The Fallen Chapter 9
Reno cast a wary glance around the forest, looking as much for the path he had sprinted down to Midgar for something to blast to hell with the Nightstick he had tightly clenched in his fist so tight his knuckles were white. His normal paranoia was mingling with a fanatic devotion to protect his sister better then he had in the past, the darkness that was creeping through the already intimidating forest and a general aura of something bad about to go down. Rory and Gabriel were walking behind him on Renos insistence, and the other three Turks were behind them. Reno was the only one ignoring the conversation that was going on between the five, comparing notes, stories, and scars; so he was startled when he heard his name behind him.
"Uh, Reno, there is still no path here. Why is there still no path here? You said there would be a path here but, nope, no path. Where is the path, Reno?" Elena said in a singsong voice, knowing she was egging Reno on and loving it. He acknowledged her comment with a scalding glance but nothing else, not giving her the satisfaction of any kind of a verbal reply. He turned back on his way to start walking again but jerked and fell back, raising his Nightstick and spinning behind a tree. It took a second, but the rest took his example, the three Turks dropping to their knees and drawing their respective firearms. Rory only stared for a moment, but Gabriel grabbed her arm and yanked her behind a tree, and the two hit the dust out of sight.
About ten seconds later, five men trotted across the path they would have been crossing themselves. They were dirty and unbathed, but also rippled with muscles and heavily armed. Each had a serial number prison tatoo on their left arms which they displayed as if proud by cutting that sleeve of their shirts off. Reno waited until theyd stepped past him then popped out behind them, and all three spun instantly raising their aresenals of sawed off shotguns, hand-guns, and Reno even recognized a brand new AK-7. He stared as if stunned at them for a moment, then pasted a huge phony grin on his face.
"Hi! How are yall doin today!?" he practically yelled in an exaggerated Gonganan drawl to cover his streets of Midgar accent and thus place himself as less of a threat, one of the dozens of accents he was fluid in faking being the almost doting sound of the forest town. "I got kinda lost in here and Im trying to get to my house back in the woods. You havent seen it, have you?"
They stared at him blankly for a few moments and the tension increased with each one. Finally the one with the sub-machine gun stepped forward, and though he kept his weapon leveled, the dangerous gleam had left his eyes, and Reno allowed the slightest degree of tension to go out of his legs, the ability to bound to the side and roll diminished just a bit. After all, at this distance and with a gun like that, any dodging maneuvers he tried wouldnt matter anyway.
"Are you going to The Gathering?"
Renos forced his eyes to light up as he mentally pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil to take some private notes.
"Yes! The Gathering! Thats exactly where Im going! I just, uh, forgot where it was so I was going back to my house to check the tablet I wrote it down on."
The thug stared at him again and lowered his weapon, his agressive posture dropping away and revealing a far less physically intimidating man than it had first appeared. "What are you, an idiot, its at Fort Cond-" there was a pause as the mans eyes widened in realization and his gun came up right against Renos adams apple so close it pushed it back into his throat and cut off his fake words of surprise. "Let me see your hand."
Renos surprise was genuine now, and he glanced around to make sure his crew was hidden, then down at the mans hand. A fading wound was there, just about to give away its last remnants of redness into a bright white scar. The man impatiently grabbed Renos hand and jerked it up, staring at his palm which was heavily scarred... but not by the same "H" shape that resided on him. His eyes suddenly came in an angry focus, and he calmly squeezed the trigger on his gun.
Dozens of bullets leaped through the air with resounding gun shots, severing flesh, adams apple, vocal chord, voice box, spinal cord and finally flesh again as they ripped out the back. Reno fell straight back and landed on his side, his eyes closed tightly.
An AK-7 clattered to the ground beside him, with the shattered form of the man whod been about the blast Renos head off. The red headed Turk cautiously opened one eye, realized he was very much alive and wasnt seeing the gates of Hell he knew awaited him, and opened the other one.
Tseng, Elena, and Rude were on their feet, smoking pistols out, teeth bared. Reno felt a rush of relief until he looked beside them. The remaining 4 of the 5 thugs stood with guns against the Turks back, and were growling something to them too quiet for Reno to hear. They were ignoring him, Reno realized, they must think he was dead. The look on Elenas face revealed so did the Turks. He lay still but looked around more, to the place where Gabriel and Rory had dissapeared in. He couldnt see them, but apparently the punks with weapons to his friends backs couldnt either. Reno groaned quietly to himself. There were 4 men about to kill his friends, they were all armed, and there was 10 feet between them. A machanical click sounded as a gun was armed, then three more. Reno slowly began to rise to his feet, squinting in the setting sun that was directly behind the men.
A shadow rose in the sun, popping up as if from no where and then leapt forward. It hit one of the men directly in the back, sending him sprawling. Tseng and Rude spun around, but Tsengs guard had been much more competent and bashed the holster of his gun into Tsengs temple, dropping him instantly. Rude threw a fumbled punch that was parried, and caught a boot to the stomach that took him down to his knees. The unoccupied thug raised his gun and leveled it at Elenas head, who stared at him with wide eyes as he fired. The shot went 6 inches wide as Reno slammed into the mans stomach with a head long tackle and knocked the gun away. Gabriel, the sudden shadow, and his attacker were struggling to choke the life out of each other, rolling over and over in the ground, all weapons forgotten as they squeezed each others throats closed and through close range punches.
Rude got fully laid out with a knee to the face and Reno had to leave his man behind to prevent his best friend from catching a bullet, grabbing the man about to fire and slugging him in the face. A pistol cracked and Reno fell with man hed socked, trailing blood from the bullet hole thatd suddenly appeared in his shoulder. He curled into a fetal position on the gorund and cursed, trying to ignore the pain and regain his feet. Elena began to frantically search for her pistol on the ground as a snap rang out... Gabriel had broken his opponents neck and had dived on the man whod shot Reno desperately, the flying bullet from the second shot had just missed his head by an inch, and he wanted to be sure a third one wasnt fired.
Elena scooped up her gun and looked around frantically, trying to find someone to shoot, the chaos of the situation overwhelming her senses so she didnt see the man leveling his gun at her until it was too late, until he was about to pull the trigger.
The gun dropped witht he man, as he gripped his leg and screamed. Elena rolled behind a tree for cover but not before seeing the tip of a broken branch jutting out through the front of he would-be killers thigh. She pressed her gun against the tree to level her aim and fired three times, two of them catching the man in the chest and the third just under the chin of his laid back head as he fell, slicing up through his brain and out the top of his skull. He hit the ground hard and didnt move. The blonde Turk glanced around the woods, Rory was no where to be seen, Tseng, Rude, and Reno were laid out on the ground, and Gabriel- was about to have a knife buried in his heart from the man whod pinned him to the ground. Elena re-adjusted her aim for a killing shot and squeezed the trigger.
Out of bullets.
There was a metal flash, but it wasnt the knife descending. A large metal disk whirled through the air and struck the man in the chest. A chakram. Elena looked behind over her shoulder and saw Yuffie, eyes wide at the seen in front of her, hand out from unleashing the killing disc. It was too much for the poor Turk, too many images hitting her mind, too many possible deaths of her friends happening even then... her mind unleashed its one defense to such an enviroment.
There was a dull thud as Elena passed out.
Her eyes fluttered open with Rude leaning over her with a concerned look on his face, sunglasses broken and hanging askew over his eyes. He gave a visible smile at seeing her move and leaned back, offering her a hand to help her up. She took it and rose shakily to her feet, sweeping the area to see the condition of her friends. Gabriel was sitting by Tseng on a stump, holding a red rag against the blood flowing wound on the leading Turks head and unconsiously rubbing his throat. Reno was gulping down what looked like a gallon and a half of liqour to drown out the pain that he must be feelign under the hastily made bandage that was wrapped around his arm. Rory was sitting next to him, staring in a dull sort of way at her hands that were bright with red blood that wasnt her own. Shed been the one whod buried the broken stick in that one guys leg who was about to blast her.
But there was something else in her eyes, too, some foreign confusion. Though no one knew it before, seeing Renos arm bandaged reminded her of something, of how limply and uselssly the arm of her travelling companion had been when theyd first woken up in the dungeon. She stared at him now as he helped recuperate Tseng with both arms, as they both moved as fluently and functional as ever.
"How you doing?"
Elena turned around quickly, her tense nerves jangling, but relazxed instantly when she saw Yuffie offering her a canteen. She took it and took a few nervous gulps, then offered it back with a shaky hand. Rude placed his hand on her shoulder in a surprising show of reassuring affection. She took a deep breath and exhaled.
"Im OK, I guess. My heads still swimming though... the last thing I remeber is... wait, where did you come from anyway?"
Yuffie laughed and downed a good portion of the canteen before answering. "Aeris knew Reno would get lost... I dont think it was her mystic Ancient mojo either, Renos an idiot. I thought he was gonna get himself killed, personally. You really do hang with some dumb mother f- oops, hi Rude..."
The dark skinned man stared at her sharply through his poorly repaired glasses but looked as if he was trying to keep a grin from busting out on his face. He removed his hand from Elenas shoulder and walked over to Reno to share a gulp of the Skotch. Elena watched him go almost regretfully and turned back to Yuffie. "So how far are we from Aeris... did Reno have us completely lost?"
Yuffie laughed again, "Actually, shes just over that hill... you know, the one Reno was about to lead you directly away from. Id only left to find you about 30 seconds before I did. Id say it was lucky, but, well, Aeris and her creepy Cetra magic usually are the real cause of luck. We were only waiting for you to wake up."
Elena nodded, took a final drink of water, then wiped her lips. "Well I wont hold up the group anymore... lets go." Riding high on bravado, she went to surge to her feet, and suddenly realized she was looking for strength in her legs that simply wasnt there. She half rose, then plopped back down to the ground, clenching her teeth at the sudden jolt of pain that rang up her spinal chord. Above her, Yuffie managed to hold down a laugh.
"Its OK," the Wutain said, "we can wait until you are ready."
Reno gave the cute little fairy tale cottage a once over before shaking his head in disgust and walking up to the door. He actually thought about knocking with his undamaged arm, a rarity for him, but it was obviously a notion he ignored as he yanked the door open and took a step forward... then dropped back cursing and rubbing his bleeding nose. "What the fuck!?"
He tilted his head back and then snorted, spraying a light red mist out his nostrils, and reached weakly forward into the doorway. His hands met something solid. He pressed against it and found it completely unyielding, then sighed in defeat and rapped on the doorframe, leaning against the invisible wall in front of him. A soft and familiar girls voice floated from inside the house.
Renos feet swept backwards as he fell forward onto his face, the wall in front of his suddenly dissapearing. Elena and Yuffie stepped over his growling form, but Rory and the guys stopped to help him up. The look in his eyes could safely be assessed as nuclear as he brushed his blue jacket off and marched forward. Aeris stepped into the room, pink dress fluttering behind her, and laughed at the image of the swelled up, glaring, and bleeding Reno. He opened his mouth, probably to bite her head off, but was interrupted and completely ignored due to another rapping on the door. The group turned quickly and jumped at the visage of Cloud Strife standing in the doorway, eyes narrowed and locked on Tsengs. Aeris managed a hasty come in before the two leaders moved forward nsoe to nose, eyes locked, pressing against each other to make the other back down. Cloud looked a lot more confused then pissed, however, the one lead to the other with him anyway.
"What the fuck are you doing here!?"
Tseng glared down at him, towering at least 3 inches higher, and curled his lips into a sneer. "I could ask you the same question, boy."
Blue eyes flashed, "Its been a long time since anyones called me a boy."
Black eyes flashed in return, "I know, but Ive seen your Soldier reports. I know your a male."
Reno barked out a laugh as Aeris feebly tried to pry to two apart, but her efforts were in vain. The two were steadfast, two years of rage and hate behind their stances. The tension mounted for a moment, before Cloud hissed in Tsengs face.
"Why dont you take you brood of rats and leave Aeris alone before I make Sephiroths job on you stick."
Aeris stopped here, giving Cloud an exasperated look. Typical he didnt ask what exactly she was doing alive and in the woods, but jumped to her defense like the perfect knight in armor. Tseng did anything but stop though, he exploded from his stance, hitting Cloud on both shoulders with open palm strikes, sending him backwards out the doorway and onto his back. The ex-Soldier was on his feet in a second, whirling around and drawing his Ultima Weapon in one move. Tseng could have easily drawn his handgun and opened fire, but Cloud had insulted his Turks, and he was going to rip him apart one on one. Reno called his name out and tossed something to him that Tseng caught in one hand and twirled as he advanced, ignoring Aeris now frantic pleas for them to stop.
Cloud lashed out first, swinging his sword down in an over hard strike that Tseng easily blocked with Renos nightstick, then dropped to one knee and spun around, kicking Clouds legs out from under him and sending him to the ground. He was back on his feet in the same move and brought the nightstick down lightly, almost lazily. Cloud twisted his sword to block it and did so easily, then narrowed his eyes in realization of what was pressed against his weapon. Tseng grew a small smile as he thumbed the weapons trigger, sending 10,000 volts of electricity through the Ultima Weapon and into Clouds arm. He jerked, twitching as the Electricity ran through his body. Tseng squeezed the trigger a little harder and Cloud squeezed his eyes tightly, growling in pain and anger. Tseng went to unleash full power onto the blue clad fighter but was knocked off balance as a powerful weight smacked into his side and sent him stumbling. He looked up glaring, to see Tifa hovering above Cloud, fists up, massive chest heaving with her heavy breathing. Tseng could glimpse Barret towering behind her, Cid and Cait behind them.
His eyes narrowed in recognition, then darted to the house where the Turks were rapdily drawing weapons.
His lips curled into a smile.
Sensing the incredible danger that everyone within a five mile radium of her house was in, Aeris began to scream at all of them. Telling them how stupid they were being. To tell them that they were all supposed to be on the same side. But she was interrupted, yet again, by a round a metallic clicks. Rude, Reno, Elena- and, to Rorys surprise, with a shaky determination Gabriel raising his fists- armed their weapons and pointed them at the moments of Avalanche.
There was a pause. On one side stood the Turks, various pistols armed and aimed, and Tseng, who still loomed near the crouching Cloud, who was on the side of the Avalanche members, gripping their respective weapons tightly. Way off to the side stood Aeris and Yuffie.
The wind slowly began to pick up, kicking dust around their ankles. A little at first, and then a little more. Tseng could feel his hair whipping around his face, before he felt his legs ripped out from under him, and he was literally flying in the hair. His borrowed weapon was ripped from his hands, and he managed to see a fleeting glimpse of Cloud losing his grip on his Ultima Weapon. He felt himself being lifted three, then five feet in the air, and when he managed to look around he saw that the others were being lifted up as well. Suddenly, the winds around them died, and as a group they fell down to the earth, slamming against the ground. Groaning, Tseng looked up at Aeris, who had her staff raised high above her sad, and she literally seemed to be radiating energy. Their weapons, including Cait Sith, were still floating lazily in the air.
"Now," she said evenly, "can we talk?"
Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic