Hel & Back Chapter 2
By Dino Pollard
Cloud, you didnt have to do this, Tifa said, wiping her mouth with the napkin.
I thought dinner at a fancy restaurant would be a good way to celebrate the anniversary of when we became a couple, he replied.
It is, she said. But this is too much. This place must cost a fortune.
Nothings too good for you, Tifa, he said, taking her hands in his.
Tifa simply grinned shyly.
I have something for you, he said, reaching into the pocket of his suit.
No Cloud, she protested. This evening has already been too much. Whatever you got, just return it. You cant just throw gil away like youve been doing tonight.
Im afraid I cant return this, he said. He removed a small, burgandy box from his jacket. He stood and kneeled in front of her, opening it in front of her face. Inside there was a gold ring with a diamond on the top.
Will you marry me?
The morning sun shone through the balcony window of Aeris bedroom. Shining on her face, she grinned as her eyes flickered open.
Throwing the covers off her, she put on her robe and walked out the door adjoining to the living room.
No answer. The bed was folded back into the couch, and the blankets were neatly folded. A pot of coffee was already made in the kitchen. She grinned.
I could get used to this, she said, walking into the kitchen. As she poured herself a cup of coffee, she looked around to see if Sephiroth left a note.
Why did he have to do that? Its bad enough he wasnt even willing to talk to her, or look her in the eye. Now, he had to go run out on her. Things like this infuriated her. But at the same time, she felt his air of mystery oddly attracting.
Cid Highwind shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He took out a cigarette and lit it.
Excuse me, Mr. Highwind, the receptionist began. But this is a no smoking room.
Cid opened his mouth to speak, but was quickly silenced.
Cid, behave yourself, Shera ordered.
Cid muttered a curse under his breath and put the cigarette out.
Why the fuck do we gotta be here, anyway? he asked. Im needed back in Rocket Town. The new rocket is nearing completion, an I still need to make some last minute adjustments to the Highwind.
Reeve wants to talk to us about the aviation departments budget, Shera replied. Besides, its not as if the Highwind is a necessity right now. There havent been any world-threatening disasters since you all destroyed Meteor. And that was five years ago. I dont think you need to worry about anything.
Awright, he said, through gritted teeth. But why do I gotta wear this damn monkey suit?
Because you look more sophisticated in a business suit than in your usual, ratty clothes.
What the hell do ya mean, ratty?! Cid exclaimed. Theres not a damn thing wrong with my usual clothes!!
Shera let a giggle slip from her lips.
Calm down, Cid, she said. With the rocket nearing completion, Reeve probably wants to talk to us about further space exploration. That, and maybe the inclusion of larger airports. Right now, the largest airport is in Junon, and thats mainly because the Air Force is based there. The rest of the cities have small airfields.
President Reeve will see you, now, the receptionist said. Cid and Shera stood from their seats, walking up the stairs leading to Reeves office.
The robotic constructs were merciless. And the sorcerer known as Knolan wouldnt have it any other way. It was childs play to simply cast easy Bolt spells on the robots. But his magical abilities had grown somewhat rusty over the years. Ever since he used the Ultimate Summon against Seraph, his powers werent up to full strength. This must have been one of the risks that the ancient scriptures spoke of. Even so, he needed to be up to full strength. Otherwise, he was useless. Useless to what, though? Meteor was destroyed, Shin-Ra was abolished, and Seraph and Hojo were both dead. It was a golden age. It wasnt as if he would need his powers.
But he couldnt shake the feeling that something still wasnt right. As if the end was still near. So, he continued to train. Continued to hone his powers.
He lifted his staff up, the top glowing with energy. Suddenly, an enormous flood rose up from behind the robots, engulfing them. He combined it with a lightning spell which caused the water to run with dangerous, electric currents.
Once it was over with, he smiled in spite of himself.
Notnot bad fr an old-timer, he said, panting. I still got it.
The robots slowly began to rise up again. Knolans eyes grew wide with terror.
Oh shit he said. He was severely weakened, now. Not even strong enough to cast a simple protection spell, or conjure a cloud for him to fly back to the Presidential Palace on.
Suddenly, the robots began to combust. Knolan looked behind him to see a towering war golem.
What took ya so long, rust-bucket? Knolan asked.
Calibretto would frown if he could.
Elena looked uncomfortably at her three teammatesTseng, Reno, and Rude. They were summoned here for a special assignment. But the more she discovered, the less she liked it. She hurried up to come up beside Tseng.
What do you think this is all about? she asked, in a low whisper.
Im not sure, Tseng replied, also whispering. But were about to find out.
He looked at the man who was leading them through. He was dressed all in black, complete with a trench coat. There was a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and his face was unshaven.
Excuse me . Frost was it?
Why are we being called? Tseng asked.
Right here, Frost said, stopping before two large, metal doors. Behind these doors, youll find your answers.
He walked over to a panel beside the wall and put his hand on it. There was an electronic whir as a small light changed from red to green. The doors then slid open with a hiss.
Go on, he said. Theyre waiting for you.
Elena was about to ask who was waiting, but stopped herself. The doors slid shut once they entered. The room was nearly pitch-black, with the exception of three ceiling lights, barely illuminating three figures sitting high above them.
You three are the Tactical Unison Recon Killers, otherwise known as Turks. Correct?
Yes, Tseng replied. I
Youre Tseng Valentine, the leader of the Turks. The redheaded young man is Reno. The large black man is Rude. And the blonde woman is Elena.
How did you know that? Reno asked, his nightstick in his hands.
We know more than you could possibly imagine.
We are the Tribunal.
It is us three who control Seido.
Seido is a clandestine organization dedicated to one purpose: the preservation of the planet.
It is our job to see that the cosmic scales stay balanced.
We use all the resources at our disposal to further preserve this uneasy balance. It is no simple task.
We have had connections with some . allies of yours.
Allies? Elena asked. What allies?
Shen Long, Sara Pezzini, Indigo Bleu, Ray Blaze, Striker Kerig, and the creature known as Zyx.
Tsunami? Tseng asked.
But now, Seido needs your assistance, Turks.
Why us? Reno asked. Its not like you guys dont have enough cannon fodder running around this place.
You four posses exceptional skillsfar beyond those of our average agents.
This delicate balance is in danger of being destroyed. We need you to help us insure that the scales stay balanced.
How so? Tseng asked, somewhat skeptical.
Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockheart, Barret Wallace, Aeris Gast, Nanaki also called Red XIII, Yuffie Kisaragi, the robot called Cait Sith, Vincent Valentine, and Sephiroth.
Avalanche? Elena asked. What do they have to do with this?
They posses a threat to the balance.
Although they do not know it yet.
Your task is to stop them. To destroy them. By doing this, you will save the planet.
The Turks looked uneasily at each other. Reno and Rude werent particularly fond of Avalanche. Tseng was a little bit closer to them since the downfall of Shin-Ra. And Elena was somewhat neutral on the subject. Still, Avalanche has fought beside them, and Reeve was kind enough not to have the Turks arrested for the atrocities they committed while they worked for Shin-Ra. They had become uneasy allies. By accepting Seidos offer, they would be betraying that trust.
Cid, Shera, Reeve greeted as they entered. Good to see you guys, again.
There was a man sitting in front of Reeves desk. He stood from his chair and turned to face them.
Sephiroth?! Cid exclaimed. What are you doing here? I thought you became a fucking hermit or some shit.
Sephiroth said nothing, and his demeanor didnt change at all. He was dressed from head to toe in black clothing with his trench coat draped over the back of his chair.
Sephiroth was in town and came by to speak with me this morning, Reeve explained.
About what? Shera asked.
It was concerning my fa Sephiroth stopped himself. Concerning Hojo.
Yeah, but he bit the dust, Cid said.
True, but what about his legacy? Reeve asked. Theres much about Hojo we dont know. And judging from the Shin-Ra Mansion in Nibelheim, its possible that he may have laboratories spanning the globe. Plus, who knows how many confidants he has?
There is one place in the Tower that is inaccessible, Sephiroth explained. Its a sub-basement level.
So ya think that Hojo may have a lab down there? Cid asked.
Right now, anythings possible, Reeve said. When Sephiroth came to talk to me about Hojo, I remembered about that level. I had assumed that it was just a storage area, and it had been locked down after the attack by Diamond WEAPON and Meteor. I was about to send him down there when you two arrived.
I should start heading down the Sephiroth began, but was cut off by a ringing of Reeves phone.
President Reeve, he said as he answered it. Cloud! How have you been? Reconsider my offer to become the General of SOLDIER? Ha ha! Yeah, Im here right now with Cid, Shera, and Sephiroth. Whats that? No . youve gotta be kidding me!! Are you serious? Did you set a date yet? Yeah, Ill be sure to tell them! Okay, Ill see you two soon. Bye.
He hung up the phone and was greeted with curious glances from Cid and Shera.
Well ? Shera asked.
Youre not gonna believe this Reeve said.
Then spit it out!! Cid exclaimed.
Cloud and Tifa are getting married!
Shen Long had been sitting atop the Da-Chao Mountains for some time now. He was locked deep within thought, meditating.
Yuffie thought this was a perfect opportunity.
She had always wanted to use his Eternal Blade. But he would never let her. Now, with him meditating, it would be the perfect chance to grab it and do some training with it.
She slowly sneaked up, so as not to wake him. Gently, her fingers wrapped around the hilt and she began to drag it away. She couldnt believe it!! It was really working!!
Did you expect to catch me unawares? Shen asked, looking at her. He slowly stood from his position and picked up his sword. Im a ninja, Yuffie. And a far more experienced one than you.
Well, why wont you let me use your sword then?
Because you dont need to use it.
Oh, come OOOOON!!!!
The Eternal Blade is not the only sword in Wutai.
Yeah, but its the best one.
You are not prepared for its power.
What power? she asked. The Masamune, now THAT had power!! So did the Ultima Weapon!! This is just a normal sword!!
Child, you have much to le
He stopped himself and darted his head around.
What? Yuffie asked. What happened? Whats wrong?
Aeris nearly had a heart attack when Tifa told her the news of her recent engagement.
Oh my god!! Aeris exclaimed over the phone. I cant believe it!
Neither can I, Tifa replied. It took him five years to finally ask.
Wow Aeris said. Five years. I still cant believe it. Does everyone else know?
Barret and Marlene left North Corel as soon as Cloud told them the news, Tifa replied. They should be here, soon. Weve also told Red, and we left a message with Yuffie. Hopefully, if she gets it, shell shoot her mouth out about it to Shen. We also put in a call to Clouds father and asked him to let Knolan know the news as well. Cloud just got off the phone with Reeve, and it turns out Cid, Shera, and Sephiroth were in his office at the time. Of course, Clouds brother was the first to know about it. We tried getting in touch with the remainder of Tsunami and Strike Force, but with no luck. Tsunamis been disbanded for some time, and Strike Force split up last year. We dont even know where to start with Vincent. And we also havent been able to locate Zack.
You havent ? Aeris asked, a bit surprised.
We left messages with his parents in Gongaga in case they saw him, she continued. But no ones seen him for years.
He told me he was moving to Midgar, so I gave him my address and asked him to look me up, Aeris said. That was over a year ago, and hes never stopped by. What about the Turks?
Yeah right, Tifa said. The last time we invited them to a party, Reno got drunk and tried to hit on Yuffie.
Aeris couldnt help but giggle over the phone.
Anyway, Cloud and I want you all to come over to Costa del Sol this weekend so we can have a little celebration, Tifa said. For old times and to just get together before the big date.
Id love to! Aeris exclaimed. Ill head to Junon and take a boat over to Costa del Sol.
You might not have to Tifa said. Cid and Shera flew into Midgar this morning to meet with Reeve. Cids flying Shera, Reeve, and Sephiroth over to Costa del Sol for the party this weekend. The villa is big enough for all of us.
Sounds great! Aeris said. Ill see you soon, then. And congratulations!
Thanks, Tifa said as they hung up.
Aeris walked into her room to get a bag ready.
Louie, Louie! Oh, oh and away I go now!! Da--da-dadada!! Ah Louie, Louie! Oh no, baby and away I go now!!
Zack couldnt believe he was actually doing this. Cheese is good. Here he was, singing Louie, Louie onstage with three other barflies. Oooh, a shiney quarter!! Damn, why was he so drunk!! He could hardly concentrate on--hey, isnt that big white blur Cait Sith? No, just the love tester. Oh, I love this song!!
He then collapsed on the ground as he tried to dance.
There was a knock at Aeris door.
Coming! she exclaimed. When she opened it, Shera was standing there. Shera! Its good to see you again!
Hello Aeris, Shera said with a light bow. Come on, Cid is waiting outside.
Aeris grabbed her bag and followed Shera out.
So, Cid got the Highwind back up to working order? Aeris asked.
Not... exactly.... Shera said as they approached a small red place. Cid was standing in front of the door to the cargo bay in his usual pilot outfit. Shera sighed and shook her head, but still couldnt help but smile.
The Tiny Bronco! Aeris exclaimed. But I thought this was lost at sea.
Naw, I had some buddies of mine from Junon pick it up, Cid replied. They were holdin onta it fr me. Been working on it ever since Meteor was destroyed. I call it the Tiny Bronco II.
Cids never been very good with naming things, Shera commented as Cid helped her in.
I oughta let ya jes fall down, Cid said.
You wouldnt dare, Shera replied.
Aeris giggled and Cid helped her in as well. He also climbed up and went straight to the cockpit where Sephiroth was sitting in the co-pilots seat. Aeris was a little surprised at the cabin. No longer a tight cargo hold with only crates to sit on. Now, it had a few seats lining the inside of it. Reeve was sitting in one of the seats, and smiled when he saw Aeris enter.
Wow, it looks like youve expanded the cabin, Aeris said. Its not as tight a hold as it used to be. And its an actual cabin now, not a cargo hold.
Yeah, I figured I should make it larger, Cid said as he started up the engines. Never know what might happen.
The Tiny Bronco took to the skies, leaving Midgar.
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