Bizarre Occurances Chapter 8
By Dino Pollard
Tifa clung tightly to Cloud as he tried to manuever down the mountain. It
was no easy task. But at least they didnt have to snowboard downhill.
Unfortunately, Aeris was riding with him. Sephiroth. Cloud gritted his teeth
as he thought of that... thing. Despite everything that monster did to redeem
himself, it would mean nothing to Cloud. To him, Sephiroth was less than
human. He didnt even deserve to live.
Youre thinking about him, arent you? Tifa asked. For obvious reasons, she avoided saying the name Sephiroth.
Yes, Cloud replied stiffly.
Cloud, I know you dont trust him, she began. And neither do I. Especially after all he took from us. But does that mean he doesnt deserve a chance at some type of redemption?
Are you crazy?!? Cloud snapped. Hes not even human!! No human could have killed so many people in cold blood... and ENJOY it!!
Calm down, Tifa responded. I know you want him dead. But killing him wont bring back Nibelheim. It wont bring back your mother. Or my father.
Tifa, you know the others feel the same way, Cloud said. We all want him dead.
Not everyone does, Cloud, she replied. Aeris is willing to give him a chance. So is Shen. And Red.
Its different. he said. Sephiroth didnt ruin their lives.
No, she replied. And he didnt ruin ours.
What do you mean?
Sephiroth was horribly wronged by the Shin-Ra, just as all of us were. You cant blame him for a bad childhood.
You--youre right, he replied. If I want revenge on anyone, it should be the Shin-Ra. Ill try to accept him as an equal member of the team. Its just that whenever I see his face, I see my mother dying, I see the flames, I see you in pain. And sometimes, I just cant take it.
I know, I know, She held him tighter as he neared the bottom of the mountain.
Damn, this rules, Striker said.
Damn straight, kid, Cid replied as he sped up the snowmobile.
Guess you really CAN drive anything, eh?
You bet yer ass I can.
I cant believe this is actually happening.
Im gonna help save the Planet. Something I never dreamed I would do. If only Zack were here...
Yeah, what about that Zack guy? Cid asked. Yer always talking about him.
Zack and I were best friends. We grew up together in Gongaga. We were inseperable. Then, we left our hometown for Midgar, with dreams of joining SOLDIER. And we did. Towards the end of the war, we made it up to First Class.
So, what happened?
Once we made First Class, things started to fall apart. I realized that the Shin-Ra truly were evil. I told Zack I was going to quit and that I wanted him to come with me, but he refused. He told me I was being an idiot. Besides, he had finally achieved his dream. He was to work side-by-side with The Great Sephiroth. So we parted ways, with bitter feelings between us. And thats something I currently regret to this day.
Shit. Cid replied, grabbing a cigarette from his pack. You smoke?
Yeah, sure. Striker said. Cid grabbed another cigarette and put it in his mouth. He lit them both carefully and handed one to Striker.
How the hell can you do that while steering this thing? Striker asked, taking a drag.
Pure talent, Cid replied. Looks like this little rides just about over.
Red clung to the seat with his claws digging into the cushion.
Are you alright back there? Vincent asked.
Yes, Im fine, Red replied. How much longer will it be until we reach the base of the cliffs?
Another few minutes I think.
Good, Red breathed a sigh of relief. Its growing difficult to cling to this seat. Ive almost completly shredded it.
Do you believe Sephiroth is making any progress?
Yes. Vincent replied. I think it was seeing his mother again that caused him to try and change.
Thats good, Red said. He also seems to have forged a friendship with Aeris. The two have so much in common, and they have both lost so much.
Perhaps he has, Vincent replied. It is good to see him trying.
Barret grumbled again as he steered the snowmobile with his one hand.
HEY!!! Yuffie exclaimed. I SAID SLOW DOWN, YA BIG JERK!!
Shuup!! Barret ordered. Who tha hell do you think you are?
SLOW DOWN!!!! she repeated. Oh God, I think Im gonna barf.....
Jus remember ta turn yer head to da sid--
WOOO-HOOO!!!! Rudy shouted as he manuevered the snowmobile effortlessly. How ya doing back there, cat?!?
Fine and dandy, Cait replied. Hey, this is kinda fun!! I wonder how my mog is doing... He looked behind the snowmobile to see the giant stuffed mog being dragged through the snow by a cable. Hey mog, you OK back there?
The mog made no response.
Fine, dont talk to me.
Rudy rolled his eyes. You dont actually believe that mog is ALIVE, do you?!?
Who said he wasnt alive?
Here I thought it was all an act.
An act?!? Cait asked, surprised. Rudy shook his head and slowed down as they reached the base.
Shen smiled. He could here the little conversations taking place with the other members. However, Sephiroth and Aeris seemed to have been sitting in complete silence. He thought that was sad. They were both so much alike, yet so different. Then, he thought about his teammate. Ray also intrusted Shen with the information that he had strong feelings for Aeris.
Ray, are you alright?
Yeah, Im fine.
Youre thinking about Aeris, correct?
How did you become so smart??
He grinned. Just lucky, I guess.
Yeah, I am thinking about her, Ray confessed. Shes unlike any girl Ive ever met before. And I know shes too old for me. But somehow, I dont care.
Have faith, my friend. Shen replied. Have faith.
Sephiroth made no comments during the trek down the mountains. Then they passed over a bump. Aeris clinged tightly to him. He flinched slightly and she relaxed.
Dont worry, he said. The mountain is not that steep. You wont fall to your death.
She smiled. Thanks. I needed to hear that.
So what do you think were going to find at the Promised Land? she asked.
I mean besides that.
It will be pulsing with the Lifestream. The wisdom and knowledge of the Cetra will be there as well. Perhaps WEAPON too.
WEAPON, you mean from my fathers tapes? He nodded.
The rest of the team is already down there. Sephiroth said as he sped up the snowmobile. Brace yourself.
Well, here we are, Striker said, finishing off the cigarette Cid gave him. So now what?
We climb. Shen replied.
Damn man, Barret broke in. Dats a long way up.
And a long way down. Red observed.
Do NOT make jokes like that!!! Yuffie protested.
Shuup!! Barret scolded her. Bad enough ya trew up on me.
I said I was sorry!!! Yuffie replied.
Enough fighting you two, Cloud ordered. Lets get moving.
Yes, DAD, Yuffie responded. Cloud glared at her then began to climb up.
You guys coming? he asked. The rest of the team responded by beginning to make their way up the Gaea Cliffs.
Shin-Ras long-range airship flew over Icicle Inn and proceded to head to the Northern Crater. While Rufus, Scarlet and Hojo were in the ships cockpit, the Turks were all gathered in the Operations Room.
Why the hell does Rufus want us on this mission? Reno asked.
Because the main SOLDIER unit hasnt been assembled yet, and MPs just arent strong enough. Tseng replied.
But shouldnt we be working on our new assignment? Elena asked.
Yeah, Reno agreed. After all that shit we had to go through with Lanmark and those werewolves, youd think wed get to relax a little.
Were Turks, Reno, Tseng reminded him. We do what our superiors command.
Yeah, yeah. Reno muttered. Hey Elena, what happened in Icicle Inn?
I dont want to talk about it, Reno. she replied.
Lay off, Reno, Tseng ordered.
Sir? one of the crew members said, walking in.
Yes? Tseng replied.
Weve reached the Crater.
Showtime boys and girls, Reno commented.
The climb up the Gaea Cliffs was a few hours long. Cloud began to feel the strain on his body. It was almost too much to handle. He reached his hand up and gripped the edge. Pulling himself up, he saw the most amazing sight in his life. A giant hole in the planet, as if it were struck by some falling meteor. The Lifestream was swirling around it. He looked and saw the others reaching the top. They too were amazed by the sight before them. All except for Sephiroth and Vincent, who showed no emotion at all.
We made it, Aeris said.
Yeah, Cloud replied. And now that were this far, theres no turning back. So lets get a move on.
Cid took a drag on his cigarette before tossing it away. Ya gotta say it like a wimp, dont ya?
Cloud shrugged his shoulders and began to walk down towards the center of the Crater. It was there they found a man in a black cape.
Look!! Tifa said. She ran over to the man.
Its coming....Its coming, he said before his life faded away.
The clones are gathering. Sephiroth observed. There is not much time.
Looks like youve killed yet another man, eh Avalanche?
Who said dat? Barret asked as he loaded his gun-arm.
I did, A young, brunette woman appeared behind them holding two uzis in her hands and wearing an ammo belt. The names Sara Pezzini!!! She began firing round after round at the team.
TAKE COVER!!! Shen ordered. The others instantly responded.
SH--------------IT!!! Cid cursed. He looked to his armlet to see if he had any useful Materia. Fuck, thanks fer giving me all the Independant shit.
Sephiroth stood before Sara, blocking as many bullets as he could with his sword. Sara fired another shot, which was headed straight for Sephiroths head!!
WATCH OUT!!! Barret shouted as he shoved Sephiroth out of harms way. Damn man. Ya gotta be more careful. He loaded another round into his gun-arm.
I need to reach her so I can disarm her, Sephiroth said.
Dont worry, Barret replied. I got yo back. Do what ya gotta do. Sephiroth nodded. He ran towards Sara as Barret unloaded his new round at her. She was too busy dodging Barrets bullets to notice Sephiroth. Once he got close enough, he leaped at her and sliced the gun barrels in two.
Oh shit!! Sara cried and tried to run. But Rudy had some other ideas. He grabbed her before she could go anywhere.
Where are you running off to, good-lookin? he asked.
LET--ME--GO!!! she protested.
Not until you tell us who you are, Cloud ordered.
Fine. Just as long as HE lets go!! she said. Cloud nodded and Rudy released her. She smiled. Thanks for being an idiot. She elbowed Rudy in the stomach, causing him to keel over. She flipped over his sprawled form.
BITCH!! he shouted. He drew his .45s and fired several shots. It was too late for her to dodge. She put her hands up in defense for some reason. Some type of....tendril-like gauntlet appeared on her right arm and formed an armor over her body!!
What... the... fuck?!? Cid asked in surprise.
Huh? Sara asked herself. Then she realized what had happened. She aimed the gauntlet at Avalanche and several tendrils began to shoot from it.
Holy shit!! Striker cursed. What IS that?!?
They appear to be some sort of tendrils, Red answered, running for cover. Apparently, they are a surprise to our assailent as well.
We need to stop her, Aeris said. Maybe we can try talking with her.
Yeah, like THAT will work, Yuffie replied, rolling her eyes.
It worked with me, Sephiroth noted. Yuffie rolled her eyes again.
Its worth a shot. Red said.
COME ON OUT!!! Sara ordered. I expected the high and mighty Avalanche to be more of a
You want Avalanche? Cloud asked. He stood up. Im here.
Now I can avenge the death of my family!! Sara said as she prepared to kill Cloud.
Your family? Aeris asked, standing beside Cloud. What do you mean?
My father worked at the No. 7 Mako Reactor in Midgar, Sara began. I followed in his footsteps. Then, one day, the Reactor began to collapse. Somehow, I survived and woke up in my apartment in Sector 8. I dont know how, though. When I turned on the news, I found out that Avalanche destroyed the piller, causing the plate to collapse. You killed my family!!
That wasnt us, Tifa said. The Shin-Ra destroyed the piller. You should be hunting THEM down!!
Dats right!! Barret added. Its never been nobody but da damn Shin-Ra!!
The Shin-Ra have destroyed our lives, Shen said. And it looks like theyve destroyed yours as well.
You mean, Ive come all the way here for NOTHING?!? Sara asked. But what about my family?
Nothing we can do about that, Cait Sith said. Hey, howzabout joining us? Were going after the Shin-Ra too, right Cloud? Cloud nodded.
Join Avalanche? Sara asked. And going up against the Shin-Ra? OK. Ill do it.
One question, Red began. How did you command those tendrils?
I have no idea, Sara asked. It just....happened. And I think I understand how it works.
This is it, Rufus said, in the airships cockpit. The Promised Land.
Kya ha ha!! Scarlet laughed. A land full of Mako!!
Fools, Hojo said to himself. The Promised Land doesnt exist. It is an old wives tale. But, the Reunion will be taking place here. I wonder if we will see Sephiroth?? I am anxious to see the results of my experiment, thirty years in the making.
What was that, Hojo? Rufus asked.
Hojo made no reply. Tseng walked in and shot Hojo a cold glare. Hojo made a light chuckle at the gesture.
Hello Tseng, Rufus said to the Turks leader. Something you need?
The Turks are ready. Tseng replied.
Good, Rufus answered. Avalanche will most likely be here as well.
Elena said she encountered them in Icicle Inn, Tseng said.
Alright then, Rufus replied. I want you four to take a look around. Avalanche will come here soon, or they might already be here.
Yes sir, Tseng replied, turning to the door.
Oh Tseng, one more thing, Rufus called back to him.
Yes sir? Tseng asked.
I know Avalanche saved your life back at the Temple of Ancients, Rufus began. But that doesnt mean you can go easy on them.
Tseng nodded and walked out. Rufus turned back to the large window looking out.
The Promised Land, he repeated. Eat your heart out, old man.
Sephiroth wondered what was going to happen. Would he have the chance to kill his brother? God, he hoped so.
Ummm Cloud? Yuffie asked.
What is it? Cloud replied.
What has eight legs, is dark blue, and RE-HALLY mean-lookin? she asked.
What are you talking about? Cloud asked.
Its the Turks!! Yuffie replied.
Shit, Cid cursed as he readied his spear.
So we meet again, Avalanche, Tseng said. He noticed Vincent. Long time no see... brother.
BROTHER?!? the team said in unison.
Thats right, Vincet said. I am Tsengs older brother.
Elena, Shen said, noticing the newest addition to the Turks. I see you didnt follow my example when I left Shin-Ra.
How da hell do you know her? Barret asked.
I used to train MPs and SOLDIER Officers, Shen replied. Elena was my last student before I left.
I dont want to kill you Vincent, Tseng began. But we have orders to stop you at any cost.
Barret aimed his gun-arm at the Turks. We done dis dance too often!!
Guess Im just gonna hafta keep trying until I get it right!! Reno replied, drawing his nightstick.
Turks, we have our orders, Tseng began. ATTACK!!!
Cloud leaped at Reno and clashed his sword against the mans nightstick.
That new nightstick is pretty strong, Cloud noted. Much better than your first one that I cut in two.
With an added feature, Reno replied. He hit a small switch on it and it extended into a full-length battle-staff!!
Rudy fired several shots at Rude, who returned fire with his own gun.
You Shin-Ra people make me sick!! Rudy cursed.
Vincent and Tseng continued to fire shots back and forth, to no avail.
This is useless!! Vincent said. Were too evenly matched.
Thats what comes from being trained by our father, Tseng replied.
Only one way to settle this, Vincent began.
He stopped shooting, as did Tseng. The two let their guns fall to the ground. They stared at each other, and then began to exchange blows. Two brothers. Constantly fighting. Their parents would turn over in their graves had they known. Suddenly, their came a rumbling. The two stopped fighting, as did the others. They all looked towards the source, and then, they saw it. The clones all heading up, to a man with flowing, silver hair, a black cloak, and a massive sword in his hands.
Oh shit, Cid cursed.
Bizarro-Sephiroth, Red said.
As the clones approached Bizarro-Sephiroth, he killed them, one by one.
NO MORE!! Sephiroth shouted. He ran to his cursed brother, his sword prepared to strike. THIS IS THE END!!!
Bizarro-Sephiroth looked at his brother. Youre right, he agreed. This is the end of this bodys usefulness. With that, he vanished just as Sephiroths sword struck the ground where his accursed brother had just been. There was an unearthly scream.
Jenova.... Sephiroth cursed. Where Bizarro-Sephiroth was, there was now a giant creature standing in his stead. Jenova-DEATH had arrived.
You pathetic fools!! Jenova shouted. You are too late!!
I know were enemies and all, Cloud began. But...
...we need to team up, Tseng finished. Even if it is just this once.
So what are we waiting for? Cid asked. Lets put this bitch on ice!!!
My thoughts exactly!! Cait replied. He took out a red Materia orb. DIAMOND DUST!!! As he shouted the spell, the summon monster known as Shiva appeared before them. She fired a beam of ice at Jenova-DEATH.
Is that the BEST you can do?!? Jenova taunted.
Not by half, monster!! Sephiroth shouted. He leaped at her and went into a violent rage, slashing all parts of her body.
TURKS!!! MAKO GUNS!!! Tseng ordered. On his command, the other three drew their Mako Guns. Hold your fire, charge them up. On my mark-----NOW!!!! They all pulled the triggers and streams of Mako erupted forth from the weapons powered by Materia. Jenova cried out in pain.
Reno took a small device from his coat and attached it to the tip of his nightstick. Turk Light!! he shouted as a stream of fire erupted from the device.
Vincent holstered his gun. He felt the rage building up inside of him. Tseng looked at his brother only to see him transform into the large, purple winged demon. RRRRARGH!!!!! he roared.
Vincent...? Tseng looked at his brother with amazement.
Vincent is no more, the creature replied in a deep voice. Now, there is only CHAOS!!!!
I see now... Jenova said. You have given in to the darkness, Valentine.
GO TO HELL!!!! Chaos shouted. He raised his hand to the sky. A large sword of fire appeared in his hand. He shoved it into Jenova-DEATH.
AIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! it screamed in pain. We....will meet...agai-- With that, the creature fell limp and vanished in a brilliant flash of light. The saber vanished and Chaos began to shrink back into Vincent.
I dont doubt it, he replied.
Look, Sephiroth said. He pointed to a small, black orb which fell to the ground.
The Black Materia!! Aeris cried. She ran and picked it up. She then gave it to Cloud.
As long as we have this, Bizarro-Sephiroth cant summon Meteor, Cloud said. He looked at Sephiroth, then back to the Materia. But I cant be trusted with it.
We need to split up, Tseng said. Half of us will attack Bizarro-Sephiroth, the other half will stay back with the Black Materia.
Its a good plan, Shen agreed. Cloud, you pick the teams and leave the Black Materia with one of us.
OK, Cloud began. Tifa, Aeris, Striker, Rudy, Vincent, Sephiroth, Tseng and Elena will come with me. The rest will stay with Shen. Here. He tossed the Black Materia to Shen.
Good luck, he said as he caught the Materia. Youll need it.
Cloud knew he probably should have left Tifa and Aeris with Shens team. But he wanted to keep them close by so he could protect them if need be. He had Tseng, Elena and Rudy with him so he could keep a close eye on them. Even though Rudy could be trusted, he still didnt know much about him. Striker and Vincent were asked to come along because they were both skilled fighters and would be valuble to his team. He also trusted them more than the two Turks. And Sephiroth. Well, he couldnt trust Sephiroth to be with the team holding the Black Materia.
Careful, Tseng warned, stopping dead in his tracks. Look. Up ahead, winds were constantly blowing, only to calm for a few short seconds before starting up again. And every so often, lighting struck.
OK, if we just wait until right before the wind dies down, then make a run for it, we should be fine, Cloud said. Ill go first. The winds began to slow down, at that point he ran through it. Success!! He motioned for the others to come. One by one, they made it across. Sephiroth came next. Cloud half hoped that he would be blown away, or struck by the lightning. But, Sephiroth made it across as well. Only Tseng and Aeris were left now.
Come on, sir, Elena told Tseng.
Go Aeris, Tseng ordered.
R-right, Aeris replied. The winds slowed and she made a run for it. However, by the time she got to the barrier, the winds started up again. She was blown right off her feet!!
AERIS!!! Cloud cried out. He tried to reach out and grab her, but to no avail. Getting closer to the edge, he found himself pulled back by Tifa.
CLOUD NO!!!! she ordered. If youre not careful, youll be blown away as well!!
Aeris held on to the side of the cliff as the winds came even faster. She looked down. The Lifestream was right below her. There was no way she could survive if she fell into it. She tried pulling herself up, but with no luck. Then, she lost her grip.
Sephiroth watched as Aeris was blown from her feet. The winds picked up faster. He watched as her slender fingers lost their hold. There was only one chance. Fearlessly, or perhaps foolishly, he leapt from his spot into the winds, grabbing hold of Aeris hand. Reaching into his cloak, he pulled out a small grappling hook that they used for climbing the Gaea Cliffs. However, he wasnt sure how effective the throw could be in this wind. The Lifestream was growing closer. He threw it at the ledge the others stood at. Aeris held tightly to Sephiroth as one of her Materia orbs fell into the green liquid below them. The hook found its mark. She shut her eyes, beads of sweat running down her forehead from the fear that had overcome her. Sephiroth began to pull them up, slowly so the winds would hopefully calm down by the time they reached the top. Aeris life flashed before her eyes, images of Ifalna, of Elmyra, of Gast. Sephiroth manuevered himself so that Aeris was hanging from him as he reached up, hand by hand. She saw images of Zack. Of Cloud. Of Sephiroth. Sephiroth? But how? Why? He reached a gloved hand up and gripped the solid ground. Two arms lifted her off Sephiroths back. She opened her eyes and found herself staring into Tsengs eyes.
You OK? he asked. Aeris nodded. She turned to see Sephiroth pulling himself up.
Be careful next time, Sephiroth warned her. This time, you cross with me.
O--OK, she replied.
Alright, you two go ahead and Ill be right behind you, Tseng said. The winds died down again, and Sephiroth pulled Aeris with him as he crossed. Success. Tseng followed.
Aeris!! Cloud ran up to her and threw his arms around her. Are you OK?
Yeah, Cloud, Aeris replied, hugging him back. Im fine. Thanks to Sephiroth.
Guess thats two you owe him, eh Cloud? Striker commented.
Shut up, Cloud ordered, releasing Aeris. Lets continue on.
As they walked ahead, there was a brilliant flash of light and suddenly, everything went dark.
Cid took another drag on his cigarette before flicking it away.
We gotta get this over with soon, he cursed. Im almost out.
You DO realize how unhealthy those things are, correct? Red asked.
Aw go fuck yourself, Cid replied. Yuffie snickered. He shot her a glare. What the hell are YOU laughing about, pint-size?
HEY!!! she protested. I am NOT pint-sized!!! Im 52!!!
Thats pint-sized in my book, Cid replied.
Will you all calm down, Shen ordered. I dont like this situation anymore than you do. But this is the best solution.
So while Tseng and Elena get to have all the fun, were stuck here with our thumbs up our asses, Reno said. What do you think Rude?
Hes a silent one, Sara commented.
Been like that ever since Ive known him, Reno replied.
Do-do-do-do-do-do, Cait hummed.
Shut up!! Sara ordered. Stupid cat. She sat down on a large rock,
Aww, come on beautiful, Cait replied, falling back in her lap. Im cuddly and loveable!! AND Ive been safety-tested!!! Sara giggled a little. A-HA!!! I made you laugh!!
Stupid cat!! she repeated, breaking out into laughter. Reno looked over to Sara and Cait laughing it up as if they were old friends or something. He walked over to them.
Hey blue-eyes, he said to Sara. How would you like to hold my nightstick?
Get away from me!! she ordered. Shin-Ra scum!!
Your loss, babe, he said, walking away.
I dont know bout da rest o you, Barret began, loading his gun-arm. But Im ready ta kick some ass!!
Same here, Ray agreed, sheathing his Star Sword.
Stay calm and alert, people, Shen ordered. He examined the Black Materia then put it in his armlet. Suddenly, an immense fog appeared out of nowhere!! Then, all went black.
What the-- Shen began. He then heard a faint noise. As it grew louder, he found out someone was calling his name. He looked to see Tifa running up to him.
Shen Long!! she called.
Tifa, whats wrong? Shen asked.
Clouds up there. So is everyone!! she said. He needs our help!!
Im on my way!! he replied, running ahead.
Hee hee hee, she giggled as he ran off. And dont forget--- Tifa began to transform. Her brown hair changed to silver. Her hazlenut eyes became emerald green and her body and costume changed to that of a well-built man. Her facial features changed to that of...Bizarro-Sephiroth!! ---The Black Materia!!! He then vanished with the fog as the other members of Avalanche and the Turks got to their feet.
Could somebody PLEASE tell me what just happened? Ray asked.
The darkness faded into an image--no, a place. It looked like--Nibelheim?
What is this? Striker asked.
Nibelheim, Cloud replied. This is one of Bizarro-Sephiroths illusions.
Why would he sink this low...? Tifa asked herself.
What are you worried about, Tifa? Cloud asked. As long as we know its an illusion, theres nothing to worry about, right?
I guess... Tifa replied.
Good, Cloud said. Then lets try to find a way out of this.
Cloud, look!! Aeris said, pointing to four approaching figures. As the first figure came into view, they all moved to the sides. The figure was... Sephiroth!!
Alright, lets go, The illusionary-Sephiroth ordered. The two MPs came next. Rudy stared at one who was obviously an illusion of himself. Behind the MPs came a man wearing Clouds uniform, with Clouds sword sheathed on his back. Except he had black hair.
ZACK!!! Striker cried out. He ran up to the illusion.
Striker, no!! Vincent called to him.
Zack, Im sorry about what happened!! Striker said as he approached the illusion, ignoring Vincent. He ran right through Zack!!! Wha--?
Its an illusion, Sephiroth told him. None of this is real.
Wait a minute... Aeris began. If Zack is here, then wheres Cloud?
This is so ridiculous, Cloud commented. There was another flash of light. Now, the team could only see the town in flames.
Oh God, no, Tifa said.
Its OK Tifa, Cloud replied. This is all in our minds. As long as we know its an illusion, then nothing will happen.
All this while I was sleeping? Vincent asked.
Now what? Tseng asked.
At this point, I came out of the mansion to find the town ablaze, Cloud said. But I have a feeling that it wont be me who comes out of the Shin-Ra Mansion. As if Cloud was telling the story, Zack ran from the Mansion.
What did I tell you? Cloud asked.
There was another flash of light and the team found themselves amongst the burning homes and buildings.
You OK? Elena asked a man lying beside them. Huh? Its an illusion.
I know what this is, Cloud realized. You want me to say that I wasnt at Nibelheim five years ago, isnt that right monster?!?!
I see you finally understand, Bizarro-Sephiroth said as he appeared.
I understand youre full of shit!! he shouted as Bizarro-Sephiroth approached. This is nothing but an illusionary world that you made up to confuse me!!
No Cloud, Bizarro-Sephiroth corrected. What I show you is the truth. What you remember, THAT is the illusion.
WRONG!! Cloud spat. Tifa was at Nibelheim!! So was Sephiroth!! And Rudy!!
Let us ask each of them, shall we? Bizarro-Sephiroth began. He turned to Rudy. Was it Cloud who was at Nibelheim with you?
I--cant remember much about Nibelheim, Rudy replied. But I do remember Cloud from somewhere!! Although... Ive also seen that black-haired guy too.
Ahh, Bizarro-Sephiroth commented. A man who has little to no memory. What of you, brother?
Stop this, Sephiroth ordered. Or I kill you now!!
We cannot trust on the clone, he continued. What about you, Tifa?
N-no!! Tifa shouted.
So many frail emotions you humans posses, Bizarro-Sephiroth said. He looked to Cloud. Hojo would die if he knew!!
Hojo? Cloud asked. What does he have to do with me?
Five years ago you were constructed piece-by-piece by Hojo, Bizarro-Sephiroth revealed. An incomplete Sephiroth-clone. Not even issued a number. You are quite simply a failure.
Cloud....? Aeris asked as she looked at him.
Cloud!! Tifa ordered. Dont listen!! Shut your eyes!! Shut your ears!!
What are you so worried about Tifa? Cloud asked. His lies have no effect on me.
All that bullshit about Hojo creating you is fake!! Tifa shouted. Dont we have our childhood memories of talking and starlit nights?
HA HA HA!! Bizarro-Sephiroth laughed. Tifa, why are you so troubled by those words?
Tifa, is what he says... true? Cloud asked. Am I really a Sephiroth-clone?
I-I-- Tifa began to stutter.
HA HA HA!! Bizarro-Sephiroth laughed again. Cloud, dont be mad at Tifa!! The ability to change ones appearence, thoughts and memories is the power of Jenova. Inside you, Jenova melded with Tifas memories, creating you. A boy named Cloud might just have been a figment of Tifas imagination. Do you remember the picture we took before heading tio Mt. Nibel? Tifa, you remember. But theres no way he could know about it!! Would you like to see it? It turned out pretty good.
Cloud... Tifa began.
I... should be in the picture, Cloud said. But if Im not, we shouldnt worry. This is just some illusionary world he made up. Cloud walked over to Bizarro-Sephiroth and looked at the picture. Tifa and Sephiroth were in it. But Zack was in Clouds place. What did I tell you?
Cloud... what he says... Sephiroth began.
Shut up, Cloud cursed. I dont want to hear your lies as well!! Why are you doing this?!?
To bring you to your true self, Bizarro-Sephiroth said. The one who gave me the Black Materia that day. You see Cloud, everything is directly related to the truth I have just told you. Handing over the Black Materia, attempting to kill Aeris, all of it.
Cloud... I... Tifa began. Cloud raised his hand to silence her.
No, Tifa, he said. Before you even begin.
There was another flash of light and the last sound the team heard was Bizarro-Sephiroths laughter.
Cloud...? Tifa asked.
Its okay, Tifa, Cloud replied. Im... fine...
Rufus looked around.
Look, he said. The ceiling is Materia, and the walls are Mako. This truly IS the Promised Land!!
Kya ha ha!! Scarlet laughed, coming up beside Rufus. Its incredible. Think of what we can do here!!
The Promised Land is an old wives tale, Hojo broke in.
Beautiful, simply beautiful, Rufus said. He turned to Hojo. Its that kind of dullness that makes you a second-rate scientist.
A rumbling, almost like a roar, was heard.
What was that? Rufus asked.
WEAPON, Hojo replied. As cited in Professor Gasts report. I didnt think it existed.
I never saw that report, Rufus said. Where is it?
Right here, Hojo replied, pulling out a compact disc. I transferred the original report to this disc.
You keep a lot of things to yourself, Rufus noted. Were going to have a talk about that.
There was a flash of light. When all returned to normal, Clouds team appeared.
Where did you all come from? Rufus asked.
Dunno, Cloud replied, his head hanging.
Tseng? Elena? Rufus asked, seeing the two Turks. What are you doing with part of Avalanche? And where are Reno and Rude?
We engaged Avalanche in battle, sir, Tseng began. But some creature appeared and we realized the only way to defeat it was to join forces. Reno and Rude are with the rest of Avalanche guarding the Black Materia.
CLOUD!! Shen shouted, running up to him. Are you alright?
Yes... Shen Long. Thanks, Cloud began.
Are you sure youre alright? Shen asked, looking at Cloud curiously.
CLOUD!! Tifa tried to shout.
Im fine, he replied. Wheres the Black Materia?
Right here, Shen replied.
Give me... the Black Materia, Cloud ordered.
Umm, sure, Shen replied. He removed the black orb from his armlet and gave it to Cloud. I was getting a little worried watching it.
Cant you hear me?!? Tifa tried again.
Thanks, and Im sorry everybody, Cloud apologized. Sorry. Especially you, Tifa. Youve been so good to me. Im sorry I didnt live up to being Cloud.
No... Tifa began.
This is perfect!! Hojo cheered. It means my experiment was a complete success!! What number are yo---wait a minute!!! Wheres your tattoo?!?
Professor Hojo, you never gave me a number, Cloud began. You said I was a failure.
A failure?!? Hojo asked, surprised. Only a FAILURE made it this far?!?!?
Professor Hojo, please give me a number, Cloud pleaded.
SHUT UP!! Hojo spat. Miserable failure!!
Tifa, Cloud continued with a heavy heart. I hope one day you meet the real Cloud. With that, Cloud vanished!!
Who was that? Rufus asked.
A Sephiroth-clone I created five years ago after the real Sephiroth died, Hojo replied. Im not wild about the failure part, but it proves my experiment was a complete success.
Shut up!! Sephiroth spat.
There is another clone right now, Hojo said, motioning to Sephiroth.
I am the real Sephiroth, you fool!! Sephiroth replied. I am your true son!! Although it is a title I wish I didnt carry!!
Your son? Rufus asked. When we get out of here, youre telling me everything.
Hmph, Hojo said. I figured the clones would all gather at Midgar, where Jenova was. But then Jenova was moved by Sephiroth. Sephiroth has found a way to control the clones. That is what I didnt expect.
I wasnt pursuing Sephiroth, Cloud thought from above all the others. I was being SUMMONED by him!! Come Bizarro-Sephiroth!! Show yourself!!!
There was the sound of branches breakings as the area Cloud was on fell. He found himself staring right at Bizarro-Sephiroth, asleep in an amber-like shell.
Hey, we finally got here!! Barret shouted as he ran up to the group, the other members close behind him. Oh shit. Please dont tell me he has da Black Materia.
OK, I wont, Yuffie replied.
Mua ha ha!! Hojo cackled. Do you know what this means??
What are you laughing about, Professor? Tifa asked. Cloud has the Black Materia!! And hes going to give it to Bizarro-Sephiroth!!
That means hell have the power to summon Meteor!! Aeris continued.
I dont know about any of that, but this place isnt safe anymore, Rufus said. I want you all to come with. Theres a LOT we need to talk about.
Rufus ran towards the Highwind, the others right behind him.
Cloud looked at Bizarro-Sephiroth, then to the black orb in his hand. He inserted his hand into the shell and let the Black Materia go as he pulled his hand out. The Materia seemed to melt and become one with Bizarro-Sephiroth.
Forgive me, Cloud said.
The end has begun.
The airship flew from the crater. Avalanche were all on the deck looking back, hoping that Cloud would somehow come out. But instead, there was just a burst as Lifestream jutted forth from the Crater. But there was more. Some type of robotic-looking creatures were coming out of the Crater as well. One of them hit the airship, causing Tifa to fall and hit her head on the railing. She fell unconcious. The others could do nothing but watch as the creatures flew away to different locations. The WEAPONS have been released.
Guess thats all, Shen said. We told Rufus the story like he asked.
Wheres Cait Sith? Aeris asked.
Hes a Shin-Ra employee, remember? Yuffie replied. Probably takin a snooze right now.
So now what? Cid asked.
Its obvious, Red began. Avalanche has grown too large. Sara is living proof that the Shin-Ra can make our lives a lot more difficult.
So what do we do bout dat? Barret asked. He held the unconcious Tifa in his arms.
We split up, Red answered.
Avalanche still needs a significant number, Shen continued. A smaller team will draw the Shin-Ras attention while the other seeks out Bizarro-Sephiroth.
Correct, Red answered.
Ill lead this team, Shen replied.
Im with Shen, Sara said. I want Shin-Ra blood after what they did to me.
Same with me, Ray said.
Count me in, too, Rudy said.
I need to find out if Zack is still alive, Striker began. And the Shin-Ra might have him as a prisoner.
So thats it then, Shen said. The five of us will have the force of a tsunami against the Shin-Ra.
Tsunami, Striker said. I like it. Call us Tsunami!!
Quiet, Vincent ordered as footsteps approached. Tseng opened the door.
I must apologize, Tseng began. Even though you helped us back at the Crater, Rufus says you are to be imprisoned in Junon.
And youre going to do exactly as they tell you, just like a good little lapdog, Vincent said. Arent you?
Im not the one who stood idly by as the love of his life was injected with Jenova cells, Tseng spat.
Dont go there, Vincent cursed. He took a menacing step towards his brother, but Sephiroth stopped him.
Let it go, he said. Hes not worth it.
We dont have much choice, do we? Sara asked.
No, Tseng replied. We can only fit eight people in once cell. Five of you will need a seperate one. You can choose your cell mates before we land at Junon. Then I will send an attack squad to cuff you. He walked out the door.
Works out perfectly, Rudy said. Well go to one cell, you guys go to another.
We will work on escaping when we arrive at our cells, Red said. But right now, Avalanche needs a replacement leader.
How about Sephiroth? Aeris asked. Sephiroth looked at her oddly.
He DOES have experiance as the former General of SOLDIER... Red began. What does everyone else think?
No one is more qualified, Vincent said.
Or more insane, Yuffie muttered.
Then its settled, Red said. Sephiroth is our current leader.
Sephiroth looked at his new charges. Then he looked back to the ground. It would be an interesting experiance.
AUTHORS NOTE: Finally done. This is the longest chapter so far because it was a 2 hour cross-over sim (that I lost the chat log for. A reminder to ALWAYS back-up logs). So most of it was done from memory alongwith the Final Fantasy VII Strategy Guide for extra references. And now Avalanche is down to nine members, which is MUCH more easier to write than 15. But unless demand increases, there wont be an Tsunami stories. Or Turks. As for Strike Force, the mercenary sim we run, thats up to the host. SOLDIER may be done as well. But right now Im more concerned with Avalanche and their adventures. Hope you enjoyed The Crater and the little revelation that Vincent and Tseng are brothers. Anyhoo, hopefully by the time you read this, Chapter 9: The Execution will be up. See ya then!! Until that time, keep guessing on whats gonna happen next!!
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