A Long, Hard Road
A FF7 Alternate Universe fanfic
Oh Lord, what if we die
And nobody hears us
Nobody sees us
Oh Lord, what if we die
And heaven is blue and painful too
Oh Lord, what if we die
And nobody sees us leaving
- Tim Leffman, "Wordless"
Sephiroth picked up the Materia slowly, keeping his eyes on Hojo - well, what was left of Hojo. The tiny orb seemed to be roiling beneath its gleaming surface, reacting to the rising energies around it even if it held no power of its own. No doubt, the scientist would want a moment to gloat, which might give Sephiroth the slight edge he needed. Might.
"I should have known you'd take her side in all of this." Hojo shrugged slightly, a rippling in four or five of his spare arms, pincers ticking like pattering rain against the floor. "I thought you might. Returning the project was just a ploy for you to get in here, to reunite with her." Hojo sighed, and for a moment he wasn't sneering. Warped as he was, he seemed as human as he ever had.
"I regret that it had to be like this, boy. I worshiped her too, once. Before I broke her down, before I found she was only formulas, chemicals and reactions like any other. That it was just as easy to take her power as it was to revere it."
He almost sounded regretful - but attacked without preamble. Sephiroth saw the blow coming as he leapt forward, one long pincer driving out like a claw as the two beasts flanking Hojo lunged. Hojo was expecting him to block it, no doubt, that he would pull back and defend Jenova. He could see the surprise behind the glasses as he pulled the Masamune up, slicing easily through the midsection of the first creature, not slowing as he aimed for Hojo himself.
Sephiroth was inordinately pleased to see Hojo startled, he'd been able to do it so little in the past. Maybe he'd been wrong, being so cautious with Rufus, so certain Hojo wouldn't fall. Maybe -
No, he had been right.
//Always right// The thought held no pride. The Masamune drove itself deep through Hojo's body, but the scientist didn't scream, and as Sephiroth pulled the sword out he watched Hojo's head pull itself up out of the body, skittering away on a smaller set of spindly legs. He would have laughed, it was both grotesque and somehow comic - if Hojo hadn't been fleeing through an oncoming horde of his creatures. Sephiroth glanced down at the hilt of the Masamune, the materia inside flickered, but it was a fire with no fuel, useless. The narrow passageway was too small, going back that way would be suicide. Jenova and Anjele had taken the remaining side exit, then, and he was tracking footprints in the former executive's blood. Hojo's attack had hit a target, even if it hadn't been the intended one.
Anjele wasn't much of a benefit, but the list of things working in his favor had already dropped to near nil. It only took Sephiroth a few moments to close the gap and find them. Jenova was struggling to support most of Anjele's weight, though he must have been getting lighter, the blood draining out of him unfettered.
Sephiroth didn't slow down, grabbing the first part of Anjele he could see beneath the blood and rags, ignoring the man's cry of pain. He needed a more open area to fight, needed it /now/, as it seemed half of Hojo's army was now roaring their way behind him. Jenova, momentarily leading the way, suddenly backpedaled. Sephiroth was about to dive past her when he heard the creaking, grumbling roar, and stopped himself short as one wall of the cave was crushed inward, a slab of rock that would have smashed him flat from the knees down.
//What the hell is going on?//
He didn't know what Jenova meant, was absolutely sure he didn't want to know, tossing Anjele up onto the ledge, before pulling himself up, and Jenova after him, the claws and fangs of the closest monster missing her by inches. The passageway had closed enough to deny access to most of what had been chasing them, but their problems hadn't gotten any easier. The infrequent rumblings had become steady, and the tremors were growing in size.
"We need to find somewhere safe!"
Jenova nodded, and he followed her down the low passageway, dragging Anjele behind him into a larger chamber. It wasn't empty, and Sephiroth shrugged the wounded man to the side as the first creature attacked, ignoring Jenova and coming at him with pincers raised high. He cut it down easily, using his follow through to take out the smaller beast that had leapt down at him. He lifted his sword again, ready for the third, but before he could attack it was crushed by a massive slab of stone that had broken free from the ceiling. Sephiroth glanced up, doubting the rest of the ceiling would stay where it was. Most of the other creatures seemed to realize this too, fleeing for various corridors. He wondered if anything here was truly safe, though, so close to the epicenter of whatever was about to happen.
"Come." Jenova beckoned, picking her way up a steep incline of debris. Rocks and gravel spilled down behind her as she made her way toward an opening in the top. Wounded as he was, Anjele was trying to follow her, scrabbling as best he could up the slope with one arm, the other pressed against his waist to attempt to staunch the blood.
Sephiroth felt the next quake coming before he'd reached the bottom of the slope, the heavy shuddering amplifying into a series of massive banging lurches, sending him to the floor as the ground simply disappeared from beneath his feet. He looked up to see the opening Jenova reached for crumble inward, looked up higher just in time to roll out of the way, as a boulder slammed into the place he had fallen.
Sephiroth thought he could at least ride it out, Mako-tuned reflexes fast enough to dodge whatever else might come down from the ceiling, maybe even if the whole thing caved in. He was taken completely by surprise by the next lurch, rolling painfully from shoulder to knees and back to his shoulder as he tried to keep some sort of balance, watching the entire room turn.
//What the hell?!//
The floor was now the wall in front of him, dust and debris flying everywhere. Anjele and Jenova were nowhere in sight. The lights flickered, blazed, and popped out, even Sephiroth's eyes fighting to adjust to the sudden, total darkness. He grimaced, flung back hard against the floor as the ground rocked and churned beneath him, and the entire world roared.
He was struck senseless by the overwhelming wave of earth that seemed to leap out of the shadows, barely able to hold on to the Masamune as he was dragged under, pounded with stone and dust until he could not see, or hear or breathe.
Clinging to consciousness, he thought he heard another roar from somewhere outside the cave, much more savage than the brutal power of shifting stone. Sephiroth had only one terrible, perfectly clear moment, to finally realize what it was, before another wave of rock crushed against him, and all thought vanished beneath the simple need to stay alive.
Reno had no doubt Scarlet hadn't intended to fall apart. Until she walked in the room, he wasn't even sure how intense the relationship had been - he'd known Rufus had been sleeping with her, but the man had been mostly silent on the subject, never mentioning Scarlet in anything but business terms.
Scarlet wasn't the type of woman given to fits of emotion, except maybe for anger. He knew well enough, though, it wasn't always possible to plan for these sorts of moments. She certainly hadn't, her hair up but messy, unkempt in a way he'd never seen for the icy perfectionist. If her dress was at all tidy, it was entirely out of habit. No doubt she'd pulled on the first thing she could find, this early in the morning.
Reno stifled a yawn, felt Elena squeeze his hand in silent support. They'd barely spoken to one another all the way back, all their energies focused on keeping Rufus warm, making sure he was breathing, the unvoiced disbelief thick in the air.
It was a goddamn miracle, and Reno didn't understand why. It was also more than a little unnerving, someone he'd grieved and mourned given back to them with no explanation, a gift he knew none of them really deserved. He certainly had a new respect for Cloud; Reno knew he never could have gone through something like this twice.
"Oh my god. Oh my god, baby. Rufus!"
Scarlet's voice was a tight, barely controlled wail from the doorway, and in the next moment she was running, all the way across the room to collapse next to his chair. She was undone, kissing his hands, holding his face between her palms and sobbing. The unnoticed tears drained down her face, she didn't even try to wipe them away. Reno noticed she wasn't wearing makeup, and wondered if she'd known she might react this way.
The sight of the ice-cold woman weeping so openly was unsettling, he noticed he wasn't the only one politely pretending to look elsewhere. Tifa had an arm entwined with Zack's, leaning against him wearily. She'd been the one to take care of Cloud, hadn't she, when he'd gone through something similar?
Reno grinned thinly, he knew there was no love lost between the two women. It must not have been any fun having to admit that Scarlet was human too, let alone that they might have something in common.
Reeve stood with Nanaki on one side and Li on the other - no expression on his face, to tell what he thought of any of this. A little pale, he probably shouldn't have been up. Reno had heard the rumor, though, that when his doctors had tried to keep him in bed he'd fired them. It certainly raised Reno's opinion of him.
The only sound for a long time was of Scarlet crying, murmuring things in between hitched breaths that none of them could hear, meant for Rufus alone. Eventually she turned, rising to her feet, through one hand was still at Rufus' shoulder, keeping contact. Scarlet wiped the tears away, unashamed. When she finally spoke, her voice was low and eerily calm.
"He's going to be all right, isn't he? Just tell me he's going to be all right."
It was the question Reno had been waiting to ask, he watched Melissa just as closely as the rest of them. He could feel the sigh in the air, even if it wasn't audible, when she nodded, and felt a few muscles in his shoulders and back relax. Grim-faced, but it was still a nod.
"The Lifestream was extremely weak, where they found him, and even with prolonged exposure... he could pull out of it today, or a week from now."
The silent addendum was, of course, if they would live that long.
Melissa's judgment seemed to be the end of the rather impromptu meeting. She moved to Scarlet's side, probably giving her some less critical information on what would happen now, what she should do to help him. There was no doubt in his mind, Scarlet wasn't going anywhere until Rufus recovered.
Reno turned slightly, Zack had approached Reeve, Tifa in tow, talking in slightly hushed tones. Reno had been waiting for this, and it certainly looked as if Zack was at the end of his tether. He was aware both Rude and Elena were listening with him, waiting for a place name, for some measure of troops to be deployed and an opening strategy.
"Coming back from the Saucer. He should be here in an hour or so." Reeve sighed, face slightly ashen. He wasn't officially the one in charge, for what it mattered. Scarlet wouldn't want to be bothered for something so meaningless as control of ShinRa, not now.
Amazing, how things could change.
"Cid said they were feeling the tremors there. We're getting reports everywhere, on both continents, and Yuffie says they're only getting worse at Wutai."
"Just tell me what you want me to do." The anger was thick and heavy in Zack's voice, frustration, so much so Reno was surprised he looked at all normal. "Give me something to try that will work, Reeve. Give me something to do."
Tifa was gently rubbing his upper arm with one hand, a pale mirror of his fury alight in her eyes. All their eyes, except for Scarlet, who was thinking only of Rufus now.
"I don't..." Reeve trailed off, looking haggard and old and worn out, though he wasn't so much older than the Turk himself. Reno had been impressed President ShinRa had lasted as long as he had in his position, with how fast such jobs seemed to grind most people down. Maybe being such a bastard had been a necessary survival instinct.
"I think, maybe-"
Whatever he'd been about to say, Reno hoped it wasn't important, as he was cut off by the sound of Melissa's PHS ringing. And Zack's. And Scarlet's. And his.
The sound was far too much like a scream, but answering didn't make things any better. He was barely paying attention to his own conversation, trying to listen in on everyone else, though the gist of it seemed about the same no matter who was talking.
"Reno, sir. We've sighted something-"
"- can't be getting readings that high unless -" Melissa was already moving out the door, back to her lab. Scarlet had gone still at Rufus' side, still and very, very pale.
"- what?! What do you mean headed for Wutai? Are they prepared - they're already fighting?!" Reeve, with a hand against Red's head for support, well on his way to another stroke, if he had the time to have one. Reno listened to his own phone, the lieutenant breathlessly describing what he supposed Reeve was hearing about - something had happened at the Crater, was happening, and now there was a Fullspawn moving toward Wutai. He turned toward Zack, who would have gotten the call closest to the source, the outpost - but Zack looked even more grim-faced than Reeve, and Reno wondered if those tinny sounds he could hear through the receiver were really screams. Zack let the PHS fall away from his ear, glancing up when he saw Reno watching.
"They're gone. We've lost the Northern Continent." He turned, immediately following Reeve, who was already moving toward the center command. Reno quickly followed, Rude just off his left shoulder, Elena walking a half-step on his right. It felt good having them there - he was damn glad he was a Turk.
//At least we'll have a plan now: try not to die.//
No one questioned that Reeve was back in command. No one thought about leaving Scarlet behind with Rufus. Of course, no one noticed the keys she had slipped into her pocket, or cared when she quietly wheeled Rufus to a back elevator, and disappeared. She still had executive clearance, and walked past security with no difficulty, no alarms sounding, no protests raised. Not when she switched the car for a private ShinRa helicopter. Not when she took off across the sea.
Not all the way to Junon.
Jenova could feel the blood leaking from her body, but it wasn't vital, didn't keep her from moving - //still not human enough to die// - and she smiled slightly, and ignored it.
Sephiroth was behind her somewhere in that cavernous room, along with Anjele. She could feel the younger man calling weakly for her, weak and injured and alarmed when she didn't answer - but there was no time for him now, no time to do anything but -
Dark eyes widened as a roar swept through the crevice she was crawling through, the ground beneath her body shaking wildly. Jenova lunged forward as best she could, the passageway snapping shut like jaws, right at her heels.
It was awake. Maybe it could even feel her, burrowing under its skin.
The tunnel was in remarkably good order, given the state of everything around them. The incline of the path had increased sharply since she'd traveled it last, but only a few piles of sliding rock had encroached on it, and not far. A few lights still glimmered here and there, though very weakly. Her footsteps made little noise, and Jenova bit back a murmur of yet another unwanted feeling she'd gained - although this one made the most sense of all of them, especially now. Fear. In all of her existence, she had never been such a minor presence in the universe, never moving in a way that left no sign, no mark she had ever been.
//Anjele. He would remember.// The thought was surprisingly warm - and Jenova remembered, in brief flashes and flickers, that not /all/ human emotions were bad.
The next jolt was abrupt, unexpected, and sent her down hard to the floor. Jenova didn't move, listening to the rumble, knowing the ceiling above her would hold, letting her thoughts bleed a bit into the floor. She could not control this creature, could only lay and listen quietly, horrified at what it was, all the forces Hojo had warped and perverted to bring about its creation.
He had called a WEAPON, and it had arrived.
The Lifestream was moaning, very soft, the voices stretching, screaming in a thousand different shades of agony and pain, in each of the birth throes. It hurt her, she could feel each snap and shudder as the Planet failed to contain the unnatural creature, a guardian of the world twisted, deformed into the monster that would consume it. So much pain, and Jenova trembled, this had never been her world and she was not sure she had the strength to move in it. Holy was very cold, where it had been buried in her breast.
The rumbling ceased, and slowly, she picked herself up off the floor, continued moving slowly down the debris-strewn path. It was easier now to sense the world around her, with the creature stirring itself into life. She could feel impressions, people, like the lightest of fingerprints on frost-covered glass. No one had died, Sephiroth and Anjele were far behind her now, but moving. Hojo had assumed his throne, so high and so far away she despaired...
No. She would finish this. Finish this for the memory of what she had been, for all the pain and hurt and agony that man had brought with his ego and hubris.
She knew why her son - he refused to let her in, to call her by any name, but they were a part of each other and when he hurt she ached - why he was here, what he had tried to do... but that faint presence glittered even more distant, dimmer than Hojo's.
//Cloud.// He had a name. Jenova wasn't sure why, but it would have pleased her son that she knew it. That she remembered it was important. She did not want to think on what would happen, when Sephiroth realized he had likely struggled in vain to save him.
The ancient's child, the Cetra, she was near, and the feel of her burned in the dark and the cold like a guttering candle, dangerously close to going out. Jenova followed the dark path, the pale, cool stone slowly melting beneath her feet, or covering over, something wet and slimy that was too sticky to be just water. She knew what it was, knew she had reached the event horizon, where the cave had no longer wanted to be cave. The rumbling had stopped here, any shifting or swaying was the result of blood and fluid being pumped... somewhere. The black walls expanded and contracted slowly, steadily as the beast breathed.
Jenova found the duct she needed, still following the Cetra's presence, scrambling along what seemed like an endless metal passage, fingers clawing along the barest of joints for purchase when she found the passage had buckled nearly vertical. Every creak made her flinch, at any moment a muscle could contract or shift against the thin metal structure, crushing her with no effort at all. The Cetra girl might not even be there, by the time she arrived.
Jenova could see her breath in the air, for a moment even felt a bit of wind pushing between the cracks. The WEAPON had surfaced then, at least some part of it breaking free of the Crater. It was resting, drained from the struggle to break free from the Planet, but not for long. She was running out of time. Blessedly, she twisted her body around a narrow, crushed corner, and could see a glow from the other side. The central chamber.
It was an ugly drop from the end of the hatch to the floor, though there was nothing she could do about it. Jenova simply let her body fall, muscles shrieking as bones separated - it was somewhat difficult to keep herself together now, when everything was filling up with the same dark, corrosive power, quietly reaching out to her - she was a part of this, after all.
//If only it were true.//
Jenova cupped a hand against Holy, if it glimmered at all she could not see it, more like a sliver of broken glass than anything that still held power. Slowly, very ungracefully she rose to her feet. The room was still somewhat stable, though most of the computers had broken, only one or two lit screens and a few sparks suggesting anything stood of what remained.
One hand gripping the railing tightly, Jenova struggled up the stairs, collapsing at the top with a sigh of relief. The cage that had once kept Aeris captive might now be the only thing keeping the darkness from consuming her. The girl looked horrible, curled on the floor, little more than a faint afterimage in green. She had heard Jenova fall, though, pushing herself up into a sitting position. They stared at each other, through all the years of history, the martyr and the monster.
A growl, from the other corner of the room. All of Hojo's monsters were gone - almost all, this one maybe left behind to guard or simply an afterthought. Small, by the usual standards, it was maybe twice her size. It growled, turning on her. Jenova heard the pale Ancient gasp, and something snarled inside of her in response, and she did not back down. Hurting, she was hurting, sharp and angry and furious - /this/ was what she had become, where any worthless, weak creature thought it easy to threaten her?
//Go! GO! How DARE you think you can challenge me!//
She was striding toward it before she could stop herself, shoulders back, eyes blazing. Never truly considering that her power and strength and even poise, at this point, all were simply illusion. It was too much of an insult to bear, no matter how weak she might be - and the fury made the illusion real, at least in the eyes of the beast, at least for the moment that mattered. It turned, and fled silently, claws making only the slightest of noises against the steel staircase.
Jenova could feel herself sliding, strength fading as quickly as it had come, listening to the retreat with the world going distorted behind her ears - even with her hearing, her sight, not normal to begin with. It had taken a surprising amount of power for that show of force and Jenova slowly turned back toward the caged girl. She could not prolong this fight alone.
//I need your help, Ancient's child.//
The Cetra - Aeris - saw what had happened to Holy, as Jenova slowly stepped forward, but said nothing. Jenova grimaced, realized she might need to plead, to beg. It was a struggle to deal with the emotion - shame, yes, this was shame again, and how she hated it. //I am - I can't...//
/Are you dying?/
Jenova smiled, she'd never done it before, not like this, accepting her limitations. She wasn't quite sure what it meant.
//Yes. No. Maybe.// A slow but inevitable decay, and even with Holy, she couldn't insure that she could control the power, that the Junon cannon would revive her instead of tearing her apart. //I need your help.//
It was easy to explain the facts, her thoughts were bleeding out of her much more easily than her body was melting away. The Cetra girl could no doubt pick them clean, right out of the air. She could see that Aeris did understand - knew what she would try to do, even if Rufus never reached the Cannon, even if Sephiroth and Anjele were lost to her forever.
//What about Cloud? Do you know what Hojo's..?//
The flower girl knew, or at least could assume as much as Jenova had. The fear in her voice betrayed that much, and the anger that filled her eyes, when Jenova slowly shook her head.
//I'll help you. Yes.//
Even here, even now, the raw hatred in Aeris's eyes was unnerving, reminding her of the old Cetra who had trapped her, so many thousands that had been her mortal enemies such a short time ago. Hojo's victory did not seem so inevitable, reflected in that icy gaze.
Jenova moved as quickly as she could, to deactivate and destroy the remaining controls that kept the Ancient trapped. The flower girl flickered inside her prison, becoming a little less transparent as she gathered her strength. One last time to face Hojo, and this time she could not lose. They would not lose.
Vincent had lost sight of Yuffie hours ago. The only constant, really, was the Da-Chou rising up behind them, protecting the rest of Wutai from the carnage. It was the only blessing they would get today, the ex-Turk was certain of it. Twice already, they'd had to retreat to the base of the mountains. A few specialists from Fort Condor had been more than worth their weight in gold, planting charges and other attacks with minimal firepower and manpower but maximum results, keeping the cliffs from enemy hands. Stalling, mostly, giving the rest of the army time to breathe and recover and think of something new.
The assault was never ending, wave after wave of spawn crawling their way onto the shore, the beach already a bloody coral of bodies, though the enemy marched over its own fallen fighters without ever slowing down, walking into the line of firepower without fear, a merciless stampede. It was only by some divine miracle that they'd even had a warning of this, with enough soldiers stationed at the beachhead to drive the enemy back until reinforcements could arrive.
A roar from his left, soldiers falling or retreating as a cluster of brightly colored... it didn't matter. Vincent didn't bother trying to determine what the spawn were made of, or what they were supposed to do. If it wasn't Wutai soldier, ShinRa officer, he had to make sure it went down, and stayed down. He fired off four perfect shots, watching just long to enjoy the bodies fall - professional satisfaction - before taking out the one that charged him with a swift claw, right through the chest, stepping to the side as it bucked and moaned and toppled.
It was a rare day, when he could sate Chaos' bloodlust without even changing forms. It might be worth it to transform, even if it left his tactical power at close to nil. Chaos knew who to kill here, hell, he could smell what was unnatural here, all that Hojo had touched and broken, too much like himself to be allowed to live.
Vincent turned, to the next cluster of spawn, but paused, watching them fall without his intervention, a familiar streak of white and a distinctive tribal pattern making short work of all of them - Godo, in full battle armor, reminding anyone who may have forgotten what kind of man it took to meet Sephiroth in battle and even walk away.
He was employing a rather mercenary, two-handed style of attacking now, almost like a berserker, though Vincent could see the grace and form in it. Certainly, he had his choice of enemies, and could fling himself into the fray without any fear of running out of foes. All things considered, they were meting out quite a blow to Hojo's forces, all the stubbornness and battle prowess of Wutai holding here, just as they had held against ShinRa - and with ShinRa fighting at their side -
Well, the proof was rather evident, Vincent thought, cutting down another row of targets, to give Godo no opposition, as he tore his way through the rest.
A cry and a flicker of motion made him turn - amazing, even though he'd been studying Wutai war cries he still couldn't pick them out well, especially not in the middle of the fight. He caught the basic meaning of this one, Godo's expression told him everything he needed to know - bad news. The leader of Wutai turned, shouting something to the nearest troops, and Vincent could hear it spread, watched as the soldiers near the front began to give up ground, pulling back from the shoreline.
Claws and bullets helped cross the distance between them, it didn't take long for Vincent to reach Godo's side. "What is it? Why did you sound a retreat?"
Godo nodded, glancing up past the shore, to the flat, blue horizon that had the nerve to look peaceful. "It broke off from the Crater, headed directly for us. They say..." He paused, and Vincent wondered if he hadn't had the same look, when he'd been defeated by Sephiroth, and all of Wutai was rendered little more than a quaint ShinRa tourist trap.
"They say there's something even bigger headed towards North Corel."
Bigger than a Fullspawn. Vincent had heard rumors, suggestions being batted around like monster-movie clichés, soldiers chugging back beers and daring to think about just how bad it could be - "What if Hojo got control of a WEAPON? Made it evil or something? We'd be pretty fucked then!"
Yes, yes they would. Vincent was glad he was known for his silences, he had no idea what to say.
The conversation was disrupted anyway, as the battle shifted, surrounding them with unexpected enemies. Vincent almost wished he was a worse fighter, it was too easy to rend his way through the creatures, while still keeping his mind on what Godo had said. Clearing out the monsters couldn't have lasted more than a few minutes, but when he finally turned back, Godo was nowhere to be seen. Vincent's eyes picked carefully through the fray - there, Godo moving quickly just behind the newly-formed line, already distant.
He glanced back. "Hold steady, withdraw if you can keep them from pushing through! I need to find my daughter!"
He lifted one hand, holding something that sparkled like a ruby in the light. It almost looked like... Vincent stared. A summon, it was a summon materia - and Godo vanished over the rise.
//I killed Wutai's gift. Our gift from the gods.// He remembered what Yuffie had said, what had happened the last time things had come to this conclusion. So had Godo finally forgiven her, for what had happened with Leviathan?
//Or are we just out of options?//
He glanced back towards the hills, could see the weapons being stockpiled there, moved into position. Missiles and rocket launchers and anything else they had being set up for when the Fullspawn arrived.
Vincent saw the commander just as the man stumbled in front of him, sword covered in the same black muck that streaked across his face and hair, through the dark feathers woven in his hair. He shouted out the orders Godo had given him without thinking, barely waiting for the man to nod before he turned away, following Godo.
He had distanced himself from Lucrecia out of duty, out of thinking there was somewhere more vital to be than at her side. It had cost him everything, even the solace of being there when she had died. It would not happen again.
Chaos was roaring in his ears within moments, every attempt to follow in Godo's wake vanishing as the battle lines shifted again, more of Hojo's monsters crashing down on top of him, the currents in some stormy, demented sea. Vincent clenched his teeth against the annoyed fury, the insistent roar of the beast inside of him, firing, reloading, firing, tearing them down with his claw when they didn't fall fast enough - he wanted to hope that he had some time, remembered that it had not been so quick, for the Diamond WEAPON to cross the sea.
Vincent bit his lip so hard it nearly bled, at the sound of another cry, not of Wutai origin but giving him all the information he needed, especially as the high-pitched alarm was repeated, all up and down the coastline, along with other cries and frantic orders. A few of Hojo's minions might even have been roaring in something like celebration - though Vincent was quick to kill all of those that he could reach, glancing up to see a dark shape on the horizon, swiftly growing closer, poised above the sea.
He almost smiled, imagining what Cid would make of this new encroachment on his skies, could nearly hear the pilot's gruff growl, the string of curse words intelligible except for the emphasis on a "fucking shit" or "goddamn it."
It was twisted, as if the very thing that made it so powerful had also crippled it irrevocably. An enormous bird-like creature, but with no discernable features in the sharply-pointed face. The skin was a swirl, clammy grays and sickly browns, the membrane of the wings attached to the body, almost see-through. Vincent felt his stomach twist, just slightly. He did not want to see what this creature was capable of.
Vincent sucked in a breath, steadying himself. If it wasn't defeated here, it's next target would be the Highwind, and it would certainly win. Ugly as it was, it would be far more graceful than any machine. Chaos itched at the back of his mind in a constant pressure, howling for release - and if Yuffie didn't... Vincent would stop it. He would give himself over to the beast for good, and to hell with the consequences.
The last war cry seemed to be 'scatter,' or at least some controlled form of it, as the soldiers retreated even further from the open plain, holding the line but searching for cover, camouflage from the beast.
The flare of light came just as the soldiers on the hill launched their first assault, missiles and rockets doing expectedly little against the creature - at least it had slowed down, though. Slowed down, and did not attack before a brilliant burst of blue flame rose up, curling in the air like a solar flare - and from high above, a roar rumbled like thunder in the sky.
Vincent could feel the bolt coming, the hair on his arm and the back of his neck rising on end, and looked away as the blast came down. It was still painfully bright, even with his eyes shielded, and he was blinking away the afterimage even as he listened to the Fullspawn shriek. It thrashed and twisted in the waves, knocked to earth by the force of the blow. The waves the crash sent up swelled over the land, pooling lightly almost at his feet.
Grounded, but it was not dead, and that was the only blast Bahamut had - and Vincent was certain the Fullspawn would be able to heal itself, eventually.
At least he knew where Yuffie was.
Vincent shifted into a dead run, not slowing even when he fired to clear his path, tearing out the throats of the beasts in his way, one eye on the Fullspawn as it struggled and shuddered and finally lifted itself back into the sky. He grimaced, the wind carrying an overwhelming stench of burning decay. Distracted, it took him a moment to notice the glow still coming from the clearing where Yuffie was.
Godo stood in front of his daughter, protecting her from anything that drew near. All the other soldiers had pulled back to safer positions, though Vincent wondered if even Godo's help was necessary. He remembered seeing a few of AVALANCHE cast a summon from time to time, that calling on the power of the creatures seemed to protect the summoner as well - but shouldn't she have been released from that spell, if Bahamut's attack had failed?
//Unless it was only his /first/ attack.//
The great dragon burst down through the sky with an explosive roar, driving its claws right into the Fullspawn. Vincent turned his head away as the monster counter-attacked, a wave of power that made his head ache, even with his eyes closed. The blast forced Bahamut to let go, staggering back before swiftly climbing into the air. Yuffie was down on her knees, bracing herself with her arms locked, hands clutched against the ground. Vincent watched as she got to her feet, chin high and defiant, still not letting go. Bahamut climbed into the air, and the Fullspawn followed.
It was startling to watch, Bahamut soaring through the air, twisting and turning in between blasts of power, trying to strafe the creature with teeth and claws. The Fullspawn was surprisingly agile, though, and managed to land as many blows as it took. Vincent watched helplessly as the massive beast reared back and let loose with what looked like a bolt of lightning, striking the summon full-force. It left Bahamut limping painfully through the air, unable to avoid the next blow that sent it hurtling toward the earth. The dragon landed half in and half out of the water, perhaps a quarter-mile down the beach. Still too close for his taste, especially with Godo still fighting, a new foe always replacing the old, and the ninja girl - pale and weakening - not conceding, though she seemed to be crumbling where she stood.
Vincent ran through the cloud of dust, kicked-up by Bahamut's impact, turned a strange hazy gray by the summons' light. He couldn't reach her, couldn't even get close, forced back by the power surrounding her, casting Yuffie in shades of blue like ocean water. The girl's eyes were half-lidded, not seeing him, even when he stretched, pushing with his human arm and bracing against the buffeting winds... almost... reaching...
A burst of energy exploded around him. Bahamut screamed, and Yuffie screamed too. Vincent was tossed back, scrambling to his feet to watch horrified as the Fullspawn lashed out at the fallen dragon, beak driving down again and again. The summon roared, and finally lashed out, pushing it back with a vicious kick from its back claw. It had been terribly wounded, though, and struggled with no small difficulty to its feet.
Vincent had seen summons work before, the way they were called and ordered. He'd never seen someone hold on as long as Yuffie had, no one had ever been quite so mad. The ninja was feeding the summon with her own energy, to keep it strong and fighting, to make sure it would win. It could easily be the last decision she ever made.
"Yuffie!!! Let it go! You have to let it go!"
He knew she couldn't. Wouldn't. Bahamut was the last summon, her last chance to redeem herself in her father's eyes - even if Godo had already forgiven her, or had never really blamed her to begin with. Her own redemption, through this battle, and knowing she was the only thing standing between the Fullspawn and her people. Yuffie would give up her life for her clan, for Wutai and her own honor.
Bahamut rose into the sky. The Fullspawn's first strike was massive, and the dragon nearly dropped back into the sea, recovering at the last moment. Yuffie staggered, only pride keeping her on her feet, barely dodging the next blow, and the next.
She screamed along with Bahamut once more, and whether it was in pain or defiance, Vincent couldn't tell. Her feet were no longer touching the ground, buoyed up by the power wrapping around her, her stubborn connection to the summons' energy. It seemed impossible, but it was as if the attacks were only making it stronger now, every blow that landed only feeding the fury. Bahamut reared back, and let loose with another blast of pure energy, charging forward and sweeping the dazed Fullspawn up into the sky before it could recover. The two creatures climbed, still locked together in deadly combat, high enough into the sky that Vincent could barely pick them out in the light - and realized when he could that it meant they were coming down again, plummeting at an impossible speed, with Bahamut's claws sunk deep into its prey, biting and biting and -
The sound of the creatures hitting the water was unlike any he had ever heard, and Vincent lunged for the nearest tree, claws digging hard into the bark as the shock wave hit and the water followed. He thought he had a glimpse of Godo, but didn't care so much for that as for Yuffie...
A roar, and for a split second his heart tried to claw itself out somewhere near his stomach - but the weary head that broke the water belonged to the dragon. The Fullspawn was nowhere to be seen. Bahamut pulled itself into more shallow water, staggering even as it began to fade, blue energy that pulled itself apart into a million sapphire shards - was it dying or just returning to an unsummoned state? Vincent couldn't bring himself to care, much more concerned with the body the creature was pushing with its muzzle, moaning softly before it vanished entirely.
He tried to cry her name but it wouldn't come, all his breath torn out of him as he ran to where she lay, tossed inelegantly to the ground, face down in the mud and the sand and still. So still.
"Yuffie?!" He was at her side in the next heartbeat, metal claw lifting her, her head lolling towards him, frighteningly limp. Warm, he thought she was still warm but that didn't mean - and she looked so pale. Vincent took a steadying breath, entirely out of habit, checking her throat for a pulse.
He blinked, finding her heartbeat just as she whispered his name, voice painfully hoarse, bleary eyes staring up at him in confusion. He exhaled, very slowly and carefully, as if letting the relief sink in too far might break him, or her, or the world
"You're going to be all right, Yuffie. You did it. The Fullspawn is gone."
"I know. I r'member."
She yawned, and smiled, snuggling in his arms as if they weren't still on a battlefield, the shrieks of dying spawn still piercing the air here and there.
"S' all right, Vincent." Yuffie slowly reached up, caressed his face with one hand, a strange sort of wisdom in her eyes now. A reflection of the summon, maybe, from what she'd done? "Gonna be all right. Promise."
Vincent lifted her carefully, aware of Godo somewhere nearby. Aware of the other soldiers who'd appeared, and saw she was alive, raising arms and voices in a victory cry that he could hear spread out over the bloody plain - but he never looked up, never looked away from her, surprised that she was still awake when she glanced up at him again.
"Realized while I was... fightin'. If it's a girl, can we name it... after my mother?"
He didn't understand what she meant, until one hand slid down, brushing against his own, resting so carefully against her stomach.
He was beautiful. He was beautiful, though he had been starved, frozen, shut out from the sun - and sick now. The Mako made every cell in his body ache, twist and burn, leaving him so wasted and weak he could not even lift his head. She knew what SOLDIER treatments did, she'd heard screams drowned out by Mako before. Scarlet slowly knelt before Rufus, watching his head rise and fall slightly as he tried to look at her, until she moved even closer, arcing her neck painfully so that he no longer had to try and look up to see her.
"Rufus? It's Scarlet. I'm here."
He knew her, she could see it in the burned-out irises, glowing like a chemical fire. One trembling hand raised, barely squeezing as she clasped it with her own. Weak, but his gaze was fixed on her, lips trying to move, trembling, parting, closing as he struggled to speak, fighting a body that would not respond.
"It's all right, baby. It's all right." Scarlet soothed, kneeling, wiping the corners of his mouth with her fingertips, the tears that were falling as his body shook in a rigid, silent scream. Soft, warm and alive under her touch - it didn't matter, not his pleading look, not the desperate fear that he /was/ trying to tell her something, something terribly important.
"Melissa has a plan. I admit, it isn't a very good plan," she smiled, brushing her lips against his ear. "We were always risk takers, though, weren't we?"
She'd had the radio on, for everything but the last twenty minutes, when they'd arrived. It could easily have been enough time for everything to change, given what had happened in just the last few hours. Junon was a dead city, no sign of even military guard, everyone hiding, everyone listening. It was painfully similar to the days with Meteor hanging in the sky, no reason to lie to the people with the air charged, waiting, the Planet's scream so invasive Scarlet swore she could feel it shivering across her skin.
... and to think, once, she thought the Lifestream was a load of new-age crap. So much for scientific rationale.
President ShinRa might have lied to the world. Hell, she might have just forgotten about everyone else altogether, but Reeve had remembered. Remembered how many people had died or would die fighting this war, remembered what it was like in Midgar with Meteor overhead. He had been broadcasting to the people, letting them listen in on all the bad news.
"Forty percent larger than a Fullspawn, at least" - the radio had blared, and - "larger than the Fullspawn attacking Wutai" - and - "Estimates chart its arrival on the mainland in ten hours."
In Costa Del Sol, she could imagine the party at the end of the world. In Cosmo Canyon, she'd heard, people were dancing and drumming and praying desperately to the stars. As if the problem hadn't started there to begin with.
Ten hours. More like five now, by the time she'd arrived here. The WEAPON would arrive in the morning. No word on if it would be coming alone, no word from Wutai before she'd been able to switch off the radio. It would take hours to charge the cannon, if it would charge at all. Hours to move it into position - if Reeve didn't try to stop her first, which he certainly would. She reminded herself to scramble all incoming transmissions, before she did anything else.
Rufus turned his head to face her, just for a moment, but she could see the effort it cost him to do so, the struggle. She held him close, one arm wrapped tightly around him while the other was already pulling herself up by the handle of his wheelchair.
"Whatever happens, I'm not going to leave you, all right? We're going to face it together." She kissed the top of his head, indulging in something she would have once considered painfully saccharine. "I love you, Rufus ShinRa."
The icy mask was easy to set into place as she stood up. Scarlet knew how she looked in the cold lights overhead, pale and drawn and capable of almost anything. Reeve probably should have revoked her clearance, or at least remembered to put himself back in charge correctly. It wouldn't take so long now, to see how much that mistake would cost him.
Zack was starting to believe that movement alone could be a panacea. It was laughable - in the insane way, not the happy way - how much better he felt now that there was a definite physical dateline on the end of the world.
He whistled, high and sharp, attracting the attention of all the chocobos at the other end of the pen. The birds huddled together closely now, spooked by the earthquakes and - well, as spooked as everyone and everything else now. Karat still ran to him, warbling an echo of his whistle, nearly as high and tight with anxiety. He was grateful to pat the bird, sinking his fingers into the plush feathers and murmuring nonsense in soothing tones. It was a mad relief, to offer comfort to something that didn't know better than to take it.
Tifa was mounting his black chocobo, and behind her, the rest of the two divisions - hers and his. He could hear, in the distance, the Highwind's engines whining. It had barely had the time to refuel before it was being sent up again, though with orders to move very carefully. None of them knew how close it could get, what wrong move might get it knocked out of the sky.
The spawn were coming, and the Halfspawn. No more Fullspawn, Wutai had borne the brunt of that. No, all reports that were coming in said that what was following the mass of Hojo's army was bigger, and stronger, and much, much worse.
All reports had come from a few small patrol ships, the only ones who could get close to the Northern continent, and even then they didn't dare move in, not even to check for survivors. The land itself was all but gone, splintered and cracked and boiling over with dark Lifestream. He was glad the Turks had gotten out, glad most of the men had been off the Continent. He grieved for the ones left behind, but it was all shoved off, a distant little corner of his mind, something more quickly and easily unpacked with as much Wutai hooch as his body could handle. Maybe if he'd gotten Cloud drunk more, long ago, maybe...
Controlled insanity could be a wonderful thing. He'd learned that much during the Wutai war.
Even if, back then, he hadn't had to learn it alone.
//Maybe I'd fly.//
It was the only part of the dream Zack remembered anymore, but it described everything that had followed, perfectly. Cloud, braced against the sky with his arms wide and poised rigid, frozen. One step away from the void, disaster, the end.
"General!" A soldier saluting quickly, offering more reports from the boats, and the other commanders. Nothing he hadn't seen before - the massive shape was moving across the ocean floor, a tiny moving island visible from the surface. One could only assume Hojo was inside. One could only assume he was moving toward North Corel.
//... and Junon, and Midgar.//
No reports of Cloud, or Sephiroth.
SOLDIER treatments had been difficult for everyone, even when they scoured the profiles of candidates over and over again. Every man had a dark side, demons, whatever. Anyone could go over the edge.
No reports. Maybe he was the only one who still remembered them.
He had been in ShinRa, the day a SOLDIER had died, taking his own life for reasons no one ever discovered. A fall, the dream Cloud had known his methods well. Even a body pumped to the brim with Mako would explode on the pavement after a hundred-story plunge.
No reports, but Zack knew. Knew more than he wanted to. He had never blamed his friend, but it had to have been Sephiroth's choice to fall, this time. Wherever he was, with Cloud, or what remained of Cloud.
Zack shivered, just under the surface of his skin. It was equally painful to think he was dead or alive. It was all painful.
Whatever had happened.
//Why didn't you take me with you?//
"Zack." Tifa, watching him, and he nodded, one soft tap with his right heel spurring Karat forward, the rest of them surging behind. He caught a glimpse of Red XII from the corner of his eye, the two giant cats flanking them - everyone was here, and everyone who wasn't here was evacuating. Only silence to see them off.
Of course, they didn't have any idea how to stop the WEAPON.
Of course, there was still no decisive word, how many had been lost at Wutai.
Of course, there were rumors Scarlet had barricaded herself inside the Junon cannon's controls, and was holding the technical staff at gunpoint. Since it was all a matter of Lifestream striking Lifestream, the cannon could very well power the WEAPON past even the slimmest chance to stop it. He knew it, Reeve knew it, and they'd assumed Scarlet knew it too.
Maybe she'd gone insane, it seemed to be the most popular option at the moment.
He was grateful he'd found the end of his rope early on. His perspective seemed much cleaner - despair and tenuous sanity - all of it more manageable because nothing would get past the feeling of betrayal, being left behind. He loved Tifa, of course, but if it was a question of Tifa or Seph and Cloud there was no question. Friends, fellow SOLDIERs, just the three of them and he did not want to be the last one standing.
Barret had pulled up beside him, just for a moment, watching him quietly for a few moments as they rode. Zack understood, he'd seen the same thing with Sephiroth in the Wutai war, a few soldiers always wanting to know what their commander was thinking, hoping to pick up some impression, some guess at victory. Sephiroth, of course, had been impossible to read, and Zack was usually the one left to grin, to give the thumbs up, even when he knew things were going to be less than all right. No need to go into battle without confidence - even if Sephiroth mentioned that his grin was more goofy than awe-inspiring. More than once.
Zack didn't even look at the other man, didn't react. It just wasn't the same, wasn't worth trying. It was too different, so difficult when he wasn't being Sephiroth's foil or Cloud's friend, too much lost for him to make an effort on his own.
He knew was going into this fight with the entirely inappropriate goal of finding his friends. Sephiroth wasn't dead, he couldn't be, and he wouldn't have betrayed them, not for anything Hojo could offer. Zack just wanted an explanation.
It was pitch black when they arrived near the shore. Zack gave out the orders automatically, spreading the veterans far apart, pulling everything back. It would likely be impossible to - //stop this thing or even slow it down// - to keep it in the water, and so they would try to contain it on the shore. It might be vulnerable somewhere, and then it would be a matter of stalling until the Highwind could launch, or the ground weaponry was targeted. Or both.
Zack rattled off the orders without thinking, making small corrections here and there. He saw Ro ride past once, perhaps making a circuit to familiarize himself with the land. It wasn't as if there was much left to do. No point in bringing much in the way of rations, when no one had an appetite, when there was no chance of this being a protracted battle.
Ro never looked at him. He never acknowledged the boy-turned-General, though this could easily have been the last time they would meet. All the words had been used up between them, leaving only islands of regrets and fears in the shape of men. Eventually, Zack moved away from the low rumble of troops, found himself a high dune closer to the beach, and sat down to wait.
It was entirely inappropriate that the waves were still calm, the sound quite peaceful as they lapped against the shoreline. The breeze tickled his hair, he could almost pretend the chill was natural, a cold wind from the north that hinted only of snow. After a while, Tifa found him. She held his hand, but said nothing, and it felt more like formality than anything. She must have felt it too, it wasn't long before she let go, both of them sitting quiet in the chilly sand. Watching the waves, for anything solid, anything besides the peaks and valleys of moonlight and water, though the boats knew exactly where it was. An alarm would sound well before dawn, but Zack knew everyone was straining their eyes toward the sky, to the first sign of light, the hint of quiet blue foreboding well before the dawn. Maybe the last day on earth.
It was the longest night, and everyone spent it alone.
Sephiroth was clawing his way up out of the rock and dirt, but it kept sliding out and crumbling beneath his hands, more falling down on top of it, and even a show of strength meant little in the granite-studded quagmire, if he couldn't get something solid under his feet.
At least he could still breathe, twisted and half-pinned, but he could still breathe and had managed to roll out from under the crevasse - damn, if there was only a light here, something beyond the Mako glow of his eyes, some marker, because he was half sure the ground beneath him now had recently been the ceiling.
//Swaying?// He paused, halfway out of where he'd been buried, most of his weight on the tips of his fingers, trying to feel out any movement in the cave. No, not just the cave, so much more than the cave. The roar had been real, and if the cave... the size of that /roar/.
So, Hojo hadn't created a WEAPON in the Crater. The WEAPON was the Crater itself, and he finally had gathered the power to bring it to life. It wasn't enough to starve the Planet to death slowly, Hojo would crush the remaining cities one by one... while Sephiroth was stood, ironically helpless, trapped inside of the creature itself.
//... like hell.//
Sephiroth started moving again, only to pause as his stomach twisted sharply - no, growling. He was hungry. It only made sense, he hadn't eaten anything since... He grimaced, holding back the soft chuckle before it could become anything more hysterical.
Sephiroth could feel a bit of what he supposed he must have felt at Nibelheim, an undercurrent that seemed to flow through the air and rock and every particle of dust, dark and building. Only this time, it had no interest in him at all, obeying a new master.
Sephiroth grimaced, bracing one hand and pulling hard with the other, dragging the Masamune up in one swift motion through layers of dirt and debris. The image of that snickering head, darting to an undeserved escape refused to leave him. He was fully ready to vow allegiance to whatever god would allow him to end this with what was left of the depraved mind resting on the end of his Masamune.
//Focus. Remember, there's more at stake.//
A new sound, so unfamiliar against the sound of dust and dirt that it took Sephiroth a few moments to place it. First a trickle, then a gush - and a hole in the wall, twice as tall as he was, burst out, water swiftly surging out to flood the room.
//Fantastic.// It was Zack's voice in his head, all weary irony and sarcasm. The smell of brine and salt hit him so hard he almost gagged. Seawater. //Oh, fantastic.//
It was freezing, clawing at his ankles and soon at his calves and knees and thighs as Sephiroth pressed his hands against the walls, smooth, unrelenting surfaces all the way up. It was a little easier to dodge the boulders as the room moved again, though the water roared in a wave up and over as it shifted, dragging him off his feet. Sephiroth choked, pulling himself up in the slick mud, only to dive out of the way again as a crumbling pillar collapsed where he had been standing - but it did leave him staring straight at what might be the only exit in the room. Dry rock, the floor had been crumpled into shelves of stones like jagged stairs, rising up against the wall. Sephiroth caught a glimpse of thicker darkness beyond the wall - a crack, a passage. He hoped it would be wide enough, wished he was a little more narrow-shouldered. Cloud, for instance, would have had no problem -
The jolt was sudden, and painful, colder than the icy water, and his right hand slid up against his coat as reflex, checking for the imagined wound. No, he could not forget - all of this was for Cloud, even if no one would believe him in the end. Cloud, who still had to be alive, please, just a little while longer.
//Hojo still needs him. Hojo always keeps what he needs.//
Please, God, let him still be that sane.
"... wait. Don't leave me!"
He almost missed the soft cry beneath the sound of the rushing waters. A figure, collapsed beneath the rubble, laying on a broken part of the shelf he stood on. One limb stretched limply toward him, a glittering eye peering from the darkness. Barely recognizable, even for something inhuman.
"Anjele? Where's Jenova?"
"Gone." God only knew if that meant physically gone or dead or something else, but he didn't have time to pry an answer out of what was left of the man.
"Are you pinned?"
"Not really... still wounded, though. I can't move well." He glanced down at the dark-clad SOLDIER, down at the water, rising higher by the moment. They both noticed Sephiroth wasn't moving to help.
"T-take me with you." Anjele tried to push himself up, but his arms could not support his weight, and he fell back with a soft grunt, a little trail of black blood at the corner of his mouth. "I can help you... with the code."
Sephiroth grimaced as he waded into the icy water, pausing to stare at him. "How do you know about that?"
"Jenova." He winced, whatever had been done to him giving him enough night vision to see Sephiroth snarl. "You shouldn't-"
"Don't presume you can lecture me on what I shouldn't." He was just burning off some excess energy, snarling back at the man, but it did feel good. Anjele dropped his eyes meekly, barely making a sound as Sephiroth began extracting him from the rubble.
"You're not all right, are you?" It was subtle, but Sephiroth could feel it, some texture in the man's arm, a little bit too much give to the body as he pulled at the shoulder...
He watched as, with a sickening sound, everything above Anjele's waist came out of the wreckage. Everything below stayed where it was.
"I'm falling apart." Anjele sighed, sounding more tired than upset, not in any great pain. "I probably should be dead now, I think. The only thing keeping me alive is the energy saturating this place. You can feel it, can't you? The WEAPON?"
"Yes." Sephiroth tried to hold back a shiver, hauling what was left of Anjele carefully onto his back, arms like cold meat flopping limply over his shoulders, brushing the back of his neck. Less cold than the still-rising water, but much more disturbing. "Yes, I can. Now hold on."
It wasn't so awkward, and the sound of what must have been Anjele's blood spilling out on the ground was muffled by the rushing water. The man was a cold, dead weight against his shoulders, but not so difficult to carry. He didn't speak, not for a long time as Sephiroth made his way up to the exit.
"Do you know if this is a good way?" He muttered, knowing very well that either way, it was the way they were going. A few moments pause, and he felt Anjele nod.
"I feel... she isn't there, but she was. We should go that way." A hesitant silence. "You shouldn't hate her, you know. In her way, she loves you very much."
Sephiroth grunted, a meaningless response. It was difficult to imagine the day had come, that such a statement really didn't matter much either way.
Reaching the end of the slabs of rock, still a few feet from the crevice, Sephiroth started to climb.
Author's Notes - rollin, rollin, rollin
1. The porno would have to be called "A Long, Hard Ro".
Jilly: I am all over that.
2. The peeing off the ShinRa plate continues to dominate my thoughts. (Thanks Thorne for the Vincent/Rude lines)
<line up all ShinRa men on the plate>
Rufus: You know, they say on a clear day you can pee forever.
Cid: Yup, this is God's Country.
(moment of silence)
Reno: Ladies and Gentlemen, the lunchbox has landed.
Sephiroth: Stubborn lizard there?
Zack: Fuck you! I can't go with you looking.
Scarlet: What? You think all I learned how to do in ShinRa was photocopy managers asses for blackmail?
Rufus: A beautiful flower of womanhood.
Rude: And I see your Schwartz is as big as mine.
Vincent: ... yes
Cloud: I hate it when I get my Schwartz twisted.
Zack: I CAN'T GO WITH YOU LOOKING!!!
3. Two more chapters. I think.
4. Flidget: Oh wait
Flidget: there's a Fullspawn AND a weapon?
Flidget: Aaaaaaaaaaaaand in this Corner, we have the B Team freaks of science.
Flidget: *Zack and Vincent look at each other*
Flidget: Zack: you know, if we find out Seph and Cloud just got away from it all to shag like bunnies, they are so dead.
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