Fate Chapter 9
General Tifa of Nibelheim
By Tifa Gainsborough
The light bulb swung back and forth, casting a dance of light across the room. I dont know what had set the light swinging, perhaps when I opened the door. But now it refused to stop and was growing to a nuisance. Im sure somewhere behind the boxes there was a step ladder. But all I could do was sit and watch it swing. Glancing to my right and left I was surprised at the number of boxes that were stacked high. Resting my head against the wall, I stared straight ahead.
It had been a month since Diallos death and still that was all I could think about. In my mind I could see his blood spattered face and blank eyes. I know everybody was taking it bad, I think Trista was taking it the worse. At least once a week she woke up screaming. She wouldnt go back to sleep unless I held her in my arms. I think everything was beginning to get to her.
She had lost Reno, Shera, and Diallo in such a short space of time. I know she was trying to be strong, but it was tearing her apart. Pulling my knees up to my chest, I rested my forehead against them. Everyday I was worried about her. There had to be something I could do that would take her mind off of everything.
A sound brought my attention away from my thoughts. Glancing around the boxes I spotted Reeve standing in the doorway.
Hey, I called, pushing myself to my feet.
Hello Conlan, Reeve replied, closing the door behind him. I see that it is still a mess down here.
I nodded, tapping on one of the boxes. It teetered dangerously and I grabbed it before it could fall. Looking over my shoulder I spotted Reeve reading the lids of a couple of boxes. He hadnt seen my wonderful save.
So what have you found, he asked, brushing dust off one of the lids.
All sorts of things. Tons of files that date back nearly fifty years. We also found old uniforms and weapons, I explained. Some of the boxes we havent even opened yet. A little afraid to find what has been hidden in them for all these years.
Reeve nodded, still reading the lids of the boxes. I watched the older man walk around, checking out all the larger boxes. Stopping suddenly, he ran his hands of the dusty black print.
Well Ill be damned, he whispered. So you did survive old friend.
Walking over I joined him at the huge crate he was looking at. Written in bold blank ink was the words Cait Sith.
Cait Sith? Whom or more importantly what, is a Cait Sith, I asked.
Cait Sith was something I created a long time ago. Reeve explained, searching the surrounding area for something to use to pry the crate open.
Finding a crowbar laying partially hidden behind two boxes, Reeve picked it up. I glanced over his shoulder as he pried the crate open. He handed me the crowbar as he moved the front aside. I felt my eyes widen at the sight that fell before me.
Its a toy, I stated, eyeing the giant white thing.
Its a moogle, Reeve said, standing back to stare at the toy. They were a really popular attraction at the Gold Saucer.
The Gold Saucer was an amusement park right, I asked vaguely recalling the name.
You could call it that. It was an attraction that was shut down and later destroyed by Sephiroth, Reeve said.
I watched as he reached into the crate and dragged that white moogle out into the open. Looking back into the crate I spotted a black stuffed cat sitting in the corner. Stepping around the moogle, I leaned down and picked it up. I held it up, admiring the little gold crown and red cape.
What is this?
Reeve took the cat I held out to him and put it on top of the moogle. I thought it looked ridiculous but Reeve stared at it with a look of amazement.
That would be Cait Sith. I wonder if it still works. Did you notice a controller in the crate?
I glanced into the crate again and noticed nothing else. We decided to look around, checking the other boxes. Reeve said it wouldnt be very big.
Found it, I called a few minutes later.
Slitting the tape with my pocket knife, I pulled the box open. Pushing the packing peanuts aside I lifted the controlled out. Reeve took it from my hands and looked it over. Flipping the on/off switch to the on position, we watched the stuffed cat.
Say something into the microphone, Reeve said, handing the controller over. See if it still works.
Hello, I said, sounding rather embarrassed.
I laughed at the sound of my voice coming from the cat on top of the moogle. My laughter echoed into the microphone and out of the cat standing a few feet away.
A little delay, but it still works, Reeve was beaming as he spoke. You should show it to Trista. I bet she would love it.
Maybe she would like it. I could try and take her mind off of everything with this.
Thanks, I think I will try that.
Do you mind telling me again what is so important, Trista asked as I led her down the stairs.
Its a surprise, I explained.
Glancing over my shoulder, I couldnt help but smile at her. She looked rumpled and extremely upset. I had barged into her room and awoken her from a nap. After persuading her to stop throwing shoes at me, I was able to talk her into following me.
Covering her mouth, she stifled a yawn.
We stopped, looking over to our left to see who had spoken. A group of women were heading into the cafeteria. They waved and we kindly waved back.
Why wont you let us celebrate your birthday, a short red head asked.
Because I dont really wish to celebrate my birthday, Trista replied calmly, her voice still heavy with sleep.
Its your birthday? I asked, as we walked away.
She nodded as we headed down the stairs to the second level basement. I couldnt help but frown, slightly upset that she hadnt told me. But then again, I had never asked when her birthday was. I guess if I had wanted to know, I should have asked.
Glancing at her again, I was slightly surprised to see the frown on her face. Was she wanting me to wish her a happy birthday? I was a little confused as to what she wanted me to say. She didnt seem like the type of person that wanted to be wished a happy birthday. Considering she herself said she didnt want to celebrate her birthday. I really dont understand her.
What? she asked, catching my eye.
Nothing, I said swiftly. So, how was your nap?
She shrugged, trying to smooth her tousled hair. It was fine, just another nap.
With a dark look, she shook her head. I suppose that wasnt the right topic of discussion. Finally we reached the second level basement and I led her down the hallway.
Close your eyes, I whispered, stopping at the door.
Leaning over, I gently touched her lips with mine, putting a stop to the sentence that was about to emerge. As I pulled away, I saw Trista had her eyes closed. Taking her hand, I slowly opened the door and led her in side. The white moogle, Cait Sith, sat in the middle of the room.
Stay here and keep your eyes closed, I told her, releasing her hand.
She crossed her arms reluctantly, but her eyes remained closed. I walked over to the controller and quietly picked it up. I sat crossed legged on the floor behind a few boxes, making sure I was out of her view. I switched the controller on and lifted the detachable microphone to my lips.
You can open your eyes, I said into the microphone.
The same words echoed from the stuffed toy. I wanted desperately to turn and see what the reaction was on her face.
Hello Trista, my name is Cait Sith.
As the words died away, another sound took their place. Is she laughing? Rising to my knees, I peeked between two boxes. A smile spread across my features as I saw her. Trista was laughing, a look of genuine amusement on her face. So Reeve was right, she did like it.
Its very nice to meet you, Cait Sith, she replied, laughing trickling away. Say, have you seen Conlan anywhere?
Conlan, I cant say that I have seen him, I laughed.
Oh really, she said, appearing around the boxes.
I reached up to grab her, but the sound of the door opening stopped me short.
We have an emergency, Shanna said, appearing in the doorway.
The cheerful mood quickly slipped away and once again things became serious. I turned Cait Sith off and allowed Trista to help me to my feet. Following Shanna into the hall, I closed the door behind me, giving one last lingering look to that ridiculous stuffed cat.
Whats going on, Trista asked, falling into step with Shanna.
I walked a few steps behind them, listening closely to what Shanna had to say. Apparently there was some unusual activity around the remains of Kalm, on of the few cities that was never rebuilt after its destruction. Mitsu was waiting for us in the meeting room and we were going to come up with a plan.
Do you have any idea what this unusual activity may be related to? I asked, following the two up the stairs.
We arent entirely certain, Shanna replied. The details were really sketchy. Mitsu is trying to sort them out now.
We reached the first meeting room and walked past it. I glanced at it as we walked by but really didnt pay it much mind. Shanna stopped at the last door on the right side of the hall. Opening the door, Shanna stepped back. Placing her right hand on Tristas back, she shoved the taller girl into the room.
The lights flickered on and for a moment I was unable to see anything. Blinking a few times, the scene slowly came into focus. A large group of people were gathered around the table, each person sporting a smile. Food and drinks was scattered across the large table.
Happy birthday Trista, Shanna said, pushing her farther into the room.
I wanted to laugh at the expression on Tristas face but was afraid she would turn around and backhand me.
I told you I didnt want you to celebrate my birthday, Trista stated, crossing her arms across her chest.
We know, but the party had been Diallos idea and we figured we better have it, Mitsu explained, closing the door behind me.
Trista turned to me and stared me down. I wanted to slowly back away, but the smell of the food was making my mouth water.
Were you in on the whole plan?
I opened my mouth to defend myself but Reeve swiftly came to my rescue.
It was my idea for Conlan to show you Cait Sith, Reeve explained. That way it would give us time to get ready, without you knowing about it.
Trista slowly smiled and the party began.
Trista seemed to have enjoyed the party, I said, tossing an empty cup into a garbage bag.
Yes, Im really happy that she liked it, Shanna said.
I had decided to stay after and help Shanna clean everything up. Actually I had a hidden meaning to staying to help clean up. I was hoping to get an opportunity to talk to Shanna in private.
Hey Shanna, you and Trista talk a lot, right?
Shanna nodded, dropping under the table to grab a stray cup. She appeared a few seconds latter, her eyes level with mine.
Does she tell you about the nightmares she has been having, I asked, dropping into a chair.
She has mentioned it a few times, but not a lot. Right now she feels really guilty about everything. I try to tell her not to, but she simply does. Always feeling that everything is her fault, Shanna said a blank look invading her eyes. You worry about her, dont you?
She hardly tells me anything about what is troubling her. I suppose she doesnt want it to be a trouble to me but I wish she would tell me. Pinching the bridge of my nose, I tried hard not to frown. So yeah, I suppose I really do worry about her.
Why dont you just talk to her, Shanna suggested.
I laughed. If you havent noticed, she isnt the easiest person to talk to.
Trista has never had anybody that will just sit down and listen to her. After her parents were killed she moved around a lot. That doesnt give one much time to sit down and talk with people, Shanna explained. I know she will talk to you. Just sit down and let her speak.
Reaching out, she took the bag from my hands and shoved me in the direction of the door. Giving her a small wave I walked out the door. Heading for Tristas room I gave myself a pep talk. Ill just tell her that she can sit down and talk to me. That I will listen to everything that she has to say.
Reaching her door, I paused. Now here comes the hard part, actually putting these thoughts into spoken words. With a deep breath, I knocked on the door and waited.
Come in, she called.
Pushing the door open, I stepped inside, closing it behind me. She was sitting on the bed, wearing a towel, looking like she had just stepped out of the shower. In my eyes, she had never looked so beautiful.
I just got out of the shower, she explained, pushing wet locks of hair behind her right shoulder. Something you want?
Walking over, I sat next to her on the bed. Glancing at me out of the corner of her eye, she didnt make a move. I took her hand and she swiftly pulled it from my grip. Just as swiftly I grabbed it again, reaching up at the same time to gently touch her cheek.
Talk to me.
A look of confusion filled her eyes. What?
Just talk to me about anything and maybe everything. We dont leave for a few days and Ive got lots of time. I just want you to talk to me about whats troubling you.
Why? she asked simply.
Because I love you, I whispered timidly.
I swear her eyebrows shot into her forehead. Suddenly, I regretted even coming into her room. What I spoke to her was the truth, but I was really hoping for a different reaction. But than again, this was Trista I had just told this to.
I love you Trista. To be truthful, at first I hated you. But you began to open up and tell me more about yourself, I explained. It wasnt like one day I woke up and realized I was in love with you. When I first kissed you it was more from fascination than love. But now, I love you, because I grew to love you.
The silence hung heavily above our heads. I didnt want to say anything else, I was really wishing for her to reply.
Everything that I love or loves me usually ends up dying.
Im not going to die, I reassured her.
How can you be so certain, she asked. We dont know the future. But we know the Generals are trying to destroy us. What if they succeed?
There is nothing on this planet that could take me away from you. Be it either body or spirit, I will always find a way to be with you.
I wanted to groan as the words registered with my brain. I couldnt believe how lame I was wording this. But it was the truth and sometimes, I suppose, the truth sounds stupid. Her leap into my arms took me greatly by surprise. Well, it wasnt really a leap, more like she reached over swiftly and pulled me into a hug. I could feel the cold drops of tears on my shirt as she cried. Rubbing her back, I tried to calm her down.
Im sorry, she whispered, finally pulling back.
Dont worry about it, I said.
Im going to get dressed, she said, swiftly standing up.
I leaned back on the bed, my hands laced under my head. Staring up at the ceiling all I could do was think and listen. I heard her moving around her room, opening drawers and closing them. It seemed so normal to me. But in my heart there was a dark shadow looming and it was all too real. I had made a promise, but there were still those out there that would like to see me not keep it. Specifically the Generals, whose main goal now was to destroy us.
So what do you want to talk about, Trista asked, dropping onto the bed next to me.
Everything, lets start at the beginning.
She slowly nodded. Okay.
The cool wood felt good against my too warm forehead. The temperature in Neo-Midgar had skyrocketed today and this building had no air conditioning. Reeve had said it use to have air conditioning but apparently it had been destroyed when Meteor fell. I was actually looking forward to getting out into the country side.
Trista sat next to me, in her regular pants and a tank top. She looked like she was handling the temperature better than me. She was gently rubbing my back, which felt extremely good.
Lets get this meeting over with, so we can get out of this damn hot room, Mitsu complained using a few papers to fan himself.
Shanna pulled out a map and lay it on the table in front of us. She pointed out a small town.
This is Nibelhiem, our next target. Its under the control of General Tifa. General Tifas primary weapon is her own body, shes a martial artist. According to old Shinra files she is good, very good in fact, Shanna explained.
I leaned back in my chair, arms clasped behind my head.
I spoke to Reeve, I added. He said not only is she strong but very fast. General Cloud was fast, but Reeve said he will look slow compared to her.
But we will have the weapons, Mitsu pointed out, sounding slightly confused. Where is the disadvantage?
She wont be hindered with a weapon, Shanna said. She will be able to move in close to us and then out at a quicker rate. Our main area of concern is being able to move away from her attacks quick enough.
The others all used a weapon, Trista said, pinching the bridge of her nose. She can dodge weapons fast enough and attack from behind. The others couldnt as easily because they needed to change the way they held their weapon. Lets just say, we are at a major disadvantage.
We just need to worry about staying alive, Mitsu said. The rest will happen as fate sees fit.
I climbed out of the Highwind and the cold rain slapped me in the face. The wind was blowing so hard I was afraid it would drag me off my feet. It slapped my face and I had to squint to even see. The rest of the group joined me and away we went.
I had a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach as Nibelhiem slowly came into view. The first time I had seen General Tifa was when Kalm had been attacked. My mother had died in that attack and in my mind I could still see her face.
Conlan, Mitsu called. You all right?
Glancing up, I nodded. I hadnt realized that I was giving off any impression that something was wrong. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Trista watching me. I wanted to say something to her, but we had reached the entrance to Nibelhiem.
So I suppose we just wait, Shanna said, her eyes level with the huge mansion at the back of the city. Or maybe not.
Appearing at the gate was a woman, with long brown hair. The wind caught it and pulled at it viciously. To me it looked as though nature itself was angry with her. The pouring rain and the howling wind. But to me, that was good, for it mirrored my feelings. I hated this woman, the once great hero who had destroyed my village and simply watched, smiling.
Welcome to my home, she called over the howl of the wind, approaching us slowly. So I am the last before Cloud, if my memory serves me correctly.
Thats right, Shanna said simply, resting her gun against her shoulder.
Shall we get this over with then, General Tifa said, pushing wet strands of hair behind her shoulder.
Without giving us a chance to respond, she attacked swiftly. As she dodged the blade Mitsu threw, I suddenly realized that Shanna was right. She was extremely fast. We may have had the numbers on our side, but she had the obvious advantage.
Whats the matter, General Tifa taunted, dropping below Tristas spear and sweeping her feet out from underneath her. General Tifa jumped back as Trista crashed to the ground. Am I too fast for you?
Trista jumped to her feet and quickly grabbed her spear. General Tifa leaned over, grabbing the blade Mitsu had lost. She turned on us and launched the blade in our direction. The attack took us by surprise and we couldnt dodge fast enough. The blade buried itself deep in Mitsus left shoulder.
Shit, he swore, grabbing the handle.
I pushed locks of wet hair from my face and suddenly realized something. There didnt appear to be anyway we could win this fight. General Tifa was simply to fast for us.
Our biggest ally turned out to be the one thing I hated the most.
As General Tifa pivoted to attack, her foot sunk deep into the muddy surface. There was a sickening cracking as the momentum of her turn and the steady grip of the earth broke her ankle. General Tifa screamed angrily and collapsed as her right foot was unable to hold her weight.
I charged forward and skidded to a stop in front of her. The blade of my sword pressed dangerously into her neck.
General Tifa sneered. Never.
I put more pressure onto the sword. A thin trail of blood trickled down her neck. When she still refused, I pressed the blade harder, the blood increasing. Shanna stepped up next to me, glancing at my face. I nodded slowly and she nodded back. Using the handle of her gun, she struck General Tifa over the head.
Two in a row, she commented as General Tifa collapsed.
I nodded. Two in a row.
Warm water fell in a cascade of warmth down my bare skin. We had gotten back from Nibelhiem a few hours ago and this was the first opportunity I had received to take a shower. Turning the water off, I reached out and grabbed a towel. Stepping out of the shower, I could hear movement in my room.
Dressing quickly, I draped the towel over my shoulders and pulled the door open. Trista was standing at the window with her back to me. She turned slightly, glancing over her shoulder.
Did you put General Tifa in her cell? I asked, tossing the towel onto a chair.
We did, she was just waking up when I left, Trista explained.
She walked over and joined me. What happened today in Nibelhiem?
So she had noticed something had been wrong. I shook my head, hoping that she would drop the subject. But this was Trista, and she pushed every subject.
Id rather not.
Crossing her arms over her chest, she glared at me.
I talked to you, this time its your turn to talk and mine to listen.
We sat on the bed and slowly I began to tell her my story. Finally glad to let someone else know my pain. She held me in her arms as I spoke, gently brushing away the tears that slipped from my eyes. She never said anything, simply listening.
But that looming shadow was still in my heart. And I had strange feeling dark times lay ahead. A feeling that not all of us where going to make it out alive.
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