Shinra Reborn Chapter 10

By Dan Schmidt

The space station loomed ahead of them. As they approached it, the rocket suddenly began to shudder violently. A ray of blue light shot out from the station and engulfed the entire rocket in a blue void. The rocket began to shake even more violently now.

With a loud blast, a red beam shot out from the station and struck the rocket in the nose cone. The rocket’s nose ripped apart with a loud screeching sound. The vacuum of space began to suck everything and everyone inside the rocket.

First, the chairs were ripped violently off their bolts in the floor. Then, the control panels ripped apart and were flung into the endless void of space.

Then, came the people.

First it was Barret. Barret desperately tried to grab onto the edges of the ripped nose cone, but to no avail. Barret was sent streaking into the void. Next came Yuffie, then Cid, then Vincent, and then Reeve.

Next, Tifa was sucked out. Her body began to contort from the zero air pressure in space. She was flung into the rocket. She gave Cloud one more final, desperate look before she was gone.

And the came Aeris. Aeris was ripped violently of Cloud’s grip. Cloud desperately tried to pull her back into the rocket, but she floated farther and farther away. She mouthed the words "Help me, Cloud" and then she was gone. Cloud was all alone inside the cockpit, wishing that it would just end, and that he could die along with his friends….


Cloud awoke with a start. He opened his eyes to see Aeris above him, shaking him gently.

"Cloud, you where having a nightmare."

Cloud suddenly realized he was sweating. He looked around the cockpit and saw that everyone was alive and sleeping soundly.

"I-I’m sorry," Cloud said, "It was just…well…in my dream, I lost everyone. You, Tifa, everyone." Cloud suddenly hugged her tightly.

"What’s this for?" Aeris asked quietly.

"I never fully welcomed you back," Cloud said. He then released her. "Are you hungry?"

"A little, yes," she replied.

"Well, why don’t we head down to the mess room and have a late dinner."

"Cloud, are you asking me out on a date?" she questioned.

Cloud thought a moment before answering. "Well…I guess I am. I didn’t really occur to me that it was a date. I was thinking more along the line of a dinner between friends."

"Either way," Aeris replied, "I accept."

* * *

Cloud sat down at the large rounded table that was used as the diner. He had prepared a steak entrée, with sides of potatoes and cornbread. To drink, Cloud opened a bottle of white wine. Not bad for an impromptu meal.

"This is nice," Aeris said as Cloud brought out her meal. The lights were slightly dimmed. Cloud sat down across from her and began to eat his dinner. He was immediately surprised at how good his cooking was.

"Mmm…this is delicious, Cloud," Aeris said between mouthfuls, "The steak is very tender. Could you please pass the wine?" Cloud uncorked the bottle and handed it to her.

"What should we have for dessert?" Cloud questioned.

Aeris thought as she poured wine into her glass. "I’d really love just plain old ice cream. Preferably orange sherbet."

"I think that can be arranged," Cloud said as he took another mouthful of potatoes. Maybe I should be Avalanche’s personal cook after this the mission is over, Cloud thought to himself.

"So," Aeris asked, "What happened since I…well…you know?"

"Well," he replied, "You probably know we defeated Sephiroth and stopped Meteor. Well, we also thought we had defeated Shinra. We suspected that both Rufus and Heidegger were dead. But, they were recently found alive by the Turks, I believe. A WEAPON attacked Midgar and supposedly killed Rufus…" He went on explain the crisis with the Sister Ray cannon and the truth about Hojo.

"Wow, a lot has happened," Aeris said once Cloud had finished. She finished the last of her potatoes.

Cloud had finished his dinner and took both their plates back to near the sink. Cloud opened the freezer and got out some orange sherbet. He scooped two bowls and then sat back down at the table.

"Big day tomorrow," Cloud said in-between mouthfuls.

"Yeah, do you think we can destroy an entire Shinra space station?" Aeris asked. She took another mouthful of orange sherbet.

"We’ll have to find a way. Maybe there’s a self destruct system, or something," Cloud said.

"Yeah maybe…." Aeris said.

Cloud leaned over across the table. Aeris did the same. They looked into each other eyes and then….

The door to the kitchen opened. A tired looking Cid stood in the doorway. His clothes were ruffled and his hair was sticking out in all directions, but he still had a cigarette in his mouth.

"What’re you two kids doin’ eating this late at night," he said.

"We were, well…" Cloud trailed off.

"Huh," Cid asked, confused. "Oh…I see." He smiled and gave Cloud a thumbs up sign. He laughed softly and started to turn back. "You two kids get back to bed. We’ll reach the space station in only eleven hours. Oh yeah. Do you guys know it’s actually only 6:00 AM back home? You guys were having dinner at 6 AM."

"It’s not like we were wearing a watch, Cid," Cloud said, a little annoyed..

"Oh well…" Cid shrugged and headed back towards the cockpit.

"Well," Aeris said as she was getting up from the table, "I had a good time tonight…well, actually today. Good night Cloud."

"Yeah, good night," Cloud replied.

"Need help with the dishes?" Aeris asked.

"Nah, I’ll be okay. Good night Aeris."

Aeris smiled at him and headed back to the cockpit. Cloud took both ice cream dishes and placed them in sick. He washed them out, and then turned out the lights. With a sigh, he returned to the cockpit to get some sleep.

* * *

"All right, he’s our plan of attack," Cloud said at breakfast (which was really at about lunchtime). "Reeve has managed to steal a beta version of the Shinra space station’s plans using his old access codes."

"Beta version?" Cid said doubtfully, "They probably made quite a few changes in the final version. You know those Shinra technicians."

"It’s all we have," Cloud replied, "and it will have to do. Anyway, from what we’ve seen, there is a large energy generator that supplies the station with power. If we neutralize this generator, the station will go to back up generators, but the station will stop spinning, and therefore lose its artificial gravity.

"Now, with no gravity, the Shinra troops will be disoriented for a few minutes. This should give us enough time to plant explosives in the back up generator room, the primary thruster systems, and the station’s rotating systems. Without these three systems, Reeve will be able to engage the station’s self destruct system."

"My access codes are older codes, but they still should work," Reeve stated, "When the station is fully intact, only Rufus and Heidegger have ability to engage the self destruct system."

"To plant the explosives in the three different places, we’ll need to split into three teams. I will lead one team, Cid will lead one, and Barret will lead one. I don’t like separating us, but it appears we have to."

Cid stood up. "My team will consist of Reeve, Yuffie, and myself. We’ll be attacking the back-up generator room. It’s near the control room."

Barret spoke next. "My team is Tifa, Vincent, and myself. We’ll be taking out the primary thruster systems. These systems allow the station to move and they supply fuel to most of the station other systems. Without these systems, the station will be unable to supply air to the rest of the station, or be able to move."

"And finally," Cloud said, "My team is Red, Aeris, and myself. We’ll be taking out the station’s rotation systems. Without these systems, the station will lose its ability to rotate and produce gravity.

"Everyone will plant their explosives and we’ll meet in the control room. Once everyone is inside the control room, we will detonate the explosives and Reeve will set the self destruct system. The self destruct system has a ten minute timer, so we’ll have to set it and then run like the devil back to the Sky Lighter."

"Sounds like a good plan to me," Red said, "What should we do about Rufus and Heidegger?"

"Hopefully they’ll be stuck on the station," Cloud replied, "Without the thrust systems, the stations escape pods will become inoperative."

"We’ll be intercepting the space station in less than an hour," Cid stated.. "Everyone get ready. It’s sure to be a tough battle."

* * *

"Radar jamming in progress," Cid said as they approached the Shinra space station, "They won’t be able to find us even when we’re docked with the space station."

In the blackness ahead, a large object appeared in front of them. It got bigger and bigger. The object was about ten times as wide as the Sky Lighter was long, and was twelve times as high as the Sky Lighter was long. It had six triangle shape structures projecting from top and bottom, and two diagonally pointed up and down on both sides. The center of the space station was a giant oval-shaped structure. Four small square-like structures were attached in the oval. And right in the center of the oval was the Shinra logo.

"Wow, it’s huge," Cid said in awe. The station surely was a sight to behold.

"Nine of us are gonna take on that? We’re all absolutely nuts," Yuffie said.

"We’re gonna do what we have to do, for our planet and for Solack," Cloud said. "We can’t let them suck the life out of another planet."

"Beginning docking procedures," Cid said, "Hold on to your butts."

Cid turned the rocket about ninety degrees to bring the rocket’s main hatch parallel to the nearest triangular structure. The rocket gently pressed against air lock chamber at the tip of the triangle.

"We are…docked," Cid said as the rocket connected itself to the space station. "Opening hatch now."

"Well, this is it," Cloud said, "Good luck everyone. None of you die on me, ya hear?"

Cid opened to the hatch. "Okay, the main generator should be near the bottom of the station. My team will take that out, and then take out the back up generators. When that main generator blows, Barret and Cloud, move your teams in. Move out!" Cid, Reeve, and Yuffie took off down the rocket’s hall. They exited the hatch and stepped into a long corridor.

"Well, it’s time for a little espionage," Barret said, "Move out, team!" He, Tifa, and Vincent followed Cid down the corridor.

"Everyone ready?" Cloud asked. Red and Aeris nodded. "Let’s go then!" Cloud, Red, and Aeris exited the rocket. They walked down the long corridor. The walls were white and they saw no sign of life. This was probably an outer region of the station. In any case, Shinra had no idea that anyone could penetrate the station, so they had no need for patrols so far out.

"Here’s an elevator," Red said, "Look at the buttons on this. Control Room, Mess Hall, Crew Quarters…" He scanned down the list of locations. "Here we go! Gravitation Controls." They stepped into the elevator and Cloud pushed the "Gravitation Controls" button. The elevator shot down at an incredible speed. Cloud had to brace himself it was moving so fast. The elevator soon stopped. Cloud stepped out and saw a large sign that said "Sector 4".

"Just like Midgar…" he muttered.

"I noticed a Sector 7 sign on where we docked," Red stated, "That elevator took us down three sectors in about a minute."

"How do we know how big a sector is?" Cloud asked.

"My guess is that we divide the station into eight equal parts," Aeris replied, "That’s a pretty big distance to travel in one minute." They had entered another long white corridor.

"This place is kinda boring," Cloud said as they walked down the corridor.

"This sector may be closer to the control room, so watch out," Red warned them. They continued walking without incident until they saw a room labeled "Gravitation Controls". Cloud peeked through the door’s window and saw about four scientists and two Shinra soldiers inside.

"Six men," Cloud said, "Let’s find someplace to hide until Cid blows that generator."

"No need," Red said, "Here’s a closet filled with Shinra uniforms." He pointed to a smaller door next to the Gravitation Controls door. "We’ll put these on and just wait inside until it blows."

They quietly slipped into the Shinra uniforms. And waited…

* * *

"Here it is, Sector 2 and the Thrust Controls," Barret stated, pointing to a large door. He peeked inside and saw no one inside. "Let’s go inside."

They quietly entered the Thrust Controls room. Inside were rows of computer consoles. Each console had dozens of blinking lights and switches. The room was about as large as two Sky Lighter cockpits. In the center of the room was a small round table.

"Well, now we just gotta wait until Cid blows up that generator," Barret said.

Suddenly, they heard voices outside. They were headed towards the Thrust Controls room.

"Crap!" Barret said, "Quick! Hide!" He looked around the room and saw a large cabinet in the corner. He pulled it out a little and hid behind it.

Tifa and Vincent climbed up on a chair and into the air vent above the room. They closed the vent as three men entered. They looked like scientists or technicians. Vincent and Tifa sat patiently. And waited…

* * *

"Here’s the generator room," Cid said to the rest of his team. The inside was dimly lit and no one was inside. "Let’s go!" They entered the generator room. Cid pulled out an explosive device. It was the same ones that Avalanche had used on the Mako reactors not so long ago.

The generator was a large tube like structure with lots of wires and tubes coming out from it. It did supply the entire station with power. Cid pealed the adhesive off the bomb and placed it on the side of the generator.

"Mission accomplished," Cid said, "Let’s get out of here."

* * *

Rufus sat back in his command chair aboard the Shinra space station. He hadn’t decided what to name the station yet, but he would think of something. The station was about 75% completed, and once it was fully done, Avalanche would have no chance in destroying it.

"How are the final stages of completion going?" Rufus asked Heidegger, who was sitting next to him.

"Good, very good," Heidegger replied. "About twenty minutes ago, we intercepted a strange signal from space. We doubled checked this signal, and it had vanished. That’s the only strange thing we’ve encountered so far."

"Hmm…" Rufus thought for a moment, "Look into it. It could’ve been a radar jamming system for all we know. Someone could’ve snuck on board."

"If you’ll excuse the rudeness of my comment, but isn’t that just a little paranoid?"

"Is it?" Rufus asked, "This is the biggest Shinra project in a long, long time. Biggest since the discovery of Mako. I’m surprised someone hasn’t tried a sabotage act already. Avalanche has been unusually quiet during this."

"I’ll send out some extra patrols," Heidegger said, "If someone has snuck aboard, we’ll find them."

"Good," Rufus replied, "This is our moment to triumph and no one will stand in our way."

* * *

Cid exited the generator room and ran down the hallway. Yuffie and Reeve followed him.

"Cover your ears, this is gonna be a loud explosion!" Cid produced a small remote control device. Cid slammed his fist down on the biggest button on the pad. With loud bang, the generator exploded. The door to the generator room was blown off and embedded into the wall across from it. The entire station shook and the light went out for a few moments. Then, the back-up generators kicked in.

"We gotta get to those back-up generators!" Cid said as he started running.

"This is crazy, this is crazy…" Yuffie chanted until they reached the back-up generator room about two hundred yards farther down the hallway.

"There’s bound to be troops in here," Reeve said, speaking up for the first time.

"Good," Cid replied, "I think this mission has been rather boring so far!" With that, he charged into the back-up generator room…

And was immediately met by gunfire. He dropped to the ground and rolled behind a computer console. Yuffie and Reeve ducked and followed him behind the console.

"This console probably activates one of the generators," Reeve said. He reached for the wire that connected to the console to the wall. With one quick movement, he ripped the wire out from the console. The lights again flickered, and Cid took this momentarily distraction to his advantage.

The troops were momentarily distracted, and be the time they put their attention back to the Avalanchers, it was too late. Cid was on them with his spear instantly, slashed and twirling like Cloud did with his sword. Reeve covered Cid’s back with the Outsider. Yuffie cast Regen on both Cid and Reeve.

With one final shot, the last trooped went down.

"Hurry and plant the explosives," Reeve said, "They’ll have back-up here any second!"

Cid set the explosive and didn’t bother to plant it anywhere. He chucked it into the maze of consoles in the room.

"Now," Cid said, "Let’s get our butts to the control room."

* * *

A loud explosion rang out through the station.

"That’s the generator," Tifa whispered to Vincent in the air vent, "Let’s go!"

They opened the vent and dropped into the room below.

But Barret had already acted. With one round of bullets, he took out the technicians in the room. He almost hit Tifa and Vincent as they jumped down into the room.

"Careful where you shoot that," Vincent said.

"Sorry," Barret apologized. He looked down and marveled at his work. "Now, let’s plant that explosive." He pulled out a small blinking device and placed it on the consoles.

"Well done," Vincent said softly, "Now let head to the control room."

* * *

Cloud heard an explosion from somewhere far off. Even at that distance, it still shook the station.

"That’s the generator," Cloud said from inside his Shinra uniform. "Let’s go in!"

"Cloud!" Aeris stopped him. "You’re just going to walk in there and say ‘Hey, would you guys mind if we blew this room up? Thanks’?"

"Don’t worry," Cloud reassured her, "I have a plan. Just act natural." He opened the door and the three of them stepped into the room.

The two guards eyed them. Cloud stepped up to them.

"That explosion was a bomb some rebel group planted," he said to the soldiers. "Rufus wants you guys to head down the main generator room."

"Very well," the lead soldier said. They turned to leave the room, but the stopped.

"Hey, what’s your patrol number?" the soldier asked Cloud.

"Patrol number?" Cloud replied nervously, "Well, we’re…umm…I…uh…patrol number…3?

"I don’t think so, buddy," the lead soldier said, "Who are you really?"

"I’m…" Cloud started, "Aw, ya know what? Screw this!" With catlike reflexes, Cloud pulled out his sword and slashed both troopers across the gut. They both fell to the ground and heaps.

"So much for your plan," Aeris said, rolling her eyes. She turned to the scientists in the room. As if on cue, they all fainted on the ground.

"You scared them to death, Aeris," Cloud quipped, jokingly nudging Aeris.

"Ha ha," Aeris said sarcastically, "Let’s just set the explosives, okay?"

"Yes your highness," Cloud joked. As he turned to the consoles, Aeris socked him in the head.

"Hey, I’m just joking," Cloud said, rubbing his head.

"Yeah, I know," Aeris said, "But socking you is fun!"

"Ahem," Red interrupted, "You two can play later. We have a mission to accomplish here."

"Sorry," Cloud and Aeris said in unison. Cloud walked over and placed an explosive device on the consoles. "Good-bye Gravitation Controls."

They quickly shed their Shinra uniforms and headed towards the control room.

* * *

"What the devil was that!" Rufus yelled angrily.

"I don’t know, sir!" Heidegger said. They were both thrown from their chairs by the explosion.

"What happened!" Rufus screamed at the technicians who were also thrown from their chairs by the explosion.

"I don’t know sir!" a tech said, "Let me check." He ran through a station diagnostics system on his computer console. "The main power generator is offline!"

"The main generator!" Heidegger screamed, "How are the back-ups doing!"

"They’re holding, sir," the tech said, "Power is being re-routed to the primary control systems."

"Good!" Heidegger yelled, "Get patrols out there on the double! Find who set that bomb!"

"I have no doubt that it was Avalanche," Rufus said angrily. He pounded his fist into the arm rest on his chair, "I told you that strange signal was something! We should’ve known they'd attack."

Heidegger took a small walkie-talkie out of his pocket. "All patrols, all patrols!" he exclaimed, "This is base command. All patrols are now on active duty. Patrols A1 through A14 are to search the area of the bombing. The rest of you search the entire station! I want those saboteurs found!"

Heidegger threw his walkie-talkie down in disgust. "We’ll find them sir," he said to Rufus, "My patrols will get them."

"I have an idea," Rufus said calmly, "Get the Turks in here and leave this room completely open."

"Sir?" Heidegger said.

"Trust me, Heidegger," Rufus said, "They’ll play right into my hand."

* * *

Cloud ran full speed down the corridor alongside Aeris and Red. Red, with his four legs being able to easily outdistance a human, was running at only half speed.

"Where’s the control room again?" Aeris said.

"At the heart of this station," Cloud said, "Probably the most heavily guarded place of them all."

They turned right at the next corridor and hopped into an elevator.

"Which sector?" Aeris questioned.

"Sector 1," Cloud replied. He pressed the button and the elevator shot down to the Control room floor. With a quiet ‘ding’, the elevator doors opened. Cloud, Aeris, and Red bolted down the corridor. They turned right…

And smacked right into Barret and his team.

"What the…?" Barret said, surprised. "Where did you guys come from?"

"Gravitation controls," Cloud replied, "Our bomb is set." He looked around the corridor. "Where’s Cid?"

"Probably at the Control room," Barret replied. "It’s just up this way." He pointed down the corridor behind him. "Let’s move out!"

They all took off down the corridor. Sure enough, Cid and his team were waiting right by the Control room’s double electronic sliding doors.

"Ready?" he said once Barret and Cloud’s teams arrived.

"Yep," Cloud said as the other members pulled out their weapons. Reeve punched a code into the door controls and doors slid open. Cloud charged into the room…

And saw that it was completely empty.

"What the…" Cloud’s voice trailed off as he stared into the empty room.

Suddenly he heard footsteps. He looked to his left.

"Well done, old boy," a familiar voice said. With that, Rufus appeared. He was unusually calm for a situation like this.

"Well done indeed," he said again, "You’ve planted your explosives and have successfully broken in to the control room. Now, one thing remains."

"Yeah," Cloud replied, "To blow up this wretched station."

"No, Cloud," Rufus replied, smiling. "That not correct. The one thing remaining for you to do…is die."

With that, atleast twenty Shinra soldiers, lead by none other than the Turks, appeared out of no where, and surrounded Avalanche.

Cloud raised her sword, but then realized fighting would be futile. Rufus had them, and he knew it.

"Drop your weapons," Rufus said.

Cloud clenched his fists and then reluctantly dropped his sword to the ground with a clatter. Behind him, he heard the other Avalanche members did the same.

"Good," Rufus said. "Now, before I kill you, let my introduce you to the air-lock chamber." He pointed to small double door with a hatch behind it. "You passage from this world to the next."

"I’d rather go to the next world than see you destroy your own," Cloud replied through grit teeth.

"Ha!" Rufus laughed, "You know what Cloud? I…don’t…care." He spoke the last part of his sentence very coldly. "Do you think I care about earth, or Solack for that matter?" He walked up right into Cloud’s face. "I care about one thing, Cloud. Money to keep this company the leading power on earth, and soon in the universe! I don’t care about the people, or that spiritual lifestream crap. I’m in it for Shinra, not for the common good of the people!"

"I’m sure the people of Midgar would love to here that speech," Cloud replied angrily.

Reno frowned at Rufus.

"I bet they would, Cloud," Rufus replied, "I bet they would. And just for that, you get to be the last to die. You get to watch all your friends get sucked into the endless void of space. They’ll gasp for breath for a little. But then, the pressure inside them all will push out against their skin, because there’s no air pressure in space. They're faces will expand and then eventually…BOOM! They’ll explode! And you get to watch it all from a ringside seat."

"You’re awful…"Aeris said, disgusted.

"Well, Miss Gainsborough, it’s nice to see you back amongst the living," Heidegger said nastily, "And thank you for volunteering to go first. Reno, please take her into the air-lock."

"No…" Reno replied coldly.

"Excuse me?" Heidegger replied in shock, "I gave you an order, and you will follow that order immediately!"

"No, sir," Reno said, "Rufus’s speech enlightened me a little. I will not take part of the mass slaughter of a planet. It’s like the mass slaughter of a civilization, a culture, a race. And for what? To line your own pockets with gold! Heidegger, you are a worthless piece of utter crap and I will not take any orders from you!"

"Reno!" Heidegger said astonished. "Guards! Arrest Reno and the Turks!"

"No!" Reno said to the troops, "Don’t take part in this genocide."

The troops lower their guns and looked at each other, confused.

And Cloud saw his opportunity. He quickly pulled out his detonator and slammed his hand down on the button. The Gravitation controls exploded, shaking the entire station. Cid and Barret did the same. The entire station shook again as its back-up generators and thrust systems exploded.

The lights in the control room remained on, though.

"The control room must have its own generator," Reeve said.

Reno leaped over the controls and pressed a number of buttons with lightening fast fingers. He keyed one last button, and then a voice came over the intercom. "The self destruct system has been engaged. Ten minutes until self destruct is initiated."

"NO!" Heidegger screamed, "You fool!"

Reno smiled. "Say good-bye to your precious station."

Heidegger regained his poise and pointed at the soldiers. "Arrest the Turks!"

The soldiers looked around again and then threw down their weapons. They then took off down the hallway heading for the escape pods.

"Didn’t the thrust systems make the escape pods inoperable?" Barret asked Reno.

"No," Reno replied, "The escape pods and fighters run on their own thrust."

"Fighters!" Cloud replied, shocked. "You guys have fighters?"

"Yes, they’re used for melding metal together and blasting space debris out of course with the station." He then looked at Heidegger. "If you’ll excuse me." He, Rude, and Elena leaped at Heidegger. Reno pulled out his nightstick and jabbed it into Heidegger’s stomach.

Heidegger shrieked and stumbled back against the airlock. Reno ran over to the airlock controls and opened the small double doors.

Rude pushed Heidegger into the airlock. Heidegger was still clutching his stomach where Reno zapped him with his nightstick. Heidegger looked blankly at Reno from inside the airlock.

"Take a large step for mankind, Heidegger," Reno said. He then shut the double doors and engaged the hatch. Heidegger was sucked out into space. He screamed one last time before he floated away from view. His scream was drowned out by the vacuum of space. Reno smiled has Heidegger floated away from view.

"One problem neutralized, now where’s the other?" Reno looked around but saw no sign of Rufus.

Rufus had escaped.

"We’ve done all we can today," Reno said, "Let’s get out of here." He, Elena, and Rude brushed past Avalanche and headed for the escape pods. "Oh yes," Reno said to Avalanche, "Just to let you know, this does not make us friends.. We have no more respect for you than we ever have. We were doing this because it was for the planet we live on, not you. So don’t go calling us when you have an adventure or something, cause frankly, I don’t care if you guys all die up here or not." With that, he left the room.

"Always like Reno to leave on a high note," Reeve said sarcastically.

Cloud rolled his eyes and then searched the room one last time for Rufus. "I’ve got to go after Rufus."

"You don’t even know where he went, Cloud," Aeris said, "Let’s just go home."

"Oh, I know where he went all right," Cloud replied, "He went for the fighters Reno talked about. He try to shoot us down when we leave in the rocket."

"Then let me go, Cloud," Cid spoke up, "I may know how to fly those fighters.. You won’t."

"We need someone to fly the rocket out of here," Cloud countered, "Only you can do that. You all go back to the rocket. I’ll take out Rufus."

"Fine," Aeris said, giving in, "If you die, you’re gonna be in big trouble with me."

Cloud smiled. "Don’t worry, I won’t. Now hurry up and go."

They all turned to leave the room. The last to leave was Reeve.

"Cloud," he said, "The fighters are docked right above the control room. Use the elevator over there." He pointed to a small elevator on the corner of the room.

"Thanks Reeve," Cloud said. "Good luck."

"You too, Cloud," Reeve said, "Good luck." Reeve then turned and followed Avalanche down the hall.

Cloud ran for the elevator. He only had about seven minutes to catch Rufus before the station exploded. He leaped into the elevator and scanned the list of buttons. He keyed the one labeled "Dock". The elevator shot up towards the top of the station. It stopped with a jolt and the doors opened. Cloud saw one fighter in the bay and one exiting the bay.

The fighter had a circle-shaped cockpit, with a rectangular tail sticking out the back. On the both sides of the fighter were large solar panels. Below the cockpit were two guns sticking about a foot out from the cockpit. The cockpit had a circular view shield.

Cloud ran for the remaining fighter and leaped into its cockpit. He looked at the controls and saw a maze of switches.

"Uh-oh," he mumbled to himself as he looked over the switches. He saw one labeled ignition and he flipped it. The fighter’s engines flared to life. Cloud saw a small yoke and pushed forward on it. The shipped lurched forward.. Cloud pressed a foot pedal and the fighter gained speed. It shot out of the docking bay and after Rufus.

Cloud saw Rufus’s fighter ahead of him. He saw a switch labeled "Intercom".. He flipped it and said: "Hello again, Rufus."

"Cloud?" came Rufus reply at the other end. "Do I have to kill you and your friends separately?"

"Not if I have something to say about it," Cloud said. He flipped a switch labeled "Laser cannon". A small blue target appeared on the cockpit view shield. Cloud felt a small button under the yoke and pressed it. The laser cannon flared up and missed Rufus by a good fifteen meters.

"Found out how the laser cannon works, huh?" Rufus said, "Let’s see how you can handle it." Rufus rolled his fighter back to the left.

Cloud was caught off guard by the turn and struggled to keep up. He got Rufus in his sights and fired again. He missed, but was much closer this time.

Rufus pulled his fighter up and did a corkscrew. He ended up behind Cloud and fired his laser cannon. Cloud jerked the yoke to avoid the blast. He jerked the controls to the left and swung completely around Rufus.

Rufus pulled up sharply and did another corkscrew. He fired at Cloud from his corkscrew and barely missed the tail of Cloud’s fighter.

Cloud jerked his fighter downwards and back towards the station. He saw the Sky Lighter disengaging from the space station. The Sky Lighter’s engines flared to life as it moved away from the station.

A red streak of light passed about two feet away from Cloud’s cockpit. Cloud turned back to Rufus. He fired a short burst and nicked Rufus’s fighter.

Rufus now saw the Sky Lighter. He jerked sharply on an intercept course.

Cloud saw this a turned sharply to the left. His fighter suddenly stalled. He pounded the controls, but they would not respond. He saw Rufus bearing down on the Sky Lighter.

"You can’t save your friends now, Cloud!" Rufus said, "It’s over. They’re all dead!"

He moved closer in on the Sky Lighter. Cid must have spotted Rufus because he began to corkscrew the rocket as it blasted away from the station. Rufus was now only about four hundred yards from the Sky Lighter. He moved closer. And closer…

And then the space station exploded. The brilliant flash of light engulfed Rufus’s fighter and began to throw debris everywhere. Cloud shielded his eyes. His engines suddenly roared to life and he took off after the Sky Lighter.

When the light faded, there was no sign of Rufus. Debris was floating off in every direction. Cloud couldn’t see the Sky Lighter. He rolled to the right and saw it streaking towards the earth. Cloud breathed a sigh of relief.

"Cloud?" a new voice came through the intercom. "Cloud, this Aeris. Are you there?"

"Aeris!" Cloud exclaimed, "I’m here. I’m okay."

"Great!" she replied, "Where’s Rufus?"

"I don’t know," Cloud said looking out his view shield. "I don’t see him anywhere. Do you think he’s gone for good?"

"I hope so," Aeris said quietly, "Cloud, let’s go home."

* * *

"And here’s to Cloud, who took out Rufus!" Cid said raising his drink. They were all gathered around a table at Tifa’s new bar in Nibelheim. Tifa had worked a deal with the mayor of Nibelheim to give Aeris the house next to Cloud, near the entrance to town. Aeris would hardly be in it, though, as Avalanche made a pact to get together atleast once a month to do something together.

"Now, it wasn’t me who took out Rufus," Cloud said modestly, "The station exploded and his fighter was destroyed. So, I guess it was actually Reno, of all people, who should take credit for killing him."

"Well," Barret said, "Reno ain’t here, and frankly, I don’t want him here. He’s probably back in Midgar doing something I could care less about. Here’s to Cloud!"

"Cheers!" everyone said in unison.

Cloud took a bow and then a swig of his drink. "Hey, here’s to Tifa," he said, "For making the best drinks anyone can offer!"

"Cheers!" everyone said again.

"Oh yeah," Reeve spoke up, "Someone else is here to see us." He opened the door and Cait Sith walked in. "I retrieved and repaired him last night right after we got back!"

"Yea!" everyone said.

"Thanks guys," Cait said, "Reeve got my late last night and worked on my until the early morning hours."

"Cheers to Reeve!" Cid said loudly.

"Cid, I think you’ve had enough," Shera said grabbing the beer from his hands. Cid tried to protest, but was too drunk to make much of an effort.

"Well," Cloud said, "We’ve defeated Waylon. We’ve defeated Shinra. We’ve overcome the odds and we are victorious. How about a cheer for Avalanche!"

"Cheers for Avalanche!" everyone said in unison.

* * *

A small metallic object hurtled down and smashed into the ocean. The object’s metallic cockpit opened, and Rufus, president of Shinra, Inc, crawled out and splashed into the water. He coughed violently and then gazed at the sky with a look of contempt.

"I’ll have my revenge, Cloud," he said softly, "Just you wait."

A small bird flew overhead. Rufus looked to his left and saw a large landmass in the distance. He began the long swim over to it, thinking that one day, revenge and glorious victory would be his.

The End


Authors Note: I hoped you enjoyed the story and saw it a fitting conclusion to my favorite game of all time, Final Fantasy VII. Let me just say me two favorites characters are Reno and Rufus, whom you will be seeing more of in later novels. I’ll like to think of Rufus as what Ernst Stavros Blofeld was to James Bond. Blofeld is the big bad guy, who Bond seems to be never able to kill. We also had a little romance between Aeris and Cloud. Will we be seeing more of them together in the future? Maybe so… Anyway, here’s a shameless plug: Look for book two of the Final Fantasy: Aftermath series to be done sometime this summer, 1999. Its title is "Underground Empire." Thanks for reading, I really hope you enjoyed it!

Dan Schmidt


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