Hel & Back Chapter 3


By Dino Pollard

“Auntie Aeris!!”

“Hey kiddo, how are you doing?” Aeris asked, giving Marlene a hug. “You’ve gotten really big since the last time I’ve seen you. How old are you now?”

“She’s nine, but she still likes ta give her old man trouble.”

“Barret!!” Aeris exclaimed. She immediately threw her arms around her friend’s large neck. “It’s good to see you again. How are things in North Corel?”

“They’re goin’ good,” Barret replied. He moved his right hand behind his neck and scratched it. Then, Aeris realized the problem with this picture.

His right hand.

“Barret!! Your gun-arm’s gone!!” she exclaimed.

“Oh yeah,” Barret said, looking down at the artificial hand which replaced it. “Marlene finally convinced me ta get a new one. An’ I figured I wouldn’t need it anymore since there ain’t any trouble.”

Reeve looked around the room and noticed something above the fireplace.

“Hey, that’s Cloud’s Ultima Weapon, isn’t it? And over here, under glass. That’s the Premium Heart.”

“Would any of you like some refreshments?” an elderly man in a suit asked.

“Naw, we’re fine, Cardinal,” Deadpool replied. Cardinal nodded and walked out.

“Who’s that?” Reeve asked.

“That’s Cardinal,” Deadpool said. “Remember Barek Siamo? Cardinal was his butler. After Barek was killed, Cardinal didn’t have anyplace ta go. So, Cloud gave him a job here at the villa.”

“Never figured Cloud for the kind of person to have servants,” Aeris said. “I’ve gotta say I’m a little disappointed in him.”

“Ya got it all wrong, babe,” Deadpool said. “Cloud asked Cardinal to just live in the villa. Cardinal offered to earn his keep.”

“So, where the fuck is the happy couple?” Cid asked. “I didn’t fly all th’ way here from Midgar ta be stood up.”

“It’s good to see you, too, Cid,” Cloud replied, walking into the room with Tifa standing beside him.

“Congratulations, Cloud,” Reeve said, shaking his hand. “And you too, Tifa.”

“Thanks, Reeve,” Tifa said, embracing him. After exchanging hugs between everyone, Cloud finally spoke up.

“Come on, let’s get going,” he said. “We’ve got reservations.”


“You must be insane if you think we’re gonna fall for that!!” Tseng exclaimed.

“You do not understand, Mr. Valentine.”

“Your services are greatly needed.”

“It is for the good of the Planet.”

“Bullshit!!” Tseng exclaimed. “There’s no chance in hell I’m going to turn on my brother!! I did it once before, I won’t do it again!!”

“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice.”

“You either side with us...”

“...Or you die.”

“WHAT?!” Elena and Reno shouted in unison.

The next sound that was heard was Tseng crying out in pain. The Turks instantly spun around to see Frost holding a gun in his hand, with a suppressor on it.

“You three have two choices.”

“You can either accept our offer, or join your leader on the ground.”

“Have you made your decision?”

Reno looked at Elena and Rude. Tseng was his mentor, he taught him everything he knew. And recently, he and Elena had begun exploring a relationship. Now, it was tragically cut short. Rude didn’t have the same personal connections with Tseng that Reno and Elena had, but he was his leader. And Rude had nothing but respect for him.

Reno sighed heavily. It was a difficult choice.

“We’ll do it...” he said.

His eyes fell to the ground, avoiding the looks from Elena and Rude.


Life on the Beach was the most prestigious restaurant in Costa del Sol. Reservations had to be made weeks, sometimes even months, in advance.

However, for Cloud Strife, known throughout the world as the man responsible for the downfall of Shin-Ra and destruction of Meteor, exceptions can be made.

“Just like that?!” Aeris exclaimed. “The guy threatened to take away your pilot’s license, and you hit him?!”

Cid nodded, taking a drink of his beer.

“Cid’s never been known for his patience,” Shera said with a grin.

“So, when’s the date?” Cid asked.

“Good question...” Cloud replied.

“We haven’t set one, yet,” Tifa said. “We’re thinking sometime in April.”

“Ahh, springtime,” Aeris said.

“So Tifa, how did Cloud propse?” Shera asked.

“He took me out for a fancy, candlelit dinner at this restaurant, then, once we were finished, he took out the ring and asked me to marry him.”

“That’s so romantic...” Shera said. She looked at Cid. “Are you taking notes, Mr. Highwind?”

“Hey, my proposal was fine!!” Cid rebutted.

“Oh yes, how can I forget,” Shera said. “He took me out for a ride on the new Tiny Bronco, and lost control, crash-landing in the water. After a string of cursing, he asked me to marry him in a very... unusual way.”

“Nothin’ unusual ‘bout it...” Cid muttered, taking another swig of his beer.

“Oh no, not at all,” Shera replied. “A lot of men say, ‘will you fuckin’ marry me? An’ hurry up, I don’t got all fuckin’ day!!’”

The table exploded with laughter.

“So, how long have the two of you been married?” Barret asked.

“Ahh... seems like forever...” Cid replied. Shera elbowed him in the chest. “In a good way!! Christ... Ya see what I gotta put up? Hope yer ready for this, Cloud.”

Cloud simply laughed. He then noticed someone was missing from the table.

“Excuse me,” he said, standing.

Aeris suddenly realized who else was missing. She considered following Cloud.

All she could do was pray that those two had buried the hatchet.


Sephiroth stood outside the restaurant, his hands resting on the guardrail. He looked out to the waves crashing against the shore. It was a full moon. A beautiful night.

“We not entertaining enough for you, Sephiroth?”

He didn’t even bother to turn around.

“What do you want, Strife?”

“I want to know why you came down here, if you just stay away from the rest of the group,” Cloud said. “And here I thought you were more of a man than that.”

“I’m not sure what I am, anymore...” Sephiroth said.

“Aeris seems willing to find out.”

“Keep her out of this. It’s none of her concern.”

“No, of course it’s not. After all, she just trusted you when the rest of us wanted to kill you. She truly believed that you changed. And look at how you repay her. You completely isolate yourself from the rest of the world.”

“You know nothing about me...”

“I know more about you than you think, Sephiroth.”

“No, you don’t,” Sephiroth said, turning around. Those glowing, emerald eyes always frightened Cloud. He felt a chill go down his spine whenever he saw them. “You grew up without a father, just like I did. But, unlike me, you were still raised by a mother. A mother who cared for you. You had advantages that I didn’t. And now, look at you. You’ve been reunited with your estranged brother and father, you’re known throughout the world as a hero, and you have a fiancee who loves you. All I have is nightmares.”

“You think I didn’t have nightmares?” he said. “For five years, I was plagued by nightmares. Images of you destroying Nibelheim, destroying everything I ever cared about. And now, you’re experiencing the same nightmares. That’s something you’re gonna have to deal with. The way I see it, it’s justice!! Sure, you may have been under Jenova’s influence, but a part of you enjoyed it!! Savored it!! That’s why you did it!! And now, you’re haunted by it. I call it karma.”

Cloud turned around, walking back inside the restaurant.

Sephiroth said nothing, just looked up at the moon.


Frost made his way through the jungles, cutting back bushes as he came by them. He was ordered to come to this small island off the coast of Mideel by the Tribunal. His task was to find Hojo. They told him that he was on this island, and that he would lead Frost to the Bringer of Destruction, the one the Tribunal was so content with.

He was dressed in a covert Seido uniform, completely suitable for operations like these. Everything was strapped down, not one thing was loose, or able to be caught. He carried various weapons with him, as well as a hi-tech mask equipped with infrared lenses.


He turned to see a soldier aiming a machine gun at him. He couldn’t let himself get caught now. Taking a chance, he ran.

“STOP!!!” the soldier shouted, gunfire following.

Frost dodged behind trees, trying to avoid the gunfire. He threw a couple of grenades down to cover his trail.


Damn. More in front. He banked to the left, running in that direction, trying to stay low.

He’d better find Hojo fast.


“Ahh... that was fun...” Barret said, plopping down on the couch. He looked around. “Hey ‘Pool, how was Marlene?”

“Marle-whosits?” Deadpool asked, scratching his head. Barret slapped his forehead.

“Master Deadpool fell asleep,” Cardinal interjected. “I looked after the young mistress. She was perfectly fine. Excuse me, I think I hear the doorbell.”

“I still can’t believe it...” Aeris said. “Anyway, I’m gonna hit the sack. It’s been a long day.”

“That’s an understatement...” Reeve muttered, as Aeris exited the room.

“Pardon the intrusion,” Cardinal said, walking back into the room. “But there are two people here to see you.”

“Shen! Yuffie!” Tifa exclaimed. “I can’t believe you came!!”

“Why wouldn’t we?” Shen asked. “It’s good to see you all, again.”

“Nice place ya got here, Cloud...” Yuffie stated, admiring the surroundings. “Very nice...”

“Don’t even think about it, Yuffie,” Cloud ordered. “I find one thing missing from this house, I’m coming after you.”

“Geez, so judgemental of an old friend!!” Yuffie exclaimed.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Barret muttered. Yuffie shot him a cold glare.


“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing, Reno?!” Elena exclaimed.

“Saving our asses,” Reno calmly replied.

“You’re just saving your own ass!! They killed Tseng!!”

“And they’ll kill us too, unless we do what they say!!” Reno spat. “You think I want to work for another Shin-Ra? This Tribunal obviously has their own agenda. So, by working for them and capturing who they want us to, then we can stay off their radar while working towards our own agenda.”

“So, you’re saying that--”

“Shh...” Rude interrupted, placing a finger to his lips. He then pointed to a surveillance camera.

“Shit...” Reno muttered.


Cloud stood on the roof of the villa, admiring the scenery. From this height, you could see Cosmo Canyon, Mt. Corel, and you could make out the top of Mt. Nibel.

“Cloud, I just wanted to tell you congratulations,” Shen said, stepping outside.

“Thanks,” Cloud replied. “But, there’s something I’ve been wondering. Why did you come so soon? The wedding’s not for another few months. And why did you come in your battle outfit with your sword?”

“I must admit, there’s another reason I’ve come,” Shen replied.

“What’s that?”

“I sense an evil presence... One I haven’t sensed for... a long time.”

“Is it Seraph?”

“No, Seraph changed in the end, remember? He gave his life so we could live.”


Shen shook his head.

“This is much more powerful than Jenova...”


Frost continued to dodge through the hail of gunfire. He had to keep on going. Surrendering wasn’t an option. Neither was death. He had to find Hojo.

Time was growing short. He had to find Hojo fast.

Gunfire kept following him. He couldn’t keep up like this. He had a mission to complete. He had to get these scavengers off his trail.

He spun around, concentrating on the green orb he held in his hand. He hated using Materia, but desperate times called for desperate measures.


Energy surged throughout his entire body. There was a tingling sensation, as well as slight pain as a green fire exploded around the soldiers, completely engulfing them.

Frost replaced the orb in his pouch and began walking through the bushes again. As he turned a corner, he found himself staring down the barrel of 15 rifles.

“Dammit!!” he silently cursed. He raised his hands into the air, and the soldiers bound his arms together. He should have turned on the infrared.

They removed his mask and brought him before a gangly man with a pale-green complexion, thick glasses, and greasy black hair pulled back.

“Professor Hojo, I presume...”


There was a man, with blood running down from his abdomen, adding a crimson stain to the cold, metal floor.

He looked up, his black hair falling over his face, his eyes pleading for help.

“TSENG!!!!” Aeris shouted, as she awoke in a cold sweat.


Go To Chapter 4

Return To FF7 Fanfic