Shinra Reborn Chapter 9

By Dan Schmidt

With a couple of drinks aboard the Highwind, Cloud was able to invigorate the other members. Cid had a few beers, a couple of cigarettes, and was as good as new again.

"It’s like I always say," Barret said as they were all seated in the Operations Room, "They’re ain’t no getting off this train we’re on!"

That riled a cheer from the other members.

"It’s time to defeat Waylon once and for all!" Cloud said to them, "And finally put an end to the threat of Sephiroth, and even maybe revive a long lost friend. This battle is about the fate of the planet. If Waylon succeeds, we will have to defeat Sephiroth another time. Sephiroth could bring about the end of the world again. If we succeed, not only will the threat of Waylon be removed, but the threat of Sephiroth as well. And we may even be able to revive Aeris. This battle could result in many different ways. But, even if this battle is won, the war is not over. Shinra must be stopped as well before they destroy two planets, this one, and Solack. It may sound like science fiction, but we will be going into outer space to destroy a space station. If we succeed on both missions, than you can all retire to Costa del Sol for the next fifty years. But now, we have a battle to fight and we’re gonna win!"

Cheers rose up from the other members as Cloud finished his speech. A toast was made, and they all ran to the bridge. Cid jumped over to the controls and set a course for the Northern Crater.

"Hold on to your butts, we’re gonna make record time," Cid yelled as he slammed down a control lever. The Highwind jerked and took off towards the Crater. Cloud was almost blown off his feet by the Highwind’s sudden burst of speed. He could imagine how Yuffie jolt. In fact, he expected to find how Yuffie took the jolt all over the floor in the hallway.

Cloud sat down next to Reeve. "Reeve, I am impressed with your fighting skills. You’ve come along way since Vincent’s gave you that Outsider."

"Well, I have had a lot of chances to use it," Reeve said rolling his eyes, "You guys didn’t give me much a chance to practice before our first real battle."

Cloud smiled. "Well, that’s just how it turns out sometimes. In SOLDIER, the train you for years before you ever fight in even a small battle."

"Well, that condoles me a little…I think." Reeve smiled and patted Cloud on the shoulder. "Thanks for letting me join Avalanche. I know we weren’t exactly friends back when I was in Shinra, but now, I’d wouldn’t give up this position in Avalanche to be President of the world."

Cloud smiled as they approached the Northern Crater. Atleast their morale is up, Cloud thought to himself.

Soon, Cid had set the Highwind down inside the North Crater and the mission was ready to begin. Cloud had decided that they would again split into two parties once they reached the fork in the path. They had no idea where Waylon was going to open the lifestream portal, and it was best that they searched each part of the Crater.

The members of Avalanche were now all out of the deck. They had gotten to take a nap before Cloud’s conference in the Operations Room, so they felt fresh and ready to fight.

"We may run into some monsters other than Waylon down here," Cloud said to them all, "Be on your guard at all times."

Cloud started to slide down into the Crater. They other members followed him.. Cloud jumped down in front of the small cavern that led back up to the top. Cloud began to long trek down the Crater, for the second time this week. The Crater wasn’t exactly his favorite spot on the planet, and he was sure the other members agreed.

Cid stumbled over a rock and almost tripped. He grunted as he got back up. "I swear, after this mess is over, I’m gonna bomb the entrance to this place shut!" Cid hopped over to another ledge. He turned around and saw several other members having the same problems he was.

"Stupid Jenova, had to fall and create this stupid hole…" Cid mumbled to himself. He continued on more slowly now.

The walk down was uneventful. This was surprising, considering the number of monsters they faced the last time they were down here. They reached the fork in the paths without facing a single enemy.

"Here’s where we split," Cloud said to them all, "I’ll take the right path along with Tifa, Vincent, and Red. Barret, you take Yuffie, Reeve, and Cid down the left path. If neither of us find Waylon, we’ll meet at the bottom.."

"Wait a minute," Barret said, "Me and Yuffie don’t mix. She goes with you." He folded his arms and looked at Cloud.

"Alright," Cloud said, "Vincent, do you mind going with Barret?"

"Not at all," Vincent said, "Let’s get going." He took off down the left path.

Barret, Cid, and Reeve took off after Vincent down the left path. The left path was definitely the more unusual of the two paths.

Cloud motioned for his party to follow him, and they began walking down the right path.

* * *

"This place is weird," Cid said as the entered the portion of the Crater that resembled a large garden. It was the second time this week he had gone down this way. He saw the same empty chests that they had cleaned out during the Sephiroth battle.

Cid, Barret, Vincent, and Reeve began looking for clues that would lead them to Waylon. Waylon was down here somewhere, and they hoped he hadn’t already revived Sephiroth.

"There they are!" a gruff sounding voice called out. Bullets sprayed around them as someone opened fire. The Avalanchers quickly dove into the water and resurfaced behind a rock.

"I shoulda know Waylon would have guards down here!" Barret cried out. He said it a little too loud as another round of fire slammed into the rock they were behind. Barret pulled himself up over the edge and peeked at the guards.. They were scanning the area for Avalanche. Barret slowly pulled his gun arm up, but could not get good leverage. A guard finally saw him and unloaded in his direction. Barret splashed back down into the water.

"We gotta swim outta here," Barret said. He dove under and swam away from the rock. He saw some long grasses that would offer good cover. He motioned for his friends to follow. Barret silently rose up out of the water behind the grass. He aimed at the guards and fired. The guards dodged the fire, and scrambled to take cover. Reeve jumped out and began firing at the fleeing guards.

The guards opened fire from behind their cover causing Reeve and Barret to dive down again.

"This is getting on my nerves," Cid said, who could not fight because of his short-range weapon. An idea suddenly flashed in his head. He pulled out a red orb and concentrated on it for a few moments before calling out: "Mega Flare!"

Dark clouds appeared overhead. The clouds began to spin like a cyclone and a large black dragon emerged from them. The dragon spread its long wings and eyed the soldiers, who were now frozen in shock. The dragon began sucking immense amounts of energy into its mouth. It shrieked loudly and them released the ball of energy from its mouth and took off.

The energy ball slammed into the ground below the soldiers creating a huge explosion that flung soldiers out from behind their cover. Reeve and Barret leaped up and opened fire on the surviving soldiers. When they stopped firing, no soldiers were left standing.

"Nice work," Cid said, "I wish I could’ve gotten in on some of the action."

"Thanks for clearing out those soldiers for us," a familiar voice called out.. Barret turned around and groaned as he saw three familiar individuals standing behind him.

"Great," he moaned, "The Turks."

* * *

Cloud’s team began their long trek to the bottom of the North Cave. He expected that Waylon will have guards posted somewhere, but he hadn’t seen any yet. Cloud began to walk down the long spiral tower that would bring them deeper into the Crater. Cloud began to look for clues of Waylon’s presence.. Footprints, pieces of clothing, anything.

"Boring, boring," Yuffie chanted from behind Cloud. She had a point; it was unusual for them to have gone this far into the Crater without being attacked.

Cloud suddenly stumbled over something and fell face first into the soft mud-like covering on the path. He spotted footprints in front of him.

"Hey, I found something," he called to the others. Tifa, Yuffie, and Red ran over to where Cloud had fallen. They were large footprints, and there seemed to be many of them, as they were side by side.

"Looks like Waylon brought a legion with him," Tifa said. She knelt down and helped Cloud stand back up.

"Let’s keep going," Red said to the others as he started walking, "We must be close." They walked for a few minutes before a bullet hit the wall inches above Cloud’s head.

Cloud had his sword out in an instant. He looked around and saw nothing. Another bullet hit the ground inches from Cloud’s feet. He jumped back and looked around for cover.

"We’ll have to run for it," he said, "There’s no cover here." He shot off down the path and the others followed him.

Bullets began spraying all around them. Cloud finally spotted a rock and dove behind it for cover. Within seconds, his entire party was with him.

"This is bad," Yuffie said.

"Our situation does look bleak," Red added. He reached into Yuffie’s materia bag and pulled out a red orb. "Now, we just need to find them, and then I’ll use Titan."

They scanned the room for Waylon’s troops. Tifa spotted a brief movement from behind a rock about thirty yards from the rock she was hiding behind.

"Red, they’re over there," she said as she pointed to the rock, "About thirty yards away." She motioned for Yuffie to give her an orb. Yuffie picked up a red orb and handed it to Tifa.

"Titan won’t work from this distance," Tifa whispered, "I’ll use Leviathan." Tifa focused on the red orb, eyes unblinking. The orb began glowing bright red and then she cried out: "Tidal Wave!"

Once the soldiers heard her voice, they leaped up and fired on the rock. But it was too late. A huge serpent appeared over the soldiers. The serpent reared its head and a huge wall of water slammed into the soldiers. The soldiers were washed away by the wall of water.

"Let’s get going," Tifa said casually.

After about ten minutes of walking, they reached the bottom of the Crater.

"Still no Waylon," Cloud said, "He must be below us." Cloud walked over to the stone stairway and began to head down it. He could make out small figures below. He began leaping down the stone ledges faster. Behind him, Tifa, Red, and Yuffie were following.

With one final leap, Cloud landed on the stone platform where the team had battled with Jenova. He saw a golden altar near the edge of the platform and a man in a long white robe standing before the table. The man was holding a book.

"Waylon!" Cloud cried out, "Stop right there!"

Waylon spun around and looked at Cloud. Then, he smiled.

"I’m afraid you’re too late," Waylon said with a smirk, "I’m ready to open the lifestream portal."

Cloud pulled his sword and stared into Waylon’s eyes. "Not if we have something to say about it," he said.

* * *

"We should really stop meeting like this," Reno said to Barret.

"What’re you Turks doin’ down here!" Barret said angrily. He didn’t like surprises, especially ones that involved Shinra.

"We’re here for the same reason you are," Reno stated, "To stop that madman Waylon from bringing back Sephiroth."

"So I guess there’s no need to fight," Vincent said.

"Sorry to disappoint," Reno said, "But we were also ordered to kill you if we ran into you. Now would be the perfect time for us to put you out of our misery."

"Don’t count on it," Barret hollered as he rose he gun arm. Elena was ready for him and cast Wall around herself and the other two Turks before Barret could open fire.

Reno launched a fireball out of his nightstick that struck Barret in the gut.. Barret doubled over in pain, but quickly recovered.

"Playtime’s over," he said through clenched teeth. He opened fire on the Turks’ barrier, but had little success in weakening it. Lightening flashed around the Turks. Barret turned around and saw Vincent holding a green orb in his hand.

Reeve was blasting away with the Outsider, but his firing soon became futile.. He tucked the Outsider under his jacket and pulled out a red orb. He focused on the orb until it began glowing a bright red. He then called out: "Black Cauldron!"

Pillars rose up out of the ground forming a small circle. A large platform rose up from the ground with a large cauldron on it. Hades appeared over the cauldron, cloaked in a black cape. He waved his hands over the cauldron and then matter shot up out of it. The matter released a pinkish gas which settled over the Turks. The Turks were struck with poison and fell back from the attack.

"Is that all you got?" Elena said as she stood up from the attack. She launched a fire attack which slammed Avalanche into the wall. Cid, Vincent, Barret, and Reeve hit hard against a rocky outcropping in the wall.

Cid grunted as he stood up. He raised a green orb and concentrated on it with all his energies. The orb began to glow a bright green. Cid smiled and called out "Suck on some Ultima!"

The Turks were hit with a wave of immense energy. Reno, Rude, and Elena were throw back on the ground, but recovered. Elena cast Wall and Regen on Reno, Rude, and herself again.

"This is getting annoying!" Cid called out over the sounds of battle. The Avalanchers were definitely weakening as the Turks began to press stronger attack.

They couldn’t hold out much longer.

* * *

"Cloud, do you really want to fight me up here?" Waylon said with a smirk.

"If that’s what we have to do," Cloud said, "We’re here to stop you at all costs. The world doesn’t need Sephiroth again."

"Hmm…" Waylon said, "The world doesn’t, but I do. The final insult to my wretched brother will be this!"

"But don’t you get it!" Cloud said getting angry, "Sephiroth will kill us all if given the chance!"

"That doesn’t matter to me now, "Waylon said, "Sephiroth will be most grateful to me for bringing him back. But, enough playing around." He motioned with his hand. "Guards, kill them all!"

Six soldiers ran up from behind the table and started to fire on the team. Yuffie quickly cast Barrier to deflect most of the bullets.

Cloud charged forward, swinging his sword like a madman. He deflected bullets with his sword, and allowed the other members to take cover behind him.

Tifa snuck around the troops and delivered an uppercut to one of the soldiers. The soldier flew through the air and landed on the ground hard. He was dazed but eventually regain his poise. He opened fire on Cloud from the side.

Cloud heard the gunfire and dropped to the ground instinctively. The bullets flew over this head. Cloud jumped back up and swiped with his sword. He drew blood from the soldier. The soldier stumbled back clutching his stomach. Cloud delivered a finishing blow to the injured trooper.

The other five troops began firing all the members of the team. Red, Tifa, and Yuffie dodged the bullets while Cloud deflected them with his sword.

Yuffie was beginning to get fed up with all the dodging and blocking she was having to do. She pulled out her Conformer and immediately deflected several shots. She ducked low and threw her weapon at a soldier. The soldier took the Conformer in the gut. He was flung backwards by the impact. Yuffie delivered a kick to the soldier’s head that knocked him out for the moment.

Two soldiers stood up on the altar to get a height advantage. Waylon had taken refuge behind the altar. The two soldiers began firing across the entire platform. Cloud deflected many of the shots, but the other members had to drop to the ground.

Yuffie had by now retrieved her Conformer. She aimed it at the two guards standing on the altar and let it fly. It struck both guards and sent them flying off the altar. Cloud saw this to his advantage, and charged forward. His sliced with his sword, drawing blood from both soldiers. The soldiers staggered back. Cloud gave one soldier a vicious kick to the head. The soldier stepped back and fell completely off the platform. He screamed as he went, but they never heard him hit bottom. He must have gone all the way to the planet’s core.

Tifa and Red had cornered the remaining soldiers on the platform. Yuffie cast ice on the soldiers and effectively took them out of the battle.

"It’s over, Waylon," Cloud said, "Your soldiers are finished. Hand over the black materia."

"Ha ha!" Waylon laughed, "It’s far from over, Cloudy, far, far from over."

"Why do you want to bring back someone who wants to kill all life on this planet?" Tifa asked angrily.

"Tifa, Sephiroth was so much a part of your life," Waylon said, smiling like a maniac. "I’m surprised you don’t want to see him again."

"Sephiroth’s part in my life is a part it’d wish never happened," Tifa growled. "Now hand over the black materia!"

Waylon laughed softly. "Cloud, you surely wish to see Sephiroth? Without him, you would not be where you are today. You’d never have wanted to join SOLDIER."

"Sephiroth tried to wipe us all out," Cloud said, "I’d never want to see him back. In fact, I’d wish he’d never been born."

"Cut the crap Waylon," Yuffie said, "Hand over the materia!"

"Why do you want to bring back Sephiroth anyway?" Cloud inquired.

"Why?" Waylon responded in a surprised manner, "Why, you ask? To give the final insult to my brother. Hojo disrespected all my work. To bring back his own creation from the dead would be the perfect revenge!"

"But Hojo is dead," Tifa said, "It won’t matter to anyone if you brought back his creation."

"Not to me!" Waylon said, now full of anger, "It matters the world to me! This is all I have left, you fools! With me reviving Sephiroth, him and I will rule this planet together! And my brother will roll over in his grave!"

"Waylon," Cloud said. "One more thing. Why did you kidnap Reeve?"

"Why?" Waylon replied, "Because I needed to be able to move around Midgar without having to worry about being caught. Kidnapping Reeve allowed me to move my headquarters to Midgar."

"Enough chat!" Yuffie said, "Give us the materia. NOW!"

Waylon sighed. "You leave me with no choice. I didn’t want to do this, but it seems I’ll have to!"

With lightening fast movements, Waylon reached under the table and grabbed a large needle. He removed the cap from the syringe and drove it into his chest.

"What are you doing?" Tifa shouted at him.

Waylon looked up at her and smiled. "I’m doing exactly what Hojo did. In that needle was the final Jenova blood sample."

Cloud’s mouth dropped open. "You didn’t…"

"Yes!" Waylon laughed hysterically, "Yes I did! I injected Jenova’s cells into my own body!"

* * *

"We can’t take much more of this," a weakened Cid said as the Turks hit the Avalanchers with another strong attack.

The battle had been progressing slowly for both parties, but the Turks were definitely getting the upper hand. Reno and Rude were using stronger attacks each time, and the Avalanchers were getting weak on magic. Elena kept the Turks well defended and cured. The Turks, for the most part, hadn’t been hit hard this entire fight.

"This is ridiculous!" Reeve said as he weakly fired a few shots from the Outsider. He was slow to reload it after he had used the whole magazine.

Another blast from the Turks sent the Avalanche members sprawling. Reno stepped over the fallen body of Barret.

"Good riddance," he said as he raised his nightstick for a killing blow.

Suddenly, there was a loud rumbling noise. The walls shook and then burst as hundreds of monsters began to pour out. The monsters came out from the waters as well.

And met the Turks and Avalanche head on.

This was similar to the attack that Avalanche had fended off once before, with a large dragon leading all sorts of monsters into combat.

One monster was like a spider with ten legs and a long neck. It had purple skin and dark black teeth. Its eyes were green pits that illuminated its whole hideous face.

Another monster was human-like, accept it had no face, and had sharp claws for hands and feet. It had no eyes or mouth.

The Turks were taken by surprise from this attack. Reno turned his attention away from Barret, and Barret quickly rolled out of the way. The Turks now turned to face the incoming monster army.

Reno was the first into the battle, as he fended off a jump attack from a spider creature with his nightstick. The creature tried to recover, but Reno caught it with a kick to the gut. The creature’s body was very flimsy for a fighter, and Reno’s foot sank right into its abdomen.

"Oh gross," Reno said disgustedly, while shaking the guts of the creature off his foot. "Now I’ll need new shoes."

Elena had taken to the offense now, and was brutally attacking the creatures with all sorts of fire and ice magic. She blasted three creatures with a rolling fire spell, and then nailed a faceless creature with a strong ice spell. Four creatures tried to gang up on Elena, but Rude stepped in and delivered a solid punch to one of the faceless creature’s head. Elena blasted the three remaining creatures with a fire spell.

But the attack kept coming.

There were dozens and dozens of creatures in this army. Well over one hundred.

But the battle sparked new life into Avalanche.

Barret was the first to his feet, and began firing madly at the creature army. Purple blood poured everywhere as Barret unloaded everything he had on the creature army. He stopped firing for a second to pull out a green materia orb. He focused his energies into the orb until it began glowing bright green. Then, a huge fireball exploded in the creature army, engulfing several creatures in flames.

Cid drove his spear into a spider creature. He was filled with a new sense of vigor. He fought like a man possessed, mauling down creature after creature. He knew how to win a battle like this. Kill the leader, in this case, the dragon, and the rest of the creatures would lose their organized battle style.

But the creatures seemed to have learned from the last battle, and they defended the dragon very closely. Atleast thirty creatures were defending the dragon. Cid had had enough. He pulled out a red orb and focused his energies on it. The org began to glow a bright red and Cid called out: "Judgement Bolt!"

A huge pillar began to rise up out of the earth. The pillar rose atleast twenty feet high. On top of this pillar stood the lightening master, Ramuh. Ramuh raised his large staff and powerful bolts of lightening shot down at the monsters. The bolts struck the creatures again and again until Ramuh faded away.

The Judgement Bolt attacked had weakened the defenses around the dragon, but there was still a considerable number of defenders left. Cid decided that it was now or never. He charged at the dragon with his spear out of front of him. Like a mad man, Cid took down creature after creature that got into his way. Finally, he had broken through the dragon’s defenses. He raised his spear and drove it down into the dragon’s thigh. The dragon howled in agony and swiped at Cid with a strong claw. Cid ducked low to avoid the attack, but was still hit with the huge claw swipe. Cid slid along the ground and almost bowled over Rude.

"I’ll show you how it’s done," Rude said viciously. He charged forward at the dragon and connected with a lightening fast uppercut to the dragon’s jaw.

Reno saw his chance as well and leaped at the dragon. Reno plunged his nightstick into the creature’s body and jolted it with hundreds of volts of electricity. Th dragon howled again. It tried to swipe at both Reno and Rude, but the two Turks were getting away with hit and run attacks. When Reno hit the creature, he would jump away before the creature could counter, and while the dragon was fending off Reno, Rude would hit with his grand spark attack.

Suddenly, the dragon spun around and took out both Turks with its tail. It poised over them, growling viciously, when a neatly placed shot struck the dragon in the forehead. Vincent fired again with the Death Penalty, taking the dragon down for good.

"Nice work Vincent," Reeve called over the sounds of the battle.

Without the dragon, the remaining creatures lost their organization. They attacked without coordination, and sometimes hit each other accidentally.

Barret opened fire on a group of creatures and took them down easily. The remaining creatures knew they were defeated and tried to escape.

Reeve fired and took down another creature. By now, all of the creatures had either run off, or were lying dead. Reeve looked around at the greenish blood on the ground and made a face. A battlefield wasn’t exactly pretty.

"Now, back to the matter at hand," Reno said suddenly as he raised his gun at Reeve. Reeve closed his eyes, but suddenly malicious laughter came from somewhere deeper in the Crater.

"I think we should go after Waylon first, Reno," Elena said nervously.

Reno looked around and then shrugged. "I suppose your right. Sephiroth is a much greater threat than this scum." He took off down the trail, followed by the other Turks.

"I think we should see what Waylon up," Barret said, motioning towards the way the Turks went. The other members nodded and took off, following the Turks.

* * *

"Oh crap," Cloud said as Waylon removed the needle from his body. Waylon was now laughing uncontrollably. Cloud reached behind his back and removed his sword.

"Let’s see how this works, shall we?" Waylon said. With that, he began to change. His arms grew longer and his finger turned into large claws, glinting in the low light of the Crater. His legs grew longer and more powerful. He towered over fifteen feet tall. His mouth grew wider, and his mouth was full of large, sharp teeth. His eyes began to glow a dark green. They were eyes that were full of hatred, hatred for Cloud, and the entire world.

He roared loudly and swiped Cloud, Tifa, Red, and Yuffie out of his way with out long arm swing. Cloud was the first to stand up and slashed instinctively with his sword. Cloud, standing at full height, came only up to Waylon’s, or the thing had been Waylon’s, thigh. Cloud drew blood with his slash, but Waylon’s brush off the damage. Waylon raised his arms and huge blasts of energy shot out from the ground like geysers.

Red was blasted with a jolt of energy and he was thrown back towards the edge of the platform. Waylon stepped across the length of the platform with a single leap. Waylon raised his foot in attempt to stomp Red, but in doing so, he left himself open to attack. Tifa saw this opportunity and slammed both fists into the back of Waylon’s knee. Waylon stumbled backwards and his stomp turned into a wild swing. Red easily avoided this, and rolled away from the ledge.

Waylon used another energy blast attack. Cloud, Tifa, Red, and Yuffie were again thrown back towards the edge. Waylon laughed and swung a large arm in the direction of the Avalanchers. They easily ducked, but Waylon was on the attack again in at instant.

He stood in the center of the platform and rose his arms into the air. Huge spikes began falling all around him. Cloud ducked and dodged the spikes as he made his way towards Waylon. He spikes finally stopped falling. Cloud stepped up to Waylon and swung his sword.

Waylon raised an arm to block the slash, and the sword dug itself into his arm. Waylon roared as he felt pain for pretty much the first time in the battle. Cloud removed his sword from Waylon’s arm, but not soon enough to avoid a massive slap from Waylon. Cloud was sent sprawling along the ground.

Yuffie reached into her bag and pulled out a red orb. She concentrated on the orb until it began glowing bright red. Yuffie then called out: "Gunge Lance!"

A dark black opening appeared above the platform and a large six-legged horse stepped out of the blackness. On the horse was a knight dressed in dark armor. The knight raised a large lance and hurled it into the sky. The lance went up above the clouds, before at began its downward descent. The lance had now turned into a bolt of energy, which struck Waylon dead in the center as it came down. Waylon growled in anger, but did not seemed to be harmed.

"This isn’t working," Yuffie called out, "He’s too powerful!"

Waylon struck the team with another powerful energy attack. Waylon seemed invincible. Nothing that the team hit him with seemed to faze him. And Waylon grew stronger each time one of his attacks connected. Waylon laughed as he stepped over to the fallen team. His laughter was suddenly silenced as a gunshot rang out. The bullet struck Waylon in the midsection, but had very little affect. Cloud looked up to see who had fired the shot and almost collapsed again.

Reno of the Turks stood on the stone stairway preparing to fire another shot at the Jenova-enhanced Waylon. This shot struck Waylon in the chest. Waylon roared in anger and launched a lightening bolt attack at the Turks. The bolt struck the ground below the Turks’ feet and sent them flying down to the platform. They were slow to recover, but didn’t seem injured by the attack..

Waylon swiped a charging Red XIII away with large claw. Red shook off the damage, and snuck up behind Waylon. Red sized Waylon up for a few seconds before leaping at Waylon’s hamstring. Red sunk his teeth into Waylon’s contorted leg and held on. Waylon roared in agony, and shook his leg wildly, but Red held his grip.

Reno saw the diversion he needed and lined up a shot with Waylon’s forehead. He waited a few seconds and then fired, striking Waylon right between the eyes. The shot caused Waylon to jerk wildly, and Red lost his grip. Red was flung off of Waylon, but took a good-sized chunk of Waylon’s leg with him.

Another powerful energy attack sent Avalanche and the Turks flying. The battle was now a little more even, with seven people attacking Waylon instead of four.

Elena and Yuffie started a defensive minded approach. They cast spells like Haste, Regen, and Wall on their respective groups. With some defense between them and Waylon, the two parties began attacking more boldly.

Cloud sliced into Waylon’s injured leg with his sword before a claw swipe sent him sprawling. Waylon was fast to counter attacks. Each time someone attacked Waylon, they were in turn swept away by a large claw. Every now and then, Waylon would cast his energy eruption spell (as Yuffie had named it) on the Turks and Avalanche.

Even with the combined force of Cloud, Tifa, Red, Yuffie, Reno, Rude, and Elena, Waylon still was in control of the battle. He was hurting, but the Turks and Avalanche were hurting more. Yuffie and Elena were almost exhausted from casting so many defensive spells that they could not keep up with Waylon’s attack anymore.

"Miss us much?" a familiar voice suddenly rang out. Then, a burst of gunfire struck Waylon. Barret leaped down onto the platform and continued to fire. He was joined by Vincent and Reeve, who where firing as well. Cid ran up to the front of the battle, and caught a surprised Waylon with spear to the foot. Now there were eleven people attacking Waylon at once, but Waylon did not seem worried.

Waylon raised his hands in the air. He smiled at the team and called out: "Earthquake!"

The ground began to shake violently. Rocks and debris began falling upon Avalanche and the Turks from above. The platform began to rip apart. The parts were uneven, with Waylon standing on the smaller part with his altar. Avalanche and the Turks were on the other side, except for one person, Cloud..

The platform was now two separate pieces, with Cloud and Waylon alone on the small side. The distance between the two sides was about ten feet, too far for Cloud to jump.

"I’ve been waiting for this ever since I met you," Waylon said, his voice now deeper, and sounding more evil than ever. "It’s time I put you away for good. Then, I’ll murder all your friends!"

Cloud clenched his teeth. He was filled with rage. "You’ll never touch them again," Cloud said through his clenched teeth, "Ever again…"

Bright red lights flared up from the ground around Cloud. Cloud raised his sword in the air and point of light appeared above it. He brought he sword down and said angrily: "Omni-slash."

Cloud leaped at Waylon delivering a massive sword chop to the head. Before Waylon could react, Cloud delivered another slash, and then another, and another. Slash after slash, chop after chop, Cloud was flurry of steel. A slash to Waylon’s midsection, another to his legs, another to the head. Waylon howled in agony as Cloud slashed across his midsection one more time. Cloud leaped into the air and stayed hovering above Waylon for a few seconds, his sword gathering energy. Cloud then drove his sword down into Waylon, creating an explosion of energy.

Waylon shrieked and slumped down against the altar. He was bleeding profusely from several wounds, but he managed a small smile. "You think…that…you…have won," he said weakly, "But…it is…not…over yet."

"It is for you, Waylon," Cloud said, with a tone of anger in his voice, "It is for you." Cloud raised his sword and drove it into Waylon’s midsection. Waylon made a loud gurgling noise as Cloud’s sword went through him. Cloud then swung his sword, with it still in Waylon’s gut, over the edge of the platform.

Waylon looked down and then looked at Cloud. For the first time, Cloud saw fear in Waylon’s eyes. Waylon stared at Cloud, not blinking, for several seconds. Then, Cloud smiled and said: "Good-bye, Waylon." Cloud tilted the sword downwards and with one mighty pull, he removed it from Waylon’s midsection.

Waylon began falling deep into the core of the planet, screaming as he went. Cloud heard his cries for about a minute, and then heard an explosion. Energy flared up from the inside of the planet all around the platform. The two platforms began to converge again. Once they were together again, Tifa leaped at Cloud and squeezed him tightly.

"You did it, Cloud," she cried, "You did it!"

"Great job, Cloud," Reeve said smiling broadly, "Great job indeed. We longer have to fear about Waylon."

"I assume that explosion was from Waylon’s body," Red stated, staring down at the blackness below them, "His body must have released tremendous amounts of energy when he hit the core of the planet."

"Atleast that sucker’s gone now," Cid said, putting his arms around Cloud and Tifa, "Now, how about we go back to civilization and have a few drinks, my treat!"

"We still have one more thing to do down here, Cid," Cloud said.

"Aeris…." Tifa’s voice trailed off. She walked over to Waylon’s altar and picked up the book. "Here’s the Ancient’s chant. Lochre sanibar karsaya unoch."

Cloud stepped up to the altar and placed the book on it.

"Everyone ready?" Cloud said nervously.

"Wait!" Red called out, "We’re missing one thing: the black materia."

Cloud looked under the altar and saw a small drawer. He pulled it open. Inside was the black materia. Cloud raised the materia high in the air.

"Lochre sanibar karsaya unoch Aeris!" he cried.

Winds began picking up around the platform. Lightening flashed from the depths of the planet. With a loud tearing noise, a round green portal appeared above the altar. The portal seemed to be the lifestream itself. The portal opened to wider. It now spanned the length of the altar. The portal stopped growing and began to get brighter. The light emitted from the portal was so bright that Cloud had to shield his eyes.

With another, softer, thunder clap, someone emerged from the brightness. The person stepped onto the altar and stood there as the light began to dim back to the darker green it began as.

Cloud removed his arm from in front of his eyes and stared at the person on the table. She stepped down off the table and hugged Cloud.

"Thanks," Aeris said as she hugged Cloud tightly.

"Aer…I…what…" Cloud was speechless. Aeris let go of him and ran over to the other Avalanche members.

"Aeris!" Barret yelled as he threw a huge bear hug around her.

Aeris gasped. "Barret, I…can’t…breathe."

"Oh, sorry." Barret let go of her. She ran over and hugged the other members..

Suddenly, there was another loud thunderclap. The green portal began to fade into a dark black. It grew wider. And then a malicious laugh pierced through the air.

"Oh no…" Cloud said. He looked very, very worried. He drew his sword and prepared to the evil to come back into this world.

With a loud bang, Sephiroth leaped through the portal and landed on the altar. He looked around at the Turks and Avalanche and laughed again.

"You’re not happy to see me?" Sephiroth said, still laughing. He floated down off the altar and stood in front of Avalanche. "I can’t believe you didn’t miss me! This really breaks my heart."

"Shut up, Sephiroth," Cloud said, "You won’t be here long!" Cloud reached for the book with the Ancient’s chant. He had to reverse the revival and send Sephiroth into the Void.

But Sephiroth was too quick. He had his sword out in an instant and slashed the book in two. He then shoved both parts of the book over the edge of the platform.

"What was the chant?" Tifa said nervously, "Quick, someone repeat it!"

"I know it!" Aeris cried out, "Sephiroth unoch karsaya…"

Suddenly, Sephiroth raised his arms and a geyser of energy shot out from underneath Aeris. She was thrown high in the air and then began to fall. She hit hard against the platform and lied still.

"Aeris!" Red cried as he ran over to her. He felt her pulse. "She’s alive! She’s out cold, though."

"Crap!" Cid muttered, "Anyone remember the chant!"

Cloud began to think. "Sephiroth unoch karsaya…ARGH! I can’t remember!"

"Ha!" Sephiroth laughed, "Looks like I may be here longer than you expected. But, I suppose you’ll try to stop me."

"We beat you once," Cloud said unsheathing his sword, "We’ll just have to do it again."

"Ha! I’d like to see you even scratch me." Sephiroth then turned serious. "I, on the other hand, will make sure you never leave this Crater."

Sephiroth rose up into the air and pulled out his giant Masamune sword. He waved the sword in the air and a huge explosion erupted on the platform. The Turks and Avalanche were thrown back towards the edge. Sephiroth laughed again.

Cloud stood up and eyed Sephiroth angrily. Cloud pulled out a green orb and focused on it for a few seconds. The orb began glowing a dark green.

A huge explosion of green energy struck Sephiroth. The green energy caused by the Ultima spell expanded wider and wider until it almost reached the ends of the platform. When the green light faded, Sephiroth was still laughing.

"Is that all you’ve got, Cloud?" he asked, still smiling. "Well, let me show you what I’ve got." Sephiroth raised his arms into the air again. A large, dark hole formed above the platform. Then, a waterfall of energy began falling from the hole. The energy struck in the middle of Avalanche and the Turks. They were again thrown back towards the edges of the platform.

Sephiroth laughed again.

"I don’t know how you managed to defeat me last time," Sephiroth said, "You haven’t even touched me yet!"

"We’ve got plenty of surprises left, you awful freak of a science experiment gone wrong," Reno said through clenched teeth. Reno raised a red orb in the air and called out: "Tetra Disaster!"

Yuffie did the same. She raised a different red orb and called out "Tsunami!"

Red raised a red orb and called out: "Mega Flare."

Barret raised a red orb and called out: "Judgement Bolt!"

Sephiroth was struck with an earthquake, a huge tidal wave, a blast of powerful energy, and massive bolts of lightening. After the spells had all struck, Sephiroth was still smiling. "Is that all you’ve got? I thought Reno said you guys had some surprises in store for me!"

Sephiroth began to approach them. Time to finish the job, he thought to himself. He raised his arms into the air and began his summon spell.


"Hey! Sephiroth!"

Sephiroth interrupted his summon spell and turned around. A now conscious Aeris stood behind him.

"We’ve got one more surprise left for you," she said. She then smiled and said it.

"Sephiroth unoch karsaya sanibar lochre!"

"NOOO!" Sephiroth cried. But it was too late. A huge black portal appeared above the altar. With tornado like winds, it began to suck everything into itself like a black hole. Sephiroth cried out again and grabbed onto the altar as the portal began to suck everything in.

Cloud dove and grabbed onto a piece of rock sticking out from the platform. The rest of Avalanche and the Turks did the same. Only Aeris was not being sucked in. She stood near the altar surrounded with bright yellow light.

Suddenly, Cloud began to lose his grip. His fingers slowly slipped away from the rock. With a shout, he started to get pulled closer to the black hole. He desperately grabbed for something, but his hands found only air. He smashed headfirst into the altar and then felt himself being pulled up over it. He grabbed onto the altar and held tight. Until he looked over his shoulder.

"We meet one last time, Cloud," Sephiroth said, who was only inches away from Cloud. He swung his legs at Cloud in attempt to kick him off the altar. Cloud dodged, but lost his grip with one hand. He felt his other hand slipping. He removed his sword with his free hand and drove it down into the altar. With the sword firmly in the altar, Cloud gripped it and held on for dear life.

Sephiroth let go of the altar with one hand. He reached to his side and pulled out his long Masamune sword. He swung the sword wildly at Cloud’s Ultima Weapon, in attempt to dislodge it from the table. Sephiroth swung repeatedly, with his swings getting more fierce and aggressive each time. Sephiroth saw he was doing no damage to Cloud’s sword, so he drove his sword into the altar and began to pry the Ultima Weapon out of the altar.

"If I go into the Void, atleast you’ll be there suffering with me," Sephiroth said, his face red with rage.

Cloud looked Sephiroth right in the eye. Suddenly, he grabbed Sephiroth’s Masamune, which was imbedded in the altar alongside his.

"Sorry Sephiroth," Cloud said, suddenly smiling, "But this time, you’re flying solo." Cloud wrenched Sephiroth’s sword out of the table and raised it high. He brought the sword down on Sephiroth hand and Sephiroth cried out in agony. Cloud brought the sword down one last time, and Sephiroth lost his grip on the altar.

Sephiroth shrieked as he was sucked into the black hole. But has he faded from view, Cloud heard his voice distinctly.

"I’ll find a way back!" Sephiroth cried above the raging winds sucking him into the Void, "And when I do, I’ll kill you and all your friends!"

The black hole shook as Sephiroth vanished into it. The hole began to collapse in on itself. It became a distorted circle, and the winds began to die down. Then, with a brilliant flash of light, the black hole vanished from above the altar.

Cloud fell to the ground with a thud. He moaned as he tried to stand himself back up. Aeris rushed over to help him regain his balance.

"I’m so sorry!" she cried, "I didn’t know it would be like that. I thought it would just take Sephiroth back, and leave us untouched." She hugged Cloud as he stood on his own two feet. "I’m really sorry."

"It’s okay, Aeris," Cloud said, "Sephiroth is gone. And in contrast to what he said, I doubt we’ll have any trouble from him ever again."

"Well," Reno said casually, "Now that everything is settled, we have a rocket to catch. Shinra No. 27 will be launching within the next four hours, and we can’t be late."

Reno, Rude, and Elena turned and ran up the stone stairs and out of view.

"Well, I guess we have a rocket to catch as well," Red said.

"Rocket?" Aeris inquired.

"We’ll fill you in later," Cloud answered. "Right now, we need to get out of here as soon as possible…"

Suddenly, the wall of the Crater just above them came crashing down. Above them, standing atleast thirty feet tall was the WEAPON creature that awoke under Midgar not to long ago. The creature was enormous, but reminded Cloud all too much of the Jenova creature Waylon had transformed into. The WEAPON had two powerful-looking legs. Its upper body was huge, spanning about fifteen feet from shoulder to shoulder. The creature had four massive arms, to connected at the shoulder, two more connected just above the hip. The creature had an alligator like snout and a mouth filled with razor-like teeth. It had pointed, elf-like ears, but most awesome of all where the eyes.. The creature’s eyes were glowing pits of red light. The red light emitted by the eyes kept the actual eyes themselves out of view.

The creature roared loudly and red beam flared out of its eyes. The beams caught Avalanche off guard and sent all of them sprawling.

"How many more monsters do we have to fight today!" Yuffie exclaimed angrily.. She pulled out a red orb and concentrated on it fiercely. The orb began glowing bright red. Yuffie than shouted out: "Terra Flare!"

A huge six-winged dragon appeared above them. The huge dragon spread it wings out into a wide W-shape position. The creature roared and then began absorbing energy into its mouth. When the creature had gathered enough energy, it released it with a loud shriek. The energy slammed into the ground below the WEAPON and exploded violently. The light emitted from the blast was blinding, but the creature seemed unfazed by the attack.

Barret grunted as he fired off more rounds into the creature. The creature hardly seemed to notice that Barret was attacking, so he rethought his strategy. The creature than smacked him with a lightening fast hand. Barret was sent sprawling towards the edge of the platform. Filled with rage, Barret eyed the creature. Then, he said, "Let’s see how you handle plasma, sucker.. Eat this…Catastrophe!"

Barret leaped into the air and shot a beam of red-hot plasma out of his Missing Score. The plasma struck the creature head on. Barret continued to hold in the air, keeping his gun aimed directly at the creature’s head. Finally, when Barret could hold up no longer, and dropped back down to the earth.

The creature didn’t seem too injured by the attack, but it was definitely annoyed. It blasted Barret with its eye laser attack again. Barret managed to dodge a direct hit, but still was thrown back by the impact of the laser striking the ground.

Cloud selected a red orb from his arsenal. This red orb was larger than any of the other orbs Avalanche possessed. Cloud concentrated fiercely on it for a few moments. The orb began to glow bright red. The light was almost blinding when Cloud shouted out the words. "Ultimate End!"

The ground beneath the creature broke apart and the WEAPON was sent down into a black portal. The portal suddenly began bright with red light. A huge armored warrior appeared. Its eyes glowed a red in comparison to the WEAPONs.. The knight raised a large sword and swung at the WEAPON. The sword sliced into the creature. The WEAPON felt an extreme pain rushing through its body. The knight faded away, another one appeared, wearing the same armor, but carrying a different weapon. The knight slashed the WEAPON, and again the WEAPON roared in agony. Again and again, a knight appeared in the red swirling portal the WEAPON was traveling through. Each time, a different attack. One knight used large boulders. Another used ice. One used a battle-axe. Twelve knights in all attacked this way. They would deliver their attack, and then fade away. Suddenly, the red swirling lights disappeared. The portal turned pitch black. The attack was not over, though. With a sound like a locomotive, a thirteenth armor-clad warrior appeared. This knight’s eyes shined brightly in the darkness. The knight raised its huge metallic sword. The blow delivered by this sword was twice as worse as the other twelve. With a loud shattering noise, the blackness faded, and the eerie green light of the Crater re-appeared.

The WEAPON, now visibly shaken, turned towards Avalanche and growled loudly. It raised a huge claw and then slammed into the ground with the force of a comet. The earth shattered at shards of rock and dirt struck the Avalanchers.. The earth rippled beneath them, hurling them back once again towards the edges of the platform.

But this time, the WEAPON closed in on them. It raised a claw high into the air, preparing to deliver the final strike to Avalanche, when a loud crash boomed though the Crater.

And then the Highwind made its grand entrance through the hole the WEAPON had made. Within seconds, dozens of large missiles flared from the Highwind and struck the WEAPON.

The WEAPON, caught off guard by this attack, could not avoid the deadly missile. Missile after missile struck the WEAPON until the creature was now teetering on the edge of the platform. With one final missile, the WEAPON stumbled off of the platform and fell, shrieking, into the core of the planet.

"I told you I could be useful," a familiar voice came from the deck of the Highwind. With that, Shera threw the rope ladder down to her friends.

"Shera!" Cid shrieked, "Do you know how many scratches you probably just put in this thing! It’ll take me months to fix them all!"

"Yeah, it was no problem, saving you hide and all," Shera said sarcastically.. Then, she smiled, and Cid smiled as well.

"All right," Cid said, "Thanks, Shera."

* * *

"So, why do we need a rocket for?" Aeris questioned.

Avalanche was now on board the bridge of the Highwind, making good time towards Rocket Town. The Shinra Rocket had already been launched; the local news radio had informed them. Heidegger, Rufus, and the Turks were almost definitely on board.

"Well," Cloud answered her, "Shinra has built a space station in between this planet and Solack. Neo-Midgar is going to be built on Solack if we don’t destroy this station."

"They’re going to destroy another planet!" Aeris exclaimed, now suddenly filled with anger, "They’ve already hurt this one enough, but now they’re going to hurt another! They can’t do this!"

"That’s why we’re trying to stop them," Cloud replied, "And don’t worry, we will."

"Rocket Town is about ten minutes away," Cid interrupted, "Get ready. The Rocket is being prepped by my launch team."

"Cid, when did you built a new rocket?" Aeris inquired curiously.

"Shortly after Meteor was destroyed." Cid answered, "We made great time with it, finished it in one month. Incredible time record, huh?"

* * *

In fifteen minutes, Avalanche was standing in front of the rocket. They rocket looked much like the old Shinra No. 26. It only difference was that the lettering "Shin-Ra No. 26" was not on the rocket. Instead, the rocket had the name "Sky Lighter".

"She’s a beaut, isn’t she?" Cid proclaimed proudly. He gave his cigarette one final puff and tossed it into the grass. "Shera and the launch crew are prepared."

They began to climb the ladder and file into the rocket. The inside of the rocket was exactly like Shinra No. 26. All the same panels, same levers, same everything.

Cid plopped down in the pilot’s seat and put his feet up on the controls. "Well," he said, "I’m finally going back. Now that I’ve been in outer space once, I’m gonna be up there another hundred times."

The countdown timer above the pilot’s seat read "T-minus 15 minutes". Cid was running through most of the security and safety checks from the pilot seat. Mostly everyone was just wandering around the cockpit, except for Aeris, who was overcome with curiosity about the rocket.

"Never been in space before, have you?" Cloud said from behind Aeris. Aeris heard him, but was too busy looking at all the different instruments, panels, and buttons.

"Cid, where did you learn to fly a rocket?" Aeris questioned.

"Pilot school, of course!" Cid replied. "Well, Shinra actually taught me about the rocket. Funny how they taught me most of what I know, and now I’m going to try to destroy them."

"T-MINUS 10 MINUTES AND COUNTING," Shera said loudly over the intercom. Cid gazed out the window and saw technical staff filing in and out of the control bunker. The rocket’s engines were beginning to warm up. With a slight shudder, the engines began to get hot.

"Excited?" Cloud asked Aeris, who this time paid him full attention.

"Oh, yes," she replied. "I’ve never been inside a rocket before. I can’t wait to see the stars, and here the voices of other planets."

"Voices? Oh, yeah…" Cloud said as he wandered back over the to pilot’s seat.

Cid looked like he had about fifty cups of coffee. He was shaking with excitement. Everyone couple seconds, he would look back up at the countdown timer. He had gone through almost a whole box of cigarettes in the ten minutes they had been waiting the in cockpit.

"T-MINUS TWO MINUTES AND COUNTING!" Shera called loudly again. Cid almost leaped out of his chair when the intercom came on.

With a slow rumble, the engines began to heat up again. This time, though, the rumbling was constant, and seemed to be getting louder.


The Avalanchers began to strap themselves in to their chairs for lift off. Cid fumbled his belt with his shaky hands. There were one seat sort, due the to fact that Aeris was now in the party. Cloud offered her his seat, and she accepted. Cloud grabbed into a safety bar near the entrance to the cockpit and held on tight.


Cid began flipping switches like a madman. The engines suddenly roared to life. The entire rocket began to shake violently and the rumbling was almost deafening now.

"T-MINUS 10…










LIFTOFF! GOOD LUCK, GUYS." With that, the intercom clicked off for the last time.

The rocket’s engines flared to full, and rocket began to rise off the ground. A large cloud of dust was beginning to rise up from the launch pad. With an enthusiastic push, Cid slammed down one last lever. The rocket rose faster and faster.

Cloud peeked out a window and saw Rocket Town growing smaller beneath them. The rocket’s engines were continuing to push the Sky Lighter farther above the planet. The clouds disappeared as the rocket broke through the atmosphere. Then, the sky faded to black, and millions of stars appeared in the view windows.

"Wow," Aeris said, "They’re so beautiful." Everyone else gazed in awe at the millions of stars.

"Cid?" Cloud asked, "How long will this trip take?"

"About twenty hours," he replied, "That space station is a about one hundred thousand miles away, ya know. We’ll be making good time, actually. I recommend everyone get some sleep."

"I agree," Cloud said, "Everyone should get some rest. We just fought a huge battle, and I’m sure all of you are exhausted."

They mumbled their agreements. Barret was silent. When Cloud walked over to him, he saw that Barret was already asleep in his chair. Cloud settled down near a wall, and drifted off to sleep. The final mission had begun.


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