Completion Part 6
Hello, yes I am alive and well, alive. Real life kinda snuck up on me, hid behind a wall, and beat me to death with a sledge hammer. Then it revived me. Then Fanfiction.net made me a cranky dragon. So that's all I can say for my long time in between writing.
On a few good notes, I am going home this December to live with my fiancé, (yes ya heard me right! I'm getting married this summer!) I am also making my own webpage, dedicated to my Fanfictions. Completion and I Tried have really blown up into a HUGE set of fictions. There will be seven fictions in all. All Turk centered. Of course this means that I found a bunch of plot holes in both this fiction and I Tried that need a revamp. So I am going to get the rest of Completion up and then go to town on the rest of my works.
So, to wrap up, I am making a "Drakon Update" mailing list. If you want on that, or if you have any suggestions or requests for my webpage or want me to link you let me know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org (I love being bothered, don't worry about doing so) I want to keep giving people fanfictions and art that they like, I will also host guest authors and artists. There will be contests complete with cheesy and cheap prizes. I am putting my new site launch for February first.
MOVEMENT 8: DIRECTION
Elena let her eyes drift closed, she couldn't remember the last time it felt so good to just stand with someone's arm around her. A sigh pushed away the thoughts that this would go somewhere- her and Cloud. Maybe she wanted it to, it had been so long since a man had just held Elena, been nice to her. She needed someone, preferably with nice arms and sad, haunting, blue eyes…
Cloud himself was not as comfortable as he stood on the deck of the Highwind. The warm sun was at last visible over the horizon line. It bathed the deck in a deceptively cheery glow. Elena looked really pretty that way, in Cloud's opinion, her dark eyes and her gold colored hair, all bathed in that warm glow. It would have been a perfect time to be alone with her, but he wasn't exactly alone.
Not alone at all, Havoc's voice burned like some sort of acid in his head. So are you gonna get it on?
Holy, are all demons as annoying as you are? He was good at hiding his pain, and so Elena didn't notice the other conversation the hero of the planet was having.
I'm a rose amongst the thorns baby. Even when he sounded like he was joking, that voice burned.
Cloud was in no mood to deal with this. I somehow doubt you.
Make you a deal, you fuck her and I'll shut up.
Cloud decided to ignore Havoc. Elena spoke up, making that a much easier task.
"Cloud?" She tipped her head up, craning her neck to see him from where she stood in front of him.
Oh Gods, you mortals are no fun at all. Like a pouting child, Havoc shut up, moving with a grumbling burn to some other part of Cloud's conscious.
He smiled at the retreating demon. There was more life in his voice when Cloud responded to her. "Yeah?"
She seemed to almost backtrack herself, then blurted out, "What about you? You lived in Neibeliheim, But… Before?" She watched him grit his teeth, and was about to say she was sorry for prying but then he cut her off.
"I just wanted to run away. At first, I wanted to be famous, but then, then I just wanted to be away from home." He took a deep breath and let go of Elena, looking up at the moon as it ducked around the clouds. He started walking, as if putting distance between what he was saying and himself. "I was blamed for everything -my mother was so young- I think that she came from Junon or Midgar. And so we were easy scapegoats, a slut and her kid."
"Cloud…" Elena followed him, her hand trailing on the railing that the sun had yet to warm up.
He looked over his broad shoulder at her. "I got into a lot of fights as a kid. The only person who ever really talked to me was Tifa, even she didn't really make a friend of me." His head snapped back to look at the deck. "So I left, thinking that I was going to be a SOLDIER." He laughed that bitter laugh some people get when laughing at themselves. "I didn't make it three days on my own."
Elena came up behind him, missing the contact that he had broken. "If you don't want to tell me, you don't have to Cloud." Once again she touched him, running her hand up his shoulder. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable."
He did at last turn around, but if it was more a polite way to remove her hand or a gesture of getting closer, she was uncertain. "Maybe if I tell you, then you'll quit with the 'Hero Boy' shit."
She looked up then, and shook her head. "Nope, doubt it."
Cloud led her to the door back down to the quarters of the Highwind. "Lets go back in?" He let his eyes drift over Elena as he followed her inside. Cloud liked her, she was a gentle person and kind hearted. She did try to hard, but he couldn't blame her for it. He was getting used to her touching him. To be truthful, he got used to it quickly, he was starting to like it. "I ended up messing with a Marlbaro. And its whole family." Elena halted on the stairs, but said nothing as Cloud continued. "A biker gang found me, they saved me."
So that explains the bikes. She was curious if she had heard of them before. She turned at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at him. "What gang?" They stood there for a long moment, Cloud waiting to follow Elena, and Elena wondering where to go. She figured the bedroom they put Cloud in.
"Travesty." He responded with a slight degree of fondness after they continued walking. "I made a lot of money racing SOLDIERS. I stopped wanting to be one, I was happy where I was. One day I was at a pool hall, outside of Junon, The great general Sephiroth stormed in, Zack at his side."
Elena opened the faded wooden door, once again shock on her face. "Sephiroth?" Cloud nodded, reaching over her head and holding the door open. "Holy." She muttered and sat down where she had earlier.
Cloud also reclaimed a previous position next to her. "He glared at me, and I tried to play it cool, but I was just a 16 year old kid. Apparently, the money that I won was taken out of Sephiroth's paycheck."
"Sephiroth wouldn't like that," came the simple comment.
"He didn't like much aside from Zack. At any rate, he snatched my cue ball off the table and asked to talk to me. I just nodded, you know, tried to brush him off. He got mad, and in my face about it. Instead of denying it, I cracked my pool cue over his head. Of course, that just served to piss him off."
Elena began laughing loudly. The image of a 16 year old Cloud cracking a pool cue over the great general's head was perhaps the funniest thing she had ever thought of. "You did what?" She managed to get out in between peels of laughter. "Then what?"
"I ran like a squirrel and he caught me, he was about two seconds from killing me on the spot. Zack saved my life." He suddenly got very sullen. "They dragged me off to President Shinra who put me in Sephiroth's platoon. I would rather not talk about the rest."
Elena quieted her laughter, realizing that while the start of the story was funny, it ended up with him as Hojo's toy. "You really are a hero, you know that?" At his questioning glance she continued. "I wouldn't have done all you did for this planet, not after my life. It really is inspiring."
Cloud didn't know what to say, he looked at the floor, then back up to Elena.
She decided in that minute that he really did have a nice smile, honest and grateful. He put his hand on her knee, she placed her own hand on the top of his, not really looking at what she was doing.
He leaned closer, just far enough not to be awkward, any jolt would have brought their heads together. "Thank you." He said, almost a whisper.
Oh do it. She told herself. Leaning forward, Elena closed her eyes-
"GUYS! Come see this!" Yuffie stopped and blinked at them both. "Uhm… hi?" Cloud and Elena followed her as she rushed down the hallways, without bothering to question them.
The confused little ninja lead them to the conference room, to the large screen telecom system. Rufus Shinra smiled out from its glassy surface. Yuffie edged closer to Rude, Scarlet and Reeve were sitting with Cid and Shera. Barret and Elmyra, oddly enough, were standing next to Reno and Tifa. Both Barret and Reno held their daughters. Vincent and Cari were leaned against the far wall, Cari's pretty face a mask of anger. Nanaki and Rovina were both bristling near the door where Cloud and Elena found themselves frozen.
Reno and Cloud locked eyes, knowing that everyone was waiting for one of them to take the lead. Cloud nodded to Reno and the red head turned to speak to Rufus. "What do you want Shinra?"
"You always were a clever little slut weren't you Reno?" Rufus' sneer was broken by his disjointed laughter. The actions reminded everyone in the room of Hojo.
"That's why you made me be your Turk last time around." The accusation seemed to bother Tifa more then it did Reno, who was curbing his tongue for his daughter's sake. "What do you want?"
"Can't old friends check up once and a while? You lot are proving entirely too difficult to get a hold of. I may just order you all dead."
Trigger started shaking in his arms, Reno's eyes flashed that tell tale mako green. "Bother someone who cares, we have work to do." He snapped.
Rufus had been stringing his strange, without sanity, laughter through the whole conversation. But at that moment, his face flushed and he snarled, face flushing purple. "I'll have your head for-"
The words still appeared to come from Rufus' mouth. Even as his head slid away from his body. Yuffie was the first to realize what was happening to their old enemy, she gasped, jumping into Rude. Reno and Barret spun around, hiding their children from the image of Rufus' body, standing without it's head. Everyone else moved forward, then halted. Yrene slid next to Rufus' body, cocking her head from one side to the other, inspecting the prone body that was too shocked to know it was dead. With a smirk she pushed the body over, it landed with a wet thud on the ground. "We," she started, appearing to use Rufus' coat to wipe the blood from her blade, "are under new management."
Marlene was frozen, too afraid to shake, trigger was Slightly bolder. "Daddy?" She squeaked, "what's going on Daddy?"
Reno looked over his shoulder, making sure that there was no sign of what just occurred. "Nothing baby."
"Where'd Rufus go?" She was obviously terrified of Yrene, she clung to Reno's neck tightly.
"He's gone." Was all Reno said. He looked at Tifa, "take her outside please?"
"No." Trigger tightened her grip on Reno. "I dun wanna leave you."
Yrene laughed, "she is so precious, you know." Her predatory grin cut her face like the blade at her side. "Such a cute little thing."
Reno growled, saying nothing.
Cloud moved forward, standing between Reno and Barret. "What is the meaning of this?"
Yrene looked from Cloud to Vincent with a snort. She then started to mumble again in that odd language Havoc had used.
Vincent snarled, surprising the others, his hand went to his head. Cloud mimicked him, with a slightly more shocked expression on his face. The two locked eyes, obviously hearing other voices then their own in their heads. Tension filled the room like smog, choking everyone. They looked about to fight, if only in their bodies. Both men shook slightly, trying to push away the voices of Havoc and Chaos. Cloud's breaths came in ragged gasps, while Vincent's chest moved quickly, without sound.
" Fermata questo somnium, Yrene!" Cari snapped. She turned to Cloud and Vincent, "somes a vir tenere forte stanotte." The tension didn't dissipate, but it did stop rising. The two heroes looked away from each other quickly, forcing themselves to calm down.
"You are such a worthless little bootlicker Carbunkle!" Yrene snarled. "You wait till this is over."
"I have all the time that you do Yrene. I refuse to let you hurt my family." She crossed her arms in front of her chest and blew a red bang from her face. "And I intend to take you both in as soon as you realize what brats you are acting like. "
"We will see who is a brat. Who shall attain your temple first? Great elder of my breed?" With that her com link went dead.
Everyone looked at Cari, she stared at the screen in first anger, then in the stark realization of what Yrene had said. "Oh, Alexander's grave! Do any of you know where to find a temple of Carbunckle or of Sillian?"
"Who?" Nanaki asked, sitting down.
"Sillian or Carbunckle. We have to find it before Yrene and Apollyon do. My orb is there."
"WHAT the holy fucking hell?" Cid yelled, leaping up. "You fucking mean that there is a way to fucking control you just LAYING around some fucking place?"
"Cid..." Shera scolded. She adjusted her glasses with a frown. "I have never heard of Sillian, but Carbunckle I think I have."
"The Northern Crater…" Rovina muttered. "That's where we have to go isn't it?"
"Oh fuck that shit." Barret muttered. "No way in hell I'm lett'n Marlene go near there."
Reno frowned, he looked at Trigger, who looked back up at him and then at Tifa. "We can't split up though."
"Damnit, you foo. Of course we can!" Barret snapped.
"Then what happens if one of them comes after the kids?!" Reno growled back. The two men stared at each other.
"Oh how would they know where they are?"
"They would look. It's the first thing I would do at least. I'm sure Yrene isn't above it."
Barret again looked like he wished he had let Reno drop from the plane when he had the chance. "Oh I bet you would."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Reno's tone showed that he knew exactly where Barret was going.
"Someone like you would think about using someone's children as leverage. Oh wait you HAVE before."
The little girls watched their fathers, both frowning but quiet.
"For the LOVE of GOD!" Reeve yelled, his tone still shocked the members of AVALANCHE. "That was ME Barret. My idea, not Reno's. He had no say in ANYTHING that he did. If you need to fucking bitch about it then-"
"Barret, Reno, Reeve, SHUT UP!" Cloud snapped. "We can't fight like this. NOT now. I don't know about you, but the idea that I am going to have to fight with three Aeon's is not something that makes me happy." The others blinked at him. He fought off a cough and continued, talking directly to Rovina. "Would Cosmo have anything to make sure?"
She shook her head. "Of that I am uncertain. I would am almost positive that we need to look in the Crater."
The hero of the planet then turned to Cari. "What are the odds that they will know where to look?"
She shrugged. "I think that she will follow us, and try to over power us. How long will it take them to get where we are going?"
Cloud frowned. "Reno, you and I need to talk, figure out where we are going." Barret glared at Cloud, but the blonde just glared back. "Yes Barret?"
"Shit. I just hope this works."
"Me too. Ok, Reno and I are going to talk for a few, Cid start moving to the Crater. The rest of you wait here, keep alert."
Reno handed Trigger to Tifa. The little girl's voice was shaky. "Daddy?" She allowed herself to be handed over.
She nodded her mass of wavy red hair. "Hurry back?"
"Yeah." With one last glare at Barret he stalked out after Cloud to go to the smaller conference room.
Barret and Reeve looked at each other. The big man sat down with a sigh. "I'll admit that he's not a bad father. How is that?"
Reeve smiled, "I guess it's a start."
Cloud leaned against the wall. "Well? Any ideas, Red?
"Yer guess is as good as mine there, Spike." They looked at the floor for a while, Reno broke the silence. "How are you feeling?"
Cloud was taken aback by that, he blinked at Reno. There were a few reasons the Turk could have been asking that question, to see if Elena would be alright, to be nice because of Tifa, or because Reno was actually worried. Cloud had no idea what one it was, so he answered stiffly. "I will live."
Reno sighed. "Look, we need to quit fighting. You are right, I am honestly trying to ask if you are doing okay. Your whole life is upside down again, I need to know if you are going to keep it together."
Cloud smirked, "aww here I thought you cared. I am fine. My head hurts, I have a demon living in me, you are with my ex-girlfriend, life's fucking peachy."
Reno moved into Cloud's face. "Look, Spike, if I think for a HOT second that you are using Elena to get over something-" Reno didn't get a chance to finish, he was thrown against the wall by an angry Cloud. The two were far too close at this point for Reno to get a good hit in. Cloud had him, they both knew it.
Reno put his hands over Clouds. "I asked you a fucking question."
Cloud's blue eyes narrowed, he leaned closer to Reno. "I don't use people. I have had quite enough of it, from everyone. Tifa and I were never more then friends. This isn't about her, it never was." He backed up, letting go of the red head's collar. "I just am so tired of people fucking in my head."
Reno nodded, "I feel for ya. But what are we going to do? Cid and Rude, me and Barret, You and me, Reeve, none of us seem to get along."
"Well, we have to. AVALANCHE didn't always get along, and you can't tell me that you Turks all meshed like magic."
Reno laughed and nodded. "So, where do we go from here? It isn't a matter of them having different goals really."
"Yeah. We just need to force everyone getting along. Lets go to the Canyon."
Reno smirked. "I have a few ideas, for when we do get there."
Chocobogoddess, you are a great friend and a better inspiration to me. I thank you.
To my most vocal of fans, Topaz, Sam, and Queenie: Its great to have a fanclub. I love you all as friends and actually thank the fact that fanfiction brought you all to me
Last but not least at all.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDZ! Big 20
MOVEMENET 9: FINALE STARTING
Reno and Cloud pushed the door back open to the main room. They both pulled up chairs, prompting the others to do the same. "Okay then, everyone shut the hell up and let me and Spike talk you though this." Reno started, not waiting for any responses. "We are going to the crater, to look for a temple similar to the one in Wutai. Am I right, Cari?"
The Aeon nodded. "Yes, but the statue will be of myself and or Sillian. Not Leviathan."
"What the fuck does that mean?" Cid frowned when he noticed he was out of cigarettes. He snarled, tossing the crushed pack over his shoulder. When he glanced at the table again, one lone cigarette was spinning in front of him. The pilot looked up to see Rude, putting his own pack away. A short smirk came from Cid. "Thanks."
Rude nodded and Reno continued speaking. "Like a little, blue, cross between a fox and a rabbit." There was no question of this, just nods. Reno looked at Cloud and then continued. "We will land at the top of the crater. From there we split into groups. One team to the Highwind, the other in the crater itself. I want the Highwind in the air again as soon as we split up. Stay close."
"I'm gonna need fuel first then." Cid took the smoke out of his mouth and pointed it at Reno and then Cloud. "No way she's stay'n in the damn air with the fucking reserve tank."
"Shit." Reno looked like he too, wanted very desperately to smoke. "Can you get from the crater to Junon?"
"Yeah. But no flying around in a fucking circle."
Reno and Cloud shared a look of concern, then Cloud coughed loudly. The others flinched at the popping sound coming from his chest. He had been getting better, however, when he did cough it obviously hurt him. His eyes watered slightly before he could speak again. "Plan stays as Reno and I figured it then. We don't have time. "Barett, Elmyra, Cid, Shera, Reeve, Scarlet, Rude, Nanaki and Rovina stay on the ship with the girls."
"That only leaves you, Reno, Elena, Tifa, Vincent, Yuffie and Cari in the crater." Reeve interjected with a worried expression.
"I cannot stay, I don't want Havoc getting out. If things get out of control up here at the Highwind we need strong people up here." The blond emphasized the words "up" and "here". He leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms over his head. "We need strength at the Highwind and speed down in the crater."
"And how are you going to keep up with Reno and Vincent and Yuffie?" Rude asked. If anyone else would have spoke that way, Cloud would have taken it as a threat. With Rude, however, any words at all were a good thing.
The hero of the planet smirked. "There are two motorcycles down in the hold by the Chocobo pens. Unless Shera got Cid to get rid of them."
"Naw still there." Cid growled around his cigarette. "Ok then, we got twenty minutes till touch down."
Vincent stood in the shadows cast on the deck of the Highwind. The sun was bright, warm. Such nice days, it is almost- ironic.
Coward. Still putting things off.
Vincent stiffened at the accusation and rolled his shoulders. He said nothing.
He is right over the other side of the ship. Vincent remained silent as the acid of Chaos filled his mind. I smell the Aeon in his blood.
Vincent's eyes flashed, he snarled audibly and then inwardly he added, You will LEAVE him and Trigger alone. Do you understand me?
Whatever. His mother was a-
ENOUGH. Vincent silenced Chaos with a sudden finality that seemed to be passed down through the leaders of the Turks. I don't know what the hell happened between you, Cari and Suzanna, but whatever it was it is obvious that you are missing something. So you can talk to Cari or shut up about my wife. You have no other options.
Chaos seemed shocked. The demon said nothing for a long while. After all this time, you are finally learning, coward. Without waiting for a retort the demon slipped away into Vincent's mind.
The dark ex-Turk leaned against the cabin and closed his eyes. He wanted to be able to touch Chaos, beat him until he told his end of the story, or push him in a room with Cari until they worked things out. Wait a moment… It is like they need to work things out, almost like they were… Was it that hard to believe? Love gone astray, emotions turned sour, wars had been waged over far less.
But Chaos had the time to be bitter, his life was eternal, at least so Vincent thought. This world didn't have that sort of time. It wasn't eternal, suddenly it hit him, that eternity, while lonely, was easier then mortality. There was always time to make up with eternity, but Vincent knew he didn't have eternity. And at the very least, if he did, the others did not. It was selfish of him, wasn't it- to keep his distance from his own family simply because he didn't want to let himself be hurt? With a sigh, he pushed off the cabin and entered the new sunlight, to cross the deck and face his fears.
Reno took a long drag from the cigarette. Trigger would be really upset with him if she found out, but the girl was playing with Marlene and they were being watched by Tifa and Barett. Tifa said she needed to talk with the big man, Reno wouldn't begrudge her that. The sun was warm at his back, Reno was watching the shadow of the Highwind flit over Junon when he heard footsteps come up from behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see Vincent. Bobbing his head in a quick greeting, Reno turned back to watch the Highwind's shadow.
Vincent leaned next to Reno, unconsciously taking the same position his son had and watching the same shadow. They stood next to each other a few moments when Vincent turned to look at Reno. The younger man slumped forward more on the railing, resting his chin on his arms. A smile spread, almost without his knowing it, on Vincent's face.
It was then Reno noticed the appraisal. He remained leaned over the railing on his elbows and turned to look at the other man. "Yeah?"
Vincent turned away from Reno and let his red eyes follow the shadow of the airship. He closed them, swallowing. "You look like your mother, you know that?" His voice drifted out the way that he was looking, Reno could barely hear him.
Reno laughed when he realized what was being said, he snuffed the cigarette out on the railing. "And she always said I looked like you." He stood up, turning to fully face the man that never got a chance to be his father.
Vincent at last turned to look at Reno, really regarding his son for the first time since he had been a baby. Vincent couldn't help but be proud of Reno, he knew that he had to talk to him. "Reno, I wanted to apologize."
The red head lifted his hand. "Don't, alright. There was nothing you could have done differently. If you hadn't then it would be Reeve and Scarlet in your place." He closed his eyes, thinking as his father had done. "If it wasn't you, it would have been Mom and me with Hojo." He opened those bright blue eyes again, a sadder note in his deep voice. "I should be thanking you."
"I don't want to apologize for that." Vincent cut in.
Reno was once again confused by the dark ex-Turk. "What do you mean?"
With a mental urge, just to say it, Vincent started. "I mean, I am sorry for the last year I have put distance between us that shouldn't have been there." He rocked slightly, wanting to get closer, but not certain on how it would be taken. So he remained where he was. "I was afraid to get close to you and to Trigg, and honestly, there is no reason for it."
The two stared at each other, uneasy silence between them. "After all you have been through, there has to be a pretty damn good reason as far as I am concerned." Reno broke it with that sentence. He shrugged. "When this is all over, there will be time to make up for it right?"
Breaking his record as of late, Vincent smiled again, a laugh almost coming from his otherwise too serious mouth. "You are like your mother." Vincent said with a nod. "Yeah, we should have time."
Reno as well had that uneasy rock about his movements. There was no bad blood between himself and Vincent, that much was certain. It was, however, odd to meet one's father after not knowing him for over 20 years. Especially after the hell Vincent had gone through to keep them from the same fate. Thinking about that made Reno think more of his mother. It had been so long since he really thought about her, and now, Cari was making old memories, old thoughts, and more painful realities come to mind. Without knowing it, Reno put a hand to one of the scars under his eyes. "I would like to know more about her, you know. I was just-" he removed the hand and regarded it. "I was so young when she died…"
Vincent put his human hand on his son's shoulder. "I'll tell you."
Reno snapped his head over, looking at the dark man. Vincent was about to remove his hand, when Reno brought his own up to cover it. "Thanks."
Then the Northern Crater opened up under the ship. Cid's voice came over the speakers. "First stop. Fucking-Den-Of-Creepy-As-All-Shits-Hell everybody out!"
"Let's do this." Vincent's voice took back it's hard business edge.
Reno nodded. "Let's make that time."
Elena frowned up at the retreating Highwind. She leaned on the Motorcycle- a Shinra model that had been stolen over a year ago- and then looked over the others. Cloud unrolled a vague map over his own stolen bike. Tifa leaned on Reno, both of them were watching the Highwind. Worry etched on Reno's face and oddly enough, the look was mirrored by Vincent Valentine. Yuffie and Cari stood side by side, Yuffie slightly taller then the Aeon. While Yuffie was lowering her hand from waving, Cari was watching her, determination on her deceptively delicate face.
"Okay guys, we only have a small map here, unfortunately, this is a big ass canyon." He pointed to a red line running down one path to the center of the crater. "This is the way that we took to fight Sephiroth. We didn't have time to look for any temple entrances. So, I want Vincent and Yuffie to head down that way."
Reno took over, pointing to a blue line, running down the opposite side. "This is the way we took to find you. There WAS a pretty through search done, so Cloud and Elena are going to ride down that side, no real looking, just make it to the bottom and fast. No telling when we will get company."
Seamless transition followed as Reno stepped back and Cloud continued talking. "Reno and Tifa take the only other direct route to the center, and uh- Cari?"
The Aeon nodded, "I will go straight down if you do not mind."
"Works for me." Cloud rolled the map up and tossed out communication headsets. "Keep in radio contact at all times, the Highwind will NOT be around to help us for at least an hour, keep that in mind. Lets go."
Vincent and Yuffie pushed down through the paths, looking in little crevices, and larger holes in the wall, and always keeping their eyes peeled for Yrene and Apollyon. "It still smells like Mako down here…" Yuffie muttered, her weapon already in hand.
Vincent nodded to Yuffie and then questioned Chaos. Are you going to be of any help?
Nothing yet, just the Halfling and his aunt. Came the grudging response. Chaos hadn't said one word during or after Reno talked with Vincent. Now that he was, there was something, almost akin to respect in his tone.
Vincent had more important things to worry about at the moment though, then his parasite's mood swings. "Are you going to be alright Yuffie?"
Yuffie snapped her head around to look up at Vincent. She felt very small in that moment. The ninja came around by shaking herself and adjusting her materia. "Yeah. Just, creeped out. I'm glad you're here."
Vincent laughed. "Well now that you have proved you are insane by calling my presence comforting, lets go down this cave?"
"You know, the longer I know you both the more alike you and Reno get." She stuck her tongue out. "Seriously, me crazy? You look at the rest of us."
Vincent shrugged, "touché."
The two were moving steadily, Yuffie trusting Vincent's sight where her own failed. They were looking for anything that seemed like the Planet didn't make it. They walked in silence. Until Vincent halted.
Stop. Came the command. Hard and without emotion. Something… It's not right.
Your not helping. What where?
"Vinnie? What's wrong? I can't see, Vin?" Yuffie edged closer to her friend. Vincent looked over his shoulder, edging backwards further into the cave. His metallic boot hit a slick place, then a slope. Too shocked to scream, Yuffie Kisaragi and Vincent Valentine tumbled backwards into the blackness.
"Yuffie? Vincent?" Tifa frowned, the last thing she heard was Yuffie's voice, and then some falling sounds. There was nothing but static now, she couldn't tell if it was her headset, or Yuffie and Vincent's. She removed the earpiece and looked it over with a disgusted look. "Reno, I can't hear them, can you?" She was getting worried.
Reno threw her a reassuring look, putting his hand on her shoulder. The red head touched his ear with his other hand, frowned and shook his head. "Spike? Yo man, come in. 'Lany?'" He removed the earpiece and tapped it, leaning on the wall. "Nothing." Then his face quirked up in disgust. Pulling off the wall he took a slick slime along with his shirt. "Fantastic. Remind me again why I am doing this hero shit?"
"Because you are, same reason I did it the first time." Tifa slipped slightly on her way over to Reno, the communicator in her hand falling down. "Oh Holy…" She leaned over watching the red light of the earpiece fall down till it was lost from her view. Standing she rubbed her hands on her skirt, getting rid of the muck. "Not like they worked anyway."
Reno ran the back of his hand down his back, pulling his slime covered glove in front of his face. "This is Mako."
"What?" Tifa almost backed up, blinking. "Are you sure?"
The red head nodded, very grim faced. "The same kind Hojo had in his tanks." He shook his hand off, sending the gooey Mako down the crater. Reno failed to hold off a full body shudder, putting the slimy hand on his shoulder. "Positive."
Tifa hugged him, watching the slime drip down the walls further down the path. "You think there is just a big, green, puddle of slime down there?"
There was a dull thud further down the pathway that spilled down the crater walls. Both Reno and Tifa jumped at the voice that followed it. "Why don't you take a swim and find out Sparrow?" Yrene melted into their vision, her green eyes opening with a vengeful fire.
The Aeon's voice chilled through Reno, causing the hairs to stand up on the back of his neck. He cast Tifa behind him, and dashed towards Yrene. Again, she wasn't expecting the attack when it came. Reno almost succeeded in toppling her off the narrow pathway. She crouched to keep her balance, glaring at Reno. They held eyes for a moment, then the ex-Turk dashed down the path at a reckless speed.
Yrene smirked up at Tifa, who was still in shock. "I'll be back for you Sparrow." With that she tore off after Reno.
Tifa was at the Aeon's heels. "RENO!"
Cloud and Elena pulled their bikes to a halt, they were at a ledge, before them was a shimmering pool of Mako. Cloud went to examine the it while Elena tried to contact the others. With a look of disgust she threw the headset aside. "I should have guessed they wouldn't work. That sort of thing always happens, doesn't it?"
"I think that we can walk around this and be alright." Cloud responded, pointing to the thin rim around the lake. There was a light coming from a cave at the other end. It appeared to be the entrance to something.
Elena looked at the bikes, she was loath to leave them just sitting there. She dug out materia to place in her death penalty. None of this sat well with her, Elena was certain that someone jammed the communicators signals. "Is this where you fought Sephiroth?" She asked to take her mind off the other bothersome thoughts that were in her head.
"No, that was further down. I don't even remember this area." Cloud didn't bother to touch the Mako that covered everything around them. The smell sickened him, he could almost feel it covering him. He looked up the crater, even his vision failed to see the others.
Elena moved next to him, her back against his. She also strained to look up to the top. "I can't even see the sky…"
"Yeah. I said the same thing…" Cloud then turned to the firelight. "Let's finish this."
The two blondes edged around the lake of Mako, their backs covered in the slime by the time they reached the other side. Elena pulled her hand down Cloud's back. "I hated this shit the first time."
"Tell me about it." The hero rolled his shoulders with a grunt. He turned to help Elena remove the slime when motion caught his eye. He moved in front of Elena.
Acid splashed his mind when Havoc spoke. You got company now, Spike.
No shit. Cloud hissed back.
"Cloud?" Elena asked, touching his arm. "What is going on? Are you Ok?"
"Havoc felt like speaking his damned mind." Cloud grumbled.
Listen to me or have your friends die.
Cloud ignored Havoc and started edging along the lakes rim. Elena was behind him, her death penalty drawn. Neither of them said a word, both of them were fighting the urge to run back to their bikes.
I am serious here. Havoc's voice hissed at him. There are two Aeons running down here, a third right in front of you and a little one in the cave.
Cloud staggered, stopping in his tracks and frowning at the voice in his head. That makes four you idiot, there are only three of them. And what do you care?
The reply was distinctly like a child trying to explain some game to an adult. We have a joint interest in you living. Yrene and Apollyon have lied to me, and I no longer trust them. If you really need to know why I said four, I am counting the half breed. He is having quite a run at the moment.
Cloud balked, stumbling onto the wider ledge that lead to the cave. That meant that Reno was probably being chased by Yrene. The little one was Cari, and that left-
Apollyon strode from the cave. "And now there is no escaping me. He drew his blade.
"I don't see anyone running." Cloud snapped, moving in front of Elena.
"What one of you will die first?" The Aeon chuckled.
Over his shoulder, Cloud heard Elena cock both of her death penalties. He readied himself to receive while Havoc hissed in the back of his mind.
Crescendo Four: Every Hell Known To Man
Yuffie landed hard on her side. She put her hand on her head, thankful she knew how to fall down without breaking anything. The ninja looked around for her weapon, growling that it came out of it's holster. "Vin? Are-" She was cut off when an animal jumped on her. Her breath sucked in, small claws scratched her bare stomach. It felt like a big house-cat was on her. Then two gold eyes peered at her.
It was a dark dragon hatchling. Nervous laughter came from Yuffie, jostling the little creature perched on her. "Well hello there lil cutie. What are you doing down here?" She stood up, lifting the little dragon baby up.
The hatchling wiggled slightly, then butted her chin with it's head. It let out a little "eep" that was answered by many others. Yuffie sat the baby down, trying to watch it as it scampered off to join its siblings. She slid around on the mako coated ground before she heard Vincent.
"Walk to your left Yuffie. Mind the-" he hissed "-your little teeth hurt. Scram!" Yuffie almost hit a large rock, coming around it she saw Vincent, sitting next to a glowing pool of mako, three little hatchlings poking at his metal claw.
"Vinnie, don't be mean to them, they are just babies!" Yuffie kneeled next to him, grateful that the green light from the pool lit this part of the cave.
Vincent stood, snorting at the little dragons. They in turn, mimicked the sound, or tried to. "Right, and you know what baby dragons mean?"
Yuffie blinked, standing quickly. "Oh shit. Momma dragon."
Vincent nodded. "And their father, Dragons mate for life. And they are very protective…" He looked around. "I don't like-" Shock spread on Vincent's face, the first real fear he had felt for himself in years iced over him.
Yuffie didn't need to turn around. "Mom's home?" She squeaked.
Vincent nodded and backed up slowly, scanning the room for the male dragon. He knew that outside, he and Yuffie could probably take down one dark dragon alone. However, in this slick cave, where only one of them could really see, they had little to no chance with two of them. Yuffie pressed against his side, she was shaking.
Dragon fear was a real part of life, something engrained in everything that wasn't as big as a house. It took months of SOLDIER training to remove the feeling. Even then, it wasn't working very well in that crater. A low rumble confirmed Vincent's comment on dragon's mating habits. The male was also with them. It called out lowly to its mate, she swiveled her head to the side and made an answering call.
The bull was huge, easily thirty feet in length. It walked next to it's mate, making a gentler call that was answered by the hatchlings. All but one of them immediately hopped over to their parents. Vincent and Yuffie both stared gape jawed at the fearless little dragon, still chewing on Vincent's pant leg as if it held their lives in its tiny claws.
The parents took count of their babies, and began calling for the missing one.
Desperate, Vincent almost begged with his mind. Chaos, what is behind me?
You are addressing me by name? Oh this HAS been an interesting weekend. Chaos teased, sounding like he was discussing the weather.
We don't have TIME. It eats me you die too. Vincent snapped.
The thought stopped Chaos' commentary. You have a wall. The mako pool, however, comes out to the other side. You can make it, but the ninja may get ill. I would leave her.
Vincent looked to the pool at their side. He growled, rocking backwards, onto the little dragon's tail.
The little dragon let out a loud yelp, running full kilt to its enraged mother and father. Both adults charged.
With no other recourse, Vincent literally threw Yuffie into the mako with an order to keep her eyes closed. The ex-Turk drew his weapons, falling back and firing as he went. The sticky surface of the mako gave way, wrapping up around him then breaking. Under the film, it felt like water with a slight electric charge. His skin tingled with the sensation, but he didn't have time to dwell on that, Vincent kicked back hard.
He opened his eyes under the mako, seeing green flash for a split second before they adjusted. He saw Yuffie, swimming as ordered, with her eyes closed. He reached out and grabbed her arm, bubbles escaped the ninja's mouth in a short scream. Her hand then felt Vincent's claw and she relaxed, gripping it tightly. Vincent kicked again, moving back into the pool, the space getting smaller.
Just as Vincent was about to turn around and swim, the jaws of the male came into his vision. Letting Yuffie go, he fired four more shots into the dragon's mouth, causing it to shake its head, swirling the mako. Dropping one of his guns, Vincent grabbed Yuffie's ankle and yanked her back to him. She motioned up, she needed air.
He shoved her up to where he guessed the other cavern was, also feeling like he needed to breathe soon. Vincent's eyes burned, he closed them, unable to take more of the mako. Yuffie's legs yanked up from his grasp, then he felt her hand on his shirt.
Breaking the surface of the mako, Vincent pulled himself from the pool, flopping down next to the shaking ninja. He coughed, forcing himself to a crouching position. "Yuffie? Are you alright?" His eyes refused to open, he knew better then to press the issue.
You know, for a human, you aren't bad.
Was that a complement?
Don't push your luck, Valentine.
The acid burn left Vincent shaking his head again. He cleared his throat. "Yuffie?"
"I'm here, Vinnie… Just… How?" He could feel her creeping closer to him. Then she put her hands on his shoulders, guiding him to sit against the wall. "How did you guys handle soaking in that?" He could hear her slump against the wall next to him. "I feel like little spiders are crawling all over me."
He could then feel the tremors of the adult dragons butting the wall, they would have to move soon. Cracking one eye he hissed in pain. "I don't think any of us handled it. But are you alright? Do you feel sick?"
The ninja was rubbing her arms. "I am a bit dizzy, but I think if I sit for a while-" Dust came off the wall. "Of course that would mean finding a safe place…"
Vincent stood, pressing his back on the wall. He took out his death penalty and opened it. "Great." The weapon was useless, soaked in mako. It would need a thorough cleaning before it could be fired. He closed his sore eyes and replaced the gun in it's holster. "We have no weapons at all do we?"
Yuffie tried to stand without the wall, and failed. She then looked around. "Hey, Vin?"
"Cari looks like a little fox, with big ears?"
Vincent blinked, turning to Yuffie. She pointed ahead, Vincent's eyes followed her motion, locking on a statue of carved fire opal. It was of a little animal, with a bushy tail and rabbit-ish ears, a diamond was set in it's forehead. The room they were in didn't look like the prayer center that housed Leviathan's statue. This room was smaller, more ornate in the carvings. It looked like it was half of something. Odd corners jutted out of one side, as if it interlocked with an unseen wall.
Vincent and Yuffie stumbled forward. Chaos screamed at him. DON'T TOUCH that statue, for the love of fucking Holy. Stay back from it.
Vincent crouched again, giving up and sitting down. "Yuffie, what's that say?"
The ninja slid something in her pocket and read. "Sillian, then something or other in whatever the Aeon's language is. I can't read it." She sat with her back next to Vincent's leaning on him. "Can we just sit here a little? I really need to rest."
Cloud started rocking back and forth, eyes intent on Apollyon. The Aeon moved forward slowly, matching Cloud's steady rhythm. Elena and Cloud leapt to opposite sides of the ledge when Apollyon darted forward. He whirled locking blades with Cloud.
Elena fired three shots, all directly at the sword arm of Apollyon. When the Aeon spun to attack her, Cloud scored a deep cut in his side. The blondes hopped backwards, walking in a circle around the Aeon. They danced like this four more times, Elena had to stop and drop her clips to reload. Apollyon chose that minute to drop his blade and lunge at her. Cloud followed, slower then the Aeon.
Elena barely had time to dodge, the Aeon's fist left a hole in the cliff by her head. The ex-Turk brought her knee up to his stomach, and grunted. It felt like hitting steel, but it didn't stop her from throwing her elbow into Apollyon's head. She followed it with her fingers to his throat. Apollyon grabbed Elena's hand, there was a snap of her bones breaking before he pitched the woman over at Cloud.
Cloud caught Elena, dropping his blade. She cradled her broken hand staring wide eyed at the Aeon. He sneered at them, rushing to his blade. Cloud blinked, dropping Elena to her feet, he ran to the Aeon's sword as well.
Both Apollyon and Cloud got to the blade at once, their shoulders connected with a loud crack. Turning to look at Cloud the Aeon growled. The hero of the planet was unfazed, the two stood at a stale mate it seemed.
Elena was afraid to move. Whatever one of them got the sword would have a distinct advantage. If Cloud didn't, he would, in all reality, get his head cut off. She turned to see the Ultima Weapon, closer to the entrance of the cave, maybe if she got his summon material, she could help Cloud. Then motion caught everyone's attention.
Reno leapt from a path, down to the ledge, sliding on the grime, he dropped to one hand and knee, creating a half circle in the muck. He snapped his head up, staring at the ledge he just came from. He was panting, every muscle drawn tight, Reno took no notice of the others, still frozen and staring. Then Yrene's tall form leapt from the same path.
Reno darted again, somehow finding purchase on the slick ground. The Aeon landed directly behind him, her arm just missing Reno's shoulder. He slid past Apollyon and Cloud, vaulted off the entrance to the temple, and sprinted inside. Yrene snarled, sliding past the entrance herself. She glared at her brother before pursuing Reno inside.
"Enough of this." Apollyon let go of the sword, at the same moment a burst of energy rippled off his square shoulders. Cloud was cast against the wall, leaving an indentation. Before his feet hit the ground, Cloud had the Aeon's hand around his neck. "Havoc, consider our partnership over. Strife, you have proved entirely unworthy of the effort to capture you alive." With that he cast the hero of the Planet into the lake of Mako.
Elena shook her head, the blast had taken her off her feet, to land on her broken hand. The pain blurred her vision, but she stumbled to her feet, halting at the lake. "Cloud!" She yelled, ignoring Apollyon.
The blonde man's head broke the surface, only to fall under again. The flimy surface made swimming difficult. He opened his eyes under the Mako, letting the painful green to flood his vision.
That worthless Aeon. He thinks he can do this to me?! Havoc's voice was an unneeded pain to Cloud's already stinging body.
Shut the hell up. Cloud kicked, at last finding movement under the surface.
I want him dead.
Makes two of us.
Then how about we work together? Let me out.
Cloud halted at the concept. Treading underwater and feeling his lungs clench for air. So you can try to kill a helpless child again? No.
I will leave you in control, you won't beat Apollyon without me.
Cloud couldn't stay under water any longer. He felt himself blacking out. Fine.
He was expecting it to hurt, and his expectations were more then met. The one wing snapped from his back, the sound echoing hollowly in the Mako. He opened his mouth, the air escaped his lungs as his shirt ripped, revealing a claw for an arm. One kick sent him out of the Mako. Cloud Strife landed on the ground, one wing outstretched, a navy blue eye honed on the shocked Apollyon.
The Aeon released his strangle hold on Elena, the blond Turk landed, coughing and spluttering. He paid her no heed as she got to her feet and tore to her communicator in her bike. "Havoc?"
"Not exactly." Cloud's human hand tightened on the hilt of a sword, the masamune. He stood, leveling the weapon at Apollyon. "This ends now."
Reno tore down the hallways of the temple, not bothering to look behind him or where he was going. His legs felt weak, sweat dripped from his face into his eyes. Sliding to a halt, he took a left, running past two open doors and down to the end of the shrine. He dove behind an alter, pressing his back against it.
It had been years since Reno had been afraid for himself, literally ten years. Right now, at this moment, the death wish he had had from the age of thirteen vanished. Reno Valentine had too much to live for. That hit him like nothing else could have. He was weaponless, cornered, and terrified. Things did not look good.
He could feel Yrene enter the room, her low chuckle sending tremors down his back. "Come out come out little Halfling. There isn't room to run anymore."
When someone was right, they were right, Reno stood. "Shut the hell up."
She readied herself like a panther, sword already drawn. "Then let us get this over with."
She lunged, Reno dodged, falling without grace to the floor. He rolled to his back to keep Yrene in his sight when a blur of red and black connected with the Aeon. A pair of small hands grasped his shoulders.
"Re, RUN!" Yuffie yelled, trying to haul the much larger Reno to his feet.
Reno stood, blinking at the person to come in-between himself and Yrene. Vincent looked every bit as predatory as the tall Aeon he faced off with. He didn't look over to them, the old leader of the Turks only ordered. "Leave now."
Reno worked his mouth once, blinking. "Da-" shaking his head, he turned and followed Yuffie out of the room.
Without so much as a flinch on Vincent's part, Chaos' wings sprung from his back. The leathery wings folded, framing his tall body. He lifted the metal claw in front of his face. Chaos spoke from Vincent's mouth. "You will not be harming them. And as for Carbunkle, her and I have things to discuss. I tire of this game."
"Then let me end your boredom." Yrene prepared to receive.
Winding down at last, thank you all for reading!
Diminuendo: The Fallout
The trail of curses from Cid Highwind started when they no longer heard communications from the crater. It ended with a loud, "Shit! We got damned to fucking hell company!" The ship shook as a mass of 20 SOLDJETSI hit the bridge and charged.
Rude's booming voice took over. "Nanaki, you and Rovina watch the people that can't fight. Highwind, keep us in the fucking air, Wallice, cover him. Scarlet, you and Reeve come with me." He loaded up four death penalties and smirked at them. "Been a long time."
Reeve slammed a clip into place on one of his own weapons. "If I live to see tomorrow-"
"-I will keep you alive with me." Rude and Scarlet finished the Turk mantra. Then Rude kicked out the door. The big ex-Turk marched forward, firing in sync with his old partners. Scarlet and Reeve were back to back. all three emptied their first clips at once, dropped their weapons and spun, drawing out fresh guns. They had an advantage over the SOLDJETSI in speed and the fact that they were not using close range weapons.
Almost every movement was engrained, they were trained to do this, it was second nature, firing for only the heads of their opponents. Gun smoke rose around them, as one, their clips hit the floor again, this time a lone SOLDJETSI leapt in during the pause.
He was left in the center of the smoke ring, out of the fog, three guns aimed at his head. Reeve's voice echoed out. "Mine." In the same fluid motion, two of the guns slid from the smog and the one remaining fired, covering the blood from the drones head in the smoke. In less then ten minutes, the smoke cleared and the deck was littered with bodies. The ones that were still twitching were picked off as assurance.
With one foot on the chest of a SOLDJETSI Reeve cocked his weapon and fired. The body jerked once, held down by the ex-Turk's foot. Reeve snorted, reloading and looking down in the crater. "Rude, you and Barret get down there."
"This ends now."
Tifa slid to a halt, Cloud's voice coming from the thing in front of her was somehow reassuring. As the words left Cloud's mouth, the wing folded to his side and he lunged at the weaponless Apollyon. The Aeon's cape was cut, falling to the muck of the floor. He rolled, almost frantic in his attempts to get away.
Cloud didn't give him time to regain his feet, the Aeon dodged from the floor, snarling in anger before he let another white-lit blast push his attacker back.
Instead of falling, the leathery wing opened, flapping once and raising Cloud into the air.
Tifa took that moment to notice Elena, fumbling with the bikes. She was only using her right hand, the left cradled to her chest. The brunette darted over to the blonde, "Elena!"
"Oh shit, Tifa! Hurry, help me." She pointed to the batteries. "Take them out, I'm rigging a communicator."
"Will it work?" Tifa looked around for Reno and Yrene. "Where is Re?"
"In there, with Yrene, I - it has to work…" Elena didn't glance up from her wiring job.
Amidst the whole process, Apollyon was dodging from Cloud. As a man, Strife wasn't this fast, Havoc was irritably changing sides. Cursing at the demon, Apollyon grabbed Strife's sword just in time to raise it to meet the Masamune. Sparks flew into his eyes, to be totally ignored. The Aeon back flipped, kicking Cloud in the chest.
The response was for Cloud to fold his wing and flip to the ground. Cloud leveled the blade at once, drilling the Aeon. The blade shredded through Apollyon's arm and the wall behind it. Dropping the blade he gripped Cloud's hand on the hilt of the blade. The hero's fist connected with his jaw, breaking it. A tremor shook the outside of the temple, Cloud jumped backwards with a flap of his wing. Then regard Apollyon with the tilt of his head.
In the next second, a force so angry it was more an explosion shook the entrance to rubble, The sword pinning Apollyon broke, casting the Aeon to the floor to pull the rest of the blade from his arm.
Yrene, tattered and bleeding fell to one knee, glaring at the hole that now served as the temple entrance. The last of the rubble settled, and Chaos strode out, tail lashing back and forth, ears back and his wings folded. His blood red gaze shifted to Apollyon. Then settled on Havoc. "At last growing up child?"
"Apparently." Cloud responded, earning a slight start from the demon. Cloud flinched. "He says he wants to finish this before fighting you."
Chaos nodded. together, he and Cloud attacked again.
Reno blinked, looking up. He and Yuffie were alive, but there was rubble in their way. A small space, too small for Reno to fit through was all that remained. Reno looked up at a statue. "Carbunkle, sisterhood, solidarity, and peace."
"You can read that?" The little ninja picked up the orb. "Finally! Cari! Come on…"
Nothing happened. Reno's eyes lingered on the language in front of him. He remembered his mother, writing in alley-sludge, showing him those letters. Had he pushed that memory back for a reason? She hadn't taught him to read Midgarian letters, but he still learned to read… Other things flooded his memory. "Yuffie, let me try, go outside. This whole room may come down."
She handed the orb over. "Reno?"
"I'll be fine." He hissed, closing his eyes and urging his aunt to answer him. Cari, CARI I could really use some help here.
The response came slowly, but with a calmness that Reno wished he reciprocated. Reno? You need to get here, right away. Bahamute won't believe this without proof. I need you here.
He balked. What? I don't know where I will be going, what the hell?
You have to.
He looked at the statue and nodded to it, without replying, Reno touched the nose of Carbunkle's statue.
The white light faded and Reno ran, four legs added something to his speed, the form, while still making him feel awkward, wasn't as bad as he first thought. He wasn't paying attention to where he was going, he just ran, ignoring everything he saw, until he almost careened into a large water dragon. "What is the hurry child?"
Reno bristled. "Don't child me, where's Carbunkle?"
The creature was shocked, his mouth- more then capable of swallowing Reno- gaped open. "What is the rush?"
"My friends very well could be dead! That's the-" There was a cave behind him. He pushed past the dragon, ignoring the commands to halt.
"Cari!" Reno's sense of urgency heightened. He didn't have time to hunt down- and then two gigantic sliver eyes greeted him.
"Impudent boy! What is this intrusion?!" The mouth that belonged to the eyes was equally impressive, it took Reno totally off guard, he fell to his haunches.
"Lord Bahamute, sir, please, the boy isn't from-" Cari was beside him, bowing her head.
"Don't apologize for something I damn well mean to do." Reno snapped. "Look you, two of your people are threatening the lives-"
"SILENCE!" Came the harsh command.
"No!" Reno yelled back, shocking both his aunt and the dragon in front of him. "I'll be quiet when I know my daughter is safe!" One of his ears fell into his face, he shook his head. "Yrene and Apollyon are tearing Carbunckle's temple apart, my friends can't hold them off forever."
This information caused the dragon to lower his head to Reno's level. With his chin on the ground, his eye-line was level with Reno's. "Impatience is the death of many."
Reno hissed. "I can't wait around." He turned to the still gape-jawed Carbunkle. "Cari, please, I'm begging you, as family, I need help now."
The great dragon's head raised. "This is Sillian's son? She did have a half breed child." Carbunkle nodded and Bahamute continued. "Aeons are not meant to be hasty creatures."
Totally at the end of his admittedly short string of patience, Reno responded with heat. "Then how about this? You get the Aeons back with the Aeons and be unhasty all you please."
The dragon stood, picking Reno up in one hand. "Your tone is unacceptable. I could crush you here and now. Don't you realize it, or is your human head too full of nonsense?"
"I realize damn well what the differences between us are. I don't have TIME for formalities. People could be dead or dying! You are the one having trouble grasping concepts." His tail lashed from side to side in his anger.
"Your mother was a great warrior. I owe her a debt that I will pay back to you. But mind your tongue from now on child."
Heaving a sigh of relief Reno nodded, the moment Bahamute let his feet touch the ground he took off.
Reemerging from the statue, the room was in far worse order then before. Bahamute snarled from behind Reno.
Looking over Carbunkle's head Reno's eyes widened. As impressive as he had been as a dragon, this- this was breathtaking. He stood over a full foot taller then Reno, at least seven foot three. His deep red hair was tied carelessly in a pony tail. Dark brows came together as he took in the temple. Arms as thick as Reno's waist crossed in front of a bare chest, broader then the doorway. Sliver eyes almost glowed from the contrast of his deep brown skin.
Reno frowned and pointed to the doorway. "We have to get through that."
Bahamute nodded, slowly, taking his time to regard the room. "Has this been abandoned?"
"Yes! Come on, please, we don't have time for-" A glare from the big Aeon silenced him. Reno knew that look, it was the "you are pushing your luck" look. And from someone that looked like he could snap Rude in half, Reno wasn't going to go further.
The great Aeon Lord walked to the boulders, ignoring Reno as the man shifted his weight from foot to foot with an agitated air. In one fluid movement, Bahamute threw his shoulder into the mass, scattering the debris. Stepping back to take another long look around he stumbled as Reno dashed around him and out to the temple entrance. "Silly child…" Bahamute muttered.
"I don't know how silly he is," Carbunkle responded, walking out with him.
Reno gaped at the scene in front of him. Havoc, Chaos, Yrene and Apollyon were a flurry of movement. The Aeon's losing ground slowly to the Demons. As was during the fight in Levithan's temple, SOLDJETSI were fighting with Elena, Tifa and Yuffie. Rude, Barret and Nanaki somehow made it down in time.
He dashed to his friends, spinning to kick a SOLDJETSI in the head, snapping it's neck. Reflexes kicked in, working Reno back to back with Rude, in the middle of the brawl. "What keptcha?"
The big man took his time in responding, snapping another neck he looked up. "…Traffic."
Yrene didn't fail to notice Reno's reappearance. She gripped Chaos' tail and with a war cry worthy of her race flung the Demon into Havoc. Flinging her own minions aside without a second thought she grabbed the distracted Red head and cast him into the wall.
In her anger, the Aeon used her own tongue to address Reno. "Vos nequam cucciolo! vos vado obviam mio testamento? Io animadverto vos tu morire!"
"Putesco in abyssus giê tu cagna." Reno spat back, shocking Yrene. "I am so sick of this superiority complex! You want to see me dead, do it already!"
Yrene thrust Reno against the wall again, his vision swam red for a split second. She released him to deliver a harder blow, only to be swept to her backside.
"Keep. Your. Damn. Hands. OFF my fiancé, bitch." Tifa stood in between the staggering Reno and the fallen Aeon.
Yrene made to leap to her feet, then there was a ripple in the air, nothing physically tangible, but there all the more so for its lack of perception. The SOLDJETSI fell in heaps, puppets with their strings cut. Leaving Demons, Aeons, and the humans to stare gape jawed at the entrance of the temple.
His voice held all of it's power from the dragon form. Walking out into the clearing all action halted, Chaos and Cloud alighted, Yrene and her bother looked at him gape jawed. "Cosa è est is? Che sei tu da scemo bambini effectus hic quod quis es illud marionetta? Questo intero escludere chalybs mihi. Fermata questo subito. O fare Ho bisogno di verso insegnare ut docui a dictata super veneratio vestri majores?" He snapped.
Yrene got slowly to her feet, judging space to run. Apollyon and Cloud released each other, both taking the earth again. Bahamute's silver gaze flowed from one individual to the next before it leveled on Tifa and Reno. "Why did you step in?" he questioned her.
"Lord Bahamu-" Yrene began.
"You will be silent! I shall deal with you in due time." The Aeon lord thundered. Again his gaze shifted back to Tifa. "I am awaiting an answer, why did you step in?"
Tifa swallowed. the impressive creature in front of her made the whole cavern tremble. "Because I love him." She responded with finality.
"Is love so important to risk your life for?" He continued.
"What else is life for then?" Tifa helped Reno to stand, her heart still in her mouth.
An uneasy silence pressed down upon them all. It was as if Tifa had answered the most important question in the entirety of creation, and her answer displeased the one who started life itself. Bahamute crossed his arms and closed his eyes.
Chaos was the one to respond. The Demon laughed. "The sparrow has silenced the dragon. How interesting these creatures can be…" Heads snapped in his direction. "What else is life for then? Oh great enemy of mine."
Bahamute blinked at the Demon. "Chaos, banished and also damned I take it?"
"Bound, not damned. I can return if and when I please." The Demon wiped a claw off on Vincent's tattered pants. Rolling his eyes at some unheard comment he muttered. "Well now you know that then…."
Bahamute walked a few paces to Chaos, the two stood, looking each other over like rivals would. "I should crush you now…" Bahamute hissed. "Your crimes are unforgivable."
Wings flipped out with authority and pride. "If you are going to put your honor over your responsibilities, then let us get to it…"
Anger flared on the Aeon Lord's face. He moved forward.
A flash of light and then Carbunkle was in between Chaos and Bahamute. Arms outspread, she looked foolish, standing up to the Aeon Lord. "I beg you, no…"
"I listened to you once, and now here he is in my way again." Bahamute's tone was wearied.
"You did what?" Chaos stiffened. Looking down at the Aeon in front of him.
Bahamute snorted. "Sillian and her sister were under arrest and nearly faced the same penalties you did for housing you. If it weren't for Sillian's valor in battle, I would have banished them along with you."
The Demon blinked, then became agitated. "Valentine… no one asked your opinion…" His wings flapped up and down again, red eyes seeming unfocused to anything.
This confused the great Aeon Lord. "To whom are you speaking?" Bahamute hissed.
Chaos' eyes didn't leave Carbunkle, it was as if he was seeing her in an older light, a familiarity that resembled fondness. "The halfling's father..."
"So you are now an expert on humans?" It was an honest question, not the challenge that Bahamute's earlier questions held.
The Demon snorted. "Hardly, but I have an understanding… Now what brings you to the battlefield again?"
There were ten whole minutes of silence, no one dared to breathe too loudly for fear of the Aeon Lord's wrath. "A debt owed." He answered at long last, then his voice raised. "Yrene, Apollyon, you are under royal arrest. I have no time for your games. You are both to return to our world where a full trial is to take place." He motioned to the caves. As an afterthought he added the word, "everyone."
The others silently followed Bahamute who pushed a defeated Yrene and Apollyon ahead of him. Carbunkle stood, in front of Chaos still, watching Bahamute lead the others into the temple. She waited until the great Aeon was lost from view before turning. The two looked at each other.
"I've missed you, Chaos." She said at length.
"I thought love was fleeting." His words bit, but his tone did not.
"I thought so too… but maybe it only sleeps, instead of leaving?" Reaching out she took his claw in a small hand, touching the scaly back of it to her cheek. "I have been so alone." Her voice was softer for the Demon when she spoke.
Chaos removed his hand from her grasp. "And I haven't had a moment to myself, but." He closed his eyes. "You're right. I am a hypocrite."
"Vickaler wants you to come home too?" Carbunkle asked.
"Yes, we are both ready for me to leave this world, I think." The Demon extended his hand to her. "I want to see how this all pans out."
Carbunkle nodded, gripping his claw firmly.
Chaos and Carbunkle slid in behind the others, watching Bahamute speak with a slender man, his hair almost a shade of blue, his eyes quick and assessing. It was Leviathan, clad in white robes, almost lost with the pallor of his skin. He put a hand on Yrene's shoulder and one on Apollyon's. He then looked at Reno. "What about him?"
Bahamute looked Reno over, a clinical eye. "What about you?"
"I'm staying right here thank you." Reno responded, putting an arm around Tifa. "I like it here."
"You will grow old and die here you do realize." Bahamute stated blandly.
"I think I prefer it that way." Reno shrugged.
Bahamute nodded. "Take them away, Captain." He addressed Leviathan.
The sea dragon first made a sweeping bow to Reno. "It was a pleasure, son of Sillian."
Reno almost laughed, but paid the same respect to the Aeon. "Thanks."
With a nod, Leviathan turned his prisoners around and in a flash of light, they were gone.
Bahamute then turned his attention to Cloud. "Havoc is in there with you, I assume?"
The blond nodded. "You want to talk to him?"
The change was almost unnoticeable. Cloud's glowing eyes closed, he staggered and when the eyes opened, the navy blue ones of Havoc stared out from Cloud's face. "What do you want?"
"You do not belong here, Havoc. Leave the human and face your life."
The wing popped up, the claw also stretched. "You don't have to ask me twice. I'm not under arrest, am I?"
"Have you done something deserving of an arrest?"
"Well not at the moment, but Yrene and Apollyon have been planning this for centuries," the Demon responded.
"Well, if you agree to comply with-"
"He has nothing to comply for." Chaos snapped, passing to stand next to the other demon and looked up at the Aeon. "If you are just going to discard him to a wasteland afterwards."
Havoc snarled at the older Demon. "I never asked for your assistance."
"I am giving it nonetheless Chaos growled. "Bahamute's pride is the Aeon's weakness." He looked at Carbunkle. "Very few of them have overcome it."
"Enough. We can discuss this in our time. Not here." Bahamute snapped.
"Heh." Havoc sauntered to the statue and bowed. "Was a pleasure you sacks of decaying bone and skin. I won't be seeing you again." He touched the statue, and the same light filled the room. When it was over, Cloud Strife was left shaking, spitting up blood on his hands and knees. His haggard breathing came slowly under control, AVALANCHE circled him, to be waved back. On his own, the hero of the planet forced his way to his feet. He held himself up for a moment, his knees buckled.
Tifa and Elena were there to catch him. "Take it easy alright?" Elena urged. Together they led him to a far wall, under the watchful eyes of Bahamute.
"Are they all so fragile?" He asked to Chaos.
The Demon waved a hand at the Aeon. "I am talking with someone. Wait a moment." Minutes ticked by again, enough time for Cloud's breathing to return to normal. Chaos at last nodded to no one. Walking up to the statue, he answered Bahamute. "Humans are fragile alone. Together, they are not to be underestimated." He looked at Carbunkle. "I am ready to go home."
"I will wait for you, enemy of mine." Bahamute answered, standing near the statue.
Carbunkle pulled Reno up to the statue and hugged him, rocking up on her tip toes. "I doubt we will see each other again Reno, but I am glad to have met you." Before he had a chance to respond to here there was a flash of light, Carbunkle and Bahamute were gone.
Chaos stood with his back against the wall, facing Reno. Outstretching his wings he touched the statue. The light washed around them again. Vincent Valentine now stood against the wall, a crack went up his metallic claw, then as if it were made of sand, it fell to the floor in a pile of dust. His chest rose and fell slowly, unlike the frantic pulsing of Cloud's earlier breathing. It was fatalistic and measured. He lifted his newly human hand to his face and opened a bright blue eye to peer at it. His legs shook with the effort to keep standing.
Reno rushed forward, holding his father up. "Are you alright?"
"It doesn't hurt as much as I thought it would…" Vincent muttered with a low laugh. Reno helped him to a sitting position on the floor then kneeled in front of him. "I am really proud of you Reno. I am sorry."
"Hey, don't talk like that, alright? Let's just get out of here."
Vincent shook his head. "I can't Reno. I've been dead a long time, now I at last get to rest."
Reno's face went to a practiced grimness. He nodded once. "Thank you, for everything… Dad." The word came out easier then expected, but the wash of emotion that accompanied it made the red head close his eyes. "Tell Mom I love her?"
Vickaler Vincent Valentine nodded for the last time and then closed his eyes. After over twenty years of pain and torment, he got the peace he truly deserved.
Finale: Facing the Day
Vincent had a smile on his face, relaxed and easy. The haunted frown that the others had been accustomed to was gone forever. It was impossible not to be happy for him, this was what Vincent had wanted. Reno stood slowly, almost drowning in the silence that held the room with his father's passing. He looked at Cloud, and they both nodded.
"Let's get out of here." Cloud ordered softly. The team split up, picking up parts of the temple, fixing the bikes, and making a stretcher to carry out Vincent's body. Nanaki dashed ahead to prepare the others left on the Highwind. Before he left, the others heard him howl into the dark of the crater, Nanaki's tribute to Vincent Valentine, his fellow warrior.
After Tifa and Elena helped him place Vincent on the stretcher, Reno silently lifted one end. The other end lifted up, and he looked behind him. Barret glared at Reno before the red head spoke at last. "Terrorist." It was almost as if that was a title, a greeting.
Barret caught the tone. "Turk." He responded.
"What do you think you are doing?" Reno wasn't challenging the gun armed man, it was an honest question.
"He was an AVALANCHE." Barret offered after thinking. "I owe it to his memory."
With a smirk, Reno countered. "He was a Turk."
The two looked at each other, Barret flustered and Reno sadly resigned. "Just shut the fuck up and let me be nice ta ya, stupid Turk…" Barret finally snapped.
Reno laughed. "Whatever you say, Terrorist."
The procession up the crater was as emotional as it was tiring. Cloud had to be almost carried by Rude, Tifa and Elena led the bikes up with Yuffie in between them. Nanaki had run at full speed, the flame of his tail lost from all view, leaving Reno and Barret to carry Vincent up.
Cloud asked them to stop a few times, but no one minded. They were all grateful to be alive, and somehow, even amidst the tears from Tifa and Yuffie, everyone was happy that things turned out so well. They lost a good friend, but in truth he had wanted to go. They reached the top of the crater, Reeve and Scarlet standing next to Cid.
The two ex-Turks walked to the stretcher as Barret and Reno sat it down. Scarlet touched Vincent's hand while Reeve removed the gun from the dead man's holster. Without a word he replaced Vincent's worn Death Penalty with his own. He then walked in front of Reno and flipped the butt of the weapon to the younger man.
Reno nodded slowly and took the gun. Putting the weapon in the back of his jeans. "He wanted to go." Reno told Reeve.
"I know. I'm just glad to see he was wrong about the way he would die." Reeve turned to go back up on the deck, satisfied that even a Turk could die happy.
They didn't eat, most of them just went to their rooms to rest. Reno wanted time alone, just for a while, and he left Tifa and Trigger to walk the deck of the airship. When at last on the deck of the Highwind, Reno looked up at the sky. Night had fallen shortly before they got to the top of the crater, the stars were covered here and there by patchwork clouds, there was the feeling of oncoming rain. It was quiet, leaning on the railing Reno told his goodbyes to Vincent and his mother silently, somehow knowing they could hear him.
"Stupid Planet." Yuffie's voice drew his attention from the sky.
"What do you mean?" Reno asked.
Yuffie leaned on the rail as well, sticking her tongue out at the half covered moon. "This is the second, count it, second time we have saved it, and do we get a sunset? A sunrise? How about a rainfall? Nope, nothing. I feel damned underappreciated."
Reeve's laugh came out from behind them. "Wouldn't that be melodramatic?"
"Have you no sense of Completion?" The Ninja scoffed.
"Actually, I do." The dark haired man held out a broken materia orb to Yuffie. "You gave this to Tseng once. He wanted me to give it back to you when he died. And I have a few things I promised I would tell you."
She blinked at it, placed it in her pocket and nodded. Then turned to Reno. "Oh that's why I came up here." She dug around in her other pocket and handed another broken orb to Reno. "This was at your mother's shrine. I thought you may want it."
Reno took it without a word, by the time he looked up again, both Yuffie and Reeve left him alone. "A sense of Completion…" He muttered. The moon ducked behind the cloud fully, leaving Reno's eyes and the orb the only real light on the deck. Closing his fist around the orb, Reno laughed. "Well, at least I'm getting closer…"
The sun would take hours to rise over the planet that was unaware this time it had been saved. By the time it basked the Highwind in it's light, all aboard would be asleep, getting ready to live the lives they had fought for.
A/N: I want to take this moment to thank you all for reading, encouraging me and befriending me. This story would have no meaning if not for you. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.