The Second Incarnation Part 16

Buried in the Brain

By Shelly Ichishita

Yuffie climbed out of the vent and dropped soundlessly to the tiled floor below. Barret however was not so quiet. "Ugh," he grunted, "remind me to eat less of Tifa's lemon meringue pie."

Yuffie raised a finger to her lips and let out an irritated "Shh." She hid behind a cardboard box as a large mechanical spider passed by. Its face resembled a piece of rotting mutton. "Are you ready?"

"Yeah," Barret stood and waited for Yuffie to join him. "On my signal," he waited 'til one of the spiders left, apparently on guard duty. "Now." Barret ran forward spraying the creatures with bullets. The odds were somewhat even. It was two against two.

Nia heard the gunfire and sat up. She was bleeding profusely, she checked her belongings, they had taken away her staff and she cursed herself for being so stupid as to equip all of Yuffie's attack materia on it. However they had left the rune armlet on her so she cast a full cure spell on herself but she still felt weak. The matria couldn't replace the blood that she had lost. She yelled out though the door, "use your phoenix downs."

Remarkably she was alone and unguarded. She stood and began to walk gingerly away from the voices she heard rejoicing on the other side of the door. Nia decided not to go to meet Yuffie and Barret. Barret might mistake her for a spider and shoot her before she could say anything. Coming back from the dead once was enough, she thought. Nia stopped and pressed her back against a sturdy oak door. Coming back from the dead? Where did that come from? Then a scream of agony wiped the thoughts from her head. Reeve. I don't know any Reeve, she stubbornly told herself. The scream ended followed by a series of loud crashes. You do know a Reeve her mind yelled at her, and you need to help him now.

My name is Aeris. She looked around for something to use as a weapon. Her eyes fell on a thick piece of metal pipe. Good enough, she thought as she grasped her makeshift weapon and prepared to go through the oak door. Aeris stopped in her tracks as a tall arrogant woman angrily stomped in.

"I see that our princess is up and about." Scarlet smiled when she saw Aeris standing in front of her with the pipe in her hands. "You wouldn't hit an unarmed woman would you?" she asked, spreading her arms wide.

Aeris dropped the pipe. "No, I wouldn't." She attempted to emulate the stance that Tifa had tried to teach her. It seemed so long ago.

Scarlet laughed at her attempt. "I knew that." She stepped forward and slapped Aeris squarely on her face. Aeris countered quickly and soon they were rolling on the floor attempting to beat the other into submission. Scarlet seemed to have the advantage. Aeris was still weak and she could do nothing as the heavier woman rolled on top of her. Aeris waited until Scarlet brought her face close. Then she quickly bashed her forehead into the bridge of Scarlet's nose. Scarlet fainted as the blood flowed from her face. Aeris flung her off and looked for something to tie her up with. A large hand passed her some rope.

"Thanks Big Boy." She quickly tied Scarlet's hands behind her back only to be crushed in Barret's huge arms. "Air, air," she gasped.

He let her down gently. "Aeris?" His face lit up. "You remember now right?"

Yuffie rushed in and gave her a big hug. "You're Aeris. I wonder who Ellie is then?"

"No time." Aeris interrupted quickly. "I heard Reeve scream, I think he's behind that door," she explained, pointing towards the small oak door.

They gathered behind the door and opened it. Yuffie cried out at the tableau that greeted them. Ellie had the Princess Guard in hand and was about to brain Tifa. Cloud hung from the wall, his arms outstretched, yelling madly. Reeve, Vincent and Lucretia floated inert in the mako liquid.

Barret cursed loudly, he couldn't get a clear shot at Ellie. The staff fell and was inches from Tifa's head when Aeris called to it. She spoke to the Princess Guard, telling it that a false ancient wielded it and that she needed it to come to her. Ellie grunted disbelieving as the staff quivered in midair.

"Stop it you witch," she screeched at Aeris. She had to use all of her force to keep the Princess Guard where it was. Ellie was so distracted by her struggle with the Princess Guard that the air surrounding Cloud blew away.

Cloud landed on his feet and went racing for Tifa. His leg swung out and he delivered a roundhouse that connected on Ellie's shoulder. Aeris shuddered. She had never seen him so savage. Cloud had always been the type to shy away from fighting women but the force behind the kick had been sufficient to knock Ellie cold. The Princess Guard went flying and she reached out a hand to catch it.

Cloud bent to pick Tifa up. He gently lifted her body and started to walk towards the others. He tried not to think about the way her arms hung lifelessly and how shallow her breathing was. Barret, Yuffie, and Aeris rushed to meet him. He took another step and was surprised when a sharp pain attacked his skull. He slumped to his knees and laid Tifa down as another spasm rocked his body. It felt as if someone was twisting a red-hot poker into his brain.

At first Yuffie didn't know what to make of Cloud's fall. Then she spotted Ellie walking towards Vincent and Lucretia, pressing a small gray object in her hand. "It's her!" Yuffie pointed towards Ellie; "she's hurting Cloud." Ellie heard her shout and ran behind the glass tubes.

"If you try anything Vincent and Reeve will die," Ellie threatened from behind the mako filled cylinders.

"What are you doing to Cloud?" Aeris asked, she tried to counteract the pain but she was unsuccessful. Cloud arched his back; it looked as if every vertebra in his spine was about to snap.

"I'm killing him." Ellie stated simply. "I am stimulating the pain receptacles in his brain," she paused, "in approximately seven minutes he will no longer be capable of higher brain functions."


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