Madness and Ashes
TWO YEARS LATER
The time was around ten, Zack was wandering around the Slums of Sector Five
he had to find his friend. With the events of a year ago, well the pain of it all had changed him slightly. He was still the same man, but he had grown up somewhat since the whole affair around Genesis.
Thinking back, with Avalanche now in virtual ruin thanks to the Turks, Zack couldnt think it a more fitting punishment for what happened to Cloud.
He had found him just leaving the compound, his bag over his shoulder and a forlorn expression on his face, if the knowledge the Jerikson had been a member of Avalanche secretly planted in the program and had tricked Cloud into getting him to the train station shocked him, then the fact that Colonel Roberts had ordered his immediate expulsion from the program came as a crushing blow. He had got Cloud to go to the Lower Plate, gave him a set of keys to his place in Sector Five, Zack then spoke to Angeal and he had got Cloud a position in the MPs, it wasnt SOLDIER, but he could one day make it to the ranks again
if he worked at it.
The time as a SOLDIER 2nd had been very hard and at the end of the final mission, the death of Angeal and Genesis. Sephiroth had pushed through his promotion to the Firsts. Cloud hadnt spoken to him about that
in fact he hadnt seen Cloud since. Sometimes he figured that Cloud was rather envious of his position, that since the beginning of the program, Cloud had to claw his way up while he had found it easier. Zack turned the corner and walked up to the lone house on a corner-it was small, one floor and was surprisingly good for the houses of Sector Four. He knocked on the door and waited, after a moment a young man in a white tee opened, his hair was wild and spikey-as always-the glint in his eyes showed the Mako Enhancements hed had, that would always be a reminder of his failure. He gave a grin to Cloud and walked in.
Weve got a job on.
He looked around the place-it was well kept and alcohol free-several Shinra issue things, his sword-a gift from Zack on his advancement in the MPs. He had been watching the TV when Zack arrived and sat back down, not replying.
I was given a week off, Zack. Cloud said. Give me a reason why Id come with you?
Sephiroth is in charge.
And the hook was in, Cloud raised his head to look and a slight smile crossed his eyes.
Cloud walked up, his uniform a little itchy from the fabric softener hed been using, his helmet held behind his neck as he approached the large van, Zack and several other Guard were already there, talking quietly.
He didnt carry a sword-not yet-his rifle was slung over his back-he didnt like guns, they were impersonal, uncivilized.
Sephiroth wasnt long in coming and he ushered the whole group in the truck, this was a part of his life as an MP that Cloud hated, he was always being put in small, rickety cars, vans, trucks
all which turned his stomach on its head, but he was starting to develop a technique of blocking it all out, not thinking on it was the best way and that meant not talking-something that the other MPs hadnt missed-and that gave him a little bit of the loner personality again.
Grinning, he got into the van and sat as close to the back as possible, air would help a lot.
Zack, Sephiroth and two other Guards got into the back after Cloud and assembled themselves around him. It was clear by Zacks demeanour that this mission, whatever it was, thrilled him. As with the norm of current Shinra techniques, only the highest-ranking officer on the mission knew about the details of it.
The truck started off, its rumble sending Cloud into a fit of moans already. Soon the plains of Midgar were rolling behind them. The first problem came when they approached the Mythril Mines
for a reason that had never been given to any of the people at Shinra, a swamp had grown at the entrance to the mines and living in them were groups of things called Zoloms.
With a crashing boom, the truck nearly turned on its side and with a silent movement, Sephiroth opened the back and hopped to the floor, Zack followed along with an MP, Cloud watched as Sephiroth moved within the swamp, neatly jumping over the Zoloms huge snaps and bites. Smiling at it, Sephiroth moved before the other two could and unsheathed his sword, he skewered the Zoloms belly once and jumped high in the air, slicing his Masamune up through its body and through its head. The Midgar Zolom was supposedly a deadly creature, the Chocobo Farm was making money hand over fist in renting Chocobos to travellers who wanted to get to Junon and Sephiroth was able to kill it with as little effort as Cloud had ever seen. He shook off the grime from the swamp and returned to the van, Cloud had heard what had happened a year ago with Angeal and Genesis
the fact that Sephiroth was still working for the Shinra was an amazing thing, but the emotionless state he was usually in seemed warm compared to how he looked after fighting that thing.
The trip over to Junon was uneventful, the rebuilding of the Fort Reactor was still going on, with protestors already showing up complaining about the damage it would do to the giant Condors that usually nested there. Cloud ignored them and finally breathed a sigh of relief when he was allowed out on the TCSL (Trans-Continent Shinra Liner). Walking with a quickness he usually held for manoeuvres, Cloud found his way to the front of the ship-the tossing of the ship would be just as bad as the car if he didnt get the full breeze from the ocean.
A small laugh caught Cloud as he leaned against the railing and he turned to see Zack stood there, a plain grin on his face. Cloud rolled his eyes at his friend and turned to him.
whats this mission about?
I dont have a clue
why? Zack asked.
Well, were both going home, right?
I doubt it
itll probably be something like Rocket Town, the place is going down hill and they seemed to want help from Wutai last I heard. Zack explained. But
the only one who knows is Sephiroth and he aint tellin, well yet at least.
The thrust of the engines sent Clouds stomach reeling and he moaned slightly, hanging his head closer to the railing. I hate these missions
why cant we-ulp-just go on foot?
You want to go on foot
since when were you named Jesus? Zack asked. This is the only way other than plane and youre worse on them than you are in a van.
Dont remind me. Cloud muttered between moans.
Half way through the trip Cloud allowed himself to throw up, hoping that the further journey would keep his stomach settled. The scenery of the ocean was beautiful, when he had first come across the ocean he had been in a van in the hold with the driver, he had been across the world more times than he could count, but each time he had been cooped up in a van or an Gelinka aircraft. The world was a beautiful place and he was proud to be a part of the Shinra Corporation who kept it like this.
Zack and Sephiroth were quietly talking over something at the bow of the ship, several crewmembers were laughing with the other MPs, Cloud obviously wasnt welcome to interfere with either of them so he decided to try and keep his mind off the rolling waves.
Eventually the ship docked at the tropical resort of Costa Del Sol. The place had been of little interest for Cloud when he had passed through, it had been in the off season and there had been little to nothing open. Now though, the place was abuzz with people in skimpy swimwear, an elbow in his rib brought his attention to Zack who nodded at a lounging woman with no top on. Her long brown hair had been held up above her head and she was laying face forwards on a beach towel. Gulping down a small amount of shock, Cloud grinned back at Zack.
I thought you said youd given up on all that?
I can look cant I? Zack asked. But what about you
I mean, that glint in your eye, is that sunlight or what?
They both laughed raucously before getting back in the van, Cloud feeling the heat already within the van and loosening his face veil. They started out and Cloud kept his view on the outside-it helped. These trips were almost always uneventful and the trips there and back were always very boring. As they passed over a small river, Cloud saw a large desert area emerging from behind the mountains of the Corel Reigon. He hadnt noticed it there before.
What in the name of god is that? Cloud muttered.
The Corel desert. Sephiroth muttered. There used to be a pretty large mining village there
but when the people who didnt want a Mako Reactor there tampered with it
well, the town was destroyed and this desert swallowed it about a year or so.
And that? Zack asked. That is probably the Gold Saucer, right?
Sephiroth nodded Were not on any R&R boys, not yet anyway
no stops there.
But, who could own something like that? Cloud asked, his head craning upwards. Its bigger than Midgar.
hes the third cousin of President Shinra. He had a bit of the family inheritance allowed him and had this built. Sephiroth explained. Though now he likes to keep a ways away from the Shinra
doesnt like the politics his family is instilling.
Cloud nodded, so that was where Corel had been, where Avalanche had attacked and blamed the townspeople, they were gone though now
and good riddance.
They moved on, passing over another small stream, the day finally turning to an early evening, the heat in the air starting to dissipate into a slightly wet heat. Heading along the grass roads they turned passed another small town.
Hay, I heard that you were from Gongaga, Cossat. You hear that they are planning on starting construction on a Reactor for them. An MP asked.
Really, damn thats good news, Ive been lobbying for them to get one since I joined SOLDIER. Zack replied. Well, maybe once were through here Ill be able to stop and see how theyre doing.
Once this missions over, well all be getting a bit of R&R. Sephiroth replied.
The trip through the Cosmo Region took them into the night and as they left the area, it began to rain. With that plus the pitch darkness outside, Clouds stomach started acting up again, quite a bit too. He lowered his head as they passed over a large part of the uneven grass and he moaned.
You alright mate? Zack asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Cloud raised his head and shook it,
I really dont envy you
Ive never had motion sickness. He turned and looked at Sephiroth. I almost forgot, they gave me some new Materia for this mission. This rules!
Just like a kid. Sephiroth chuckled.
as were a long ways into the trip, where we headed? Zack said.
Clouds eyes opened and he lifted his head. Nibelheim
thats where Im from.
well I guess youll be able to see your family and friends then. Sephiroth replied.
But...why are we going there?
There has been a lot of monster activity there over the last year
Shinra thinks it might have something to do with the Reactor
were supposed to investigate it and kill any monsters we might find.
Cloud was about to ask whether the monsters had hurt anyone when the van was hit by a tremendous crash. The van rocked and the driver yelled that something had just rammed into the side.
Well, looks like that is our queue.
Sephiroth stood up and walked to the back of the truck, hesitating a moment before jumping out into the darkness. Zack and Cloud right behind him.
Stood in the middle of the road was a huge dragon, it was coloured back and purple and looked strong enough to rent a person in two in an instant. Sephiroth stood unflinching in front of it, his sword ready. Cloud raised his gun and saw Zack have his sword out instantly, but Sephiroth moved before all of them, jumping into the air and slicing at the dragons head, the slash brought back blood and Sephiroth landed neatly on the other side of the dragon as its head rolled to a neat stop near them.
He stood and turned, saw the dumbfounded looks on the others faces and gave a slight smile.
The Mako smell had gotten a little worse since hed left, the natural smell of the life all around them had grown
probably because of the Mako Reactor on the mountain.
But that was the only thing.
Cloud stood-his helmet and kerchief on-looking at the exact same scenery that hed left two years ago. There was nothing different about it. He walked over to the old mans truck, the owner of the hotel had left it there for as long as Cloud could remember and it hadnt changed at all.
Hows it feel?
Cloud turned and saw Zack and Sephiroth looking at him, their heads cocked.
Hows it feel
to be home? Sephiroth asked. I wouldnt know
I dont have a hometown.
What? Cloud said. Really sir
what about your family?
A dark look crossed Sephiroths face. My mother was Jenova
she died in child birth. He said. My father
And he started laughing coldly. My father
I dont know who he is
but the fool who raised me
well, he is an evil man and not worth thinking of.
Laughing again, he turned and started into town.
The day hadnt started well, Tifa had actually been there in the middle of the square, sitting as if waiting
for what, him? Surely news that two SOLDIERs would be coming had been big to everyone here, would she had suspected him to be one of them?
He had felt worse and worse about this mission, now he was seeing the effects of his boasting. How would Tifa take it that he wasnt a SOLDIER, could he take the look of shock and disappointment on her face?
What about his mother?
Hed got letters off her and hed not replied to them, he didnt want to lie to her. People were actually coming out now, looking at the hero of the Wutai War
for the first time he didnt want Sephiroth on this mission. If it were any other, then he might have been less conspicuous.
Zack elbowed him and they both walked up to Sephiroth. Were booked in for the night, make sure to get plenty of rest. He reached up and touched the door handle. Oh
and youre free to visit your family and friends.
Zack grinned and nudged Cloud to show him around.
So, this is where you grew up, huh? Zack muttered. Have to admit, its a lot like Gongaga but I doubt Id be able to live in a place like this after seeing Midgar.
Cloud adopted a gruffer sounding voice and nodded. I know what you mean, so where you want to go?
Zack gave him a quizzical look before smiling. Whatever man, lets take a look at this freaky mansion you told us about.
Cloud walked Zack around the town all day, showing him some of the sights that hed gown up in, his particular hangouts and of course, the foot of Mount Nibel.
Thesere supposed to be the most dangerous mounts next to Gaea, arent they?
Honestly, do all you big city people think that?
Cloud froze on the spot and turned when Zack did, stood before them was a young woman, her dark brown hair half way down her back. She was sporting a strange cowgirl-country mix with a cowboy hat as well and she still had the most enchanting eyes he had ever seen in his life. He inadvertently gulped down and straightened slightly.
Zack gave a slight smile before stretching. Ah well, you know. Not much comes our way about the little towns
scuse me miss, weve gotta get to the other end of town, make sure things are okay for the night.
He walked Cloud away with a tug of the arm, Tifa staring at them with a perplexed look on her face.
Cloud avoided his own home, though Zack did want to see his mother, Cloud didnt want to lie to her face. He took Zack to the bar instead, he needed a stiff drink to calm himself for the mission.
Sitting at the bar, Cloud undid his kerchief and lay it around his neck. Zack turned to him when he did this. Honestly, the people here dont care and besides, after everything youve been through
there aint much else to get you back in SOLDIER.
Yeah, like Roberts will ever let me back in. Cloud muttered, before ordering. The barman raised an eyebrow at the speed of Clouds order before nodding and heading off to make the drinks. And you dont know what these lot are like
A person appeared from behind them just pulling on an apron. Cloud groaned slightly as Tifa smiled at them-probably just at Zack-and walked up to them. He had unwittingly placed them at the grill, she placed both hands on the counter and leaned forwards.
What can I get you?
Cloud hesitated a moment for Zack to order and when he didnt, he grabbed the menu and started reading.
Um, hows about
the Wolves Fang prime rib and I think Ill go without.
my foods not bad you know.
He tapped his helmet. Im not allowed to remove it while on duty miss. If youd be kind enough to have a heated steak sandwich sent up to our room at the Inn.
Tifa gave another quizzical look. Where are you from?
I was from Corel. Cloud muttered. Not that it matters much now.
Tifa frowned. You sure
its kinda familiar.
I aint been here before, now scoot!
Tifa frowned and turned away. Youre a SOLDIER, right?
Zack nodded, a cold look on his face, giving Cloud a withering stare he turned to Tifa. Yeah
um, there was a friend of mine, he left here about two years ago. He was called Cloud, he said he was going to Midgar to become a member of SOLDIER. Do you know him? She replied, looking a little embarrassed.
A SOLDIER called Cloud
well, youve gotta understand that theres a lot of guys out there whore SOLDIERs or hopefuls, I only just made it as a 1st, fraid I cant know every SOLDIER out there. He said, a glint appearing in his eye. Why though
what reason could you have to want to know this guy, I mean
hes been gone a while, right?
He left about two years ago
well I miss him if you must know
I thought that seeing as a SOLDIER mission would be coming here, hed want to come back. Tifa said. Id like to see him, whatever hes made of himself
She walked off, a far away look on her face.
Zack turned to Cloud. You hear that. She doesnt give a shit, shed be happy just to see you.
Cloud shook his head. No
she wouldnt. I said Id be a hero and Im nothing.
When he and Zack retired to their room, one of the other MPs informed them that they were one bed short.
Dont you worry. Ill keep watch tonight. Sephiroth said. Youre sandwich was delightful, Strife
Cloud smiled bitterly as he took his helmet off, throwing it to the corner of the room, Very good sir.
The next morning, Cloud was one of the last to awake, though Zack had to be prodded awake as well, they dressed quickly and rushed out, Cloud fumbling with his helmet as he rushed to the entrance to the Shinra Mansion, he skidded to a halt when he saw who was stood next to Sephiroth.
Jack Lockheart was stood, his eyes slightly wide with shock at seeing Cloud, then they narrowed tightly.
Cloud snapped his helmet on and wrapped the kerchief over his face as Jack approached him.
youre back. He said, coldly.
Yeah. Cloud said, he had no idea how he was going to get out of this one. Why, that a problem?
so long as you dont stay. Jack said. Listen to me carefully Strife
I want you to stay away from my daughter
leave her be here, let her be happy.
was exactly my idea. Cloud replied, glad of his helmet and kerchief hiding the sting he had in his eyes.
He walked over to Sephiroth and stood with him, looking ahead.
You alright Strife?
Cloud nodded once.
If you are having second thoughts, I could have you wait in the-.
Sir. Cloud muttered darkly. I will complete the mission, thank you.
Sephiroth nodded and turned to the trail, Tifa was approaching from the base, a slight smile on her face.
Well, I think everythings okay
Cloud looked at her, she was so beautiful. Beyond anything he had fantasized about over the two years, a lump was constricting his throat, after this mission was over with, then hed never be back here, never see her face again. As Sephiroth and Tifa stood next to Zack, Cloud felt two tears roll down his face. He would have to, he couldnt let her see him like this.
They travelled up the mountain at a steady pace, taking their time with sheer rock faces and hard high trails until they made it to a rope bridge, Cloud stopped as Tifa stepped on without second thought, this was the very same rope bridge that it had happened on six years ago. He placed a hand on the rope as he stepped on, it was old
he could feel its age even under the Shinra gloves.
After a cough from behind him, he followed Zack and Sephiroth. He was half way across when he felt something very wrong, with a thunk of a rope snapping, the bridge shuddered wildly before the second rope snapped. Cloud felt the ground beneath him fall away and he gripped the side with his free arm, he heard one of the MPs screaming as he fell, reached out and gripped the other with his free hand, but little comfort came from that as the other end of the rope bridge snapped and Cloud saw the rushing ground approaching him.
The next thing he knew was pain, a terrible aching pain all over him, he sat up and groaned, looking around he could only see Tifa, Zack and one of the other MPs-possibly the one he grabbed-groaning as they got up.
It looks like weve got the long way to go. Sephiroth appeared from the side of a fissure of rock, looking utterly calm and centred.
Um, Mr. Sephiroth
it looks like were one man down? Tifa said, looking over the group.
I know it is cold but we dont have the time to search for him, hes lost to us anyway. Sephiroth replied. Lead on, Miss Lockheart.
The trip up to the Reactor was an rigorous one, they passed through whole shining caves full of Lifestream energy, passed a fully active Lifestream Fountain with natural Materia growing inside it and a high wall and trail until they eventually came upon the long and high trail up to the Reactor.
The first remaining MP was stationed at the gates to the Reactor grounds, while Cloud, Tifa, Zack and Sephiroth walked up to the main entrance.
Tifa attempted to lead them in, but was stopped by Sephiroth throwing out an arm.
Sorry miss, but there are Shinra industrial secrets inside, Im afraid youll have to wait here.
Sephiroth turned to Cloud
Take care of the lady.
Cloud nodded and, as Zack and Sephiroth made their way inside, he stepped in font of the metal staircase and crossed his arms.
.well youd better take good care of me then. She said, placing her hands on her hips. Anyway, you said you were from Corel right
did you get out before the Reactor explosion?
Yeah. Cloud replied gruffly. I ha-those idiots that attacked the Reactor were the ones who killed my hometown, no one else.
He had nearly let loose the information of the Avalanche involvement, that was a part of the Shinras private database, something that the public didnt know or should know.
why are you in the Guard
I thought most people wanted to be in SOLDIER? Tifa asked.
I tried, was kicked out near the end. Cloud replied again. Though I still hope that Ill be a SOLDIER one day.
You seem friendly with that SOLDIER, Zack. Did you train with him?
Was in the same year in SOLDIER. Cloud replied. He made it, Im glad for him, just wish I had.
Did you know a Cloud Strife?
Cloud sighed inwardly, he had been waiting for this.
Like Zack said theres loadsa people try out for SOLDIER, cant name em all, miss, Cloud gruffly replied. Though I do know there was a coupleoClouds in the program.
You think so. Tifa said. He
he would have blond hair, kinda spikey
shorter than most people, blue eyes, brilliantly blue.
She bit her lip and shook her head. If
when you get back to Midgar
you meet a guy like that, tell him
tell him Tifa Lockheart misses him and wants to see him again.
The lump was back in his throat, but he didnt need to say anything as Sephiroth bustled past him, muttering something about his mother.
Look man, Zack said, again at the bar-this time at eleven oclock-Tifa had just gone home for the night and Cloud had felt safe enough to remove his helmet. She says she wanted to see you
go say hello. You have the same skills I do, the only thing youre missing is the outfit!
Its not the same, Zack. Cloud replied. You dont see it, youre a SOLDIER, you live with the knowledge every day, me. I said Id be as good as Sephiroth! Ha, and now look at me, an MP
sure shed be happy to see me.
Personally I think youre throwing away a smoking hot piece of-.
Cloud had gripped Zack by the throat, dragged him down and slammed him to the bar top, he looked at him seriously and said quietly. Never speak of her like that, do you understand me.
He let go of Zack and sat back down, the people in the bar not paying any attention to them.
Well, it looks like you still have a fire for her
Cloud, listen to me, she is probably one of the most attractive women Ive seen, trust me thats saying something-and she is hopelessly in love with you. She would love you even if you came back here without Mako Enhancements. Zack said. You know how difficult it is to find someone like that
for Christs sake man, act on it!
But Cloud swilled his drink down before turning and walking out of the bar, his gil in the glass.
The second days stay at Nibelheim passed without event, no monsters were appearing now, the only thing was that Sephiroth had left the whole group alone and shut himself up in the old Shinra Mansion, the basement light remaining on all day and into the night.
When night fell on their third day at Nibelheim, Cloud and Zack met in the square, Cloud having spoken with his mother briefly beforehand.
Sephiroth is acting very strangely. Zack said. Im worried, he kind of went off kilter in the Reactor for a minute, stay out here and keep an eye on things, Im going inside to see what hes up to
Cloud, if something is wrong, we are the only ones with any chance of killing him
if I dont come out of here, youve gotta do it.
Cloud nodded and took guard in front of Tifas home, her father and the heads of the town were at the gates to the mansion, Zack stopped briefly to speak with them before closing the gate and walking into the mansion.
Cloud could hear Tifas movements inside the house, she seemed to be cooking something from the smell. He allowed himself a moment to picture her in a frilly apron, rushing around a kitchen with ladles and soupspoons in her hands before he fixed his gaze back on the mansion. Cloud could hear talking from the group, a man who looked like Tifas father broke out of the group and started up the mountain
towards the Reactor.
He would have followed, but the idea of leaving anyone alone-he didnt want to leave Tifa alone at the moment-was out of the option.
And then the door opened, Sephiroth was carrying Clouds fellow MP in the air one handed by the throat. He took one look around the gathering of people and spoke loudly enough to get the whole towns attention.
GET OUT OF MY WAY, IM GOING TO SEE MY MOTHER!!!
And in an instant, the MP had burst into flame, Clouds grip on his gun tightened and he raised it high enough to be ready. The MPs screams died out and Sephiroth threw the body aside, he then clenched his arms into his chest and yelled to the world FLARE!
Cloud had an instant to react, he raised his gun in a defensive manner as the wall of heat slammed into everything around him and he was slammed into the wall of Tifas home, his body fell to the floor with a dull thud and he passed out.
Tifa felt the rumble and then the whole house shook. She stopped at the pan of carrots, the salt seller in one hand and a ladle in the other, there were screams coming from outside-terrifying screams.
Walking out to the hall, she tried the front door, it wouldnt open, with a hard kick it broke open, she saw an unconscious MP on the floor and Zangan tending to injured people on the ground and
The whole of Nibelheim was ablaze.
She staggered slightly from shock and held herself up on the doorframe. What in the name of god could do this?
Master, MASTER! What happened?
She rushed over to him and helped the young Devin Karton to a sitting position.
hes lost his mind, sent a Flare attack everywhere
that kid who was with him is still in the mansion
was saying something about his mother.
Sephiroth did this? Tifa mumbled. She looked around, her father was nowhere to be seen. Master, wheres my father?
Went up to the Reactor, said that hed find out what was causing all this and stop it himself. Zangan replied. Why
Tifa had turned and was running through the fire now, she had a terrified thought, Sephiroth had come out of the Reactor muttering about his mother
and father was up there.
She pumped herself as fast as she could, and was soon climbing the slopes of Mt. Nibel, she would stop Sephiroth if she had to, someone had to.
It took half an hour to climb up the rock face that she would usually leave alone, but she got to the top and was heading up he trail to the Reactor when she saw him.
He was lying on the outskirts of the Reactor, his throat ripped out by the blade sunk into the earth. She fell to her knees and gripped her fathers body, it was already growing cold, and tears were leaking out of her eyes and down her cheeks.
father, Sephiroth did this to you didnt he. She stuttered out I hate them
EVERYTHING!!!! She screamed the last to the sky. I HATE THEM ALL!!!!!
And she jumped to her feet, grabbing Sephiroth sword and wrenching it from the earth, she sped forwards to the Reactor.
Zack stopped for a brief moment at the body of a dead man-Tifas Father-she had not been that far ahead of him. He unsheathed his sword and rushed forwards, fear bubbling up in him, he hadnt checked on Cloud, if he was dead then it was up to him, he was alone.
Hed stopped Genesis, he could stop Sephiroth too, right?
He broke into the Reactor, slid down the chain to the reactor floor and rushed into the main Jenova Chamber.
Tifa was lying on the floor, her body twitching, she was breathing but she had a terrible gash running down her front, blood was pumping quickly from her wound.
He bent down and touched her wound, it was a deep one and something that few people would be able to heal. He pulled out a Materia orb-Cure-and was about to cast when Tifa beat his hand away.
Her voice was cracked and shaky. SOLDIER
Zack got to his feet, his eyes still on her.
Im sorry Tifa, Ill do my best to pay back what Sephiroth has done.
He looked up the steps, the door to Jenovas Chamber was open, he rushed upwards to it.
oth! Cloud groaned as he sat up.
His helmet was cracked down the middle, his vision was fogged for a moment before he got steady and saw that Zangan was tending to the wounded.
whered Sephiroth go? Cloud shouted.
Hes gone up the mountain. He said. That other one, Zack
he went after him. You goin up there too?
Cloud threw his ruined gun away and nodded. Yeah
he has to pay for this, its too much
He looked back at Tifas house, it was ablaze.
Shes gone up there too
youre him arent you, the one who left to be a SOLDIER
Yeah. Cloud said, turning and ripping the burnt kerchief off his face. And I have a promise to keep.
The run up the mountain, took less time that it had when Tifa had taken them up, Cloud had ripped his clothes and blooded his knees getting up in such a hurry, but he had to help her, he only prayed he made it in time.
Seeing Jack Lockhearts body on the trail floor told him to expect the worst, but when he slid down the chain to the reactor floor and stepped into the Jenova chamber, his world turned upside down, Zack was lying on several human sized Mako pods, his shirt stained with the blood from his chest, hed defended himself enough to stop a lethal blow, but then he saw her.
Tifa was lying on the reactor floor, her face slowly turning a chalk white, blood was oozing from her open chest. His eyes opened wide and he felt his breath catching in his throat, it couldnt be true
she couldnt be- a rage hit Cloud like he had never before felt, he blindly grabbed Zacks sword-lying on the reactor floor where his friend had dropped it-and rushed up the steps.
The inside of the inner chamber was coloured an oddly blue but Cloud saw nothing of that as he rushed up a set of power cables to a huge glass pod with Sephiroth fondling it lovingly, he pulled back the sword and drove it right into Sephiroths midsection, hearing a great cracking of glass as he did.
.GIVE THEM BACK!!!! He yelled.
Cloud pulled the sword out and backed away.
YOU! Sephiroth spluttered blood over his clothes and the floor as he spoke, his eyes widening in shock.
I admired you
. He was shaking terribly. I WANTED TO BE YOU!
He turned, tore his helmet off and threw it angrily to the side of the chamber. As soon as he had removed the helmet, he was a different person and he rushed out of the reactor saying one word.
When he got to the floor, he lifted Tifa in his arms-the lifeless feeling of how she hung there scared him-and he carried her to the side of the reactor, placing her in a sitting position before taking a look at her.
Even now, speckled in blood, her face growing whiter, she was still beautiful. He caressed her face gently and she awoke. Recognition filled her face as she smiled as happily as he had ever seen anyone ever smile. You came
you kept your promise
when I was in a bind
Cloud smiled and nodded, the noise also seemed to have awoken something else.
Kill Sephiroth. It was Zack, he looked injured and only turned his head, but his eyes were full of the cold fury and as soon as they met, Cloud knew what he had to do.
Sephiroth passed them without notice and walked out, holding a severed head in his hand as well as his sword.
Cloud nodded, his rage boiling again, he tore out of the room and into the reactor main.
Sephiroth straightened up, waited a moment and Cloud took his chance, he flew at the man, only to feel fire erupt in his midriff.
Cloud looked down at the blade sticking from his midsection in horror, but a second later, hate greater than anything he had felt before filled him and he grabbed the blade, pulled himself further along it, lifted Sephiroth into the air and threw him, full bodied into the reactor wall, he slammed into it, Cloud saw Sephiroths body contracting slightly before he fell into the depths of the Reactors core.
Cloud heaved a sigh and turned around, eight feet of sword sticking from his chest, he started back to the others, his eyes growing dimmer as he did.
Was the last thing he said before the darkness took him.
Zangan stepped into the reactors floor, saw the young man-Strife-lying motionless near the entrance to the chamber ahead, Sephiroths sword sticking out of his chest. He quickly walked in through the doorway, saw the other boy, Zack
he was unconscious on the pods, injured but alive and Tifa
she was sitting up, her chest open and bleeding badly.
He scooped her up in his arms, turned to look once at the two boys as he left, he had no other choice
Tifa was his priority now.
He got out of the Reactor and then out of the dying Nibelheim passing the dead as he did, none of those who were hit in the blast had survived long and those who had been trapped in the houses had died as they collapsed in on themselves and he could feel the cold burn on his arms and legs from when he had defended himself. They trekked along as fast as Zangan could move and only stopped as night drew on, here he tried to heal Tifa-the wound did close, but not for long-he had heard about Sephiroths blade causing this kind of problem but he hadnt believed it, until now.
best chance youve got. He muttered, lifting her up.
He placed the Cure Materia behind his wristband and started using it on Tifa every few hours to keep her alive on the long trip to the metal city.
The call had come in and he had gone immediately, Shiraton Hojo surveyed the damage inside the Jenova Chamber and the inner chamber
Kojis plan had actually worked.
He laughed out loud. But he doesnt know what I do! It was an almost insane laugh, he didnt notice his fellow scientists looking terrified at him, or the Turks who were now staring at him with avid attention. After surveying the majority of the mansion-the only building that had survived the attack-he led a team up to the Reactor.
As he walked into the Mako Chamber, he sighed and let a tut escape. If there was one thing he still hated about Sephiroth, it was a lack of subtlety, the place would cost him at least a hundred thousand to repair.
Sephiroth could have caused less damage, I always told him to kill, but no
he has the glamorise everything. He stopped a pair of Turks lifting the Cossat boys body-he was alive, miraculously. Take him to my lab in the Mansion
he will prove an interesting subject.
He continued on and saw the Masamune, lying on the floor, Five feet of bloodstained blade shimmering next to a body being lifted onto a stretcher and he goggled
the other one
He was alive!
But all permutations had said hed die in killing Sephiroth. A wild grin came across his face, if the boy was alive, he could prove very, very interesting.
and take him as well. Hojo said, cackling with laugher again. His plans, the plans of his beloved were going to happen no matter what anyone said. And these two were going to aid in that.
He removed his glasses to clean them , a smile on his face and the golden colour of his eyes glinting brightly as he walked slowly out of the reactor, humming to himself.
Pt.1: The End