Last Exit for the Lost Chapter 39

Song of Stealth, Song of Steel

By Damodred

They landed slightly outside Kalm; for efficiency's sake Aerith took Cid down in her usual manner. Much to Shera's credit, she didn't as much as flinch when Aerith & Cid materialized within two yards of her. Her startlement was more of a quiet sort and it was caused by Cid's arrival more than the manner of it. They stared at each other for a while, uncertain what to do. Shera was the first to break the silence with a hesitant "Well, won't you show me your ship?" At that, Cid broke down, rushed towards her and held her to him, whispering "I will never let you go again." Shera pushed him from him slightly, looking in his eyes. Eventually satisfied with what she saw, she allowed him to escort her towards a smiling Aerith, his arm around her waist and her head on his shoulder.

The flight towards North Crater was full of strategic discussions, heated arguments, suggestions, rejections and denials. Ideas ranged from frontal assault to sneak attack to anything between those two extremes - everything was dismissed mainly due to the fact that Chaos' limits were unknown and any strategy might be doomed from the start so might as well go for the frontal assault. It was Yuffie who eventually threw up her arms and yelled "Why don't we just walk in and say Hello?!?" This prompted an exchange of thoughtful looks followed by a flurry of nods. This seemed to make as much sense as anything else. After careful consideration, a small modification was added to the plan.

The air itself shook with the blast as they approached the shining dome that capped the North Crater. Hovering above the contact point they watched as the field's harmonics shifted, trying to match that of the incoming energy. Then it bulged as the beam struck, stretching for an agonizingly long time in an agony of blue. Then it burst. A flurry of lights shone so brilliantly it briefly eclipsed the sun as the beam of coherent light punched completely through the shield. It spent the rest of its energy in the mountainside, blowing off one side of the crater completely. The could only hope that Chaos was buried under the avalanche, but chances were low.

They split into two combat groups - the frontal assault and the backup. The first group was comprised of Cid, Shera, the Turks, Barret, Zack, Sephiroth and Yuffie. The backups were Aerith and Cloud and they promptly vanished. They were hoping that Sephiroth could draw his father into a rage (not necessarily a good thing but the only chance they had), the rest would provide covering fire hopefully distracting Chaos. In the thick of fighting, Aerith and Cloud coming out from nowhere might have a chance of taking the creature by surprise. At least, they hoped it would be a surprise...

The frontal assault group took the easiest approach, moving through the still smoldering remains of the crater wall. "Nice of Rufus to give us a door," rumbled Barrett, while Yuffie chirped "Knock knock!" and giggled. Everyone could detect the edge of hysteria in her voice - but no one said anything. Zack checked his weapon for the fourth time. The landscape was post-cataclysmic - most of the earth was still smoking, dissipating energy from the blast. Some of the rocks must have contained some metal deposits, for here and there there were glowing fragments the size of a man's head, flickering fitfully. As they descended, the light from above grew dimmer and dimmer. The lurid light provided by the destruction combined with the smoke created an unholy atmosphere setting everyone on edge - except Sephiroth. His cool gaze seemed to penetrate the gloom and his firm tread and confident demeanor provided a steady anchor to everyone's psyche - which was why he did it. Not that he was feeling apprehensive no, just...uneasy. They had decided to forbore mental contact with the other party, in case Chaos was eavesdropping - they would attack when the outer, mundane forces reached the crater. The noise would alert them.

Oddly enough (or perhaps not) Tseng was the first one to alert the party to the danger. Simply crying out "Wings!" and taking cover behind a convenient boulder, he began firing wildly into the air above him trying to distract the enemy so that others could get to more advantageous positions. There was a snarl and a sound as if the air was being cut to shreds as Chaos banked above him and dove towards his true, his only target: Sephiroth. Facing his father calmly, the SOLDIER raised a hand and spoke a word. Time stopped - the air chilled - frost formed on Zack, the closest to the white-haired SOLDIER but it was focused so tightly on Chaos it traveled no further. With a sharp crack, all oxygen solidified around Chaos, encasing him in solid ice, as cold as vacuum. The demon's flight staggered for half a second, then recovered as the ice reverted to air and he glided smoothly downward, a visible sneer on his fanged visage. No words were necessary; no mercy was expected. A flaring red shield sprang up behind Chaos, cutting him and Sephiroth off from the rest of the combatants and driving them away with its red fury. The tall warrior's heart sank just a bit, realizing that Vincent created the shield as an afterthought, diverting very little power to it despite its apparent ferocity. His might must be...he banished the thought as defeatist and prepared for battle, noting that his friends were attempting to break down the barrier in any way they could. Futile his analytical mind noted dispassionately, but he knew it was all they could do. They did not know that it was the long, curved Masamune and the equally long but infinitely more massive Atma blade that would decide this fate. In Vincent's hands, the Atma shone a deep, dark, steely gray that seemed to absorb light, the Masamune looked fragile by comparison but both fighters knew better. Sephiroth braced himself as Chaos transformed into the more agile form and lunged.

Author's Note: I really want Aerith to drop down from the ceiling and stab Chaos through the's not gonna happen though. Just wanted to make that clear right NOW :)


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