Tarnished Side Chapter 8
By Janet Monstwillo
"No." A simple gasping word breathed in defeat. Cold steel gave a salutation that invited despair. Desperate fists pounded on the sealed doorway. "There's gotta be another way in." Rude leaped up the piles of debris alongside it.
"I don't think that's a good idea," said a soft voice.
"What the fuck am I supposed to do? Just sit and watch and wait until the bloated corpses reach the top?" One leg slipped out from under him as he lost his footing. "Goddamn," he muttered.
"Rude!" Jessie looked up at him, tears in her eyes. "I'm not saying that I want to do nothing. I just can't see anything we can do. It's already been sealed. Even...even if you managed to pry those doors open for a second...they'd close right behind you. You'd just be another mark on the body count."
He ascended a bit more, approaching a dead end. "There's gotta be a way to break the seal or something..."
"What if you ended up flooding the rest of the slums then, and not just one sector?"
"Jess...I can't let them destroy my home. Not now. Not like this." He slammed a fist against the concrete barrier.
"You're not letting them. You won't let them. Do you think that we can ever possibly stop our battle with them now, after this? They might think we'd die that easily, but they're only giving us more resolve to fight. Maybe, in some way, us two...growing up in the slums, have been fighting other people's battles. It's easy to see now that Shinra will not stop at destroying their own customers to make sure they end up on top. Everyone will see now..."
He slowly slid back to the dirt. Shaking his head, he leaned down and rested it in his hands. "Of course it won't be that easy. Jessie...can't you see...they'll blame this on us."
She bit her lip, looking up...up to the steel plating and supports a few hundred feet above them. "You know what Mako really is, right?" She glanced over at him. "I ran into a Cetra information database the last time I hacked into the Shinra computer system..."
"Psycho radioactive shit, right? That's how it powers the reactors. And that's why it's better than coal."
"The Ancients called it Lifestream. They said it was the life force...the energy running throughout all living things on this Planet. Shinra is sucking it out by the ton. What if it runs out?"
"That ain't gonna happen. Shinra will run out first," Rude swore.
"They're not just destroying Sector 7. They've begun to destroy the world," Jessie murmured.
Suddenly, the roar of a chopper overhead broke the eerie silence surrounding the pair. The helicopter was a deep blue in color, denoting its owners, the Turks. A pudgy man sat at the controls, and a slimmer, red-haired man dropped down to the ground in front of them.
"So, you've come to mourn the people you killed, terrorists?" he sneered.
Rude scowled at him. "Isn't it the other way around, Johnny? As I recall, I'm not the one who abandoned my family the second an evil corporation offered me a life of slime."
"You're just jealous that I'm good enough to be a Turk."
"Nah. I'm happy to know I turned down the job before you got it. Because that means I can take you on."
"Any day." Johnny laughed. "See, I'm just here checking up on the troops' work. We sent the Soldiers in to seal everything off. Didn't know we'd find the people responsible for this atrocity sitting at the threshold."
"We're not responsible!" Jessie walked over, her hands on her hips. "Who's sealing a village off? Who's filling it with water?"
"Who were they trying to catch in this little trap?" He rubbed his hands together. "Oh well, at least I'm the one who'll have the privilege of bringing in the dastardly criminals."
There was a loud noise resonating off the metal surrounding the group, as Rude's fist connected with Johnny's face. "You only have two privileges. Either stopping this sadistic shitting mess or dying slowly and painfully." He rammed his knee up into the Turk's groin.
The other man doubled over in agony. He managed to signal with his hand, and two men slid quickly and gracefully down on ropes. "Can you take on a Turk and two First-Class men?" Johnny laughed.
The dark-haired one pulled out a huge sword, while the other, fair-haired one pulled out a pair of katana. They would have seemed formidable if the blonde's shoulder hadn't suddenly erupted into a mess of blood.
Jessie raised an eyebrow over her shiny pistol. "Come on, Turk. We gotta level the playing field and play fair, don't we?"
The man with the sword ran straight for Rude, aiming to slash out his throat. Ducking and pulling out his nunchaku, Rude parried away the furious blows. Suddenly, a burst of lightning appeared out of thin air and the Soldier was on fire.
"Did I miss the start of the party?" Zack had a smug grin on his face as he held up his broad sword, prepared for attack. Several glowing orbs could be seen in the hilt. Tifa stood just behind him, poised for battle.
Johnny jumped up and grabbed hold of one of the ropes. The helicopter took off immediately, raising the Turk high up in the air. "Have fun watching your friends die on television! Next time we meet, you'll have to deal with Sephiroth!" The chopper soon became a blue smudge in the distance.
The group of four finished off the two Soldiers with ease.
"They must've really thought we were rag-tag, sending those buffoons after us," Zack said thoughtfully. "Imagine if we had Reno, too. We'd probably have gotten the helicopter."
Tifa looked at the steel door mournfully. "We're too late to do a thing."
"Apparently the water main controls for each sector are contained in their respective sectors. We can't get in...so we can't stop them from pressurizing it to the bursting point." Jessie sat down in the dirt next to Rude.
"We can't stay here any longer," Zack declared. "Even if we can hide, we can't risk letting something as horrible as this happen anywhere else."
"How the hell can we fight Shinra if we leave? This is where the battle is, and we can't just give the fuck up now! Hell no!" Rude looked up at him in fury.
"Shinra exists outside of Midgar, you know. Just because you've never left this place doesn't mean that the rest of the world doesn't exist, Rudie baby."
"Guys. We can't get mad at each other. Not now, we have to stick together." Jessie put her hand gently on Rude's shoulder. "We could do a lot of damage in Junon. They haven't finished that city at all. Imagine the setbacks."
"There is a reactor in my hometown," Tifa said suddenly. "It's in the Nibel Mountains. It was the Mako reactor prototype."
"Why didn't you mention this before?" Zack asked.
"I've said, many times, I have my own personal reasons for a mission against the Shinra. They're still personal," she replied coldly.
Rude stood up, brushing himself off. He reached back and politely helped Jessie to her feet. "There's a door to the outside somewhere in this sector. We can probably bust or hack through it...but there won't be any coming back."
"Yes there will." Zack slung an arm around his shoulder. "And when that happens, those assholes won't know what the hell hit them."
"We'll rise again..." Jessie murmured. She glanced up at them. "We are Phoenix."
* * * * * *
Sephiroth clamped a gloved hand over the mouth of his companion, who squirmed in uncomfortable protest. With a strong tug, he pulled both of them into an empty surveillance room and locked the door.
The brown-haired girl shook her head in protest. "I don't know what the hell you think you're doing..." she began.
"I certainly know what I'm doing. Saving you from a fate worse than death," he replied coldly. "Don't make me regret my decision. I'd have to simply drag you back to your cell and you count the minutes until you're enclosed with a beast. Maybe it's better that way. You can reflect on your foolishness as the creature is rutting you."
"You're disgusting. And completely wrong. Maybe the guy who used to be here would have enjoyed subjecting me to that, but Dr. Baker seems to actually be a human being."
"You think the belief of one person can save you from the desires of the executive council?" A bitter laugh escaped from the man's lips. "You remind me of Gast. But the fact that you and I stand as we are now is proof enough that Shinra finds way to subject anyone they wish to their every whim."
"You captured me just yesterday. Why would you be helping me escape?"
"I have my job, Ancient. Just because that Amine never fulfilled his mission does not mean I would deter my own. However, even someone like me has a line in the sand." Sephiroth peered at the monitors in front of him. "I'm going to find us a clear route to the helipad, and then we shall depart. I will take you to a place far from here. If you know what's good for you, you will make efforts to change your appearance, and take on a new name and trade."
"What about you?" Aeris asked.
"I have clearance to come and go as I please. There are perks to being commander of the Turks, you know."
"But how can you continue to work for people so corrupt as these?"
He waved a hand. "It's a living."
"There are other ways, you know."
Grabbing her arm fiercely, he drew her closer to him. "Not for me," he said severely. "Now if you don't mind, let's forego the idle chitchat so I can perhaps help you avoid being raped in the lab." With a bit of force, he yanked her back into the hallway.
Suddenly, red lights began flashing in the corridor. A computerized voice came over the intercom. "Red Alert, Red Alert. Code Four-Seven-Alpha-Blue. All high security are to report to the Executive Chambers immediately. Repeat, Code Four-Seven-Alpha-Blue. This is a Red Alert. All high security are to report to the Executive Chambers immediately."
Sephiroth shook his fist in frustration. "Damnation," he muttered under his breath. He analyzed his companion with a scrutinizing eye. "Do as I say. We are going to change your appearance."
Gazing intently into the strong glow of his Mako eyes, Aeris nodded meekly.
"Discard the jacket." As she did so, he continued his inspection. "Let your hair down."
After she untied the ribbons, a cascade of brown hair tumbled down her back in loose waves. She shook her head a bit, getting rid of the last few kinks of the braid.
"One last thing. Excuse me for the liberty I am about to take." He drew his Masamune and carefully made a horizontal slash in the skirt of her long pink dress. Reaching down, he yanked at the material.
Aeris gasped as she realized that he had torn off the bottom of her skirt. While it had left a fairly even hem, the length was a bit shorter. As in from mid-ankle to mid-thigh shorter. "Why you"
"I am saving you, remember? You may call me `savior.'" He grabbed her arm again. "We're going upstairs. The president is in extreme danger."
* * * * * *
"Code Four-Seven-Alpha-Blue. All high security are to report to the Executive Chambers immediately."
Raieyana glanced up at Reno. They were standing in the stairwell, plotting their next move. (Executive Chambers...the president!) "Hey! That alert...the president must be in danger."
"What sort of powers do the Ancients have? Enough to try and gain the edge over the president of Shinra?"
"I'm not quite sure. But if that Aeris can do half the stuff I can do...I bet she'd try her damnedest."
"Kinda makes you wonder how she got out, doesn't it?"
"Who cares?" The girl grinned. "Less work for us, isn't it? Besides, one more person who can help us get the hell out of here."
"So wait...are you suggesting that we go up there and throw ourselves into a fray against top Shinra security? Off the president if at all possible?"
"Of course. I never spoke lightly when I told you that I intend to sever any leverage the Shinra may have with my father, regarding me." She looked him over. "You think you're up to it, terrorist boy?"
Reno stepped over and looked her directly in the eye. "Better watch who you're calling boy, kid."
Raieyana simply raised an eyebrow. "You still didn't answer my question."
He leaned over, pausing for effect, before speaking softly into her ear. "If you can manage to just keep yourself alive, I'll be ecstatically shoving a blade in the old man's back myself. Honey."
She flashed him a brief smile. "You'll have to beat me to it." Turning, she began to run up the stairs, her destination being the top floor, of course.
(Kid's got spunk.) Reno shook himself a bit, before turning towards the stairs and following suit.
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic