The Cry of the Planet Chapter 27
By Edyn Cross
It's been twenty-nine years since the birth of Sephiroth and the life on
the Planet has changed a bit, but not for the better. Shinra Inc. went from
corporate giant to sole monopoly of not just power, but any other kind of
electric goods and transportation services. President Shinra with his son,
Vice President Rufus Shinra recently gained position in politics bribing
and buying out Mayor Domino of Midgar himself allowing no one to stand in
his way. After the drawn out war with Wutai in the far west, the conflict
ended when Elder Godo finally surrendered to the Shinra army forcing their
economy into a downfall. The only way the Wutainese could perpetuate their
way of life was to force the Wutai capital into a vacation resort
Life among the rest of the world pretty much stayed the same, with the exception of Junon. The quaint ocean side city was occupied by the Shinra about ten years ago using the city as base where all new Shinra army recruits were to train. For citizens unfortunate to live in lower Junon, the Shinra occupation turned the water black and caused the fish to die with heavy pollution emitting from the reactors and general overpopulation.
The way the residents lived was pretty much the same, except for those young boys who aspired to join SOLDIER to be just like the legendary war hero, Sephiroth, who has been presumed dead for about five years now. Rumor on the Shinra streets tell that he was killed on a mission to Nibelheim by deadly monsters created by a reactor malfunction. Stories of his greatness are still told in bars and at bedtime (except in Wutai) and it's a safe bet that the whole of the Shinra Inc. secretarial department is still mourning the General's death. Shinra SOLDIER recruitment posters still display the image of Sephiroth and the man has become more of a symbol for Shinra greatness than just a man.
Life in Midgar remains the same as it has been for the past twenty-nine years. Shinra guards on the littered streets, the poor in the slums under the plate, the wealthy on top, and even now the fear of speaking out against the Shinra keeps the citizens in check. All except for a small, rag- tag organization who call themselves "AVALANCHE." Their operation, based in the slums somewhere, consists of a few rebel members who publicly defame and humiliate President Shinra and Shinra Inc. It's their belief that Shinra's Mako Reactors are sucking the life-force from the Planet and if the Shinra operation isn't shut down, they will ultimately destroy the Planet itself.
President Shinra has addressed the public against these accusations stating Mako Energy is 100% safe for the environment and the Planet and the public need not worry. Knowing President Shinra will never shut down his operation as long as he controls the economy as a whole, AVALANCHE feels that they will soon have to resort to more desperate measures than reasoning and the leaflets, flyers and signs that the Shinra refer to as "vandalism."
The cool spring wind pushed it's way through the nighttime streets of Midgar
tossing AVALANCHE flyers into the air like oversized confetti. The leaflets
flew by a sign reading "Train Station No. 8" and under that was sign was
one reading "Mako Reactor No. 1 and 8 employees receive 10% discount on all
train tickets to and from this station!"
The smell of Mako was usually thick on the outskirts of the plate and especially at the station near Shinra's No. 1 Mako Reactor. This particular one was the first to be built by Shinra and the first to be targeted by AVALANCHE because of the old technology used in burning more Mako for less power.
Two public safety Shinra guards on sentry duty guard the train platform stand idly while speaking to each other about how much they really hate their jobs. A low rumble below the guards' feet halt their conversation as the approaching train announces that it is time to go to work. Usually there isn't much of a crowd so late in the evening, just the night shift employees for the Mako reactor and every now and then a thug who's made his way up from the slums to take advantage of the more wealthy on the upper plate.
As the train stops the doors open to reveal no passengers and the two Shinra guards sigh in relief thinking they will have an easy night. Just as they were about to resume their normal conversation, a female figure flips off the top of the train and lands with agility on the platform.
One of the Shinra guards draws his weapon, "Hey! Is that...?"
Before he could finish, the woman grabs his arm, flipping him over her shoulder causing him to land behind her with his head hitting the side of the train leaving him unconscious. The second guard charges the female while also trying to radio HQ for backup."
"This is Sentry 2 from Station 8!" The guard yelled into his radio. "We are... oomph!"
While focusing on the woman, the guard didn't see the young man leap from the top of the train landing beside him and then delivering a heavy kick into his groin. The guard fell to the ground in agony dropping both his weapon and radio, both of which the young man took. The woman looked up to the top of the train waving her arm giving the OK signal to the others.
A gargantuan black man in his thirties with a chaingun grafted to his right arm jumped off as a small, rotund young man ran from between two of the train cars joining up with the others. The black man known as Barret, the leader of AVALANCE looked up to the top of the car and motioned for another person to follow.
"Let's go, newbie," Barret yelled. "Follow me."
Barret headed to the stairs leading out of the train station and the rest of the posse followed. Just as they were leaving, a young man of 21 carrying a sword on his back about five feet long and a foot or more wide flipped off the top of the train with even more agility than the woman. The man was known by the others only as an elite ex-member of SOLDIER and is now currently working as a freelance mercenary. The ex-SOLDIER was recently hired by AVALANCHE's leader Barret, as the small group was really hurting for help on their first real mission. That and the ex-SOLDIER happened to be a long time friend of one of the AVALANCE members.
The ex-SOLDIER ran towards the train station stairs to catch up with the others when two Shinra guards who had heard one the fallen Sentry's radio transmission moved between the ex-SOLDIER and the stairs. If the Shinra guards had known the ex-SOLDIER's training histroy, they would have known better. But, now it was too late.
Before either of the Shinra guards could get a shot off, the ex-SOLDIER leaped towards him unsheathing his massive sword in mid air bringing it down on the left guard cutting him straight down the middle with a single slash. As the second guard on the right turned his rifle towards the ex- SOLDIER, it was cut short when the ex-SOLDIER brought his sword from the ground slashing at the guard at mid height severing his torso from his legs. The young man sheathed his sword, nonchalantly stepped over the two fallen guards, and walked casually to the train station exit.
The ex-SOLDIER made his way through the side streets and alleys of nighttime Midgar knowing exactly where to meet the others. He followed the looming beacon of teal smog coming out of the No. 1 Mako Reactor until coming up on the service entrance where most of the members of AVALANCE were just meeting up. The female woman known as Jessie was kneeling down trying to break the access code to the service entrance while the two young men were keeping watch.
The ex-SOLDIER walked up to the group waiting impatiently for the service door to be unlocked so that he could get to the real part of the mission. Biggs, the young man who delivered the groin shot to the second Shinra sentry approached the ex-SOLIDER. Biggs, who had clearly seen the short fight between the ex-SOLDIER and the two Shinra guards looked at the young man in awe.
"Holy shit!" Biggs said with a smile. "You were in SOLIDER alright. I can't believe we have someone with your skills in AVALANCE."
Jessie continued to work on the door and said, "SOLDIER? I thought they were the enemy... What's he doing here?"
Biggs shook his head, "No, he WAS in SOLDIER, but he quit and now he's fighting on our side."
Biggs looked back over to the ex-SOLDIER, "By the way, I didn't catch your name."
"Cloud." The ex-SOLDIER said indifferently. Cloud stood five feet, seven inches tall, not counting his spiked blonde hair. His eyes were a brilliant blue and seemed to glow just a little bit, which was the customary sign of someone who has been enlisted in SOLDIER because of the Mako treatments. Even now after Shinra, the mercenary still wore the uniform customary of a SOLDIER.
"Cloud? Well, nice to meetcha," Biggs said smiling again. "My name's..."
"Look," Cloud said impatiently looking towards the Mako Reactor. "Once I finish this job and get my money, I'm outta here."
Before Biggs could respond, Barret came jogging in from an alley looking utterly furious.
"The hell you all doin'?" Barret asked angrily. "I told y'all to never move in a group, you guys WANT to have the whole Shinra army on to us? Split up and everyone meet on the bridge in front of the Mako Reactor!"
After Jessie got the service door unlocked, Biggs ran through followed by the rotund man, Wedge and Jessie followed behind. Cloud began to follow, but Barret stepped in his way.
"Hold it," Barret said holding out his right arm with the gun grafted on. "Ex-SOLDIER? I don't trust ya."
Barret began to follow the others and then turned back and looked at Cloud, "Tifa's friend or not."
Cloud followed Barret as the group made their way into the lobby Mako Reactor. They went through a small corridor before it opened up into a large auditorium like room with a T-shaped bridge suspending over a bottomless pool of Mako which appeared to be the main Mako storage chamber. The AVALANCHE members met in the middle of the T-Bridge and everyone but Wedge went inside the main doorway. Cloud looked at Wedge curiously.
"I'll secure the escape route," The rotund man said. "Just concentrate on the mission, Cloud."
Without a word, Cloud followed the others to the main doorway before seeing Barret approaching him.
"Yo, Cloud," Barret said. "This your first time in a Mako Reactor?"
"No," Cloud said shaking his head. "I DID work for Shinra, ya know."
Barret looked at the walls illuminated by the glow of Mako, "The Planet's full of Mako energy and people use it every day as a main source of electricity. But the big picture is that Mako is the life force of the Planet, kinda like it's blood and the goddamn Shinra keep sucking it straight from the planet with these fucking Reactors."
Cloud yawned, "I'm not here for a lecture. Let's just get this over with."
The AVALANCHE leader's face darkened, "That's it! You're coming with me from now on so I can keep an eye on you."
Cloud shrugged as he and the others walked towards a locked door, which could be opened only by having the correct access codes.
Jessie looked at the door as Biggs approached it, "Biggs and I got the code for this door."
A faint bleeping sound came from the code panel as the light over the door went from red to green.
"Code deciphered," Biggs announced.
The group followed Biggs through the door as Jessie approached a second code-locked door.
Biggs looked at the ground, "Think of how many of our people risked their lives infiltrating Shinra for these codes."
The door muttered a similar faint bleeping sound as the light over the door went from red to green.
"Code deciphered," Jessie announced with a faint smile.
The party went through the second code-locked and followed the hallway to the small elevator which led down to the core of the Reactor.
Biggs motioned to the elevator doors, "You guys go ahead. I'll stay here and make sure this section of the escape route is clear."
Barret and Jessie nodded as they and Cloud entered the elevator.
"Hey," Jessie said to Cloud. "Press that button over there."
Cloud looked at the elevator wall and pressed the lighted down arrow button. The elevator shook and groaned as it began it's long journey to the core of the reactor. Cloud had been in a Mako reactor before, but this is the first time he had been in any in Midgar. He had been inside the one in his hometown of Nibelheim, but that one wasn't half the size of this. He looked over at Jessie standing at the front of the car who turned away and seemed to blush as soon as she saw his eyes. He had noticed that she had been watching him throughout the entire mission and couldn't figure out if it was her not trusting him or... something else.
Barret's deep voice spoke breaking Cloud's thoughts, "Little by little the Reactors'll drain the life out of the Planet. And that'll be that... no more Planet."
Cloud shrugged, "That's not my problem, I'm just here for the money."
Barret looked furious, "The Planet's dyin', Cloud!"
Cloud shook his head, "The only thing I care about is finishing this job before security and the Roboguards come. And my money."
Shaking with anger, Barret gave up turned away keeping his eyes focused on the front door. He couldn't believe how Tifa would be friends with such a selfish prick. If he doesn't care about the Planet, how could he care about anything else, especially Tifa's friendship? Barret cared for the young woman very much and so did Barret's daughter, Marlene. Tifa had been with AVALANCHE since the very beginning and her restaurant and bar even houses their rag-tag headquarters beneath the building.
The elevator dinged announcing that they had reached their destination and the three AVALANCHE members dismounted.
"See those?" Jessie pointed at a set of ladders leading down closer to the pool of Mako. "Take them straight down until you reach the main catwalk that leads to the Reactor core."
Jessie pulled the pack off of her pack and produced a small time bomb. "Here. Use this once you get there, it's set to go off on a ten minute timer, so you'll need to get out ASAP once it's rigged. I'll stay here and keep this area clear of guards for you."
"Aight, Jessie," Barret said taking the bomb. "Be careful."
Jessie just smiled as Cloud and Barret made their way down the ladders to the bottom catwalk leading to the Reactor Core. As they descended down the ladders closer to the Reactor core, the air was getting so thick with Mako that when looking at his own hand, Cloud saw that his arm looked a sick green color rather that it's normal flesh. His eyes watered as the Mako fumes engulfed his senses making him want to hurry even more to get this job done.
"There," Barret coughed pointing with his gun to the reactor core. "Once we blow this place, this ain't gonna be nothin' more than a hunka junk."
Barret firmly tossed the bomb to Cloud who caught it with one hand, "Cloud, you set the bomb."
The ex-SOLDIER narrowed his eyes, "Shouldn't you do it? This is your mission."
"Jus' do it," Barret said crossing his arms. "I'm gotta watch to make sure you don't pull nuthin'."
Cloud rolled his eyes getting tired of the babysitting, "Fine, be my guest."
Cloud walked towards the reactor core listening to the hum and mechanical sound of the Reactor. He kneeled down and began to arm the bomb when his vision abruptly gave out and it felt as if his head was going to implode. He collapsed forward planting his hands on the catwalk seeing nothing but white and hearing everything and nothing at the same time. After a moment, the noise stopped and he heard a familiar voice in his head, his own voice.
"Watch out!" Cloud's voice in his head screamed. "This isn't just a reactor!"
After a few moments more, Cloud was able to see again and the voice was gone, but he was shaking and sweating terribly. Cloud kneeled on the ground a few moments more collecting himself.
Seeing Cloud collapse to the floor for almost a whole minute, Barret took a step towards Cloud wondering impatiently what the ex-SOLDIER was waiting on.
Finally Barret spoke, "What's wrong?"
Barret's voice sounded so far away to Cloud, "Huh?"
Barret was getting impatient, "What's wrong, Cloud? Hurry it up!"
Feeling a bit more himself, Cloud continued with the time bomb, "Yeah, sorry."
Cloud set the bomb as close to the Reactor core as he could and then hit the timer. The instant the bomb started it's ten minute countdown, the reactor went into security lock with alarms blaring and red lights flashing.
"Shit," Barret yelled over the alarm. "Didn't think it'd have a detector. Looks like this is gonna be a bit tough."
Barret checked the ammunition count in his gun while Cloud unsheathed his sword, both waiting for what the Reactor had in store for them. After a few moments, the catwalk that the two men stood on began to shake and rattle under their feet. Cloud looked towards the end of the catwalk and finally saw what security precautions that Shinra had given this reactor.
A giant metallic robot scorpian about twenty feet tall quickly made its way down the catwalk towards the AVALANCHE members. On front of the robot was the Shinra Inc. logo by words that read Shinra Weapons Development Dept. Cloud and Barret took their fightning stances as the scorpian engaged. The scorpian stood on four large legs with it's front arms converted into guns and the tail had some sort of weapon attached to the end, but Cloud couldn't tell what it was.
Cloud made the first move jumping at the machine and slashing at the body. Sparks flew as the ex-SOLDIER's massive sword tore the machine's armor open revealing live wires. As soon as Cloud got out of the way, Barret unloaded round after round into the machine with his chain gun until the chamber clicked empty. While Barret reloaded, Cloud leapt again towards the machine hitting the same spot as before with his sword and severing one of the scorpion's main circuits immobilizing the machine's entire left side. After Cloud moved back, the scorpian stood as upright as it could, sticking it's tail straight into the air.
"Nice!" Barret said getting ready to unload his gun into the machine again. "Let's see how he likes this one!"
"Wait!" Cloud yelled.
Cloud's warning was too late as Barret shot another round into the machine and instantly after the bullet struck the scorpian, the machine counterattacked with it's tail firing multiple laser shots at the two men who tried desperately to avoid them. Cloud managed to be unharmed, one laser shot came dangerously close to Barret's right arm, singing his flesh.
"Ow! Goddamnit!" Barret yelled using his left hand to grab his right arm.
"Don't attack while the tail's up!" Cloud yelled standing in a defensive stance. "It'll counterattack with his tail laser!"
"You don't say!" Barret angrily spat.
After a full minute of standing off, the machine, unable to perform normal attacks while the tail is up, resumed it's normal offensive position.
"Enough of this," Cloud yelled over the alarms. "Seven minutes left to detonation, we need to leave. Now."
Barret began unloading rounds into the scorpian distracting it while Cloud leapt high again into the air bringing his sword down again, but thrusting it into the base of the machine severing it's main spinal circuit immobilizing the entire machine. Barret watched as Cloud ran back as the robotic scorpian fell limply to the ground and listened to the machine power down.
"Finally, now let's get the hell outta here!" Barret said with Cloud as they ran past the scorpian. They climbed back up the sections of ladders before coming back up to where Jessie was supposed to stationed. Cloud looked around and saw Jessie with her foot trapped in a metal rod on the catwalk.
"Are you alright?" Cloud asked kneeling down.
Jessie sounded worried, "My leg got stuck."
Cloud finally pulled her leg out from between the rod and the catwalk tearing the bottom rim of her pants with it.
Jessie sighed and yelled over the alarms, "Thanks! Now let's get outta here!"
Jessie, Cloud and Barret made their way into the elevator taking it up to ground floor. They stepped out as Biggs just finished unlocking the coded door for their escape.
"Code deciphered!" He yelled as the light above the turn went from red to green.
They group piled by the second door as Biggs worked on the code again.
"This is taking too long..." Jessie said nervously.
"I've almost got it." Biggs said concentrating. "There! Code deciphered."
The four went through the door and out of the main entrance meeting Wedge in the middle of the T-shaped bridge.
"Let's go, Wedge!" Barret yelled. "NOW!"
The team together now ran out the opposite end of the T-bridge from which they initially came. The bridge began to rumble beneath their feet as the bomb exploded in the core of the Reactor. Jessie lost her balance and fell to the ground. Cloud grabbed her by the arm and pulled her up hurrying to get out before the blast made it's way to the T-bridge Mako chamber.
The AVALANCHE team finally made it outside and into the underground sewer where they stayed until the inevitable happened. The blast made it's way to the main Mako chamber igniting the pool of Mako causing the entire No. 1 Reactor to explode into a giant fireball. The Midgar night sky was lit up with red fire and strange teal green smoke from the burning Mako. An instant later, Sector 1 and over two hundred thousand citizens in Midgar were without electricity.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic