The Color of Blood Chapter 4
By Brady Bryner, Bill Shofstall, & Anthony McKinley
Cetralin, Jungle 2:34 PM July 13
Joe, Tim, and Matt ran through the jungle, horrified. Joe jumped a log with Matt, but Tim tripped. Tim grabbed the axe at his side and turned as the twisted creature rushed at him. It had looked like a spider with two human arms under its mandibles. Tim hacked at it, sending a spray of blood as one of the arms dropped to the ground. The creature grabbed his leg and sunk the mandibles in until it hit the bone. Tim screamed as he plunged the axe into its eyes. The screeching being let one last yell, and died. Tim's face was covered in tears when Matt and Joe found him. "Shit man! Are you alright?"
"My fucking LEG was almost sawed in half! What do you think!?!"
"Sorry... Damn... Don't you have some cure materia on your axe?"
"Yeah... But I can't get to it... That damn thing still has it in is' head." Joe pulled the axe out with a sickening squish, removing the cure materia, and then casting cure on Tim. Tim sighed as the flesh sealed tightly over the wound. Tim stood up, his leg still sore. When he did though, a deafening skittering sound erupted all around them. Hundreds of the creatures leapt after them. "DAMN!" The three turn and ran as quickly as they could. They were all now soldiers of Shinra, highly decorated for their defense of Gongaga, and the assault on Asgar. As of such, they were carrying guns, none loaded.
"Come on! Over here!" Joe grabbed his younger brother Tim and jumped into a hole of stone. Matt stayed behind for several minutes, fighting back the creatures with a knife. He too fell into the hole. The creatures crowded around the hole, peering down.
Tim loaded his gun and looked at Joe. "My hero..." He fired up at the odd denizens of the jungle, killing and wounding several. Despite this, none of them moved into the hole. "Matt! You got your phoentic relay system?" This system was an updated version of the PHS. Matt nodded and pulled out an object not unlike a celluar phone. Matt told his commander about all that happened in their exploits to this hole. Matt turned it off with a final request for help and turned to explore the hole. Joe and Tim followed suit. Joe brushed dust off of a large slab of rock. He continued brushing away dirt and dust until he revealed a large door.
"Get over here! Look at this!" The three stared at the door. "Should we open it?"
"It's like a game show..." Matt's point was odd but correct.
"You can keep the death by freakish spiders or you can trade all in for what may be behind door number two!" The two looked at Tim. "What?" They all grabbed the side of the door and pulled until it opened into a long set of stairs that led down to a large round room. The roof stood at least twenty feet above them. Tim and Matt quickly ran to different pillars, grabbing whatever they could.
"Slow down you two! We don't even know what this is yet!"
"Of course we do! It's door number two!"
"Put those damn things back and hold tight. A rescue team will be here in a few hours."
"Damn..." The two younger brothers sighed and sat in the middle of the room as Joe inspected the rest of the chamber.
"I wonder what these mean..." Joe ran his hand over painted carvings in the wall. He looked at the floor and walked over to where his brothers were sitting. He saw a huge glyph in a circular disk on the floor. "Get off of that you two!"
"Get off of what?"
"Okay okay... Damn..." Joe saw the glyph clearly now. It was a dull red, in the shape of a face. Joe kneeled onto it and ran his hand over it as well. He pressed his ear to it and knocked on the ground. "Hollow... There is somethin' below this!"
"Thats great, but it ain't our job! Now get off, you jag' ass. That's my holy sitting seal." Joe grumbled and stepped off of the seal. His two brothers sat back down on it, sighing as they plopped down. When the soldiers finally arrived after clearing away the spiders and catching several for research, they found the three on the ground, staring at them. "'Bout damn time..." Matt snarled slightly as he stood up.
"Sorry for the wait boys, but we had to get through those damn things." Matt was about to reply with a snide comment, but Joe quickly took the conversation.
"Thanks." The last group to come down was compiled of Cid, Tifa, Anthony in a human form, and several soldiers. Anthony walked calmly into the middle of the room.
"Hey there... I'm here in my brother's absence." Anthony knew he had to get back to the canyon soon, Kianki with give birth in two months. Nanaki was supposed to be sent to examine the creatures. Anthony slid his shades up, revealing his brown eyes. He whistled as he saw the glyphs. "Damn... Stock pile." Tifa walked up to him.
"What do you mean?"
"This room... Check it out... Cetra glyphs." Tifa looked around as well, seeing the many large and small carvings. "Get a team of scientist down here." Cid seemed confused.
"Who died and put you in charge?"
"I did..." Tifa pointed to herself.
"Yain't dead jet. Doesn't count." He lit a cigarette.
"Damn it, Cid! Why can't you quit that damn habit!?!"
"Cause I'm not a quiter. Quitins' fu' pussies."
"I'm here in place of both Angus and Reeve."
Matt looked to Tim. "She scored with the president..." He was a childish, ignorant fool, but he was right. He just laughed with Tim and went back to watching the group work.
"Here lies the tomb of Edgar of Figaro." Anthony read a small line of glyphs in front of a small etched out line, showing the position of a body. Anthony thought back to his historical studies. "Edgar died long after the Cetra had died out." Markus appeared in his armor.
"That he did..." Markus pulled back on the tomb, revealing a well decayed corpse. Markus checked the rings, a necklace, and several other things. He found an automatic crossbow below the skeleton. "This is... This is Edgar." Markus removed the crossbow and found also Edgar's brother Sabin. Sabin had died in a battle shortly before Edgar's death. "Their graves are in Figaro Castle... Not here!" Markus's heart twisted with fear. "This can't be happening..." Markus disappeared. Anthony shook his head and went back to reading.
"From the lower sanctum of Hell I command my legions. All the fools that fall at my hand or that of my legions shall evermore serve me. I am the alpha and omega. The beginning and the end. Civilization and anarchy. Life and death. I am but one being. Dark and true. I am Mara. Queen of Chaos." Anthony shook his head. "I think some one has been an egotistical asshole." Something possessed Anthony to stand in that center circle. He removed his sword, laughing. He stared at the face as it began to glow. He threw his arms out and faced down in a cross pattern. "Hey Loki... Piss off." He jammed the blade into the circle. When he removed the blade, a blaze red light shot out of the ground. He slashed a longer hole into it. Flames began skipping from the ground. It had taken him two hours to decode the message on the wall, and everyone was out of the hole, waiting at a base camp. The circle shot off, throwing Anthony against a wall. "Shit..." His senses came back to him. "Damn." He had no memory of any of this. He stood and walked to the hole. It was a deep, dark hole, with a ladder on the side. No time to get the others, he grabbed the ladder and started climbing down. Tifa went back to check on him, and saw him no where in the room, but now there was a hole in the floor.
"What the hell?" She inspected the hole, then climbing down. She found him, on his knees before a casket. He was pulling away many lids until he found a mummy. "Tony?" Tifa now called him that, casually. "What's goin' on?" The body was obviously female.
"I don't know..." He looked at the last lid. Scratch marks. "Tifa..." He dragged the lid over to her. "This woman was entombed alive..." Tifa looked past him to the coffin.
"I got news for ya'... She ain't dead."
"What?" He turned around. The body was gone. "Oh shit..." He scanned the room. No sign of the woman. "Oh shit oh shit oh SHIT!" Tifa looked as well. Nothing. Tim entered the chamber.
"Sorry bout' this interuption, but..." Tim dropped the black materia. The one Anthony had dropped on the last day of the year on his way to Rocket Town. He came back through and spent New Year's in Nibleheim.
"That materia... Where did you get it?"
"I found it."
"Well, it belongs to me..."
"Listen, kid... I found it, it's mine." Anthony growled and changed back to his true form.
"I'm not a kid... And that belongs to me..." Anthony extended his claws. Tim picked the materia up and threw it at him. Anthony clenched in his teeth and sat down. Tifa slapped her forehead.
"Did you see a woman leave here?"
"Other then soldiers?"
Tifa shivered. "Alrigh' Tony... What did you do?"
"I... I... I don't remember... I was reading the glyphs... Thats it." Anthony shook his head. "What happened?"
"I dunno, but you just let an ancient bitch out of her grave!"
"How do we know if she is evil?"
"I'm assuming if she is buried in a tomb with two dead guys who died far later after the tomb disappears, why the fuck would she be good, that grave robbing..."
"Let it go..." Tim just stared at the two.
"Umm... Maybe we should be going." Tim walked over beside Tifa and Anthony. However, when they turned around, the wall at the side was gone.
"What the hell?" Tifa turned to Anthony. "Was that there?"
"No..." In the place of the wall was a long, well lit hallway.
"Maybe we should get help." Tifa tried her PRS and the phone Reeve had given her. Both just registered a loud scrambled sound. "Guess it's just us two."
"Hey! I'm coming with you!" Tim holstered his gun and axe.
"You? You're a kid." Tifa remembered Yuffie. "Damn it..."
"I'm not staying here with none a' them dead people."
"Just make sure you don't join em', got it?" Tifa stared hard at him.
"Yeah... The name is Tim. And you are?"
"Tifa, and this is Anthony. Okay?"
"Alright... Can we go now?"
"Yeah." Anthony snarled something and began walking toward the hallway. As soon as they entered, the wall slammed down behind them. "SHIT!" Anthony just shook his head again.
"Don't worry about it... I'll handle it later." Tifa gave him a confused look, but shrugged. "Sides' my sword is back there... And my cloths..." Anthony swished his tail and looked down the hall. "This should be fun!" He ran down the hall as fast as he could, tail flailing behind him. As he did, darts shot from tiny holes behind him, each one missing. He then ran the whole way back, and dropped at Tifa's feet. "I think thats all of them." Tifa waved her arm in front of a hole, another dart shooting out, missing.
"Sorry..." She did it three more times. The first two, darts shot out, but the last time, nothing did. Anthony sighed deeply and ran up and down the corridor. He plopped onto the ground at the end, Tim and Tifa walking slowly down the tunnel toward him. When they finally got to him, he stood up, still tired, but slightly rested. He panted still, but had enough energy to walk. As he walked along, he swayed back and forth. Tifa held onto to the right side of his neck, trying to keep him from falling. At the end of the corridor, they entered another chamber identical to the first, save the objects in the room, and there was no face floor tile. "You can rest now..." Anthony smiled and dropped onto the floor.
"I gotta lot of endurance." As he did, a fourth pair of foot steps entered. Tifa turned, the only one recognizing who it was. Sephiroth. She stumbled back into a wall. Anthony turned to see him as well, soon as Tim did. Anthony had seen Sephiroth quite well before, the first time as a Gi Dremin doll, and the second as his true self. Anthony bared his teeth, finally remembering him. To Tifa's surprise Sephiroth stepped backwards, frightened. Tifa could see it on his face. Anthony slowly began creeping toward him, eying the man's movements and reactions.
"I... I... I'm sorry... I didn't interupt somethin', did I?" Tifa looked confused.
"WHAT did you just say?"
"I'm not here to hurt you..."
"Holy shit..." Tifa stepped toward him as well, quicker then Anthony, but still quite a slow pace. When she finally reached him, she looked deeply into his eyes. Every thought Nanaki had on the day he saw Sephiroth sleeping in the forest shot into Tifa's head. It was Sephiroth, yet it wasn't. "It can't be you... It's impossible."
"It is me." He looked down sadly. "Uh... Um... Your name... Uh... Tifa! I wanted to ask your forgiveness for what I've done to you... Your father... And you yourself... I'm so sorry." He looked as if he were about to cry. For the first time ever, Tifa felt pity as she saw Sephiroth's soul. "I didn't want to do any of that... I didn't mean to... I couldn't..."
"Why couldn't you stop yourself?" Tifa's voice was smooth and kind, but slightly accusing. Sephiroth understood it quite well though.
"I... I... Myself..wasn't...me! It was me, but it wasn't... I mean... I don't know! I know I'd never kill innocent people!" His voice faded. "Or at least WANT to kill innocent people... I want to be forgiven, though I know it won't happen."
"Sephiroth... How did you know we were down here?"
"I don't know... I don't know anything now... All I know is I felt an aura or something like that, and I followed it." Tifa nodded. The reply wasn't what she wanted, but it worked. Sephiroth proceeded to recount his story about the forest, and the training he put himself into there, and about the demon, and about the Masamune. Something clicked in Tifa's mind.
"You need the Masamune to kill him, right? And he needs it to kill you, and Cloud had it. He... He..." Sephiroth nodded. Tifa remained silent, unmoving on the outside. Her true feelings were ablaze with hideous rage and anger. She held it to such a point that her face literally grew red. Sephiroth backed off slightly. Anthony sat beside her and looked up at her.
"Maybe you should sit down... Okay?"
"Waita' minute! How the fuck did you get through a stone wall!?!"
"What stone wall?" He motioned to the hall. It led directly into the second chamber.
"Shit! It's almost 3 AM!" Tim looked at his watch. "How long have we been down here!?!" Everyone stopped and looked at him.
"Aren't you just the emotional one?" Anthony barked in a sadistic, sarcastic, and simply vile tone.
"I'll be quiet now!" He threw his hand up, and a dart shot through it. "Gya! DAMN!" He grabbed his hand. Tifa ran over to him.
"Does it hurt!?!"
"No! It tickles! In fact, why don't you take another one and jam into my eye! Maybe we'll be able to watch TV in my eye if we can get reception!" Tifa grumbled as she walked away from Tim. "Wait! No! I'm sorry! It hurts real damn bad!" Tim muttered curses under his breath and cast cure on his hand. Like his leg, it was sore, but it was still good for usage.
"Maybe we should go back to camp. We'll come back here later tommorow."
"Oh no! I'm not coming back! Hell no!" Tim shrieked and walked out. "Ya'll can deal with those damn little airborne bringers of death! I'm going home! I'm still on leave!" With that the four left the cave, three going to the camp, and Sephiroth disappearing into the jungle again.
Valhalla, Rufus's Office 8:32 AM July 14
Rufus was spinning around in circles in his chair, bored. He had ran out of heroine, marijuana, cocaine, and everything else. All he had left was a bottle of liqour. Straight liqour. Rufus detested the taste, but drank it anyway. He needed an escape from his world of papers and pens as he called it. Rufus had become a serious drug addict since his near death by fire. The drugs were really used to mask his fear of the outer world. A world of people who wished he would just collapse and die. The people who worked for him. The people who fought against him. Even he himself wanted to end it. He hated life because he considered it unfair. The creature that so often sit beside him, Dark Nation, thought many times of simply ending Rufus's pathetic existence on the Planet. Moments passed like hours for Rufus. The "egotistical pompous ass" was still spinning in his chair, but now drunkenly laughing and giggling at how fast he could go. He was unaware that Reeve had signed the order for the atomic attack upon Valhalla's northern most sector, an area thick with mako draining machinery and weapon factories. Reeve's plan was an extremely well drawn out plan. As much as he hated Hojo, he was now processing Hojo's brain waves for scientific information, and considered cloning the spindly old man, as he thought of Hojo and those glasses. He hated those. He hated Hojo's skeletal frame, his hunched walking pattern, and the insane comments he ranted during meetings, but Hojo was intelligent. Very. Rufus could use a board of advisors, and Turks. He would start with a Hojo clone. Then he would find Vernon and hire him as a Turk or the Head of Weapon Development. Vernon was a heavy equipment officer during his term with SOLDIER. Rufus knew him personally. And as Rufus sit planning, drunk as he may be, Reeve was planning with a lucid mind, preparing.
Midgar Shinra Building, Reeve's Office 10:23 AM July 14
Reeve traced his finger over the attack pattern. His plan was complex, yet simple at the same time. He'd first send a bombing mission with the atomic bomb developed in Wutai, the year prior. The bomb would be dropped in a zone of mako reactors and factories. Then, Reeve would send in three sea transports, suspecting that Rufus had no coastal and water defenses other that at Bone Village, would then drop off several squads of soldiers and engineers to produce a base camp at the fringe of Valhalla. After that, he would then bomb Costa Del Sol's many factories and drive Rufus's forces out. Then he would retake Junon and Fort Condor by ground forces and air forces, exploiting Rufus's weak air defense systems in the area of Fort Condor. Junon, however, had a very powerful airforce that could intercept an assualt on Fort Condor in moments, and was readily able to defend Junon as well. After getting these three cities back, he'd launch a full frontal offensive from Asgar to take Benan and Cork. Corel had once again been pulled back into Rufus's rule, but the recapture of the city would have to wait until Benan had been returned. Benan lay off the road to Corel, and Cork on the other side of the river. Both of these cities would play key defense and offense roles in the recapture of Corel. Corel was Reeve's most difficult issue. It held many war prisoners, forced to mine, and had a thick defense of SOLDIER and general infantry gaurding the city. The city was rich now, and many rich investors flocked to the city, building more buildings, and paying for thicker defense. Tanks and armored vehicles patrolled just outside the city. Airships of all kinds, military and frieghters alike, were constantly leaving and entering the now popular trading center. Rufus had even dug an extensive series of underground tunnels and cities to prevent a such an attack from below.
Reeve sighed. No way could he possibly exploit Corel. He needed Corel's heavy amount of supplies to make Valhalla totally independent, except for Destilian, but the bulk of Cetralin was owned by Reeve, and was heavily gaurded to prevent trade to Destilian. But under Destilian lay the source of magic. Thus, Reeve already gave the orders to attack and retake the city. Too much for him to think about now. His plan was complex in that it had so many points to it, but simple in the basis. Attack the weak areas, the commercial areas, and the goverment areas. Cait walked in, quite battered. He had been at Destilian, fighting. His arm was cut, leg broken, and had a cast around his stomach, but he was smiling. "Good news Reeve. We've taken Destilian. Victory was declared an hour ago, when Angus shot the last officer in the chest and leg, immobilizing him. They were forced to surrender."
"Causalties?" Cait's face grew grim.
"Forty-two percent of our men were injured or killed. Ninety-seven percent of General MacMillan's men were injured or died. General MacMillian did not survive." Reeve nodded his head.
"Has the order for the familes to be informed been issued yet?"
"Yeah, man. Reeve... The only combat I've seen before this was going after Sephiroth, and the battle on the Mustirio with the Emerald WEAPON. I was genuinely afraid of dying. It all hurt. I bled actual blood. Not a synthetic. I really felt it all. It hurts to be real..."
"I can change that."
"No! I want to stay this way. I want to remain feeling pain. I want to feel everything as more then just pressure. I want to feel what it really feels like. I want to LIVE and I want to DIE." He stressed the words so painfully that his face twisted. "I don't have a family besides you Reeve. You're my creator and like my father. I've never honestly thanked you for it. I'm saying thanks now though." Reeve nodded silently. Cait smiled. As he left, he whispered, "Thanks, Dad..."
Cetralin, Unknown Tomb 4:43 PM July 14
Anthony, Tifa, and Sephiroth walked through the tomb. They came back to the third chamber, searching for another. Sephiroth ran his hand over a panel that pressed out of the wall. "Was this here yesterday?" Tifa looked at the panel as well.
"I dunno. Was it?"
"Dun' look at me." Anthony backed off casually, once again human with the same things Nanaki had given him.
"If ain't red, push it." Sephiroth pushed the panel, which instead of sinking, fell out of the wall. Sephiroth backed away and to the side, pulling Tifa back with him. After a few seconds, he was about to step back to the hole, but a giant flaming spike shot out and disintegrated in mid-air, just when the floor dropped.
"SHIT! IF IT AIN'T RED PUSH IT? DUMB ASS!" Anthony jumped to the wall and grabbed a holding, Sephiroth and Tifa hanging on to foot holds as well. When they considered it couldn't get worse, the wall fell apart. They were falling in nothing. They all woke up at the same time, on the ground in front of a large temple. Statues of creatures like Nanaki and Anthony as well as statues of humans rowed the wall in front of the temple.
"What the fuck is this?" Tifa's eyes widened to the size of saucers. "What the fuck is THIS!?!" She began to get scared. It was well lit by sunlight. When Tifa looked up, however, the sky was dark. There were no stars, no moon, clouds, or anything else to produce or block light. "Where are we?"
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