Shinra Reborn Chapter 7

By Dan Schmidt

Rufus, President of Shinra, Inc, stepped out on the balcony to get a breath of fresh air. Soon though, one of his executives ran up to him.

"Sir," the exec said, "The Turks and Heidegger are here to see you."

Rufus let out a sigh. There seemed to be never a time when Heidegger didn’t need to see him. "Let them in," he said.

Rufus walked back into his office and saw Heidegger and the Turks were already there.

"Sir, we have good news," Heidegger said, "Waylon’s hideout has been found an neutralized."

"Good," Rufus replied, "What about Waylon himself, and Reeve?"

"Waylon himself was not there," Reno said, "and Reeve escaped with Avalanche.. They escaped into the ruined Sector 7, so I doubt they’ll make it back out.."

"I wouldn’t be so sure of that," Rufus said, "Avalanchers have a nasty habit of staying alive."

"We think Waylon may have moved his hideout somewhere," Reno said, "But we don’t know where to look. Also, our spies have informed us of Waylon’s true intentions. He wants to bring Sephiroth back."

"Sephiroth, huh?" Rufus did not seem impressed. "We could’ve bested Sephiroth if stupid Cloud hadn’t gotten in the way. Him and Hojo."

"Well," Reno said, "We will continue our search for Waylon and Avalanche. I can assure you both threats will be neutralized soon."

"Good," Rufus replied, "I expected nothing less." With that, Rufus turned and headed back out onto the balcony to get some fresh air.

* * *

Avalanche made it back to Rocket Town in record time. When they reached Cid’s house, Shera was serving Vincent and Yuffie some tea.

"Well," Yuffie said, "It’s about time you guys got back here. Next time, call me at the beginning of the adventure." She sipped her tea.

"Well, it’s good to see you too," Barret said sarcastically. There was certainly no love lost between Barret and Yuffie.

"So," Vincent said, "What’s going on that you needed us here?"

Cloud informed Yuffie and Vincent of their current situation.

"Hmm…" Vincent began, "I never knew Hojo had a brother. And Rufus and Heidegger are alive? Things are just getting better and better."

"You said it," Cloud responded, "Anyway, we’re heading for the North Cave tomorrow, so I suggest that everyone get a good night’s sleep." Everyone agreed.

Cid went upstairs to sleep in his own room. Yuffie and Tifa slept on the sofa and armchair, respectively, while Vincent, Red, Cloud, Barret, and Reeve slept on the floor. Cloud was the last to fall asleep. As he lied on the floor, he thought about Aeris. If Waylon could bring Sephiroth back, could he bring Aeris back? It seemed logical that Waylon’s plan could easily work to bring someone else back, whatever that plan was. Cloud set his mind on that. If there was a way, Cloud would bring Aeris back. But Waylon had to be stopped first. He then drifted off to sleep.

* * *

Cid was the first to wake up. He quickly got dressed and hurried down stairs.. Shera followed him. Shera reached the kitchen and started to make breakfast for the Avalanchers. Cid woke up the others, who all had slept in their clothes.

For breakfast, Shera made pancakes and French toast. The Avalanchers inhaled the meal, as none of them had eaten since yesterday afternoon.

"That was a great breakfast," Cloud commented to Shera.

"Thanks," Shera said. Shera began to do the dishes.

"Well," Cloud said, "We should get going." Cloud thanked Shera and headed out towards the Highwind.

"See ya around," Cid said to Shera. Cid kissed her, and then followed the others out to the Highwind.

Within minutes, Cid had finished preparing the Highwind. Cid had let all his former crew members go, as they decided to get better job. Cid could easily fly the ship by himself, though.

Soon, they were flying off towards the Crater. Cid pumped all he could out of the engines. They had to get there quickly and recover the black materia before Waylon could use it. Soon, they had passed Icicle Inn. In record time, Cid made it to the Crater. He set the ship down inside, exactly where he landed it the last time Avalanche visited the North Cave.

Cloud stood on the deck of the Highwind. The Crater was full of Mako energy, so he was sure there would be plenty of monsters for them to fight down there. He checked his gear and then lowered the rope ladder.

"Be careful everyone," he said, "There are sure to be creatures still down here. Be careful." He then started to climb down the ladder.

Once all the Avalanchers reached the bottom of the ladder, they began to head down deep into the Crater. Cloud leaped down into the rocky ledge. He could sense creatures nearby, but he didn’t see anything. They continued to head down into the Crater. Cloud hopped over a hole in the ledge that he had made the last time they were down here. They made it down the spiral part of the Crater without incident.

"It gets tricky just up ahead," Cloud warned the others, although they had all been down here before, and they probably didn’t need a warning. Cloud spotted some empty chests that he had cleaned out on their last journey. Suddenly, they heard a low roar from somewhere nearby.

"What’s that"? Reeve exclaimed.

"It don’t sound too friendly," Barret said. Then, it struck. The creature was a dragon. It was nearly ten feet tall, and more than fifteen feet long. It had dark purple skin, and rows of large, sharp teeth.

The team quickly spread out into a battle formation. Cloud, Cid, Tifa, and Red XIII were up front. Barret, Vincent, and Reeve stayed behind and used their long-range weapons. Yuffie concentrated on using magic spells. The dragon suddenly realized that it was no match for eight fully equipped fighters. It let out a long roar. Within a matter of seconds, creatures of all shapes and sizes filled the area. Vincent, Barret, and Reeve began firing away at these newly summoned creatures.

The creatures were all different. One creature looked like a spider with eight legs coming out of its back, but it stood like a human on two legs. Another creature looked like a snake, but its head was twice as thick as its body. Another creature looked like a human with red skin and sharp claws for fingers.

"Cloud, I don’t think we can hold out for very long against these guys," Barret called out as he took down another creature with his gun-arm.

"We have to," Cloud replied, "We need to get that black materia! Start using magic if you have to!" Cloud slashed down two more creatures, and then pulled out a red orb. He concentrated on it for a few moments, and then yelled out: "Terra Flare!"

Suddenly, a huge dragon appeared overhead. It had six wings and a long snout.. It opened its mouth and sucked in huge amounts of energy. Then, it released the energy down on the creatures. The energy beam hit the ground and exploded, wiping out dozen of creatures. Still, many creatures remained, and pressed on with their attack. In the back ranks, the huge dragon seemed to be directing the battle.

Yuffie pulled out a red orb and concentrated on it. Then, she cried out: "Tsunami!"

A huge serpent appeared and created an enormous wave of water washed over the army of creatures. Many of the creatures were swept away and killed.

Cloud slashed through creatures trying to reach the dragon, who seemed to be the leader on this creature army. A creature leaped at him from a ledge. Cloud spun around and sliced it in two in midair. He swung again and took down two more creatures. Behind him, he heard his friends calling out magic spells, and he heard Barret uttered his usual battle curses. Cloud cut down another creature, and now was lining up for the dragon. He pulled out a green orb and concentrated on it. Then, he called out: "Ultima!"

The creatures around him were struck with a wave of green energy. The energy wave took down creatures after creature as it expanded over the army of monsters. It finally reached the dragon. The dragon was knocked down, but started to recover. Cloud ran up to it and raised his sword. He drove his sword down right into the creature’s neck. The dragon let out one final roar and then was still. Cloud could still hear gunfire behind him. He turned and saw Barret, Vincent, and Reeve taking out a few remaining creatures.

Once the last remaining creature had been slain, the party began to move on.

"Heck of a workout!" Yuffie said, "But nothing we couldn’t handle. In fact, I could probably take on most of those creatures myself."

"Shut up, Yuffie," Barret said.

Reeve seemed to be having problems with his gun. Vincent came over to look. "What seems to be the problem," Vincent asked him.

"My gun is jammed," Reeve answered, "It used to be Reno’s gun. It got jammed during the end of that battle."

"Hmm…" Vincent said, surveying the situation, "Here, I’ve got something you could use." He reached into his long cape and pulled out a pistol. "Here, take this," Vincent said giving the gun to Reeve, "It’s called the Outsider. It’s very accurate and takes the same kind of ammunition as your old gun did."

"Thanks," Reeve said. He took the Outsider and put it in his holster under his jacket. They continued to go deeper into the Crater. Finally, they reached the fork in the path.

"Shall we split up again?" Red asked. This part of the Crater looked exactly the same as it had when they were last down here.

"I suppose we should," Cloud replied. Now, the hard part would be picking two parties. The only thing Cloud knew he wouldn’t do is put Barret in the same party as Yuffie.

"Okay," Cloud finally said, "How about this: Tifa Reeve, Yuffie, and me will go right, and Barret, Red, Vincent, and Cid will go left. Be careful, I don’t want any of you to die on me down here."

"All right then," Barret said, "See you guys later." He then ran off down the left path. Cid, Vincent, and Red followed him.

"You ready, Tifa?" Cloud said.

"Ready as I’ll ever be," Tifa responded. Cloud, Tifa headed down the right path. Reeve and Yuffie followed them. Reeve and Yuffie almost immediately engaged in an argument about something, but Cloud didn’t pay attention.

"Tifa?" Cloud said, "I was thinking about Waylon’s plan last night. Do you think we could use it to bring someone else back?"

"You mean…" Tifa started

"Aeris," Cloud finished, "I think we might be able to find a way to bring her back the same way Waylon wants to bring back Sephiroth."

"Aeris…" Tifa said, remembered there departed friend. "If we can find a way, we definitely should try to bring her back."

"My thoughts exactly," Cloud said, "But I don’t want to tell everyone yet, because we might not find a way to do it. I’ll probably only tell Red. He may be able to help us on this."

"Yeah, I guess you should," Tifa said. Tifa thought about this as she walked..

Cloud had chosen the right path for a reason. It was the shortest path to the center of the Crater, the place where Sephiroth had last had the black materia. Their journey down was uneventful for the first part.

When they reached the part of the trail where it seemed like a big maze, after the spiral pillar, Cloud stopped.

"What is it," Reeve asked almost instantly.

"There’s something nearby," Cloud said, "I can feel it."

"I don’t feel any…" Yuffie was interrupted by a low growl. The team turned around and saw a huge creature.

The creature stood atleast fifteen feet tall. It had eight claw-like arms, and wings on its back. It had a hard shell body, with a long neck, and a head, which was mostly all mouth. Its mouth was full of sharp teeth. The creature’s eyes glowed a dark green.

"This thing is Mako-enhanced!" Cloud said, spotting the eyes.

"That’s no surprise," Reeve responded, "This place is like a Mako factory!" Reeve began to fire his newly acquired Outsider at the creature.

Cloud moved up in the front and began to fight the creature with his sword. Tifa fought up front along with Cloud, while Reeve and Yuffie stayed in the back ranks using materia and the Outsider.

With one long sweep of it’s tail, the creature swept Tifa and Cloud off their feet. Cloud got back up almost instantly, but Tifa struck a jagged rock on her back, and she slowly tried to get back to her feet. The creature loomed over Tifa about to strike. Tifa, thinking quickly, picked up the rock she had landed on, and threw it at the creature. It struck the creature right between the eyes. The creature roared an agony, and stumbled back a few feet, but quickly regained its poise.

Reeve stopped firing the Outsider and reached into his jacket. He pulled out a red orb. He concentrated on it, and then yelled out: "Giga Flare!"

The ground beneath the creature shook, and then a platform broke away from the ground with the creature on top if it. The creature floated higher into the air, and then a huge dragon appeared. The dragon sucked in immense amounts of energy before releasing it on the platform the creature was standing on. The platform dissolved away, and the creature fell back down to the earth. It hit with a deafening crash.

Cloud was on the creature before it could recover. Slashing his sword like a madman, Cloud tore through the creature with a vengeance. With one final leap, Cloud brought his sword down into the creature’s head. The creature shrieked loudly, and then fell to the ground.

"Not bad," Reeve said jokingly, "But I’ve seen better." Reeve gave him a playful push in the back.

Cloud smiled, but then that seriously look he usually had on his face returned. "We should hurry and get to the bottom of the Crater." He turned and started walking down the path.

"What’s the matter with him?" Reeve whispered to Tifa.

"You know how he gets sometimes," Tifa responded, "Besides, once he’s on a mission, that’s all he think that he should concentrate on, the mission."

Reeve shrugged and followed Cloud down the trail.

* * *

Barret approached the part of the Crater that looked like one enormous garden. Barret thought it was unusual to find a place that looked so peaceful in the middle of a Crater, which was one of the most evil places on the planet.

The water in this area seemed to glow with a strange yellow light. Yellowish vines grew everywhere, and the path looked like a long tree branch. There were a few scattered rocks here and there, but it was mostly plant-life. Barret wondered how these plants could grow without any rain or sunshine. In fact, Barret wondered why this place was so lit up in the first place. No light could reach into this part of the North Cave, and he assumed that this place should be pitch black. But, it was bright nevertheless, and Barret continued to lead his party down towards the bottom of the Crater.

"This place is very, very weird," Cid commented. No one disagreed with him on that. In addition to looking weird, this part of the Crater housed the weirdest creatures they had ever seen.

"You can say that again," Barret said.

Barret, Red XIII, Cid, and Vincent walked close together through this jungle-like maze.

Suddenly, the ground shook beneath them. They turned around and saw something breaking through the wall on their left. With a loud, a creature burst through the wall.

The creature resembled a winged-demon. It flew through the air using two very strong-looking wings. It had two strong-looking arms, and two legs. At the end of each finger and toe was a long and lethal-looking claw. It had a long, pointed tail. The creature’s head was large. It had one eye, and a mouth full of deadly looking teeth. The creature roared, and charged straight for the team.

Barret opened fire instinctively, and caught the creature off guard. The creature dodged Barret’s fire, and took only seconds to recover, but those seconds gave the team the time they needed to assemble in a battle formation..

Red XII and Cid fought up front, using claws and spear respectively. Barret and Vincent stayed in the back ranks. None of the Avalanchers here were heavy magic users, though, and most of the materia was with the other team.

Nonetheless, this team could fight well with weapons. Cid began slashing his spear around the creature, trying to land a hit. The creature was quick, thought. Barret and Vincent fired simultaneously with their weapons, but neither could score a hit.

After about five minutes of combat, Cid figured they weren’t going to hit this creature with common weapons. Cid pulled a red orb and concentrated on it. Then, he called out: "Judgement Bolt!"

A giant pillar of rock suddenly rose out from the ground. On top of this pillar was Ramuh. Ramuh flashed out his large wand, and bright bolts of electricity shot out from the wand. The lightening struck the demon creature with force. The creature was thrown backwards and smashed into the rock wall.. The creature quickly recovered, and began to move in on Avalanche.

Barret saw the creature moving back towards them, and he pulled out an orb. Barret focused on the orb, and there was an explosion as fire crackled all around the creature.

The creature seemed to be unharmed, and continue to press its attack. Vincent pulled an orb out from his cape. He focused on it, and then called out: "Mega Flare!"

A dark billowing cloud appeared overhead, and a dragon swooped out from it. The dragon was huge. It had black skin, and two strong wings. The dragon opened its mouth and pulled in a tremendous amount of energy. The dragon then shot this energy down at the demon creature. The energy exploded around the creature into a huge ball of fire. The creature was thrown onto the ground. It struggled to get back up, but a neatly placed shot from Vincent put a bullet in the creature’s forehead. The creature moaned, and then lied still.

"Well," Cid commented, "That wasn’t a bad workout." Barret gave him a dirty look, but Cid put an innocent smile on his face. Barret shook his head and continued on.

"I guess we should thank you for taking out that creature," an awfully familiar voice said, "But we have to kill you first."

Barret turned around to see the Turks standing over the body of the dead creatures. Reno had his usual smirk on his face, while Rude and Elena looked very serious. Reno was holding a shiny new nightstick in his left hand, and a new semi-automatic pistol in his right. Reno stepped over the dead creature and walked right up to Barret.

"You guys don’t look like you ready to go another round against some more difficult opponents," Reno said, "So why don’t you just get out of our way, and let us recover the black materia. Don’t worry, we won’t let Waylon use it to bring back Sephiroth."

"How do you know about Waylon’s scheme," Red questioned Reno.

"Waylon’s agents are easily bribed," Reno said, "We bribed his agents into giving away the location of Waylon’s hideout, and we bribed his agents to reveal Waylon’s plan."

"We don’t trust you Shinras with the black materia," Barret said, "So we’ll be takin’ it back!"

Reno sighed, but kept smiling. "I suppose we’ll just have to eliminate you, and then get the black materia."

The Turks spread out into their normal battle formation. Reno and Rude were up front as attackers, while Elena stayed in the back using magic and healing spells.

The Avalanchers used the same battle formation they used in the battle with the demon creature. Barret opened fire with his gattling gun. The bullets ricocheted off a barrier that Elena had set up at the start of the battle. Barret muttered a curse, and then pulled out a green orb. He focused on the orb. A blue-white sheet of ice struck the Turks. They were stunned, but quickly recovered.

Reno jumped up at Cid. Cid avoided his jump kick, but Reno jabbed his nightstick into Cid. Electricity shot through Cid’s body and Cid fell back, stunned. Reno kicked Cid in the head, and then prepared to hit Cid again when Red leaped onto Reno. Reno fell to ground with Red tearing into his arm. Rude slammed his fist into Red’s stomach, and Red flew off Reno and landed hard on the ground.

Vincent pulled out a red orb. He focused his attention on it, and then called out: "Anger of the Land."

A giant caveman rose up from the ground. He growled at the Turks, and then dug his fingers into the earth the Turks were standing on. The giant lifted the ground out from under the Turks. The Turks were thrown back.

"Now’s out chance," a tired Cid called out, "Let’s book!" The other party members agreed. The Avalanchers took off down the trail, leaving the Turks behind. Cid knew that the party could easily take out the Turks in a fair fight, but they were already tired from the fight before. The Turks, who weren’t tired at all, could’ve beaten the tired team if given the chance..

The Avalanchers ran down to the trail. They reached the area where the team met in their battle with Sephiroth. Cid turned his head to look and see if the Turks were following them, and he bumped right into Cloud.

"What’s the rush?" Cloud said, surprised.

"Well," Cid said, out of breath, "We ran into some nasty surprises down there." He pointed down the trail that they had come. "Namely, a demon creature, which we dispatched, and the Turks."

"Turks, huh," Cloud said thoughtfully, "We’ve been running into those guys far too much recently."

"Well," Vincent said, "I think we should start looking for the black materia.."

They started to search the surrounding area for the black materia. After ten minutes of futile searching, Cloud had an idea.

"The black materia will be where Sephiroth was last killed," he said, "We have to go down into the center of the planet." No one seemed to be very enthusiastic about that.

Cloud began to jump down the stairway of rocks which lead to the center of the planet.

Too many bad memories, Cloud thought to himself. This area was were Jenova was killed. In fact, Cloud was now standing on the exact spot where Jenova had expired. The other members were slowly making their way down into to planet’s center. Cloud crept over to look of the edge of the rock structure where they had fought Jenova. Below, he saw the red rocky structure where they had fought, and killed, Sephiroth. The other team members had reached the rocky structure by now.

"We’ll need some rope to get down," Cloud said to rest of his friends, "Anyone have any?"

"I may," Yuffie said. She searched her materia sack for some rope. "Got it!" she said as she threw the rope to Cloud.

Cloud caught the rope and tied it to a jagged edge of rock near the end of the platform. Cloud slowly began to lower himself down. There was about a fifteen-foot span where Cloud had nothing to use to press his feet up against while going down. During this span, Cloud lowered himself very carefully. Suddenly, Cloud hand slipped. He slipped down only about eight inches, but it still was enough to make Cloud move down at half speed. He slid down the rest of the way and landed on the red rocky structure. The rest of the Avalanche members followed in the same manner as Cloud.

"Okay," Cloud said once everyone had reached the red structure, "The black materia should be around here somewhere." He began to look around for it.

The Avalanchers searched the red rock platforms for about ten minutes. Then, Cloud turned his attention to the bluish structure in the middle of the platform. Cloud squinted as he scanned the structure. At the top of the structure, he saw something dark and small. He pulled a flashlight off his belt and shined at the dark object. The object glimmered when Cloud hit it with the beam. It was a small black triangle that gave off a mysterious shine. It was the black materia.

"I found it," Cloud called it to the others, "It’s over there, on the main structure." He pointed the flashlight at the black materia.

"Great," Barret said, "But how are we gonna get over there?"

Cloud shrugged. "Yuffie, got anymore rope?"

"Nope," she responded gloomily, "The only rope is have is the rope that has to take us back out of here."

Cloud grit his teeth. "We’ve got to get it somehow!" He pondered for a few moments before his eyes widened and he smiled. "Yuffie, you still got your boomerang?" he said.

"Umm…"Yuffie said, searching her inventory, "I think I’ve got it here somewhere…yes, I got it. What do you want me to do with it?"

"I want you to pick up the black materia with it," Cloud said, "It should bring the black materia back to us. Could you do that?"

"Well," Yuffie responded looking doubtful, "I guess I could. I don’t really practice this sort of thing, but what the heck!"

"Just be careful not to knock it off that rock," Barret added, "If you do, we’ll never get it. It’ll go down to the core of the planet from here!"

That didn’t make Yuffie anymore optimistic. She prepared herself for the throw. She eyed the black materia and the boomerang in a ready position. She said a sort prayer and then let the boomerang fly.

It spun towards the black materia, picking it up neatly. The boomerang spun around on its way back to the Avalanchers. It slowly began to slide off the boomerang. The boomerang was about ten feet from the ledge now.

Eight feet…

Six feet…

Five feet…




Suddenly the black materia slipped off the boomerang. It fell from its perch.. Cloud saw this and dove. He dove over the edge and caught the black materia in his fingertips. But then he felt himself falling. Cloud was just about to scream when something strong latched onto his legs. Cloud looked up and saw Barret holding onto him by his ankles.

"You owe me big, Cloud!" Barret yelled down at him. Cloud smiled as Barret hoisted him back up on the ledge.

"Just remember me to save you during our next battle," Cloud responded, smiling. That was how Avalanche members usually said thank you.

"Well," Red XII said, bringing the conversation back to a more serious tone, "I suggest that we get out of here before more trouble arrives." No one argued with him.

The Avalanchers began climbing the rope to get back to the white rock platform where Jenova was killed. Cloud was the last to climb up, and he pulled the rope up with him. He looked over the ledge one last time down at the spot where Sephiroth was killed. Cloud shook his head, and turned back to his friends.

"Well, let’s go," he said. They began to walk up the stone stairway that led them down here.

Once they made it to the top of the stairway, Barret let out a sigh of relief. "It looks like Waylon ain’t gonna get the black materia now!" he said with enthusiasm.

"I wouldn’t be so sure of that," a voice called from close by.

Cloud turned his attention to the tunnel that led to the top of the Crater. Our stepped a man Cloud had never seen before, but he knew who it was almost immediately.

"You must be Waylon," Cloud said with a hint of anger in his voice.

"Correct you are, Cloud," Waylon said, "And thank you for getting the black materia for me." Waylon was a tall man, a little on the pudgy side, and he was surrounded by troops in gray uniforms. Waylon was almost bald, with a small amount of dark brown hair still on his head. He had a brown mustache very similar to the one President Shinra used to have. He didn’t look a thing like Hojo.

"Now, if you’ll just hand the black materia over to me, we can all leave in without fighting," Waylon stated, "If you don’t give it to me, my troops will have to kill you."

"Hmm…it’s a tough choice," Cloud responded sarcastically, "But I’ll have to get with scenario number two."

"A very poor choice, Cloud," Waylon said, shaking his head, "A very poor choice indeed." He then motioned to his soldiers. "Kill them and take the black materia."

Waylon had about twenty troops with him, and they all rushed at Avalanche. They didn’t have any battle formation, but they were definitely out for blood.

Avalanche stayed in their usual battle formation, with Barret, Reeve, and Vincent in the back, using their long-range weapons. Cloud, Tifa, Red, and Cid were up front, and Yuffie stayed in the middle, using mostly magic.

The troops were on them in a second. Cloud drew blood with a wild sword swipe at a soldier’s belly. The soldier was stunned for a minute, but then charged at Cloud again. The soldier raised a nightstick and prepared to hit Cloud with it. Cloud side stepped the soldier, and then turned around while delivering a massive sword swipe to the soldier. The soldier collapsed to the ground.

Barret was having a hard time hitting the soldiers. They were well trained, and were easily avoiding his firepower. It must be worse for Reeve and Vincent, Barret thought to himself; they only have semi-automatic weapons.

Cid, taking the offense, lunged at a soldier with his spear. The soldier moved out of the way, but tripped on something, and tumbled to the ground. Cid stood over him and delivered a strong kick to the head. The soldier slumped down against the wall.

Reeve muttered something and put his gun away. The soldiers were just too fast for him to hit with the Outsider. Reeve pulled out a green materia orb and focused on it for a few moments. Then, lightening flashed in the ranks of the troops. Several troopers fell to the ground, stunned, but quickly recovered. These troops were definitely well trained. Reeve grunted with dissatisfaction and pulled out a red orb this time. He focused fiercely on it and then called out: "Tetra Disaster!"

An enormous bison appeared in the middle of the troop’s ranks. The bison roared and then stomped its feet into the ground. The ground rippled underneath the troops, sending many troops roughing into the wall. Most of the troops got up slowly, but a few remained still.

But nonetheless, the troops were slowly closing in on Avalanche. Yuffie tried hard to keep up with her healing, but too many Avalanchers were getting hit for her to keep up. Eventually, she gave up and started blasting the troops with strong magic spells. She cast Regen on the team, and hoped that it would help the team hold out for a little longer.

Lightening, fire, and ice all flashed at Avalanche members. Red XII was hit hard by a fire spell, and was thrown roughly into the cavern wall. Cid fell to one knee, using his spear to hold him up, as a fierce bolt of lightening struck him.

The soldiers saw that Avalanche was weakening, and they attacked more boldly.. Cloud had trouble keeping up with the soldier’s blows. Regen helped a little, but it was wearing off. Cloud gave his sword a mighty swing and heard a soldier scream as the sword cut through flesh. Cloud was panting heavily, and he heard Tifa doing the same next to him. A quick blow from a soldier knocked him off his feet. Cloud gazed up a saw a soldier preparing to make a deathblow. Cloud closed his eyes and waited.

Suddenly, electricity zapped through the soldier’s body. The soldier convulsed and was thrown onto the ground. Cloud turned his head and saw Reno standing over him.

"I would love the shove my nightstick down your throat right now," Reno said with a sneer, "But unfortunately, Waylon is the main target of this attack. But remember you owe me one." Reno slipped away towards more troops.

By now, all three Turks had joined the battle. The soldiers, seeing now that Avalanche had some back up, stopped attacking so boldly.

The Avalanchers, now suddenly revitalized, pressed their attack against the soldiers. Cloud, still on the ground, watched the battle while the Turks and Avalanche pounded Waylon’s troops. Cloud suddenly felt a sharp pain in his right side. He turned to saw Waylon jabbed a nightstick in him. Electricity shot through Cloud’s body. Cloud was stunned, and Waylon reached into his pocket and grabbed the black materia.

"Thanks for the materia," he said as he drove the nightstick into Cloud’s body one more time. Electricity shot through Cloud’s body again. It soon stopped. Cloud sat up painfully and looked around. He saw Waylon making his escape up the caverns.

Cloud got up and chased after Waylon as fast as he could. Cloud was hurting badly, but he knew he must catch Waylon. Cloud slowly gained and Waylon. Waylon turned his head back and saw Cloud. He immediately redoubled his efforts. Cloud dove for him and caught his right pant leg. Waylon tripped and fell to the ground. He swung around and slammed his nightstick into Cloud’s head. Cloud lost his grip on Waylon, and Waylon immediately got back up and took off like a rocket. Cloud tried to get up, but collapsed from the pain. Cloud struggled to claw his way back to the other Avalanchers when he spotted something.

It was a book, hard bound, and scratched slightly. Waylon must have dropped it. Cloud picked up the book and put it in his belt. He would look at it later.

When Cloud made it back to the battle scene, the fighting was pretty much done. A few soldiers were fleeing, and the Avalanchers stopped attacking altogether.

Reno turned to look at Avalanche. "Well, this battle is over, and I should go back and report that Waylon recovered the black materia." He then smiled. "We’ll meet again someday." He turned and left. Rude and Elena looked back at Avalanche, and then followed their leader out of the room.

"Well, we certainly are in a mess now," Red stated, "Waylon has the black materia."

"Yeah, and it’s your stupid fault, Cloud," Barret said angrily, "You spiky headed moron!"

"It wasn’t Cloud’s fault Barret," Tifa said, stepping between Cloud and Barret, "We’ll get it back."

"Besides," Cloud said weakly, "I found something Waylon dropped." He held up the book he had found.

"What’s in it?" Cid said curiously.

"I dunno," Cloud said. He opened the book and read a small portion of it. "It’s Waylon’s lab journal!" Cloud said, now suddenly very excited.

"Let me see that," Red asked him. Cloud placed the book down in front of Red.. "Hmm…" Red said, "These are Waylon’s notes from his experiments with the lifestream. Perhaps it will tell us how he plans to revive Sephiroth." Red read a little more. "I’ll finish this later. Let’s get back to Cosmo Canyon."

"Yeah," Barret agreed. "I hate this place."

They began to head back to the Highwind.


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