Cetra Destiny Chapter 10

A Day at the Races

By Frank Verderosa


The room was dark. She could barely see him, laying in bed. It was early evening. The sun stood on the horizon but had not descended below it yet. Even so, the curtains were pulled tightly closed. There was no light on in the room. Vincent didn't answer. Didn't move. Just lay in bed. Like a dead thing.

"Vincent, are you all right?" she said. She stepped toward him, then stopped as he opened his eyes. They seemed to almost glow in the dark, like fiery coals of red. It wasn't the color or the glow that stopped her, however, it was the look behind them. This wasn't the eyes of the Vincent she knew. His normal stare was cold and piecing, and could not be mistaken for anything friendly, but this was worse than this, this was... malevolent.

"Vincent?" she said softly.

He still didn't reply, but his head turned, his gaze wandering up to the ceiling. She approached again, until she stood right by his bedside. In the dim light, it was hard to make out details, but she could see enough that her breath caught in her throat. His skin was gray, his face appeared drawn and... withered. His eyes were open, staring at the ceiling, but there was no life in them at all. He didn't say anything, didn't even acknowledge her presence.

Something was wrong. It was obvious. He was getting worse. He hadn't looked this bad yesterday. She couldn't understand it. She had been testing him everyday, and every indication she had was that he should be improving. His mutant cell count had gone down every day. He should be getting better.

Obviously he wasn't, and she had no idea why.

"I have to take some blood," she told him. She didn't really want to. She knew how much he disliked it, but she had no choice. It was the only way she could monitor what was going on.

He said nothing.

She laid the blood collection equipment down on the bed beside him. She put the tourniquet on his arm, noticing that her hands were shaking slightly. She couldn't deny that she was worried. It was early evening and he hadn't moved from the bed all day, hadn't gotten up, hadn't said a word. She was worried about his health, and she didn't like the way he was looking at her. It scared her.

She pushed the needle quickly into his arm, trying to get it over with as quickly as possible. She looked at him, but he didn't react. She waited impatiently while the tube filled. She wanted to talk to him, say some words to possibly get him to relax, but her throat was dry, and she could think of nothing to say.

When she was done she pulled the tube out. As she was placing a band aid on the spot Vincent finally moved. His metal hand came over and grasped her wrist, making her gasp.

She tried to pull away, but his grip was like a vice she couldn't possibly escape from. She looked at him, but he was still looking at the ceiling. Other that one hand he hadn't moved at all. For a moment she just stood there.

"Vincent?" she questioned.

He didn't respond.

"Vincent, please let me go."

He still didn't answer, didn't show any sign that he even heard her, but she could feel the intensity of his grip slowly increasing.

"Vincent, please," she said again.

She pulled back, trying to break his grip, but it was impossible.

"Vincent, you're hurting me!" she pleaded.

She looked around, feeling herself starting to become frantic. What was wrong with him? She reached out and found her hand closing on the needle she had used to draw his blood. She continued to pull away, but she couldn't budge him.

"Vincent, let go!" she said, suddenly, angrily. If pleading didn't help, maybe that would. She didn't know what else to do.

It didn't help. She didn't know how to reach him. It was like he wasn't even there. She didn't think he knew what he was doing. He might not even be aware she was in his grip, but she had to do something to snap him out of it. She felt as if her wrist were breaking. If he squeezed any harder, she was afraid he's crush it.

She lifted the needle in her hand.

She hesitated. She didn't want to do it. She didn't want to hurt him. She didn't know if he would even feel it, or if it would make matters worse.

And then, abruptly and for no apparent reason, he let go.

For a moment she didn't react, too surprised that her hand was free.

"Vincent, are you all right?" she said finally.

No reply.

She looked at him for a long time, until the throbbing in her wrist subsided, though it took a lot longer for her heart rate to return to normal. Finally she picked up her samples and quickly walked out of the room.

She went immediately to the lab. Something was obviously wrong, and she was determined to stay in the lab until she figured out exactly what it was, no matter how long it took.

She kept going over everything she knew in her mind. She couldn't find any mistakes, but obviously there was one. Vincent was supposed to get another injection of the drug but she wasn't about to give it to him, not until she was sure what was going on. If the experiment had to end here in failure then so be it. She wasn't going to subject him to any more of this.

It took almost an hour for her to prepare the slides. With an air of trepidation she did her counts. Then she did them a second time, and a third, each time more frantically than the time before.

Finally, convinced that she had made no mistake, she sat back in her chair, rubbing her eyes.

For the past week the mutant cell count had declined at a slow but steady rate. From a high of 45% when she had first tested Vincent down to 39%. It was a good sign and was just what she had hoped would happen.

The count was now 65%.

It had gone up almost thirty percent in one day. One day! It should be going down, not up. Even with no drug at all it should remain the same. It should never go up. It was impossible.

But that's what the numbers told her. She was tempted to run through it again, but she had already done it three times. She had carefully checked everything. She was sure the count she got was accurate.

It was impossible, but she couldn't deny the truth. The drug wasn't working anymore. Somehow, it was having the opposite effect. Instead of decreasing the mutant cells in Vincent, it was increasing them.

Which was a very very bad thing.

The more mutant cells there were in Vincent's body, the harder it would be for him to prevent a transformation, the harder it would be for him to maintain control over the beast within him. There was a critical point where Vincent's will would be overwhelmed and he would no longer have any control at all. Lucrecia wasn't sure where that point would be. A lot depended on Vincent's will, but she knew for sure that anything over fifty percent was dangerous.

No wonder he was in such bad shape. No wonder he had hardly talked, hardly even moved. He must be expending every ounce of energy just to maintain control. She had to help him. She had to do something before it was too late.

But what?

Stop giving him the drug, certainly, but was that going to help? That might stop the increase in mutant cells, but it was still too high, still higher than it had been when they had started, before she had tampered with it. There was no guarantee he could remain in control even the way he was. She had to bring the count down somehow but she no idea how to do that. The only way she knew was with the drug but that obviously wasn't working anymore. Something had gone horribly wrong and she had no idea how to fix it. She paled at the thought that she might not be able to help him, that, because of her mistakes, he might be doomed to spend the rest of his life like this, struggling against the beast inside him.

She couldn't accept that. Something had gone wrong, and it was up to her to figure out what it was. She needed to know exactly what had happened, and why. She had to understand the process before she could fix it. There had to be a way to save him, there just had to!

She pulled the microscope to her again, determined to find the answer. It had to be there somewhere, somewhere in the data she had collected, or the specimens she had in front of her.

She started preparing more slides, but stopped suddenly at a sudden crashing sound from one of the rooms upstairs.

She stiffened, listening.

Vincent hadn't moved all day, except when he had grabbed her hand. It had to be him, however. There was no one else here. The sound she had heard had sounded like something smashing against the wall. She felt her throat go dry.

She stood there, unsure of what to do. What would she find if she went to him? She knew he was strong willed. Perhaps he had brought the beast under control.

She knew that was overly optimistic. It was more likely it was the beast that was in control now, and if that were true, there was no way for her to predict what he would do.

She heard the creaking of the stairs as someone started down them.

He was coming. She was trapped. Up the stairs was the only way out of the basement. She felt panic welling up inside her. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. She didn't know what was going on. She didn't know for sure the beast was in control. Even if it was, there was no way to know what it would do. Even as the beast Vincent was still Vincent, he still maintained some aspect of control.

Or did he? He might have before, when the mutant cell count was lower. Now, there was no way to tell.

She looked around frantically. There was no way to defend herself. She had no weapons in here that would hurt an ordinary human, much less the beast Vincent was capable of becoming. If he came in here, if he found her, she would be helpless.

She could hear the sound of movement outside now. He was close. It sounded like he was right outside the door. She knew she couldn't hide.

"Vincent?" she said, slowly, tentatively.

There was no reply. For a moment, there was silence, then a clawed hand reached around the doorframe.

In spite of bracing herself for the worst, Lucrecia still cried out at the sight of it. She backed away, slowly retreating from the door, still looking around, even though she was no longer sure what she was looking for. Her eyes fell on the phone, and she ran over to it and picked it up, dialing quickly, so quickly in fact that her fingers fumbled on the buttons and she had to start over twice.

She looked up. Vincent stood in the doorway, or rather the Chaos beast he had become. For a moment she looked in his eyes. There was no sign of Vincent there, no sign of any humanity at all, or pity.

She stepped back again, still holding the phone. It started to ring.

Pick up, pick up, she thought frantically as the Chaos beast slowly approached.

"Vincent, what are you doing?" she questioned. "I know what's wrong. I know the beast is strong, but you've got to fight it. It may be hard, but I know you can, I know there's still something left of you in there!"

He stood right in front of her now, his red eyes glaring down upon her. He raised a claw into the air, and Lucrecia felt a sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach, as if it were death's scythe that was about to descend upon her.

She heard a voice at the other end of the line.

"Vincent, please!" she cried out.

The claw raked downward.

The three Turks, followed closely by Yuffie, Ichiro and Lai Li, stepped off the tram into the entranceway to the Gold Saucer. If anything, the place had become even more gaudy since they had last been there. Flashing lights and bright neon signs flickered before their eyes whichever way they turned. Loudspeakers above the entrance extolled the virtues of the death defying rides within. Reno stepped up to the ticket booth and paid for those who didn't have a lifttime pass.

"You're paying for all of us?" Yuffie said in surprise.

"Why not?" Reno replied magnanimously. "We're billing it all to Avalanche anyway. This is their job, you know."

"You might want to head over to Chocobo Square as soon as you can," the booth operator told them. "It's amateur chocobo racing night. Anyone can participate in the races, and you might win a nice prize."

"Whatever," Reno muttered.

They walked in the entrance, making their way to Battle Square, where Dio's office was. Ichiro, having never been here before, looked around in wonder as they walked.

"Pretty impressive, eh?" Elena said.

"It is amazing, unlike anything I've ever seen," Ichiro replied.

"It's not that big a deal," Reno commented.

They didn't have to hunt for Dio, they found him standing in his private collection/museum room, admiring a line of body building trophies he had won.

"Dio," Reno called out.

The Gold Saucer owner turned to look at him. He was wearing his usual body revealing style of clothing, tight pants with suspenders and no shirt to hide his well muscled and tanned upper torso. His hair was slicked back.

"We'd like to ask you a few questions," Reno continued.

"What is this about?" Dio inquired.

"You have a gold chocobo," Elena said, it was not a question.

"Yes, Yellow Lightning. What about him?"

"He hasn't gone missing by any chance, has he?" Elena asked.

"What exactly is it you want to know?" Dio questioned.

Reno gave him a run down of the facts. No real details, just that they were looking for someone who had used a Gold Chocobo and were trying to track down where he had gotten it. This seemed to satisfy Dio's curiosity well enough, for he shook his head when Reno was done.

"Well, I don't know where that bird came from but it certainly wasn't mine. Lightning is in the chocobo pens down in Chocobo Square. Has been since I got him, except when he's been out for training. If someone had taken him anywhere, I'd have known."

"Are you sure?" Elena questioned.

"I'm certain," Dio replied. "Security around here is tight, especially when it comes to a Gold Chocobo. They're quite valuable, as I'm sure you know."

"All right," Reno replied. He looked at the others while Dio walked away. "Looks like this was a dead end."

"So what's next?" Elena inquired.

"Choco Bill has a gold chocobo on his farm," Rude spoke up. "I guess that's next on the list."

"Well, as long as we're here, why don't we go on a few of the rides?" Yuffie suggested. "At least we can get some fun out of this."

"We're not here for fun and games," Reno stated.

"Oh don't be such a grouch," Yuffie replied. "The chocobo farm is a few hours away, and it's getting late. You won't be able to go there until tomorrow anyway. C'mon, let's go over to Chocobo Square. I bet can kick all your butts at the races."

"Yeah, right," Reno replied.

"You don't believe me?" Yuffie questioned.

"The only way you'd be able to beat me at a chocobo race is if my bird had a heart attack and died in the middle of it," Reno proclaimed.

"Oh you are so full of it," Elena chimed in. "I bet I can beat you too."

Reno looked from one to the other.

"Well, why don't we just go find out then?" he suggested with a smile.

"What is this chocobo races?" Ichiro questioned, looking lost.

"Come with us and you'll find out," Yuffie replied.

They made their way through the crowds until they reached Chocobo Square. Rude and Lai Li stood on line to sign them up, while the others walked over to the railing to watch the races. It was quite a sight. They were used to professionals, who raced the chocobo's around the track in close order. Some of the people who were riding now had never raced before in their lives, and as a result the race was much more, well, disorganized, to be kind. Chocobos seemed to be running in all directions, seemingly at random, with only a few actually even going in the right direction. Reno had to admit it was quite amusing.

"What took you so long?" Reno asked when Rude and Lai Li reappeared.

"It was a long line," Rude told him. "We're all signed up for the twenty third race."

Reno looked up at the racing boards overhead. They were only on race eight.

"That's going to take forever," Yuffie whined.

"Oh quit your complaining," Reno growled.

Yuffie just glared at him, then wandered off. Elena stood by the railing next to Ichiro, trying to explain to him what was happening. Reno went over and placed a few bets, just for the hell of it. He wasn't going to bet heavily on this. With amateurs racing, you never knew what would happen.

It took almost half an hour to finish one race. With chocobo's running all over the place, it was slow going. Reno glanced down at his watch impatiently. At this rate Yuffie was right, it would take forever.

"Would the racers for group ten, Mr. Billingsworth and his party, please report to the staging area to prep for their race," he heard announced over the loudspeaker.

"Let's go, that's us," Yuffie, who had reappeared as mysteriously as she left, piped up.

"What are you talking about?" Reno questioned.

Yuffie walked forward and handed Reno a wallet. He flipped it open. The ID inside read Sherman Billingsworth.

"Congratulations," she told him. "You're Mr. Billingsworth."

The others crowded round.

"How did you get that?" Elena blurted out.

"Oh, just putting my natural talents to use," Yuffie said modestly. "C'mon, hurry up."

"Wait a second," Lai Li said. "What if the real Mr. Billingsworth shows up?"

"What if he does? He has no ID," Yuffie replied logically. "And besides, I don't think he will. He's kind of... tied up at the moment."

Reno smirked.

"You know, I could almost get to like you sometimes." He looked at the others and shrugged. "Let's go!"

The prep area for the racers was behind the betting booth. Reno showed his newly acquired ID and they were escorted in. The room was filled with harnesses and other racing equipment, and there was also a large pen that held their chocobos. A woman who was standing by the pen walked over to them as soon as they entered.

"Hi, my name's Ester. I'm one of the trainers here and I'm here to help you prepare for your race. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Your chocobos are over here," she said, indicating the pen. "They all have about the same rating, so it will be the skill of the rider that should determine the race. Don't worry, they're all easy to handle. Is there anyone here who has never raced before?"

Lai Li and Ichiro both raised their hand.

"Well, let me give you a quick run down of the basics then. The rest of you are free to listen in, of course."

Ester proceeded to give to two a quick run down on handling a chocobo. Ichiro was silent, Lai Li asked several questions. They others listened or, or didn't, as they saw fit.

"All right," Esther finished. "It's almost time for your race to start. Good luck to you all and don't worry if you don't do well, it's all in fun, but there is a nice prize waiting for the winner!"

"Which will be me!" Yuffie announced.

"In your dreams," Reno told her.

"All right, mount up!" Ester said.

They all picked out a chocobo and got on board. Ester led them all over to the starting position.

The starting light went off. Jostling for position, Yuffie managed to pull out to a quick lead, with Reno and Elena right behind her.

"Watch out on your right!" Reno called out to Elena. When she turned to look he leaned over and shoved her. She fell head over heels, tumbling off the chocobo, rolling on the dirt track until she finally came to a stop, her chocobo running off in another direction. She pulled herself to her feet as Reno and the others raced off.

"Oh you jerk!" she screamed.

Reno just grinned. That was one out of the way.

Rude and Ichiro had pulled up next to him, on the other side from where Elena had been. Yuffie was still ahead, while Lai Li trailed behind. Reno spurred his bird forward, trying just to keep the pace. It wouldn't do to expend too much energy at the start and have nothing left for the home stretch.

They rode on for some time, clustered in a tight bunch, with no one seemingly able to pull ahead. At about the half way point Rude managed to take the lead. This didn't sit well with Yuffie. As soon as he was past her she pulled out a small chinese star and threw it at him. It hit his chocobo on it's flank, causing it to let out a loud wark and run off in the wrong direction, with Rude frantically trying to regain control.

Yuffie regained the lead, but Reno and Ichiro were right behind her.

Figuring to take out the easier one first, Reno drove his chocobo to the side, running him right into Ichiro. The young samauri's chocobo turned away, stumbling slightly, but to Reno's surprise, he did not lose control.

Still, the stumble put Reno ahead of Ichiro. Reno looked ahead. Yuffie's chocobo was just a few feet in front of him, but he didn't seem to be catching up, and now they were closing in on the finish line.

Reno slid his nightstick into his hand and activated it with one quick motion. He leaned forward, aiming carefully at Yuffie's bird. There was a flash of light, and the bolt hit the chocobo squarely in the rear. The bird fell to the ground in a cloud of feathers.

Yuffie tumbled to the ground, rolling and managing to regain her feet almost immediately. Reno grinned as he rode by, while she gave him a look that, if looks could kill, would have dropped him dead on the spot. But she didn't waste much time with it. Instead she turned and looked at Ichiro, who was bearing down on her close behind Reno.

"Ichiro, help me!" she called out.

He stuck out his hand as he raced by. She grabbed it and leapt up behind him on his chocobo.

"You can ride with me while.....Ahhhhhhhhh!" he started, then cried out as Yuffie suddenly grabbed hold of him and tossed him off the bird. He bounced a few times in the dirt before coming to a stop.

"Sorry," Yuffie called out as she rode off, "but all's fair in love, war and chocobo racing!"

She raced on after Reno. He still had a lead, and the finish line was near. She would never catch him. Not without a little help that was. She pulled out another Chinese star. As they came around the last turn she unleashed it. Her aim was true and it struck Reno's chocobo in the rump, causing it to squawk and jerk violently. It reared back, Reno trying mightily but fruitlessly to retain control, until he found himself falling backward off it into the dirt.

Even though he lost the bird, he didn't lose his nightstick, and as Yuffie rode past the crackle of electricity could be heard as he gave Yuffie's chocobo a taste of it. A moment later Yuffie found herself on the ground as well.

Reno sprang to his feet, looking around. His chocobo had wandered off, back the way they had come. Yuffie's, on the other hand, was just a few steps away. He saw the young ninja pulling herself to her feet as well and realized she'd be able to reach her chocobo long before he could get to his.

He ran over to Yuffie's chocobo and started to pull himself up, but his progress was suddenly arrested as he felt something latch onto his leg.

"Hey, that's my chocobo!"

Reno tried to pull himself out of Yuffie's grip, but she held on tight.

"Let go of me you little twerp!"

She was pulling herself up. Now she was on his back, trying to climb over him and onto the chocobo.

"I'll let go as soon as you let go of my chocobo!" she snapped.

"The chocobo belongs to whoever is riding it, and that's going to be me!" Reno exclaimed.

The bird was moving away, trying to get away from the commotion, but Reno, half on it and half off, wouldn't let go. The finish line was only a few feet away now.

Yuffie wrapped an arm around his neck, trying to pull herself over his head and onto the bird.

"Not on your life!" she told him.

Reno jerked back and forth, trying to shake the pest off him, but Yuffie clung tenaciously, refusing to be budged. He had dropped his nightstick when he tried to climb on the chocobo, and his hands were occupied just trying to hold onto the bird, so he couldn't use them to try to peel her off. Now they were both being slowly dragged along by the bird, neither one of them able to climb onto it or willing to let go.

She let go of his throat, pulling herself over the top of him. Now she had a grip on the bird as well.

Changing tactics, he let go of the chocobo, grabbed hold of Yuffie, and pushed her over the top. Not expecting this sudden acceleration, she flew over the top of the bird onto the ground on the other side.

With a cry of triumph Reno pulled himself up on the bird, but Yuffie wasn't done yet. Hitting the ground rolling she sprang back up onto her feet. She turned around and leapt up into the air, landing squarely on Reno's back once again. This time it was Reno's turn to be surprised, and he momentarily lost his grip. With Yuffie on top of him, the both fell off onto the ground.

"You little jerk!" he snapped.

"Me a jerk! You're the one who's trying to steal my chocobo, you moron!" Yuffie retorted.

"Are you two done yet?"

They both stopped and looked up. They were standing right beside the finish line. Lai Li sat on her chocobo just beyond it, watching them with a bemused expression on her face.

"My butt is sore!" Yuffie whined, glaring at Reno.

He was walking along the concourse near the Ghost Hotel. The others trailed behind him, Rude holding a huge stuffed mog that Lai Li had won as a prize, nearly as large as she was.

"Oh shut up," Reno growled. "My back feels like a pincushion from feeling your claws in it."

"I think my ankle is sprained," Elena complained, adding her glare to Yuffie's.

"That wasn't very nice of you to toss me off, Miss. Yuffie," Ichiro spoke up.

"Hey, I said I was sorry," Yuffie retorted. "And stop calling me Miss. Yuffie!"

"Oh be quiet all of you!" Rude cut in. "Dio wasn't very happy about what you did to his chocobos. We're lucky he didn't throw us all in Corel Prison. If it hadn't been for the fact that we provided more entertainment than any other racers, he probably would have."

"We didn't do any permanent damage," Yuffie said, "and it wasn't..."

She was interrupted by the ringing of a cell phone.

"Who is that?" Reno said, not sure where the sound was coming from.

"It's me," Elena announced.

She pulled out her phone and held it to her ear.


She stood there for a moment, a frown forming on her face.


The others just looked at her.

"Lucrecia? Is that you? Lucrecia!"

"What is it? What's going on?" Reno asked.

Elena didn't answer for a moment. Then she lowered the phone.

"It was Lucrecia. Or at least, I think it was. I heard her say something about Vincent, and then she screamed and it was cut off."

"She screamed?" Lai Li said slowly.

"Yes," Elena said, nodding.

"Is she still in Nibelheim?" Yuffie asked.

"I guess so," Elena said slowly.

They all just stood there for a moment, looking at Elena.

"I think we better get over there as quick as we can," she said finally.

"There's nothing out here."

Tifa stared out the window of the helicopter at the waves below. She didn't want to, but she had to admit Reeve was right. They had been flying all day now, only going back to the island to refuel, and, except for a few small uninhabited islands, had seen nothing at all.

She stirred uncomfortably in her seat, but said nothing. They had to be here, they had to out here somewhere. It was just a matter of picking the right direction, but the ocean was just so damn large. They could be anywhere. It was hopeless.

She wasn't going to believe that. She wasn't going to give up, no matter what the odds.

"Are there any other islands out here?" she asked.

Reeve shook his head.

"There's no more on the map," he told her.

Tifa sighed, leaning back in her chair. Her neck hurt from sitting there hunched over, staring down at the water below. She was tired, and her nerves were shot. It was silly to get all worked up. She didn't know what had happened to Cloud and Aeris. For all she knew they could be perfectly safe somewhere. She and Reeve could just be banging their heads against the wall for no reason. Still, she couldn't help but worry. It was only natural. And besides, she had a feeling something was very wrong. She had a feeling Cloud needed her, and she wasn't going to rest until she found him.

"It's getting late," Reeve commented, looking to the west at the sun hovering just above the water. "Do you think we should head back?"

"Do you ?" she asked.

Reeve shrugged.

"Not really, but I'm not sure what else we can do. They could be on some island out here and we could search for weeks and not find it. We've gone over the entire area, practically the entire range of the copter, in grid fashion and found nothing. Logically, it might make more sense to just go back and wait for word."

"If they could send us word don't you think they would have done it already?" Tifa questioned.

"I suppose," he replied. "I just don't have any other suggestions."

Neither did she. What do you do when you've searched everywhere you can?

She stared off into the distance. The wind was blowing from the east, an endless line of waves marching by below them. The ocean looked exactly the same in all directions. For all she knew, they could have spent all day just going in circles.

There had to be somewhere out here where they hadn't looked!

She lowered her head, thinking back to where they had been, the places they had seen, or even just heard of. After a moment she lifted her head again.

"What about Round Island?" she asked.

Reeve frowned.

"Round Island?" he said. He had almost forgotten about that. "That's way north of here."

"Yeah, but it's east too, isn't it?"

"Yeah, some," he conceded. "But Cid said the chocobo went straight east."

"So that doesn't mean it didn't turn north somewhere along the line," Tifa replied. "It's the only place that's east of there where we haven't looked."

Reeve had to admit to the truth of that. Still, there were other problems.

"We can't make it to Round Island," he told her. "We don't have enough fuel."

"So let's go back and get some more," she said.

"It won't matter," he replied. "Even on a full tank we won't have enough for a round trip. It's too far away."

Tifa sighed.

"It's not that bad," Reeve said. "We'll just go back and get the Tiny Bronco. That can make it."

"Shera took the Tiny Bronco back to Rocket Town to pick up some supplies, remember?" Tifa reminded him. "She won't be back til late."

"So, is there a rush?"

"Yes!" she said more impatiently than she had intended.

Reeve turned to look at her.

"I'm sorry," she apologized. "I'm just on edge. You know that. But yes, I think there is a rush. I don't know why I think that but I do. It's just a feeling, but Cloud needs me. They both need us."

"I know," Reeve said kindly. "But does it matter? We don't have any choice. We can't get there and back in the helicopter."

"Well, can we at least get there?" she asked.

"You mean one way? Yeah, I suppose we could make it, but what good would that do us?"

"We could let Cid know where we're going," Tifa replied. "When Shera comes back she can bring us more fuel with the Bronco. It's going to take some time to hunt for them anyway. It's not likely we'll be done before she gets back."

Reeve shook his head.

"Tifa, that's crazy. It's foolish to deliberately run ourselves out of fuel. What if something goes wrong and we have to leave in a hurry? Or what if there's no one there? We'll just be wasting out time on some wild goose chase, and then we have to pull Shera off what she's doing to come and get us. That will slow down the repairs on the Slipstream and you know the sooner the Slipstream is repaired, the sooner we can start a real search. And besides all that, it's almost dark. By the time we get to Round Island we're not going to have any time to look around before nightfall. We'll have to wait until tomorrow anyway."

Tifa sighed in frustration. She had no argument to counter what he was telling her. She knew he was being logical and she was being irrational, but she couldn't help it.

"I don't care," she said. "I think we should go there now. I think Cloud and Aeris are in trouble and they need our help as soon as possible."

"I know how you feel but..." Reeve began.

"Reeve, please!"

Reeve frowned. Her suggestion went against everything he believed in. He believed in logic and organization. If you were going to do something like this you had to be prepared for every eventuality. It was the height of folly to just zoom off on some crazy mission without any planning or forethought. He should tell her no. He should take them back to the island and wait for Shera to return. That was the smart thing to do. Yet he looked at her, her big brown eyes staring at him, the pleading look on her face and he knew he didn't stand a chance.

"All right," he said. "Round Island it is."

She smiled and patted him on the shoulder. He just turned away and shook his head.

God I am such a wuss, he thought.

Chapter 11

Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic