Payback's a Bitch 2: Redemption Chapter 8
By Joe L.
"Welcome Braka'karin, to the city of Dacar," General Syran greeted the Rebel leader, saluting him. After the exchange of pleasantries, Syran motioned for the troops to all follow him.
"It has been many years since I last visited Dacar," Braka'karin noted, observing the mass of Ghiites that lined Dacar's crowded streets. By his estimations, it had been more than 500 years when he had last laid foot on Dacar, back when he was one of the Fists of God. Before he learned of Zarin's plan to enslave all of the Ghiite people, to control all aspects of their lives.
"It is a most splendid city. Truly a gift from God that a city such as this could exist on Bakaar. I cannot think of another place that I would want to live," Syran boasted to the Rebel leader. Braka'karin could not help but snicker softly at the remark. A poor misguided fool.
"I myself prefer the untamed wilderness of the Forest of Zareth. Nature is infinitely more beautiful than any Ghiite-made structure could ever hope to be." Syran nodded in agreement at the remark. He had visited the Forest once in his life, and it truly was an awe-inspiring place. Such peace, such tranquilty almost seemed to force one to forget about all of life's troubles. And that feeling was addicitive to some.
It was on this day that Braka'karin would meet with King Zarin, to discuss peace and the end to the war that had claimed so many lives on both sides. At least that it what Zarin wanted the people to believe. In reality, his goal was to vanquish his strongest foe and then use the three Super Ghittes to crush the Rebellion.
In the many years since Braka'karin's absence in Dacar, almost nothing in the city had changed. The streets were still crowded with stores and vendors and people, the cobblestone alleys were still cracked and decrepit, and the majesty of the Castle Zarin pierced the horizon, it's jutting towers seeming to touch the heavens. Regardless of what he said, Braka'karin was still moved by the sight that represented the pinnacle of the Ghiites.
As the entourage of soldiers entered the palace, they were greeted by another group of Ghiite troops, who escorted Braka'karin and his men inside the Castle. The large wooden doors slowly creaked open, and Braka'karin was greeted by the sight of an entire room filled with dancers and singers and jesters and entertainers of all sorts. Zarin had brought in everyone he had to make the Rebel leader feel at home.
"Greetings, Braka'karin!" A voice boomed above the commotion that had enveloped the room. Braka'karin scanned the room, to see who had called his name. He found a Ghiite in a long flowing red robe, and adorned in the highest quality of Ghiite armor, jet black. Braka'karin callously approached the Ghiite, he knew exactly who it was.
"King Zarin Ketsuo, I presume?" Braka'karin muttered, cocking a scaly eyebrow. The Ghiite smiled warmly, grasped Braka'karin in a monstrous hug.
"Ha ha ha! I have waited for this day, my friend. Finally, we the Ghiites as a whole can end this bloody civil war and advance onto greater things!" Zarin finally let the Rebel leader out of his grasp, though Braka'karin had to lie down for a moment to catch his breath.
"I hope that can happen, King Zarin. But peace is not something that comes easy, it requires perseverance and strength and determination. It will take time to heal the wounds that this war have caused, perhaps it will be impossible," Braka'karin replied grimly.
"You make it sound as though every Ghiite has died because of this war. I admit, this civil war has gone on too long, and it must stop here. And that is why I will do anything so that the Ghiites as a race can stop this meaningless fighting and work to make a better future. Don't you agree?" Zarin replied as he watched a group of acrobats fly through the air.
"You spared no expense, I see." How naieve does he think I am, Braka'karin thought to himself, almost disgusted at the sight of all the entertainers.
"Of course not. I wished you to feel at home, after all. Do you not agree?"
"I suppose so."
"Who the hell is that?" Elena pointed to the figure from the horizon that was fast approaching her and the other Turks.
"It's Yuffie. I guess I forgot to tell you guys, but she's gonna be accompanying us on our mission. The way I see it-" Reno was about to plead his case, but Elena grabbed him by the throat and screamed into his ear,
"What? Are you insane or something! Why the hell do we want some insane, annoying BITCH coming with us?!"
Yeah, you'd think one is enough, Reno thought to himself.
"Hey, break it up you two," Rude quietly murmured as Elena finally relinquished her choke on Reno's neck. "Elena, put your prejudices behind you, lest they jeopardize this mission. I understand your dislike of anyone associated with AVALANCHE, but those incidents happened many years ago. Times change, Elena. So should you," Rude then turned to greet Yuffie. Elena was almost in shock at Rude's insight, did he really think I could jeopardize our mission? Surely Rude has more faith in me than that, Elena pondered. Or does he?
"So guys, when do we get started?" Yuffie was dressed in her traditional ninja gear, a tan pair of extremely short shorts, a green sweater that was too small, a piece of armor on her shoulder, and her Conformer in one hand. The more things change the more they stay the same, Reno noted.
"Brat, you made it. Anyways, I've told all the other people involved with this mission what's going to happen, but I'll go over it with you.
Well, our first plan was to infiltrate the Schenker's base of operations, and well, kill them right there. But after some planning, we realized that simply getting through the mixture of guards, traps, and other crap, it would be nearly impossible. Let's face it, we would get slaughtered within minutes. But, we have another plan. A Wutai spy learned that the Schenkers are hosting a party at the Wutai Royal Hotel. It's in the eastern district of the city, quite an expensive place I here. Now, the party is on the fourth floor and I there are going to be hundreds of other guests. Don't worry about trying to get in, Godo already has that part ready. A hacker is infiltrating the Hotel's database, and adding the names of us and thirty other soldiers to the list so we can get in.
The next part is going to be the crazy part. We imagine around fifteen guards will be posted in the banquet hall where the party is, and perhaps ten others here and there. After around two or three hours, we get in positions around the hall, and find the Schenkers. Once we have them in our sights, our soldiers open fire on them, and my associates and you will handle the guards. After every one associated with the Schenkers is dead, we make our getaway." Yuffie stood slack jawed in the garden outside the Pagoda, after hearing the Turks' plan. Did they really expect that plan to work? To kill them with hundreds of other peoples' lives were at stake?
"You are insane! What about the other people there, the innocent bystanders! Did you ever stop to think about them?" Yuffie screeched at Reno, who was expecting the backlash.
"Ha. No one there is innocent, they are all gangsters, criminals, lowlives. But they don't matter, only the members of the Schenker family. If you don't want to help, I could care less. The party is tomorrow. Meet here at 1500 hours if your coming with us," Reno coolly replied, and nodded to his fellow Turks that it was time to leave.
"Later brat," Reno gave Yuffie a mock salute and followed his compatriots back to their rooms that Godo had provided for them in the Pagoda.
"So, do you think that bitch will go along with our plans?" Elena asked Reno as they all were walking back. Reno shook his head.
"I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. Let's just hope not."
The party has long since ended in Castle Zarin, though King Zarin himself was still up, looking out the window into the empty streets of Dacar. The light posts were own, bathing the cobblestone alleys in a soft luminescence. So peaceful, Zarin thought. These people, however, have no idea that their fates have been sealed.
They are like sheep, Zarin. And we are the butcher.
I suppose so. Yet, do they deserve this?
You have no idea, do you? Their fates, as well as yours and mine, were preordained in an instant after the universe began.
In the millenium I have been your conduit, you have never told me of your origin. Father, where do you come from?
My homeland was a planet named Ionia, in a faroff galaxy on the tip of the universe. My race and another race inhabited the planet, they were called Alphas. We were called the Omegas. We, the Omegas, have very weak bodies as you know. But our mental and physical powers were unmatched by any creature in the universe. However, we needed an outlet for these powers, and the Alphas were the perfect specimen. Though they were homo sapiens, they were willing hosts and our races profited from one another. In exchange in letting us use their bodies, they were given power and knowledge that no being can ever dream to have, nor will they ever acquire it again. Our two races were joined by fate to be together, we belonged to one another. For millions of years, we lived on Ionia and constructed great cities and technological wonders that make your machines seem pitiful. Civilization in the universe was at it's peak. To think of the things still left to create, of worlds to explore, of experiences to feel........ But, through an act of insanity, a race known as the Xandran attacked us by surprise.
The Xandran! They are the race who attacked the Ghiites as well, though we destroyed them.
Yes, the Xandran are an ancient race, one of the first concieved races at the dawning of the universe. Their empire at it's greatest extent covered thousands of planets, entire galaxies actually. However, in achieving a total militaristic society, they had expended many of the natural resources on their colonies. Therefore, our planet seemed ripe for their greedy ambitions. In our arrogance, we had believed ourselves invincible to any outside threat. After all, living a millions of lifetimes, would you? However, the Xandran eradicated our forces within months, killing every last Alpha. We tried to bargain with the Xandran, promised them power undreamt of, but the Xandran were not interested in knowledge of the universe, or the river that is Time, they were interested in material things. And so, all of my brethren were slaughtered. I managed to escape from Ionia, and I traveled to outer space. From there, I cocooned myself and set my course for your home, Bakaar. I traveled thousands of light years to get here, Zarin. By the end of my trip, my energy was waining and I knew that if I didn't acquire a host in the next few days, that I would die. My odyssey would have been for nothing. And that is when I spotted you, my dear Zarin. That was a millenium ago.
An arguous journey you endured, Father. How could survive the trip from Ionia?
I require no air to breath as you do, nor do I require conventional food or water. I feed of the energies given off by a living body, bio-energy. I suppose a scientist would coin me as a parasite, but my race was much more than that. The black void known as space has no effect on me. I used my psychic energies to propel myself into hyperspace, though the toll it took on my body was enormous. That is why it has taken me many years to regain all of my strength, so that you may benefit from it. I was surprised I made it to your planet, but your kind are truly a gift evolution has bestowed to the universe. Your physical prowess greatly surpasses any homo sapien.
Thank you, Father. I had no idea the hardships you have endured in your life. But I am glad you are alive.
Do not trouble yourself with them, they are not important. Focus on the task at hand.
Of course... I think Braka'karin suspects my deceit. He does not trust me at all.
Perhaps, but there is nothing he can do about it. Believe me, Braka'karin will die.
I hope so, Father.
"This isn't right, damn it! We should be trying to protect him, not rotting in the barracks!" Cloud stood pacing around his room he shared with another soldier, who was not in his room at the moment. However, Sephiroth and Cloud were having a meeting of their own, discussing what to be done of the matter of Zarin and Braka'karin.
"We don't know enough now to make any judgments," Sephiroth idley remarked, as he stood with his arms behind his back, staring out of a window. In particular, he was staring at the ominous sight of the twin suns that Bakaar revolved around. Their light turned Bakaar's atmosphere a dull green, and night was an unknown thing. Though at first Sephiroth had trouble falling asleep, in a matter of months he had grown accustomed to the sight. "Tomorrow is when the peace negociations begin. If any thing is going to happen, it will happen during or after those proceedings." Cloud nodded in agreement, and scrached his scaly, green chin.
"A sniper, perhaps? Or will someone attack him head on?"
"Definetely not a straight forward attack. Braka'karin is second in strength only to Zarin himself. Even if an assassin managed a cheap shot, I believe their efforts will be futile."
"So what then?"
"When he's sleeping, perhaps?"
"Yes, but without the cover of night, somebody would see them." Sephiroth thought for a moment, and then a smile grew on his face.
"I agree, but Ghiite nobility prefer to sleep in the dark. Their rooms have a device that blocks out the twin suns' light." Cloud rested his head against one of the bunk beds, and closed his eyes. What can't I be on Earth right now, not in the middle of some intergalactic civil war? Why has fate dealt me such an excruciatingly diffucult existence?
"What did this have to happen to me of all people?"
"Nobody ever said life was easy, Cloud."
"I know, but goddammit, why does this never end! After I defeated you in the Northern Crater and Jenova, I figured my troubles would be over." Sephiroth's face became cold and hard, and he remembered what had happened in the Lifestream, when Cloud had performed the ultimate technique. A technique so deadly that no one had ever mastered it, the Omnislash. After that, it had all been a blur for Sephiroth. If it had been his choice, he would have chosen to remain in the Lifestream, but Gyver had revived him. Gyver told Sephiroth he was fated to help him, and Sephiroth foolishly believed him, as he had been lured by Jenova.
And yet, while Sephiroth would have prefered to remain dead, he felt as though their was another purpose to his ressurection. Perhaps the Lifestream had wanted him to redeem himself for all of the horrible things Jenova had poisoned Sephiroth's mind into doing. After all, though Sephiroth had commited terrible crimes, none of them were actually his doing. He was a but a puppet, and Jenova controlled his strings. Perhaps, if I can help these people become free from Zarin, than perhaps I can save myself from eternal damnnation.
"Am what I am doing making any difference in the outcome?" Cloud pounded his fist against a wall, smashing through the drywall and leaving a large hole.
"Overcoming adversady defines who we are, Cloud," Sephiroth ominously remarked, and immediately left the room, leaving Cloud to his melancholy thoughts.
As Sephiroth walked through the large, drab, cold barracks, he pondered Cloud's remarks and if they held any validity at all. Could Cloud be right, should we give up our foolish endeavor of saving a mysterious Ghiite we know nothing about? And besides, why should I care about these people? They think of me as an animal, worse than that, as a pathetic insignifigant speck. They are no better than the weak, cowardly humans on Earth who thought of me as a freak. But at least I inspired fear in the poor wretches! Compared to other soldiers, I am the one who is weak...... It is something I am not acclimated too, but I dread that I will have to be in order to survive my ordeal long enough to return to Earth... Though there will be no homecoming or pageantry when I return to Earth, unlike if Cloud makes it back. He is like a hero, to all these common. I am a madman, a demonic spawn that should die. And yet, they were the ones who created me.... If only Hojo had never laid his blasted hands on Lucrecia!...... What am I doing complaining? Even if nobody cares, even if they all hate me and despise and condemn me to an eternity of torment, I must return home to Earth. However apathetic and unloving it can be, it is the only home I shall ever know.
After Sephiroth had left, Cloud grumbled darkly to himself and climbed up to his bunk bed, and reminisced on past times back on Earth. He had never been a particularly sentimental person in his life, and his childhood was definetly something who would rather have forgotten, and yet he felt as though his memories of his friends were the only things keeping him from complete insanity. He wondered if any of his friends missed him, or if they had accepted his fate and forgotten about him. Do they even care that I am gone? Once we had defeated Sephiroth at the Northern Crater, I really didn't see much of them, did I? When I was with them, I felt friendship, companionship........ I felt loved for the first time in my life. Were they using me for their own goals? Did they use me to carry out their personal vendettas against the Shinra? Was I truly a puppet of not only Jenova and Sephiroth, but of also my the people I considered my friends! Damn them! Is there nothing humankind will not do to one another? Does their torment and hatred of one another know no boundaries?...... Then there was Aeris........ Did she love me? Was she the pure, beautiful, mysterious Cetra girl who took a liking to me? Or did she need me for something as well? No....... Cloud, stop thinking like this........ All of them, they didn't use you. They all cared for you, some more than others, but none the less, they were not using you.
"Sh'kaar Nali!" Cloud looked down and pried his mind from his tormented thoughts. A captain had called his name, and he immediately jumped down and fell into the position of attention.
"I just recieved word from our honored guest Braka'karin that he wishes to meet with you. He is on the tenth level, in Room 5. That is all," and then Captain exited the barrack to return to his menial tasks. Why would Braka'karin want to meet with me? Cloud shook his head, and decided that perhaps this meeting could be for good.
The journey through Castle Zarin was definetely a long one. Constructed many years ago, before the Ghiites claimed the Xandaran technology, many of the sections were made of brick and mortar and what have you. These were the lower levels, where some barracks where and also where the King's royal court and dining hall presided. However the newer levels were made of some type of refined iron ore, guaranteed to withstand the elements and most ballistic weapons. The upper levels, such as the King's room, the Grand Master's rooms, and the Science Facilty rested here. The stark contrast between the two divisions in the castle where amazing, though Zarin had grand plans of making the entire castle a technological masterpiece, a maze of computer operated machines, cameras, elevators, barracks, anything that he could think of. However, the budget had been quite tight in the time of the war with the Rebellion, everytime the King's coffers would be full, money would have to be spent on soldiers, equipment, and training.
Cloud was planning on taking an elevator, but he noticed many of them were under construction at the moment, so he decided to take the stairs up to Braka'karin's residence. Once he got to the tenth floor, he noticed it was one of the newer floors. Fluorescent lights placed in the ceiling lit the way, and the floor was made of marble that looked brand new. This floor was mostly for guests, so it resembled something akin to a hotel, albeit an alien one at that. No gaudy pictures or what not adorned the walls. Unlike humans, who are carefree and thoughtful and creative, the Ghiites are for the most part, a no-nonsense, very sensible race. Flashiness was considered rude if not downright disrespectful. Cloud spotted Room 5, and walked up to it. Before he knocked on the door, he straightened his uniform, a navy blue jacket adorned with white cords and a few medals, navy blue pants. As with every thing Ghiites wear, this is always a hole so their tails can fit through. When the Ghiites met with other races, they obviously assumed that a Ghiite's tail was actually useful. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Ghiites couldn't exactly control their tails, and they were not like a prehensile tail such as a monkey. Most Ghiite historians believed it was back on Earth when they had used their tails, perhaps to attack wild creatures or to even possibly lift objects. Whatever the case, it was much like the human spleen. Nobody really knew what they did, but everybody had them.
"Braka'karin sir? This is Sh'kaar Nali," Cloud tapped on the door lightly, half-hoping he wouldn't meet with the famed Rebel leader. The wooden door creaked open ever so slowly, and Braka'karin stood in front of him, dressed in black as usual. A grin crossed his usually callous face when he saw Cloud.
"Come in....... Cloud Strife," Braka'karin ushered in the warrior, using his human name. Cloud was caught off guard by the remark, and stood in shock at the Ghiite.
"How did you know my human name?"
"That's not important right now," Braka'karin shook his head. Cloud inspected the room, and found it to be quite luxurious. It was basically a very large room, with a bed made from the finest of materials and a hand-crafted quilt serving as the blanket. A television laid atop a dresser for clothes, and there was a kitchen with the highest quality oven, microwave and what have you, and a table with four chairs serving as a dining room. There was a large blue couch that was against the wall, it faced the televison. Two green chairs on the right laid adjacent to the couch. there was also a plate glass window in the room, offering the resident a pleasant view of Dacar.
"Sit down please," Braka'karin gestured to one of the green chairs. Cloud nodded and sat down in one of them, while Braka'karin sat down on the couch.
"Tell me Cloud, or Sh'kaar, whichever you prefer-"
"I don't care."
"As you wish, Cloud. I believe you have spoken to one of my revolutionary comrades?"
"Yes. Why?" Cloud arched an eyebrow. What did that Ghiite have to do with anything?
"Did he not vaguely describe to you incidents that occured many years ago?"
"Yes. What was he talking about?"
"It is the reason that we have been fighting this war, the reason that all forms of life on Bakaar are threatened. It is the reason that Braka'karin must be stopped, no matter the casualties that will be inflicted upon each side nor the loss of innocent lives. Let me begin with telling you the story of Zarin's plight into insanity.
Many years ago, Zarin's father Yama ruled Bakaar. He was a fair and just ruler, and revered by all as an incredible warrior, and more importantly, a persuasive diplomat. It was at the height of his power that Zarin changed, into the Ghiite he is today. I do not know what caused it, but he changed into a dark, brooding Ghiite. A callous fellow, not be trifled with. He was jealous of his father, jealous that he was adored by millions, jealous of his father's fighting power, and most importantly, that his father was king. At that point in time, a Ghiite by the name of Gyver Deldrin, Sr. had been challenging Yama's authority. There arguments were about individual rights for the commoners and of Gyver's obsession with conquering Earth, which he passed to his son, the Gyver you are acquainted with." Cloud's jaw nearly dropped at the revelation.
"The reason Gyver wanted to reclaim the Earth was for his father?"
"Oh yes, Gyver looked up to his father as a hero. And to many he was. He was everything Yama was not, boisterous, bold, courageous, a true soldier in every sense of the word. Because of the tensions between the two, Zarin found the perfect opportunity to seize power. I'm not sure how he did it, but Zarin framed his own father for murder, who was prosecuted and sent in exile. Since then, Zarin had been the King of the Ghiites, though he was never officially named King. But that is not where, nor how this story ends.
Five hundred years ago, Gyver and Chief Scientist started an ambitious project, one that would ensure Gyver's complete domination of the people he ruled. And that was when they started using unwlling subjects to try to create the perfect soldier, a soldier with that could destroy an entire planet with a single planet. It started with soldiers kidnapping small villages and escorting them to a secret lab somewhere in Dacar, where Jerolo performed his experiments. I found out about it many years ago, when I was a Fist of God, when I found a large pit, filled with hundreds of dead bodies. Such an unconciounable act of treason against my people was too much to bare for me. I resigned from the Fists and starting gathering a resistance, Ghiites sick of being pushed around by Zarin and his trigger happy, over-zealous soldiers. I do not know how far along the project has gone, but I believe that no soldiers, or Super Ghiites as Jerolo so aptly named them, have been constructed. But I do know this, if these Ghiites are integrated into Zarin's vast array of weapons, it will mean the end of a civilization. Zarin has stepped the boundaries between evil and maniacal insanity. I assure you, when I meet him on the battlefield, he will pay for his genocide he has graciously agreed to.
But, that is not the sole reason I called you here. I know the deal Zarin made with you, and I know fully he will not grant you your wish. However, I offer you salvation. Join me, help me defeat this madman, and I swear by my honor that once Zarin is dead, and peace is restored on Bakaar, that you shall return to Earth."
"That sounds nice and well, but can I trust you? From what I here, you are one cold, uncaring Ghiite yourself. Much like Zarin," CLoud bitingly retorted. Braka'karin nearly winced at the remark.
"If that is what you think, then so be it. But know I have already contacted two of your allies, Gyver and Sephiroth. They readily agreed to joining my cause."
"I suppose because of their hatred of Zarin. Gyver as you know, discovered that it was actually Zarin who had murdered his father. However, he knew that there was no point in accusing Zarin. After all, who would believe a soldier's word next to the King's?"
"Listen, all my life nobody has ever come clean with me. I've always been given half truths, or lies that I believed to be the truth. For once, I want somebody to tell me the truth." Cloud stared harshly at Braka'karin, his eyes ripping into Braka'karin's soul. "So tell me, are you telling the truth?"
"I cannot make you believe me, Cloud. You must decide for yourself. Do you want to return to Earth?"
"Then welcome, to the Rebellion."
You can't feel my anger, you can't feel my pain
You can't feel my torment, driving me insane
I can't fight these feelings, they bring only pain
You can't take away, make me hole again
"Mudshovel" by Staind
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic