The Color of Blood Chapter 2
By Brady Bryner, Bill Shofstall, & Anthony McKinley
Cosmo Canyon, Seto 12:00 Midnight Jan. 25
"Of holy blood and holy right... I exist in the night..." Anthony's face did not crease.
"Of angel feathers and seraph tears...come thine human fears..."
"And from thine heart, comes the future and past. We are the first, and the last." Kianki also did not waver, not fearing the conclusion of the incantation. The three were sorrounded in light, and were each struck by an individual beam.
Anthony swished his tail, then concentrated. "I wonder... Nanaki?"
"Can I change my form?"
"Yes... It says..." Nanaki put his paw on a book. "As can I and Kianki..."
"Concentration... Simply..." Nanaki sighed.
"Simply... Sure..." Anthony breathed deeply, then concentrated on a form he had wondered about for many years. His body became sorrounded in an orb of light, lifting him off the ground. He fell to the ground as a human being. His hair was reddish brown, and pale white skin. His various tattoos and scars remained, but otherwise, he looked totally different. He removed his headdress and various anklets, as well as his single gold earring. "God damn... Some one go get me some clothing." Anthony felt as if he had been human all his life in terms of movement and physical make up. Nanaki returned shortly with clothes he "borrowed" from someone's closet. Anthony put on the clothes. One was a shirt with many colors on it, which he left unbuttoned, and a pair of cut off jeans. He looked thirteen or fourteen. "Where'd you get these?" He looked at his pendant.
"Oh... Okay... I guess." He scratched his head. "This is...wierd." He cracked his knuckles like he saw Tifa do. "Damn! That hurts!" He began to curse violently. "Nanaki... How long does this last?"
"I don't know! I guess until you concentrate on another form." Kianki just shrugged and walked by him. "I'm going to bed... This is wierd..." Kianki rushed back to town, followed by Nanaki. Anthony however stayed behind, smiling. He put his head into his hands, laughing. He felt the pockets of the shirt, sliding out a wallet and a pair of glasses. The lenses were round with thick black rims. A pair of shades.
"Damn man... He got the good stuff..." He checked the pockets of the jeans. Several pieces of gil, a button, and a paper wrapping to a candy bar. He found a pack of cigarettes in the other pocket and slid them out with a metal lighter. He had smoked before, but it looked simply odd. He lit a cigarette and took a long drag of it. He walked into town, going to the Tiger Lily arms shop. "Hey..."
"Hello Anthony." She looked up. "Oh shit! I'm sorry. Thought you were someone..."
"No, it's me."
"I'm lookin' for a weapon... Umkay?"
"Oh... yeah... Sure!" She grabbed a list and handed it to him.
"Hey... Y'all got any nice swords? I always loved those damn things..." He stared at the scars on his shoulders. "I got a close personal relationship with em'."
"Oh sure..." She pulled out a sword that looked like the Masamune, but shorter. "This is a ten pound Wolf Blade. It has an acid edge, titanium blade." She flipped the hilt toward him. "And a silver mythril handle with a wolf head design at the bottom. Good for righties and lefties and comes with a beautiful designer sheath." She pulled out a glinting sheath. "Also comes with a lifetime guarantee and provides total protection from most magical elements. With a four foot blade you'll be able to get a quick advantage on your attacker before he can get to you. Has a grip protection system at the bottom so if anyone but yourself touches it, it jams three four inch spikes through their hand." Anthony raised a brow as her sentences melded together as one. She was a very "quick" saleswoman. "I need your finger prints." He put his hand down into ink and put the print onto a sheet of paper. She went into the back for a few minutes and got another sword.
"Can it kill though?"
"Yes!" She took a steel pipe and cut it in half easily with her copy. "Edge never dulls."
"I'll take it. Anything to end the infomercial."
"Four hundred g... It's yours..."
"What!?! I can't just take it!"
"Come on..." She slid it over to him. He grabbed it and turned to leave, and when she turned, he dropped several hundred gil notes from the wallet onto the ground. She saw them, and picked them up, Anthony already gone. "Thanks, kid."
Cosmo Canyon, Nanaki's Room 2:34 AM Jan. 25
"Nanaki..." Kianki stirred him. "Nanaki!"
"Hmm..." He rolled over, wrapping up into his tail.
"NANAKI! WAKE UP!"
"Anthony is gone!"
"He never came back..." He fell asleep again.
"WAKE UP!" Nanaki's eyes shot open.
"Deeeeeeeemn..." He rubbed his ears. "What!?!"
"I checked Seto, he wasn't there..."
"What about your room?"
"I would know... Trust me."
Coast of Midgar, Sea Port 3:45 PM Jan. 25
"Thank you, sooo much." Anthony bowed and walked into the seaport. He walked off from the port and down a corridor toward a large lot of cars and trucks. "Hey..." He looked at a salesman. "How much for one of these things?"
"What would you like?" Anthony scratched his head as he looked at them.
"One I can drive." The man quirked his brow and showed him to a motorcycle.
"This is an SR-78. The finest motorcycle you can get for... Oh... Twenty thousand gil."
"Can I..." He pulled a plastic card from the wallet. "What's it called?"
"YEAH! That's it! Can I charge it?"
"Of course. I do recomend buying some warmer clothing though before riding this bike. The wind can get quite cold."
"I'll think about it..." Within an hour he was given the bike. He noticed a large opening in the side. "Hey! What's that?"
"A holster for a rifle."
"Oh... O... kay..." He sat down and read the manual to the bike. "Okay. I do this..." He turned the key and listened to the engine rev. "Now..." He did several other procedures before the bike moved. "Take this slow." He turned the speed up slowly, until he was going to fast to see straight. He saw other vehicles twisting out of the way as he went the wrong way down a one way street. Horns honked at him as he zipped down the middle of the road. "Out of the way! I am a motorist!" Back at the lot the man suddenly realized he never checked for his license, or authorization for use of any Shinra made vehicle.
"Damn it! Get out of the way! You're going the wrong way!" He slid to a halt in front of a coffee shop, not using the brakes, never learning what they were. He pulled his key out of an odd transmission and walked to the door, smoking another cigarette.
"Hey... You got a few gil you can lend me?" A man sat on a chair in front of a table with cards on them.
"Yeah..." Anthony threw some gil at him. The man grabbed the gil and ran into the coffee shop. Anthony looked around, then saw two rails running parallel to eachother. He turned on his bike again and rode into the middle and started screeching and bumping down between them. His mind thought for a moment.
"Anthony... What are you on?"
He shouted out, "Railroad tracks!"
"And what runs on railroad tracks?"
"No you idiot..."
"They're train tracks... What runs on train tracks?"
"You know that whistling sound? Look behind you." Anthony looked behind himself, seeing a train shooting after him. Anthony remembered but one thing. The throttle. He sped up, screaming. "Go faster you damn..." He pounded the speedometer. In a desperate attempt, he waited for the train to be directly behind him. He jumped straight up off the bike, landing on the roof of the train as the bike was crushed. He thought quickly of what he had learned of magic. "Lemme think..." He pulled out his sword and cut the roof open, jumping into the engine car. The engineer fell backwards.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Why don't you use the door like everyone else?"
"Conformist ass..." He walked to the back of the train and sat down.
Cosmo Canyon, Observatory 7:23 PM Feb. 12
Shera walked in slowly, sitting down on Nanaki's couch. Nanaki smiled, seeing Marlene run in. Marlene hugged Nanaki and sat down with Shera. "Hi Naki... I mean... Nanaki." Her face got very sad. "Have you seen Daddy lately?"
Nanaki looked at the ground, thinking to himself. "What am I supposed to tell her?" Nanaki loved to see Marlene, and had been often with Shera visiting him, enjoying his company.
"Did he say anything?" Marlene got happy.
"He loves you and misses you very much..." Marlene hugged Nanaki again.
"Thanks for telling me..." Nanaki nuzzled her neck gently.
"I can't believe it... I'm lying to a child." Shera looked at him while she was hugging him with the same worried look Nanaki had. Nanaki's thoughts continued racing. How long can we keep this up? She squeezed his neck one more time, then went and sat back down. Shera brightened.
"The captain... I mean, Cid... Cid is going to build another rocket... When he can get the gil for all the equipment. He and Palmer are working on it."
"Really?" Nanaki sat down in front of her.
"Yes. Reeve gave him some funding to redo several of his projects, but Cid just rebuilt his hot rod after it was destroyed. It's almost finished, but Cid keeps buying more things for it he THINKS he needs." Nanaki giggled almost girlishly under his breath, making sure no one heard. Cid seemed like such an idiot sometimes, but was a good friend.
Anthony walked into the room, in his regular form. He kept the clothing he had though, and the sword. Kianki followed him at the same moment the door shot open with Tifa, Reeve, Tseng, Elena, and Cid standing there, arguing. Nanaki slapped his face with a paw. "They're not annoying me... They're not going to give me a migraine... I'm not going to slaughter them..." He removed his headdress, his claws turning into normal, white claws, from the jagged red ones the headdress gave to him. The group calmed down.
"A little news Nanaki..." Tifa smiled. "Tseng and Elena are getting married... And we need you to come with us to Cetralin to Destilian because Reno called and they saw some one who looked like Sephiroth."
"O...kay." He looked at Anthony and Kianki. Kianki was nuzzling his neck, making cooing sounds. Anthony simply smiled and kissed her. Nanaki shrugged and looked back at the group that had come in. "Nanaki? Can I look at the machine?" Marlene watched him with wide eyes.
"Sure... Come on." Marlene walked after him into the room with his machine to see the stars and planets. Shera stood up, looking at Cid.
"What er' you and Marlene doin' here?"
"We just came to visit. Thats all." She still seemed like she was trying to keep Cid happy, expecting him to act like his old self at any moment.
"God damn. Calm down." She sat down, loosely. Cid sat down beside her. Tseng and Elena walked to the inn, losing time to get back to Midgar. Reeve followed Tifa back to her chocobo and the whole way to Gongaga. Anthony and Kianki went back to their room. Only Cid and Shera were left. Cid grabbed Shera's hand and ran up outside to the Cosmo Candle, the sky dark. Lord Cait appeared from nowhere and fell onto the floor. He shook his head, looking around.
"In here!" Lord Cait ran into a room where Nanaki and Marlene were on a platform. "We'll be right down." The machine soon set down, Nanaki hopping off with Marlene holding onto his back tightly. She jumped off and hugged him again.
"Thanks." She saw Lord Cait, remembering him. She had talked to him and played games with him and Cait Sith many times before. "Hi!"
"Hey!" He did a simple trick, pulling a few gil out of her ear, and dropping them into her palm, giggling. Nanaki smiled. He was beginning to like Lord Cait, and enjoyed what he did for Marlene. "Hey Nanaki! I want you to meet an old friend of mine." Lord Cait opened a portal, Mog falling out onto his head. Mog rubbed his head and tightened his bandana.
"Hey... Kupan? Where'd he go?" He saw Lord Cait. "Hey man!" Lord Cait pulled his belt up.
"Hey Mog. This is Nanaki and Marlene." He put his mouth to Mog's ear. "Nanaki is one of the three. The other two are in their room. I'll introduce you later. Nanaki? Can Mog have some food? He has been running almost non-stop the last ten hours." Nanaki nodded and left the room, followed by Mog.
"Mog... Hmm. The esper?" Mog nodded. "Don't you have a chocobo?"
"Yes..." Mog whistled, Choco appearing from nowhere. "Choco, meet Nanaki."
"Wark!" Mog hopped up and patted Choco's head, feeding him greens from a saddlebag.
"We must wait for Markus before leaving."
"Ah... Yes, very well. Markus..." Nanaki sat at the entrance to the town, waiting. Then, from a glint in the moon, an angelic creature shot down and landed in front of Nanaki and Mog. Lord Cait lay sleeping beside them. "Cait!" He merely snored. "Wake up!"
"That ain't how you do it!" Markus picked up Lord Cait by his head and began crushing it. Lord Cait woke up screaming.
"Lemme go, you bastard!" Lord Cait threw punches in the air at Markus. "Lemme go!" Markus dropped him on the ground.
"Worthless!" Markus pulled a rifle from the holster on the armor. He propped it over his shoulder and stared at the sky. "Come on... We gotta get moving." He turned and started walking out of the canyon. Nanaki grabbed Lord Cait by the head with his teeth and ran after Markus with Mog and Choco.
Gongaga, Bunker 12:35 PM Feb. 13
Reeve walked after Tifa through the bunker. "Why are you following me?"
"I'm not following you! You're following me!"
"I'm in front of you..."
"You're a great guesser?"
She turned and slapped Reeve. "Damn it Reeve! Why are you following me!?!"
"I don't need your protection Reeve..." She picked up a rifle, seeing several men of Reeve's general infantry run by. She loaded the gun, turning off the safety.
"Maybe you do and you don't know it!"
"And maybe I just don't, Reeve! I know what I'm doing!" Reeve also picked up a rifle, took it apart, put it back together, and loaded it.
"Always check a rifle for defects this close to enemy lines." He grabbed her rifle, took it apart and removed a little mechanism with several flashing lights. "This is a bomb that detonates when you pull the trigger. I just saved your life." She slapped him again and walked away. "What!? You slap me for keeping you alive now!?" He ran after her and handed her rifle back. "You won't live very long without one."
"Shut up, Reeve." She smiled, seeing Reeve rubbing the red blotch on the side of his face. She ran up the stairs behind the trench, Reeve following close behind her. They ducked down, preparing.
"When is the next wave of Shinra coming in?" Reeve's inquiry waited a moment, but he recieved a reply at last.
"We got about two minutes if they keep coming in at this rate..." "SHIT! GET ALL THE CIVILIANS INTO THE BUNKERS! NOW!" It was too late. Some got down into the bunkers, but several were mowed down by machine guns and lasers. "Damn damn damn DAMN!" He popped up over the trench and fired a few shots, but only wounding several soldiers. He pulled a grenade from a soldier beside him, tossing the grenade at a tank. The tank gave way with a satisfying explosion, but the onslaught continued. "Are the cannons ready!?" Reeve said a short prayer and pressed a button on a remote. A tower, standing approximately eleven feet tall, turned toward Rufus's men. The tip of the cannon began charging. The two operators inside recieved Reeve's signal and fired a laser into the crowd of soldiers. Men screamed as their bodies were lit a blaze. "Hey... What's the charge types on that thing?"
"Bluntly? Regular, extra crispy, and deep fry." The operators turned a dial and the beam changed from a mild yellow to a red, and then to white. The beam sliced through the soldiers, blitzing them apart.
"Keep em' pinned until we can fully prepare! Get the other towers ready!"
"Yes sir!" Three other towers began charging. Soon, four white hot beams were scorching the enemy soldiers. "Okay! We cleared the first six waves! You should be able to get through!"
"Okay... OVER THE TOP EVERYONE!" Reeve rushed over the trench, firing. The other soldiers rushed over the top of the trench, shouting and firing. Men were dropping on both sides. Reeve almost vomited seeing burnt and bleeding corpses, men without heads, or arms, or various other limbs. In his moment of realization, a bullet caught him in the shoulder and sent him to the ground. "GYAAH!" He clutched the bleeding hole in his arm. He saw it, a clear hole straight through. Tifa grabbed him and pulled him back.
"Why do I have to save..." She grunted as she pulled him back. "...your ass!" She was left alone with Reeve, as the soldiers broke, and Rufus's men shot through. Three came directly at Tifa and Reeve. One grabbed Tifa by the shoulder and pointed his gun at her head. Reeve grabbed his rifle with one hand and beat the man away with the butt of the rifle. Still clutching his arm, he dropped his rifle and removed an earth materia. The ground beneath the other two soldiers split open, and sharp spikes jammed into their legs. The two men fell to the ground, but quickly grabbed their guns and began to fire blindly. Reeve took two more shots to the stomach, falling back. He saw Tifa take several shots to the stomach and chest.
"Shit..." He dragged himself over her, firing at the two remaining soldiers with a pistol, and then blowing the thirds brains out onto the ground. Tifa grabbed Reeve by the back.
"Help me..." Reeve looked directly at her face.
"It'll be okay... Just hold on for a minute..." Another soldier came toward them, about to fire at Reeve. Reeve, however, heard the gun click, turned and shot the man in his left eye, burying the bullet into his brain. He grabbed his cure materia and cast cure several times on Tifa. Tifa was still bleeding from her chest wound, at the base of her breast, below her heart. She began to pass out. "God damn it! I said hold on!" He slapped her back to consciousness.
She slid him another materia, with as much strength as she could. He was about to use it when several more bullets hit his back. He muttered the runic name, curing Tifa, but slumped over. Tifa got up, wounds healed. She gripped Reeve's hand tightly.
"Come on! Get up!" Reeve stumbled to stand as she pinned the soldiers with as much fire as she could. She tried to find her revive materia, as Reeve's heart was stopping. She forced a small amount of dust down Reeve's throat. Ashes from the feathers of a fledgling phoenix. Reeve's internal wounds healed very slightly, but enough so he wouldn't die, unless it be from bleeding to death. Reeve ripped the camo suit he was wearing, tying the excess fabric around the holes in his stomach and shoulder, and wrapped a longer one he tore from his arm around his back.
"My back..." He held his breath and pulled himself erect and ordered more laser attacks.
"But sir... Our own men are in there!"
"Then tell them to pull back! Get them out, and then fry!"
"Ye... Yes sir." Reeve's men fell back behind the trench.
"What are our losses?"
"Thirty-four percent, sir."
"Damn. Where is Miss Lockheart?"
"Second line trench, sir." Reeve got up and ran to the second trench, behind thick forestation. He cast cure on himself several times before finding Tifa, but had sealed the hole in his shoulder, and was no longer bleeding. His body was still very sore though, and what remained of his suit was red with blood.
"Tifa..." He panted, almost collapsed.
"Reeve! Are you okay?"
"I'm alive, ain't I?"
"Amazing old man."
"I'm only twenty-six..." Tifa gave him a confused look and then burst out laughing.
"You? But you've been working for Shinra for a long time!"
"Ten years isn't long..." He held himself up from the ground with one hand. He finally stopped panting and loaded a new rifle, after inspecting it. He wiped sweat away from his brow and jumped up. "Are all the cannons firing?"
"All twelve of em'." He saw various beams sparking out into the forest. The enemy Shinra was finally driven back after several hours. Reeve's soldiers quickly took Asgar within two weeks, and began preparing a defense against a large area of Shinra build up. Asgar was designed just like Midgar, and soon had its reactors built like Midgar's had been. The tides of war were falling back and forth between both of the powers. Rufus had severly underestimated Reeve's chances.
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