Last Exit for the Lost Chapter 34
The small plane bucked, unexpectedly, as the entire planet seemed to lurch
in front of them, throwing them wildly around the cabin. Aerith and Sephiroth,
forewarned a split second earlier by their connection to the planet, managed
to prevent themselves from being flung too much, and Yuffie, guided by some
sixth sense (perhaps her rudimentary Planet instinct) also managed to hold
on. Shera and Cloud were both strapped in, so the damage was minimal. It
seemed as if all the air around them had displaced itself by about a foot,
with no warning whatsoever; then all was still again.
A flustered Yuffie brushed an errant lock of hair away from her face. "What the heck was that?" she asked in a belligerent voice. While Aerith was glad to see that the young ninja seemed to be recovering, she wondered if it was perhaps better when she was still under the influence of recent events and as such, QUIET. "Yeah," added Shera from the front, sounding a bit shaken, "It felt like we were moved suddenly..." she trailed off, unable to articulate the sensation. "The Planet sounds upset," observed Sephiroth, his eyes closed and his voice far away, "but everything seems allright now...oh." His eyes flew open and he stared at Aerith, expressionless. She was wondering if the fear that only she could see in the depths of his gaze was her own. Her voice steady, she said, "We'll be right outside. Back in a second." At the last word, she and Sephiroth vanished.
"What was that all about?" demanded Yuffie, querulously. She had grown used to the mystique that those two seemed to be suffused with, and to their sudden comings and goings, but she would still like to know better what the hell was going on. Since there was no one else to pester, she plopped herself in the copilot seat and turned towards Shera. "Any ideas?" Shera answered her, tight-lipped as she scanned the horizon, "No, but I have a feeling that we're not gonna like it. This air feels..." She stopped as a faint moan issued from the back. She glanced backward quickly and then turned back. "Cloud is coming to. Go see if he needs anything, and if he's lucid yet." Yuffie found herself getting up and moving towards the back before it occurred to her to argue. It seems that Shera's years as mayor of Rocket Town taught her much, and especially how to get people to do what she wanted.
Cloud fought towards consciousness sluggishly. It seemed that his body did not want to obey him, and every time he remembered why he seemed to crash towards despair. He couldn't remember all of it, but he knew he'd been enthralled by...He couldn't remember, but there was a strange sense of familiarity to the whole thing. He tried to put his pain behind him, momentarily, and to emerge. He had the strangest feeling someone was calling him.
Yuffie almost had a heart attack when the blond SOLDIER sat bolt upright and said "Tifa?" in a clear, but faintly puzzled voice. "Um, hi. Like, no, I'm Yuffie," she said, uneasily. He seemed allright, but who knew what was going on in his spiky-haired head. As he turned his iridescent blue gaze on her, she shivered slightly. In an uncanny way, he resembled Sephiroth, and it wasn't just the Mako glow. They both had a certain dispassion about them, a reserve which was hard to crack, a rigidness which wouldn't bend in the harshest wind. In a sudden flash of insight she understood that Cloud had been broken and reforged of sterner stuff, via his ordeal. A certain innocence that she witnessed in Zack's eyes - and which she attracted her - was absent, replaced by grim determination. "I'm hungry," he said quietly. She jumped up and grabbed some rations they had stolen from ShinRa what seemed like a lifetime ago. "Um, we have these things...they're edible," she stammered out. As he sat munching, a wondering look came over his face and she wondered what he was up to.
Cloud found the girl amusing, but somehow knew she was quite powerful, if untrained, in her own right. So he kept quiet and kept munching on the field rations, but something kept intruding. He managed to collect most of the scraps of his memories, and now realized that the monster which had controlled him was the same one that had destroyed Nibelheim. And caused the death of....no. He couldn't think about that yet; he had to keep his emotions under control for now. Best not to delve and instead absorb himself in the collection of his fragmented memories for a while. He suddenly realized that he, the girl and the pilot up front weren't alone; there seemed to be two entities tagging along on top of the plane. He stopped eating, amazed and realized that he had been feeling them for a while; but that wasn't all. He seemed to be feeling much more, in fact he could...his mouth almost dropped open with amazement. He could feel...he couldn't exactly tell what it was. The air around the plane; the ocean far below them; the fish in the ocean; the earth...the Planet! He could feel the Planet! Somehow his ordeal had loosened the bonds on his mind, and made him truly aware. He knew that usually that made people insane, but somehow he felt like he understood everything, but wasn't deluged by it. He would know more, and he knew how to find out. Dropping the ration - in truth, he didn't feel hungry anymore - he stood up and concentrated. His hands went like this; he said the word like this; and his mind went like this....
They became aware of the new presence almost simultaneously; Sephiroth with his battle instincts and Aerith with her heightened sensitivity. The turned around to behold Cloud behind them on the fuselage of the plane, holding on to the tail and looking up, as they were. He was holding on from habit; the fact that he was immaterial kept him quite safe; the 450 mph wind couldn't touch him. Sephiroth's eyebrow twitched and Aerith gasped a little; becoming immaterial was not the way she'd had done it. She and Sephiroth were protected by a Shield, so all the wind went around them instead. In addition, it was an extremely difficult spell, yet Cloud had managed it apparently without even knowing. "What is it?" he asked, pointing at the sky. Aerith dismissed her brief wonder and answered him "It's Meteor." Cloud nodded, "Can we stop it?" "We don't know," Sephiroth answered, studying Cloud carefully. Aerith looked up.
It was as if someone had taken the moon, painted it lurid red, punched it full of pockmarked holes and thrown it towards the Planet. There was a trail of red dust behind it, giving it an impression of speed despite the fact that it was still far away and the motion was indiscernible. To Cloud, it looked like the ugliest thing he head ever seen. To Sephiroth, it looked like it was getting closer, and accelerating. To Aerith, who knew exactly what it was, it looked like destruction.
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