Darkness Falls Chapter 3
Aeris ran through the forest with all her strength. Despite having been dead for so long, the food she had eaten somehow gave her enough energy to continue. However, her happiness at this new found strength was short-lived, for she could feel something following her. Something inside her told Aeris that it was no friend. She ran on, wondering why the dark forest had not yet opened into Bone Village. Was she being taken somewhere else? More than just from ghost stories, Aeris knew that the forest was somewhat sentient. It could move slightly, leading its travelers to different places...
She suddenly heard the screams, bone-chilling cries of agony came from behind her. Whether from the City, or from her pursuers, Aeris could not tell, but she immediately began to run faster. Sounds of pursuit increased, now Aeris was sure she was being followed, and whoever it was would not let her get away. She just hoped-
Explosions erupted throughout the forest, waking Aeris from her thoughts. Blasts came from out of nowhere, detonating all around her. She tried to run faster, but her new-found reserves were quickly fading. They would have her soon. Then she saw figures up ahead, but could not tell what they were for all the darkness.
They have me cornered, she thought, drawing her staff, well, they wont get me without a fight!
Ready for battle, Aeris ran at the dark figures.
Red had been tracking for a while. Along with his friends, they had been headed for the Ancient City. That was when the explosions had started. Then, something else could be heard, something much more eerie than the sound of any weapon. They were screams, but the sound was not human.
Great Planet, said Cloud, what in all creation makes a sound like that?
I dont know... answered Vincent, Ive never heard them before, even from Hojos monstrosities.
Silence, ordered Red, I hear something...someones coming this way.
Okay everyone, get ready, said Cloud, bringing out his sword.
The others brought out their weapons as well. Then they saw a shadow come out of the forest. The moon was shining brightly, but the forest concealed the figure well. It was running fast. Upon seeing them, it hesitated, but then seemed to draw a weapon before charging again.
The figure attacked silently, Cloud strode forth to meet it. The two attackers met in a lock of weapons. Cloud could now see his opponent in the moonlight. He went cold inside, and stepped back, it was a girl...one he had thought dead...
Aeris attacked the foremost of the figures, clashing her weapon onto a sword. Then she noticed his eyes, eyes she had seen once before. The figure stepped back.
Aeris... whispered the swordsman.
Cloud... she whispered back.
He flinched, and backed away further.
Cloud... said another voice, which sounded like Tifa, whats wrong?
Cloud backed away further, stumbling to the ground. The others ran to him, fearing the worst. Then they saw who stood before them, and froze, not a sound broke the silence, even the explosions and the screams had subsided.
Tifa was the first to regain her composure. Aeris...is it you?
Yes, its me. said Aeris, looking at her feet.
Cloud got to his feet, and stared her in the eyes. Then he knew it was her, somehow, she had come back.
Aeris... whispered Cloud, youre back...
Before Aeris could react, Cloud drew her up in a bear-hug. He was crying and laughing at the same time.
Cloud... wheezed Aeris, I cant breathe...
He drew back immediately, Sorry...
Its alright, she managed to say.
Is it really you? asked Tifa, touching Aeris shoulder to make sure.
It is, answered Aeris, Im not a ghost, Im here to stay...
The others gathered around her not believing she had come back, it was a meeting of friends. That was when they heard the explosions again. Aeris quickly began to run. She grabbed Tifa and Cloud, and began to run away from the trees. The others followed after the trio. There was no more time for questions.
Hey! yelled Barret, Waitaminit dammit!
Come on! shouted Aeris, Theres no time to lose!
Aeris... said Tifa, what are those explosions?
Someones...following...me. breathed Aeris.
Following? asked Cloud, Who?
Dont...know. she replied.
Go easy on me, wheezed Cid, finally catching up, running is not my best skill.
You really should cut down on those cigarettes. said Reeve.
The band had made it to the fields, and were out of the forest. Cloud was about to ask another question when an explosion came again. This time, it fell in between the group, scattering them everywhere. Red and Vincent were the quickest to recover. They got on their feet, guarding the others as they got up.
What was THAT? asked Yuffie.
Youll find out, answered Red, they are coming this way.
Dark shapes began to emerge from the forest. In the full moonlight, Cloud could see that they were men, clothed in black shrouds. At first, he thought they were Jenova project clones, but there was something different about them.
One of the men spoke, We have come for the Cetra, said a raspy voice.
Give her to us, and we may let you live, said another.
The hell we will! Well show you what Avalanche is made of! answered Cloud, drawing his sword. The others drew their weapons as well. Aeris, are these the guys whove been chasing you?
I think so... she answered, I never really saw them.
Tifa was going to ask something when she heard the screams again. A foul stench filled the air, and more shadows came out from the dark.
The leader of the group smiled, Ah, my Reavers return. Too bad for the traitor, he would have made a fine capture.
What do you mean? screamed Aeris. Is...?
Alas...I believe your friend is dead, laughed the evil man, Now, I send you to join him. ATTACK!
The Reavers attacked the group with the ferocity of raging animals. They ran everywhere, smelling death in the air. A giant werebeast ran towards Tifa, she blasted it with fire. The smell of burnt flesh and hair invaded her nostrils, causing her to gag. The creature fell, but another attacked her from behind, knocking Tifa to the ground with a blast of energy from its mouth. It was about to pounce on her when someone cut the creature in half.
Cloud smiled down at a gasping Tifa, helping her to her feet. Are you alright?
She nodded in the affirmative.
Good, he smiled, cant have my wife go before her time can I?
Tifa smiled back, but screamed as she saw another monster raging at them.
A blast from behind froze the creature in its tracks, splitting it into a thousand pieces.
Aeris smiled at them. Pay attention guys, cant have my best friends husband dying either!
Meanwhile, Vincent and Red fought like wild demons. Red slashed and tore his way through scores of enemies. Vincent had already turned into the Chaos beast, ripping the monstrosities apart with his bare hands. Barret wreaked havoc on his foes, blasting away at their numbers, while Yuffie threw her shiruken, slicing multiple enemies at once.
Good job guys, said Cid, but I prefer a more direct approach.
He grinned as he skewered several of the abominations. Reeve remained silent, batting enemies away with his armored fists and blasting them with arm lasers.
Enough! yelled the leader of the shrouded men, releasing a torrent of energy at the fighting figures. Many of the Reavers fell, but so did Avalanche.
Cloud barely managed to get to his feet. You...you would kill your own forces just to get to us?
They are pawns, and can be easily replaced. Now, YOU WILL DIE! Reavers, kill the Cetra, kill them all!
A few of the beasts ran towards Aeris, ready to rip her to shreds. Cloud saw that the others were getting to their feet, but they would never be in time to save Aeris.
No, we cant lose her again! he shot forth a beam of energy, hoping to distract the monsters.
The leader of the shrouds simply deflected the attack with his own energy, and laughed. Cloud screamed out his rage.
NOO! AERIS! NOOOOOOOO!
The Reavers jumped into the air, ready to descend upon the barely conscious Aeris.
A blast of light swallowed the two attackers, completely engulfing them. The energy was blinding, and when the smoke cleared, nothing was left of the two abominations. Aeris slowly got to her feet, dazed and confused.
WHAT?! screamed the leader of the shades, Who did that?
The remaining Reavers looked around, trying to find the source of the attack. The members of Avalanche picked up their weapons, wary of any trickery.
What are you waiting for? yelled the dark figure, kill them now!
More of the beasts ran towards Avalanche, but were also destroyed by an unknown energy. Some immediately disintegrated in midair. The beasts drew back, forming a pack, and began to gather energy. They snarled and howled, then began to run towards Avalanche again, now in a phalanx formation.
This time, a circle of fire surrounded the pack, and consumed the beasts whole. Those of the pack that had managed to survive quickly scurried behind the protection of the shrouds.
Useless mongrels, cursed one of the figures.
I will do this myself, said another, leaping forth to attack the group.
He ran towards Cloud first, then jumped away from an expected energy blast. Whoever it was, his attacks were getting to be predictable. That maneuver had allowed him to close in on the Cetra with ease. Now he drew his sword, preparing a killing blow. Aeris weakly raised her staff for protection.
A form came out from the shadows, and in a torrent of light, blocked the sword with his own. The force of the swords striking one another was so strong, the shrouded figure flew backwards. The new man turned to Aeris.
Are you alright? asked the wanderer.
Its you! shouted Aeris.
The wanderer grabbed Aeris and jumped towards the relative safety of her friends.
Didnt think Id leave you all alone, did you? he grinned, You will be safe with them.
Cloud and the others stared at him with uncertainty. Except for his silver armor, he could have been one of the shrouds.
Who are you? asked Tifa, fists clenched.
Its okay, said Aeris, hes a friend.
The traveler glared at the dark figures, drawing energy into one of his fists. The fallen shroud got on his feet, and backed away to join the other shades.
Its a good thing your friends were here, the wanderer turned to Aeris, I got here just in time.
Red walked up to him, Youre him, arent you? Youre the one who sent me the dreams.
Yes, I am
What are you doing here? asked Cloud.
Lets continue this later, he returned, brandishing his sword at the shadow men, I have unfinished business with this scum.
So, sneered the leader of the group, our Reavers failed to destroy you.
Your Reavers can no more kill me than you can.
Is that so traitor? Do you realize what you are dealing with?
What I REALIZE is that you are the one fated to die today.
The shade laughed And what of you?
...It is of little consequence...
Enough talk! shouted another shade, firing a bolt of lightning at the traveler.
The traveler merely raised his hand, absorbing the energy. Foolish, your kind never learns from its mistakes.
The leader shouted his anger, Reavers, attack!
What was left of the decimated attack force ran towards Avalanche and the mysterious stranger.
Whatever you do, he said, leave the five shadows to me.
Can we trust you? asked Cloud.
Fair question, but you dont really have a choice. The traveler ran forward, slicing through the beasts that were foolish enough to get in his way.
Lets get started then! shouted Barret.
Avalanche went into action, attacking what was left of the enemy force. Despite the multitude that had already been destroyed, there were still quite a few left.
The wanderer ran into battle silently, destroying anything that got in his way. Soon, he faced the five shrouds. They merely stood still for a while. Then, like lightning, they attacked. Sword clashed on sword as they battled. The weapons seemed to take on different colors of light, sparks flew through the air. The wanderers blade shone an intense blue, as if charged by energy. A shroud jumped behind him, slicing at his back, but the wanderer merely fell to his hands, initiating a foot sweep which floored the attacker. As the second shroud brought his sword down to skewer the wanderer, he used his spinning momentum to do a somersault, hitting the attacker on the chin with his feet. The wanderer than regained his footing, and with his sword drawn, beckoned the two to attack him again, taunting them. However, he was caught unawares by a third shroud, which blasted him from behind. The new attacker stood a few feet away from the fallen warrior, and prepared to deliver a killing blow.
Aeris had spent her time casting support magic on her friends, healing their wounds and enhancing their strength when she could. She even dispatched some of the enemy using several destructive spells. However, she knew it would not be enough. Sooner or later, something would have to give. That was when she saw the wanderer fall. He had been taken from behind by one of the shrouded figures. Aeris cast a spell, and flew through the air. She charged up the energies in her staff, preparing to cast Ultima. However, the shaded figure saw her, and let loose a powerful blast of energy. Aeris had never sensed such power, and knew immediately that a direct hit would be fatal.
This cant be the end!!! she thought, not now, not after all this!!!
The wanderer got to his feet. Why had his enemy stopped the attack? They had gained the upper hand. Then he saw Aeris flying through the air. He sensed her bringing a powerful spell to bear, but knew immediately that it would not be enough. As the shroud let loose his energy at Aeris, the wanderer shouted in denial.
He rushed passed the shroud, jumping into the air. By some surge of strength, he managed to get to Aeris before the blast, taking her up in his arms. That was when the blast hit them. The force of the explosion was earth shattering, and pushed them higher into the air.
Still in midair, Aeris looked into her friends eyes, and saw the pain and anger that registered there. He had sheltered her from the blast, but how could he still be alive after that? They were still flying through the air, at the trajectory the blast had sent them. The wanderer held Aeris closer to him, then spun around, sending a returning blast at the shrouds. The shot managed to scatter the enemy, but now Aeris and the wanderer began to fall to the earth. The force of the landing was so massive, it actually formed a slight crater in the ground. Aeris woke up from her slight daze to find that she had fallen on top of the wanderer, he had managed to cushion the fall.
Are you injured? he asked.
Realizing where she was, she quickly backed away from him, giving him room to breathe. Aeris blushed slightly. She slowly got up, regaining her wits, then cast several healing spells.
Im fine now breathed Aeris, that was close...thank you. Are you okay?
When she got no answer, Aeris turned around. Then she kneeled and noticed something wrong with her friend. He wasnt moving at all. Then Aeris screamed, for the wanderer lay still and silent, in a pool of blood.
Authors Note: Okaaay! Yes, I will have quite a multitude of bloody fight scenes. I am trying to keep this fic a PG-13 rating, but if I this keep up, it may get to be rated R. I will not go beyond that, no lemon scenes, just cursing and violence. As always, drop a line.
Go To Chapter 4
Return To FF7 Fanfic