Catching Glimpses Chapter 18
What the Hell?!
"Damn, Shera, thats one hell of a gun!"-Cid Highwind
Authors quickie notes-These two storylines in this chapter are NOT NOT NOT set at the same time. The part in Midgar is set directly after the Reeve part in the last chapter, but the part in Rocket Town is set uhh I think the day before; a few hours after Cid had dropped Reno and Kiyara off with Tifa. Oh yes, one more thing. It was brought to my attention by a reader (you know who you are) that they hadnt even realized that there was a baby in the Highwind family. Just in case anyone else has forgotten too, this is just a friendly reminder. Raven is Cid and Sheras own child. Remember? She was flinging Cheerios in the scene where Kiyara remembers her real name. Now, bon appetite!
For the next 45 minutes, Red and Bugah watched in awe as Reeve worked the
phone and computer. He was at times demanding, cajoling, kind, and downright
nasty as he held the phone tightly between his ear and shoulder and pulled
up information on his laptop.
"And I always thought that he seemed to meek to be president
whispered, listening to Reeve fight with the Wutaiin diplomatic offices.
Reeve raised an eyebrow but continued to speak in rapid-fire Wutaiin over
the phone. Bugah felt his tired, weathered old cheeks flush. Apparently,
the man had sharp ears.
Reeve talked for several more minutes, then hung up the phone and looked
across the heavy oaken desk at his visitors. "Sorry about the wait. I cant
get a hold of the man whos in charge of the military, and I had to
go through all of his damned subordinates."
"So, President Kazuma, what was the purpose of all of that shouting?" asked
Reeve tapped several keys, then answered. "I sent three platoons from across
the Planet to the Great Glacier, where theyll be arriving in
He glanced at his watch. "Well, the last of them, coming from the station
near Wutai, is going to get there in about three hours."
Red did some quick computations in his head. "You can move 1200 men that
Reeve smiled. "Ive got the resources of a multi-billion gil company
at my fingertips. It was easy."
Bugah was frowning. "Wait, wait. From what I have heard from Nanaki of the
Great Glacier, it is not possible to land aircraft there."
Reeve nodded. "Youre quite right. It isnt. The soldiers are going
to be parachuting in, then climbing the Gaia Cliffs and into the Crater from
there. Theyve got several video cameras that will send instantaneous
feedback here, and myself and the Board of Directors are going to be watching
the whole thing. I was also thinking about having Tifa Lockheart as an
advisor--and you too, if youre willing, Red--because you guys have
been there. You know where things should be, and what should and shouldnt
Red nodded solemnly. "Id be glad to help."
Reeve smiled, then looked down at the expensive watch on his arm again. "Wow.
Its late." He glanced at the computer screen. "And the platoons
arent going to break into the Crater until at least late tomorrow morning.
Tell you what, I can put you two up at a hotel for the night, if its
not an inconvenience. That way, I can have you here as advisors tomorrow
when they get into the Crater." Then he paused for a moment, and dismay came
onto his face. "Oh shit."
"What is it?" asked Red.
Reeve rubbed the back of his neck wearily. "I had promised Re--a friend that
I would give him a hand tomorrow. This is more important, though, so I think
Ill have to take a rain check." He waved a hand. "Forget about my social
problems. Would you be willing to be put up at a hotel tonight, though,
Red glanced at Bugah, who nodded. "That would be fine, as long as you can
find a hotel that does not object to my presence," Red replied.
Reeve flashed him a grin. "With my credentials, no one would dare turn you
A few phone calls later, they were standing in front of Reeves desk
to say their good-byes. "Youre at the Fiore, on Ardiente Ave," Reeve
said. "Emmanuel will be waiting for you just outside of my door, and hell
make sure that you get there." Reeve sat back down, loosening the crimson
tie that he had been wearing.
"Thank you, Reeve," answered Red.
Reeve nodded to him while fighting with the knots in his tie.
Bugah, with his typical perceptiveness, looked at Reeve, who didnt
seem to be inclined to be leaving with them. "Isnt there someone waiting
at home, President Kazuma? A Mrs. Kazuma, perhaps?"
For a moment, an immense sadness flared in the dark-haired mans brown
eyes, and Bugah was almost sorry he had asked. Then Reeve shook his head
slowly. "A long time ago, there could have been
" He seemed to be lost
down memory lane for a moment, a small, bitter half-smile forming on his
lips, "but not now. Theres no one waiting for me at home. Actually,
I spend more time here than I do at my home. Ive got my own rooms here
in the building just for that purpose." He grinned rather ruefully. "If I
get any sleep at all tonight, thats probably where Id be."
Bugah marveled at the way that Reeve had been able to change the subject,
but answered simply, "Thank you, Mr. Kazuma."
Reeve smiled. "Dont mention it. Im the one that should be thanking
you. See you two in the morning."
"Good night, Reeve," Red called, prowling over to the door.
Despite the general air of jovialness, Red felt that an aura of melancholy
had settled over Reeve. His glance back as he and Bugah moved toward the
door proved his idea. Reeves figure was outlined in front of the large
window that showed the panorama of the Midgar nighttime skyline. He was slumped
over his desk, head in his hands, and his shoulders appeared to be shaking
Red felt a flash of compassion for the solitary figure, then the door closed
on the sight.
* * * * *
A scant few hours after returning from Midgar in the Highwind, Cid, as the
unofficial mayor of Rocket Town, had called together an emergency meeting
of the small community. They had assembled in the village center; the only
place large enough to accommodate them all. The villagers were seated in
the recently shoveled town square in their thickest warm clothes, because
winter still had not released its icy grip on the town. Cid and Shera stood
in front of them. And despite the fact that an unknown, and potentially strong,
enemy was on its way, everyone seemed fairly relaxed. Well, except for
"So were covering for a Turk and some girl who most of us dont
even know?" called out the town troublemaker.
Cid groaned inwardly. Vashar again.
Vashar Rya was new to the town, only having been around for a few weeks,
but he had already proved himself to be the biggest pain in the ass that
the town had ever seen. Vashar had a big mouth that never seemed to stop
flapping about the latest disaster that was sure to befall the small town,
and was an incurable surly pessimist. Vashar was standing in the back, arms
crossed over his barrel chest and eerie blackish eyes dancing at the prospect
of stirring up unrest. He was very short, with stubby, well-muscled limbs.
A bushy black beard and mustache hid most of his face, and he had wild black
hair. He didnt like anyone in the town, but he seemed to have it out
especially for Cid.
"Basically, yes," Cid replied, tired of the constant bickering. He felt a
pain in his leg as Shera kicked him. "Ow! I mean, no, its not like
that at all," the pilot corrected himself, rubbing at his leg and making
a rude hand gesture at Shera behind his back. She kicked him again, and he
hissed obscenities to himself.
Vashar looked to Cid condescendingly. "By all means, Captain, explain it
to me then."
Cid was momentarily lost for words, still holding his leg. "Uhh
Shera stepped in smoothly. "Let me handle this, Cid," she whispered as she
moved past her husband. Cid stepped back a pace, grateful for the respite.
From somewhere in the audience where she was sitting with neighbors, Kat
yelled out, "Gooo Mommy!"
A much-needed laugh rippled through the crowd, and Shera smiled. "Thanks
for the vote of confidence, Kat." She continued, "Now, let me explain in
possibly a little more detail." "The less you know, the better off you are,
so I wont tell you too much. Basically, you all saw the blonde woman
that was staying with us this week, right?" There were nods. "Well, she is
an escaped research specimen--of Hojos."
There were audible gasps. After the scientists death at the hands of
Cloud Strife, Vincent Valentine, and Tifa Lockheart three years ago, word
of his horrible misdeeds had spread, and the name of Daei Hojo became universally
known and feared. Compassion and kindness had been showered on the very few
specimens of his that had been found alive in a small, relatively unknown
laboratory several years before, and Shera was counting on those same feelings
being in evidence with this new information.
"Thats right. After she escaped, Hojos goons chased her across
the Planet. Even now, three years after he died, they still follow her."
A woman shouted out, "And what about the red-headed Turk that was traveling
Shera took the question in stride easily. "They met up a while ago and have
been traveling together ever since. In this case, Renos actually in
the right, because hes been protecting her." As she spoke, she could
practically feel the peoples support and outrage at the treatment of
"So if these goons of Hojos have been tracking her this whole time,
wouldnt that mean they would track her to here?" yelled an astute teenage
Shera hesitated, then nodded. "Yes."
There were more gasps and sharp intakes of breath.
The same young boy pressed on. "And are you expecting violence from them?"
Shera paused longer, then reluctantly nodded. "In all probability."
Excited, frightened chatter broke out. Shera tried to speak to calm them
down, but she couldnt be heard over the clamor and din.
"Hey!" A voice carried above the noise of the crowd. Everyone went silent
and turned to find Jasu Kei, the young pilot of the Highwind, standing.
"Thats better." The black-haired prodigy turned to face Cid and Shera.
"Captain, Shera, Im sure that we all appreciate this warning, but what
exactly do you want us to do?"
Cid and Shera exchanged glances before Cid came forward again. "If youre
asked about Reno and Ki--Dinah, say that you dont know where they went,
and that you only remember seeing them briefly once at the airstrip. The
records in the control tower have been altered to show that a cargo plane
to Nibelheim took two passengers on the very day that they arrived here.
Hopefully, we can get these people to believe that Reno and Dinah came through
and left right away. "Now all we need is your cooperation." He looked down
at his booted feet for a minute, then back out at his friends and neighbors.
"However, if you really need to, go ahead and tell them where Reno and Dinah
really stayed. But if you do, please, keep my kids out of i-"
He was cut off by cries of outrage. "Wed never tell, Capn!" "Your
secrets safe with us!" "You actually think wed tell them?!"
Cid smiled. "Thanks guys. Well just hope all they do is ask
"And if they do more than ask questions?" Vashars unmistakable booming
Cid grinned. "I can still twirl a lance, mboy!" Then he sobered. "But
what you all do is up to you. Im not gonna ask ya to fight."
There was silence for a moment. Shera moved closer to Cid and put her hand
through his, silently signifying that she was with him. Cid turned for a
moment to make a disapproving face at her. Shera just shrugged.
Then a voice cut through the quiet. "I dont know about everybody else,"
Jasu called, "but were with you, Captain." His younger sister, who
was set to graduate from high school soon, if Cid remembered correctly, was
standing beside her brother, and Jasus arm was thrown across her small
shoulders. She nodded her freckled head resolutely.
"Aye! Ill fight with ye, Capn!" The grizzled old man who continually
watched the rocket was standing proudly, leaning heavily on his cane. "Them
bastards dont stand a chance! Why Ill-" The rest of what he was
saying became indecipherable as he swung wildly with his cane.
"Take it easy there, Darius!" Shera called out. Darius put the end of his
cane back down on the ground and saluted her crisply.
"And us! And us!" Josh and Kat were jumping up and down, Kat doing her best
to hold onto her baby sister. Laughter went through the crowd as Shera shook
her head. "Oh no you dont!"
They stopped bouncing and pouted.
What looked to be the entire crew of the Highwind stood next. "Well
get em, Captain!" "Were with you all the way!" "You saved us
from Shinras service. Now its time for us to return the favor!"
Every man, woman, and child in the town stood.
Cid blinked at the overwhelming display of support. "Wow
"Lets all hope that it doesnt come down to violence, but we have
to make plans in case it does," Shera out in, glancing significantly at the
youngsters in the crowd. And so the meeting went on
* * * * *
A good hour later, just as the crowd was breaking up, the shrieking of engines
was heard. Heads shot up to see a shiny black mass scream by overhead.
"What the hell?!" seemed to be the general consensus.
Then Cid heard Jasus voice above the rest. As usual, the quick-thinking
young man had comprehended what was going on before anyone else. "Holy shit!
Its an airship!"
And taking a second look at the underside of the shiny black mass, Cid realized
that the pilot was right. It was a long, sleek airship that had been painted
completely black. It was in the same style of the Highwind, but there had
been changes. Large bulges in the structure suggested hidden weaponry, while
the viewing deck had been covered completely by on-deck machine guns and
other war materials. The entire aircraft seemed wider as well, as if it had
been constructed in mind of holding a large number of people. An eerie,
blue-green trail was left behind as the ship, its speed belying its size,
banked over the town to land somewhere just outside of the small community.
" breathed Shera, craning her neck to get a better look.
"Theyre using Mako as fuel!" Her words echoed in the silence as the
entire crowd of mechanics and pilots gaped at the tremendous machine.
Cid broke the spell. "Those would be our distinguished visitors, I do
There was laughter.
"Get outta here!" Cid waved an arm. "Follow the plan we made!" He smiled
fleetingly. "Clear skies."
"And fair winds!" was the chorus of replies. Then they were all off, running
to their positions. Doors were slammed, old rusty rifles were taken down
from above the doors, chains were bolted, and curtains were opened as worried
faces appeared in the windows.
Cid dashed into their own house quickly, looking up at the whapping sound
he was hearing just before he ducked through the door. "Helicopter," he grunted,
seeing the silver shape appear far off, over the trees. "Must be some of
their big brass
"Mommy! Mommy!" Josh came running up to Shera, with Kat following more carefully,
Sheras heart leapt into her throat. "You guys were supposed to go with
Melody and Tano!"
Kat stopped, blinked, and said, "Whoops." She shifted Raven in her arms
Shera looked around wildly. I cant take them with us! They could
get in the way or hurt! Melody and Tano are in the rearguard, and therefore
not at their house, so I cant send them there either. And look, dammit!
people are getting out of their airship now! If I try to send
them to someones house, it would take too long to get them inside.
Theyd be seen! Swiftly, with a hand on either of the twins
backs, she turned them around in the direction of the Highwind home. "Get
inside. When it looks like the bad people arent looking, go out the
backdoor, run through the backyard to Jasus house, and knock on the
backdoor," she ordered tersely. "Mrs. Kei will let you in."
Kat looked up at her mother, her small face worried. "Whassa matter, Mommy?
You look angry."
Shera smiled at her quickly. "Do I look angry? Its only that Im
angry at the bad people, okay, honey? You guys havent done anything
wrong." The brunette kissed each of them on the forehead. "I love you very
Two frightened faces nodded. She gave them a small push. "Now go!" They took
Cid came out of the house at a dead run, now carrying his lance and a small
pistol. He gave the kids a strange look as they dashed past him, but he continued
on to where Shera was waiting for him.
Tossing her the gun, he asked, "The kids?"
Shera tucked the weapon into a pocket of her coat, where it made a suspicious
bulge, and they dashed down the path. "Theyre making a run to the
Keis house as soon as its safe." They came to a halt at the beginning
of the path. The airship was sitting across the fields, and the shouts of
men came to them as the black-clad commandos swarmed over the ship.
"Shit, theres a lot of them," Shera hissed.
Cid shot her an amused glance. "You stole my line." He leaned lazily on the
Venus Gospel, driving its razor sharp point deep into the icy ground. "Here
we go. Love ya, Shere."
Shera smiled at him for a moment. "I love you too." She glanced over her
shoulder quickly, and saw the door close behind Josh, Kat, and Raven.
Cid breathed a sigh of relief that caught in his throat. "Holy shit
Shera spun to find their visitors making their way toward the two solitary
figures. She stared. "Az wasnt kidding when he nicknamed her Whitey!"
Amaani was moving across the fields with an eerie, cat-like grace. Long white
hair streamed behind her on the breeze, and clothes of some type blank.
Completely white eyes glinted cruelly in the sunlight. The snow crunched
underfoot, and she had a large, menacing looking sword that she seemed to
be using as a machete, beheading the waist-high icy, brittle grass, leaving
a trail in her wake.
Cid swallowed hard. "Thats the Masamune; Id stake my life on
Sheras eyes widened at the statement.
Flanking Amaani were two men, both wearing jet black. One was huge and heavily
muscled, with a shaved head and a look that fairly screamed military. The
other was short and weak looking. He seemed to be fighting desperately to
keep up with his companions, he dragged a twisted and crippled leg behind
him, walked on a crutch, and he was short and rail-thin, with a mop of thick
black hair and dull brown eyes.
Cid, recovering from his shock, reached over and gently closed Sheras
mouth with one finger. "Remember, be laid back."
Shera nodded, her loose ponytail flapping around her face. She pulled her
glasses off of her face and shoved them up onto her head with one hand. Shera
and Cid stood motionless, watching Amaani and her small entourage approach.
Amaani halted in front of them and raised one white eyebrow in mock surprise,
replacing the Masamune in its sheath at her side. "My friends, why do you
feel the need for weapons?"
Cid looked at her levelly. "Monsters tend to congregate in this part of the
continent. Ive found that it pays to be prepared."
Amaani laughed lightly. "Touché. Now, who do I have the honor-" Her
mouth twisted into a sneer. "-of addressing?"
Cid bowed his head ever so slightly. "Cid Highwind."
Shera also inclined her head a tiny bit. "Shera Highwind."
"Charmed." Amaani covered a yawn with the back of one hand.
"How may we help you, Miss
" Cid trailed off, fishing for a name.
Amaani straightened proudly. "Hojo. Lady Amaani Hojo."
Shera heard a soft curse from beside her, and she found her own mouth hanging
open in shock.
Amaani studied them both with an amused look upon her regal face.
That shook Shera out of her surprise, and she asked, "Well, Miss Hojo-" She
nearly choked over the name while making a point of mis-saying Amaanis
title, but she hurried past it. "What can we do for you?"
"Are you the leaders of this
village?" Amaani made the word sound
Cid and Shera glanced at each other, Cid bristling. He waited a minute, giving
himself time to calm down before answering. "Well, I spose you could
say that Im the unofficial mayor of Rocket Town."
Amaani nodded. "Good. Im looking for someone."
Shera raised an eyebrow. Her neutral expression turned to one of scorn. "There
are quite a few people in this town, you do know, so I think Im going
to need you to be a bit more specific."
Cid hid a grin at the peeved look on Amaanis face. Thatta girl. Piss
her off. Shell be less on her guard if shes angry.
With a glare in Sheras direction, Amaani replied, "A woman who goes
by the name of Dinah Selby, and her companion, Reno Lynley."
"Is this Dinah Selby a pretty young blonde thing?" asked Cid, frowning at
himself on the inside at the sexist comment.
Shera shot him a glare, but said nothing.
"Yes, I suppose you could put it that way."
"Then yeah, we saw that girl come through with that bastard of a Turk," replied
Cid, glaring at the mention of the aforementioned Turk.
"When, and where were they going?" asked Amaani.
Cid frowned in pretended thought. "They came through
last week, Id
say." He looked to Shera. "Whered they go to again?"
Wutai? No, no," replied the brunette. "Oh! Nibelheim!" Shera turned
to Amaani. "Those two bribed a pilot to take them to Nibelheim as soon as
Amaani shook her head in admonishment. "Tsk, tsk. Dont lie to me. I
know how long thry stayed, where they stayed, and what they did each and
every day. Hell, I know what they ate for breakfast. No, what I want to know
is where you took me on the Highwind. Tell me." Her eerie white eyes drilled
into them, and her voice turned menacing. "Now."
Cid lost his air of languidness, and his own icy blue eyes grew hard. "No."
Amaani looked at him with a mix of mild surprise, anger, and scorn. "You
Cid set his mouth determinedly.
Amaani shrugged. "Very well." Her long muscled arm shot out, grabbed Shera
by the throat, and lifted the smaller woman into the air, gagging.
"Hey!" Cid started forward, the tip of his lance pointed forward instead
of digging into the earth, but was stopped by the suddenly visible guns of
the two men poking into his chest. He watched helplessly as Shera kicked
"Now feel like talking?" Amaani asked.
Cid didnt even hesitate, certain that help was on the way. "No."
"Maybe this will change your mind," replied Amaani. She waved the hand that
wasnt choking Shera in the air, and more of her huge, muscled troops
appeared, coming from the town. They had found the men and women that Cid
had positioned as guards and sentries against something like this happening,
and were forcing the six townspeople forward at gunpoint.
"Sorry, Captain!" one man called, but the soldier just pistol-whipped him
with his gun for speaking. The six men and women were marched further up
the path and into the town.
Cid groaned slightly.
All of the attention was on the marching townspeople, so no one noticed as
Shera strained to reach a hand into her coat pocket, gasping and choking
as she tried to breathe.
"Keller, tie him up," Amaani said, gesturing with her free hand to the blond
pilot. Cid, with the guns of the two men now at his back, was forced to drop
to his knees, set down the Venus Gospel, and hold his hands behind his back
as the weaker of the men bound his hands together tightly. Then the larger
man pulled him to his feet, and Cid was glowering at Amaani in no time.
"Put her down," Cid growled, nodding to where Shera was turning blue in
Amaanis iron grip.
"Youre hardly in a position to be making demands," grinned Amaani.
"Now, Keller, Rawley, if you please." She jerked her head at the town. Rawley
saluted, while Keller gave a shaky, "Y
Both of them grabbed one of Cids arms and they hauled him up the path
to the town, Keller barely holding up his end. Amaani followed with Shera.
She halted them when they reached the town square, where the six townspeople
and Cids other guards were gathered, guarded by soldiers with machine
guns. Rawley and Keller threw Cid to the ground, and there was an angry roar
from the townspeople, which was quickly quieted by the soldiers clubbing
out with their guns.
Cid winced at the cries of pain he heard, and bowed his head slightly. Im
too old for this
Sheras fingers slipped into the elusive pocket and closed around a
cold, hard object.
Kellers eyes widened, and he jumped forward. "Milady! She has a gu-"
The roar of the small gun seemed deafening, and Cid coughed in the powder
cloud that erupted from the pistol. "Damn, Shera, thats one hell of
a gun!" he said over his shoulder to the person that he could feel untying
"It was a smoke grenade," she rasped from behind him.
The ropes fell, and his hands were free. Feeling around in the darkness that
had erupted from the gun, his hand closed on the long, cold form of the Venus
Gospel. Hefting it, he stood and groped blindly behind him. His hand slipped
into Sheras, and he pulled her with him into the weak light that he
could see. They burst into the sunshine, and Shera doubled over hacking and
gulping great gasps of air, her face slowly returning from the purple color
to its normal peach hue.
"You all right?" asked Cid in concern, bending down beside her.
She nodded, massaging her slender throat, where mottled fingerprints were
now visible. "Ill be fine." She gave a small smile. "Youre just
lucky that you grabbed the wrong gun." Suddenly, her eyes, looking over his
shoulder at the smoke cloud, widened. "Look out!"
Cid didnt waste any time wondering what he should be looking out for;
he flung himself to one side, tossing his lance out of his way. The long,
shiny Masamune embedded itself in the soil where he had been sitting a
half-second before. He rolled, then came up in a crouch, hand instinctively
grabbing the hilt of the Venus Gospel. Standing, he dodged back several paces,
and the Masamune was once again whistling through the air where he had just
been. A tall, enraged Amaani, gray smoke literally rolling off of her, was
coming after Cid with a vengeance. She swung, he ducked. She sliced, he parried
with his lance, the force of the two blades coming together driving him back.
"Stop!" a voice roared in desperation. Cid recognized the voice right away.
! Cid, not daring to look away from Amaani, was horrified to see
Amaanis attention move away from him.
What the hell is Shera doing!? Shes defenseless!
Amaani backed away from him and began to move toward Shera. Looking to Shera,
he saw that his wife was holding up the tiny grenade launcher as if it would
"Dont move any closer," Shera warned Amaani in a steely tone. "This
may not look too deadly, but it blinds at close range."
And to Cids surprise, Amaani halted, sword still held in front of her.
Even more to his shock, for the first time since he had seen her, she
"Cid." Shera was beckoning to him, and he went to her. He stood beside her,
watching Amaani warily.
Amaani began to inch forward, and Cids lance immediately went up, while
Shera brandished the small gun.
"I can shoot this before you can stab me," Shera informed the white-haired
warrior coldly. And again, Amaani stopped.
Suddenly, Keller and the military man appeared, but on the opposite side
of the smoke cloud.
Amaani began to shout to them, but stopped when Shera called, "If you come
any closer, Ill shoot and your lady will be permanently blind."
Amaani, eyes wide, fairly screamed, "Dont come closer! Dont come
The two men froze in their tracks.
Cid felt something round and cold dig into the back of his neck, and he gave
a sigh. "Damn."
"Damn is right, scum. Drop that stick and reach for the sky," came a stentorian
order. Cid looked over his should to find one of the townspeoples guards
holding a gun pointed at the pilots head.
He heard a similar order given to Shera, and heard the thud as the small
grenade launcher hit the icy ground.
Amaani was immediately in charge again, pacing in front of the pair. "All
right, then, tell me wh-"
She was cut off by a loud, booming voice. "Milady!"
Cid felt his stomach drop at those three syllables. He recognized that voice.
Angry buzzing began to come from the townspeople, and someone
shouted out, "No!"
Amaani was smiling at whatever Vashar was doing behind Cid, and Cid felt
his spirits sink even lower. "Turn around," she ordered, poking Cid in the
cheek with the tip of the Masamune. Cid winced as he felt warm blood dripping
down his face from the cut, but slowly turned to find that things were even
worse than he had expected.
Vashar and two more of Amaanis soldiers were coming their way. Vashar
was carrying a struggling Katania and was holding a gun to her head. The
other two were holding Josh and Raven in similar positions, although the
man with Raven just had the baby tucked under one arm easily.
Shera moaned softly and sagged against Cid.
"Look what I found," smirked Vashar.
Amaani applauded, the sounds of her hands coming together and the
childrens outcries being the only sounds in the suddenly silent town
square. "Nice work, Rya. Whose brats are they?"
Cids eyes burned into Vashar. "I am going to kill you one day, Rya,"
the pilot hissed as the man went by on his way to Amaani. "And I am going
to enjoy every scream you make, traitor. Youre how they knew that they
stayed with us, and how they knew that I was posting guards, and how they
knew their way around the town. Youre how they knew everything."
Vashar looked uncomfortable at Cids intensity, and, coming to a halt
in front of Amaani, gestured to Cid and Shera with his gun in answer to her
Amaani raised an eyebrow as she looked from the obviously Wutaiin features
of Josh and Kat to the blond Cid and brunette Shera. She leaned in close
to Shera as if imparting a secret. "Tell me, dearie. Who is the real father?"
Shera, angrier than she would have thought possible before now, struck out.
She slapped Amaani, hard, letting the growing red mark on Amaanis cheek
and her flashing eyes speak for themselves.
The guard that had ordered Shera to drop her grenade immediately clubbed
her down to her knees with his own machine gun, but Sheras brown eyes
still glared their hatred at Amaani.
Amaani, with a hand to her flaming cheek, glowered and ignored the fact that
Shera was even there as Cid pulled his wife back up to her feet. The warrior
turned to Cid. "Let me put this bluntly, Highwind. Tell me where you took
the girl and the Turk, or I have my men shoot the brats." She smiled craftily.
"But if you tell me, and the truth, mind you, then they, and everyone else
in this miserable little town, shall be spared."
Cid bowed his head and closed his eyes for a moment, and his face seemed
to gray and age. Then his head came up, eyes open a sparkling, snapping,
angry blue, and mouth bared in a snarl. "Fuck you. And you know why? Because
I know that whatever I tell you, you wouldnt spare anyone. Youre
that much of a cold, heartless bitch." He spat at her.
There were cheers and laughter from the townspeople, which were again silenced
Amaani slowly wiped at the gooey trail making its way down her face, and
the soldier behind Cid stepped forward to slam the butt of his gun into the
back of the pilots head.
Amaani held out one hand, halting the trooper. "Dont." Her eyes bored
into Cids. "I want him to be fully awake and conscious for this." Her
attention shifted from Cid to Vashar swiftly. "Rya, are you ready?"
Vashar saluted her with his gun.
Amaani nodded to him and the two others. "You may fire when ready."
Kat looked up from Vashars arms, terrified. Her wide eyes found
Cids. "Daddy!" she screamed. "Daddy, help me! Please!"
Josh added his own cries. "Daddy!" he wailed.
Cid stared at Kat for a moment like a chocobo in the headlights of a truck,
then he made his decision. He threw himself forward, battering off the soldiers
who were suddenly swarming to grab him. "Dammit, no!" he bellowed, shaking
off the soldiers who attempted to stop him. He heard an angry scream, and
for an instant, saw Shera fighting off two of the soldiers. His hand reached
for Kat, fingers brushing hers, her face lighting up for that one brief second
as she thought she was saved, and he suddenly found himself face down in
the dirt. A soldier had grabbed his ankles and pulled. He tried to throw
himself forward again, but several soldiers had a good hold on him, and while
they were kept busy trying to make sure he wouldnt get away, he
couldnt break their grasp.
Amaani appeared in front of him. "Does this mean youve changed your
mind?" she asked of him and Shera, who had just been dragged forward to stand,
raging, beside him.
Cid bowed his head for a moment, then looked up to meet her grasp. God help
Reno, Kiyara, and Tifa now
"Yes," he whispered hoarsely.
"Good," she said. Then, to Vashar, sounding annoyed: "I said you may fire
Vashar sounded puzzled. "But Milady, I thought you wanted t-"
"Do not presume to tell me what I want, Rya," she snapped dangerously. "Shoot
Shera surged forward, aware of Cid at her side doing the same. "What are
you doing!?" she shouted. "Hes going to tell you where he took Reno
"I am well aware of that," replied Amaani coolly. "But you two have made
me very angry with everything that has happened thus far. And people who
make me angry have very bad things happen to them
" She smiled deviously.
"In your crude usage of language, Im doing this to piss you off just
for the hell of it. I can always torture the information I want out of you
later." She looked to Vashar. "Rya?"
Vashars voice boomed. "Fire on my command! Three
"Mommy!" shrieked the terror-filled children. "Daddy!" Tears were streaming
down faces to run into the snow. Raven, as if sensing her siblings
distress, began to wail.
Shera buried her face in Cids chest, doing her best to close out their
cries. She just couldnt look.
"Dont you love us any more?" sobbed Josh.
"Please!" screamed Kat. "Please! Ill be extra good and clean my room
when you tell me to, I promise!"
Shera felt Cids arms encircle her and hold her tightly as his chin
came to rest on her shoulder. He was breathing fast, as was she.
"We wont make any more invenshuns!" cried Kat, giving the ultimate
"Or make you mad any more!" added Josh.
"Just please, Mommy, Daddy, come and get us!" wailed Kat.
Three gunshots rang out simultaneously. The wracking sobs that Shera had been holding back tore through her body, and the tears ran down her cheeks, past her tightly shut eyes to puddle at the corners of her mouth and then drip from her chin.
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