Last Exit for the Lost Chapter 27
Old Enemies, New... Allies?
"They went to the mountain. Hello Shera," said a calm voice behind them,
disrupting their contemplation of the empty room. Lord Godo allowed them
to search his house as long as they let him sleep, but the search proved
fruitless, all trace of the captives and captors gone. They whirled around
to face Cid and Tseng, who managed to sneak up on them undetected. A soft
hiss accompanied Sephiroth's unsheathing his Masamune, his face betraying
the slightest irritation at the Turks' unexpected stealth. He was getting
sloppy, he thought to himself, but a thought intruded. You're concerned
for Tifa, came Aerith's amused assessment. His reply was unintelligible,
fortunately. Cid raised his arms in mock surrender, "We give up." "What are
you doing here, Cid?" asked Shera sharply, eyeing him suspiciously. Cid dropped
his arms, serious now. "Irritating as it is, the fat bastard" he spat the
words as if they disgusted him, "that has Lockhart and Kisaragi also has
Elena. It's Heidegger," he added in clarification. Aerith nodded in sudden
understanding, "You could request assistance from ShinRa, but you don't know
what's going on over there and who Heidegger is allied with. But why us?"
Cid shifted uncomfortably, unable to face her penetrating gaze. "Well...it
seems we have a common goal for the moment, and I can't trust Rufus to help
out." He left unspoken the truth that if Rufus was behind this as well, then
he was as good as dead without some help. He looked at Shera imploringly
and smiled. Her eyes never left his during the conversation, and she had
a thoughtful expression on her face. Reluctantly, Reno spoke up, "The mountain
is big, and we need all the help we can get to search it." Aerith nodded,
noting Tseng's tightly drawn face. She knew him well enough from her days
at ShinRa to know that for his face to show that much emotion, he must be
in considerable mental discomfort. See, I told you there was hope for
them yet, she sent to Sephiroth. His reply was a noncomittal grunt as
he sheathed his sword, brushing past Cid and Tseng on his way outside. Cid's
eyes followed him inquiringly, then he faced Aerith again. "From the fact
that we're still alive, I assume you agree?"
"Let me go, you fat bastard!" screamed Elena, unconsciously echoing Cid's appellation of Heidegger, red-faced as usual. The three captives were bundled together, Elena's close proximity to Tifa doing nothing to alleviate her rage. Heidegger reached out casually and slapped her, hard. "Shut up, meddling bitch. Won't be long now," he rumbled, eyeing the sky again. They were at one of the higher spots of Dachao Mountain, apparently waiting for transportation. From what Heidegger disclosed, he was going to get back into Rufus' graces with their capture, and wanted all the credit for himself. Thus, Elena's capture when she was found snooping around Godo's house. She and Tseng were simply going to get fuel and return, but she was unable to resist the temptation to look around. Then Heidegger was going to get the Turks to try and rescue her and eliminate them as well, blaming AVALANCHE. It seemed like a great plan, but as the helicopter that Palmer promised him was taking its time in arriving, the risks were compounding. Heidegger began to sweat more, once again counting his troops and finding them insufficient. Not to mention they would probably turn and run, finding the bribe he paid them insufficient to stand up to Avalanche. Well, he always had his backup, risky as it was.
"So, how's the rocket?" asked Cid casually as he and Shera climbed up the mountain, using their twin spears as walking sticks. She glanced at him sideways and said, dryly, "Still tilted. Why do you ask? I thought you had no more interest in space flight." He stopped walking and grasped her shoulder, spinning her around, wide-eyed. He said in a hoarse voice, staring into her eyes intently, "I was so close! I almost had Rufus convinced that the future of ShinRa lay in space flight! He was ready to sign the orders when he was disrupted by news of the Ancient and that Promised Land story of his! Damn it!!!" He exhaled, letting her go and turned away, staring at the horizon. He added quietly, "And I didn't realize until now how much..." His voice dropped even lower, and she thought she imagined him saying, "I missed you." She reached out hesitantly, touching his shoulder lightly, "Cid, I..." He spun around, looking into her eyes again and said, intently, "I'll take you on the Highwind one day, I promise. But...I can't now, not yet." She sensed a commitment being made, not lightly and knew in that moment just how much she must mean to him, perhaps even more than going to space. Then it was gone, and he was Cid the Turk again. "Come on, let's find Elena and the others."
"You lost your NightStick," observed Tseng quietly as he followed Reno up the mountain. Reno nodded absent-mindedly, looking around. "The assignment is not what I expected." He didn't elaborate, but Tseng knew what was troubling him anyway. He had been having doubts of his own, hidden under his glacial facade. He took a deep breath, saying "Many things are not what we expected, but we're still Turks. We follow orders." Reno stopped, looking blankly ahead. He said in a distant voice, "Turks aren't supposed to care." He turned his head to look back at Tseng momentarily, "Or love." Tseng's expression tightened for a moment, then relaxed. He started walking again, laying a hand briefly on Reno's shoulder.
"Incoming!" shouted Aerith, her eyes following the flight path of the small, green bottle coming their way. She immediately threw a protective shield around herself and Sephiroth, eyes widening as the bottle shattered on it, releasing a small green cloud which rapidly grew to encompass them both. Sephiroth studied the green fog intently, then said, "I'm going." He moved forward, forcing her to release the shield around him. "Irritating man," she muttered, a worried frown on her face as she tightened the barrier around herself. She could see the deadly mist sizzling on the fabric of his uniform, and then he faded from sight, obscured by green.
Sephiroth moved through the fog, in the direction that the bottle came from. He could feel the gas trying to break through his defenses, but he pulled all his lifeforce in, away from his clothing, focusing on the skin, and his barriers were impenetrable. He knew this weapon; it was one of Hojo's deadlier and better creations, in conjunction with the Genetics Lab. It attacked anything organic, spreading out to cover an area predetermined by the dosage, and reducing the target to component atoms within minutes. Its only weakness was very strong wind, as it had a limited cohesiveness. It also lasted only a few minutes, only long enough to destroy what was in its field and then disintegrated. Fortunately, he was privy to most of the top weapons research at ShinRa, and from that knowledge and Aerith's training him in using the power of the Planet, he had devised strategies to deal with almost all of them. However, there was an added challenge here as he had to get to the person who threw the vial undetected and sanction them. He suspected it was Heidegger himself, for he was too paranoid to allow anyone else the use of the mist. He sensed the edge of the mist was within a few steps and stopped, still obscured by it, considering. He didn't have much time as the mist consumed his clothing, and fighting naked never held much appeal to him. Mind made up, he unsheathed his sword and leaped.
"Stop!" rang out an authoritative voice as Sephiroth flew towards the bottle hurler, sword upraised and held in front of him, intent on skewering his opponent. Skidding to a halt, the tall warrior ceased moving a foot before the wide-eyed and pale ShinRa SOLDIER, only now aware of his barely averted doom. Sephiroth turned slowly, his face expressionless as he beheld Tifa, lying on the ground tied up, a gun held by Heidegger to her head. Another man was holding a bead on Elena, a little behind Heidegger. The silver-haired SOLDIER didn't even notice as Heidegger's pale flunky made his hasty retreat, his gaze intent on ShinRa's former general. To his credit, the fat man didn't flinch away from the glowing stare, but held his ground firmly and sneered. "You didn't think I'd be stupid enough to throw the bottle myself, knowing that you might very well survive? My, my, my you two are full of surprises. But this is as far as you go. You see, my chopper is almost here, and you're out of..." he broke off. Surprise was evident on his face as the simultaneous gunshots echoed in the mountain, bouncing off the sides of the cliff and coming back. Before the shots were even heard, the guns Heidegger and his flunky were holding flew out of their hands, skittering away on the rocky ground. Then, something blurred through the air and there was a ripping, fleshy sound as the bloody spearhead emerged from Heidegger's chest with a rush of air from his deflating lungs. He grunted softly and keeled over, striking the edge and falling over the side of the cliff, dead before he began to fall. Sephiroth walked over to the edge and looked down, his hair and tattered clothing fluttering behind him. "...time." He completed Heidegger's sentence quietly. He turned back, noting without surprise that the remaining ShinRa flunkies melted quietly into the background, making their disappearance discreetly, but very rapidly. He saw the approaching forms of Tseng and Reno, both holding their smoking guns, Cid and Shera with the remaining spear and Aerith, coming out slowly from the dissipating mist. The entire ordeal lasted no more than a few minutes.
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