Payback's a Bitch Chapter 7
By Joe L.
"Cloud, where are we going?" The soldier asked, as they were climbing over a steep hill. They had been traveling madly for hours. Cloud had yet to tell him where they were going.
"I'll tell you when we get there," Cloud said bluntly, and continued climbing. Briggins decided not to push the matter any farther. It was apparent Cloud would not reveal where they were going. Maybe he doesn't trust me, Briggins thought. By midafternoon, Cloud and his cohort were in a great field, with rolling hills and miles of grass. There appeared to be no sign of civilazation save for the small hut in the middle of the field.
"Finally, we're here," Cloud said proudly.
"What the hell are you talking about? There's nothing here!"
"Sure there is. That hut is where we are headed. We're almost there."
"Why are we going there?"
"To meet an explosives expert I met once while traveling. I needed a place to stay, and he let me in. His name's Darin. He's a little crazy, but he's a nice guy." Briggins shrugged his shoulders. There was not point in turning back. I might as well follow Cloud, Briggins said to himself.
In a matter of moments, the companions were at the doorstep of the small hut. Cloud knocked on the door, and heard feet shuffling around, and then a voice yelled out, "Who the fuck is it? If yer a goddamn salesman, then get the fuck outta here! I don't want none of yer shit!" Cloud cleared his throat and said,
"Cloud? Cloud who?"
"Cloud Strife! Member of AVALANCHE! Guy who saved the world!"
"Nah...I don't know a Cloud Strife."
"The guy you let into your house a couple years ago because he needed a place to stay!"
"Oh! Hey, it's you! Why didn't you say so? Come on in!" The door opened, and in front of it stood a short, fat, old man, with a long, scraggly, grey beard, and a balding head. His clothes and face were covered in soot. "Wait, who the fuck is your friend?"
"Oh this is Briggins, a man I met. Don't worry, we won't stay long." Darin then ushered them in. Darin's house was filled with all sorts of bombs, explosives, napalm, plastic explosives. It was a pyromaniac's heaven.
"So what can I do for ya? A nice little chat with an old friend?"
"Sorry, not today. We need bombs. Lots of them."
"Is that so? What for?"
"I can't really go into details right now, Darin. Just believe me, it's for a good cause."
"I believe ya....So, whatcha need? Napalm? C-4?"
"Anything that's easy to arm, and that's powerful. And we need lots of it."
"Okay... I got just the thing for you." Darin walked into a back room of his hut, and a few moments later, he came back with a small device. Some sort of bomb.
"C-4 ny friend. Pack's one hell of a punch. All you do, arm the bomb, and in five minutes, there is gonna be one helluva explosion!"
"This'll do. How much of this do you have?" Cloud held the C-4 in his hands.
"How much do you need?"
"All of it ya got."
"Holy shit! What the fuck are you gonna do? Fuckin' blow up a whole goddamn city?"
"Darin, please, we need everything ya got. Trust me." Darin rubbed his beard, and then nodded.
"What the fuck, eh? You got it. Come with me." Darin led them back to the room he had come from and led them to a closet, filled with this C-4.
"Here we are. Take everything you need."
"Thanks. Say, you got any backpacks we can carry this stuff in?" Darin gave them a frown, and them grumbled to himself, and went to another room, and returned with two leather backpacks. He handed them to Cloud and Briggins.
Cloud and Briggins spent the next half hour packing up on explosives to use to destroy Gyver's army. When they had enough, they said goodbye to Darin, and were off.
"Next stop, Kalm."
Cid Highwind was buried in Rocket Town. The entire town had come to pay their respects to one of the greatest pilots to ever live. The loss of Cid had dealt a serious blow to AVALANCHE. With Cloud gone, and Cid and Nanaki dead, their ranks were thinning. It seemed hopeless at this point to even try and fight the Order or Sephiroth. They were winning, and AVALANCHE could do nothing to stop them.
Of all the members of AVALANCHE, Vincent Valentine seemed to care the least about the death of Cid Highwind. Not that he hated Cid or anything, but rarely did he ever show a sign of emotion. At this point of time, Vincent was deeply involved in examining a piece of paper that Sephiroth had dropped. It was a map, but Vincent could really make out any details. It showed arrows pointing northeast to some city, but he couldn't make out what.
"Damn," Vincent said to himself, as he was in his room of the Rocket Town Inn. The words and letters on the map appeared to be nothing more than scribbles, but Vincent knew that they had to mean something. As Vincent peered closer on one of the drawings, it wasn't just chicken scratches. It looked like a destroyed town or something. What could it be? ...Midgar! And that means that these arrows and lines are pointing towards Kalm, Vincent thought. Wasting no time, Vincent put the map in one of his pockets and went to the rest of the members of AVALANCHE and told them about information he had learned from the map.
"So you're sayin' that those goddamn Order bastards are operatin' from Midgar?" Barret asked skeptically, when all the companions were gathered in Vincent's room and had taken a look at the map.
"Exactly. And they appear to headed toward Kalm. I'm not sure why, but now we must go to Midgar. I suppose we can hitch a ride from Costa del Sol to Junon, and from there travel to Kalm by foot. It's going to be a very long journey, and we have no time to lose."
"Can't we use Cid's new aircraft he built? The Thunderhawk?" Cait Sith interjected.
"Do any of you know how to work the device?" Vincent asked. Everyone looked at each other. They had no idea, but going there would save them a lot of time, instead of walking to Kalm.
"Hey, it's worth a shot! Let's get offa our lazy asses and stop moping around like zombies! With or without Cid, we still got a job to do!" Barret stood up from his chair. "I don't know about you assholes but I ain't about to let Sephiroth get off that easily!" Barret then walked out of the room, traveling to Cosmo Canyon to find the Thunderhawk, where Cid had left it.
"Shouldn't we follow him?" Yuffie asked, as the members were in shock of Barret's outburst.
"Yeah, let's go you guys. There's no use in wishing Cid was back. Besides, Cid wouldn't want us to give up now! I know if he was alive, he'd be wanting to kick some serious Order ass!" Tifa said, and everyone agreed with her, except Vincent. He said nothing in response to Tifa's inspirational speech. There was something that he hadn't told the other members. Something that he had found. It was the reason that the Order was making their march to Kalm. They don't care about taking over this world, Vincent thought. We're all just guinea pigs for their experiment.
In the short span of two days, AVALANCHE had reached Cosmo Canyon. By then, it was late night and everyone was basically walking in their sleep. Cosmo Canyon looked the same, and they were happy to find that the Thunderhawk had been left were Cid had last used it, on the outskirts of Cosmo Canyon. It was big enough for maybe three people, but most likely two.
"So, who's goin' to fly this damn thing?" Barret said as all of his friends were admiring the Thunderhawk.
"Don't look at me! I've never flown anything in my entire life!" Yuffie said. All the members looked at each other. They all had no idea how to operate Cid's new machine. Vincent sighed to himself and spoke, "I suppose if nobody else will volunteer their services to operate this device, than I will." Vincent walked over and opened up the hatch. Vincent then climbed inside and looked around. There were all sorts of control panels and buttons to push. Vincent eyed each of them with a carefully, as to not miss anything. He then noticed one button above him read, "Engine Number I". The one beside that read, "Engine Number II", "Engine Number III," and "Engine Main Power". Vincent clicked all of them. He then felt a slight rumble. Well, it's a start. He thn noticed the Thunderhawk was about six inches off the ground.
"Someone else, please step inside," Vincent called out. Another person could fit inside, maybe two if they were small. Tifa stepped forward and climbed inside with Vincent.
"Let's go," Tifa said as she strapped herself into her seat. Vincent fidgeted with some more buttons, though in a few minutes, the roar of the engine was defeaning, and it a matter of moments they were traveling faster than any vehicle imaginable and then it all stopped. The defeaning sound of fuel being burned and used up stopped and the THunderhawk came to a quiet stop. Vincent smiled. Well, I did it.
"We're here," Vincent said. "Tifa, you stay here. I'll be back to get the others." Tifa stepped out of the Thunderhawk and on to the cold, wet dirt that surrounded the city of Midgar. When she was out, Vincent turned the machine and raced back to pick up the others.
In a short matter of time, AVALANCHE was at Midgar. Vincent had parked it outside of Midgar, and everyone was waiting for him to get out of the Thunderhawk. It was like now that Cloud was gone, Cid and Red had died, they had chosen Vincent as their leader, in an unspoken type of way. It didn't have to be said or even shown. Vincent was the wisest of them, the toughest, the smartest.
"The only thing I can say before we go inside is to stay together. Time has taken it's toll on this place. And keep an eye open for anything." He then led the way to Midgar. He passed through endless amounts of rubble before he even arrived at what was once the gates that protected Midgar from the outside.
"It is time. Our destiny lies within the blackest night," Vincent said somberly, and walked through the decrepit gates. There would be no turning back for anyone now. They were all in it together. Inside Midgar, it was horrible. It smelt of charred flesh, having years to decay. All that remained were tons of rubble, what was left of buildings, roads, the plates up above Midgar, and also the citizens. Innocent bystanders of one man's maniacal dream and the dream he could never have.
"So where the hell do we start?" Barret grumbled, lagging behind Vincent. VIncent stopped and turned around to face Barret.
"I'm not sure. There are so many places in Midgar, it's hard to tell where to go. In fact, we might spend days, even weeks searching for this hideout."
"Shit man! You gotta be kiddin' me!"
"Hardly........But we have no time for conversation. We have to find the hideout." He then returned scoping Midgar for signs of a hideout. But it was always the same, the stench of death, the endless stream of blackened rubble, the sky up above, finally penetrating and filling Midgar with the sun's warmth. After what seemed like hours, they came upon the once magnificent Shinra Headquarters.
"Shit....Still standing," Barret pointed out. Somehow or another, the Shinra building remained untouched throughout the destructive path of Meteor and the Lifestream and Holy.
"Let's go in! It's probably better than standing out here, with God knows what staring at us!" Yuffie screeched. Though most times she was a constant pest, this time she was right. Maybe the Order was hidden somewhere below the Shinra HQ.
"Alright," Vincent nodded, and led AVALANCHE to the Shinra HQ. The glass doors of it's entrance had been obviously shattered, with glass covering the floor. Vincent steped inside. It was totally devoid of anything. The building was the same, the furniture, lobby, stairways, and elveator. But it was dark. The sun did not shine on this building.
"Nothing has change...That's strange," Tifa observed.
"Do you really think something is here?" Cait said, peering at the remnants of the most prolific building ever built.
"I don't know..." Vincent said, though his voice trailed off. He scanned for an elevator, and found on to the left of him, and walked over to it. He pushed the down key, and a light flickered.
"The electricity still works," Vincent mumbled to himself. "Everybody over here!" The rest of AVALANCHE ran over to Vincent's side.
"What is it?" Tifa asked.
"I believe we should use the elevator to go the bottommost floors of this structure."
"Do you think that it'll still work after all this time? No one has used this place for years."
"There's only one way to find out," Vincent said as he heard a click and the door opened. Everyone stepped inside, though the elevator barely had enough space for all of them. Vincent clicked the button to the basement and with a loud squeak, the elevator raced downwards to the depths of the building.
When the elevator stopped, Vincent was the fist one to stare outside. The basment of it was very dark. Vincent could only make out the walls and a few boxes scattered around the floor. There were many doors that leaded off to other places. This particular room looked like what used to be some sort of storage housing. In many shelves, Vincent saw boxes stacked very neatly, and saw other boxes cracked open on the floor, revealing their contents.
"Let's go." Vincent was the first to step outside, creeping quietly through this floor. He heard a soft growl.
"Something's here," he whispered to his companions. He took out his Death Penalty and looked around. He saw two red eyes staring at him. About twenty feet away, he thought. As he looked at the creature, it came scrambling towards him. Vincent fumbled around with his gun, till he loaded it and shot at the creature. It knocked the creature backwards, but did little to slow it down. It then leaped at him, soaring through the air with blinding speed. Vincent though, ducked the attack and the creature crashed to the ground. It let out a loud grunt, and was back on it's feet. Now Vincent had a good look at the creature. It had a bluish-green skin, that looked tough and leathery. It's skin had various pointed spikes jutting from the knees, elbows, and also had very long claws. It was definetely a some sort of Mako-spawned creature. As the monster was getting up, Vincent starting shooting away at the creature. With lightning quickness, Vincent shot and reloaded his gun and shot more. The bullets appeared to be doing no damage.
"C'mon! I need help!" Vincent called out. As he was saying this, the monster got up and looked at all of AVALANCHE crowding around it. The creature appeared to have a grin on it's face.
"You think you can defeat me?" The monster said in a low, gullutural voice. Everyone was amazed that this wild beast could actually talk. "Not likely. Your weapons are nothing to me." Nobody said anything, just kept their weapons ready and waited for the beast to attack. Just then, the monster started chanting a few words that sounded like gibberish, but then it donned on Vincent. He was casting a spell. This son of a bitch was casting a spell! Then, in the palm of the creature's hand, a fireball formed, and the monster hurled it in Cait Sith's direction. This caught Cait off guard and the magical ball of flames hit him squarely in the chest and sent Cait sprawling to the floor.
With that, Barret unloaded on the beast with the Pile Banger, hitting the abomination in the chest, the head, the arm, but still he had yet to do damage. Yuffie then took out some materia, and a ball of fire appeared from the materia. Then, Yuffie pointed towards to creature and the flames shot off and hit the creature right in his chest. The explosion engulfed the monster in flames but after a matter of seconds, the flames wore off, and this monster stood still.
"Ha. As if your pathetic materia could hurt me! Give it up! I am immortal!" The creature bellowed, and came charging towards Vincent again. Vincent aimed his Death Penalty right at the creature's head, and just before it was upon him, he shot the gun and the bullet went right through the monster's head. It stumbled backwards for a few seconds, obviously injured. A strange type of blue ooze poured from the creature's head.
"Damn you!" The monster bellowed, in pain from the Death Penalty's blow.
"We got it stunned! Attack with everything you got!" Vincent yelled, and everyone went berserk. Barret hammering away with the Pile Banger, shells flying everywhere from the Death Penalty, Yuffie's Conformer slicing through the air, and Tifa using numerous materia on the beast. Just then the beast cried out a horrible scream and energy started gathering around it. It was summoning up all it's power in hopes to destroy AVALANCHE.
"What the hell is he doing?" Barret asked, backing away.
"He's summoning up all his energy. It he can't beat us, he'll will take us with him straight to hell," Vincent responded. "I suggest we get out of here. Now." Vincent ran towards to elevator, and everybody followed. He pushed the up button on the elevator, and with a low hum, the elevator went upwards. The door opened, and AVALANCHE sprinted to get out of the Shinra HQ. As they were running, an explosion from beneath them destroyed the ground below them and sent them all falling into nothingness.
When he regained conciousness, he was in a hallway. It was dimly lit by a few torches, but not much else. He found the rest of his companions scattered around the hallway as well. Then he remembered how they had fallen through the ground on account of that Mako monster.
"Is everyone okay?" Vincent called out to AVALANCHE. Of them, only Cait Sith answered.
"Yeah....I guess so. So where are we?"
"I'm not sure as of yet. We appear to be in some sort of hallway. Perhaps we found the Order's hideout?"
"I sure hope. I don't know how more if this I can stand." In a matter of moments, the rest of AVALANCHE had regained conciousness and was up on their feet.
"So where do we go?" Tifa asked, as she surveryed the surroundings.
"Let's just follow to where this hallway takes us," Vincent said, and walked down the hallway. The rest of the heroes followed his lead. The hallway seemed to stretch on forever. As they were walking Vincent saw in the distance two great wooden doors. When AVALANCHE was in front of them, they all stopped.
"Let's go," Vincent mumbled, as he opened up the doors. Inside, there was nothing. It was complete blackness.
"What the hell is goin' on?" Barret called out.
"I'm not sure. It would appear this place is abandoned. If this is the Order's hideut, they have already left," Vincent said, with a completative look on his face. "I still suggest we look around this place. We might find something of use. Anybody got a light?"
"I'll go back and get one of those torches," Cait said, and dashed back to find a torch. In a matter of moments, he had returned with a torch in his mechanical hand. "There ya go Vince," Cait said as he handed Vincent the torch. Vincent snorted Cait calling him Vince. This is no time to be silly, he thought. Vincent motioned for all of them to follow him, as he walked through the doorway, into the darkness. The torch illuminated the room so where they could tell where they going. They appeared to be in the main chamber, with many doors and halls branching off to other sections of the base. It was almost like some sort of maze.
"Which way, oh fearless leader?" Tifa said sarcastically.
"Over there," Vincent pointed to a door straight in front of him. He walked over there and opened the door. It led to a staircase going downwards. Vincent was the first to go down the winding stairways, and the others followed his lead. When they reached the bottom, they looked to be in a dungeon.
"What the hell is this?" Barret grumbled. The prison smelled horrible, and Barret wanted to leave immediately.
"Wait. Maybe we'll find something," Tifa grabbed Barret's arm. Barret rolled his eyes, and agreed. Maybe they could find something about where Cloud was. Vincent looked into every cell, seeing what was there. Vincent was amazed to see people inside their cells. One in particular saw Vincent, but said or did nothing.
"Hello. Would you come here for a second?" Vincent called to the prisoner. The inmate did nothing. "Please, I need your help." Still nothing. Vincent grumbled to himself. He pulled out his Death Penalty and blew off the lock on the cell door. The lock fell to the floor, split in half by the Death Penalty's shell.
"Thanks......Now what is it?" The prisoner asked in a low voice.
"What are you doing here?" Vincent asked.
"They put me in here. I didn't agree with what he was doing, so they locked me up in here. Three years by my estimations."
"Who put you in here?"
"Goddamn! What are you, stupid? The Order. They're goddamn everywhere. Nobody knows why they are here, and nobody knows what they want except pure chaos."
"I don't understand. What do you mean why they are here? They're from here, aren't they?"
"No.....I saw Gyver.....He isn't no fuckin' human.....An animal..."
"Gyver? He isn't a human?"
"No. He's from outer space. I'm not sure how he got here. What I saw of him, he had reptilian like skin. He had scales. That's all I saw of him."
"Was there evey a Cloud Strife here?"
"Cloud? Yeah, he was here. Had him locked up for awhile. But he escaped somehow. I don't know how he did it, but he sure's hell did."
"Did he say anything to you as to where he was going?"
"No...He left with one of Gyver's officers. The kid had defected and was about to leave, when he ran into Cloud. I didn't hear much. They talked kinda quiet. That's all I know."
"You didn't overhear where they were going?"
"No....I'm sorry. But I'm sure Cloud was going to find the Order. For whoever pisses that guy Cloud off, payback's a bitch." Vincent smiled. How right he was.
"Thanks. You can go now." With that, Vincent turned to the others, that were patiently awaiting Vincent's next move.
"Well, Cloud's gone off with some military soldier. But we have no idea where that is." Vincent said to all of them.
"What are we going to do? Are we going to try and save Cloud? Or go after the Order?"
"I'm not sure. We know that Gyver has taken his army to Kalm. We also know that Cloud is gone. Do you think he went to perhaps stop the Order in Kalm? Even though their are only two of them?"
"Are you fuckin' mad? Cloud's not that stupid!.......Is he?" Barret thought for a moment. This was Cloud he was talking about. He was a pretty wild guy. "Even so, what good is it going to do if we go there too? It's us against an entire army!"
"We are Earth's last hope Barret. Whatever Gyver plans to do, we must stop him no matter the cost." Vincent said solemnly.
"So what are you saying?" Vincent said nothing, only stared blankly into Barret's intense eyes. "Shit." AVALANCHE knew their destiny. It was in Kalm. They didn't have a chance, but they had to take it anyway. They wouldn't let Gyver take over the world without a fight. With that, Vincent left the prison back to the outer world. The rest of AVALANCHE followed. THey went back through the long hallways and up the elevator to the lobby of the Shinra HQ. When they arrived at the lobby, they were surprised to see a figure leaning against the desk in the front office of the HQ.
"Hello there. I figured you'd be here."
"Sephiroth! You son of a bitch! I'm taking your ass down!" Barret came charging towards him. Just as he was about to ram straight into Sephiroth, Sephiroth stuck his sword right in front of Barret's neck. Barret stopped immediately in his tracks.
"Please Barret. I do not wish to fight you. I wish to help you in your fight against Gyver and Yegolar. I know a relic that can help you defeat them. But we must find it immediately. We have no time to waste."
"Fuck you! We'll never help you," Barret spat. Sephiroth smiled.
"You are in no position to make a threat my friend. Please, you know the odds are against you. You stand no chance against an army of thousands of trained soldiers. But I know a secret. You must trust me."
"Ha. Trust and Sephiroth. Two words that don't belong in the same sentence," Vincent muttered.
"What will it be then? Or should I slit Barret's throat right now?" Sephiroth smirked. He was dead serious.
"Hold on a second. Vincent, we've all lost people dear to us because of Sephiroth. I hate him more than any of you could imagine for all the things he did. But this time it's different. He's not lying to us. And he's right. We don't stand a chance against an entire army. But we have to trust him in order to save everyone," Tifa spoke out. Everyone looked at each other. They had no other choice. Then Vincent spoke,
"To save the planet we have to work with one who wished to destroy it........"
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