Combat Diary Chapter 8
"This isn't going to wo-ork..."
"You gotta better idea?"
"Uhm, we COULD build a giant horse and hide inside of it, then when they bring it in, we could leap out in the middle of the night...?"
Dio looked at his skeptical friend with lowered eyelids and a small frown.
"That would NEVER work. The Shinra ain't that big a bunch of idiots."
Zangan shook his head in disapproval. "Do you two always babble on like this?" he asked in a slightly annoyed tone. He walked between the two men, his hands behind his back. Dio was on the left, Byran on the right. They each held onto one of Zangan's arms, as though escorting him.
It was close to nightfall again, however, the ambient lights of the upper city made seeing any stars impossible. The trio walked straight towards the Shinra building, each of them uncertain of themselves in some one regard or another. The plan was to pretend that Dio and Byran had captured Zangan. He was their way in, and hopefully, they would be allowed to escort him enough into the building and stay together so that they could help free the imprisoned ancient and her child. Seeing as security was likely beefed up since last night, any alternate ways into the building may have been sealed off. That left the front door, and visitors may have to of undergone careful ID checks before being allowed in. However, two men bringing back a wanted man would clear any doubt in the minds of the people who worked in the building, and thus, maybe grant them passage.
Or maybe Shinra troops would take Zangan the second they walked up to the steps. They were each prepared to fight, but they didn't want to raise an alarm too soon. Obviously, freeing the captives would mean they would have to fight their way out, but fighting all they way through the building may cause problems. Fate brought Dio and Byran together with Zangan, so hopefully this attempt would not be in vain.
The three men finally made it to the monolith of steel and glass; the epitome of architectural achievement and political power; that which threatened to invade the heavens, home of the gods of lore: The Shinra building. They took a deep breath, and without further hesitation, strode straight up to the main entrance...
Of course, any fear of the Shinra's might was quickly faded by the sight of the two guards at the front door. One was balancing a beer-bottle on his helmet, while the other was taunting him, hoping the glass container would topple over.
The trio of companions didn't even slow down to witness the ridiculous sight. They made it through the front door with no bother whatsoever.
"Unbelievable..." Byran muttered to himself, yet audible enough for his friends to hear. Dio nodded slightly, while Zangan remained hunched over. He did not want to blow the fact that they were allies by acting casual. Also, another stroke of luck presented itself: the front counters were unmanned, leaving the team to freely wander about the lobby.
Or so they thought.
Byran looked up the stairs to his right. A pair of commanders came striding down in a half-jog. However, no one in the group interpreted them as a threat, yet. All they had to do was stick to their original story.
"What business do you have... here?" the commander asked, but slowed down as he recognized Zangan. His face brightened up slightly. "Well! I see our big, bad, power-stranger has been captured!"
The other chimed in, "Yeah, this is great! Why don't you guys come with us, and we'll see about your reward!"
"Where're we going?" Dio asked, just to be certain.
"Well, first, we're gonna lock him away, you guys can come and watch us do that! Then we'll take you up to see the President, I'm sure he'll want to talk to you guys!" The first commander replied with excitement. Zangan repressed a smile as Dio and Byran over-exaggerated theirs.
The two commanders lead the trio into a pair of large, opaque tubes that seemed to reach almost the whole height of the building. It made Byran a tad nauseous looking all the way up, or in any other direction, for that matter, as one could end up seeing the entire city of Midgar by the time they reached the 67th floor.
Dio looked off to the left, and saw through an entrance way what appeared to be a laboratory, and couldn't contain his curiosity...
"Why do you guys have your jail next to a lab? Or even on a high-level floor, for that matter?"
"Well, for one..." The second commander started, "It serves to intimidate the prisoners, knowing that there's all sorts of freaky experiments going on right down the hall, and if they don't behave, they could be next!" He said this with a laugh, ignorant of the true facts. "Also, this is a very high-level security floor, making a break out -or a break in- much harder. And what's someone without a keycard gonna do, jump out a seventy-some story window?"
"Ah, don't listen to him," The first commander remarked with a wave of his hand, "It was a design flaw; No one thought to put a jail anywhere until most of the building was already completed."
As they talked, they walked down the corridor, straight towards the cells.
Kamen, Ifalna's wanna-be benefactor, was on duty. He couldn't believe his eyes. His last, best... only hope for getting the Cetra woman and her child to freedom, was walking towards him in shackles. He was being escorted by two commanders and two other men who Kamen didn't recognize. He shook his head, gripped his gun and whispered a curse of resentment. The first commander took notice...
"What's wrong with you, soldier?" he said, in what was a much more serious, deep, commanding voice than he had used when conversing casually with the others.
Kamen gripped his gun even harder. He had to make a decision here and now. He knew how strong the older man was. If Kamen could just take out one or two of these guys... No, no, Shinra would certainly have his own family killed... no, wait, he was a solider, there were almost thousands more, they wouldn't be able to pin-point him... would they? Why must he have to make this decision? Why must the woman and her child suffer?
"I asked you a QUESTION, soldier!" the commander barked.
This startled the soldier, and Zangan took notice. His head came up...
"Ready?" he whispered.
"Say what?" The second troop said, turning to the aging ninja...
What happened next, no one really knew. There were gunshots. Zangan broke free from his already-loose ropes. Blood spilled from the first commander, though most of Kamen's shots were sporadic and really not aimed at anyone. A bullet skimmed over Dio's shoulder, drawing a bit of blood. Everyone hit the floor. The second commander tried to make a grab for Kamen, but he was intercepted by Zangan, who threw him into a wall...
..or rather, a wall with a very big ALARM SWITCH.
The blaring alarm shook everyone, and returned their senses to normal. Kamen was unsure of the other two men, but his fears were put aside when Zangan simply said "Friends." He ran for Ifalna's door and stumbled for his keys...
"No time!" Zangan yelled. "BOLT!"
A flash of lightning and the roar of thunder echoed through the hall, and hit the door...
"...magic proof?" Zangan asked, astonished.
Dio charged the door, hoping to smash it open. He was rewarded by being deflected back and hitting his rear on the ground.
Byran stepped in and tried to slash the door with his Hyper-lance. He inflicted some sizable gouges. Unfortunately, he wasn't making any progress.
"Quit showin' off, move!" Kamen said, pushing Byran lightly to the side. Just as he touched the door with his key, it came open...
It fell to the floor and broke into several pieces with a loud crash. There was a slightly disturbed, ashamed silence among the warriors.
Ifalna looked at the men, cradling her screaming child in her arms. She bent down and kissed the child on the forehead. "Relax, Aeris. it will be... okay."
Zangan noticed something about how that last word stuck in Ifalna's throat. He didn't like it. Something else was going on...
"HALT!" "CEASE!" "YOU THERE!" [[KZKT TARGETS IDENTIFIED]] "Hey guys, what's u... THE HELL?!"
The men turned. Several SOLDIERS and troops, along with a robot had them cornered in the hall. Kamen helped Ifalna to her feet as the original trio charged the small battalion. The sounds of battle raged on as the defecting troop turned the corner and raised his gun...
Dio wiped off his hands, and Byran pulled his weapon out what was left of the robot. The bodies of the other soliders lie motionless on the floor. Kamen simply lowered his gun.
"Wow... just, wow."
"Hey, ya mind gettin' rid of that mask?" Dio complained to his new ally, "I don't wanna confuse you for the enemy..."
"Yeah, okay.. I'm done with Shinra anyway." He pulled the helmet off with only slight hesitation as he said this.
Ifalna looked the man over for a second. He had strawberry-blonde hair that spiked out in several directions, ocean blue eyes, and a kind of slightly-pointed jaw. Kamen tossed the helmet to the ground and nodded. "Okay, let's get out of here..." He motioned for Ifalna to stay close to him as the group made a mad dash for the elevators...
Mere moments seemed to extend for a much longer period of time, as the elevators stood before them all, coming ever so much closer to them...
But not close enough.
"That won't get you anywhere..."
Dio came to a skidding halt, and Byran ran right into him. It was a good thing Dio stopped: The elevator doors were open, but the lift was nowhere to be seen. As it was, Everyone turned to see the source of the warning.
Ifalna, Aeris, Zangan and Kamen recognized him right away. It was Hojo. And he brought friends.
Almost a dozen SOLDIERS stood behind the scientist. They moved slowly to block the elevators and surround the group...
"There's a stairwell back that way..." Kamen said, thumbing behind him. "Hurry!"
The group turned to run, only to find someone in their way.
He was just under six feet tall, with shoulder-length silver hair and glowing emerald eyes. Zangan estimated right off the young man could not of been much older than 18, if even that, despite his otherwise extraordinary physique. He held a thin, yet very long sword, it had to of been almost as long as he was tall. His black outfit complimented his somewhat pale complexion. He maintained a neutral expression on his face...
Until Zangan started to put his hands up.
That position is one of Chai-ki. A defensive art with high emphasis on close-range combat. Given his distance, he will attempt a flying kick, faking high while hitting low. Counter with a side-step.
Zangan was about to make his move when he saw it in the young man's eyes... he had already read his move! Zangan was unsure what he was even going to do, But the boy's smirk told him otherwise. Zangan took a step forward and slightly changed the position of his hands.
The boy frowned while his eyes flickered for a second, but then he regained his grin.
Aaah, Akada. Long-range combat, used in conjunction with aerial attacks... A hit-and-run attack most likely. Counter with a pre-emptive strike while he's air-born and unable to dodge.
Zangan's eyes went wide. Somehow, the boy read him AGAIN, before he did ANYTHING! Zangan's brow let loose a sweat drop...
The others maintained defensive positions, but the troops made no move to attack. Byran noticed Zangan shifting uneasily, hardly making a move.
"Uhm, you wanna get that kid outta the way so we can escape?"
"NOT... NOW!" Zangan said, his voice trembling. Byran had not known the older man long, but he could tell his confidence was almost shot. But if HE had a reason to be afraid....
"Uhm... someone want to DO SOMETHING?!" Dio yelled out.
Hojo got a look of annoyance on his face at this impromptu stand-off.
"SEPHIROTH! Just kill them and get me back my specimens!" The scientist ordered.
Sephiroth paid the man no heed. He was rather amused by this "chess-game" of move-reading he was playing with the older ninja.
"Screw this..." Byran muttered, "BIG GUARD!"
Byran and his allies were covered in a golden light. They felt as though they were protected and able to move faster...
"Move! I just gave us a barrier, but the haste will wear it out quickly! Now go!" The small band went to run right past Sephiroth... Who uttered something...
"De-barrier..." he said extending his hand, all while yawning.
The companions were thrown for a loop as the barriers around them broke apart. Sephiroth punched Byran in the face, kicked Dio into the wall, threw Zangan back in front of him and kicked Kamen into Ifalna and Aeris, sending them to the ground. They were all shocked at the force, speed and ferocity of the attack.
"Be careful with my specimens, you buffoon!" Hojo spat out. Again, he was ignored.
Sephiroth swung his sword around and grinned. Zangan got up, followed by Byran and Dio.
"Okay, we got problems here..." Byran admitted... "Dio, Shinra-guy..."
"Kamen..." Kamen corrected.
"..Kamen, right. Take out those SOLDIERS! Zangan, follow my lead!" And with that, Byran charged Sephiroth. Zangan jumped in the air after him.
Sephiroth went to determine his opponent's attacks. Unfortunately, he had failed to undo the "Haste" portion of Byran's "Big-guard" spell...
He barely managed to deflect Byran's lance, and was treated to a kick to the head from Zangan. Much to Zangan's surprise and chagrin, Sephiroth absorbed the blow. Sephiroth was going to try a round-house slice, finish them both with one blow, but Byran ducked it and Zangan jumped over, and kicked Sephiroth again from behind for his trouble.
This time the young SOLDIER was caught off-balance, and he stumbled forward. Byran tried to punch Sephiroth in the head, but somehow the boy was able to dodge the blow mid-fall.
Kamen let loose a volley of bullets. Most of the soldiers wore bullet-resistant armor, but a few bullets fought their way through, and the rest served well enough to stun the super-humanly enhanced fighters. Dio grabbed one and threw him into another, all while dodging a relatively clumsy swing of another gigantic sword. Two more SOLDIERS threw gigantic sickles at the large fighter. He quickly grabbed a near-by SOLDIER and used him as a shield, much to that SOLDIER's disdain. He let out a cry of pain as the sickles found him and not their intended target.
"Davey!" One of the SOLDIERs who had thrown his sickle cried out. He charged Dio with his sword raised, and was rewarded by having his now-deceased friend tossed at him, knocking him to the ground.
One SOLDIER went after Ifalna, having specific instructions to get her away from the battle. She grabbed his arm and concentrated for a moment...
Two more SOLDIERS went after Kamen. He shot at them futilely, as they deflected the bullets with their swords. One bullet must have gotten through however, as one reeled back in pain, blood spilling out of his head. The other did not even pause and sliced at the former troop. Kamen clumsily dodged the blow, but still saved himself from being decapitated. He got pushed down roughly, and punched in the head on his way down. He hit the ground hard, but still managed to get his gun up to try and fire...
His weapon shot out its last remaining bullets, all of them missing or not having an effect. The SOLDIER raised his sword...
Sephiroth found himself assaulted by lighting and a not-so-fearsome summon. A chocobo with a Mog riding on top came out of nowhere and smacked into him. However, it did its work... Sephiroth found himself unable to move!
Byran kicked him in the chin, and Zangan did a flying-dive right into Sephiroth's back. He went down...
...but got right back up. He turned and was now in front both his adversaries. He maddingly slashed out with his sword. Byran managed to block most of the blows, but the sheer force of Sephiroth's technique was almost creating a wind storm, and he felt himself getting pushed back. Zangan tried to rush in when he saw an opening, but got slashed across the chest and face. Sephiroth twisted and kicked the ninja away. He wasn't done with him yet. But this other one was getting on his nerves...
"FIRE!" Sephiroth yelled, thrusting out his palm.
Byran found himself surrounded by flame. It burned him inside and out, and seemed to last forever, though he was only enveloped for a few seconds. The intrepid adventurer fell back and went to one knee...
Dio ran in and clothes-lined some more SOLDIERs. Unfortunately, they just would NOT STAY DOWN! And unfortunately, he found himself eventually surrounded. A sword came down behind his head, which he barely detected and managed to get away from, give or take a few strands of hair. He turned to counter, but was rewarded with several kicks to the stomach . He hunched over, and found himself getting kicked in the jaw. Dio's head shot upward with the blow. Before he could recover, he got rammed straight in the back.
Kamen looked in the SOLDIER's eyes. He knew he was going to die. He had no time to grab his night-stick, as if it would even stop the large blade his opponent wielded from coming down on him. Suddenly, another large sword came into Kamen's field of vision, knocking the SOLDIER out. He blinked, and saw Ifalna standing tall, holding a large Buster Sword with one hand, her daughter in her other arm. A few feet away, the same SOLDIER that had tried to grab her lay face down, either dead or unconscious.
"Stand up and reload," she said, almost coldly. She could not help it, though. Her "Exchange" left her with the powers and abilities -and to a slighter degree, the personality- of the person she used it on. Kamen just lay there for a moment, staring at the woman. It was a wonder she didn't do this before. But he did as instructed, and he saw the small group of SOLDIERS attacking Dio...
Sephiroth went in for the kill, and just to add some last minute insult to injury, he kicked Byran in the face. Then he noticed a purple materia orb on Byran's armlet start to glow.
Beyond all reason, Byran shot up, and as though possessed, struck at Sephiroth, who dodged by bending back, getting only a small cut cross his chest. Sephiroth tried a rebound-strike, but was caught unawares by Zangan, who kicked him in the side. Byran backed off for the moment, trying to catch his breath and concentrate on his Restore materia...
Zangan palmed Sephiroth in the face, then swiftly collided his hands with Sephiroth's wrists, disarming him. Sephiroth's first instinct was to get his sword back... which left him wide open. Zangan assaulted Sephiroth with a volley of punches. Sephiroth did his best to block and absorb the blows, when suddenly, sharp, searing pain struck him in the back and side. He lowered his guard, just for a moment, as Zangan delivered the finishing blow. As he crumbled to the ground in pain, Zangan saw that Byran had delivered those critical strikes.
The SOLDIERs gathered around Dio's unmoving form, unaware of what was transpiring around them. Two of them got bullets to the back for their ignorance. The others looked up, and saw the Cetra woman and traitorous troop charging at them. They went to counter-attack, but two of them suddenly fell, Dio having grabbed their ankles. The other three got momentarily distracted by this. One was shot dead, another chopped at by Ifalna, getting seriously wounded. The last one took a critical split second to make up his mind as to what to do, but found that he was about to get whupped by Dio, who was using a SOLDIER as a club on him....
WHAK! The SOLDIER found himself flying at least a good five feet before hitting his head on the ground and getting knocked out.
Everyone looked around. There was a bit of blood all about, with bodies everywhere. Sephiroth was conscious, but had the mind not to get up. Hojo had disappeared.
"Okay..." Dio said, breathing heavily, "Can we go home now?"
Ifalna dropped the sword she had, her Exchange starting to wear out. She looked at Aeris, who was shocked out of her mind. Ifalna's eyes began to tear up as she put her hand to the back of her own neck.
"Something wrong?" Kamen asked. He had done it. Ifalna was almost free. Yes, he'd have to go on the run from the Shinra with his family.. maybe he could take Ifalna and Aeris with them, too? But something concerned him now. The Cetra woman seemed... despondent. Like she was not truly happy to be free.
"... No... No. Let's go." Ifalna said in a flat tone.
The group made its way towards the stairs, with Zangan in the lead and Kamen bringing up the rear...
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic