The Cry of the Planet Chapter 28
The Flower Girl
By Edyn Cross
The AVALANCHE team sat in a sewer littered with debris of metal shrapnel,
which was aftermath of the explosion of Mako Reactor No. 1. Jessie was kneeling
down planting a small bomb on the side of the sewer. The rest of the team
was resting listening to the trickle of sewer water and Jessie working on
the bomb. And the constant low rumble of the fire above leftover from the
explosion and the occasion loud clang caused by sections of the reactor falling
"This should keep the Planet going," Biggs said solemnly. "At least a little longer."
"Yeah," Wedge agreed.
Barret watched Jessie rig the bomb seeming to be deep in thought. After a few moments, Jessie stood up, tightened her ponytail and dusted her clothes off.
"Okay!" Jessie announced. "Now everyone get back."
The team ran about ten feet down the sewage tunnel when the small time bomb exploded shaking the entire tunnel. Dust fell from the ceiling as the wall where the bomb was set exploded out of the tunnel allowing the AVALANCHE team to escape onto the plate without being detected by Shinra guards.
Each person ran out of the blast hole, which was still on fire from the blast. Cloud leapt out and somersaulted with grace while the slow Wedge ran through, but not quick enough and set his rear end on fire. As the team gathered outside of the sewer to meet, Wedge sat on the ground with a thump smothering the flames.
Barret looked at the team, "Alright, now les' get outta here. Split up and meet at the Sector 8 station. Make sure ya catch the last train, or you'll be walkin'."
Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie nodded and then all went separate directions. Barret begins to leave, but Cloud grabs the large man's arm. Barret turned around and looked at the ex-SOLDIER fearlessly.
Barret shrugged Cloud's arm off, "If it's about your money, save it 'til we're back at the hideout."
Before Cloud could get in a word, Barret jogged off to the Midgar Sector 8 streets.
"Damnit," Cloud whispered under his breath.
The ex-SOLDIER walked to the streets of Midgar, which were still pretty busy for being so late in the evening. The pedestrians all seemed to be in a panic talking of the Reactor explosion that took place only ten minutes ago. Traffic on the streets were all stopped as smoldering Reactor debris lay in the roads.
Cloud turned down an alley on the way to the Sector 8 train station when he saw three of four people running in panic knocking down a beautiful woman. When the panicked people ran towards the reactor, the woman slowly stood up and primly brushed her pink dress off. She had chestnut brown hair and the most brilliant green eyes Cloud had ever seen. The ex-SOLDIER was a bit taken when the woman smiled gently and approached him carrying a small basket.
"Excuse me," The flower girl said softly looking at the burning Reactor. "Do you know what happened?"
"I don't know," Cloud lied.
The Flower Girl looked around Cloud's age in her early twenties, wore a long light pink dress that buttoned up the middle and a dark pink short sleeved jacket. Her waist length brown hair hung in a twisted ponytail tied by a light pink bow with a white orb in it. She was small and slender and didn't seem like anyone who should be out late at night in Midgar. In her basket, Cloud noticed several beautiful blooming flowers, which struck him odd. It was common knowledge that grass, flowers and tress couldn't grow in Midgar because of the heavy pollution caused by so many Mako Reactors.
Cloud motioned towards her basket, "Don't see many flowers around here."
The Flower Girl stared into his eyes a few moments before his words registered, "Oh these?"
She picked up the basket and showed him her flowers, "Do you like them? They are only a Gil each."
Cloud dug in his back pocket, "Of course."
How anyone could resist buying a flower from her was beyond Cloud. He handed her a Gil and she accepted it kindly handing Cloud a beautiful white flower.
The Flower Girl put the Gil in her basket, "Oh, thank you very much! Have a nice evening."
Cloud watched as the Flower Girl walked away and blended in with the evening street crowd. There was something about that woman that he couldn't put his finger on. Maybe it was her brilliant green eyes that seemed almost to glow, or maybe it was the way she carried herself without fear or worry on the harsh Midgar streets. What Cloud did know was that she was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen in his life.
Cloud began walking again in the direction of the Sector 8 train station listening and watching to all of the citizens in panic about the recent explosion. While looking back up at the smoke, large spray painted graffiti in a building wall caught his eye:
DON'T BE FOOLED BY SHINRA! MAKO ENERGY DOESN'T LAST FOREVER! MAKO IS THE PLANET'S LIFESOURCE! THE END IS IN SIGHT! PROTECTORS OF THE PLANET: AVALANCHE
Not looking where he was going while reading the sign, Cloud rounded an alley corner and bumped into something hard. He stumbled back and looked in front of him with annoyance seeing an armed guard blocking his way.
"Shinra patrols..." Cloud whispered.
"Halt!" The guard said raising his weapon.
Cloud quickly drew his sword and cut the guard's gun in half with a single slash, then ran past down the alley towards the train station. He crossed a bridge with train tracks underneath, but the end of the bridge was a whole squad of soldiers. Getting annoyed, Cloud double backed and saw that three groups of Shinra patrols had him surrounded.
"The President wants them alive!" One of the patrols shouted.
"That's as far as you go!" Another patrol shouted over an approaching train horn.
Cloud sighed in annoyance, "I don't have time to be messin' around with you guys. I have a train to catch."
Cloud quickly ran to the edge of the bridge and looked down at the tracks. He saw an approaching light coming from under the bridge as the horn grew louder. As the three Shinra patrol squads advanced, Cloud jumped off of the bridge landing on the incoming train giving the patrols a cocky smile and a snotty wave as the train carried him to safety.
He ran from the front engine car towards the back easily keeping his balance while jumping from car to car. When he reached the first cargo car, he tapped on the top with his hand and listened inside for voices. The rest of AVALANCHE had made it to the train on time as planned and waited inside the train for it to carry them back to the slums.
Wedge looked at the ground, "Cloud never came..."
Biggs looked over to Wedge, "There were a lot of Shinra patrols out after the explosion... I wonder if he was killed?"
"No way," Barret said. "The skinny brat can handle himself."
"Cloud..." Jessie said to no one.
A few taps came from the top of the car and only Barret seemed to hear it. He looked up, heard nothing, and then decided he was hearing things.
Biggs looked at Barret," Do you think Cloud's going to fight to the end for AVALANCHE?"
"The hell would I know," Barret said getting irritated. "Do I look like a mind reader?"
"Hey, Barret," Wedge said softly. "What about our money?"
Barret shot Wedge a stinging glare and slammed his fist down hard on a cargo crate in anger.
"I mean," Wedge stammered. "Uh, nothing. Sorry."
More tapping, louder this time, came from the top of the car and all of the AVALANCHE members noticed it. Before anyone could ask what it was, the train car door was pulled open and Cloud swung into the car and everyone but Barret happily greeted him.
"Looks like I'm a little late," Cloud said as he dusted himself off.
Barret looked at him angrily, "You damn right you're late! Come waltzin' in here makin' a big scene."
Cloud shrugged, "No big deal, just what I always do."
"Shit," Barret said slamming his fist again on the crate. "Havin' everyone worried like that you don't give a damn about yourself."
"Hmm..." Cloud looked at Barret thoughtfully. "You were worried about me!"
"What!?" Barret exclaimed even more annoyed. "You best be careful or I'll start takin' it outta your pay, hotshot."
"Wake up, y'all," Barret said to the team. "We're movin' out, follow me."
The AVALANCHE leader got up in a huff, opened the cargo door and went into the passenger car in front. After Barret left, the other members looked at Cloud in awe.
"Hey Cloud!" The pudgy Wedge said smiling. "You were great back there!"
Cloud just shrugged as Wedge followed Barret into the next car. Biggs approached giving Cloud an even bigger smile.
"Cloud," Biggs said chuckling. "We'll do even better next time!"
Next time? I said this was it, Cloud thought as Biggs left. Jessie looked at Cloud giving him a shy smile.
"Be more careful, I was worried," She said moving towards the outer door. "I'd better shut this."
She shut the train car door and then looked closely at Cloud's face in amusement.
"Oh!" She said laughing. "Your face is pitch black."
She lifted her arm and wiped Cloud's face clean with her sleeve. She paused for a moment, looking into his glowing eyes and blushed.
"There," She said softly. "All better. By the way, thanks for helping me back there, I thought I was gonna blow up with the Reactor."
Cloud just nodded as she followed the others into the next car and after a moment, he followed behind her. As he entered the passenger car, the engineer's voice came through the intercom announcing the train's final destination.
"This is the last train out of Sector 8 this evening. Last stop, Sector 7, Train Graveyard. Estimated time of arrival is 12:23am, Midgar standard, time."
Cloud walked down the center isle watching as Barret confronted a well- dressed man in a maroon suit staring at him and saying nothing. The man turned sheet white and quickly got up and walked to the next car muttering to himself.
"This is why I hate the last train... Hoo-boy," the man in the suit said going through the front car door.
Cloud smirked and looked down to a man in rags laying on the train seats who looked up to him and smiled.
"This is my house," The hobo said, "Please make yourselves at home."
Cloud stepped past the homeless man and a young woman approached him.
"Hey," The woman said. "Have you been listening to the radio? I heard on the Shinra station that the terrorists that bombed Mako Reactor No. 1 are based somewhere in the slums."
"Terrorists?" Cloud asked thoughtfully.
The woman nodded, "Blowing up a reactor... They sure put some thought into this one, they must have a real calculating leader. I wonder what they'll do next?"
"Stop actin' like a damn kid," Barret interruped. "Si'down an' shut up."
Cloud rolled his eyes and took his seat.
Wedge turned towards Biggs, "I betcha someday AVALANCHE is gonna be famous... maybe me too!"
Biggs nodded and looked around the train, "Seems like the train hasn't switched to security mode yet... I'm sure that will change by tomorrow after recent... events."
"Hey, Cloud" Jessie said from the front of the car. "You want to look at this with me?"
Cloud shrugged, stood up, and walked over to where Jessie was standing. In front of her was a small computer terminal on which she was typing.
"It's a map of the Midgar Rail System," She said. "Have you seen this before?"
Cloud shook his head, "No."
"Here, take a look," Jessie replied moving over. "I'll explain it to you. I like this kinda stuff. Bombs, monitors... you know, flashy stuff. Okay, it's about to start."
Cloud watched as Jessie activated the terminal and a green wire frame three- dimensional map of Midgar displayed on the monitor.
"This is a complete model of Midgar, about 1/10,000 scale," Jessie began. "The top plate is about fifty meters above ground. A main support structure holds the plate up in the center and there are eight other support structures built in each Sector."
Jessie leaned in closer to Cloud and whispered, "The No. 1 Reactor we blew up was in the northern Sector. For each of the eight Reactor's there is a town named after its Reactor number. There's Sectors one through eight. Each town used to have a name, but no one here remembers them."
Jessie pushed a button on the terminal and the wire frame map zooms in showing a dotted line run a course through the city.
Jessie pointed to the dotted line, "This is the route that the train is on. The route spirals around the main support structure connecting the top of the plate to the slums below. Along the tracks are numerous security checkpoints and at each checkpoint an ID sensor device is set up that checks the identities and background of each passenger. The checkpoint channels the information back to the central databank at Shinra HQ."
Jessie lowered her voice again, "Anyone could tell that we look suspicious, which is why we use fake ID's."
An instant later, the train grew dark and a red flashing light announced that they are entering a security checkpoint area.
"Speak of the devil..." Jessie muttered. "That light means that we're in the ID security check area. "When the lights go off, you never know what kind of creeps will be running from car to car trying to avoid lockdown. Anyhow, we're almost to the hideout, so that's a relief."
Cloud nodded and walked towards his seat passing Barret. As he sat and watched out the window, Biggs had fallen asleep and he could hear him snoring and muttering to himself about how Barret always "acted so damn big." Barret nudged Cloud in the arm and looked out the window.
"Look," Barret said. "You can see the surface of the slums now. Under the plate don't have no day or night. If that plate weren't there... All of us living in the slums could see the sky."
"A floating city," Cloud said looking out the window. "Pretty unsettling scenery."
Barret stood up with a perplexed look on his face, "Huh? Never expected to hear that outta someone like you. You jes' full of surprises."
Barret ran his left hand across his black beard, "The upper world... a city on a giant metal plate... It's cause of that fuckin' 'pizza' that people underneath in the slums are sufferin'. The towns below are polluted with air and on toppa that, the Reactors keep drainin up the Planet's energy."
Cloud continued to look out the window, "Then why doesn't everyone under the plate move on top?"
"Dunno," Barret shrugged. "Probably cause they ain't got no money... or maybe cause they love their land, no matter how polluted it gets."
"I know..." Cloud said. "No one lives in the slums because they want to. The residents are like this train: It can't run anywhere except where the rails take it."
The AVALANCHE team spent the rest of the train ride in solemn silence until the engineer announced their final stop at Sector 7 train station. Wedge hopped happily out of his seat and shook Biggs waking him up. Biggs got up with a snort and piled out of the train after Jessie. The team was scattered around the train station standing idly waiting for the other passengers to leave. As soon as the station was clear and closed up for the evening, the AVALANCHE leader spoke.
"Yo," He said firmly. "Y'all get over here."
Cloud and the team form a tight circle around Barret and listened.
"The mission was a success, but don't get lazy now, the hard part's still to come," Barret said. "Don't y'all get scared of that explosion, cause the next one's gonna be even bigger! Split up and meet at the hideout."
The team nodded and all went their separate ways heading in the general direction of the Sector 7 slums. Cloud passed a couple making out under a lamp post and towards a man standing near a chain link fence surrounding an enormous concrete pillar with a metal staircase attached to it leading up to the platform ending about halfway up to the plate. A man standing next to it stared to the top aimlessly and greeted Cloud as he approached.
"There was a bombing on top," The man said. "It was an entire Reactor, but it could have been worse."
"If a bomb were to bring one of the support pillars down," The man went on. "Everyone in the slums is dust, crushed by the plate above. But, there's no sense in worrying about that, who on the Planet would want to destroy an entire Sector of slums?"
"I don't know," Cloud replied and walked towards town.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic