The Second Incarnation Part 11
By Shelly Ichishita
Tifa stepped out of the shower refreshed and feeling a lot better. She knew that she was doing the right thing for Cloud. She only wished that she could tell him why. Tifa wrapped herself in a towel and secured it between her breasts. She slipped on some clean clothes and walked out into the hall.
The whole group was gathered in the living room. "I don't understand it." Cloud was pacing up and down the length of the room. "I talked to them last night," he frowned. "It's not like Reeve not to answer his PHS."
Nanaki nodded his head in assent. "I've even seen him use it while riding a chocobo. It is very unlikely for him to be without it."
Barret stood. "Then what are we waiting for? We'd better hightail it to Midgar."
"Barret, I'm as worried about them as you are but we need to go prepared. First we need to gather our supplies and materia; second, we need to drop Marlene off in Kalm; and third we need to get out our weapons."
Tifa walked into the living room. "Do you think we'll need them?"
Cloud looked at her and took a deep breath before answering, "yes, we will most definitely need our weapons. Vincent and Reeve went fully armed and now there's no trace of them. We'd better go prepared so we don't end up in the same situation."
"You're right," Nia said. "When do we leave?"
"What do you mean we?" Cloud reluctantly turned his gaze away from Tifa. He faced Ellie and Nia. "There's no way you two are going with us," he emphatically pointed out. "It's not your fight."
Yuffie opened her mouth to defend them. "That's not fair Cloud. Their healing abilities are a great asset, and I'll even loan them some of my materia."
Cid whispered to Barret, "Yuffie loaning her materia? Now I really have seen everything."
"We're wasting time discussing this," he looked at Nia and Ellie sternly. "If you feel so strongly about this you can come. But first we need to be sure that you can handle a weapon." Cloud walked to the closet. "Here," he called as he tossed the Princess Guard to Nia.
Nia whirled the weapon as agilely as the limited space allowed. "Wow," she seemed enthralled by the simple staff. "I can feel the power of the planet coursing through me."
Shera looked up at her. "Why don't you pass it on to Ellie for now. We have many weapons that you can try."
Nia reluctantly handed Ellie the weapon. Ellie took it in her hands. "I can hear their voices when I touch it. Tell me, was this made by the Certa?" She held the staff parallel in front of her adding, "if you really want it Nia you can use it."
"Yes it was made by the Certa." Nanaki declared. The rest of the group was too shocked to speak. They had both handled the Princess Guard with extraordinary ease. Only Aeris should have been able to control the weapon with such skill. Aeris had said that the staff had been made especially for her, she told Nanaki that the planet imbued the Princess Guard with special properties that made it impossible for anyone but her to correctly utilize it.
Tifa left the room. She had to keep her distance from Cloud. There was no way she was going to stand between him and Aeris, whichever one that was.
Vincent tried to break out of the glass tube. The oxygen rich mako solution slowly crept up his body and soon he would be immersed in it. Maybe this was atonement for his sins--to become Hojo's test subject--but he felt the resistance building in him. He would not give Hojo the sick satisfaction of hearing him scream again.
Reeve watched his friend in the tube next to him. Whatever Hojo had done to Vincent wasn't pretty, Reeve didn't know what it was, but he had heard Vincent's screams echoing down the corridor. Mentally Reeve rebuked himself for allowing his capture. If he had just been more careful his friend wouldn't be in agony now.
He had to get out. Reeve looked for a scratch or a mark on the glass. The glass was unblemished. Hojo had learned his lesson after Cloud and Zack's escape. Reeve stared on in helpless horror as Vincent thrashed madly against the tube.
She smiled and her green eyes held an evil glint. They didn't suspect her at all. The other girl had thrown off her plans though, but she had accomplished her mission. She had infiltrated Avalanche. Alerting Hojo to Vincent and Reeve's presence in Midgar had been an added bonus. They were leaving for Midgar in an hour; then she would have her revenge on Cloud. She smiled again. But she had to admit that Cloud was intriguing to her in her new body. She licked her lips in anticipation. Maybe she wouldn't kill him right away.
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