The Fallen Chapter 20

By Tiger

The wind was gentle, but more than enough to carry the over abundant smell of the sea to the noses of the two men who stood upon the light green hills of Junon, mingled with sand, allowing a moment of silent reflection as they stared out onto the shimmering blue sea. The waves that lapped against the coast were so drastically different than the torrents of water that had been pouring into the under ground compound it was unbelievable, and even Zack had to admit that these held a certain ancient beauty. That didn’t stop a shiver from going repetitively up and down his spine as he stared, but it did help to lessen the intensity somewhat.

Emotion and physical, the Gonganan’s loads were lightened. The Ultima Sword, made of ultra light crystal, now replaced the bulky steel Buster sword in his back holster, and he had to admit he was taking an immediate shine to the weapon.

Slowly, Rufus glanced down at the small metal disc he held in his hand, feeling the unnatural weight of it. A night of testing still hadn’t yielded a single clue about what it was, though secretly he had begun to wonder if it was nothing at all. Never a man of faith, Rufus found it much more comfortable to think how a sword- though incredibly rare, even he had to admit- could have simply been left behind by one of the men, and there had been no weapon for Rufus at all.

The two men tore their gazes from the sea and lifted them up, staring straight into the ever darkening skies out to the west. They knew it was where they were going, but for several reasons- some much more obvious than others- they didn’t leave the spot they were on. Fort Condor would still be there an hour later, more or less, but the sea... huge, powerful, and all consuming... the sea would be around forever. Taking a simultaneous deep breath, the two began to walk inwards towards the harbor, where a ship had been hired to take them between the continents.


Reeve didn’t know what to make of his son... or of his bird, honestly. Both of his new companions were completely foreign to him, but while the one was made of steel and wires and he seemed to have some sort of a mental connection with, the other was made of flesh and blood- his flesh and blood, at that- and was blocking him out to a degree that he felt like there was a literal wall between the two of them. Tyler was kind enough when he tried to talk to him, but wasn’t open about anything Reeve tried to pursue, even to the simplest degree. In fact, whenever it became apparent Reeve was particularly interested in a certain topic, Tyler changed the subject with such subtly Reeve never noticed until after the fact.

Tyler himself lumbered ahead of Reeve, ahead of Barret, ahead of Cid and all the rest of them on their hike over the fields back towards the Highwind. Saved from fatigue by the aided movement from his new robotics suit, which he wore more or less like a normal suit- step into it, close it around you, and it performs its job of concealment and protection. He had gotten used to the controls almost startlingly fast, the joystick like controllers mounted a few inches up from either of his thighs glowing to life whenever his fingers were within a few inches of them.

Cloud and Tifa walked hand in hand, fingers locked, the smallest of a laundry list of small rebellions against the oppressions that always seemed to be plaguing them. Barret, seeming to disapprove of such a rebellion with every fiber of his body, managed to storm past them several times on the way, though neither could truly remember ever managing to pass him the second way around. He was taking advantage of his new prosthetic by idly drumming the fingers on the flat metal sheet of the palm.

Only Cid seemed truly at ease, walking casually off to the side, Neptune’s Highlight lying stretched out across his broad and burden bearing shoulders. He wrapped his long lengthy arms backwards around the shaft of the lance, and used it to stretch his joints as he walked. Had anyone bothered to look, they would have noticed something very odd about him- something they weren’t able to place. After a few moments of searching, they would have noticed that he wasn’t smoking- not that he’d have been free to, with both arms occupied. It wasn’t entirely a rare occurrence, but it certainly wasn’t seen often... and for the first time ever in such an occurrence, he wasn’t twitching.

The group moved in a loose formation, sometimes alternating within themselves and sometimes changing the order, but there was always some sort of rules about it. It was the march of a platoon, the march of an army... the march of soldiers.


Its still cold, Rory thought- but then again, it seemed everywhere they went that didn’t happen to directly be Aeris’ house ended up cold. Still... she had to admit she felt a little bit warmer with Gabriel’s chilling blue blade back in its sheath, and his fiery blade on her side of his waist. Neither of them could really decide if it actually gave off heat or not, but it sure as hell seemed like it did. She hated the cold. It reminded her way too much of empty cars her and her brother had been forced to sleep in during the middle of the night, with all the windows busted out by bricks and stones, and stray gunfire. Down south, she heard, it would at least be warmer... though she doubted she could enjoy it with somebody trying to kill her. Several somebodys.

Gabriel, on the other hand, wouldn’t have minded going back to the cave, rebuilding the fire, and going to sleep- preferably to stay there. The last few days had simply been cluster fucked with things he wasn’t used to and didn’t understand, and he had broken the five month transformation streak he had developed by switching all of twice in so many days. It was just... irritating, is all. Gabriel didn’t like action, and he didn’t like heat. It would be hot down south. At least, he thought, there would be someone trying to kill him.


“So what’s it like to be leaving home right after getting there?”

Reno snorted, walking alone by himself off to the side of the path. Though the others pretended not to notice it, Yuffie was off to the other side, directly opposite of him. He wasn’t snorting at her though, instead he was snorting at the question. Typical Elena question, something pointless, and insane, that would serve only to spill valuable information to anyone who would be listening- in form, and in answer. Stupid.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve only been away from home for a few weeks.” That was Tseng, openly sharing his opinion of the year that passed while he was slightly deceased. “So it doesn’t really matter.” He’d stopped by Wutai soon before going to visit the Temple of the Ancients, but it wasn’t like it would have mattered to him even if he hadn’t. He wasn’t a home oriented man, he wasn’t a tree, and the very last thing he wanted to do was put down some roots. He was a wanderer, always had been, and always would be. The fact that he was wandering somewhere insanely dangerous did little to daunt the feeling of calm that was over him as he walked openly under the stars.

“So?” There came Yuffie, calling from her distanced stance away from the rest of them. “Any minute off this continent should leave you wanting to come back, or you aren’t a true Wutain.” A patriot to a fault, Yuffie truly believed that the waters that ran through the Wutain streams were the same liquid that ran through her veins. It wasn’t like Tseng had verbally assaulted her birthplace, but anything short of a roaring compliment wasn’t enough in her mind. This was the place she would always return to, and the thought of dying, or being buried somewhere else was absolutely unbearable, and kicked her patriotism into over drive.

“I don’t think you’ve ever been to Icicle Inn,” Elena chided her quietly, resolute but knowing when to keep her tongue in cheek. Despite the time Cloud had ducked her sucker punch and she had gone summersaulting down the slope like a snowball, she simply couldn’t get enough of the towering white peaks. Maybe she was cold blooded, she didn’t know, but she could walk around in her business clothes and a skirt in ankle deep snow without even feeling a chill. And now she was heading south, where it was warm... and dangerous.

Rude, who had been humming an old Mideel tune that he remembered from some mission a long time ago, began to hum it very much louder, just in case Yuffie had indeed heard what Elena had whispered, in vain hopes that she would keep quiet. He was... content. Of course, he was almost always content. Walking, fighting, working out... as long as he was doing something, he was perfectly happy with his situation and himself, and that’s why he barely talked- there was no need to. Lock him in an empty room, he reckoned, and he’d chatter like a lunatic within the hour. He was the only one who wasn’t worried about the thing they were about to do.

After all, he thought, its better than doing nothing at all.

Chapter 21

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