Last Exit for the Lost Chapter 6


By Damodred

Barret led the dazed Tifa into the elevator through the dark hallways, thanking fate that at least the power loss was local to this floor. He heard Aerith murmur something to Sephiroth, who nodded and disappeared into the darkness. She joined them in the elevator and pressed the button for the first floor. She turned to Barret, who said, "Hope you got a plan to get us outta here...." Aerith nodded, "We'll take the display truck on the first floor...the last thing that ShinRa can do for us." Barret nodded, appreciating the irony. The elevator slowed as they approached the lobby. Barret took in the ShinRa security guards outside the building as they were stopping, said tersely, "I'll take care of this," and jumped out of the slowing elevator. He had no time to think about what he was doing as he was noticed by the guards immediately. He hit the ground running and started firing. He batted away two grenades that the pinned down guards threw into the building. THey exploded harmlessly outside, shaking the lobby. He skidded to a stop behind one of the desks and kept laying down cover fire. He glanced quickly behind him to see Aerith closing the truck door on Tifa's side and going around to the other side. He exhaled heavily, and turned back. He saw the soldiers outside stopped firing, and assumed they were about to do something drastic. He heard the truck rumble to life behind him and braced himself. As it was passing him, he leapt up and jumped up on the bed. Aerith turned the wheel sharply and skidded around in a 180 degree turn. The wheels squealed on the marble floor as she floored the accelerator. Barret briefly wondered where she was going, when he heard a sudden rumble that made him look up. He blinked. Riding down the stairs on a large motorcycle was a demon. Barret looked again and realized it was actually Sephiroth on a ShinRa Vehement 1300, his hair fluttering in the wake. The motorcycle screamed past them, and Aerith followed. Barret had enough time to think "Oh, shi...", and gripped the side rails tightly as they raced towards the far glass wall of the ShinRa tower. Then they were airborne, seeming frozen in midair, as the shattered glass floated around them like snowflakes. Then they hit the pavement with a shock that nearly flung Barret out. Only his deathgrip on both sides of the truck bed enabled him to remain there. He muttered, "I'm too old for this kinda abuse," and sat up to survey the situation. He saw Sephiroth on the bike behind and to the left of them, and some ShinRa types on bikes as well, coming up behind them. He waved madly to Sephiroth, trying to get his attention and point out the enemy. Sephiroth glanced back, nodded, and cut the throttle, the rumble of the machine fading in the distance. Barret saw him as a decreasing speck of white. He looked ahead, to see Aerith glancing back in the rear-view mirror, lips pressed together in a thin line. He looked back again and blinked. He saw several flashes of light, as if glinting off a blade, and sparks flying. A few minutes later, Sephiroth's form grew larger as he caught up and passed the truck, seemingly piercing the twilight with his gaze. As Barret admired the tall man's efficiency in dispatching the ShinRa goons, he realized it was getting dark. What between the revelations, fights, almost getting killed and waiting for Tifa to come around, the day disappeared. Barret shrugged. Not that it mattered in this city - it was always gloomy. He shook his head and turned his thoughts to the present, wondering why Sephiroth was passing them. Must've spied a threat ahead. Barret reloaded his gun, picking off the two remaining ShinRa bikers, who should've known better to follow after witnessing the demise of many others by Sephiroth's sword. Barret shrugged. Some people just don't learn, he thought as he targeted the last two ShinRa goons and fired. Sighing in satisfaction as the bikes fell in a shower of sparks, he held on as Aerith slewed the truck past another obstacle. This road was supposed to be ShinRa's crowning achievement; an easy, simple, and fortified way to get from city to city, running all over the Eastern Continent. What between ShinRa's squandering of money on the space program and genetic research, simple things like roads became less important, and eventually even this one started to crumble into disrepair. Barret knew that it would get them right past the city wall, but no farther. He held on as they approached the end of the road and Aerith hit the brakes sharply. He shook his head and muttered, "Damn, but that woman drives like a demon."

Sephiroth was already here, keeping watch for approaching ShinRa, but everything seemed quiet. Aerith got out of the car and helped Tifa out. "I'll be allright," she said in a quiet voice, but accepted Aerith's hand gratefully. They walked to the edge of the highway, which extended over the city wall for about a hundred yards and then stopped. Cables, struts and support beams jutted out of the uncompleted road at an angle, gently sloping towards the ground below. Barret spotted a support beam which looked stronger than the others and motioned everyone towards it. He helped Tifa down, while Sephiroth put his arm around Aerith and walked towards the edge. Barret heard Aerith chant a few quick words, her voice suddenly acquiring an unaccustomed edge, and his eyes widened as he saw the couple step off the edge. He relaxed as he saw them floating gently downward, Sephiroth's cloak billowing gently around the two of them. Barret shook his head and jumped down the last few feet to the ground and turned around to catch Tifa. Setting her down, he looked away from the city. Past the line of shadow that Midgar always seemed to be in he could see where the plateau ended and the grasslands began. He furrowed his brow in thought and spoke to no-one in general "We should probably head for Kalm. It's nearby, and we need information and supplies. Not to mention," he looked down at his clothes, grimy and oily from climbing the pipe to ShinRa tower, bloody and torn from the various battles, "we need to change," he finished wryly, turning to Tifa. She nodded and turned to Aerith, "I know you wanted to leave Midgar, and now you don't have a choice. Will you be going with us?" she asked directly, her dark eyes watching Aerith intently. Aerith answered, "No. We have our own task to complete, and it lies in the opposite direction. However," she paused, listening to a rumble rising in the direction of the city and smiled with satisfaction, "I was able to procure help for you, as well as transportation."

They turned towards the city as a gate opened in the wall and an open-top truck rolled out towards them. It slowed down to a stop, and settled next to them. With a hiss of hydraulics, the wheelbase lowered a foot and a young, black-haired man jumped out and walked towards them, throwing them a casual salute. Exchanging a nod with Sephiroth, he walked towards Aerith and said "I got your note. This was the best I could do on such short notice." He motioned towards the truck. "It's four wheel drive, and as all-terrain as they get, so we should be okay." Aerith drew him around to face Tifa and Barret. "This is Zack. His loyalties lie with the Planet, and his friends. And he's pretty good with a sword," she added, smiling. Zack nodded, grimly and said "Cloud was my friend, but after the, ah...incident our paths diverged. I stayed ShinRa because I wanted to fight, and they had the best training program. But I never forgot what happened then." He formed his sentences carefully, knowing that Tifa and Sephiroth had memories of that fateful day as well. Aerith said impatiently, "You can get acquainted on the way, now you should get going." She extended her hand to Sephiroth, who grasped it and pulled her gently into his arms. Their voices interweaved as they spoke words of power, and the meager light of the fading day begun to be drawn from them. Tifa, Barret and Zack shielded their eyes as their silhouettes were suffused with a bright, white light and their voices rose to a crescendo. Tifa thought she could make out an arm raised in farewell, and with a suddeness that made her gasp they were suddenly gone. The day seemed darker for their absence.


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