Pathways Of Foreboding Chapter 13
By Paul Nathans
Something was using it.
The Planet could sense that, could tell.
Mu, Nothingness, had just reappeared, only to be sealed up again, it had not gained any new commanding force, either. Five had been cast into the Lifestream Energies, the ones floating above the Underwater Crater, where something had been waiting, then had been teleported away.
And it had all been done by the same being.
On the good side, stability had been restored at the Northern Boundaries. This thing seemed to have tried to create a Lifestream Backwash in the Pulsating Orb, allowing all the negative energies below to be canceled out, which would mean only the imbalance below the Elslumina Cave, and, of course, there was Midgar.
Then there would be absolute stabilization.
President Kerem of Shinra Incorporated took his seat at the meeting.
The Sister Ray was almost ready, while he now had the 'Materia' that had been hypothezied to have caused the Mako Discus that had aided in the destruction of Meteor. Each of the 143 Types of Materia were hooked up to various connecting cables around the six functional reactors, 24 at each, except for at the Sector 7 Reactor, which, due to there no-longer being any Plate or Slums, didn't need as much extra power to keep the normal Electricity functioning.
Ensa Palmer and the others who were head of the various portions of his corporation sat at their expected place at the table, while 1st-Class SOLDIERS watched the doors.
"First things!" he barked. "Maintenance Report!"
"Foundations for the reconstruction of the Levels all the way up to Level 60 have been laid, but not connected, the platforms and poles leading up to Floor 70 and its roof are stabilized, and the framework for a replacement for the Upper Corporation sign has been completed," Reeve's replacement answered. "All five WEAPONS have been hooked up in their respective positions, and it is almost-certain they've been 'reassembled.' The Cell Extraction Tubes have been hooked up surrounding each WEAPON, as is a Plasteel Mesh with Diamond Insides, easily-assembled, yet only if you know what to do to make it collapse with breaking it."
"Construction there has been deemed unnecessary...completely," was the response. "The WEAPONS were added to various portions of the docks, and they managed to balance. In one more month, we'll be ready to begin Pre-Cloning Tests on them. At least, that's the Construction Side of the view."
Brezni looked to Ensa, who nodded. "The Chemistry Setup is proceeding in conjunction with your Setup. There are no inequalities...yet."
"Good," Kerem responded. "What of the excess junk?"
"The demolished trains have been cleared out, we detonated them out in the center of the Bedla Desert Ruins," Brenzi's answer was.
Kerem nodded. "Then you may send out Maintenance Crews to finish the construction of the Sector 6 Plate Support. With what has recently come into my possession, well, let's just say that a small Bio-Lab under construction there could benefit us in the long run."
"A Materia Division, President Kenek?" Ensa inquired.
Kerem nodded, still indecisive about whether he should keep that name as an alias, since he'd made the mistake of introducing it to AVALANCHE.
"Shreelin, SOLDIER Positions!?" he snapped.
Shreelin saluted. "They've been moved back here, sir, in preparation for the possiblity the WEAPON does break through our improved Sister Ray. Some of them were loath to leave the area, but I gave them the choice of Trash Duty or SOLDIER Duty, and they left. Their reports, however, about some type of imbalance, may interest you. I handed them over to Ensa, and she's informed me she's done looking over them.
"The Small Garrison in the Clensaria Mountains has reported very strange activites among the Great Condors, while the ones in Kalm Cliffs haven't reported anything unusual. They have, however, confirmed that there are three more WEAPONS wandering around north of Midgar, underwater."
"They won't be for long," Kerem muttered, running his fingers along the table. "Palmer!" he stated, looking at the lazy Director of Public Maintenance and the Order Division.
"Hey-huh!?" he exclaimed, sitting up. "Oh, yes, of course...The Plate Supports that were damaged during Meteor's attack and the subsequent raid on Midgar have been restabilized." He yawned and fell back in his chair, his hand shooting up lazily and smacking a paperweight that held down a group of Kerem's Papers. The paperweight fell on Palmer's foot, leaving him to jump up, screeching in pain, while the papers proceeded to wisp around the room, settling in various places, many blown around by the crashing paperweight.
"Remove that idiot, and suspend his pay," ordered Kerem.
The two SOLDIERs at the door began to strut forward.
"Hey-hey..." he began. "This was an accident, okay? No damage." He raced to the opposite side of the room, cowering behind Kerem's chair.
"That's what you said the last twelve times this happened," Kerem spoke. "I warned you last time that if this happened again you'd be suspended without pay until, or if, I allowed you to return to your position here. Now get out!!!!!"
Palmer turned and bolted.
"Ensa Palmer," Kerem said.
The Head of the Chemistry Division turned towards her boss as the two SOLDIERS resumed their places at the door.
"First of all, I believe you'll be delighted to know of an incredible discovery on the eastern section of the Northern Corel Desert," she stated, the looked inquiringly at the President.
He nodded, giving her permission to go on.
"How many of you are familiar with the 50-Years-War, the War of the Lions, the First War of the Magi, and the Second War of the Magi?"
"I've heard of the latter two, the others I can't recall, so I probably haven't heard them," Shreelin responded. "According to myth, there was a time long ago when there were forests, strange creatures, and beauty across the land. But there were disasters, a chain of them, and in each, a form of Crystallized Mako known as 'Enchantment Globes' were used. Forged to amplify the special powers of the Lifestream named 'Magic,' they have also been called Crude Materia, in comparison to ours. As the cycle of disasters neared its apex, the 'Enchantment Globes' and rarer 'Enchantment Books' were used and discarded, all four types gone by the time of what was known to be the Lunar Wars, when 'Magic' was inbred into people.
"Shortly after, as the world settled into a life of tranquility, hoping that this wasn't just another period of calm, hoping it would last, indeed, it seemed as if it really would this time, Lifestream-Forged beings named Poltergeist, Goddess, and Doom began to use humans as playthings. In any quarrels they had, they used the Magically-Trained Humans, named 'Espers' to defend themselves. This eventually caused the three to disagree on how they were using humans, and it became an all-out war. As more and more lives were lost, and strange creatures, four that look in picture books like Crazy WEAPONS, began to once again roam free, the beings settled their arguments, tricked their 'Espers' into following them into a hidden cave, where Sunlight allowed for some kind of beauty because of holes in the roof, and Petrified themselves there, sealing the 'Espers' in.
"That was the First War of the Magi."
She paused to let this sink in. Kerem nodded after a minute-or-so, to tell her to continue her recital of the ancient myths.
"The 'Crude Materia' was never lost, though, at least, not until the humans made a final decision to dispose of them and never to use them again, and kingdoms rose and fell as a new cycle of disasters ripped through the land. Upon reaching their culmination, when they were halted, peace was assured. Our Second Moon was back, supposedly returning people who had traveled the stars, and no one could detect any traces of strange forces. After aproximately 250 Years, the Vectorian Empire rose. It found out about 'Magic,' it managed to restore it, and the Global Apocalypse released those beings that had arisen in the First War of the Magi. The 'Crazy WEAPONS,' one already having perished, supposedly right before the Magic Holocaust itself, the Atma Weapon, by name, were destroyed, as Magic fought against Magic, monster against monster. A brave group of fourteen destroyed the half-awake beings, who were now being manipulated by a man who had been driven crazy over an accident caused by another's greed. It and its Ultimate Beast were destroyed, and Magic itself vanished from this Planet.
"The continents began to return to their places of old, the tectonic disasters that frequented Artesta over those 2,000 Years also ending. This time, peace wasn't a general hope. It was an act, and it became fact. And that was Approximately 500 Years Ago."
Ensa drew in a shocked breath upon hearing this story. 'Another's greed...long-forgotten secrets.' She dismessed the thought. Shinra wasn't like that Ancient Empire. Shinra couldn't be like that Ancient Empire!
She choked back a sob that had suddenly entered her throat. "And...and the 50-Years-War and the War of the Lions?" she got out. "Very little is known about them, but its a fact that it took place shortly after the first or second continental change, because of a 50-Year-Armageddon that were 50-Years earlier. All that's known is something spawned agreat deal of battles and changes, and someone violently attempted to manipulate history. By the end of that Armageddon they'd succeeded so much that those who had survived accepted the beliefs in fear. Thus it was, something called the Holy Gravadox Religion was established. 50-Years afterwards, the disquiet among the Planet sparked a global-conflict known as the 50-Years-War, which continued for that amount of time. It was quenched, then those who wished to carry the war over were taken out.
"And a year later, because the current King perished with no known-successor, the War of the Lions began. Dileeta Hyral, who's sister was the victim of the small skirmish that eradicated those who wished to continue the 50-Years-War, managed to take steps to place himself in position where he could get help from a trusted friend, Ramza Beolubo. He was sent to stop the armies, and from there went on to try to end the political intrigue that was still present. It is unknown whether he succeeded, but after the victory at the Battle of Bethla, Dileeta personally took steps to quell any rumors and forced peace down the throats of many. Since there was no King, the general populace elected him to be the new one."
She drew in a deep breath.
"That's really all I know, but one of our Archaeologists, Alslam Durai, or something like that, has stumbled onto something else, and is almost done compiling the truth about that time, or so he claims. Then he'll send a report of what the truth is supposed to be to us."
"You're right," Kerem spoke. "This is somewhat...interesting." He paused for a moment. "However, what does it have to do with the Magi Wars?"
"Nothing, actually," Ensa said. "I was merely using the Magi Wars as an example of great calamities from long ago. You see, there's one final thing concerning that period of time that is rather...important."
Kerem's eyebrows rose.
"Whether they were destroyed and floated up from the sea, and then were placed in a hidden section of the Planet, or were placed there, it was probably because the people didn't understand their power. I mention seawater, because it seems they had to have been undersea before." She, too, paused for a moment. "They're Thirteen strange Materias that exhibit peculiar properties, which, according to that Durai, or-whatever, guy, are called Zodiac Stones, representing thirteen constellations in the sky."
"Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, and Serpentarius," Kerem recited. "I assume you took the liberty of bringing them in?"
Ensa Palmer nodded.
Kerem flipped on his PHS and spoke into it. "I want the Zodiac Materia, or...okay, so you do know what Ensa probably named them?...Good...move them to my office...I wish to examine them personally." He flipped his PHS off and placed it back in his pocket.
"And, of course, there is the White Materia," Miss Palmer spoke. "Its been placed at the Focusing-Point of the Sister Ray as requested. Obviously, it was designed to be the focal point of some kind of Mass-Planetary Spell. Its now been bent so its our focal point!"
"Excellent!" Kerem exclaimed, clapping. "Ensa, come with me!" he ordered. "We're going to examine the Zodiac Materias! Shreelin, get to the Auto-Controls for the Sister Ray! Brezni, stay on-hold on your PHS at all times in the case of an emergency! We're going to take out the Onyx Weapon!"
The alarm began to flash at that moment.
Kerem rolled his eyes. "Make that the Onyx Weapon and whoever or whatever else just turned the alarm on!" he snapped, flicking on his PHS. "What's the problem?"
"Sir!" a SOLDIER snapped. "Three WEAPONS, the only ones we know of that still exist, just rose up out of the sea and are moving towards Midgar!"
"They detected the Sister Ray!" swore Kerem, severing the connection and shoving the PHS back in his left pocket. "I'm still not sure if we can take four!"
He turned to Shreelin. "Get the SOLDIERS out there and order them to start earning their pay!!" he ordered. The others, which had been in the process of starting to salute, quickly did so and bolted off, with the exception of Ensa.
"Follow me!" he ordered her, then spun and raced for the exit. Ensa sighed and did so.
"What the *heck* is that!?" Barret bellowed.
"Dunno'," answered Cid. "Listen!"
Cloud did so, his ears straining for outside sounds. All he heard was the sound of waves moving far to the north, then, three familiar screech-roars.
"I think that's our rescue party!" grinned Barret.
Tifa shook her head. "Whoever or whatever sent us here must've masked us from anyone seeing us, at least the WEAPONS. Which means..."
Barret swore again.
"The Sister Ray's modifications are complete!!!!!" Cloud began straining with the bonds that held him once again, and once again found the maneuver was useless.
"Darn!" shouted Cid, before launching into yet another of his own strings of cursing.
"I can't find our Materia," said Red XIII. "I suppose Barret's right about how they'd be stored inside the Reactors."
"We've got a problem," was all Tifa could say.
"There!" exclaimed Yuffie, snapping one last group of wires together. "Done!"
Cait Sith crackled and got up, as the PHS she was holding lost its connection. She put it away and stood up.
"So, now what?"
"I'm trying to find the frequency their PHSs give out, either on-line or shut-down." His eyes flickered for a while, and Yuffie sat back against a rock.
She'd almost fallen asleep when Cait Sith's curse came out.
Onyx Weapon turned to the side, in the direction from which the Zirconia Weapon, the Citrine Weapon, and the Amethyst Weapon were emerging.
It roared out, pointing to Midgar, and received three answering roars, acknowledging they'd been heading there. There was also something about how the Sister Ray could now produce rapid-fire, but he couldn't quite make it out.
He turned slowly, his Orb flickering, his artillery moving into place, and let out his own screech-roar. Shinra would be destroyed this time, with four WEAPONS assaulting it it stood no chance. The Planet hadn't moved them to Xagor, because it suspected that it could be handled by the ones attacking it. This whole city was still, in a way, more of a threat than Xagor, or the Planet thought it was, and by the time it considered sending its best fighters in, the thing had been destroyed.
He lumbered forwards.
Even now, Reeve could remember each of the huge beasts, their appearances, their destructive powers. He could see them again...
Black, with gold colors, the huge, monstrous beast just showed up, towering up to tremendous heights, standing on the SeaFloor, the airship was up to the thing's shoulders. It was also a walking arsenal, with a red orb at its midsection, Diamond-Weapon-Type Plates connecting to it. The thing's hand alone had to be big enough to pick up Midgar's Sister Ray and wield it like a Bazooka. Its roar nearly-deafening.
Its legs were like the Diamond Weapon's, it had several sections of Breastplates and Chestplates that were around its large orb, and above it, at the shoulders, were parts of it that could clearly unfold to reveal parts beneath. Just below the neck, something seemed to be attached to it. With claw-like hands, each outfitted with blast-like places, arms with turrets and unfolding parts, this Half-Biological, Half-Technological Beast seemed VERY complex. Its head was monstrous, as was expected, and its tail looked like it had Scorpion Parts coming from near a Sapphire-Weapon-Style Tail.
It was twice the size of the Pearl Weapon and the Zirconia Weapon, just as the Peridot Weapon and the Aquamarine Weapon were the size of the late Sapphire Weapon, just as the Topaz Weapon had been the size of the Ultimate Weapon, just as the Onyx Weapon had been COLOSSAL! It had Diamond-Weapon-Like-Shoulders, arsenals sticking up from them as they became bulkier farther out, sticking down to its waist, almost, tails, other sections coming down from it to the waist, on both sides. The head was another mass of Ruby-Weapon heads surrounding the beast's true head, like that of the Ultimate Weapon, only the correct size to match the body. Chestplate over Chestplate, Breastplate over Breastplate, piled around its large orb, pieces of clearly-unfoldable sections attached to its neck. Its tail was spiked at the end, with arsenals sticking off it, and it once again came with Diamond-Weapon-Style-Legs and Feet.
It was the same size as the Diamond Weapon, too, and had another group of Breastplates and Chestplates surrounding a red orb, along with a spiked tail, unfolding areas attached to its neck, and had Ruby-Weapon-Like Claws along with a Sapphire-Weapon-Like Head. Its spiked tail had bits and pieces of Scorpion-Like Parts on it, and its legs were the same as the Zirconia Weapon's. An unfolding area with an orb in-between was attached to the neck and Chestplates, parts of those looked like they could fold out. The thing had a Diamond-Weapon-Type Tail above its other tail, too.
Four of those things at Midgar, not knowing that its allies were there, one crazy enough to perhaps not recognize them, the Sister Ray on Rapid-Fire...
...The Sister Ray on Rapid-Fire.
He turned to Priscilla and her father, who had just emerged from the makeshift infirmary where Priscilla's Father had insisted she rest for a few days before walking again. Naturally, she had attempted to walk on her own, succeeded, and had been caught in another room by her father, who was 'escorting' her back to the infirmary.
"Get everyone here under tight cover!" he snapped.
"Why?" the other male asked.
"Just do it!?" Reeve snapped. "Now!!!!! And don't leave wherever you hide until I okay that its safe to do so!"
Uncomprehending, he nodded, and scooped up his daughter.
"Daddy?" she asked as he raced away, a slight-limp still on his wounded leg.
Reeve picked up his PHS and activated his Emergency Code, one he'd hoped he'd never have to test...or use, then switched its channels to Cait Sith's, hoping that when Yuffie heard to hang on tight, she'd hang on tight!
"We've been in tougher situations before!" Nanaki grunted. "Just because it appears there's no way out of this doesn't mean there's no way out of this!" He squirmed again, and activated another Combo-Break, only exhausting his energies once more.
"That's it!" gasped Cid.
He moved his Venus Gospel into the necessary position as best as he could, and tried to contrate one of his own Limits into the weapon. It began glowing...glowing...he twisted the Venus Gospel towards the Sister Ray Shell itself, not towards their shackles, and moved into the precise angle for what he was about to perform, made harder because of the position he was in currently.
"Dragonnnnnn!!!!!" he grunted out, jabbing forwards.
The air-waves blasted backwards before this strike, blasted backwards in a way similar to that of the call of a Summoned Monster, but in a different pattern. He still got the desired results, though, as a large dragon, 5-times their size, appeared and slashed into the shell, breathing elements from its nostrils and mouth. The shell wasn't damaged, neither were the shackles. However, the elements bounced off and hit the inside of the twenty shackles, snapping them open.
As they fell to the ground, the 'Dragon' disappeared.
"Good idea, Cid!" Tifa complimented him.
Cid nodded, picking himself up. "No let's get out of here before-"
A whirring noise behind them stopped Cid's sentence.
"Too late," he said, knowing, as they all did, exactly what the whirring signified was happening in the general vicinity.
Shreelin's fingers flew over the keyboard in front of her. Images and system checks of the Sister Ray flashed by in the blink of an eye. She acknowledged the command the Computer was asking about for confirmation, and a cache below the computer opened up.
She pulled out a Rapid-Fire Pistol, hooked up by a group of wires to the Sister Ray, even as the Materias that were powering this thing activated. It was time...
...the Makoro Reactors began to heat up even as Cloud, Tifa, Red XIII, Cid, and Barret raced for the exit of the cannon, fifteen feet...ten feet...five feet...
...the Sister Ray's energies flowed inside it, and its petals began to waver.
...they dove down...
...and the Sister Ray fired.
They fell down through the space below the huge cannon, the enormous shell above them blasting free but a few meters away, the heat so great that their clothes almost caught fire, the deafening blast causing their ears to pop.
Tifa grabbed a loose Tent and flung it outwards, attaching another, and another, and another to it, as the Plate whizzed closer. And then realized the nearest pole was miles away, and the loop she was creating wouldn't reach any of the poles on the huge ray. It was too...
Barret shot out a large cord from his Gun-Arm, one which started to unfold, even as the ground came even closer. If that Cord was a Flex-Cord Wire X-Plus, it had better be able to shoot over the miles-wide gap, extending and contracting so portions of it moved along the side, the mechanics inside reacting to the outside movement, extending the cord until...
...it caught on...
...and they began to swing forwards, slowly at first, as Tifa made one vain grip for the five Tents she'd used up, but missed, almost losing hold of Red XIII because of the stupid gesture...
...their speed picked up...
...and they found themselves heading for the Sister Ray's only Manual Control Platform Stand, one they'd climbed a long time ago, while Tifa hoped Barret could change their angle, so they wouldn't have escaped being vaporized by a Mako-Powered Shell, and smashing against the streets, only to perish by smashing against a staircase or platform.
She really hoped.
The Amethyst Weapon could see the Shell that was approaching its comrade, could feel its energies, sense what it could do if followed up by others. It roared, and its Upper-Orb began to glow, channeling energies down into the lower one. Its Breastplates and Chestplates unfolded, exposing more turrets, and it opened fire, lasers tracing their way over the section the Shell was about to enter. Its Breastplates and Chestplates unfolded four times, and it unleashed a large blast of rippling, pulsating orbs.
The Shell heading for the Zirconia Weapon exploded, hit by the firepower and energy blasts it had just distributed.
As fast as possible, it whirled, his Plates and claws retracting, folding over, making him larger and more-bulky, while his two Orbs flowed closer together, while the main artillery stayed the same. This time it wasn't concentrated, channeled blasts that flowed out, but an unfolding movement, as the Breastplate's hinges moved backwards. The Sister Ray had moved, and another Shell was coming for him. The two Orbs connected, creating two large energy pulses that exploded outwards. It, and the firepower, destroyed this Shell, too.
The Sister Ray moved again, faster, this time, as if whoever was controlling it seemed to be getting the hang of what it could do, and a Shell was loosed at the Citrine Weapon. Once again he unfolded limbs, becoming larger, but more bent-down. He leapt forwards as the two connecting Orbs blasted out swirling pulses, crackling energies moving from his fingertips, the other turrets blasting once again.
Another Shell down, one was now aimed for the Onyx Weapon.
The thing transformed one final time, taller and even-more-bulkier, all portions sharper, a triangular shape in front of its Main Orbs. The Breastplates fully-retracted, and the smaller Orb connected to the back one. A huge energy beam twisted outwards, and like with all the other blasts, the Shell was destroyed before the other firepower reached it.
The quintet's swing had been jerked to the side as the cannon had swiveled on treds that seemed to be attached to the Sector 8 Plate City, a second time, then a third. As it began to swivel around, the movements of the large turret almost causing them to get crushed.
Thankfully, Barret was able to snap the cord off his Gun and shoot out another, smaller one, which attached to a railing of the First-Level Ground Platform.
They landed on the ground with only hurt legs.
Barret retracted this cable, and looked at his Gun. "Only one long one and one short one left," he said. The he rolled his eyes. "Emergency Firepower should be fit just as well as Normal Firepower," he groaned.
The Zirconia Weapon was ready. Its arms clasped together, and its turrets opened. Energies and Lightning 3s shot out of its hands, the palms serving as conductors for the superheated energy bursts the ripped free. It reared up, unfolding and refolding, lunging forwards. The head tilted back as other parts of the WEAPON unfolded from the neck, more blasts emerging. The Orb sent out a large reddish-black shell, which collided with the Shell from the Sister Ray.
It transformed, slimmer, in a crouch position, as another Shell came forwards, in the direction of the Amethyst Weapon instead of him. His turrets sent out streams of energy, he loosed a Comet, while his own limbs attached in sections, moving forwards, clasping around the Orb which folded forwards and downwards. It blasted into the ground, and domed explosions rippled up, catching the Shell and destroying it.
It became lanky and tall, and sent out a group of traingular blasts, ones that formed into Pyramids and continued forwards, continuing to unleash its firepower, its Orb in the same Triangular-Discus as the Amethyst Weapon's Discus had been in. It attached its legs, which extended, and reared up, spinning, crescent beams coming out. The pyramids sailed into the Shell, destroying it, and it transformed one last time.
With the exception of gettting more-bulky shoulders and legs, nothing much changed, excluding, of course, his retracting circular legs, which moved in, making his taller. And his tail became bulkier. His turrets were fully-displayed, while this time, streams of pyramids shot out from his Orb, while his claws unleashed continuous blasts. The Pyramid Streams broke off suddenly, and a shield-like beam appeared, flicking outwards and slamming into the Shell, saving the Onyx Weapon.
Both Zirconia Weapon and Amethyst Weapon strode forwards, their legs forming circles that almost touched each other as they reached rugged ground, providing cover for the Onyx Weapon to move into the center of their little triangle, with slow, deliberate, steps. At times the legs were square, millimeters apart, at times high and spherical. Once they hit the fully-even ground they retracted into normal, strong shape. The Citrine Weapon didn't have anywhere to fire, but the Onyx Weapon did.
They moved closer and closer to Midgar.
Kerem burst into his chambers, glancing around. The Zodiac Materia had been placed in a clear case on one side of the office, but there was no time to examine them now. He moved over to his computer screens and activated them.
The SOLDIERS were in position now, having been moved down the Highways and through the air by GrossPanzers at High-Speed. Well, most of them. The last group showed up, each switched to high-range blasts, and unleashed, yellow beams of light tearing through the air, into three of the WEAPONS, the fourth, protected.
They responded with Quake 3s and sending blasts along the ground, ripping through the SOLDIERS. Ensa recoiled at the sight of bodies being torn apart. Kerem snapped on his PHS and spoke into it.
"Move it, Shreelin! Faster! We really could lose Midgar this time, and if it goes, the Shinra Corporation goes! And you know if the Shinra Corporation goes we lose what we've tried to achieve!!!!!"
"Uh, sir, if this is for the good of the Corporation, don't you think it..."
"Silence!" he retorted. "You're staying here until those WEAPONS are destroyed, then you're going to help me examine those 'Zodiac Materias!'" He turned back to his PHS. "Terrorists take lives for no reason, Shreelin! We have reason! If it comes to the point where you have to eject the Sector 8 Plate and Sector 8 Plate City to give more maneuvering-room for Midgar, do it!"
Ensa gasped again, and her eyes widened.
She'd joined up to Shinra to work to make things better for humankind. The Corporation had been trying to help the populace, gave them huge cities, but they stubbornly refused to come above, where there was tons of room. So they'd helped arrange their buildings down below, they deposited any Mutations that escaped there in sections of the Slums no one entered, keeping each city isolated and free, but the people still would travel. That was largely their own fault. Or they couldv'e left the city once the Upper-City had been populated, and she was assured that sicknesses down there were cared for. When those terrorists, AVALANCHE, had struck, well, they'd taken down one of the Plates, destroyed 2 Reactors, subsequent actions against them could be justified. Most of these things she'd seen on one of their Direct Channels, she knew that they didn't lie, couldn't, no one allowed on them would. Sure, she'd had her suspicions, but she didn't think the Presidents of Shinra could hide so much. Rufus she hadn't really cared for, but she was in no position to stop them.
Shinra was a protector. For Shinra to do something like destroying a whole Plate would be...inhumane...
Kerem snapped the PHS shut and shoved it in his pocket yet again.
Another blast sent the platform they were on backwards yet again, and they slid that way, still too weak to get up. Cloud didn't know how long they'd been here, thanks to the Neon Generators here, daylight rarely showed anywhere in Midgar.
Then he could actually see the WEAPONS clearly. They were closer. Much, much closer to the city than they must've been before. He forced himself up even as Barret did, then helped Tifa and Cid up, while Nanaki finally arose.
A particularly-loud shriek from the Plate caused Barret to look in its direction, and they could make out clearly the forms of falling SOLDIERS, falling off the edge of the Plate. The whole group was positioned in an army on sections of the Plate and the walls. Cloud looked down, and watched as a woman fled from a burning building on the Plate. Another ground-blast zoomed towards her. She clutched her infant to her chest and screamed.
He didn't know if she and the child had made it away or not, but the shriek that was suddenly cut-off and something being thrown in the air, almost-desperately, as if the child would make it to safety. What looked like a bundle of rags got caught on a hook, suspending the wailing child. Another blast cut through the building and it collapsed in a flash. Maybe if the mother had escaped she could've gotten him to safety in the last second, but he knew in his heart this wasn't true.
He knew for sure.
Barret launched into yet even another string of curses, concluding with, "That could've been *MARLENE*!!!!!" He launched a group of blasts into the air.
Nanaki, somber, and with an angry expression on his face, sent out a Cosmo Memory at the WEAPONS. It smashed into the two front ones, sending them backwards, surprised at the sudden assault, and two quick blasts from the Sister Ray sent the juggernauts flying backwards, crashing to the ground, destroyed.
Only the Onyx Weapon and whatever WEAPON was behind it remained.
The Onyx Weapon, having gone crazy once before, seemed to snap as it saw two of its comrades fall. It screamed in outrage and spun around, then blasted energies out of its orb. They could see the shocked form of the Citrine Weapon as it flew backwards, and could hear a large splash. Seconds later, the Onyx Weapon, performing some Pyramid-Spray and arcing blasts, which were deflecting all shots from the Sister Ray, ripped off the Sector 8 Plate, sending most of the SOLDIERS on it falling to their ends below, well, probably, some might survive the fall. The SOLDIERS still on were trapped as the one hand that held the Plate snapped it, then used its pieces as a discus to cut into the front of the Sector 8 Plate City, tearing apart all the rest of the SOLDIERS they could see. Ground-blasts continued to arc from it, but now it was firing shots at random.
Red XIII unleashed another Cosmo Memory, it was absorbed with one hand.
"Now is when we really are in trouble," the warrior stated...
...Kerem was online with Shreelin again. This time Ensa had tapped into the connection, and could hear both voices.
"Look, I'm not taking down a whole city and whoever survived in there, crushing countless others, to give room to finish off that thing, no matter how drastic it gets!?" That was Shreelin. "Shall I repeat that a ninth time!?"
"I'll repeat my orders a ninth time," Kerem glared. "Do it."
"*No!*" was the response, a razor's-edge to its tones.
Kerem snapped now. "I told you to do it, darn you!" he shrieked. "I don't care if we have no one to blame this on like we blamed the Sector 7 Collapse on AVALANCHE, I don't care if there probably are a lot of survivors, or the ones in misery can be saved! Right now the Corporation matters more than any useless, flea-bitten, mangy, unworking, petty *THING!!!!!!!!!!*" he roared.
Ensa's gasp this time was also punctuated by the tears that came to her eyes. As Kerem stated this, and the truth of what Shinra was doing came rushing in on her, she saw the same thing Cloud, Tifa, Barret, Red XIII, and Cid had, that of the mother sacrificing her life to save her child, knowing she might not make those final steps, and the child falling anyway. And as the truth of Shinra's actions rushed in on her, the files she'd received on the Jenova Project clicked into place. If not for Shinra, there would be no WEAPONS active right now.
She dropped the PHS, which shattered. The screaming Kerem did not hear this, fortunately, he just continued to roar obscenities through his teeth, calling the citizens of Midgar every type of demeaning thing that she'd ever heard of, and obviously all she hadn't.
"*NOW DO IT!!!!!!!!!!*" he roared out at the top of his lungs.
Ensa could hear the click as the other end of the connection was severed. Kerem dropped the PHS, his face red, muscles taut, sweat on his brow, shocked. He bent to pick it up, to fire this traitor, to throw her out at the WEAPON and laugh as she perished.
He found himself at gun-point.
They stood, tense, looking at each other, Kerem on the open side of the parrel Ensa Palmer pressed to his heart, Ensa, unflinching, at the other end, her finger on the trigger, the safety off.
"What are you doing?" Kerem spoke, steel on every syllable.
The sounds of the outside were suddenly at the edges of their perception.
"Putting a stop to this," she spoke. "Putting a stop to this madness, this this butchery Kerem." She said it slowly, emphazing his name. She'd dropped the 'President' or 'Sir' or an honorary title.
"A stop to what?" he demanded. "And you will address me as President!"
"No I won't, *Kerem*," she spoke again. "And I'm putting a stop to your actions. The Sector 8 City Plate is not going down! I saw what happened, a mother, a child, I heard you. Shinra was responsible for the Sector 7 Plate Collapse! Not AVALANCHE. Shinra. IT WAS ALL A *LIE!!!!!*"
Kerem sputtered for a rebuttal. "Y you're committing treason!" he said at last. "You're committing treason, Ensalin Palmerse!" This time he used her full name.
Her gaze was unflinching. "No, I'm not," she said. "Shinra is not helping the Planet, its hurting the Planet. Shinra is not helping those that live, its hurting those that lives! Your dreams for a paradise are dreams of a paradise just for you!!!!!" Her voice dropped to a whisper. "Either stop, or perish."
then he sprang forwards, grabbing the lady by the neck, trying to twist it, to break it. She fell to the floor, her pistol dropped, and looked up into the face of her once-friend. No, her once-user.
And then punched him in the face.
He jumped up, aiming a kick at her, and she was up, slamming him into the window. He grabbed her and forced her back, so she stuck her foot behind him, tripping him, and they crashed on top of the Zodiac Stone Case, glass shattering beneath them, the thirteen stones falling to the floor and rolling, while the glass stunned them both.
Kerem had thrust her on the glass, it had cut through a small portion of the back of her head, but not into it. He, however, had gone face-first, and her trip sent him full-into it. He got up, his face a mess of blood and shards of glass, madness in his eyes.
He lunged at her, aiming for her throat again, and knocked her to the floor once more, clawing at her face, her eyes. She slapped him in disgust, kicking him back into the shattered glass again, and he screamed as it tore apart his back. He roared and leapt to his feet, then dove for the pistol on the floor.
She dove, and they wrenched for it, both fingers on the trigger. Spying a nearby shard of glass, he drove it into her hand. She jerked it out of the gun in pain.
A shot rang out
And Kerem, half-up on his feet, staggered backwards.
She didn't know how she'd done it. As she jerked her hand back, it had caught on the trigger, and one shot had been discharged. Just at that second the pistol had been pointing at Kerem's heart, which was now a gaping hole.
"You you " he got out.
Then his eyes rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed to the ground.
Ensalin was on her feet in seconds, the pistol in her hands, shutting the two doors to the office and bolting it, in case there anyone was nearby who was still loyal to their President. She pikced up Kerem's PHS, slipped through the door on the east side, into a small side-escape chute, and programmed it to take her down to Level 25. She reasoned that was probably safe enough.
Then she keyed in the connection that would place her online with Shreelin.
Unnoticed, the Zodiac Stone Gemini, nearby Kerem's prone form, began to glow faintly, flickering.
Cloud watched in disbelief as the Sister Ray powered down.
He watched as the Onyx Weapon paused in its mad assault, confused.
Then it reached forwards and used both hands to rip the Sister Ray off of Midgar, placing it above one of his cannons, and attaching it to the back, screwing it in.
He knew the Onyx Weapon was learge enough to carry the Sister Ray around like a Bazooka, but he'd never imagined the thing would actually try that.
Kerem was going to perish.
He could feel it. He didn't know why he had drifted back into consciousness, it would just give him more pain. He knew it wasn't purposefully his thoughts contiuned to wander, as a haze settled over his mind.
Ensalin! Oh, if he somehow survived and got his hands on her he'd
(I believe that can be arranged.)
Kerem looked to his left, where the voice had come from, wincing in pain with every movement. The Zodiac Stone Gemini was pulsing with an eerie light. "Who who are you?" he whispered.
(I used to be Lucavi, or Velias, Queklain, Zalera, or perhas Hashmalum I used to be to have many names. Call me what you will. Those names were in the past, I've had billions before that, like Mu.)
"W-What? What what's Mu?"
(Nothingness. Being Nothing it could no longer support itself, so it self-destructed, creating this Universe, but by self-destructing, still lived. That was over 40,000,000,000-Years-Ago. For 10,000,000,000 Years, Mu held no name, then Reizestrez, a blob-like creature with immense powers, came upon it, became part of it, and the Mu began to the think. It had been let in because a Supercluster of Galaxies had accidentally fallen right in the path of a very-dense Star Cluster, so the Uinverse was destabilized for seconds. Mu broke through then, and since then, people who stumble upon it have become the Mu, sometimes changing their names, sometimes not, Mu itself the being, perhaps, but the being not knowing that, if so. I don't really know. I don't pay attention to petty details. The latest, who is probably going to be replaced at the way events are going, is someone from this Planetary System named Exdeath, who now calls himself Supreme-Exdeath, The Absolute Reverse of All. Once again, though, don't ask me that. I don't really know much about petty things.)
"W-What do you mean?"
(I offer you knowledge guu I'll give you all that you want guu just merge with me, so that I may share in your destruction!)
"Will will I get my vengeance!?"
(You'll get whatever you want guu just agree to merge with this Zodiac Stone guu anything you'll be able to do anything guu guu-guu anything!!)
(You want to know guu you'll have to become one with me, merge with me, and receive the knowledge of everything! Its there guu its waiting guu come and get it and get your vengeance!)
Kerem grinned, not even noticing the pain it caused him. "Agreed, Lucavi."
Energies began to crackle between the Zodiac Stone and Kerem.
The Onyx Weapon bellowed out again, trying to force the mesh of several of his large cannons into the Sister Ray, all the while sending out more and more blasts of immense proportions at the city.
"I don't know about the rest of you, but I think watching for a few minutes as we try to gather our thoughts is enough!" shouted Barret. "This darn freakin' WEAPON's not only gonna' become scrap metal, I'm gonna' melt it into molecules!"
"If...I...can just...find...our Materia..."
The Onyx Weapon lifted up the small platform and attached it to the side of the Sister Ray, causing them to stumble and collapse, then attached a group of his wires to the small wires of the controls, and shot up a huge spike through the center of the superstructure that held the platforms together, blasted some more wires through it, and attached them, then slammed the side of the upwards panel on the pole, fully attaching it with an audible click.
He tried to fire, and as they watched, shocked, energies arced up from the thing's arms and crackled around the Sister Ray. A huge blast, rings of power and sonic booms flying from it, smashed into the Sector 7 Plate, tearing through the now-visible Ruby Weapon and Diamond Weapon. The ground buckled, and exploded.
Then it aimed for the Sector 5 Slums.
"Oh, no you don't!" growled Red XIII...
...and launched out another Cosmo Memory. It didn't do much, but jolted the Ray's aim. The Onyx Weapon was, for the moment, not-balanced, and swung to the side as the Sister Ray discharged its energies again, the huge column tearing through the ground at the sea-shore, the tumultuous quakes that resulted from the great energy and northern water, along with the explosion, causing the shoreline to collapse in an arrow-point inwards from the north. It swept the ray in from the side, the energies dissipating just north of the remains of the Sector 1 Reactor. The water, suddenly finding a new inlet, began to boil and hiss as it crashed in like a huge dam opened up.
The WEAPON got off one more short blast, through the Sector 3 and Sector 2 Plates, destroying the bodies of the Emerald Weapon and the Ultimate Weapon, for good. The small explosion on the north, and the large one, made by the larger WEAPON, on the south, only blasted the roofs off some of the buildings, while the bit that was torn away from between the Plate Cities and Plates crashed into the ground. And there was no shockwave this time.
"Yo!" screamed Barret. "Down here, ya' little..."
The arm below them erupted with electricity, crackling up the staircase.
All five of them looked down surprised, seeing themselves up above the WEAPON, being held up by the mesh-framework of some sort of flying WarMech. Cloud squinted at it, then gasped, even as he tried to prevent his stomach's contents from emerging as the thing skidded to a stop. Its two passengers, however, weren't so lucky, especially the female.
"YUFFIE!? REEVE!?" gasped Cid.
"Cait Sith, or rather, his reshaped framework, keeps you alive with his luck of getting there in the nick of time once again!!" exclaimed Reeve, having finished being sick to his stomach. As for Yuffie, she stayed looking down, being sick, although there was nothing left to be sick inside her, for a few seconds longer, then she looked up.
"I'd hoped to never have to try one of these things," Reeve stated. "There goes Cait Sith Model 3. Darn!"
"And I lost one of my special pairs of Fibercords saving us from becoming craters on the streets!" pointed out Barret. "That Sister Ray almost shot us, but we jumped. Tifa wasted five Tents not noticing the distance to a Grappling Area, I noticed it, and activated this handy little thing, which I got the last of sometime 2 Years ago!"
"I can see there's a big problem," Reeve said.
"You could say that," answered Cid.
Reeve nodded, then jerked the WarMech out of the way of a group of blasts. Yuffie shrieked, struggling to hold her Shuriken in a battle-ready position, and started to repeat the techniques Cloud had taught her about airsickness after he'd been found again in Mideel, during when they were trying to stop a comet and a vengeance-driven freak, not some sort of cosmic cycle of destruction.
"Gimme' that!" ordered Cid, grabbing for the Trademark Shinra Control levers, and veering to the side, charging forwards, then ducking down as the Shinra Airforce arrived on the scene, plowing into the WEAPON, just getting it more-annoyed.
He flew circles around blasts of artillery and Mako Shells, ducking under the Sister Ray when it was used as a club, sometimes flying straight at a blast and slowing down, then going up or over it, careful not to go to top-speed, in which case they might end up shooting forwards at a speed he doubted he could control, while pumping out artillery.
"If we had our Materia we'd be able to-" Cloud began.
"I-I can sense them!" gasped Yuffie. "Coolant and Subdivision Section of the Reactors! I think I'll be able to guide your focus on them through me...try!"
"We don't really have much of a choice!" answered Tifa.
Yuffie swallowed hard, and accessed another part of her strange heritage, causing the area around them to begin glowing...glowing...it shimmered as restorative rain washed over them, seeming to tell them that this was the crucial moment. Id they couldn't save themselves and destroy this WEAPON now, save themselves under conditions they actually hadn't been under. They might be in greater dangers as time progressed, but nothing was as crucial as this time. This place wasn't just host to a WEAPON and Shinra, crucial forces were meeting here, the likes of which had never come together anywhere in the Universe...until now.
"I...I've got it!" gasped Cloud. He grinned and moved his hand, and the Onyx Weapon staggered backwards as a Lightning 3 hit it, increasing in size to damage it, this becoming more-destructive.
"No...don't focus more than one on the same Materia!" screamed Yuffie. "I can't take it!" She shrieked again, then managed to relax, if that word could be used now, as Red XIII's thoughts shifted to a Comet Materia.
He blasted out a Comet 2, getting the WEAPON to start dodging, then a Comet. The huge rocks tore through the thing's circuitry and biological parts, leaving gaping holes in it. It shriek-roared and activated a Tornado and a Shadow Flare.
Cid moved their WarMech out of the way of the ShadowFlare and tilted the engines, blowing the full-force of the Tornado back into the thing's eyes, while Barret activated a Break attack, causing it to clutch its head and stumble back, bleeding from many wounds. Cloud activated an Judgment Beam, and the thing blasted through Alexander, so Red XIII activated Bahamut ZERO, sending a Tera Flare down on the thing.
A group of Shadow Flares impacted with them, then a Flare Star, then a group of Ultimas, then a Merton. Each time Tifa put up Shields, slapping another into place even as one dissipated from the energy overloads. Yuffie screamed again as more and more of the Planet's energies coursed from her bodies.
And she knew what to do.
She latched a group of shackles around her hands and feet to hold her in place...concentrated her energies...
...and ejected her spirit from her body.
'I'm all right!' she said to each of them through their minds. 'This is one of the four High-Level OMNI-Spells!'
She took a deep breath, still focusing the energies of the Materias, and continued, not even noticing how a small ray of light seemed to flow from her, and hit each of the Materias, even the doubles, stored in backup areas near the Reactors their brethren were placed in, in case they were needed...
...which began to shake, then fly outwards, following the beam, tearing through walls, circuitry, and machine, everything in their path, with the exception of the remaining Final Attack and one All Materia, which ended up caught in a superheated blast of Mako Energy and dissolved, the sparkles of their remains falling to the sizzling water...
...bringing them outwards.
Tifa's Shields were being placed up again and again, Reeve was busy popping corks of Megalixirs, Elixirs, Turbo Ethers, and Ethers, the others blasting all-known normal Magic Spells at the thing.
It roared again and tried to swat them from the sky.
Cloud sent out a green Ultima, while Barret let out a cry of exultation and brought down a final Break on the thing's head...
...The Onyx Weapon let out another ear-splitting screech-roar, and continued to roar, blasting out again and again, refusing even in its end to go down.
Even as Yuffie's spirit moved back into her body, even as the Materia attached themselves to places in their weapons and armor, each seeing, knowing how it was happening, and directing some to their Item Sacks, some to their places, even as Cid let out his own cry of exaltation...
...like slow-moving energies, the thing erupted from the inside outwards, slowly, tossing its body-parts forwards and upwards...
...where they crashed to the ground.
The WarMech landed on the ruined ground quietly.
"Oh, boy," breathed Cid. "That thing even put my piloting skills to the test."
He unstrapped, as did the others, and stepped out onto the solid ground, almost collapsing, his legs were so sore. Red XIII helped steady Tifa, while Barret helped steady Cloud and Reeve, who were blinking their eyes.
Above, grey clouds had gathered, and a light drizzle was pouring down from the sky. They could faintly hear the rushing waters to the north of Midgar.
"This is crazy!" gasped Reeve. "What in the world happened here!?"
"Onyx Weapon went insane again!" replied Barret. "He and three other WEAPONS were attacking Midgar, taking countless lives, Red XIII distracted the Zirconia Weapon and the Amethyst Weapon with a Cosmo Memory, trying to push them back to reason with them, and the Sister Ray blasted em' apart!" He pointed to the sides, and Reeve looked, faintly making out the huge, lifeless bodies. "Onyx Weapon went insane after seeing this, and blasted the Citrine Weapon backwards! I think it's all the way in the ocean now! And for some reason the Sister Ray powered down and the Onyx Weapon attached it."
He sighed. "Those darned Shinra just keep on gettin' more lives on their conscience!"
"But what were you doing so close to the Sister Ray at firing time?" inquired Reeve. "From the beeps I was getting off your PHSs, it seemed as if you were inside."
"We sure as darn were!" retorted Cid. "Thanks to-!"
A loud roar blasted from the upper sections of the Shinra Building. They spun to look, and Cloud's mouth dropped open in shock. Pure-white beams of light were extending from the inside of the building, which seemed to be shaking. More and more beams joined, and the shaking increased until all the windows in that section of the building seemed to explode outwards, as an intense magical whiplash was generated out, slapping through the air above the city, unleashing arcing beams that crashed into the plate, destroying whole buildings.
Another bright light suddenly erupted upwards and outwards at the top of the building, on one of the platforms that were probably on the roof, and another whiplash and group of circular blasts flew outwards. A great gurgle-roar was heard, and up above, the rain increased from a drizzle to a downpour, as lightning flashed in the sky.
"What the heck is that!!??" Reeve cried out.
Multicolored orbs appeared out of the air and flew inwards towards the thing. It seemed to shimmer in a way that he felt he should recognize...
...and gasped as a Tera Flare descended down upon the Sector 5 Plate City, causing sections of it to explode.
The tiny sound of a glass-like object rolling on stone caused Cloud to look down to his right. He drew in yet another shocked breath as a small, yet-unmistakably-white, sphere rolled to the area nearby, spun, and then stopped moving.
"Isn't that!?" he began.
Lightning illuminated the roof of the Shinra Corporate Headquarters again, as more spheres flew towards whatever was up there. The air shimmered again...
...and a black, circular, platform appeared below all seven of them, energies rushing upwards and outwards, as the table-platform began to descend into the ground.
Before he knew what was happening, they were floating in a mesh of multicolored energies, descending through a loophole they knew well.
"That thing just cast Ultimate End on us!!" cursed Cid.
Tifa flung up a Shield, and they fanned out, having never actually seen the direction that the thirteen warriors they knew occupied this Spirit-Zone appeared from, or what they did. One showed up, slashing out at them from the front. Cloud attempted to parry, and cried out in pain as the blade went through his sword, through their shield, and chopped open a large gash in each of them. Tifa tried to call up a Cure Spell, and found that she was locked in place as they swirled around, and were cut again by another warrior.
"How have others negated these things!?" Yuffie shrieked as another warrior slammed into them, managing to move to clutch her side, but not able to move out of the area she was standing in. She screamed out again as she was slashed yet another time, while Barret managed a half-shrug before he fell to his knees.
A huge blast of fire came at them even as the colors continued to change. Thankfully, the Shield Tifa had put up held true, and the Elemental Damage sealed up their near-mortal wounds. Another slash, and they collapsed again, a blast of ice, and they were able to stand once more in the weaving rope-like Pocket-Dimension. Another attack, followed by a large group of meteors that collided with them, seemed to crash into them, and the following three slashes left them barely-alive on the black ground, level with where they had descended when this spell was activated, surrounded by a column of black.
They had been moved back here.
A small, silver warrior with a golden crown and a red cloak, trimmed on the edges, appeared, holding an enormous sword. It quickly grew to gigantic size and slashed downwards, its cape ripping up beneath it, the sword extending into an ultra-sharp beam of light that, if not for their Armor, which apparently did protect them a little from these attacks, would've certainly finished them off. The black column exploded outwards, and they found themselves on the ground again, huge, with huge, gaping wounds.
"Life 2," Tifa muttered. The spell erupted, but couldn't manage to close these many wounds, ones this dangerous. They were mortal, Tifa had just barely hung in there, but the Life 2 couldn't heal them fast enough. Nevertheless, they gave Red XIII time to activate a Megalixir before collapsing to the ground, not able to move.
Another shimmer, and a Tera Flare descended upon the Sector 4 Plate City. Tifa cast another Life 2, still weak, and found it gave them strength for but a few seconds. Some of them were on their feet, but those who'd had their left sides pierced...
...she fell to the ground, groping for air. "Angel's Whisper..." she got out before falling unconscious.
It was designed to cure all maladies, it just might keep any vital organs that had been pierced shut long enough for the Life 2 Spells to do their job. Cloud shouted it out, and fell back, watching as a shimmering, winged female descended through light, bathing them in refreshing energy. His wounds disappeared, and he forced himself to the ground.
Another Tera Flare smashed into the Sector 6 Plate City.
"W...what?" gasped Nanaki. "How?"
Tifa's eyelids fluttered open, and she moaned and got to her feet. "I don't know what that thing is, but its a fact that if we get hit with one of those again, we may not be as lucky as we were this time."
Their Shields had been ripped off by the Leader's white blast, and they could feel the scorching heat of the shockwaves spreading from the Tera Flares.
Yet another one collided with the Sector 3 Plate City.
"Survival is the most important thing right now!!" Yuffie shouted. "I don't know how I know this, something-!"
They found themselves on the flat roof of Level 70 of the Shinra Corporate Headquarters, connected by poles to the lower sections of the skyscraper. Some extended above them, moving to form support struts for the walls before they arced inwards to form the dome-roof that was supposed to be on top of this tower.
There was something standing at the center of the platform.
It stood there, teeth bared, glaring at the seven, its face filled with an expression of hatred and an unsuppressed need to destroy.
10-times their size, even as Chaos, All-Magic/Kefka, Creator, and Exor Ra had been, it had orange-red skin with undershades of purple and black. A twisted face of malice stared at them from its midsection, eyes, nostrils, and mouth burning, horns twisting around its upper chest, forming large spider-like limbs that jutted up, arcing over its shoulders, in front of its huge wings. They were shaped like some sort of kite, with wingtips, that had fallen apart and had to be put back together again, the insides jutting out the outsides in point, potions ripped away, other parts connected by strands, the outsides folded in and around the bones. The legs were strong and thick, like Chaos', with clawed talons that arched upwards and twisted around to form large legs, each with nine small points above the toes. It had heel-spikes and knee-spikes, but each looked like they were composed of 20 layers of diamond. Its arms were long and thick, with twisted claws that looked partially-human, eleven on each hand, while its elbow-spikes were long, like Chaos', yet short, like All-Magic/Kefka's. Spikes curved up from in front of its throat, downwards, while cuts ran up and down his body in various places, designed to be there, not inflicted by some outside force.
Its face was that of a large lion with no mane shoved into the face of a Human, Dark Dragon, Salamander, Vlakorados, and an ancient Tyro Rex, all at the same time, while the cuts on it were twice as many as on the rest of the body. Its mouth, eyes, and nostrils also burned with unending flames, while its forehead arced outwards, portions sticking into the skull. Some twirled in, forming outward thorns, four bull-horns like Chaos', four horns those of a large goat. Its tail was clubbed, sharp spikes on it, and thick, too, also like Chaos', while it was clearly more-taut. Blue-white and red-orange flames danced up and around its body, surrounding all portions of it, like on Creator, and portions of its forehead also formed crown-like thorns, like Creator. Its hair was long and pressed down, falling behind the thing like paper pressed to a wet ground. Two more wings could faintly be seen beside the front two. Yet this thing, this thing exuberated an aura of power and dark forces that surpassed the auras of those other four large monsters added up.
"Greetings," it grated out. "Greetings, terrorists."
Barret drew back. "What the-!?"
"I am Eurodertlana," the thing continued. "Known in ancient times as Lucavi."
"Liar!" shouted Yuffie. "He was destroyed with Altima!!!!!"
"Yet he lives on," Eurodertlana continued. "One such as he, or perhaps, just a semblance of he, cannot be destroyed just through the bodies of what may be its masters. He still exists as he did then, essences pulsing through the Eternal Gems! At least, that's if the Eternal Gems really still exist! They may be a likeness now, close-enough in shape and Magic that he could live on, as he did...guu. Except you won't find out how he lived on, how I lived on!"
"Then who are you now!?"
"Why, President Kerem of Shinra Incorporated, my dear Kisaragi," he growled. "Also known as President Kenek of Shinra Incorporated, which is his favorite pseudonym."
"WHA-AT!!!!!" It was Barret again. "You expect me to believe that, you little-!"
"Believe what you will, terrorist!" it spat. "You don't really have much longer to live anyways. I sensed you nearby, I'm not going to let anybody who might stand the chance of getting in the way of my designs live long!"
"How did you-?"
"Ensalin Palmerse, my 'Ex-'Head Scientist," he growled. "She betrayed me and took my life, and is very lucky I haven't sensed her presence yet!"
"Kerem or not, I don't like your attitude, pal!" Cid snapped. "So git' lost or we'll have to remove you ourselves!"
In a flash, Eurodertlana changed from standing still, talking, to active. He leapt up and spun forwards, grabbing Cid and slamming him into a nearby pole by the throat. "Know this, freak of nature. I am Kerem, but I may not be Lucavi. I may be someone else, and may be telling you this as an offhand remark to get you to think I'm trying to lead you astray, or perhaps aren't. What I came from may not be what Lucavi came from in the War of the Lions, either, it may be false, something designed to confuse this host in case it knew where Lucavi was last noticed. Unfortunately for you...guu-guu...you'll never get the chance to find out."
He let him go, and he crashed to the ground, then flipped back into his previous position. "If you want to remove me by force, you're more than welcome too. You've fought so much you're getting tired of it, so fighting again won't really make a difference, will it?"...
..."Darn right it won't to us!" That was Barret once again. "But it will to you!!"
He charged up his gun-arm and unleashed a Big Shot right at the thing. It brushed it away with a palm and sent an oblong pillar of Ultimas out at him, catching him in the section of his armor that had been damaged in that fight earlier with the Topaz Weapon. He flew backwards and crashed to the ground.
Tifa spun to cast a Full Cure on him, but her Materia began to crackle. Nanaki glared and charged forwards, delivering a Cosmo Memory. Eurodertlana caught the two galaxies and slammed them together, twisting his hands, so the explosion slapped back at them, throwing them to the ground. He tore free one of the crowbards and cracked it on Cloud's Apocalypse, slamming it out of his hands to the ground in mid-thrust and blasted him backwards with a ringed column. With a clap of his hands, the air flashed outwards, burning, and Tifa, Yuffie, Cid, and Reeve fell to the ground too.
"Hmm...for fighters, impressive, but needing work," Kerem grinned. Tifa slapped down a hand on her Materias, trying to get them to stay steady, then flipped across the field. Lucavi caught her with a beam around her throat and slammed her back into a group of crowbars. He looked up and clapped his hands, forming a barrier of red as Red XIII cast an Ice 3. Then he unleashed the blast, quickly spinning to the side to catch Yuffie's Conformer and slapping it to the ground, where it skidded below a group of crowbars, in one fluid motion.
"My Conformer!" she screamed. He spun again, erecting a shield to ward off an Omnislash directed his way, and twisted it around so Cloud fell back, choking, trying to get the golden barrier off, and motioned. She threw herself out of the way of a blast of electricity, which immediately ripped across the battlefield and into her.
Barret unleashed a Satellite Beam, so he motioned upwards, cutting into the molecular-arrangement of the blast and twisting it, ripping the energies apart and then bringing down the blows like a hammer upon Barret. He moved one hand back to blast Reeve to the ground again, who had just snapped Cloud's collar, and rocketed into the air, sending Comets out of his hands as fast as the rain was falling from the sky, keeping an eye out for the two elusive females. He spotted one, and blasted her with a Stardust Lance, and ducked to the ground. Yuffie, still-enraged, leapt at him.
He spun and blasted her, grabbed the sword and lance of the attacking Cloud and Cid and sent them to the ground again, then leapt up once more and gathered his energies, quickly stopping as he saw a useless All Materia headed his way. He destroyed it and sent out a septet of dark globes, which began whirling around the group, blasting out random spells at them. He deflected a useless Pandora's Box once again and dropped to the ground.
"I'm starting to get bored here!?" he growled.
"I'll say this for you!" Yuffie shouted, wrapping a fibercord around his wrist, one which he easily snapped. "You still have Kerem's dumb sense of humor!"
She threw another bola at him, followed by her Rising Sun. He grabbed both, using the bola to knock the Shuriken to the ground, ripping her remaining fibercord and bola from her back. She had some good climbing-gear, it was amusing how she was trying to defeat him with those wretched things.
Her armpad connected with his face, and then disappeared. He shook his head, almost too late when he thrust up a shield, deflecting the Tera Flare that had come down on him. He looked around for whatever freak had cast it, and saw all of his opponents reappear and disappear. This time he simply shifted Planes, letting them take the Tera Flare, and shifted back, making sure to slash the nearest one, which happened to be Cid, across the face.
A crowbar crashed into his eyes, knocked down from above by a gunshot, and as he thrust it up, a third Tera Flare slammed into him, only this time he had no shield up. He cried out in agony as the huge marble-shaped ball of nuclear energies rippled out, tearing through his skin, causing it to burst into fire. He leapt into the air, determined now to risk casting another Ultimate End or a Transport of the Cosmos, and let them fall to their doom, either way. If he had nothing to risk, he could go on, but with something at risk now.
First, he made a motion with his hand to shatter their Materia, but was too late. He tried to thrust up a shield, and a Cosmo Memory was directed straight at his heart. He absorbed it and flung it back out, switching his elemental powers to fire to absorb the Tera Flare, and was stunned as it still ripped through him again.
Darn nuclear energies! He thought they'd been discarded with the Sky Fortress.
As his opponents shimmered back into existence, he saw with a grin they hadn't been expecting his own atomic backlash, and Reeve, who had fired the gunshots into the loose crowbar, was the only one conscious enough to try to inch a Megalixir out of his pack. He destroyed it, groaning as something sharp was thrust into his chest. He looked down at the grinning Yuffie, who proceeded to snap a Megalixir in half, and sent her across the roof with a blast of Nuke.
"Quadra Magic!" Barret laughed, pointing to one of his Materias.
"Technology helped defeat me, technology will destroy you!" he chuckled, willing a remote control to appear in his hand. He punched in two key commands, and it detonated. He reached into the detonation, froze it, but didn't hurl it. He waited until the others had started their own dodging movement, and let it detonate, the spinning orbs forcing them to the back of the building. A Materia seemed to flicker in response, and he clapped his hands, willing them to detonate again.
If Magic such as his couldn't effect their Materia...
...he ripped free a crowbar, which had just as little resistance for him to change it into a sword, and sent it spiraling out, embedding itself clean-through Cloud's midsection. He didn't even cry out, just fell, and was gone. And he was looking up at a large ice block as it crashed into him, causing him to stagger back.
A fibercord rope shot down after him, while Tifa activated a Life 2. He took the opportunity to use Magic to blast Barret off the building. As the Ex-AVALANCHE-Leader disappeared over the edge, he had just enough time jeft to shoot out his remaining short-cord, attaching it to the ledge, even as Tifa's Life 2 Spell took effect. He activated a Phoenix to amplify it, which should keep the kid alive longer, and attached him to the ledge with both cords before vaulting back up.
Sword-fighter down, two annoyances with good power over this great technology to annihilate next.
The brunette was standing shocked, tears in her eyes, looking down at where Cloud disappeared. He singled her out and jumped at her, gasping as part of his bluish-gold skin caved in as the result of another loose crowbar knocked into its wounded midsection.
"All is ageless...the result of the Cosmos..." he intoned.
A swirling mass of colorful galaxies appeared in the air, colliding around Barret and Reeve, who were forced backwards. He snapped down his shoulder on Yuffie, causing her to collide to the floor, and lunged forwards. She rolled under his foot, a big mistake, on her part, as her right shoulder got scorched by flames that erupted from the ground.
He turned to face Cid for a few seconds, blasting him in the chest before he could even finish his insult, before delivering another pulsating blast to Reeve and Barret. Nanaki charged him again, and got nailed in the underside by a swinging Comet.
He teleported into the air, dodging another Freeze, unloading a few gallons of electricity into Barret, who groped for a Megalixir, activated it, and found his whole Item Sack had suddenly burst into flames. He swore, and got up, racing forwards. Suspecting a feint, Eurodertlana allowed him to complete his maneuver, after which he discharged a shield, shoving him backwards once again.
Two shurikens ripped through his chest, and he turned, very surprised this time, to see Yuffie standing there, Conformer and Rising Sun in her hands, having flipped from a pole, the added momentum giving her weapons the force to puncture his thick skin.
He growled, and collapsed...
...his breath suddenly slow and rasping.
"Germonique," corrected Yuffie, not knowing why.
"...Germonik..." Lucavi/Kerem/Eurodertlana corrected her "...once said there is no true thing...guu, guu-guu...as a true manipulator and subservient. He was right. We all manipulate each other in some way...and...I haven't yet failed to do so."
He faded away slowly, glowing brightly for one instant, then vanishing.
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