," the headman said. Everyone looked anxious to hear the results. "Yes... yes... yes... yes... yes... yes... yes... yes... yes... and... no."

The smiles everyone had been wearing previous to the last vote vanished, and eyes turned to Dyne. He bowed his head, avoiding the vindictive glares of his fellow townspeople. "I'm sorry, everyone..." he began, "But our coal just means too much to me..."

The headman and the rest of the council returned downstairs to let everyone know about the bad news. Dyne was bringing up the rear, still hanging his head. "Well, everyone, we took a vote..." the headman said. The crowd seemed very anxious and excited to hear the outcome. "And I'm afraid we won't be adopting the Mako reactor plan," he finished. The crowd expressed their depression quite loudly. "Scarlet will be arriving here tomorrow morning to hear the news." Everyone shuffled slowly out of the town hall, with large frowns on their faces. Dyne sighed once again.

***

The next morning arrived, and everyone was up bright and early to meet Scarlet and other Shinra managers at the edge of town. A large train with the Shinra logo on the engine pulled into the railway station, and a woman clad in a bright red dress, two men in suits, and four Shinra soldiers stepped out of the first car.

The headman stepped forward and extended his hand to Scarlet. "Hello, I am the headman of this village. Welcome to Corel."

Scarlet briefly shook his hand and said, "So, let's get down to business. What have you and your townspeople decided about the Mako reactor?"

"Follow me to the town hall, we can discuss the reactor there," the headman said, leading Scarlet and her entourage into the town.

When the town council arrived at the town hall with Scarlet and the two managers, the four Shinra troops fanned out to guard the entrances while business was being conducted. The headman began to speak. "Scarlet, I regret to say that we have taken a vote on the building of the Mako reactor, and have decided not to build one here in Corel."

Scarlet sensed the headman's discomfort at the decision and inquired. "It seems you would have it otherwise..."

The headman explained, "By rule of the town council, the vote must be unanimous. One among us voted against the reactor." Dyne shifted uncomfortably.

Noticing Dyne's actions, Scarlet said, "Perhaps we could convince your friend here of the worth of Mako power."

"You can try," said the headman. "I don't know what we're going to do. The only one against this is Dyne."

Dyne, deciding it was high time he explained his point of view, stood up and looked at Scarlet. "I am definitely against it, no matter what. There's nothing to talk about if you're thinking of giving away our coal! Our coal's been protected for generations. Our fathers, and theirs before them, risked their lives for it. We have no right to throw it all away so easily!"

Barret put a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder. "But listen, Dyne. No one uses coal nowadays. It's the sign of the times."

"Right, everything is Mako now," Scarlet spoke. "It'll be all right, Dyne. Shinra will guarantee your livelihood once the Mako reactor is completed."

"Listen, Dyne. I don't want my wife, Myrna, to suffer anymore," Barret said.

Dyne shook his head. "I know how you feel! I feel the same way too, damn it!" He looked around at the council once more. "But even so, I won't give away our coal mines!"

The headman approached Dyne and offered, "Dyne... you've got to understand."

Dyne looked around at the hopeful faces of all his friends on the council. He sighed deeply, and sat down, holding his head.

"Dyne?" Barret approached his friend. "What do you say?"

"Yes, Dyne. Have you changed your mind?" the headman asked hopefully.

Dyne let out his deepest sigh yet, and said, "If everyone else thinks the reactor is the best thing for Corel... I won't stop them."

Everyone in the room cheered, and Scarlet approached the headman. "Excellent," she said, "Now, if you'll follow me so we can sign all the papers, and make it official."

***

Now that the contract had been signed, things were moving quickly in Corel. Truckfuls of Shinra engineers and carpenters arrived the next day, and the whole town seemed in a bustle over the exciting new reactor. Scarlet stayed in the village to oversee everything and make sure nothing went wrong.

Dyne, head hanging low and hands in pockets, walked down the main street of Corel, making a futile attempt to ignore the excitement of his fellow villagers. Barret excitedly ran up behind him, yelling, "Yo, Dyne! Wait up!" Dyne slowly turned to face his friend, the same glum look on his face. Barret's smile quickly disappeared when he saw his friend still in the same mood. "Dyne, you still fussin' 'bout the reactor? Ain't nothin' you can do to stop it now, might as well get used to havin' it around."

"Yeah, I suppose..." Dyne lamented. "I can just feel my ancestors turning over in their graves... the great coal pioneers of Corel, founders of the village, even..."

"Times have changed, Dyne. Coal jus' ain't efficient enough no more," Barret reassured his friend yet again. Then, an idea popped into Barret's head. "Hey, Dyne, I know what you need. You need to get yo' mind offa all that's been happenin' today. C'mon, I got just the trick to snap you outta this mood." Resigning himself to whatever idea Barret had cooked up, Dyne shrugged and followed, convinced that whatever it was, it probably wasn't going to work.

***

"Can I look yet? Feels like we've been moving for quite some time, where are we?" questioned a slightly annoyed Dyne for what seemed to Barret the umpteenth time.

"Ok, ok, already!" Barret exclaimed, and tore off Dyne's blindfold, allowing him to see the spectacle beneath them: the multi-domed amusement park known as the Gold Saucer.

Dyne's jaw fell in amazement at the sight of the multi-colored balloons and fireworks shooting out of the Saucer, and he immediately inquired of Barret, "Wow, how much did this cost you? Must've been a whole lot..."

Barret grinned and said, "You was in a real desperate state, and you know what they say 'bout desperate times." Dyne did not respond; he was too busy marveling at the wonders surrounding the cable car: a Chocobo race track, a haunted house, a roller coaster, casino games, and a battle arena.

As the cable car neared its final destination, Dyne seemed to have all but forgotten about his troubles back home and was anxious to get into the park and have some fun. Barret paid at the door for a one-day ticket, and they entered the transport chamber. There were "jump tubes" leading to each of the different areas of the park.

"Hey, Barret, wanna go to the battle arena? Bet I could lick you in a one-on-one!" Dyne asked, full of energy and zest.

"Yeah, c'mon and step up to the challenge!" Barret retorted, clenching his fists and punching at the air jokingly. The two departed for Battle Square.

Barret pulled out a handful of gil and handed it to the receptionist, and he and Dyne were soon locked into the battle chamber. A fierce but friendly battle ensued, with Barret as the victor, due to his weight advantage.

Next, the pair headed to Wonder Square to try their luck at some of the games of skill. A silly-looking cat riding a stuffed moogle bounced up to them and said, "Hiya, my name's Taj! I'm a fortune-telling robot! Would you like your fortunes read?"

"Sure, fire away, cat," Barret said.

The cat-and-moogle robot did a humorous dance, pulled out a small slip of paper, and handed it to Dyne and Barret. Dyne read the fortune aloud. "It says... 'Beware. An unfortunate incident can turn a friendship sour.' You think it's talkin' about us, Barret?"

"No way, we been buddies long as I remember!" exclaimed Barret. "Damn thing must be broken or sumthin'."

The rest of the day passed quickly, until early evening came and the two friends were ready to head back home. Dyne won a heady amount of gil gambling on Chocobos; Barret wasn't so lucky. They also visited the haunted house and rode the roller coaster at Speed Square. Dyne was in a considerably cheerful mood on the ride back to town.

***

"Wow, that was really great. I had a terrific time!" Dyne exclaimed as he and Barret walked home from the cable car station, which was several miles away. They saw a figure in the distance, straining to walk, and ran up to see what the problem was.

The figure turned out to be the Corel headman, running and breathing heavily. "Barret! Dyne!" he called out, "Come quick! The village's being attacked! It's Shinra soldiers!"

"What!!!?" Barret yelled and staggered back in surprise. He and Dyne quickly ran over to the bluff overlooking the village and saw a horrible sight. The entire village was aflame, and there were charred remains of many of the townspeople littered about the ground. As he watched this spectacle, Barret became increasingly angry, until he exploded in a fit of anger. "What the hell happened?" he bellowed, raising his arms in rage. He was shaking so violently he had to sit down on the rocky ground.

Dyne, who was standing gape-eyed at the burning village, noticed Barret's absolute fury and tried to comfort him. "Hey, Barret! It's not over yet!" he reassured. "Everyone's waiting! Let's get back to the village!" Dyne knew in the back of his mind, however, as Barret did, that it was too late to salvage the village.

"Barret! Dyne! Protect the village!" the headman huffed, falling to his knees. Four Shinra soldiers approached him from behind and shot him dead. Being in such a state of exhaustion, he didn't put up much of a fight.

"Hmp! Old man!" Barret declared, as Dyne jumped down to the next ledge. However, Barret was too slow, and the four soldiers opened fire on him. He began to dance wildly, doing everything in his ability to dodge the bullets.

"C'mon, Barret! We gotta hurry!" Dyne urged. Barret side-stepped the last barrage of bullets and made his way down to where his friend stood. "Barret! You stay here!" Dyne said, obviously wanting to go back for help while Barret held off the soldiers.

Out from behind the group of soldiers, a familiar figure in a red dress emerged. "Kyaa haa ha!" Scarlet taunted the soldiers. "You can shoot all day and never hit them with aim like that!" Meanwhile, Barret was too busy arguing with Dyne to notice her arrival. She whipped out a pistol of her own and shot one of the soldiers in the chest. "Haa, ha, ha! Stop playing around and cover me!" At her command, the three remaining soldiers grouped around her and once again began firing on Barret and Dyne.

"Watch out!" Dyne yelled, seeing the imminent attack by the Shinra troops. He was hit in the foot and stumbled, nearly falling into the vast chasm. Barret caught his hand at the last minute.

"Dyne! Hang on! Listen to me!" Barret called to his friend. "You're comin' back to the village, hear?" he said hopefully.

Dyne grasped his hand tighter. "Yeah, I ain't lettin' go..."

"You're comin' back... Everyone's waitin' for ya... Elanor... and Marlene... they all waitin' on us..." Barret said, trying to inspire some hope in his comrade. By this time, Scarlet and the soldiers' shots had gotten progressively closer to the two men, and finally, a few well-aimed bullets tore through their arms. Wincing in pain, Barret pulled his wounded arm back, and Dyne's grip loosened, sending him plummeting into the canyon...

***

Somehow, Barret had managed to escape from the soldiers and make it back to the dessicate village where he had lived his whole life. "Look at this..." he sadly reflected, sifting through the rubble. All of the townspeople he could see were either charred to a crisp, or lying half-dead in the streets.

From a distance, Barret thought he heard a faint whimpering noise, and hurried off in the direction of the sound, hoping that someone had survived. The noise was coming from the remains of Dyne's house. Dyne's baby daughter, Marlene, was lying among the rubble, streaming tears and wailing.

"D... daddy?" she said through a series of sobs.

Barret, feeling a sense of responsibility for the child, nodded and took her in his arms. "It's a miracle... everyone in the town died 'cept for you an' me. Guess we a team from now on... You all I have, now that Myrna's gone... I'll take good care of you... You'll make your daddy proud... And I'll get the Shinra for this..." Barret walked out of the town, leaving his entire life behind, and set out to start a new one.

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