Fate Chapter 3
General Barret of Mideel
By Tifa Gainsborough
Where are we going again?
Being dragged on some search for some woman we werent sure was still alive was not how I wanted to spend my day. But here I was bringing up the rear as Trista and Shanna trudged on.
To find somebody. Her last known whereabouts was Sector 5 so we are checking that out first, Shanna explained shooting a stray monster that had roamed into the city.
Neo-Midgar was safe from the generals, but monsters still crawled the streets. The citizens that strayed from the protected sectors without weapons keep the monsters here. My idea for a give weapons to the citizens day had been shot down pretty fast. At least I thought it was a good idea.
Why exactly are we trying to find this person? I inquired slicing through a monster that got cocky.
Shera wanted us to talk to her, Trista explained, doing a balancing act over shattered pavement.
Then why didnt Diallo and Mitsu come as well, I asked.
Diallo is working with Reno for our next attack and Mitsu had to guard General Yuffie, Shanna told me.
We continued on in silences, killing an occasional monster or other strange creature. Looming ahead of us was the gates to Sector 5. They were shut tight being guarded by men and woman with guns. Im one of the good guys and people still point guns at me.
Greetings, Shanna called waving to them.
The guns slowly lowered as we approached. They greeted us warmly, handshakes all around.
Welcome to Sector 5, a man who introduced himself as Blake said.
Our stay shouldnt be very long and then we will be on our way again, Trista explained to the guards.
We hope you enjoy your stay in Sector 5, the tallest of the woman, Mimi, said. It sounded so automatic, like they hadnt heard a word Trista spoke.
A few minutes later we were moving again. The guards waved us in and closed the gate behind us. I fell into step beside Shanna who smiled politely.
Was it just me or did they not hear a word we spoke, I asked softly.
Shanna gave a small laugh, nodding to people that we passed. The guards are usually small talkers. Once they know who you are they dont say anything other than protocol.
Its polite to explain how long you will be staying, Trista said overhearing our conversation. Makes them less edgy when you leave again. They wont say anything but they will remember it.
Got it. I suppose it was time to move on to the next question. Where does this person live?
Shanna looked down at a piece of paper then back up. Should be right around this corner.
Coming around a corner we were faced with a building that looked unharmed. One of the firsts Id seen in Neo-Midgar that didnt look like it had gone through a meteor strike.
This is a Church, I realized, voicing my discovery.
Indeed it is, Trista said knocking on the front door.
We waited for a few moments, restlessly shifting from one foot to the next. Finally somebody called to us to come inside. Pushing the door open on rusty hinges Trista entered first. With a mock bow I waved Shanna in and followed her. The Church didnt look like any Churches I had ever been too. On the outside it was designed like a Church, on the inside it was a house. But normally people dont have flowerbeds in the middle of the living room.
Hello, a voice said. A figure appeared in a doorway smiling to us.
The voice belonged to a woman, who appeared to be our ages. Short brown hair was cut so it brushed her shoulders. A blue dress hung on her small frame, lifeless.
Hello. My name is Trista and my companions Shanna and Conlan. We have come to speak with you, Trista said this all in a big rush.
If you would all introduce yourselves one at a time it would be most helpful, the woman explained not moving.
My name is Trista, Trista said again.
Conlan at your service.
With shaky steps the woman began to walk towards the sounds of our voices. Much better. You see its hard to find where people are without hearing their voices. One of the disadvantages of being blind.
As she drew closer I got a better look at her eyes. They were a clear blue color but had a far away look. As though she saw things but never actually saw them.
I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Marlene. Please have a seat, Marlene said, waving towards a set of chairs around the flowerbed.
Taking our seats, I couldnt help but be curious about the flowers. Its so rare now to see flowers growing, well, anywhere. How is it that flowers can grow here?
Marlene sat in the chair across from us, staring at us with her blank eyes. Oh the flowers, arent they beautiful? I havent seen them in such a long time though. Before Meteor struck the planet, a flower girl tended these flowers. She was a very gentle and kind person. She saved my life.
Where is she now, Shanna asked, reaching down to stroke one of the petals.
She died many years ago. I dont know how or where. But I know she died. Now her spirit is in the Lifestream tending to her flowers. I do nothing but give them shelter and they continue to grow, Marlene explained, a faraway smile on her face.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see Trista staring at the flowers. The look on her face was one I was unable to read. A little voice in my head said I didnt want to know.
If you dont mind my asking, but what exactly did you come here for? It is not often I get visitors, Marlene asked her eyes focusing on us.
I was told that you had a connection to General Barret, Trista said getting straight to the point.
Marlene looked down and I swear I saw tears gathering in her eyes. I knew the old Barret. He was my father, and I loved him so much. But now that man is gone.
Trista and Shanna exchanged glances; apparently this was not what they expected.
Are you in some way connected to the capture of Yuffie?
I think we were all taken by surprise. It had been many years since I had heard the generals names spoke alone.
Yes we are, Trista, said her voice soft. We plan to go after General Barret next.
Marlene nodded, Please be careful. It would be sad if the only people willing to stand against Sephiroth were killed.
Trista fidgeted in her chair under the stare of those dead eyes. We will.
A few minutes and a story about something called Seventh Heaven later we were on our way to the door.
You want to know why I am blind, Marlene said simply. But I knew her comment was directed right at me.
I was curious to know. But I wont push for the information, I said quickly trying to get myself out of a difficult situation. I could feel Tristas gaze trying to burn a hole into my back.
This was the punishment I received for wanting to see the fate of the planet, Marlene explained in few words. But it said paragraphs more. She had watched Meteor strike the planet and the bright light had blinded her. We had all in some way suffered at the hands of Sephiroth.
The walk back to headquarters was silent. It was hard to tell what Shanna and Trista were thinking, they keep their eyes focused on the ground. I knew I was thinking about one thing. Why did Shera want us to talk to Marlene?
Arriving back at headquarters, Shanna went straight to the find Diallo while Trista went off to her room. I lingered on the first floor hoping to come across Shera. After ten minutes of nothing I decided to just go and find her.
Have you seen Shera? I asked the first important looking person I passed.
Not since yesterday, he said, quickly trotting off. Okay, I didnt want to talk to him either.
With nowhere else to go I simply wandered down random halls exploring the building. The fifth floor, which held the training area, was empty. The building only had six floors, Reno said it once had somewhere around seventy. I cant even imagine life without elevators in a building with that many floors.
Shoving the door open to the stairwell I headed up to the sixth floor. Everybody said it was mostly deserted and nobody went up there anymore. Climbing over the remains of stairs and nearly rolling down backwards I could see why. Using all my weight I was able to get the door to open enough that I could slip through. The sixth floor was dark and rubble scattered the ground. Rays of lights streamed in from the only window. A silent figure was standing motionless, staring out into the darkness.
Hel Shit, I swore stumbling over the remains of a desk.
What are you doing up here, Trista said, turning away from the window.
Exploring, I said rubbing my aching shin. What are you doing up here?
Trista watched me approach her, the lights on the side of the building casting her shadow across the floor. She turned back to stare at the night as I joined her. The darkness held silence as we looked out the window together.
I was thinking, Trista finally said, her voice soft.
Looking at her I could see the pain register across her face. Her eyes focused on something only she was able to see. She wouldnt look at me as I rested my hand on her shoulder. She didnt even bother to brush my hand away, something was wrong.
Are you afraid? I asked her.
No, she snapped.
Well thats a good thing I suppose.
Every time I close my eyes I can see those faces, Trista said slowly.
Faces? I looked her face over with a concerned feeling.
They stare at me, their eyes pleading, she continued her voice dropping. I can hear them too. They scream my name, asking me to help them. In my dreams they wont leave me alone. I feel so responsible.
Trista its not your fault that they died, I reassured her, finally realizing what she was talking about. We cant take responsibility for every death.
You dont understand, she said simply, finally brushing my hand away.
I wanted to say something more but the sound of footsteps behind us dragged my attention away from her. Diallo stood in the doorway.
There you are, he said, his quiet voice carrying across the dark distance. Reno wanted to talk to you Trista.
Without a word to me Trista joined Diallo at the door and left. She didnt even give a backwards glace to see if I was following. Turning back to the window I stared up at the gloomy sky. With a check of my watch it was only a little after three in the afternoon. Hopefully one of these days the sun would no longer be just a fading memory.
This is Mideel, Reno said pointing to a dot on a map. This is where General Barret is located. It had once been destroyed by the Lifestream but has since been rebuilt. There arent that many citizens around. Getting into the actual city can be dangerous. The ground is very unstable and pools of mako can be hidden under what would appear to be normal ground.
Everybody sat patiently in the briefing room listening to Renos speech. I was slouched in my chair trying to pay attention. But Reno was good at rambling so it was a difficult task. To my right, Mitsu was trying to cover a yawn, which everybody saw.
General Barret has a gun arm, Reno started to explain. Now that caught my attention.
A what? Told you it had caught my attention.
If Conlan would shut up for a moment I will be able to explain, Reno said, brushing strands of fiery red hair off one shoulder.
Sorry, I muttered, trying to sink lower into my chair.
A gun arm is exactly what it sounds like. A gun that takes the place of one of his arms. Be careful around it and try not to get shot too many times, Reno said.
With that we were dismissed back to our rooms. The schedule said we were to leave early the next morning.
Trista, I called to the back of the retreating girl. She froze and I was able to catch up with her. Would you like to go out to get something to eat?
Youre paying, she said, giving another of her rare smiles.
Damn, I hate to pay. Sure thing. Know of anywhere good?
Just one, she said heading for the stairs. This time she waited for me things are starting to improve.
The restaurant was small and busy. People mingled at the bar while others crowded the many table. We found two empty seats at the bar and squeezed into them.
Evening Trista, the man behind the bar said, placing two glasses in front of us. Hey quick service cant beat that. Especially when you havent ordered anything. Whos your companion?
This is Conlan. Conlan this is Reeve, Trista introduced us.
Nice to meet you, Reeve said shaking my hand. You want the special?
Sure, I replied. I turned to Trista after Reeve disappeared to the other end of the bar. You know him?
A little, Trista said, taking a sip of her drink. He used to work for Shinra. Reno brought us all here once. He says he visits here frequently.
Sure enough, half way down the bar a drunken Reno was laughing loudly with another patron. Reno spotted me looking and waved merrily. Trista and I waved back to the drunken man who quickly resumed the conversation he was having.
So what persuaded you to come out to dinner with me? Curiosity always seems to get the best of me.
This afternoon I suppose, she said not bothering to explain anymore.
Dinner came and we ate in silence. After paying and waving goodbye to Reno, I dont think he saw us he looked pretty interested in some blonde at the bar we left. The walk back was awkward to say the least.
Do you miss the stars? Trista asked abruptly.
Yes, I replied without a second thought. Do you?
Trista looked down, kicking at a rock in her path. When I was younger, I use to sit outside with my older sister and watch the stars.
You had an older sister?
She died many years ago, Trista said. Along with the rest of my family.
My mother died during an attack on my old town, I said suddenly, without even realizing the words that had slipped from my lips. My father committed suicide a few month after hearing about her death.
Trista looked over at me, the streetlights casting an eerie glow on her face. How did your mother die?
A monster attack. It was a surprise attack soon after Sephiroth came into power. Half the town was destroyed and it was later burned to the ground, I explained. How did your family die?
When General Yuffie took over Wutai all those that opposed her were taken into the middle of the city. If a man spoke out against her his entire family was murdered. Everybody in my family, except for me, spoke out against her control, Trista paused, but soon continued. When they came to my house my parents shut me in a closet and ordered me to remain there until neighbors came to get me. I disobeyed and watched my family be torn apart my monsters.
Im sorry, I whispered, those being the only words I could come up with. Arriving back at headquarters I pushed the door open for her.
We walked in silence up the stairs to the third floor were our sleeping quarters were. Stopping outside her door she turned and gave a nod.
Thank you for dinner. And thank you for listening, Trista said, opening her door.
Any time. Good night, I told her as the door shut. I trudged back to my own room with a satisfied smile.
I have officially decided that I hate trees. Locating Mideel had been easy, actually getting into the town was a different story. We were following a map but Diallo was having a really easy time getting us all lost.
Are you sure this is the right direction? I asked for the fifth time as we stopped to check the map again.
Diallo and Shanna leaned over the map while Trista and Mitsu admired the scenery. Diallo and Shanna proceeded to get into an argument as to whether we were going in the right direction or not. This was turning out to be one hell of a trip.
I didnt realize I had shouted till they all turned to me. Do you hear that?
Silence fell across the forest, as we all were silent. From a distance away they could hear the faint sounds of voices.
Lets follow the sounds of the voices, Trista said without waiting for a reply. She trudged forward only pausing momentarily to slice a tree limb that had hit her in the face. They all silently followed
The town fell before them, people were milling around the city. There were a few houses, two connected by an overhead walkway. The walkway overlooked the center of town. We all crouched down and decided to come up with a plan.
This is going to be difficult to get up close, Trista said.
Shanna should stand on the walkway, I suggested. That way she could cover us. She doesnt need to get up close.
Shanna gave a smile and patted her gun. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Everybody nodded in agreement; for once they were taking my suggestion. Even I will say it was a great suggestion, surprised myself I came up with it.
Okay, Shanna covers us from the walkway. Mitsu you go to the right side of town and Diallo go to the left. Conlan and I will try to get General Barret out into the open, Trista explained.
Everybody agreed to the plan and all went off to their designated areas. As Trista and I walked into town, our weapons ready, I had only one question to ask.
Why did you pair me with you?
Trista gave a tight lip smile as we strolled into town. Because this way if you fuck up I can swoop in to the rescue.
I could only gape and stumble. I stumbled over a rock; I swear it, not because I was thrown off. She would really come to my rescue? No time to ponder that now, people were giving us funny stares.
Citizens of Mideel, my name is Trista. I am here to tell you you are free.
A spray of bullets cut a path at our feet, taking us by surprise. We both jumped back, weapons held out ready.
Get the hell outta my town, a roar echoed through the streets.
So the battle began. Diallo and Mitsu both charged into the battle, taking the giant general by surprise. But with his massive gunarm we were at a slight disadvantage. I use slight as an understatement, basically we were getting our asses whooped. Trista grunted as a bullet tore through her arm sending her staggering backwards. General Barret used the opportunity to his full advantage. His gunarm swung in her direction as she nursed her bleeding arm.
Trista! Look out! My voice carried clear over the yells of battle.
I didnt see Shanna raise her gun above us. All I remember was a great blasting sound ringing in my ears. General Barret collapsed; one of Shannas bullets shattered his kneecap. I heard Shannas gasp of surprise as a hail of bullets when her direction. Take out the legs and the arm is still the weapon. With deadly accuracy General Barret turned his gunarm in Diallos direction. Blood blossomed on Mitsus leg as he dove, shoving Diallo out of the way. With a grunt, Mitsu rolled on the ground, clutching his bleeding leg. Shanna returned fire again, this time catching General Barret in the chest with her shot. With a howl of rage and pain General Barret finally collapsed and lay still.
Are you all right? I asked Trista as she joined me.
Same damn arm, she muttered before fainting from blood loss.
Great, this was just great. Who was I suppose to take care of. Trista, who would probably forever curse her weakness and blame me in the process. Or General Barret and if he woke up I would be filled with holes. Decisions, decisions.
Is he alive?
Again we were sitting in Marlenes living room. This time Diallo had come in Tristas place. Both Trista and Mitsu were healing from gunshot wounds.
Yes he is, Shanna said. Although he doesnt remember much of what transpired that day.
Marlene nodded, her brown hair bobbing around her face. Will I be able to see him?
The three of us exchanged glances. I would have been happy to let her see him, but it wasnt my decision now was it.
We will contact you when you can see him, Diallo finally said.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Marlene showed us to the door and watched as we left. I could feel those dead eyes on me and it reminded me of the generals, although in an opposite sort of sense. Marlenes eyes were blank but inside were a sea of memories and visions.
The eyes on the generals were alive with rage. But inside was an empty nothingness. Filled with screaming voices from the past.
Back at headquarters I went straight to check on Trista. Must be my feminine side showing I hate my feminine side. I found her on the sixth floor, staring out into the darkness.
Hey, I greeted her.
The silence stretched as we both stood by the window.
Im not brave because I have to be, Trista said suddenly. Im brave because I want my family to be proud of me.
I looked over into her eyes, seeing a deep pain that pulled at her being. I dont think she wanted me to say anything, I think she simply said it to tell me about herself.
Im proud of you, I said in spite of what she may have wanted.
Nodding she turned back to the window. Outside the darkness ruled supreme, but inside fate and the future were our rulers. And I would humbly do their bidding. The darkness and the generals scared me shitless, but I would fight.
I want my family to be proud of me.
Tristas words echoed across my mind. Staring up into the sky I wondered, was my family watching me? Where they proud of me? One day I would ask them, but freeing the world was more important.
In a few days we face General Nanaki, Trista said.
Those few days would come and go. And soon our fight would grow in intensity and friends would be lost along the way. But right now standing with Trista in the darkened floor of the Shinra building was all that mattered. Tomorrow would have to wait.
Authors Note: Sorry about the delay. Just thought I would give these characters a little more depth. Yes, Barret is still alive. Look forward to new chapters coming soon.
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