The Cry of the Planet Chapter 31
By Edyn Cross
"Why is the President here?" Tifa whispered.
Both Cloud and Barret exchanged looks of bewilderment as President Shinra approached them.
"Hmm..." President Shinra said puffing his cigar. "So you all must be that... what was it?"
"AVALANCHE!" Barret yelled impatiantly. "And don't ya forget it!"
Cloud took a step forward looking Shinra in the eye, "Long time no see, President."
"Long time no see?" Shinra looked puzzled. "Oh... you. You're the one who quit SOLDIER and joined AVALANCHE... I knew you were exposed to Mako from the glow in your eyes. Tell me traitor, what was your name?"
"Cloud," He replied flatly.
Shinra nodded, "Forgive me for asking, but I can't be expected to remember each person's name... unless you become another Sephiroth that is. Yes, Sephiroth... he was brilliant. Perhaps too brilliant..."
Barret brought his foot down heavily on the bridge, "I don't give a damn bout none of that, but I do give a damn about gettin' outta here before this place blows."
"And such a good waste of fireworks," Shinra chuckled to himself. "Just to get rid of vermin like you..."
"Vermin?" Barret said furiously. "That's all you've got... VERMIN? Y'all are the vermin! Killin' the Planet jus' to fill your pockets an' you the King Vermin. So, you'd best shut the hell up."
President Shinra yawned, "You are beginning to bore me. I'm a very busy man, so if you'll excuse me, I have a dinner I must attend."
Barret took a few steps towards the President shaking with rage, "Dinner!? Don't gimme that horse shit. I ain't even started wit you yet!"
"Oh, don't worry," Shinra said. "You won't be left out... I've made arrangements for a... playmate for you all."
A moment later President Shinra snapped his fingers and a low humming sound came from behind a squad of SOLDIERs on the T-bridge. The SOLDIERs quickly retreated back into the Reactor as a large robot propelled by a hovercraft underneath it drifted slowly towards the AVALANCHE team.
"The hell is this!?" Barret said checking the rounds in his gun.
"Meet Airbuster, a techno-soldier," Shinra said calmly. "Our Weapon Development Department created him. I'm sure the data he'll extract from your dead bodies will be of great use to us in future testing."
A breeze was picking up followed by the chopping sound of a helicopter grew louder as the President's personal chopper lowered itself to the bridge close enough for President Shinra to board.
"Now then, if you'll excuse me," Shinra said tossing his cigar to the Sector 5 slums below.
President Shinra moved towards the helicopter right as Cloud had reached his limit. He unsheathed his sword from his back and charged towards President Shinra ready to swing. Just as Cloud brought his sword down, he stuck cold metal as the President stepped nonchalantly into the chopper that carried him to the upper plate.
"Damnit," Cloud hissed.
"Yo, Cloud," Barret's voice called from behind him. "We gotta do something about this!"
"This is from SOLDIER?" Tifa asked tightening her gloves.
"No way!" Cloud yelled. "It's just a machine."
"I don't give a shit what it is," Barret said assuming his fighting stance. "I'm gonna bust it up!"
With one of it's mechanical claws, the Airbuster grabbed Tifa by the neck, picked her and suspending her in the air. Her long legs dangled and kicked as she tried to free herself from the robotic arm.
"Help... Cloud..." Tifa's voice came out ragged and choked.
Barret began unloading rounds into the Airbuster leaving a trail of holes in the front panels as Cloud leapt from the middle intersection of the T- bridge where President Shinra was standing. He brought his sword down in one single slash severing the arm holding Tifa from the robot's body. Cloud landed behind the robot as Tifa landed on the ground in front of the machine by Barret. After she landed on her bottom with a dull thump and quickly pulled the robotic arm from her neck.
After coughing and grasping for air, Tifa was helped to her feet by Barret as Cloud leapt at the machine again this time his sword stripped a metal panel from the back of the machine. The Airbuster hovered a bit higher leaning the front of its body towards Tifa and Barret and at the same time a chain gun extended from the back of the machine aimed directly towards Cloud, whose eyes grew wider than cup saucers.
The Airbuster's chain gun fired round after round towards Cloud whom tried desperately to dodge as many bullets as he could. One grazed his left arm, another his left leg and he blocked most of the others with the wide end of his sword causing them to ricochet to the side. After regaining her composure, Tifa leapt into the air and delivered a backspin kick to the machine's head. The steel plate on her boot hit with such a force that the robot's sensors flickered, sparked, and eventually consumed by a cloud of smoke coming from the robot's interior. By now, the Airbuster was firing with its rear cannon and grasping with its robotic arm at random.
The Airbuster continued to attack aimlessly and turned towards the side giving Cloud the one opportunity he needed to end the fight. He sheathed his sword and closed his eyes summoning the power of the Lightening elemental Materia equipped in his sword. The area above them darkened as the rumbling sound of thunder was heard above the mechanical workings of the Airbuster. A moment later, a large bolt of lightning descended from the sky impaling the Airbuster vertically. Electrical currents ran through the machine as it began to short circuit and the robot itself was shaking violently becoming very unsteady.
"Cloud, get back!" Tifa shouted, but before she could get out the entire sentence, the robot exploded taking an entire section of the bridge with it. The force of the explosion pushed Tifa and Barret back causing them to land hard on the ground. Between them and Cloud was a thick wall of smoke blocking their view to the other side to where Cloud was at.
When the smoke cleared, Tifa looked across the bridge to where Cloud was at and saw that he was gone. She crawled up to where the section of the bridge had been blown away and saw in horror as Cloud dangled from the other side hanging onto nothing but a thin piece of metal. To make matters worse, he was way too far for either of them to reach. That one scrap was what kept Cloud from falling to the Sector 5 Slums fifty meters below.
"The bomb in the Reactor's gonna blow!" Barret said tugging on Tifa's arm. "Let's go, Tifa!"
Tifa looked at Cloud in horror, "Barret can't you do something? He'll fall!"
He slowly shook his head, "Not a damn thing."
"Cloud!" Tifa called. "Please don't die! You can't! There's still so much I want to tell you!"
Cloud grunted trying to keep his grip, "I know Tifa..."
"Hey," Barret called to Cloud. "You gonna be awright?"
"You worry about yourselves," Cloud said strongly. "I'm all right, but take care of Tifa!"
Barret nodded, "Alright... Sorry bout all this."
"Stop talking like this is the end!" Cloud called back.
An instant later, the bomb that AVALANCHE planted inside the Reactor exploded with such a force, it seemed to shake the Planet. The scrap of metal that Cloud was hanging onto shook loose from the main bridge and fell to the Sector 5 slums below carrying Cloud with it..
Tifa reached over the edge of the bridge after Cloud, but Barret pulled her back towards him and held her sympathetically. He knew that Tifa had some sort of thing for Cloud and although he couldn't even begin to figure out why. Even though he didn't like the skinny kid one bit, he had to admit he had balls.
"Aw, don't be upset, Tifa," Barret said softly. "Remember, he was in SOLDIER. I'm sure this is walk in the park for 'im."
Tifa just nodded with a silent tear streaming down her cheek as she looked down to the Sector 5 slums.
Cloud tried to open his eyes, but all was black. The last thing he could remember was the metal scrap coming loose on the bridge and then... just falling. While staring into the blackness, again the familiar voice returned to him... It was his voice. He didn't quite hear it, but then he did. It was everywhere and it was nowhere. The voice echoed though his mind and body, shaking his very soul.
You all right? His own voice asked. Can you hear me?
"Yeah..." Cloud replied in his own consciousness.
Back then, you could get by with just skinned knees.
"What do you mean, by 'back then?'" Cloud asked his voice.
What about now? Can you get up?
Cloud was confused, "What do you mean by 'that time?' What about now?"
Don't worry about me. You just worry about yourself now.
"I'll give it a try," Cloud replied.
Slowly, Cloud tried to stand up, still seeing nothing but blackness.
"Oh!" A closer female voice said. "He moved!"
How about that? Cloud's far away voice said again. Take it slow now... Little by little...
"Hello?" The closer female voice asked. "Hello?"
"I know..." Cloud replied to the voice in his mind. "Hey... Who are you?"
"Hello?" The closer female voice asked again. "Hello?"
Slowly, Cloud began to regain his vision. The blackness faded into blurs of green, yellow and brown... and pink. He closed his eyes as tight as he could and turned his head to the side. When he opened his eyes, he saw a single... flower. He tilted his head up and saw that he was lying in an entire patch of flowers. Was he in a field? Was he... dead? He turned his head up again and what he saw almost confirmed his thought of being dead. A beautiful angel with glowing green eyes was looming over him with a concerned look on her face.
"Are you okay?" The Angel asked.
Cloud sat up and looked around realizing he wasn't dead, and he wasn't in a heavenly field... But he still wasn't convinced that the woman next to him wasn't an angel.
"This is the church in the Sector 5 slums," The Angel said softly. "You suddenly fell on top of me, you really gave me quite a scare."
"I..." Cloud said still collecting himself. "Came crashing down?"
The woman nodded, "The roof and the flower bed must have broken your fall. You're very lucky."
"Flower bed," Cloud said looking around. "Is this yours?"
The woman nodded.
Quickly, Cloud stood up and moved out of the flowerbed. He brushed himself off and looked at the woman.
"Sorry about that," He said.
The woman smiled, "The flowers here are quite resilient because this is a sacred place. They say you can't grow grass and flowers in Midgar, but for some reason, the flowers have no trouble blooming here."
The woman kneeled down to the flowerbed and began to tend the flowers that had been disturbed by Cloud's fall.
"So," The Angel said still busy with the flowers. "We meet again. Do you remember me?"
Cloud looked at the woman thoughtfully, then at the flowers, then at the woman again. After studying her pink dress, long brown hair, and glowing green eyes, he finally made the connection.
"Yeah..." He said smiling a little. "I remember you. You were selling flowers on the upper plate."
"Oh, I'm so happy," The woman said looking up from the ground. "Thanks for buying my flowers."
Cloud nodded and then kneeled down to help the Flower Girl fix the flowers that he had disturbed.
"Say," The Flower Girl said looking at Cloud's sword lying on the ground a few feet away. "Do you have any Materia?"
Cloud nodded, "Yes, some. But, nowadays you can find Materia anywhere."
"Yeah, but mine is special," The Flower Girl said amused. "It's good for absolutely nothing."
"Good for... nothing?" Cloud laughed. "You probably just don't know how to use it."
"No, I do..." The Flower Girl insisted. "It just doesn't do anything. I feel safe having it though... It was my mother's."
"You know," The Flower Girl looked into his eyes. "I feel like talking. Do you feel up to it? After all, here we are meeting again, right?"
Cloud shrugged, "I don't mind."
The Flower Girl smiled, "Wait here, I have to check these flowers. It'll be just a minute."
The Flower Girl stood up and stretched, then walked over to the other end of the flowerbed and began to water the flowers.
"Just a little longer," The Flower Girl said to Cloud still looking at the flowers.
"Oh!" She stopped and almost dropped the water can. "Now that I think of it... we don't know each other's names, do we?"
The Flower Girl put down the water can, walked over to Cloud and gave a little curtsey, "I'm Aeris, the only Flower Girl in Midgar. Nice to meet you."
"The name's Cloud," He said with confidence. "Me...? I do a bit of everything."
"Oh..." Aeris said in awe. "A jack of all trades."
"Pretty much," Cloud said and smiled. "I do... whatever's needed."
Aeris put her hand over her mouth and giggled politely.
Cloud raised his eyebrow, "What's so funny? What are you laughing at?"
"Sorry," Aeris said still giggling. "I just..."
She cut herself short when she noticed a thin man standing in the church doorway. The young man had fiery red hair pulled back into a ponytail sitting just above his neck. A few misshapen strands hung in his face, but most were held back by the sunglasses resting on top of his head. The man had two scars, one on each side of his face and was dressed in a very familiar navy blue suit.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic