Pathways Of Foreboding Chapter 18


By Paul Nathans

The panic had begun as soon as the sky had darkened.

Those who first noticed it screamed, soon so many were glancing up at the sky, pointing, running around, looking for somewhere safe. Most of them had seen Meteor, had composed themselves after initial panic, under strict promises from Shinra. Therefore, in all towns but Rocket Town, Midgar, and Junon, the panicking went on-and-off, it had kicked-up again when the lights had flashed, and when the snow had come. It was more-random in the three mentioned cities, though, riots were in so many place. So many darned places.

Shera raced into Cid's House, ignoring the cries of ,"You're a scientist, do something, why don't ya'!?" or "Get that husband of yours to pilot into that thing that caused the lightbeams, we might get our Sun back!"

She slammed the door behind her and collapsed to the ground, panting. First of all, she wasn't married to Cid, despite the common rumors, they liked each other, as much as two close friends did, the rumors naturally changed that in the views of many. Secondly, most people didn't realize the scientific-equipment she'd used to help with the rockets had been provided by Shinra.

She sighed, looking out at the blizzard, and glancing at her watch. Time for a late dinner, once-again. Cid hadn't even come back since after the Meteor Disaster, the seven days before it was supposed to come. What was it, three, four months, five months? Out with those friends of his on another year-long journey, probably.

She moved to set the table, and didn't notice as someone warped into Rocket Town just-north of her house.


Ensconce laughed as another spacecraft crashed into a nearby asteroid.

How long had he been waiting for this? The most-advanced society in the Universe, nearing even Pureland in greatness, capable of incredible Magics. Every move he made in this Quarter of the Universe was somehow countered by them, each time. He hadn't been permitted a direct attack…

…until now.

He was supposed to work subtly. Now…however…

"Out of the Cosmos, come to my call, Quasar Eruption!!!!!" He laughed gleefully as a large squadron of Magic Beams erupted into flames. Cut off the head and the rest of the snake would cease to function. He was told to expect some sort of resistance from someone, and to be ready for them.

A large yellow craft shot by him, its Intercomm in a constant state of Lock-On unless turned off, blasting out Quark Pulsations. He flipped away, blue-white body flaming, flicking his wrists, disappearing from this plane, and 'shifting.'

The All Plane came into focus, he wrenched it into this plane and watched with satisfaction as the whole area shimmered and collapsed upon itself.

A Gull-Shaped bird moved towards him, he recognized the symbol of the Elerans, a High-Class Ruling Family that held two sides, one that maintained the Peace on the Outlying Galaxy Superclusters in this place, another that created weaponry for small squadrons of fighters.

They were all going to perish now! He glanced in, shifting back into his common form of a blue-white creature, humanoid in shape, genderless, clothless, burning with powers, and erupted like a Supernova, gasping as a Tripartite Cataclysm tore through his skin, leaving explosions of small powers behind.

The Intercomm came on. "Audolt ratonso!"

He recognized the language of one of the Tetriarts, the most-complex species in both Universes, composed of 47,896 Genders, which multiplied by communicating wavelengths, birthing their squared numbers, and fed off themselves, creating more energy to keep on living. They also held 16,892 Minds, each thinking independently and processing information into the Central Mind, serving to replace a Brain if lost. They could survive the heat of Supernovas, their skin could absorb anything short of pure destruction.

Something he hadn't gotten the chance to loose yet, and now he was paying for it, finding himself trapped within a formation of fighters as they used their telepathic links, indeed, they seemed like one organism, to move around. Huge balls of light flew up from a nearby Planet, twice the size of the one he was facing, three-fourths the size of an Average Planet. He flung up a shield, only for it to be cut open, and he roared-out again, having truly been hurt.

Would the other need to arrive?

He started looking for a weak-spot in the formation, a way to shift planes without being hit by a 'Trans-Plane' Spell, the fate of more than one of his 'pets,' before. He had to escape to plan another day, most-likely. Lucavi had once told him of a place named Artesta, compared to this section of the Universe, it had only been slapped lightly by a piece of tissue paper.

This Planetary System had had four Planets, each producing Enuos. The Spirit Plane Essence of the very Universe seemed to become alive when that happened, for some reason, all Enuos, in both Universes, were shifted for unknown reasons, reasons even Ralyon did not know. The Master obviously did, though, it knew everything.

Ensconce continued to battle.


Ramza ducked behind a piece of wood.

He'd barely met them, yet he could sense they'd been though as much, if not more, than he. None had responded with shock to what the Crystals had told them, had just accepted, and intertwined it into a plan for doing what was necessary, simply because those facts were beyond their power to change.

The four who went for the Big Whale from history didn't know that, too much had been whirling in any of their minds, the real reason they didn't reacted. Well, except Nanaki, who's eyebrows had risen reqularly during the time they had been told that tale. Years ago, he wouldn't have thought thousands of years could intertwine with an infant's fate...but now.

Now he was truly beginning to comprehend what he'd committed himself to. He'd thrown himself into a task that others probably were there to handle, because he thought Lucavi was from their world, and he'd been foolish enough to think he knew how to track that group of Demons and Devils down. He'd been an utter fool. Lucavi was widespread.

A Dark Behemoth leapt from behind. Meliadoul snatched up a disconnected pole and slammed it down on its neck, snapping it so-completely not even a Phoenix Flame could restore it. She knew how to use poles.

A three-headed black thing was in his face, snarling and lunging at him, launching bracelets of energy that only instinct allowed him to survive. He swung his sword in an 180% Arc, cutting off all three heads. He'd heard the order for others to track them down, why had these...

...if they came here first...

...oh, blast it!! He flung himself away from the area, pulling Meliadoul with him, as a Flare 2 erupted where they had been, followed by a Melt, a Quake, then something just as 'fascinating' as a Melt, but obviously stronger. A Tiamat leapt from above, flames seared through him, Meliadoul smashed an Elixir on him, flames erupted, burning her Items. Thunderous blasts slammed into the area...

...if he survived this, he was out! He truly knew the feeling of helplessness this time. He'd heard of heated battles the ones Cloud knew best had come out of only because of two special Materias, and a great one fought on a different Dimensional Plane of Reality, that, if fought here, would've spelled the end for many.

The only factor they had was the close quarters, they could fight well here, because the opposition needed to near them to find them, and they could be nailed there. Sooner or later, though, they'd be found in such a way they'd perish, besides, the Bloody Angel was about to near a third cycle of life.

The Hyudra came suddenly, two heads wrapping around his, howling out to the others, trying to crush his throat. Meliadoul couldn't hit him in case he was hurt too, he could, then he'd have to move fast. He grabbed a loose stone and slammed it into the throat of the thing, not with enough force as Meliadoul had used her pole, he was a fighter, she was a Divine Knight, he leapt up of the head, kicking upwards into the legs, while getting chomped on in the right thigh. He gasped, falling back.

Meliadoul was there, cutting through one of the throats, her Diamond Armor protecting her from a bite to the right lung, crushing it a bit. She slammed the pommel of the sword onto the thing, before spinning it around, letting it slash between the hard cntral head, aimed at a straight trajectory, slashing through the main, central neck where both heads connected.

"Spell!!" Attune's voice rang out.

Meliadoul's Ribbon, an interesting device Tifa had given her when they'd changed equipment, blocked the Spell, making it seem as if there was no target here, tricking the other, or so it seemed. Two Tiamats were approching the unconscious bodies of the others, Alma was darting, dancing, slashing her Healing Staff down upon wounds. A Dark Behemoth stabbed at her, Meliadoul threw another loose-pole at it, chopping through its neck and dislocating it, half-decapitating the thing. It fell, there were two Dark Behemoths, four Tiamats, and one Ultima Demon.

Ramza was grabbed from behind, a claw plunged into his back. He staggered, thrusting backwards and chopping, searing-off the left leg of the thing. He spun and unleashed an Ultima, sending the demon backwards for an instant, groping for his Item Sack. Another Tiamat was there, sending out a Triple-Thunder. He spun and stabbed at it, it was the one from before, it eluded and spun, tripping him with its tail, before losing all three heads in a blast from Alma's Ultima. She fell, courtesy of an attack by another Tiamat, leaving just them. Meliadoul snatched-up two more poles that had fallen from the hut during the struggle, hurling them. The Tiamats ducked, the two Dark Behemoths leapt backwards.

He was nailed with a Dark Holy, falling, clutching his head, trying to snatch-up another Elixir, another Tiamat stomped on it. He spun and jumped, slashing through a section of the roof, it fell, smashing the throat of the central head, Meliadoul did the rest, while he administered yet another Elixir. He looked-around for the Ultima Demon, found them enveloped in razor-sharp currents of air. He moved to the center, dodging, when they were gone, leapt away from another Flare 2, picking-up a jagged piece of rock.

"Ramza!" Meliadoul whispered hoarsely. He spun to see the others, under attack by the two Behemoths again, he channeled his rage into a Scream and sent out two conseutive blasts of Ultimas, letting them fly back into the water. He was targeted by another Dark Holy, his Genji Armor buckled-in, pressing against his stomach, a serious dent that would be hard to repair even with a maintenance, blood was streaking down his helmet, he'd been cut there now.

"Life 2!!" The two wounded Dark Behemoths were up, Meliadoul was engaged in combat with the Ultima Demon, trying to keep it from administering an Ulmaguest. He moved to the side, knocking them both out of the way, through the wall, not the north door, not the window through which they had entered, as a Merton leveled the whole shack, spinning and slashing through the two arms of the demon. It kicked out with its other leg, raking through his armor and his left leg. He fell, stabbing upwards, while it glided away. They were on the staircase now, open, they couldn't reach the others.

Meliadoul rammed the Ultima Demon on the back of her head with the pommel of her sword, sending it toppling into the water, before spinning and taking-out another Tiamat. The final let-loose a Triple Thunder, Ramza leapt to the side of the first two blasts and took the third in his left breast, thankful that the Genji Armor could not conduct electricity. The sheer force of the blow had made another dent, he spun, grabbing his Dragon Whisker from on his back and stabbed it between all three heads, hoping it would suffice...

...the heads were gone, the Tiamat leapt back. Meliadoul leapt forwards, pulling them into the half-collapsed shack, grabbing a jagged piece of the wall and attaching it to a pole, swinging around and gashing one of the Dark Behemoths, about to bite Rafa in the throat. It turned towards her, she brought it down, chopping through its brain. One Dark Behemoth, one Tiamat, one Ultima Demon, one human left, or humanoid, had he merged with his Stone.

Attune spun, beginning the chant for a Meteor, the type that would crush his unconscious comrades. His mind stopped thinking, he lunged forwards, slashing past the last Dark Behemoth, and slashed at Attune. He broke-off his chant to let out a blast of blue-green energies, sending him smashing into the wall again, his Item Sack crushed in the impact, head dizzy. The only type of power, besides the All-Ultima Altima had used, and the Zodiac Elidibs had used, that surpassed this was Velius, the same sense of helplessness was back.

Meliadoul used her strange weapon to slash through all three heads of the Tiamat, which was swooping while delivering a Triple Thunder. She fell-back, stunned, the Ultima Demon closed in. "Ulmaguest," it spoke.

The Spell wasn't unleashed, as Meliadoul kicked the weakened-support it stood on, letting it fall onto the point of her sword even as it finished the word, neck impaling itself there. She ripped the blade loose and they both turned to face Attune.

"Your perseverence is admirable, you're worthy opponents, you could probably defeat me if you weren't so exhausted," the male spoke. "Alas, I'm not like Rubicant, some Fire Elemental I was told about who fought fairly." Ramza couldn't reach him, he put up his right hand, palm-outwards.

"Merto-," he began.

Malak was out of the water behind him, pole snapping into the back of his neck. He bent and flipped it, letting the man crash to the ground behind him, neck already broken. "Cutting things close isn't always luck, sometimes its a good tactic to remember when fighting," Rafa's Brother spoke.

The Libra Stone rose out of Attune, and began to glow. Ramza was there, a sword pointed right at the man. The Stone seemed to think better of the idea and warped away, it obviously hadn't merged yet, or it wouldn't have needed to hover like that as a last resort.

Someone else stepped up to the bottom pillar. "I am Pisces Zodiac Brave," he spoke, reddish-black hair flowing down the back of his head. "My name is Joseph, or Chocobo Joe. And all are my prey."


Ramza stepped back, again. He looked up at the Central Shrine, there was a blonde-haired female there, who had positioned the infant in front of the lifeless body of the Ancient. Her name matched that of the one name he'd heard given to the Flower Girl who wandered the Slums of Zarghidas Trade City and the Outskirts of Zarghidas Trade City. The girl seemed to be placing Virgo between both.

"I've heard of you," Ramza responded. "You were a Chocobo Racer at the Gold Saucer. What are you doing here?"

That's just my pastime, I've only-recently been called upon to complete my duty," the other answered. "Ralyon's Teeth is where my parents worked, now where I work. Its an intriguing job, and I got to learn some skills." He looked at the unconscious Nanaki, lying near the destroyed house.

"He was with Cloud!" he gasped. "Why...don't make me hurt you!" He took a step back. "That's where you would've heard of me, if you're friends of his..."

Ramza nodded.

He turned to the other. "Why am I going up against friends of Cloud and one of my friends!?" he shouted. "Please, tell me why!!"

"Don't distract me!?" she snapped back. "And what does Cloud have to do with any of this!? He's gone, I was the only one who survived the Sector 7 Collapse!!"

Joseph turned. "Are you asking me to foresake my fiancee, or my friends?" he whispered quietly. "Why do you oppose us? All we want is a better world, equality and peace for all, no sorrow! That's what Ralyon wants!"

"Don't run that speech by me again!" Ramza retorted. "Darn it, the same lies you've been told are the same lies Izlude fell prey to!" Meliadoul stiffened at hearing her late brother's name. "I don't want to see another perish because of them!"

"I...I can't," he lowered his head, then looked up, grinning. "Let Ralyon decide! If it is his will that I stop being lied to, then I won't try to harm you!" He paused for a few seconds. "One-on-one, whoever wants to face me! If I win, Ralyon tells me the truth, if you win, it is his will that I stop traveling this path, for it is the wrong one! It is the only way! Come!"...


...Meliadoul strode forwards.

"I'm not letting anyone else suffer the fate of my brother!!" She had sheathed her sword, now drew it again. Malak backed-up, while Ramza locked eyes with her for a second, nodded, and turned to begin healing the others, he'd have to use Wish on someone with good Healing Materia or Healing Items, since neither he nor Meliadoul had any, and Malak didn't know how to use Healing Objects very well.

Meliadoul lunged, parrying, quickly reversing her thrust to parry, before executing a riposte and slashing low. Joe jumped back, his own sword, a Hard Edge, slashing back. He delivered a series of thrust, each dodged and/or parried, before leaping up and swinging his sword under his legs, at her neck. Meliadoul moved backwards, stabbing as he landed, barely-blocked.

Joe lunged again, a quick feint to the left before he reversed his movement in an arc and looped the blade at her left breast. She was already weakened, the armor barely-held, she staggered back. She had to keep her concentration.

The Chocobo Jockey placed both hands forwards, letting-out a stream of rocks. She ducked, swinging at his legs. He spun and kicked her in the nose, stabbing downwards. She rolled to the side, flipping up, and spun in both directions, once each time, lashing out.

"Earth's Anger running through my arms! Earth Slash!!" The ground below blasted up, sending the Divine Knight flying backwards. She flipped forwards, ducking and lashing at her opponent's stomach. He moved back, not before receiving a small slash, bringing his blade down. Meliadoul whirled to the side, parried, whirled to the other side of the next blow, parried, and thrust.

It was parried, and she received a blow in her left arm.

"Your did you get here!?" The male wore a confused expression, something coming to mind just now, it seemed.

"None of your business!" she snapped back, lunging again. Joe leapt in the air, falling into a crouch and executing a Repeated Fist. She took a hard punch to her stomach, and doubled-over, almost dropping her Save the Queen Sword.

"I think you can do without your sword if you can use Martial Arts!" Meliadoul whispered, letting-loose with her Divine Knight Skills, a huge sword coming up, tearing into the Hard Edge, ripping it to pieces.

The male performed two Spin Kicks, using the opposite-direction trick that was common with that move. She managed to elude both, taking a Secret Fist on her shield, using the flat of her blade to trip him. She placed it at his throat...


..."Yield?" she asked.

Joseph nodded.

The girl at the Altar, having completed another group of chants, looked up incredulously. "Attune was wise-enough to ask Libra to help him if necessary, you didn't, and its not like Adramelk, so I can't take you down! I can, however, tell you that you are about to *suffer!!!!!*"

Ramza turned. His comrades seemed to be stabilized now, and locked eyes with who he guessed was the Virgo Zodiac Brave.

"You're not human anymore, are you?" It was not a question.

"Gralyok, take them!!!!!" she shrieked in response, before turning back to her incantations, something she'd been doing obviously since before they'd arrived here, and was still continuing.

The Pisces Stone in Joseph's Pocket began to glow, not rising out of it as Attune's had. "W-What?" Joseph backed-up, covering his eyes.

The Stone erupted from the pocket and flew into him, through his body, not doing anything. He screamed and covered his eyes as a circular yellow-orange energy began to circle him, wispy things lancing-out from the Stone and crashing into him. He continued to scream...


...a domed explosion blasted-out from where he had been, when it vanished, the thing that was probably Gralyok stood in his place.

The female turned from her chanting for a moment. "I've always wanted to see if that would actually work," she commented. "If not, I could've taken him dow, but it appears that one Zodiac Beast can actually command another, if the body is of such that it can accept a Stone automatically. That was the only way Adramelk was able to do what he did with his Chosen Host, if you're wondering."

She turned back to chanting.


One of the citizens of Rocket Town, in a secluded corner in the Inn, looked up upon hearing a bright flash of light. He'd retreated here, hoping that some drink could cut him off from the panic outside, and in other sections of the Inn, a panic that would spark at the slightest incident.

The people were certainly nervous.

Another human, female, materialized out of the bright light.

"Who...?" The male was on his feet in an instant, mesmerized, as were various others. The lady was clad in a rainbow dress, with tight Ninja Gear, and had flowing, green-blonde hair. Absolutely stunning.

"I am Layalisea," she spoke. "I see you people seem to like my entrance, I love sneaking through shadows like that." She grinned. "I've had a long day in Wutai, a long day traveling! Now there's this strange darkness...I thought this would be a good time for a vacation from Junon, I've been out for the past few weeks! This place looks civilized, I suppose!"

"S...sure," he got out, before tearing his eyes away from the lady. Once he had composed himself, he looked back at her. "Say, aren't you the one who sets up all those wierd fights in Junon!?" He knew he'd seen a description of her somewhere, he'd given it a passing-glance. That had been five years ago, a notorious lady was causing fights in places in Junon to keep people on her good side, it was rumored.

She nodded, and moved towards him, something threatening in her gaze. A hand clamped down on her shoulder, and she turned to face a man with a reddish-grey beard. "I thought you's with me! You said you'd date me, you little-!"

Obviously one of those fools who decided everybody who was polite would mak a good friend. He wondered if this lady would orchestrate a fight here.

He was about to move forwards, he'd wouldn't let this Layalisea have her way here, when the girl spun and tripped the other, kicking him in the neck as he fell. His head snapped back, and she lashed out with a knife, driving it right into his throat, before pulling it free and sheathing it.

The bar erupted into panic, while the Barman pulled out a pistol and pointed it at her. "Not another move!!" He ordered.

The other backed up from this lady. Whoever she was, he didn't think she was nice at all. He knew she could set up fights in Junon, she made it a task to traverse them at many times, just to watch while people fought to date her, but he didn't expect this cold-blooded action.

"Nah," she said. "I think I'll just crush your brais!"

She motioned, and the Inn exploded.


Shera looked-up from her supper, glancing out the south window. After seeing the fires at the Inn, which was in pieces, she hurried for her pistol in her bedroom, tucked under her bed in a small drawer, grabbing the pistol. She spun and hurried back to the window, crouching below and risking glances out. Someone shot out of the fires, laughing and spraying beams of white light around the town.

What the blazes!?

Well, she was perfectly-capable of putting up a fight, she had a pistol. She was going to help the town. Something in her mind told her that if she did, she might be able to stop the riots here, cause others to rally around her.

"Its my turn now, Cid," she spoke quietly.


Layalisea laughed as another building erupted outwards.

No one but that one black-haired fool had recognized her, she loved to wander around Junon, pretending to want to date people, then orchestrate fights. She'd been reported so many times rumors had spread during the first year of that, six-years-ago, she hadn't expected anyone to remember those rumors. She hadn't expected the rumors to enter Gossip Newspapers either and be passed-around the cities on Artesta.

She'd stopped this game after that incident in the Junon Elevator when two Shinra Military Men attacked three people who'd never given her a glance, thinking they wanted to date her, and hadn't given-up fighting, thus having to be slain.

As Aquarius Zodiac Brave, she could think-up stories. And it was true, she had traveled from Junon to Wutai a month-or-so ago, and had been coming here, sick of the attractions that town provided, seeking a tour of the rockets here before her month-break was over. She'd been called to her Higher Duty, though.

She motioned, and the Item Shop erupted from the inside-out. There was no way to know when she'd committed enough bloodshed, so she'd just annihilate everyone in this town!

A gunshot punctured her heart, causing her to gasp and plummet to the ground, towards the Rocket Launch Pad, where she was positioned above now. "Wispus, help mieeeeeee-!!!!!" she managed to get out before crashing, the Flame Shield surrounding her bursting outwards. She lay sprawled on the southernmost platform, before fading into unconsciousness.


Shera approached the site. With no Rocket near it, it consisted of a Holding-Tower on the west side, and eight staircases leading up, bridging, to a wall near the Rocket, a walkway, sort-of, two at each side, a ninth, never taken-down, having led up to the Rocket. It had been retracted upon launch and placed-back when the Spaceship was in the atmosphere.

A girl was sprawled, lifeless, upon the southernmost railing, between the two staircases. The townsfolk were now gazing at this area, while Shera was gazing at the girl. She'd seen a brief picture of her in a newspaper, once...of course, one of the troublemakers in Junon! But what was she doing here, and how had...

...A blue circle gathered around her, swirling, crackling, as something in her left pocket glowed, moving towards her. It circled, letting-out blasts of strange wisps, which collided with the center of the circle, before finally folding-in, unleashing a huge dome-like blast of energy and a circle of power. She attempted another shot before even seeing what came out, it bounced-off, it would've probably-taken a sword to do enough damage, and a strong thrust at that.

At least, she knew that upon seeing the creature.

It was twice her size, at least it seemed so at this distance, a lady's shape, a stingray-like head coming from above her neck, with bluish-green scales. The stingray's sides came down, coiling around her sides, four arms branced out from the scales of the purple fish, each yellow in color, with claws at the end. The tail of the thing came down behind her, dangling tentacles served for legs, she wore red lower-garments, but that was it. Sharp scales, like that of a cactus, protruded from various places on her body, and near the top of her lowergarments, too eels were coiled-around, facing her, hissing, eyes flashing red occasionally, when they weren't red, they burnt with a strange yellow-green fire.

"I used to be Layalisea, Aquarius Zodiac Brave!" she hissed. "Now I'm Wispus, Bearer of Toxic Water!!!!!" She hissed again, the mouth below the stingray-eyes was vaguely-human, covered in tan scales. "You have hurt my human form, so I will hurt you in return, then I will continue upon my task!"

She flung out her four claws, blue blasts of flames tore-out. A blue-white flame-shield gathered around her once-more, and she rose into the air. Shera dodged, two houses behind were hit and exploded from the inside out.

"Strike with Divine Wrath, twist souls, bring despair!! Dancing Flames!!!!!" The strange flames burst from her arms again, the shield around her added another layer, then came up again, obviously part of the arcane powers she had. Shera dodged once more, two more houses erupted.

"From the depths of the air, I demand you to answer me! Burst Cataclysm!!" The house behind her erupted in a fiery-blast, obviously what she had used to set-fire to the Inn, her shield flickered again. It didn't seem to repel attacks from after, maybe swords, since they traveled slower than bullets. Even as these thoughts went through her, she ducked, letting the junk fly over her head, and sprinted towards the Rocket Launch Pad. Others were opening-fire, people were streaming into the Weapon Shop and racing out with guns.

She turned and lowered herself to the ground. The dancing flames weren't part of her powers, Shera could see when glancing back. They were exuberated from her, along with a flickering barrier of what looked like waters found in toxic lakes. Another series of Dancing Flames and Burnt Cataclysms came out, the people ducked for cover, many weren't spared the destructive powers of this madness.

Other strange energies came-out, Shera vaulted up over the walkway, grabbing onto the back of it and flipping the settings of the pistol to Raybeam. It was a trick she'd seen Scarlet use once. If you fired bullets in quick-succession, each aimed at the area exactly after the other, they'd erupt in concentrated energies, and could be held for a length of time. She's seen portions of the Midgar Disaster on the news, a WEAPON had pulled that trick with the Sister Ray, but these weren't as lengthy as Mako Shells. Nevertheless, she fired, a ball of pure-energy flew towards the 'female.' She growled and spun, launching into the air and coming down in front of her. She was definately twice her size, Shera could see.

She lashed out, Shera managed to let go and fall to the ground. The other followed, she backed up into the center of the Rocket Launch Area, performing her Energy Beam again. It bounced off the monster easily.

"Oh, shoot!" she hissed quietly. There wasn't much room for running now.


"Hey, leave her alone, Fish-Face!!??"

She glanced up, saw a familiar ship fly off into the distance, and a familiar-figure leap off the top of the Rocket-Support, plunging downwards in a Dragon Dive, slamming into this Wispus and sending she/he/it staggering backwards, before landing on the ground and turning to Shera.

"We were on our way back from the Forgotten Capital and couldn't help but notice the explosions below, so we decided to check in!!"

"You want to fight me, then!" Wispus growled. "Fine then!" She motioned, and three columns of light appeared. One at the top of the Rocket-Support, one on the ledge where the gateway to the Rocket had been, there was a railing in front of it now, and one to the back of the Crater, each a golden beast with large wings. The Ninja Girl and that Moogle were on the ground now, the Moogle having made the jump, now groaning and clutching its feet.

Yuffie's Sense Materia glowed. "Three Despair Demons, one Bearer of Toxic Waters!" she spoke.

"This is MY Rocket Launch Pad!" Cid growled. "And she's my pal! I suggest you get lost unless you want to lose your life!"

He twisted his spear. It wasn't the Venus Gospel she'd been shown when he'd visited her that day before he'd been off again. "Spirit Lance," he mouthed. "Venus Gospel didn't get filled with Materia, anyways, so I'm not short!"

"Ultima!!!!!!" The Despair Demon on the walkway cried, while the one behind them lunged-forwards. The Cat-Moogle dodged and delivered a devastating uppercut. There were fading cries, the other citizens seemed to be concerned for their own safety right now.

Yuffie flung herself back from the bluish dome of energies that appeared, ripping upwards with whitish-blasts inside, before exploding in a flash. She threw her Conformer deftly, watching it sail up to the Despair Demo above, causing it to stagger back. Cid was facing Wispus, and motioned for Shera to stay back. She did, and moved away, only to narrowly-miss being nailed by a group of lasers.

Cait Sith was there, jumping up and spinning, letting-out immense electricity, which channeled into one huge blast, smashing into the thing, which gasped in pain and leapt at him. Shera scrambled-up the railing, but that was as far as she went. She was going to help, whether the others liked it or not!

As for Cid, he found himself outmatched quickly. The three demons were executing strafing runs with Lifebreaks and Tera Flares, leaving him to have to fend for himself against this thing. She was adept at dodging, and seemed to block each blast he channeled through his Materias.

Yuffie let out a low growl before climbing towards the Rocket-Holder. She ducked into the inside of it, just dodging a Tera Flare, its heat-radius whipping-up small fires in her clothes, which she quickly but out. She crouched behind one of the bars that served to hold-up the tall tower, and began to climb, in her element.

"I call that my Mecha-Flare!!" Cait Sith 4 announced proudly. "My very-own Level 4 Limit Break!!" He rocketed into the air as far as his legs would let him...he hadn't been sure he could make that one jump...grabbing onto the arm of the creature he'd just shocked...literally...and kicked at his stomach, ducking under a swipe, and using his HP Shout as a true weapon, slamming it down on the wrist of the thing. His arms opened on the sides, revealing elongated-blades; he swiped, cutting-off the left arm. The Despair Demon moaned, attempting to launch a Tera Flare; Cait Sith shouldered him into the wall, before retracting the lasers and opening the Chest-Cannons in the Moogle Portion of his robot, which proceeded to gun the thing down, lifeless...finally.

He dodged an Ultima just in time, activating a Quake 3 at the person who had cast the Spell, nailing the Despair Demon on the ledge, before being nailed by a Tera Flare and smashing into the railing, deactivated, leaving an annoyed Reeve punching a quick healing-sequence.


Shera rolled-away from another marble-burst of heat, her clothes scorched even-more, spinning and opening fire above. Cid was whirling his Spirit Lance, deflecting swipes and dodging Spells with ease. Shera pulled the trigger again, swearing when she found she was out of bullets.

As for Cid, he grinned when he heard a beep coming from his belt, and pressed the switch he was wearing on his right-side-belt, the same one the beep had come from, rolling out of the way as a barrage of missiles slammed into Wispus, sending her flying backwards into the wall. A second barrage opened various wounds.

"That...did it!" She hissed, swinging and grabbing Cid with her tail, curling it towards her mouth, which opened, revealing pulsating energies. She let out groups of exlposions, sending Shera fleeing to the other end of the platform, where her demons could deal with him. "You're toast!"

He chopped at her tail, flipping to the ground, and jumping in the air in another Dragon Dive. She moved to the center of the grass-area, the area between the sections of the pad, low grass had grown-back since most was burnt by the rocket. Even now, it was aflame again, in places, starting to spread.

"You humans certainly know how to perservere!" Wispus lunged, bringing her arm down, letting a Neo-Bahamut blast free below Cid, and laughed...

...As the ground below him moved upwards into a huge group of clouds which had suddenly formed above the area. The red dragon descended, letting-loose a blast of huge flames which broke the plateau, sending him plummeting to the ground. He managed to break his fall...somewhat...with his spear.

"Out of the vastness of the heavens, Giga Flare!!!!!" she shouted.

Cid slashed her across the face, hard, as she completed the word, cutting it off just in time. She hissed again and lashed out with all four hands, grabbing him in two and slashing at him with the other two.

Yuffie continued to climb, nearing the top.

Above, the two Despair Despair demons began to chant. Yuffie finished her climb, grabbing onto the foot of one, moving her body to the side to get to the top and slashing it. It hissed, lashing out and tripping her. She fell, almost falling off the grossbeam, but managed to regain her feet, spinning and kicking. The other Despair Demon was blasted by Shera with a rock that had just fit in the gun, who then ended up with her gun melting into ashes. A vat of lightning, with two tops, surrounded her. She shrieked and fell, unconscious, causing Cid to turn.

"Darn you!" he hissed, before being slashed across the face. He grabbed his Scimitar from behind him, each of them kept a Triple-Sheath along their backs, and lashed at one hand, still pulling-away. Wispus let go and slapped him across the throat, sending him flying back into the wall. He muttered a quick Restore.

"Its amazing how much you keep this up!" Wispus began. Cid opened his mouth to cut her off, she slapped it with one of her 'tentacles.' "You'll listen, and you'll keep on listening, do you hear me!!"

Cid responded with some very-impolite words concerning her, her ancestors, and her probable descendants.

"Such anger," she laughed. "To think Velius enjoyed screams. He and Hashmalum were the violent ones, but they were necessary. How many people have told you you're locked within a cycle, how many times have you come to that conclusion/" Cid spat in her face, and she simply wiped it off. "Many times. I know the others must, too, yet when you find out some of our histories from Crystals, you just absorb the knowledge and try to help friends. Have you yet comprehended that you're emotionessly moving back into a fight. Ninja-Girl up there is sending you against something you couldn't hope to face." She paused, taking in Cid's questioning gaze. "I know what you did, we watch, if you become nuisances, we annihilate you. Such has it always been."

"Broken record!" he hissed.

"They all are, actually," Wispus responded. Up above, Yuffie was keeping enough attention on this conversation while still fighting, and was beginning to see the pattern that the female beast was shooting for. "You know the main details of the past, so I'll give what may be the rest of the fill-ins you need to know. Jenova crashed into Artesta, creating a huge Crater. She emerges, almost destroys the Cetra, the Cetra manage to entrap her, but instead of billions of them alive, there are hundred-thousands. Her crash injects vile substances into the Lifestream, they come-together, taking life. The Planet, alerted, knowing WEAPONS may not be able to stop this, begin building their own. Above, the Plate can't take it, its plunged into an almost-constant shifting-state.

"One comes-forth, brilliant, named Chaos, a Master of Time. The Lefeinish are destroyed, he creates a Time-Loop, causes destruction, Cetra manipulate history, he falls. A century or so later, ambitious rulers cause destruction, the Emperor of the Paramegia Empire almost-destroys this world, he accesses, in a way, the Hades Loophole. Human greed, combined with the energies Chaos brought-forth. He's defeated, but what he created causes more unstable-energies. The other 'Jenova Product,' Creator, is still in the making. Then come the Zoaic Constellations, the Time-Stream Disruption, our instructions, which we are privy to, you don't get to know them. Its fixed, begins again. Wars, kingdoms, there aren't heroes, just people fighting. It ends, we're stopped, the Time-Danger Halted, both energies create something else.

"The Planet is experimenting, there's great disasters, most of the Planet sinks. Eureka is 'forged,' accessing a bit of Elslumina. People play the trick they did with the Lefeinish, the Planet is saved, no-sooner is it settled than the humans play more politics and stumble-upon more disasters the Planet caused, and what they're using now, the Crystals having failed. The Tree of Mana. It gathered all the evil energies, too, it was twisted twice, peace reigned there. The other Universe," Cid rose his eyebrows ,"those fools there started a war. The son of those who stopped the Glaive Emperor, Sol, managed to stop both Universes from perishing, there would be no trees. The Crystals were perfected, the Planet's 'Goddesses' began to rise.

"Chaos had survived, he created a great Entity, it was only known as the Dark King. It took-up residence in the tallest-tower on the Planet, since been built, forging prophecies, to draw all towards him. The living crystal helped pause that, he's destroyed, the Plates are still shifting, more Kingdoms are built again. Enuos begin to exist, the Third Moon and the Fifth Planet vanish, the Planet supposedly-exploding into an Asteroid Belt. People there come here, some are shifted with the Enuos, they're dangerous, for unknown reasons. Chaos manipulates someone on the Moon, Cetra travel there. It drifts-away after a war, in which Chaos merges with his pawn, Zemus, creating Zeromus, and both perish. Magic is fully-imbred into people by now. The Goddesses the Planet created unwittingly start their own war, it vanishes. What served as Materia back then came into practice.

"Creator awakens, no more Poison in Lifestream, he twists the Focus Tower/Tower of Babel into interconnecting links, playing games with people, creating creatures. Its discovered, other Planets are populated. Eventually his game is discovered, he is destroyed, there are too-many on the Planets, they can't stay linked, but the must be separated. The Cetra and the Base Plane create the Celestial Towers, linking the worlds, and a creature, Isis, giving her a false past and purpose. A creature of Creator's, Asura, halts them, the Cetra become thousands. The 'Guardians' of the Celestial 'Plane' are disrupted, things Asura create cause another war later. They're stopped, the 'Guardians' are, Isis realizes if the Celestial 'Plane' goes the Planets do, and destroys it, the special Cetra Communication with her is cut-off, cutting-off a lot of their Telepathy throughout the Planet, as they instruct her to do this. The Second Moon, though, hears some cries, starts ferrying people back. By the time they're back someone named Xagor has broken-through from Pureland. Sol had been sleeping, cyrogenics, in a way, he and others helped show the Purelanders they wre manipulated by Xagor and stop him. Magic had flown-through, it was so destructive its all abandoned.

"On that other world, it has various names, one right, two wrong, I'm not naming it now, its commonly-known as Planet R, though, around the time of the 'Creator Disaster,' a fool there accessed Mu, an Enuo. He was stopped, now, at this time, someone else ended up with all flowing evils. Accessed Mu, destruction, he was stopped, though, Planet R had been divided in two at the First Mu, remerged, divided again. They forsake Magic, seeing what happened with it.

"Then we get politics, they restore the Espers, nearly-destroy the world. Atma Weapon had been formed during the First War of the Magi, sane-enough to keep that name, Phunbaba Weapon, Doom Gaze Weapon, and Dragonet Weapon lost those titles, the Dragons split into eight. The Cetra were able to stop complete-destruction, but their numbers became hundreds. Magic was completely destroyed.

"True peace? Not on Planet R, someone who'd worked with us returned with immense technology shortly after Exdeath, the Second 'Mu-Master' there, was 'destroyed.' He traveled for more knowledge, made more technology. He was known as Ralsalin, then Ra Devil. He accessed the DEATHGYUNOS, another secret of ours, but perished using some Magic there, they struck a balance. Here, just now, Approximately 300 Years after then, Shinra was fully-formed from ambitious ones. 50-Years-Later is no, you know of the fools unearthing Jenova, Meteor, we know you know how it was intercepted, Jenova, both gone. The two in the Craxyold/Whorlex must think-up something else. Three failed-tries and their Master moves them, painfully, they don't want that, the Dark Star wants speed for his plans, which are none of your business. Shinra malfunctions in the Gongaga Reactor and a Guardian from the time of the Second War of the Magi cause more vile things to be injected into the Lifestream. It produces something which revives results and by-products of the cycle, All-Magic was a composition of them, Aisha and Ceile need information, make more WEAPONS.

"Well, guess what? You've been playing-nicely, stopping those little side-effects, causing full restabilization, or what was left, the Planet's back in the form it was at the Jenova Crash! Your attacks on Shinra caused Kerem to be there, if Hojo was alive he would've investigated the beast in Gongaga, the Lifestream Poisoning wouldn't have been so extreme. Or, probably so. Heck, if Shinra still had the Sister Ray functional then, goodbye beastie. So it would've been toasted. You didn't need to destroy Hojo, you might've been able to ignore him, but you needed to save Midgar. So now you've helped us, you've always been helping us!"

"What's your point, you son of a-!?"

Wispus cut him off. "All this fighting. Now, when the Ninja knows about a Space-Traversing Ship, she won't consider the whole consequences. You fight so much, Barret forgets to return to Marlene, that simple error leads to her abandonment, had he stayed with her then, he could've realized to stop the fighting, he could've stopped Palmer. He made that simple mistake, even with his profound caring for her, he just forgot for a few moments, until it was too late. When Vincent perishes, you say you wish to stop the fighting, yet, when you find out something else, like Benjamin of before, who hadn't even been trained in justice but wanted vengeance for the destruction of his village, the guy who was a major player in the Dark King Incident, you go off with her. Why'd you want to investigate the Rocket in Sector 5 Slums? It wasn't going anywhere, you could've come here?"

"You coulda' handled things yourselves!?"

"We could've. Or, more-precisely, Ralyon could've. But you got involved again. So Vincent perished for it. And now you're rushing-away, your simple thinking overrun by an idea and its too-firmly-established to back-away now, because you think you're in a position to do more than others! You're on a suicide quest! The others are too, they're already gone, they wandered into things they shouldn't have! You're all that remains, you're forcing yourselves to be in the way! A simple momentary-thought!"

Cid backed up, trying to find some way to speak. "That your point, huh!? THAT YOUR DARNED POINT, YOU PIECE A'-!!??"

"Yes, it is!" she finished before he could complete his sentance. "And we can't accept surrenders, we don't know if another 'stray-thought' will cause more of this! I'm sick and tired of having to hurt people because nitwits like you get in our way!

Yuffie had slammed her Conformer down on one Despair Demon, stunning him for the moment, sticking close-enough so the other couldn't target her. "That's a lie and you know it, you good for nothing jerk!!"

"You'd have full-potential if the Summoned Monsters hadn't perished! You wouldn't be looking for Materia, you wouldn't have taken a life as a kid! There's orders we're given, Tifa knows, explains, you know darn well, you question us!?"

They did know, as did Reeve, who heard all this through Cait Sith's Vocal Sensors, still trying to bring the android back online.

"You call us emotionless!! Look at yourselves!!" Wispus was screeching now. "Let us take your lives, because even if I perish there are thousands more that can take you down! You have our attention now, you monsters are actually becoming a pain!! Go, try to enter the Whorlex, if you succeed, we'll have to hurt you anyways!"

"Fine!" Yuffie snapped back. "Mission Aborted, Wutai Oath! If you're as smart as you say you are you know that means if my friends disagree I have to restrain them, and I cannot break it!" Wispus nodded.

Tears were streaming down her face; Yuffie brushed them away. "But we're 'aborting'!!!!!!"

"You want vengeance!" Wispus sighed. "That is inexcusible! Now you will be executed for your crimes for sure!!" She growled and slashed Cid in the chest with a claw; the battle resumed again.


Ramza, Meliadoul, and Malak faced the black-and-pink fish, sharp, Malboro-like-teeth, and dangling tentacles, twice their size, like all Zodiac Beasts they knew of save Eurodertlana and Schrisorz, not counting Altima. Seven tentacles on each side had claws on the end, there was a tail behind it, split vertically, one side coming up in an eel-capped head, the other a flipper, razor-sharp.

"I am Gralyox, Pisces Master!" He turned to the girl, who was looking at him expectantly. "Thank you for freeing me." He inclined his head and turned.

Ramza started, realizing Zack was nowhere to be found, and glanced-around. Gralyox took this moment to cast an Ice 4, sending them all to the ground. Ramza tried to get up, failed. Gralyox let-loose with a blast of toxic rain. The only one who could move now was Malak, he was up, he was whirling his pole.

The other turned back to Marlene. A strange shape had formed between her and the lifeless girl, both were going. "I know what its like to lose my family!" he shouted, keeping tentacles away trying to shield himself from the Acid Rain, as were the others. "I've heard what happened to the girl! I don't care what you think your mission is, but I can tell you this is pure crulety!"

"The Ancient alone possesses the similarities to the Bloody Angel to give him his life back once-again, only there's two, now three, factors against us! One, this isn't the right place, we couldn't make it there, its in ruins, collapsed, now, crushed under seaweed far, far away!" She added in a whisper that none heard. "Closer than you think." She didn't wish to damage the Timestream either, unless it was preventing these people fro coming here at the exact moment they moved through time. "So we need to enact a transferral of Cetra powers, and Marlene is the only one left, she's too-small, but responded, as if she was of enough likeness to help the other, which we were shown!" He'd guessed it, but still...and if it shocked him enough for him to almost be surprised, he could imagine what it would do to the father. "The third factor of her Spirit not in the Lifestream or 'The Promised Land,' didn't come into view yet, we could wrench it back! So these extra incantations are necessary! That answer your question, young boy!?"

Malak ducked under a tentacle and kicked at the thing, he was too-close to it for it to cast Spells. "Why'd you answer!?"

Gralyok spun out until it was over the water, blasting a ball of pure energies at him, knocking him to the ground.

"To get you off your guard." She returned to her chanting.

"Brush of vanity and show reality! Ultima!!" Ramza let the blue-white dome erupt-up, he could summon enough strength for one more Ultima, but that was all. He directed it not at the beast, but above, at the ceiling.

It was deflected.

Malak hissed and stood up. "I'm not afraid to perish!" he shouted. "And I've learned, more than perhaps anyone, how to conserve my strength until it is truly-needed!" He ran-forwards and polevaulted off the 'bridge,' chucking a Potion towards Red XIII, but in such an angle that it landed by Ramza. He grabbed it, realizing what he suggested, and prepared to throw it.

It wouldn't work, though, but maybe...


The Despair Demon grabbed Yuffie and tried to bite her neck. She spun to the side, the good warrior knew where to estimate size, and unleashed an All Creation, trying to force it off the side of the Support Tower. It blocked its face, withstanding it enough to not be forced off the ledge, lunging again. Yuffie grabbed her Rising Sun and drove into its abdome. It shrieked and plummeted-off, exploding upon impacting with the ground.

That was a mistake.

Two things happened at once. Even as she realized she was about to be vaporized by the Tera Flare that could now be unleashed, she seemed to blast her spirit out of her body, flipping backwards, holding onto the energies to fly high at incredible speeds. She was able to yank it up, and rejoined with it just as the explosion's energies vanished.

'Its just a form of Spirit Energy,' she realized. "Nothing basic, its just Spirit Energy. Absorption, Rejection...," she launched her spirit forwards, blasting into the Despair Demon. She was still a primary target, Shera wasn't, or she would've been dust by now. It lashed out at her, she dodged and struck again before being forced to return ,"...and...Darn it!" What else of the basics were there!?

The old tricks would work fine now, though, if this worked. She ran, and launched forwards, leaping into the air, not stumbling, not nearly-falling-off, as she had so many times in the battle, no flips, just coming down, fast enough to bypass a Tera Flare that exploded behind her, legs connecting. The thing staggered, about to regain its balance. She shoved her Hawkeye at it, watching as it staggered and fell to the ground, too, exploding upon impact.

She sheathed it, and readied herself to help Cid.

Something unneccesary. He was ducking, dodging, taking wild risks and leaving himself exposed as he stabbed wildly at the monster, finally delivering an old-fashioned thrust. A claw almost connected, he managed to jump, it slashed through his right leg, almost pinning him. He forced himself the rest of the way up and stabbed into the heart of the thing, before fainting.

"'!!" Wispus exploded in another dome-like blast, sending the Ex-Pilot flying backwards through the air like a marionette in mid-flight, having no more strings, composed of a substance weaker than whatever composed rag dolls. He smashed into the railing behind him, and slumped to the ground, quietly.

Yuffie could hold back the tears no longer, and sank to the platform, sobbing.


Malak was at Gralyok, punching and blasting wildly, using his own tentacles as arm-supports, flipping, thrusting, dodging blasts of something called Dark Water, black waves of some kind of substance, like tar, that ripped out from the creature, something it was obviously immune to. He'd taken a few scorching-blasts on his sides, he could withstand them.

Gralyok growled once-again before blasting downwards, into the water, opening its mav and funneling it in like a gaping current, creating something stronger than a waterfall current and undertow combined, retracting its tentacles. Malak could barely stay swimming in one place, he'd won the Ivalice Swimming Contest once, but he didn't have that extra amount of strength to create that extra bit of force to push himself away, and he was losing strength rapidly.

Or so he thought. He had to press harder, that made it seem to him like that, it was like he was agaist a moving wall that would move back if he could make it. He managed to break free, but thought better of moving-away, he'd be well-open, and dove back at the thing, grabbing its mouth and wrenching it open to the point where it hurt, then kicking up at one portion. It choked momentarily, snapping it shut, he grabbed the lip and flipped upwards, coming down, stick aimed at the eel-head.

Its full body came up, he was grabbed. Now he could chop free, he unsheathed his Dragon Rod and brought it at the tentacles, snapping them, leaping off their sides, he drove the rod at the eel-head full-force, bringing it down as hard as one might bring a mace down on someone's head with attempt to shatter it.

It did, he had to close his eyes to avoid getting the blood that burst out, along with the sections of the main skull, in his eye, blinding him. The thing flipped upwards, biting him in one leg, and spun downwards again. He groped for the bottom, to find something, anything, to aid him, yet could not, he was dragged up first, held down to drown. He swung at the thing's underside as it prepared another Ice 4, one that would assuredly end his friends' lives. He swung upwards, ripping open a section of the thing's lower throat, before kicking free.

"Sky Demon Back!!"

"Ice 4!!"

Too late. He could only watch as the explosion of black-orange energies sent the thing reeling, and as Ramza and Meliadoul, still barely-able to move, were blasted in the face, in the neck, the arm of the female becoming dislocated.

He was next, thrown towards them, he'd seen what happened out of the corner of his eye, his attention hadn't deviated, yet the thing had finally managed to get a firm grip on him, sending him sailing back towards the bridge.

A red-orange group of fur sailed below him, tearing into the wound he'd provided, one that would've been fatal if he'd simply had one more second to dodge. His head smashed into the ground, he felt his body collapsing before he blacked-out.


Nanaki had seen the wounds, being on the ground was all that had saved them from truly being crushed by the ice, although they had come close. A huge blast of light came at him, striking him before he could attempt a Cosmo Memory to protect himself, continuing on as it fell, blasting into one of the clear walls of the chamber and causing it to crack-in on itself. That had been clear-diamond, torn-away.

He was up again, managing to kick himself free of the water, slashing at the dorsal fin that came at him, along with a group of tentacles, missing, but throwing himself back, under another of those yellow flashes, this time one that burst above the bridge. He moved backwards, peddling, peddling...

...jumping free, sinking his teeth into the open wound just below the neck of the thing. As much as he hated doing this, he didn't really have much of a choice. He growled as he tore in, finally snapping through the thing's windpipe.

"You just took...the life...of an innocent!" Gralyok laughed.

The explosion came seconds later, hurling the warrior back to the platform where the others laid. Ramza had thrown an X-Potion at him, with a Wish Spell cast on it, using the type of trick Alma had used when that assassin had come, that woke him up from unconsciousness. Now he crashed, hard, and lay still...


...The lady stopped chanting, clenched her fists, and began once again.


Reeve finished the maintenance, and switched the Cait Sith 4 Controls off, leaving a "Standby and Explain" Command on, so if necessary it could answer questions provided by the others.

His office on the 50th Floor hadn't been damaged when Sliyonog attacked. He keyed the Communications Switch on his left, then entered a key-sequence on the Communications Board to his right. A section of his desk flipped-up, showing a screen that he could see the others through. The face of Ensalin Palmer looked over to a monitor that would've opened at the same time.

"How's it going?" he added.

She looked towards a section of machinery, held to a cable. The cable was held to a typical Black Shinra Satellite that was atop the superstructure at the building roof.

"The Darkness Cloak is not emanated by the large thing in the sky," she answered. "Its completely-different."

Reeve rose his eyebrows. "Say again?"

"I'll try to explain this as best as I can," Ensalin answered. "The Satellite can pick-up data through the blizzards, but it can't read what is scientifically impossible." She took a deep breath, brushing back a stray wisp of hair, and began.

"When that strange sphere appeared in the sky, it gave-out lights so bright that it essentially absorbed our Star's rays. Had it happened once, or with one blast, ending within ten minutes, the spectrum could've reset itself. Lights were shifted, moving-away from the Planet. Also, since were colors in that thing, and they were so bright, and they weren't blinding, well, that takes a longer explanation. That's because they forced-away the majority of the light, it couldn't be supported, just as Soundwaves bounce through the air higher than we can see, the light became too bright for anything to see, and thus ceased to exist. It disrupted our Spectrum, at least in theory, cutting-off both Sunlight and the warmth it provides."

She brushed back another stray wisp of hair.

"Scientifically, such a thing couldn't happen, so the Laws of the Universe don't give anything that will reverse the Spectrum back to normal on its own. It would see this place as receiving light, it doesn't know. Well, in a figure of speech, so to say."

She sighed, before continuing.

"The Heatwaves from our Star face a similar fate. They're so hot they've burned themselves out, torn themselves apart! All throughout this Planetary System, and they travel with the Planets, there's no room for heat. Its been extinguished, canceled, yet is rekindled by each new ray, and canceled again, simply because its flowing, destroying itself, its explosions reproducing itself! It couldn't effect anything out of the Atmosphere, but…well, let's just say unless a portion of it can be blocked-off, only rays from far-away, that have, in a sense, lost their heat, will arrive here!?"

"Any ideas on how to do that!?"

"They'd shift around a Spacecraft, we need something that could close-in on it, extinguish it, provide no escape! Or, basically, eradicate the energies from the Universe, which couldn't be done! They'd reform around Magic…there's no way that this can work! Temperature in Space is supposed to be Absolute Zero-"

"That's it!" Reeve shouted joyously. "Our WarMechs can generate Absolute Zero areas! The heat will flow around it, but the area, frozen, would then have no more heat! All we have to do is send out whatever can fire those particle beams into a Spacecraft…" he trailed-off. Yuffie was now…and in Sector 5 Slums…

"One engine alone in the crashed Rocket is still functional. The Particle Beams themselves can be made to break-off the Rocket upon launch, and float around in orbit, firing at a maximum rate of every 7.64 Seconds, giving them a chance to recharge, since they're not Rapid Fire, without burning-out! All they need to fire is some direct components, wiring that can be placed in the Blaster itself, a nice little CPU, and…" she grinned. "Although it'll take two weeks, at the least, to assemble. I'm sure Mayor Domino would support this."

"I'm asking him anyway," Reeve answered. "I'm not President, there's no more Shinra, so there's no more Presidents, I don't have anymore power than you! Domino's Mayor, and will stay Mayor if I have anything to say about it!" He sighed. "It appears until this project is complete, though," they would have to launch elsewhere if the Mayor didn't approve, and definitely didn't want to think about it failing ,"We're going to have one heck of a Winter!"


He was drifting again.

Drifting. Whether in his mind, or the Lifestream, it seemed to always return to this. Clitor had unkindly cast something that had rendered them unconscious, some sort of burst of lightning at each, or so he could remember, he wondered where they were, but couldn't wake up, he wasn't awake-enough to do that.

Probably in a prison.

Marlene wasn't even here, that was obvious. At least, he thought so.

'No, she's not!'

'You can't know something I don't!?'

'I know what you know. I am you, you are me, I'm just part of your mind, a part that in your mind remains separate. We were always the same mind, although not the same spirit. When you were thinking what Jenova wanted you to think, I was blocked-off from your mind, for the most part.'

If he had a form in this dream-world, he could've clenched his fists in exasperation.

That was when he cried out, jerking awake.

Like someone processing thoughts. The 'Crystals.' He'd absorbed their information, thinking it pertained to Marlene and Lucavi. One goal, and it seemed like they could succeed. It just seemed like it would be over if that goal was reached…How had this thought been inbred into his mind!?

It hit him like a thunderclap, sending him reeling against the stone walls of what was probably a Cell, although he didn't bother to look.

The doubts, the exchanged words, the maxims spoken-out, the doubts. All this fighting, they'd gone through so much. They'd destroyed one man because he was beyond reasoning to save others, a day passed before they were immersed in something else, one whole day between the destruction of Meteor and when their paths had gone down a dark trail. Mostly just goodbyes.

The Crystals had been speaking to them because they were in the right place at the right time, had been so earlier. They were marionettes in a web where they could do something! And even if they weren't, would they really stop this fighting after they got to the root of this Zodiac Problem? No, they'd known that what they'd been told was the Whorlex existed.

"Am I human?" He asked in a hoarse whisper.

He felt a comforting arm around him, and turned to see Tifa. Barret was sitting, sullenly, near the door, Ruass was nowhere to be seen.

"What's wrong?" she asked, whispering quietly.

"Oh, just life!" he responded bitterly. Tifa gave a questioning look, he allowed himself to relax in her embrace and continued.

"Look at us!?" he waved his hands around the room. Barret looked-up, intrigued. "Each of us becomes tangled-up in some sort of web, are led to a Crater, give the one being who may be better than any of us a chance to give everyone a future!" He sighed sadly. "One day afterwards, we're in another web! Humans make their own choices! We're just zombies now!!!!!"

"What the heck you mean!?" Barret rumbled.

He gestured again. "We stopped Sephiroth from destroying Artesta! We find out about so many other things, all in another web, related! We know how to fight, we fight!! No questions!! We just do it! Did any of us even realize what those Crystals were telling us, and why, when they told us!?"

"I understood what they said, although they could'a' made more sense!" Barret anwered. "What's that got ta' do with anything!!??"

"Don't you get it yet!!??" Cloud gasped, clenching his fists, muscles taut. "They think we're willing to be their puppets! They're hoping that we'll discover how your daughter's intertwined in this and then proceed onwards! None of us realized the risk when Yuffie came up with her plan to attack those who *created* Meteor!!!!!"

"That's what the foo' meant!!??" Barret swore.

"Yes!" Cloud answered. "Either that or she wanted to go up against the Whorlex! If Cid, Yuffie, or Cait Sith found those two Entites we heard of, there'd most-likely be another battle! We chased something around the Planet to stop it from hurting the Planet and hardly had time to do anything but fight, it came NATURALLY!!!!!"

Tears were streaming down his face now.

"We didn't forget!" Tifa whispered soothingly, holding him closer. "We'd plan first! We should help if we can, live normally afterwards!" Her voice, which had risen in pitch as she spoke those words, dropped to a soothing tone again. "Who else is in a position to help? Can we turn our backs on all that lives?"

Cloud sighed. "Just promise me…both of you promise me that this won't happen again! If we survive this, if we live through this, no more battles, we just live like others! A normal life! We have to make the attempt! I left because I didn't know what to do! You went-off to Midgar, forgot for a brief instant about Marlene!!"

Barret stiffened, before understanding. His features softened once again, and he hung his head. "Family's more-important. Unless its beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have to make a difference, if more strife comes to this world, I'm stayin' with my daughter!!"

"Friends look-out for each other. I promise both of you." That was Tifa.

"Then I do, too," Cloud finished, leaning his head back again, letting Tifa's head rest in his hair. "When we have finished walking these pathways of foreboding, we try to live like normal people. We survive, we're not mindless beings. And we're not acting for 'Higher Entites,' we're doing this for the same reason Aeris did. To create a future to look-forward to."

"What do we do now, though?" Barret asked. "We still hafta' save Marlene!!" His expression showed he knew that a break-out would just defeat their goal, with Clitor possibly helping them now.

"The only thing we can do," he said, settling back again, and letting his eyes drift shut. "We wait."

Barret sighed and leaned-back against the wall, shutting his own eyes, while Tifa did so, too, shutting her eyes slowly, a contented smile on her face.


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